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Long time forum stalker here. I was hoping to just quietly read through years of posts and fix up my 2001 astro awd into a reasonable offroader. I took my van in to a trusted mechanic last week to get a once over before I bought and installed JOR 3 to 5 inch lift. He called me back this last weekend with some very depressing news. My engine is sagging and almost sitting on my front differential, frame mounts and rails are too rusted to consider a lift at this point. My thought is to either pick up a 96 blazer frame to sit the van body on and/or have a friend cut out and re-weld new mounts and rails for the subframe and rear suspension. Another possibility may be a SAS. Any midwesterners or folks that have had to deal with the repercussions of salted roads do any of the above options? Should I give up on it (the thought makes me want to puke) and find another van (engine, transmission, everything works great and despite the apparent issues, drives like a dream)? I have a budget of about $4000 to save and restore my van into the work of art it deserves to be. I would really truly appreciate any helpful advice.

- A very down and out Astro enthusiast
 

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Not sure what the issue is, the suspension/motor are all on a front subframe. That can be replaced. It's a bit of work, but can be done easier than mounting the van on a truck frame.
The question is how are the rear frame rails? They are not removable, but can be fixed/reinforced.
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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People have different "tolerance levels" for rust.
Some are used to it, expect it, live with it, even repair it.. until it's no longer manageable.
Often times it's people doing their own work.

Putting money into a rust bucket is questionable.
Putting money into a rust bucket that runs well and drives nice is a tougher call.

If it's so bad that it's becoming structurally unsound.. then it may soon become unsafe.

Here in Florida we regularly send stuff with no rust to the junkyard.

We can't decide for you... but if it were me I'd probably start looking for another.
There are often plenty of good deals out there.. just a matter of luck sometimes.

PS: Welcome to the site
 
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