Chevy astro awd problems

Chevy astro awd problems DEFAULT

Automotive Forums .com Car Chat > Chevrolet > Astro > M Bodies > Should I buy a used Astro van or avoid it?

Should I buy a used Astro van or avoid it?


10-19-2004, 08:30 AM

I am trying to figure out whether to buy an Astro Van or wait quietly until the thought passes. The Japanese vans have a reputation for better quality than the Astro van but lately I have heard Sienna and Odyssey $4000 transmission repair horror stories so that reputation could be changing. A few friends of mine own Astros and point out that the Astros have a partial ladder frame and can carry a heavy load since they are built more like a truck. The 4.3Litre engine is basically the good old Chev 350 with two cylinders chopped off so should be pretty bullet proof. When I ride in an Astro I have no room for my feet in the foot well and the seats seem cheaply built. No insult intended thats just my impression after a quick ride - and it was in an older van - an 89 I think. So here are my questions:
1) Since most of you own Astro vans now, would you buy another one - are you satisfied overall with your van?

2) What drives you nuts about the van: what frequent problems do you run into?

3) Are there years I should avoid looking at due to problems? I can afford up to about a 1999 model.(I am reading and researching using buyers guides but nothing beats asking people who own the vehicle.)

4) I would have a qualified mechanic check out any Astro van I was considering buying but what are say the top three things to watch out for with a used Astro?
Thanks for taking the time to read my long post


10-19-2004, 10:15 AM

1st don't buy any Astro older then 1996, for ride and seat comfort.
1996 and newer, don't give the appearance of a cargo van inside.
Have your Mechanic check all steering components, vans are know for ball joints, and Idle arms. Some years I believe, 1997 are know for going thru front brakes. I have a 1996 Astro 2WD, 200,000kms, things I have had to fix in the year I have own it, Alternator, rear brake cylinder, ball joints, idle arms. They are great at towing, we tow a 2000lb tent trailer all over the place, and you barely notice the trailer behind. Its great if you have a family lots of room. Recommend the 4 captain seats and 1 bench seat style. Downfalls, it is a big vehicle and has taken my wife a while to used backing it up, because you seat higher, If you like to work on the vehicle yourself, you might find in tight for space to work on. Bottom Line, yes I would buy another


10-24-2004, 09:56 PM

I bought a 2001 AWD Astro carge van a few months age. I had back surgery and the 2002 F250 was to hard of a ride. Now back to the Astro. I'm 6'4 and had a problem at first with the leg room and the seating but after a few days I found my spots and fit right in. I find it to be a great vehicle. I did have to change the gear lube inn the front, rear and the transfer case, but that was it. I just added a set of Bridgestones Dueler AT Revo's 225x75x15 and that gave me a better ride and handling, and they tell me there great in the snow. If I had the $$$$$ I'd buy one for all my kids. Hope this helps.


10-25-2004, 10:03 PM

I didn't need an open box pickup anymore so I researched vans. I decided on the Astro because it could tow 5000lb, had all wheel drive, was big enough to fit 4x8 plywood or sheetrock in it with the doors closed and when needed I can put all the seats in and carry 7 or 8 people in roomy decent comfort. I have a 2002 w/ 45k and so far only prob has been a leaky windshield and a set of new front brake pads. I'm happy with it. It's better in the snow than my 4x4 pickup was and tows our camper easily.


10-27-2004, 02:01 AM

Have a 2000 Astro, and the only problems we've had are the usual power locks and power windows. They were expensive to fix, but other than the lack of legroom it's been fine.

Aqua Angel

11-03-2004, 11:17 PM

i bought a used 87 astro Van and got it converted into propane for my work and that van is running strong after over a year 1/2 of work and intense driving and still driving strong even after over 389,000,00 KM. All there is into buying used van is to do your research, how many owners and service record of the vehicle. if you have none of those? go for a test drive and look for a leak(s) and wear or the drive train or have it inspected.

Good luck


01-24-2005, 07:54 PM

Yes, the astro is much better than most used cars! Go for it!
Newer isn't always better, and lots of miles isn't always bad. Handles better than the honda.

I purchased mine used in 1996. It is a 1990 model. 9 years, never gave me a problem until the last few months. Ok, I'll be more honest - an alternator every 4 years, a starter every six, brake pads...the usual GM stuff.

I guess, I base my opinion on the fact that I roll right by lots of dead cars along the road. Lots of cars much newer than mine simply die on the freeway. I have never had a "left me stranded" experience with my astro.

The only advice I can give you, is to determine whether the tortion bars have been replaced. They had a problem in the early 90's with weak tortion bars that would crack. If you buy one used, find out whether they have been replaced. If not, upon purchase, get them replaced or looked at to see if they are the large ones or the small ones. The GMC safari did not have this problem.

Common problems (1984-1995 4.3L Carb/TBI)

1. Door/window Switches fail - Solution - Use the same switch from a buick or oldsmobile or avoid the drive-through window at mcdonalds!

2. Door Locks break, driver side and rear doors. - Solution - grease them once a year with lithium spray in grease. The rear door lock may be fixed by drilling a hole through the piece of zinc to repair the piece that broke off.

3. Ground wires/battery cables corrode. - solution - use that $6 tube of silicone grease and $1.75 tube of silicone glue to properly seal these parts upon replacement. Wiggle them when the vehicle does not start!

4. Ignition Switch no longer needs key to start vehicle. - solution - This is a common ...feature... of all GM vehicles. You can purchase a new switch from most automotive stores for about $9 to $15. Good luck installing it!

5. (1987-1993) Rear speakers rattle and sound distorted - solution - use a small needle to make a hole in the dustcap, and spray WD-40 into the coil area. Use a steamer to get the cones to warp back, then a hair dryer to keep them in place. Ah heck, just buy some cheap replacements. The stereo always works!

6. Three button auto-reverse cassette deck no longer plays tapes - solution - take it to a shop that repairs car stereos and have them replace the belt - the cassette portion is made by Matsushita "panasonic" It's very easy to replace!

7. Five Band EQ radio cassette deck keeps reversing - the mechanism is made by blaupunkt - find a blaupunkt radio that has been removed from an import and swap the mechanism. OK, better yet, just use an RF modulator and a portable CD player.

8. (1984-early 1985 models) Choke light on - This is actually your OIL light!!!! The wires may be hooked to the wrong ideot light. - solution - you can switch the wires, or just think of your engine choking on sludge because it low on oil!! Or, you can CHOKE the dealer mechanic for not telling you about this known defect until the van is out of warranty!

9. Burns oil on long trips or when doing lots of towing. Use synthetic, its worth it!

10. Radiator may crack and break on anything newer than the 1991. This is all GM cars. If this happens, replace it with an all metal one designed for the 1985-1987 models. This is a do-it-only-once repair. I've never had an Astro radiator fail, so this is just heresay.

OK, enough.

What the astro does NOT have is the $2500 problems - the transmission lasts 120,000-200,000 miles based on usage. Maybe longer.
Never blew a head gasket! (have you fixed-a-big-forrrd...lately?)
Wheel bearings, ball joints, idler arms, U joints all last pretty much to 175,000 miles, with "reduced perfomance" (i.e sloppy steering)

Anything after 1995 and you are likely to have to replace the fuel pump. The 89 is notorious for this too. The 84-85 with the carb has a mechanical fuel pump on a belt from the engine


01-25-2005, 07:56 PM

i have a 1995 astro LT all wheel drive 85k i bought it used at 50k. i would absolutely buy another. i live in connecticut...the weather here is rough in the winter and my all wheel drive gets me out of anything that my 98 blazer gets me through. originally we bought the blazer for my wife..she didnt like the size of the vehicle and climbing in an out of it. personally i love the size. its a "mini" van with full size cargo space. im a musician and use it for my equiptment. the seats are a bit bulky to remove (i leave out the 3rd seat and have plenty of room for my gear). the only things ive had to replace since i bought it were the shocks, tires, radio and the regular tune up stuff...other than that no expenses.
depending on your use for the astro..mine is comfortable,loaded with all the goodies for traveling, awesome in the snow with plenty more cargo room than the jap vans. plus its american made! i highly recomend the 95 chevy astro van...ive been extremely happy with mine


02-12-2005, 04:13 PM

very comfortable van. i have had a few problems-
rear axke seals went out
brakes went out
accessory bracket on engine broke
heater fan motor burned out
radio stopped working
a/c stopped working
cruise control stopped working
burns oil
has a strange vibration up front
back doors won't open
alternator went out
windshields break very easily
power steering went out
radiator leaks
engine is about impossible to get at
i haven't had any trouble since i parked it last year. go with a honda, toyota, anything else!! j


02-12-2005, 08:44 PM

i forgot about having to replace the fuel pump, water pump, starter motor. that stranded me three times. be sure and join a motor club. j


02-13-2005, 07:33 AM

I have had my 95 Asto since new (Nov 94). It now has 201000km. This
van a lot of life left in her. Most repairs that i have been able to do myself - water pump, spark plugs and cap, brakes ( rear need manual
adj) idler arms,rear heater pluming replaced ( used heater hoses instead
of expensive dealer part ) Now only needs driver's power window motor repaced and new shocks ( i will replace when it gets warmer ) Its been
Mom's taxi, moving van, been full of hockey equipment and players. When this van is worn out i would look for another used one to buy, but that might still be a few years away


02-13-2005, 04:15 PM

The first thing I'm wondering is if you bought your astro yet or decided against it? This thread started in October. 4 months ago. I've owned 2 Astros. I traded in my 1986 for a 1997 which I still drive today. The 97 has 160 miles on it and it doesn't use any oil between oil changes. (3000 miles). With that I would say I'm happy. The problems I've had are door handles breaking, power door locks falling out, and a nuisance P1870 code trans comp slipping. I've had this check engine light for 3 years and I just keep resetting it waiting for the transmission to shit completely before I get it fixed. I get the hard 1-2 gear shift but I reset it. It goes away in the winter and the wife complains about it all summer cause I'm too cheap to get it fixed. I'm going to try to put a shift kit in it this spring to see if that helps this summer. I have to get the A/C fixed. I think its vacuum related. I also had to replace the fuel tank sender. It was hard to find but I found one for $46. That beats the $300 fuel tank pump assembly that the parts stores were trying to sell me. I own a Mitusubishi Montero and while not a Van (it's an SUV) I'm not sure if the Japenese stuff is any better or not. It's fairly reliable thus far but one quart of the recommended transmission fluid is $4.50 and you can only buy it at the dealer. I went to a local transmission shop to see if they sold that type and they said no. They would just put the Dexron III in it. Go figure. If you like working on your own vehicle get the Chevy, If you like paying high prices to get your import fixed by someone else get that import. But I've been a Chevy Biased guy my whole life so what do I know.

I had an 87 Astro... my first vehicle. I loved it, even being in highschool. I would DEFINATELY buy an Astro if I had a family with kids. If I were to find a good one for sale now (I'm 20 years old), who knows... I might buy it.


02-24-2005, 06:18 AM

I am trying to figure out whether to buy an Astro Van or wait quietly until the thought passes. The Japanese vans have a reputation for better quality than the Astro van but lately I have heard Sienna and Odyssey $4000 transmission repair horror stories so that reputation could be changing. A few friends of mine own Astros and point out that the Astros have a partial ladder frame and can carry a heavy load since they are built more like a truck. The 4.3Litre engine is basically the good old Chev 350 with two cylinders chopped off so should be pretty bullet proof. When I ride in an Astro I have no room for my feet in the foot well and the seats seem cheaply built. No insult intended thats just my impression after a quick ride - and it was in an older van - an 89 I think. So here are my questions:
1) Since most of you own Astro vans now, would you buy another one - are you satisfied overall with your van?

2) What drives you nuts about the van: what frequent problems do you run into?

3) Are there years I should avoid looking at due to problems? I can afford up to about a 1999 model.(I am reading and researching using buyers guides but nothing beats asking people who own the vehicle.)

4) I would have a qualified mechanic check out any Astro van I was considering buying but what are say the top three things to watch out for with a used Astro?
Thanks for taking the time to read my long post

I have a 1994 Astro AWD EXT with 262,000 miles . It has had a few problems buy nothing really major. I still drive it 200 miles a day. I think they are good vans. The only thing that might keep me from buying another pne is the legroom, but that wouldn't bother me if I didn't drive so much. Also I would sell mine for $2200 if anybody is interested and it is still good and dependable.


07-31-2005, 12:29 PM

I know this is an old thread but I thought that you might be interested in my story: I have a 95 wheelchair conversion with approx. 1.2 million kilometres on it - all driven in northern Manitoba (750 kms north of Winnipeg). The first engine lasted 750000 kms, the transmission has been replaced three times up to this year when I had it rebuilt - it has since failed twice!! All other components last as long as you look after them and replace with high quality parts. It has lots of rattles and is drafty but I still drive it on gravel roads in -35C weather with confidence. The driving position is very comfortable. The front passenger has limited footroom. I have a friend who runs a taxi to Split Lake twice a day with an Astro. Thats 700kms over all gravel roads all year around. Needless to say, I recommend buying one to anyone.


12-19-2005, 12:16 PM

1999 Chevrolet Astro van with 143 000 Km on the OD. Intake manifold gasket has gone. Had it replaced at a cost of $650 CND. Drove it for a day and lost power. Van still starts but has a metalic rattle in the engine. The speedometer is going up like a Tachometer would as I increase the engine rpm. Is this a known problem with the Astro van. What do you think has happened with the engine? This van is a real piece of junk. Just did the fuel pump, power steering pump. Run as fast as you can away from this van!!!!!!Forgot to mention I have to have a new engine put in at 143000KM.

I have owned 2 Chevy Astros, a 1985 and my current 1997.

Unless you can't afford anything else and/or don't mind working on your vehicle often, AVOID the Chevy Astro and GMC Safari. These vans have a very long list of typical things that go wrong, even if they are small things it adds up really fast. These vans came out over 20 years ago and GMC never bothered to fix many of the issues that plagued these vehicles since the beginning.

I do 95% of my own maintenance and servicing on my vehicles so that saves me money, but I am also growing tired of dealing with such high maintenance. My time is worth more now, and spending a good chunk of my weekend running diagnostics and replacing yet another part is not my idea of living life. Most jobs like changing the spark plugs and wires is a rather large undertaking on the Astro, especially for someone who has not done it before.

Here are just some of the many common problems that plague these vans:

Intake manifold gaskets corrode, GMC refuses to recall. EXPENSIVE

Dexcool coolant reportedly a cause of many problems.

Cheap plastic vacuum tubing breaks from engine heat, disabling heater/ac vent.

Blower motor resistor/wiring often breaks.

Transmission hard shifting "thunk" is very common.

Cheap/weak idler arms cause problems.

Window motors need replacing often.

Locks, door handles, door hardware malfunction or break easily.

Carbon builds up more often with these vans, clogging throttle bodies, fuel injectors, egr valves, etc... EXPENSIVE

Cheap plastic fuel injector spider breaks easily. EXPENSIVE

Dash needle guages flicker from shorts in the electrical system.

When the in-gas-tank fuel pump dies it will likely leave you stranded. VERY EXPENSIVE

Metal oil filler tube shorts out close spark plug wires - bad design.

Plastic screw tabs on distributor split very easily, so you need to buy a whole new distributor if you screw the cap on with any reasonable force. GMC refuses to redesign the holes to accept the screws without breaking the tabs off. Bad materials, bad design. EXPENSIVE

Engine cover is a pain to remove, can't remove without your toolbox.

Metal fuel line contacts metal engine block. Sloppy assembly, bad fit.

Bad design and bad materials make GMC a LOT of money through their "Parts and Services" departments. The money you save buying a cheap Astro... GMC will likely get the money out of you through parts and servicing. Otherwise they will cost you lots of time and effort and grief if you choose to fix these vans yourself.

And another thing... some things advertised by GMC are misleading. The Astro/Safari does have a higher tow capacity than most minivans, but to get the extra tow capacity you need a special "weight distributing hitch". Otherwise you can only tow what the regular minivans can tow. The "Extended Service Intervals" for the spark plugs and coolant - should be changed earlier to prevent plugs from siezing and coolant from corroding.

Astro's/Safari's always, always, always get bad marks on nearly every category in the car ratings. I agree with them on this.

This 1997 Astro is my last. I could have spent more money up front for a higher quality, lower maintenance van and could have saved a lot of frustrations and time in the long run.

My advice? Buy something else. If you must have a van, buy a regular front wheel drive minivan or a short-wheelbase rear-wheel drive full size V8 if you need towing capacity or cargo space.


03-15-2006, 01:03 AM

Adstrovans with a round air filter are very good excellent!!!, this is medels 1988 to about 1993, and models with one fuel injector per piston, that is with square air filter, about 1995 to 2004, have a lot of motor failures, I have heard.


03-21-2011, 01:34 PM

I have been driving and repairing Astros and Safaris since 1986. I have not had a bad history with any of the "gripes" that are in some of the above posts. Don't get me wrong, any car is a machine, and machines do
have their faults, but I love these trucks, and am so sad to see them out of production. I have yet to have any of my trucks last less than 300,000 mi, and right now, my dailey driver shows 307,000 mi. I would not drive a Caddy if you gave it to me, that is how much I love my truck.



06-07-2011, 02:32 PM

I've had my 99 Astro since 2002, and it's a given that I have to spend at least 1000 a year to keep it running. I just got a quote of $2300 to redo all the brakes. I think it's going to the scrap yard instead.


06-07-2011, 08:09 PM

Sounds to me like your mechanic has found his own personal gold mine.

$2300 is too much for brakes on a Lexus, forget on an Astro. Semi-metallic pads are under $30 per set. Calipers are under $30 each. Rotors are under $30 each. Brake shoes - you guessed it, under $30 per set. Wheel cylinders are under $20. Hardware kit is $5 for both sides.

That's $200 in parts if you replace everything. The drums shouldn't need to be replaced - or turned unless something went wrong.


06-07-2011, 08:40 PM

I was wondering about that. I had $800 in brake work done 4 years ago, and I didn't use the van the spring I had to replace all the rotors because they pitted right through. I saw them....less than 5 months old and they were like swiss cheese.

Now this time all the lines have to be replaced and the cylinders and etc etc... basically everything. I know a vehicle sitting outside all winter is bad for it...but jeesh.


06-11-2011, 01:35 PM

I just got a new quote for $1200. He even went through the parts list for me and showed me the prices. This included 2 idler arms too. How the other guy could be twice as much is beyond me.

Here is the first guys description:

Both idler arms are loose. Rear brake lines from abs to flex hose rotten and leaking. Both rear flex lines and wheel cylinders seized. Rear brake shoes machine drums. Recommend front brake service with repack and adjust of front wheel bearings.


06-24-2011, 09:45 PM

Holy Old Thread, Batman! This thread started in 2004.


07-06-2011, 01:02 PM

97 Astro 150k 2WD- replaced both door motors years ago and have had no problems with them since. Replaced AC three years ago. Regular maintenance - oil, tranny fluid, differential fluid. Started overheating yesterday. Mechanic said the last time i had it in there it had some "minor" leak deep down in some gasket?, but he recommended just keeping an eye on the fluids instead of a $1200 repair. Taking it in tomorrow to get the overheating problem looked at. So far so good for the most part - automatic seats up front are still functioning ( do not adjust too often) and rear air and heat still working. Rode in a 2002?? or 2003 rental while on a trip and the suspension was much better (ie more comfortable) - rental had 4 wheel disc brakes too. GL


07-18-2011, 08:19 PM

Oh I have a coolant leak. Rad split down the side. :frown:


08-30-2011, 08:24 AM

Oh great....broken sway bar. Time to sell.:runaround:


10-11-2011, 07:34 PM

I have a 2000 Astro and 94 Safari. I bought the Astro as a Demo in 2000 and I bought the Safari August 2010 with 247,000 miles. I have had a head gasket fixed on the Astro, A tranny rebuild and 2 rearends replaced because I loaded it with 2000 lbs and dragged 2000 lbs to shows and conventions and drove it fast and hard. I just replaced the started and the alternator in the safari. Both these vehicles are great for hauling and driving around. I would buy another when these wear out???? I currently have an issue on another thread with the Astro possibly needing a new fuel pump. I think they are way cheaper to own and fix than front engine mounted vans like a the 98 caravan sitting in my yard now reddy to haul to the junk yard.


01-17-2012, 08:06 AM

This is an old thread, but people are still posting to it, so I'll add my thoughts.

I like the Safari vans....I've owned three of them.

However, I have never had a more problematic vehicle than the Safari vans.

The design flaws that GM built into them...knew about...and refused to fix are legendary....and occur with a tremendously high percentage of the vehicles.

I've had to put fuel pumps on every single of them three times...

Every van had starting issues, and had to have cracked coils replaced, and this problem will flat out stop you dead in the will the bad fuel of them repeatedly, and that is due to a poor GM design.

I've had the heater motor go out on every Safari van I've owned...not to mention the resister that controls them...on each van.

I've had idler arms wear out quickly on two of my Safaris, and have to be replaced.

Radiator problems on two of them...bad design, with plastic pieces on each side of the metal radiator...that are destined to get brittle and crack...

The AWD model I presently have...and from the complaints others have a very poor design that eventually causes terrible turning and parking problems with it's lurching, bucking, slipping and grabbing, drive problems...that supposedly can only be corrected with the "magic" blue, GM Auto trac fluid...well, that never fixed MY van...I eventually gave up and had the transfer case rebuilt...expensive...the problem returned I had the thing disconnected and it is now a two will drive....oh yeah, the AWD is WORTHLESS on any thing but pavement or hard pack dirt...don't think it will get you through any type of won' 2000 AWD Safari is the ONLY vehicle that I have ever been actually stuck in the snow with...and I have been driving in Michigan winters since 1965...the design is junk.

Also, just changing the spark plugs is a MAJOR hassle on these vehicles.

I actually do like the space, the turning radius, the seating position...although there IS very limited leg room and foot space.

Non of my vans have had more than 150,000 miles on the engines, so it can't be laid off on extremely high mileage...basically there are just design flaws that GM knew about, and continued to produce.

If my son didn't occasionally need the carrying space for his business, I would dump my Safari.

So, basically...while I don't know what I would replace it with....I would NOT recommend that anyone buy one of these vehicles, and unless you are very mechanically talented, and don't mind spending lots of your free time fixing on going problems...again and again....I'd say stay away from these vehciles.

It's really too bad...the concept is excellent, but GM's failure to redesign the known flaws and constant trouble spots on these vehicles is simply inexcusable, and the government SHOULD have made them recall all of them and fix the parts that such a high percentage of owners have had to deal with over the life of these models.

Don't buy one.


01-17-2012, 10:14 AM

Great post. These are my thoughts exactly. Terrific vehicle..but they just won't stay together.


04-26-2012, 07:19 AM

I used to own a 1991 Astro and 1996 Safari:

The 1991 Astro was a beast, never had and issue with it. I just did regular maintenance on it, like engine oil, transmission oil and tune ups. Had this van for 3 years and regret selling it.

The 1996 Safari gave some problems, one the transmission and fuel pump. Took it to the shop fix it after that running like a champ. I believe these problems are common in these vans, however I just love these trucks. They offer lots of room and is perfect for the family. Here in Japan they are really popular, yes Japanese people love Astros/Safari vans!. I'm looking forward to buy another Astro/Safari ones I get station back to the states.

Bottom line get one!


06-17-2012, 11:35 AM

I have a 94 Astro EXT Tiara conversion, aside from the motorized back seat not working, the radio being dead, a leaky windshield, and needing a driver side brake caliper all is well on old betsy, she does good for being near 18 years old, aside from the requisite maintenance i havent had any major problems out of my astro, would recommend one for anyone in need of a good solid dependable vehicle, Also the 350 fits in the van, so if i have any engine trouble, ill just buy a surplus 350 with 700R4 to back it and a new positrac rear axle along with subframe connectors. Should really beef it up, but i guess the complainers and naysayers didnt remember this was a chevy product, and umpteen million parts laying around in good condition with lots of life left


05-23-2014, 11:00 PM

7 fuel pumps,2 transmissions, 5 distributors, 2 water pumps, 5 maf sensors, 6 alternators, 4 ignition modules, 3 coils. all that by 170,000 miles.

gm has reached its zenith with the astros engineering. probably a sienna or honda would be a wiser investment. the astro is a rolling monument (usually behind a tow truck) to gm's abilities in advertising.....certainly not in engineering


05-24-2014, 09:57 AM

"the astro is a rolling monument (usually behind a tow truck) to gm's abilities in advertising.....certainly not in engineering".
Ha,ha... I like that one.
I owned a '95 Astro, Explorer conversion back in the day. After 195k miles I too had some probs with it but all in all it was a pretty good van.
About the most major probs were an A/C clutch bearing failure, on a long family trip to D.C. , a bulkhead connector wiring short that shut everything down...drove me nuts for a coupla days and 2 fuel tank pumps. They always fail when the tank is full. The first pump was an Airtex. I deserved that one. Always used an OEM after that and always replaced the guage sender also.
A ladder framed dinosaur with a typical GM rear end that was prone to bearing wear,noise,leaks at about 100k. The rears were pricey depending on what spring set up it had. Single or multi leaf. And 11 grease fittings on the front end.


05-25-2014, 10:20 PM

Yeah an old thread, but I had a 2000 AWD Astro and the engine died after 220K, but I bought a 2005 with 85K from a USFS auction and it's even better. If you need a small van that's actually a truck and you can either afford the maintenance or do it yourself, I don't think there's a better or newer option out there. It appears that everything else out there right now is either a unibody mini-van (large car) or a full-size van. If GM (or anyone else) would start building them again, I'd buy one. If not, I'd buy another Astro or Safari.


12-11-2014, 01:25 PM

i bought mine used with 14k on it, and put another 200k on it, and am still driving it.
Not more needs to be said than that.


08-09-2015, 06:48 AM

While today's minivans offer levels of comfort and performance on par with sedans, the Chevrolet Astro was a minivan from a different era. Born in the mid-1980s when full-size Chevy vans were still in style, the Astro modeled the looks of its bigger brothers. It also shared their tough body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel-drive layout. Compared to front-wheel-drive, car-based minivans, the Chevy Astro was a true workhorse with considerable towing and hauling capabilities.


11-01-2015, 12:00 AM

I have owned 2 GMC safari vans. Both for over 10 years each and 100,000 miles. If they were still made, I'd buy another. Nothing else out there is as comfortable with so much carrying versatility. 5 people and luggage skiing , even a windsurfer inside with the back captains chairs giving a long aisle !! Yes, it sucks gas and doesn't corner but I disagree with the statements about handling in snow and ice , its wide and heavy and I've driven to Tahoe in blizzards and passed Ford explorers in the ditch :) Great visibility and comfort is important. Sure they had issues, front idler arms, fuel pump ( change the fuel filter regularly to avoid this) , brakes , spark plugs tricky , radiator, tires wearing unevenly , shocks, radiator sprung a leak, electric window motor (easy to replace yourself)... certainly don't last forever , but the cost of these is nothing compared to what you would pay on a more expensive vehicle. Not perfect, but I think they are a good deal. Whats the alternative ?


08-10-2016, 04:11 PM

We bought ours in 1997 2 whl dr. with 70k , its a 1994 CL with 160,000 miles. We have used it like a truck ~ I love the van. I have replaced the brakes, minor maintenance, the paint has come off, in 2004 I bought a new Grand Cherokee parked the van drove that for 2 years the transmission began to clunk I was lucky someone hit GC while I was in the house and totaled it! I went to the Van and it started like an old friend. Right now it has a draw off the battery, thinking it might be the starter, we'll see. 2 door locks don't work, the passenger window opens half way, the horn doesn't work. The steering is a little sloppy and I am sure it needs new shocks. Since it has OD I use that only on Highways Always use D in town or gaining speed. Its too bad Chevy quit making them! Mine is reliable worth fixing!


09-25-2016, 07:04 PM

I had a '92 Astrovan that developed a knock at 160,000 miles so I traded it in for a new '98 Astrovan. At the time I decided to take better care of the new one so it wouldn't wear out so fast. So, I have done all the recommended maintenance on time. Besides commuting to work and family vacations, I have hauled engines in the back and pulled all sorts of trailers and campers. Over the years I have replaced or repaired the driver's door panel (arm rest wore out), fuel injection, cat converter, and air conditioner. I also cracked an axel once driving off road to our camping spot in Montana while loaded to the gills with camping equipment and a boat tied on the roof. But I got that fixed, too.

With each repair I wondered if it was worth it to spend the money--then I did--and got another hundred thousand miles or so out of her. Now, my '98 has 364,000 miles on the odometer. The original engine still runs fine, the original trans seems strong and it just paossed the California smog test. But the darn air conditioner quit working again. Should I upgrade to an '04 or '05 Astrovan or just fix the A/C and go for 400,000 miles? Thanks very much.

Blue Bowtie

09-28-2016, 06:53 PM

I just picked up a second 2000 Astro AWD back in July. It had just ticked over 100K on the odometer and runs well. After the requisite 100K maintenance items it is even better. The other 2000 Astro AWD (identical color, options, seating, etc.) has over 200K and is needing an intake gasket set. I couldn't pass up a pristine clean clone as a backup.

If you can find a very clean '04 or '05 it would be worth considering. All the weak points have been listed above, as well as the strengths.

Since you have so many miles on your '98 you already know all the ins and outs. Expect a transmission and engine overhaul within another 100K. If you are up for that, keep driving. A newer replacement will likely have issues surface as well. The AC failure may be the typical belly O-ring seal on the compressor - It's a common leakage point.


12-20-2020, 09:50 AM

I dredged up this old post in a search for likely repairs to an aging Astro. I have a 2001 RWD passenger van with 140,000 miles. Engine and transmission are good. A little rusty as I live up north but not too bad. Radiator has a small leak where plastic meets metal. i'm about to replace rad plus hoses and heater valve, and as long as I'm at it thinking heater core, too. I recently replaced the serpentine belt. Any other thoughts of things to replace while I have the radiator out? It seems like this should be worth some fixing, as many members have gone 200K miles. Would also be glad to hear from those of you who previously posted; how did your repairs turn out?

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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro Transmission Problem

GM does not back there products and have the worst warranty in the buisiness. Before buying a Chevy Astro, look at the consumer complaint posts on the National Highway Transportation Safety Board for models 1996 and later.

Myself and several other consumers had the exact same same problem. Conveniently, at 48124 miles, just 12000 miles and 5 months after the warranty expired my transmission went out and I was charged 1800 dollars for a new transmission. You will notice a and abrubt gear shift from first to second after about 30-45 minutes of driving. Do you want a vehicle that has a transmission go bad at less than 50000 miles? Maybe, maybe not. But if you do, I bet you sure want the company that sold you this defective product to back it up and pay for the fix. Well, folks, Chevy (GM) will not. After several letters, e-mails and phone calls, I finally got a response. I'm sorry but since the warranty expired there is nothing we can do. Well, I'M SORRY TOO CHEVY, SINCE YOU MANUFACTURER INFERIOR PRODUCTS, YOU HAVE LOST A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE AND GAINED NEGATIVE PR FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

If there are any Chevy managment folks viewing this post, please feel to e-mail me. I will be glad to provide details.

If you are a prospective buyer, I most strongly suggest that you buy a like vehicle from one of the other manufacturers who produces a more reliable product or offers a better warranty than Chevy (Not hard since Chevy has one of the worst).

If you insist on buying a GM product, I strongly urge that you get yourself the extended warranty.



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Reliability of Chevy Astro van AWD

I have a 2003 AWD. And therein is really the answer to your question: it's 15 years old.

Things are going to go wrong, for sure. I bought mine from a friend who is meticulous with maintenance, and still I've had to repair/replace a rear throw out bearing, the fan clutch, the thermostat, the ABS module (twice), the hydroboost unit, and the aforementioned fuel injection spider (also twice because the first replacement part was defective - total PITA).

Next on my list are the A/C blower fan and its resistor pack and a vacuum canister (which btw is unavailable retail; I have to pull one off a pick n pull donor).

So you might wonder if I'd do it again or get another Astro. Definitely. They're inexpensive and have a ton of potential. They fit in any parking space (smaller than a Lexus ES350) and the visibility is better than any car I've ever driven.

I've lifted mine 4" and added nice wheels and tires. It takes me everywhere I want to go and gets tons of attention along the way. Just this weekend, in fact, two guys in a 911 GT3 ($147K in case you're wondering; I Googled to check!) gave me huge thumbs up and the passenger yelled out the window, "I LOVE that!!."

I picked up a used Westfalia propane tank yesterday for $20. And my neighbor gave me three used 10-gallon stainless steel pool filter canisters that I'm going to re-purpose into water tanks that will mount where the spare tire is now by moving the spare up to a custom rear door swingout.

A roof rack, solar, a 12v fridge and interior buildout are in process too. At some point I'll do a V-8 swap with hi-lo 4x4 transfer case.

Quite a transformation for something that started life as a kid hauler. And even when all is said and done, I'll be in it for less than $25K. For me, that's the fun of it. I can do something totally capable and totally custom without having to donate an organ.


CHEVY ASTRO VAN - Everything You Need to Know - Up to Speed

Transfer Case Problems of Chevrolet Astro

4 Transfer Case problem of the 1999 Chevrolet Astro

Failure Date: 08/20/1999

Defects listed as awd and transfer case may be same problem and were experienced from the first 300 miles and on (upon slowing down or accelerating a "clunk" was heard and felt from the front end also when cornering the vehicle "lurched/wheels grabbed" like it was stuck in 4wd. In July immediatly after it had been into the dealer to be serviced again the brakes caused the van to pull left at 35-50 mph and when slowed for corners would sound like "loose parts rubbing together". In August of 1999 (just before the replacement transfer case came in) van hit loose gravel traveling at 45-50 mph, pulled onto soft shoulder, forward about 12 ft, caught traction and came up on road, front left wheel was off ground when it came down the tire popped off the bead, wheel ground into pavement, flipping van on front, left side/corner, then onto hood and windshield, then onto full right side then upright crossways in lane it had been traveling in. The van was totaled.

See all problems of the 1999 Chevrolet Astro 🔎.

5 Transfer Case problem of the 2000 Chevrolet Astro

When taking off consumer would notice vehicle jerking. While vehicle wa son an incline vehicle would roll backwards. Vehicle was serviced, transfer case needed to be replaced.

See all problems of the 2000 Chevrolet Astro 🔎.


Problems chevy astro awd


Chevy Astro AWD transmission remove and rebuild


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