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2003 Safari AWD
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Took a 6 hour road trip to pick up this 2003 AWD Safari with 123k miles.
This trip I got 16.8MPG and afterwards I checked the tire pressures, and they were about 20PSI!

I filled the tires properly and took another 6 hour trip today and netted 17.6 MPG! Pretty happy with that.

After the drive home without incident, we started the cleaning process and general maintenance.

Passenger side headlight was dim and both corner lights were out. Drained the water out of the light housing, dried out the bulb socket, replaced both corner bulbs now all the lights work and the headlight works properly. The water was causing a current draw (I think) thus dimming the headlight bulb.

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The lower body is all rusted out and the plan is to cut them out and weld in replacement panels
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The engine bay was nice and clean with no evidence of oil stains anywhere
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Had a pleasant surprise when I checked the coolant. The cap is pretty skanky, but the coolant looks fresh
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Same with the brake fluid. The reservoir looks like it has some left over smudge, but the fluid looks fresh.
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I had some drips from the rear diff and finally got a good look under there. The pinion seal is leaking, and the oil is slinging all over. Took it on another road trip today despite the leak and it got.... interesting. I now have oil mist all over the rear doors it got so bad. Didn't smell too good with the oil on the exhaust pipe.
Turns out... someone left a hose attached to the fill hole so they could keep the oil topped off :eek:
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I'm going to get it all cleaned up and replace 7, 18, and 19. Clean out the inside of the diff, inspect it and take it from there.
I will also order new drain and fill plugs once I figure out where to find those.

edit: it seems there are no drain plugs on these, but the fill plug I found at AutoZone thanks to @AstroWill Linky!!

Any tips/advice for this project is appreciated :cool:

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Differential for 2003 GMC Safari | OEM GM Parts (gmpartsoutlet.net)
 

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01 Astro RWD Cargo, 97 AWD Mark III
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Those rockers are going to be the bane of your existence. You can get full length outers on ebay and pray that the inners are still good. Inner panels are NLA anywhere. I had to get cuts from a part out van to get inner panels.

Here are some links for body panels

Mill Supply

Raybuck

National Autobody

Check the body mount area of the radiator core support. Odds are it will show some flaking paint which means it has already started rusting from the inside. I have been almost 2 years trying to find a yard that is willing to cut out a good replacement and ship it.

They are easy to locate on
Row52.com
Car-part.com

I still haven't figured out how to get pictures while talking on the phone.
No one seems to know how to text or email pictures.

New door seals are available through
Steele Rubber Products
 
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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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Any tips/advice for this project is appreciated
Replacing the seal is quite easy, the important part is tightening the pinion nut correctly. You can do it the 'right way' and use a bar type torque wrench and adapters to measure the rotating torque before and add 3-5inlb when re-installing, but requires removing more items. Second choice is you can mark the position of the nut and count the threads and install to the same position after. Both work, one is more accurate than the other.
 

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2003 Safari AWD
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Those rockers are going to be the bane of your existence. You can get full length outers on ebay and pray that the inners are still good. Inner panels are NLA anywhere. I had to get cuts from a part out van to get inner panels.

Here are some links for body panels

Mill Supply

Raybuck

National Autobody

Check the body mount area of the radiator core support. Odds are it will show some flaking paint which means it has already started rusting from the inside. I have been almost 2 years trying to find a yard that is willing to cut out a good replacement and ship it.

They are easy to locate on
Row52.com
Car-part.com

I still haven't figured out how to get pictures while talking on the phone.
No one seems to know how to text or email pictures.

New door seals are available through
Steele Rubber Products
Thanks so much for the links. Starting from the beginning here and have no idea where to look for things.
 

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2003 Safari AWD
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Replacing the seal is quite easy, the important part is tightening the pinion nut correctly. You can do it the 'right way' and use a bar type torque wrench and adapters to measure the rotating torque before and add 3-5inlb when re-installing, but requires removing more items. Second choice is you can mark the position of the nut and count the threads and install to the same position after. Both work, one is more accurate than the other.
Good to know.
I have never bothered with the angle indicators. I'll stick with the "close enough" approach.
 

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Just a question? Is the rear end G-80. If not you might think about an up grade at this point. Still laughing at the hose left attached. Nice looking van. So many options on the rockers. Look up UW harrie. Thanks for the photos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just a question? Is the rear end G-80. If not you might think about an up grade at this point. Still laughing at the hose left attached. Nice looking van. So many options on the rockers. Look up UW harrie. Thanks for the photos.
Not the G-80. A locking diff and higher ratio would be nice. Can you suggest a place to look for the parts/DIY?

This pic here shows the underside rust AND the hose coming from the Diff :LOL:. Underneath all that flaky scale seems solid. Went around it with a big heavy screwdriver poking and jabbing and all seems well enough to continue and do some repairs.

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Large pics incoming....

Happy to hear any opinions on what you see

Seems like a new brake line in there but the fuel? lines are gnarly. And the emergency brake cable works!
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looked over the Rock Slider thread by UWHarrie. Great option vs replacing the rockers THEN trying to decide what to do after that.

I see the welds to the body panels but I didn't see a pic or discussion on what else was welded. Is it welded to the pinch weld, or did he add brackets back to the frame?
 

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01 Astro RWD Cargo, 97 AWD Mark III
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I believe they were welded to the inner rocker panels. You can also add extensions to attach to the running board mounting points in the frame rails. I have seen pics of true rock sliders mounted that way used as a lifting point on the side of the van.
 
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05 Astro AWD
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Oh my, the hose in the diff made me snort beer EVERYWHERE. Thanks for that :rolleyes:

Yeah, those fuel lines are nasty. Time to replace them before it becomes a problem on the road.

Those brake lines look like cunifer, which is a good thing.
 
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I have never bothered with the angle indicators. I'll stick with the "close enough" approach.
Same here on rear seal... 100K+ later and not a single drip or pinion issue
 

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That's a standard issue differential set up with no modification (that I can see.)
Hose is just a vent or breather tube, it's high because it needs to be high.
There should be a gray, plastic piece at the high end of that hose.
If it's still there, the previous owner prolly didn't use it for filling.

If that piece is gone, the PO may well have filled through the hose.
You'll want to replace that piece eventually, it'd fit in your pocket at the junkyard. ;)

The lower plug, with square hole, is for filling the gear oil.
You've got a bit a rust and your plug looks to be screwed in a bit further than either of my vans.
If the PO was filling through the hose, I'd spray the plug with parts blaster at least a week before touching it.
If the PO wasn't filling through the hose, then that plug's been unscrewed recently and shouldn't give you any troubles.
This is a pic of my clean 04 and my 02 is just like it - they all have the hose.
You're not the 1st person to wonder what's going on with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Pinion seal leak is fixed!

So what now? Now I have some rust free doors that I lucked into to.

I expect to use driver and passenger front doors, but I also have slider and rear barn doors!

Let me know if you are interested. I am in Northern Indiana near Chicago, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Indianapolis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Got some shop time in today. Started with the "new" hood.

If you are in a drivable distance and these rusted parts are better than yours, you can have them.

Original hood rust
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Original hood rust
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Replacement hood. Looks good.
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Except.... turns out the hinge corner has been creased
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I clamped the angled steel and gave it some good prying
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turned out good. You can see the at the C Clamp things are a lot straighter. It stayed this way pretty well without too much spring back. After I installed it on the van, I gave it some good hand pressure to work it some more. Not a perfect fit but stopping here because the fender may be tweaked a bit so not sure which panel is right or not until I do some work on that.
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Started on the passenger door
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rust...
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Have a pretty decent speaker upgrade that was already installed
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The replacement is really nice. I have cleaned out the muck from the inside and will do some body wax
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Grr! The replacement door has the hinge/spring thingy cut off (the part that does the half-open/Full-open detents)

Let me know if you have any ideas here. Looks like I may need to cut off mine then use a nut/bolt install?
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My door has electric windows, locks, and mirrors that I want to keep. I will need to drill out all the rivets for the window motor and lock and reinstall with the wire harness
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Let me know if you have any ideas here. Looks like I may need to cut off mine then use a nut/bolt install?
Sounds as good as any plan. I have seen some of the welds crack on them and get repaired with a nut/bolt.
 
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