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AWD Astros generally have more issues?

931 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  snobird60
Looking to purchase my first Astro van, and have located one fairly close. It is an AWD with ~130,000mi.
My plan is to lift it with larger tires. It will be an occasional family mover, not an exploration vehicle. I understand AWD is not needed for my application.
I have heard the AWD vans have more issues - this makes sense as there are more components.
If this is true, are the issues usually big deals or small things? This specific van is a ‘99 model. I like the idea of having AWD because it opens up options if I ever do get adventurous. Small chance, but we also have the occasional brutal ice storm in my area. Again, small chance. Just sharing ideas that I like the sound of an AWD, but would like to hear if this is hundreds more per year to maintain, or usually just smaller items.
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I have heard the AWD vans have more issues - this makes sense as there are more components.
Yes... this is true. They often DO have more issues.
AWD "can" be expensive to repair, but the systems don't always need repair.
Many have had good luck with them.. including myself.

But as mentioned, you have double the parts
  • Front differential
  • Front drive-shaft
  • Front cv-axles
  • AWD transfer-case
  • Pre-loaded clutch packs
  • Encoder motor (common failure)
  • Controllers
  • Specialty Autotrac II fluid (common failure)
  • Sensors, wiring, connectors, etc, etc
This list applies to the electronic version 99-up

All these things have the potential for failure, and sometimes can get expensive, depending on who is doing the work. Personally, I have since converted to manual 4x4 eliminating some of this.

None the less, I say if you don't "need" it then maybe best to avoid it.
But if you can get a nice enough deal (on a clean van), then go for it anyway.
I guess it really just depends.

Around here the AWD is considered the ultimate van.
They do get slightly less fuel economy, but only by very little.
I've also owned plenty of RWD vans, and never missed having AWD at the time.

But if you mostly travel the highways with the family, then AWD really won't matter.
If you drive in snow.. then that is where the AWD really shines best.

Good luck
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Does anyone run a lesser gear differential with larger tires in a RWD? Is there sufficient torque and cruising characteristics? What about in hills?
AWD or RWD doesn't make any difference about gearing.. same issues applies to either.

Yes my 2000 runs 31" tires with stock GU6 3.42 gear... and it's an under-powered DOG!
Not only hurting power, but hurts fuel economy too.
With headwind, A/C, and light towing (or slightest incline).. I often can't maintain top highway speeds in 4th OD. Sometimes it's really an issue, other times not. With over-sized tires on a lifted AWD van, my fuel economy can range from 13mpg-17mpg highway.. depending on wind direction.

32" tires don't really fit well at all..
I had 31 with a lot of lift and I still didn't like it..
I dropped to 30" tires (just down 1 inch) and it was a BIG improvement both power and fuel economy.
30" was/is ideal for me.

Yes the GT4 3.73 is the desirable gear (G80 for posi-traction).
But don't let that be the deciding factor for finding a van.
If body and paint is clean and straight, little rust, interior nice, runs good with good trans.. then you've found your van. If it's high mileage (as many are by now).. you need to consider it may need engine and trans some time in near future. Depending on who would do the work, and what you can get the van for, is also a big deciding factor.

Regardless.. vans are the BEST!
Happy hunting.. have fun.. good luck
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