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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought a 2000 Astro (201k miles for $1.5k) that has failed its state inspection. They gave me a list of things to fix (new power steering pump, steering box, both idler arms, new muffler, and the trans engine mount) and an estimate for $2k for parts and labor. I'm beginning to wonder if it is financially worth it to try and continue a build out? It drives well give or take a few issues (sliding door has a trick to opening and it vibrates at 60+ mph), but whats the point of having a car that you can't afford to register. I've found a mechanic willing to do the repairs for way cheaper than the original location quoted me, I just need to locate the parts and don't know where to begin. This is my first car and everytime I look out my window I get simultaneously excited (shes my dream car) and demotivated (I don't have $2k right now) at what its going to take to get this thing on the road.

Any suggestions, tips, or link would be helpful. I've been racking my brain for the last 2 weeks as to what to do.
 

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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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Only YOU can decide if it's worth it. However, I'm also of the opinion that if you are not willing to do your own work that you probably shouldn't own an older vehicle as the maintenance costs can easily outstrip the purchase price. By a LOT in some cases.

If you took it to mechanic A for a state inspection, make sure to let them know that you will NOT be having them do the repairs and that you already have mechanic B for repairs. Always best to use 1 mechanic for inspections and another one for repairs that way they don't have an incentive to screw you on inspection to make more money for them. There are plenty of shady shady places out there, but not all of them are.

Idler arms are easy and can be done with simple hand tools and some loaner tools from your LAPS. Muffler is easy and pretty cheap, hardest part is getting the old nuts/bolts from the flange. Transmission mount is easy, I like to grind the lower bolts off flush with the nuts before removing($15 harbor freight grinder). Power steering pump is a bit more involved but again simple hand tools and a borrowed puller/installer from LAPS.
Is the steering gear shot, or leaking out of the top, or?

I would start with the idler arms, then the trans mount, then do the exhaust. If after those are done and you feel like you handled them well, then move onto the PS pump and gear(if needed).
 

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Never heard of a state safety inspector even looking at a power steering pump, I used to do safety inspections in Maine. steering box ??? must have tons of play in it for them to even look at it. Get a second opinion on those two items for sure. You can buy pretty much the whole exhaust off rockauto as well as the other parts. I have a stepson that drives but has no clue about the vehicles other then gas and oil changes and he was almost screwed by a garage for a bunch of stuff that was just not worn. I looked his car over then went back to the garage with him and the guy swore he got his car mixed up with another customers car. I reported the place cause in California you can do that. New owners 4 months later -not sure exactly why though.
 

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I say keep it, do some research here, watch some youtube videos, and roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself. The best way to learn your rig is to dig around in its guts a bit.
 

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01 Astro RWD Cargo, 97 AWD Mark III
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Register it in Delaware, or West Virginia if you live on that end of the state.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've done a bit more research using some of the sites that you all have kindly recommended, and I've been able to get an estimate on the labor costs from the second mechanic ($650 if he does everything). To answer some questions that have popped up, no, I can't get it registered in another state and I'm open to doing some of the work myself of offset the cost, but want to make sure that I don't accidentally put myself in danger (because this is my first car and I really don't know what I'm doing). I don't know if or where the steering gear (I'm guessing this is the steering box) is leaking from. I do have a few more follow-up questions.

Whats a LAPS?
How do you know if you have an LS or LT?
Is the muffer/tail pipe something I can do myself?

Would anyone be able to take al look at this tentative parts list I've put together?

Power Steering Pump
https://www.gmpartsoutlet.net/oem-p...zdHJvJnk9MjAwMCZ0PWJhc2UmZT00LTNsLXY2LWdhcw== or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C41H7E/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A2L97JA8DAGJXC&psc=1

Idler Arm
https://www.partsgeek.com/catalog/2000/chevrolet/astro/steering/idler_arm.html

I've seen the cheaper ($10>) idler arms on RockAuto but my questions here would it be better to get those or the $45 pre-greased ones from PartsGeek?

Transmission Mount
https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=5618760&cc=1358467&jsn=10&jsn=10&jsn=10

Muffler and Tail Pipe
https://www.carid.com/walker/soundfx-direct-fit-muffler-mpn-18941.html?singleid=18171167&url=552866 or https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=129685&jsn=13553

Would either of these be a good choice? I'd be getting a tail pipe off Amazon

Steering Box
I'm assuming they mean the steering gear? This is the only one I've been able to find: https://www.ebay.com/itm/2933781635....3L+262Cu.+In.+V6+GAS+OHV+Naturally+Aspirated

Thank you again for the help and feedback so far!
 

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Pre Greased idler arms is just a gimmick, Save yourself the money and go with the RockAuto parts
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
MI_Ghost said:
Pre Greased idler arms is just a gimmick, Save yourself the money and go with the RockAuto parts
Thank you. I saw in a this video
(towards the end) that they do need to be greased, what tool do I need to use to make that happen. Also I can I just a regular ratchet wrench to remove the 18mm castle nut?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
markmitch said:
Walmart sells the grease gun and the tubes of grease that fit in it. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Wilmar-Perfo ... thena=true. Exhaust may be a bit of a task depending on rust.
Thank you for the recommendation! Adding it to my shopping list. I have to go take a better look at the muffler/tail pipe situation and get back to you.
 

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ohboyyy said:
Whats a LAPS?
How do you know if you have an LS or LT?
Is the muffer/tail pipe something I can do myself?
LAPS = Local Auto Parts Store or FLAPS Friendly Local Auto Parts Store, not to be confused with Flappers, there you can get a laugh but not Astro parts.
Often there is an emblem at the door, or VIN lookup, or... doesn't really matter with what you are ordering, the parts are the same.

100% you can do the muffler/tailpipe, it's simply unbolting the old, sliding it out from under the van, and bolting in the new. Spray some PB blaster or other penetrating oil on there every day for about a week before. If you snap them off, then you just have to grind/drill them out and replace with some bolts/nuts.
Same with the idler arms, remove the bolts, use a pickle fork to remove the stud, then bold the new ones in place. And these vans are hard on idler arms, so it's not a bad idea to get experience with it.

Give it a shot!

Just watch the shipping costs if you are ordering from many places. Oh and I avoid Carid like the plague, a quick search will clarify why.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
AstroWill said:
ohboyyy said:
Whats a LAPS?
How do you know if you have an LS or LT?
Is the muffer/tail pipe something I can do myself?
LAPS = Local Auto Parts Store or FLAPS Friendly Local Auto Parts Store, not to be confused with Flappers, there you can get a laugh but not Astro parts.
Often there is an emblem at the door, or VIN lookup, or... doesn't really matter with what you are ordering, the parts are the same.

100% you can do the muffler/tailpipe, it's simply unbolting the old, sliding it out from under the van, and bolting in the new. Spray some PB blaster or other penetrating oil on there every day for about a week before. If you snap them off, then you just have to grind/drill them out and replace with some bolts/nuts.
Same with the idler arms, remove the bolts, use a pickle fork to remove the stud, then bold the new ones in place. And these vans are hard on idler arms, so it's not a bad idea to get experience with it.

Give it a shot!

Just watch the shipping costs if you are ordering from many places. Oh and I avoid Carid like the plague, a quick search will clarify why.
Thank yo for your help! I've just ordered the parts for the idler arm replacement and stopping by Walmart for the PB Blaster later today. Gonna start there and see how it goes.

Two more questions about the muffler. Would the Walker SoundFX with this tailpipe be a suitable replacement? And, what size bolts are they connected with?
 

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Awesome!

Not sure about mixing the aftermarket parts together, might be more pain than it's worth. If you are going to use a Walker muffler I would stick with the Walker tailpipe.
 

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Mine had some of the same issues that yours does lol. As others have said though its totally up to you what's worth it or not. I had a mechanic tell me outright once that I shouldn't put any money into it and just run it til it dies. That was never gonna be my plan. These vans are sometimes hard to come by and I had always wanted one. So I couldn't pass it up when this guy where I live wanted $650. After driving it and talking a bit got him to take 500 though lol. Now she's like a different vehicle and is continuing to be upgraded and changed in some way. I have always liked fixing up older vehicles so this wasn't gonna be a deal breaker for me. Good luck to you in your adventures with your Astro!
 

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ohboyyy said:
SheldonYoung said:
What State? Many have Lemon Laws, like Massachusetts, which requires a vehicle to pass inspection unless sold as is.
Maryland.
Where in MD are you?

And was it sold as-is or was it sold either inspected (in which case you shouldn't need an inspection) or guaranteed to pass?

I've posted the old, pre-computer inspection form that MD inspectors had to fill out. I think it's in my '99 and '02 threads. It's quite extensive because it is MD's Lemon Law protection.

However, there are plenty of inspectors that go above and beyond to get business for their shop.
 

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I used to live in Northern Virginia. My rule was never sell a car into Md, and never buy one from there.
There can be NO leaks. And other even more stringent things. It means the car is good to for quite awhile when it passes inspection, but it is never inspected again until it changes ownership. I found it an unrealistic expectation in either direction.

Anecdotally I sold cars that needed hundreds in repair to pass? And I bought cars from auction (previously in Md.) that were severly lacking in maintenance, IOW broke.

so your steering thing is just a leak, probably a hose. The exhaust might not even be leaking, just the whim of the inspector.

You need to get a mentor or friend to help you with the vehicle issues. Don't give up on the van. Likely any other vehicle you can afford will be similarly challenged.
 

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Every state has its bad and good laws for automobiles. I grew up in Maine and there they will not allow any body panels to have rough spots a child can fall against and get hurt/cut. Kind of strange I thought. In NH they allow glass packs for inspection in place of the stock muffler however if the exhaust is loud a police officer can give you a ticket lol kind of stupid. Yet In California your tires can be bald, lights can be falling out, exhaust can be loud, windows can be missing or cracked but you absolutely must have a yearly smog test and pass and you can not tint side front windows at all. Basically the laws have to suit the politicians views and some are not for safety at all. Best thing to do is make friends with car folks that can point you in the right direction. These vans are still worth buying and fixing in my opinion and will be for a long time. best of luck to you. Mark
 
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