New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick questi

IF YOU JUST WANNA TALK ABOUT ASTRO/SAFARI VANS. PLEASE DON'T POST TECHNICAL ISSUES IN HERE.

Moderators: Fire Cakes, Rileysowner

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick questi

Post by sc-surfer » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:18 pm

Hi all. I'm new to the Astro/Safari platform but not to off-road vehicles etc. Coming from the VW Syncro world and currently running a Ford 7.3L truck. Since selling my Syncro after 20+ years I've been missing the benefits of a van and I love ugly little vehicles...so Astro is perfect!! Also looking forward to the MUCH cheaper cost of ownership and upgrading vs. the Syncro world.

I'm currently sourcing an AWD van and since I know very little about the GM motor in them I'm wondering what the longevity is in these motors. I'm toying with buying a CHEAP but clean high milage van vs. paying premium price for a low milage one. Ultimately I'm not afraid to swap in a new long block at some point, but w just don't know what to expect.

Any info on longevity, failure prone parts, things to look for or avoid would be GREAT. Currently looking into a 2001 AWD pass. van for $1600. Lots of miles but otherwise clean. At that price theres a lot of budget left for upgrades...or is that a bad idea? Seems low milage AWDs fetch more like $6-10k around here.

Thoughts and advice appreciated. Really looking forward to learning and modifying a new platform!!

Thanks all.

Monte

Captn. Crunch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 488
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by Captn. Crunch » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:58 pm

The 4.3 is a 350 with the front two cylinders lopped off. It will run forever as long as it isn’t overheated or run out of oil. The biggest concern with the 4.3 is the lower intake manifold gaskets and orange dexcool. If you can find a van with intake gaskets replaced you’ll be good to 300,000 miles with regular maintenance and green coolant.
P.S. welcome to the astrosafari world. Read on and enjoy the ride!!
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD
np236 transfer case
Torsen equipped cast iron front diff
Torsen equipped rear w/3.73's
2" body lift
S-10 rear leafs
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
Stock for now

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by sc-surfer » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:18 am

Good to know.

What happens at 300k? Just the usual internal engine wear?

Are intake gaskets unusually difficult on these vans? Seem like an easy issue...unless it's not.

Captn. Crunch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 488
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by Captn. Crunch » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:31 am

As with all things mechanical, even the most well cared for machine will fail. Compression will drop off, lifters will take longer to pump up I’m sure you know the drill. The 4.3 is a robust power plant that will serve you faithfully as long as it can and only the A/S gods know how long that is. The 4.3 was a very popular engine that GM put into all kinds of vehicles so replacement will never be an issue. The 5.7 fits right into the vans engine compartment if that suits you also
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD
np236 transfer case
Torsen equipped cast iron front diff
Torsen equipped rear w/3.73's
2" body lift
S-10 rear leafs
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
Stock for now

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by sc-surfer » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:40 am

Indeed. Thanks.

Gonna keep up the search. I'm willing to wrench, but also willing to pay a little more for the right van...Going to be a fun project!

Captn. Crunch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 488
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by Captn. Crunch » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:43 am

Great! We’ll be here ready to help
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD
np236 transfer case
Torsen equipped cast iron front diff
Torsen equipped rear w/3.73's
2" body lift
S-10 rear leafs
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
Stock for now

User avatar
timelessbeing
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:55 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by timelessbeing » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:28 am

Hey Monte. Welcome.

These aren't the youngest vans. Plastics, rubbers, electrics just break down over time. I don't know if rust is an issue where you are. But I would spend a little extra to get the newest, lowest mileage van I could find in order to get a head start. Axles and brakes were improved in 2003 so I would try to get that. I'm not sure if they ever went distributor-less, but that would be nice to have because they are a source of headache.

The engines last a decent amount of time and are much stronger than VWs. The transmissions suffer sooner so you could be looking at a big bill for that if you go high mileage. As was mentioned, intake and head gaskets are a weak spot on these. The SBC engines run hotter on one side than the other and it eventually leads to gasket failure. The intake isn't a big job, but head gasket is kind of a bummer. The original Dexcool that came with engine had issues if you left it in there. The new stuff has an improved HOAT formula which is actually pretty good and lasts a very long time as long as you stick to the 5yr replacement interval. I have it in my new GMC and no issues.

To give you frame of reference, I bought my AWD van with 107k miles, when it was about 8 yrs old, for around $4,500 USD. $6k+ sounds pretty steep to me. It's not a huge issue for you lucky yanks, but it is a gas guzzler.

Good luck.

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by sc-surfer » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:46 pm

I'm going to look at a 2000 with 147K on it. Gutted from the dash back (which works for me). Transmission only engages 1st and 2nd (and reverse) but won't shift higher. While I'm willing to put a new rebuild in it, wondering if this is a common or know problem that might be solved without a complete rebuild.

Thanks as always!

User avatar
timelessbeing
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:55 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by timelessbeing » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:21 pm

Disclaimer: I'm not a transmission expert.

Kind of sounds like a bad solenoid which isn't a big deal, and maybe you'll get lucky and you'll fix it and it'll go for another 5 or 10,000 mi. But here's the thing. It could be a sign of things to come. You don't know what this van's been through. You don't know if this tranny has been pulling yachts its whole life or whatever. (or do you? Did you get a full service history?). You don't really know the condition until you open the thing up. Did you check the fluid?

When you go to the trouble of getting a tranny out and it's sitting on the bench with that many miles, you overhaul it, or get a rebuild. You don't put it back in with used components.

I hope you aren't paying more than a few thousand because it's going to be a money pit in my opinion.

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by sc-surfer » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:21 am

IF I do pick it up...no, it's not pricy. $1000 with a brand new set of Corbeau seats included. Plenty of budget left for rebuild. The 'low' miles on the motor and straight body are the big selling points. Definitely will have the tranny gone through but would love to have it drivable for a bit while I work on other stuff. Definitely will not be going to Baja until it's rebuilt and has some test miles on it. Pretty much plan on doing intake/gaskets right away too.

It 'seems' like a good deal to me...but then I came from a VY syncro where EVERYTHING costs a fortune. Talk me out of this van if it's not a good deal.

User avatar
timelessbeing
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:55 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by timelessbeing » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:28 am

It might be a good deal. It might not. It's a crap-shoot.

It also depends on you. If you're hard up on cash, and you can install a transmission yourself then maybe it's worth it. Personally I wouldn't touch anything with a broken engine or transmission. It's not worth my time. I'll would rather go to work for another month to save enough for something in good condition.

As least compression test the engine to get an idea of what you're dealing with before you buy it. Otherwise you could just be ending up with a heap of crap that needs another $6k to get it running.

Captn. Crunch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 488
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by Captn. Crunch » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:21 pm

Any used vehicle is a crap shoot. I paid premium price for my 99 and drove it home. The next morning it wouldn’t start. She tested my patience for over a year and when she finally figured out that my patience and to a lesser extent my wallet were inexhaustible, she became a dutiful daily driver. That was ten yrs ago and she’s still running strong. Road cancer has eaten her to the bone so it’s time to move on but the moral of the story is this...
If you have the time and the money you can fix anything. Parts for these vans are plentiful and reasonably priced. If you have something else to drive while getting your van to where you want it mechanically then pull the trigger. When you’re done you will know it inside and out and you will have made it yours. Corrosion is the killer with these unibodies so pay close attention. Products like Black star rust converter or POR will keep you from having to throw away a mechanically sound vehicle
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD
np236 transfer case
Torsen equipped cast iron front diff
Torsen equipped rear w/3.73's
2" body lift
S-10 rear leafs
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
Stock for now

sc-surfer
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:04 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by sc-surfer » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:51 am

All good and all true. Still looking but will find 'the one' for me.

Thanks

User avatar
okie1
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 216
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:05 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: central Oklahoma

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by okie1 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:12 pm

Took me over 3 years to get the one I wanted, was worth the wait, that was almost 8 years ago & still happy with my choice. :cheers: :cheers:

User avatar
timelessbeing
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:55 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4

Re: New to this for and the Astro/Safari platform...quick qu

Post by timelessbeing » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:34 pm

Me too. It took a couple of years until I found my Savana, with 30k and the configuration I wanted. I'm happy I did.

Post Reply