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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • ficussficuss Posts: 541
    I just bought an '04 Astro cargo van, no bells and whistles, just air and radio. Has anyone regretted not buying the extended warranty due to high repair costs after warranty?

  • slorenzenslorenzen Posts: 694
    Tough question. I bought a '95 Safari AWD SLT with most available options(used), and bought an extended warranty, yet the worst thing that happened was the wipers quit and the dealer charged the warranty company about $120, so I lost my shirt on that deal. It now has 102K on the clock, and everything is still working...
  • ficussficuss Posts: 541
    thanks for the reply. I have been asking hard questions on Edmunds for a few years now. My other Chevy is an 02 Trailblazer. The question of an extended warranty on that car was a no brainer. The TB has 7 computers and is completly controlled by computer. The engine was replaced at 2000 miles. Deciding on buying the extended warranty was easy. The Astro cargo van is so simple compared to the TB that deciding on the warranty is tougher. What kind of track record do the 4.3 vortec and the auto trans have? Does the suspension hold up for 75 K miles before needing work. There isn't much else to repair, and yet the cost of the warranty is close to the same as the TB.
     By the way, your problem with wipers may have been a generic problem Chevy has been having with wiper motors. Do a search on other Edmunds Chevy forums and you will see many complaints about Chevy wiper motors. Many of the complaints have been satisfied by chevy at no cost to the owner.
  • jpc47jpc47 Posts: 62
    I got the hard sell on the warrenty from the dealer when I bought my used 2001 Astro LS. I bought the cheapest version, powertrain, and haven't used it. It's been a good van. Haven't had any problems yet. We've had it about a year.
  • ficussficuss Posts: 541
    Judging from the number of posts here relative to the number of posts in the Chev. Trailblazer/GMC Envoy/Olds Bravada forum, Either G.M. has sold far fewer Astros than the TB/Envoy/Bravada or there are far fewer complaints about the Astros. I hope it is fewer complaints.

  • dadoftaydadoftay Posts: 136
    I would have to think that GM has outsold the SafAstro twins with the TB/Envoy combo 10 to 1. I'm sure the SUV craze hasn't waned just yet. I have to say the feedback on the SafAstros is unfortunately like any other GM, some good and some bad. I've been a lucky one, but I have experienced some of the problems posted here. But, hey at least these vans are not as ugly as the new Uplander.....YIKES!!!
  • oomar43oomar43 Posts: 8
    Being my first time to consider buying a GM vehicle, I am looking for owners feed back on the reliability of GMC Safari or the Chevy Astro compared with Toyota Sienna or Honda mini vans, and their ability to tow a 3000 lbs. boat and safely launch it out of steep wet ramps.

    Thanks for your contribution
  • jpc47jpc47 Posts: 62
    can't beat the awd Astro for towing, pick the others for reliability.
  • slorenzenslorenzen Posts: 694
    I tow a 20' boat, total weight around 4000lbs including trailer, with a Safari AWD. Used to use a 2wd Astro, and I would smoke the tires on the wet ramps. I would recommend the AWD for this reason. Plus, if you drive in snow, the AWD is uncanny in it's ability. When we go to the ski slopes, often times it's the Subarus and me able to stay on the road.
  • ganze1ganze1 Posts: 7
        Has anyone changed the type of rotor they are using on their Astro/Safari? My 2003 Astro has warped rotors. I was thinking of trying some slotted or drilled rotors so they stay cooler. Has anyone tried them? If so, was there any improvement?

  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    My 2001 AWD Astro is my third. I drive a lot, 40,000 to 50,000 a year. My current Astro has gone 70,000 plus miles on front brake pads and rotors. My driving hasn't changed. I owe this to a savy Chevrolet service advisor telling me his "secret" when my OEM pads gave out along with warped rotors. This was at about 28,000 miles, by the way. He said not to use any other pads but carbon metalic after my rotors were turned. GM doesn't sell them but I went to a local NAPA and picked up a set. Wow, what a diffence it's made. I'm at about 110,000 on the "clock" now. I'll never use anything but carbon metalic on my Astros.
  • ganze1ganze1 Posts: 7
    Thanks for the advice. Was there any special/oem rotor used or are they just the factory rotors? Also, I had thought of trying the ceramic pads. They are supposed to be the new thing!!!
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    No, factory rotors turned for the first time. And he said do not get ceramic unless you want to replace your rotors often. The big sercret(he said) to the carbon metalic is that they dissapate heat better than any of the others and it's heat that "kills" your rotors. Heck, mine are still smooth as butter after all those miles.
  • ganze1ganze1 Posts: 7
    Great. Sounds like good advice. Thanks again.
  • toocheaptoocheap Posts: 2
    I bought my 96 Astro in 2002 with 100K miles on it, and it has been pretty good generally. I now have 135K miles and over Christmas I lost my fuel pump. When the pump was actually in the process of failing, I was cruising along the highway about 60mph, and the van started to cough, hesitate, then stopped dead all in about 5 minutes. I replaced the pump, my fuel strainer, and fuel filter.

    Now, sometimes when I'm cruising at highway speed (more like 70-80 mph) it will cough a little bit. This has been going on for a few months and it is very unnerving. It hasn't died, it just coughs at highway speed. I checked the diagnostic trouble Codes and got a code for the camshaft position sensor. I replaced that, and it has helped; but still has not solved the problem.

    A few things I suspect are: Fuel injectors, timing chain, and ignition coil. Presently, I am getting no Diagnostic Trouble Codes. I would appreciate any of your thoughts, experiences, etc. My brother suspects that I'm sporadically losing power to my ECM, but I've seen no code to this effect.

    Too cheap to go to a dealer
  • ganze1ganze1 Posts: 7
    I now have carbon metallic pads all the way around on my '03 Astro. We'll see if they are worth it. The stopping power is pretty good. I had the front rotors turned but I think I will have to replace them because they are thin and still a bit warped, not much though. I had to replace the rear rotors. I found it very interesting that the e-brake use a drum inside the rotor. Never seen that before.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    I just had my tires rotated at a Les Schwab store here in the area and they said that my front (carbon metalic) pads were down to 1/3 of their life. They thought I'd be an easy sell for new front brakes. I said given there is 1/3 still left, that means I can go another 40,000 miles before I need to think about replacing them. I invited them to take it for a spin and check out how smooth it still stops. No abnormal rotor wear. If it lurched or grabbed, it would be time to look at the pads and rotors but it isn't. One other nice benefit is that they don't make the wheels as dirty with the dust off the wearing pads. Mark me down as sold on carbon metalics for Astros anyway.
  • famof3kidsfamof3kids Posts: 160
    I have 95000 miles on my Astro. No problems, just regular maintenance. Can't beat that! And with three kids, we need the space. There is no other 'small' van that can beat the towing capacity! I just wish that GM would add On-Star, DVD, and curtain airbags to the 2005's. We would buy another one in a heartbeat. Seems that GM wants the Astro/Safari sales to decline. Baltimore Sun reported that in the latest UAW contract the plant was slated to close in summer of 2005. This model/plant also has the highest labor hours per vehicle in the GM lineup, so, guess that too was a determining factor, but, what can they expect with a 19 year old design. I just hope they update it or replace it with an equivalent, because I definetely will not hop on the Venture/Montana/Terraza/Relay bandwagon. According to, 2005 is the last year.
  • famof3kidsfamof3kids Posts: 160
    Well, its been a week since my last post and bragging about my van. On our way to Myrtle Beach last week when we noticed that, upon exiting the interstate coming to a slow stop, we started hearing a thump noise from the rear of the vehicle. We continued on as the noise only occurred when coming to a stop, and slower than 10mph. After arriving, we headed out one night in the traffic. We noticed the van started shuddering when accelerating in 2nd gear. It wasn't slipping, just shuddering, enough to shake the dash. No lights on dash, but, we were worried being 7 hours from home. When it was time to come home, we took it easy. It got us home. I took the van to a local 'trusted' mechanic and he couldn't figure it out. I then took it to the Chevy dealer. They too were stumped as to the cause. The weird thing is that it didn't do this until it was driven 10 miles, maybe enough to warm it up. The service manager, lead Chevy technician, and another technician drove it trying to determine the cause. They fist started with a full transmission flush and filter kit. No results. They then flushed the transfer case. No results, but, they did say it would take about 100 miles for the transfer case synthetic oil to get through all the parts (weird, I know). They also fixed the sticking gas pedal (carbon build up). So, $400 later, I drove it home. After a day or so the problem was gone. It has been doing fine for a week. Absolutely not shuddering or thumping. We had hoped it was solved. So, last night on the way home from taking the kids swimming, 3 miles away, it started again. There are still no check lights illuminated. The Chevy dealer said that if it happened again, the next thing would be to tear into the transmission or transfer case. He said a rebuilt GM tranny was $2500 and a rebuilt transfer case was $1500. So, we are going to live it it for a few more weeks to see 'what' happens or, if it gets worse. The van is in great shape, no rust, perfect paint, etc. I just hate to put that much money in a vehicle with 95k miles and 5 years old. The GM service manager said that he would personally trade it if it was his. So, this might be the end of our Astro days, only time will tell, short time....
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Just a question or two because I had a similiar incident when mine was new. Does your van have a limited slip rear differential? Have you changed tires or rotated them front to back before the problems began?

    In my situation, I put new tires on the van right after I picked it up from the dealer. The trouble was that one tire was not the same size as the other 3 and it happened to get mounted on the front. When it was rotated from the front to the back at 5,000 miles, it started trying to kick in the limited slip feature. The sensors were telling the limited slip to kick in because one tire was turning slower than the other. Chevy did all the things that they did to your van until one sharp eyed technician figured it out. Yeah, the tire dealer paid for it all.

    Just thought I'd pass that along if it might be of help.
  • john29john29 Posts: 20
    Just bought a 2004 Safari RWD yesterday on impulse. Reading thru these message, see a lot of references to the fuel pump failures.. Is this pump inside the fuel tank?
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Yes, I just had my first fuel pump failure. I paid $634.14 to have it replaced with a new factory unit here in Seattle. The shop did tell me that they believe a lot of these failures are caused by owners driving on a nearly empty tank. Over time, they overheat and fail. They are long, narrow units that stick up high in the tank and are not submersed in fuel unless the tank is full or nearly so.

    My 2 cents
  • famof3kidsfamof3kids Posts: 160
    Good grief! That was the problem! As soon as I got home I checked the van! That was the third trip back to the tire dealer (National Chain). The manager wasn't there, but, I'll be sure to try and get him to pay for the work done at the dealer. There was only two mechanics on duty and they changed the tire free of charge. The problem was that 3 tires were 215-75-15 and one front tire was 225-75-15. We drove the van 1500 miles on the wrong size tire. I hope it did't mess up the transfer case, etc. I thought it was the tires, because the problem happened after we had new tires put on the van. But, I took it back to the tire dealer who said everything was OK. Only then did I take it to the dealer for hundreds of dollars of un-needed maintenance! Makes sense now. The AWD was kicking in thinking that the van was spinning. That explains the parking lot binding (worse than normal), the shudder when accelerating, and the thumping when coming to slow stop! Thanks for your help!!
  • jubileerunjubileerun Posts: 18
    I am unhappily divorcing from a 1992 Toyota Previa, it was not designed with maintenance in mind. I am drawn to the Astro/Safari line because it sports the 4.3L vortec and rear wheel drive. I have a few questions. 1. Is there any difference in quality between the Astro versus the Safari? 2. What year did the vortec (I assume this means multi-port fuel injection) become standard equipment? 3. What is it like to work on this vehicle yourself, is there easy access to the top of the engine? 4. Is the 2001 model year as good as any? 5. Is the 8pass configuration as easy to maneuver as the 7pass? Thanks.
  • bsmoodhabsmoodha Posts: 17
    Scenario: 98 Astro, 98,000 m,2 WD, NON limited slip,new front shocks, 6k on tires, also tires balanced and rotated once and seem to be wearing evenly, no metal in differential, new brakes. Problem: doing 55/67 mph. internittent medium frequency vib. in steering wheel, seat of your pants and console. WHEN it is vibrating you can hear a rumble from the rear-inside the van. If you hit the brakes when it is doing this vib.thing the whole van beginns to shake moderately.

    Took it to the Dealer just before the 6y/100k warranty expired. They had it for the day and two techs could not feel the vib. it probably was not acting up at the time for them or they don't know vibs.

    Could it be the original rear shocks ???

    I am just a jet Aircraft Maintenance Technician, what do I know about vibs......
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    There isn't any difference in the Astro and the Safari. They are both built in Baltimore and will continue production until mid 05 model year.

    The major engine change was in 95 when the engine rating was increased from 165 HP to 190 HP & I assume the Vortec designation.

    The 8 passenger and the 7 passenger van is the same size and wheelbase i.e. maneuverability is the same.
    Some other changes in the 18 year old design.
    97, supposedly ruggedized the 4L60E transmission.
    99, added the tow haul mode to the 4L60E trans.
    Around 02, 03, and 04. changes. Changed the computer program to eliminate the EGR valve. Added disc breaks on the rear. Changed to Synthetic fluid in the differential. Cheapened the base model by eliminating the folding and sliding rear seats in the 8 passenger model.
    Changed the fuel injection system again, I believe in 03. Side door beams were added sometime after 97, (my model year), and this reduced the rated fuel mileage from 17, 21 to 16, 20, on the rwd.
    Issues, but not major:
    Transmission valve body on 97 models.
    Sticky throttle body valve.
    EGR valve on models so equipped.
    Fuel pump if fuel level not properly maintained as a pump coolant.
    Fuel pressure regulator on early models, and injectors. These problems mostly caused by using California formulated fuel and or using a premium fuel.
    Differential is a little on the weak side if used for heavy towing. Synthetic lub, and or recommended frequent changes alleviate this problem.
    Brakes are a little on the weak side.
    Summing up: Like a rock, it is one tough truck. If you have the 8 passenger you can remove the rear seats and haul 4X8' sheets of wallboard and plywood. The center seats are bolted in on the 7 passenger. But it takes two men and a boy to lift the rear seats. Actually I do it by myself but they are heavy. I would recommend the 2003 if within your price range due to the disk rear brakes, improved injection system, no EGR valve, and the synthetic lube already in the differential.
    Maintenance work is not all that difficult. Considering some of the other vans. i.e the Venture for instance.
    Good luck
  • jubileerunjubileerun Posts: 18
    Thanks for the info. This helps us with our decision to replace the Previa, which was not designed with shade tree mechanic maintenance in mind.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Bent rim or some other wheel problem?

    Try asking in the Got a Quick, Technical Question? discussion - maybe there's some A&P propeller heads in there who can help.

    Steve, Host
  • riccd2001riccd2001 Posts: 12
    This probably applies to Astros and a few other Chevys...

    From 1992 to 1994 GMC Safaris were available with L35 engines that produced 200 HP @ 4400 rpm. These so-called "W" series engines were marketed as "Enhanced" or "High Output" V6s and used central port electronic injection for fuel delivery. All were catagorized as "Vortec" V6s. From 1995 to date the SAE Net HP rating was reduced to 190 HP @ 4400 rpm. Multi-port fuel injection Vortec V6s became available starting in 1996 to date.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    The Astro 4.3L V6 was called "Vortec V6" from the beginning even though it had carburetor at introduction in 1985. Fuel Injection was added in 1990 even though the label "Fuel Injection" appeared on the rear door in 1991.
          With a relatively frugal 17/22 EPA rating for 1991 and a 27 gallon fuel tank, the Astro/Safari had an outstanding fuel range. Many owners were getting 24-25 MPG on the highway with the 1990-91 Astro RWD.
          Sadly, GM failed to make small improvements such as easily removed 2nd row Captain Seats and left side sliding door so the Astro/Safari sales continued to drop as the Voyager/Caravan/Town & Country kept improving in comfort items and power while retaining excellent fuel economy.
          Most early Astro/Safari owners (1985-1994) would have continued to buy one IF GM would have improved them as Chrysler has done.
          Honda got it right the 2nd time with the 1999 Odyssey and Toyota finally produced a satisfactory minivan with the 2004 Sienna.
          The Mazda MPV minivan and KIA Sedona are too small for most families; the 2004 Nissan Quest too radical in appearance; Volkswagen vans have always been too gutless with very few creature comforts and poor gas mileage; the GM FWD vehicles were too radical at first and then too expensive with the current style; and Ford never did make a competitive minivan at a reasonable price. Ford minivans were always haunted by very poor reliability. The Taurus/Windstar transmission had a notoriously high failure rate and the 3.8L V6 had an almost 100% head gasket failure rate.
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