Chevy Astro Van

Messages
1,606
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
What is your opinions on one of these? I'm looking towards a used one as a "work van" to carry spare parts and tools. Pros/Cons? The one I'm looking at is a 1999 Chevy Astro Van w/ AWD.
 
Messages
4,437
Location
Massachusetts
I use to drive them in my old company. They were decently equipped and had AWD. The only problems I ever had in the 4 vans I used (total miles about 380-400K) were front rotors warping after a while (they weren't bad when replaced with aftermarket) and one transmission in a van with 85,000 hard miles. I actually had a '99 and it was my favorite one. Never one problem and when it came time to get tires, they mounted raised white letter Uniroyals. It looked cool with the small GM hubcaps. I could always spot my van in the lot at the office.
 
Messages
8,373
Location
Texas
I have a soft spot for these vans because I worked at the Baltimore plant before they stopped making the vans and closed the plant. That Astro/Safari van paid my way thru college when I worked as a temporary line worker. I was then hired full time in management and was involoved in a lot of development as well as building that van. It is a great van and we always got lots of mail from people who loved it. I have sinced moved to another plant and am now enjoying my 8 weeks off.... Sorry to ramble - but BUY that van!
 
Messages
8,373
Location
Texas
Also worth mentioning that the AWD of that era is better than the later models. The 99 van has a 60/40 split so you have full time AWD all the time. If needed, all the power could go to the front or rear as needed.The later ones had AWD, but ran in rear drive until slip was detected and instantly transferred power to the front. While it happens quickly, I just like the idea of full traction all the time. But, you do save a hair more gas with the later system.
 
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Messages
35,002
Location
NY
They make a good work van, we had 2 of them over the years, in RWD. I heard the AWD models had some issues and was expensive to fix. I was told of the problems with the AWD, but have no first hand experience with them.
 

JTK

Messages
13,164
Location
Buffalo, NY
They are a very versatile, full framed, truck based vehicle. My BIL had a ~1994 AWD. The downsides are shared with any full frame van; Not the easiest to work on the drivetrain, horrible fuel economy and lots of nooks and crannies to rust out. Joel
 
Messages
36,003
Location
ME
I had an 02 or 03 rental with AWD. 12 MPG highway and there was something in the AWD that gave a very jerky drive over certain kinds of pavement. The rest of the vans are nice in a utilitarian way. Look out for bad ball joints... not a deal breaker though.
 
Messages
8,373
Location
Texas
 Originally Posted By: eljefino
I had an 02 or 03 rental with AWD. 12 MPG highway and there was something in the AWD that gave a very jerky drive over certain kinds of pavement. The rest of the vans are nice in a utilitarian way. Look out for bad ball joints... not a deal breaker though.
12mpg highway? Something wrong there. I got atleast 16-17 combined mpg on any Astro/Safari I drove while on company business (GM)- and these were all fresh off the assy line and not broken in yet.
 
Messages
520
Location
FL
IIRC my parents 2001 AWD gets about 18 hwy not towing anything, and it has the factory hitch setup which includes the 3.73 diff. Towing a cargo trailer near the 5000lb-ish limit nets 10 MPG HWY and lots of downshifting on hills. The vans not factory equipped to tow should have a 3.42 and do even a little better while not towing. The '89 they had before that would get 21-22 hwy IIRC but had a 3.23 diff, never towed much, and was 2WD w/ only the 150HP 4.3 TBI.
 
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Messages
25,046
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Can't kill the 4.3's With regular maintenance they just keep going and going. One of the few things GM did right IMO. Too bad it's a PITA to service the engine which is stuffed under the small hood & Dashboard. But then again you can't have your cake and eat it too with GM it would seem!
 
Messages
8,373
Location
Texas
 Originally Posted By: StevieC
Can't kill the 4.3's With regular maintenance they just keep going and going. One of the few things GM did right IMO. Too bad it's a PITA to service the engine which is stuffed under the small hood & Dashboard. But then again you can't have your cake and eat it too with GM it would seem!
All vans are this way, the design requires it. But - Actually, when you remove the engine compartment cover inside you're staring at everything and it's nice to lay down on the carpet and do your work. Not so bad.
 
Messages
25,046
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I disagree... Try changing an alternator on one of these "Pigs" it's a real PITA and you need access from under the hood and inside the vehicle and it's a 2 hour job!!!! On my dads van it's a 15 minute job. And what kind of hogwash is "The design requires it, all vans are like this" My dads '94 Caravan isn't like this, my 85 wasn't like this, It's only newer vehicles which the domestic (and some "foreign") manufacturers put out which seem to be made into "Make work projects" to make the dealerships money IMO. Back in the day it wasn't a 6 hour job to do spark plugs but with the advancement in technology it is somehow now? I don't buy it... And for the record, My Hyundai is a PITA to do spark plugs on and you have to remove the Plenium/Intake etc. But at least you can easily get to it without having to be a monkey and have 5 arms like on Domestic vehicles. It took us 6.5 hours to do spark plugs on the Ford Windstar van we were given because you have to take off the plastic part near the wipers under the windsheild to access the back of the engine. ??? Gimme a break!
 
Messages
9,571
Location
Ontario, Canada
I guess he should have said all RWD vans are like that with the engine under the dash... I really really doubt the engineers have any interest in making their cars hard to service. They may not weigh ease of service high up in the design priorities either but what do you expect from a big fwd V6... I guess that why they have platinum spark plugs too. Anyways I do feel your pain in trying to work on a car that seems to be designed to work against you. I keep ease of service in the back of my mind when looking at cars, its not a major factor but I think about it...
 
Messages
25,046
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I just look at the older cars I have owned and driven and the newer stuff today and I think yikes... I don't wanna service that car. When I went to buy my Santa Fe I had them put it up on a hoist and take off the plastic cover on the engine so that I could see how hard things were to change because I was going to be doing the maintenace myself. It's a PITA to change my spark plugs but they only need to be done every 100K KM (60K Miles) so it's not too bad... I just didn't want to get into some crazy, having to take half the car apart to do a simple repair kind of situation like my dads Ford Windstar he just got. That van is a freakin nightmare! Below is what the under hood looks like in my Santa Fe in case anyone is interested in the plastic cover comment. (And no I don't have time to get it detailed, nor do I care that its dirty)
 

JTK

Messages
13,164
Location
Buffalo, NY
I'm thinking you could skip a post or 10 and take a few minutes to clean that engine compartment. A complete disgrace I tell ya. Joel
 

wirelessF

Thread starter
Messages
1,606
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
 Originally Posted By: OVERK1LL
God I hate engine covers!!!!!
Nah, intake manifolds are fugly. Gotta cover them up with something you know, if the hood isn't enough.
 
Messages
43,839
Location
Ontario, Canada
 Originally Posted By: wirelessF
 Originally Posted By: OVERK1LL
God I hate engine covers!!!!!
Nah, intake manifolds are fugly. Gotta cover them up with something you know, if the hood isn't enough.
I think some of the intake manifolds, like those on the GM LSx engines, the Chrysler HEMI, Ford Mustang...etc are actually quite nice looking. Definitely a lot better looking than a giant sheet of molded plastic.........
 
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