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2003 Safari AWD
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got a 2003 AWD Safari, 123k miles. Drove it 6 hours home after picking it up and drives fantastic on the highway. 18.6 MPG

No pictures yet, but I am an avid car project dude and will have a lot of project photos I'm sure. I know little to nothing about these vans so every trivial problem that has been known for years to many will be completely new to me so that will be very humbling. If someone can direct me to any specific forum post that has one of those great summary type of common repairs that would be great. Gonna take some time to learn my way around this forum.

My plan for the van is general hauling, hobby project, Adventure/off-road style build

My known issues:
  • rockers all rusted to h$ll inside and out
  • bottoms of doors rusted on the inside
  • some oil sprayed? all over the exhaust pipe and dripping off it and the Diff
  • I have a towing hitch but no evidence of a wire harness/plug
  • How do I know what final drive ratio I have?
  • All the door handles are broken
  • Electrical thing with the lights. The turn signal indicator lamp in the dash stays on. My guess is the front passenger light assembly needs replaced.
  • Mirrors don't move and radio does not turn on

Current Plan:
  • Get it on the lift and make sure the frame isn't about to break in half. If it is a keeper, continue...
  • Replace all the door handles
  • Replace all the lights
  • Track down any fuse/corrosion issues in the light wiring, mirrors, and radio
  • Power wash all the loose rust I can get off from the bottom and the rear diff gunk
  • Inspect brake lines
  • Figure out what is leaking in the rear diff and how it is getting on the exhaust pipe
  • Diff oil, engine oil, coolant flush, brake fluid flush, Trans fluid, power steering flush
  • Replace rockers inside and out
  • If all this works out, start the fun projects!

Jim
 

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Welcome!

If your van had the towing prep package from the factory, the wiring harness for towing will be in the back passenger side cubby where the jack is. You'll have to connectorize it with whatever style plug you need though.

The gen 3 vans had 2 different gearing options, you can check the RPO code sticker on the passenger front door by the latch mechanism GU6=3.42, GT4=3.73, and G80=Rear Gov-loc "locking" rear differential.

The door handles are made out of crappy cast metal, most of the ones in the junkyard have hairline cracks starting or are completely broken by now.

The astro/safari platform is unibody construction with a front subframe, and an easy way to lift them is with front subframe spacers and longer shackles for the rear leaf springs. Also the transfer case in these requires special Autotrak 2 fluid from GM, the generic fluids cause shuddering when turning.
 

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1998 LS AWD Forest Green metallic
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964 Posts
First off...welcome to the MADNESS! and we need at least one picture to be sure you are serious. ;)
Where are you located...finish your profile ...please. :D
That is sopme list. It sounds like you are definitely in for a bit of work, with all the rust you mentioned. You must have some body work/fabrication experience. that is good to have.
That list should also keep you busy for a while.

Leaked oil may be from leaking auto transmission oil coolant lines or leaking engine oil cooler lines , clear up at or near the radiator... (both common issues)!
Tow wiring harness should be in the right rear panel with the jack. See owners manual if supplied. Look for postings here about that harness for more info on the large 'orange' wire-common question.
Dif ratio... look at the passenger door sticker for RPO codes GU6 or GT4. GU6 is 3:42 and GT4 is 3:73 ( more desirable if going to bigger tires or mountainous driving). If you find a G80 code, that is a 'Gov-Loc' locking diff option. Lots of debate about that option...some have no trouble...others hate it.
If you have significant rust (as mentioned), brake line inspection/repair should be a priority.
Keep us informed as to progress, get a manual or use the on-line version, take pictures and ask questions.
Rod J
Issaquah, WA
Forest Green '98 LS
 

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2003 Safari AWD
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Profile updated - I am in South Bend, IN. Home of Notre Dame and about 1.5hrs from Chicago.

Thanks for the help with the RPO codes. I have GU6 (no G80)

I do have this pic with the Van in the background!

Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle


I have a pretty good place to work so should have some decent progress over the winter
Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive design Grille
 

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1998 LS AWD Forest Green metallic
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964 Posts
With those cars, you will certainly not be lost with metric tools, but not many 16mm and and 18mm tools are used on the German cars.
I had to go get those two sizes to fill in the gaps in my German and Oriental metric sets. The 18mm size was the one that became a requirement.
I had never seen a set with an 18mm socket or wrench, but making my living as a foreign car mechanic ended over 25 years ago, when I started doing indoor industrial machinery maintenance.
Nice shop! You will make many jealous, and I will be close to the front of the pack. :D
Rod J
Issaquah, WA
 

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2003 Safari AWD
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A couple more questions to try and get me a quick jumpstart...

Any tips for preferred parts suppliers?
I have a Haynes manual on the way, where should I look for an online service manual?
 

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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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I have a Haynes manual on the way, where should I look for an online service manual?
Personally I wouldn't even bother with Haynes. Get the GM Techline eSI OVA edition and run it in Virtualbox, it's the digital factory service manual and has virtually everything in there. See the links in my sig :)
 

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2003 Safari AWD
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Personally I wouldn't even bother with Haynes. Get the GM Techline eSI OVA edition and run it in Virtualbox, it's the digital factory service manual and has virtually everything in there. See the links in my sig :)
Took some time today to get this sorted out. However, nothing is being seeded for the torrents and the Mediafire links don't work.

Can you recommend any other links to try?

-Jim
 

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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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Yeah, unfortunately people are leeches, if most seeded to a 2:1 ratio there would be many thousands of seeders available.

Links still work but require assembly, take a close look at the links :)
 

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2005 Astro Cargo 4WD
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If it’s the same magnet link from pb I’ll start seeding again when I get home in a bit.
 
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Personally I wouldn't even bother with Haynes. Get the GM Techline eSI OVA edition and run it in Virtualbox, it's the digital factory service manual and has virtually everything in there. See the links in my sig :)
Don't see the link you referred to. Would like to get a good digital service manual for whichever brand I end up finding.Been looking for a Safari but looking at an Astro too now, partly because it is the earlier t-case that some seem to like better.
 

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05 Astro AWD
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14,091 Posts
Just because some seem to like it better, doesn't make it better. There are no replacement parts for a BW4472 transfer case. None. If you need a chain, you're SOL. The NP136, which has NEVER caused me a problem in my '99, '02, '00 or '05, has replacement parts available.
 
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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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Don't see the link you referred to. Would like to get a good digital service manual for whichever brand I end up finding.
It's in my signature, some assembly required.
The the eSI has pretty good coverage of all GM vehicles from 96-05, really complete from 98-04.
 
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