2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

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2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 7th 2011, 10:52pm

The purpose of this thread is to show changes I’m making to my van to those that are interested and, hopefully, provide a decent reference for others that might be following the same path at a later point in time.

Image
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Extra Info: AWD LT

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Acquisition

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 7th 2011, 10:57pm

My family needed a vehicle that transports 8 people and the decision to go with an Astro was easy. Where else can get you 8 seats, AWD, and respectable gas mileage?

I ended up finding a decent Astro in Des Moines and had it shipped to NKY (across the river from Cincinnati). I would have preferred to stay away from an older northern vehicle (salty roads), but figured the low mileage (40K), feature list, and price of this particular van might be difficult to duplicate.

Here are a few shots of the exterior and interior taken by the Toyota dealer.

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Image

http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/j42 ... tFront.jpg

http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/j42 ... ntBack.jpg
Original Poster [OP]
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Extra Info: AWD LT

Decal Removal

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 7th 2011, 10:59pm

First things first, I had to get rid of that stripe. No offense meant to anyone that likes the stripe, but I felt like it really makes the van look like an old person’s car.

I broke out my cheap Harbor Freight heat gun for the first time and found that the decal came off easily with a little heat. Note that there’s a balance between overcoming the brittleness and applying so much heat that the decal stretches apart.

Here’s a before and after:

Image

Image
Original Poster [OP]
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby chevymaherchevymaher is online! » May 7th 2011, 11:01pm

You live in northern ky?
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Neutral Safety Switch Wiring Harness

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 7th 2011, 11:08pm

The van hasn’t been plated yet so it hasn’t seen much driving time. So far, the only problem I’ve noticed was that the gear indicator on the dash didn’t highlight reverse, neutral, drive, or third gear when they were selected.

I did a little research and, thanks to AstroSafari and AstroSafariVans, found that the Neutral Safety Switch (NSS) was the likely culprit.

I took a look under the van (driver’s side of the transmission), and saw one of the wires in the wiring harness to the NSS was broken.

Image

Note that to unplug either of the 2 NSS plugs requires application of heat to overcome the glue-sealant used at the factory.

I soldered the wires back together, shrink wrapped the repaired wire, and wrapped the exposed section of the wiring harness in electrical tape. I also applied a little dielectric grease to the contacts of the plugs before putting them back together, which also required application of heat.

This solved the problem and the gear shift indicator seems to be working fine now.
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 7th 2011, 11:12pm

chevymaher wrote:You live in northern ky?


Yes. I'm south of the 71/75 split in Crittenden. It's nice having space of my own down here, but an office in Blue Ash makes for a healthy commute.
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby chevymaherchevymaher is online! » May 7th 2011, 11:15pm

McycleRider wrote:
chevymaher wrote:You live in northern ky?


Yes. I'm south of the 71/75 split in Crittenden. It's nice having space of my own down here, but an office in Blue Ash makes for a healthy commute.

I live off hands pike near taylor mill we just about as close to niebors as I seen On this site.Welcome
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 8th 2011, 2:17am

chevymaher wrote:I live off hands pike near taylor mill we just about as close to niebors as I seen On this site.Welcome


Thanks! It's good to see there's another Astro/Safari enthusiast nearby. Feel free to get ahold of me if you ever need an extra hand with one of your projects.
Original Poster [OP]
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2007-2010 18” Jeep Sahara Wheels

Postby McycleRider [OP] » May 8th 2011, 4:58am

I did a little research and saw that Unrreal has fitted a set of the Jeep 17” wheels to his Astro. I asked if he had any advice about fitting a set of 18” Jeep wheels with 255/55R18 tires in his build thread and got some feedback from him and Leadbelly. Rather than hogging his thread I figured I should move the discussion to my own build thread. This wheel fitment is definitely not finished, so I’ll update the post once I fully understand what I’m doing.

From the moment I laid eyes on the van, I knew the decal stripe and the stock wheels had to go. The stripe is gone, but the wheels are still a work in progress.

I saw that some Jeep wheels have the same bolt pattern as the Astro (5x5” or 5x127mm) and found a set of 18” Sahara takeoffs on Craigslist. The seller gave me a great price and assured me that the wheels had only seen 8,000 miles summer use before they were replaced. I was also glad to see that he brought me the Jeep wheels, including a spare, in the boxes his aftermarket wheels came in.

I was then able to find a local wheel/tire takeoff combo from a Porsche Cayenne with 4K miles. The 255/55R18 Michelin Latitude Tour HP are a much better set of tires than anything I would normally purchase, but they should turn out to be relatively inexpensive once I unload the Porsche wheels. Now you see why those boxes will come in handy.

Overlandvans.com claims that their 2” lift kit accommodates tires with a diameter of 29”, the same as the diameter of the 255/55R18 tires. I ordered the 2" sub-frame spacer kit, Add-a-leaf helper springs, and bumper relocation kit, but haven’t received any of the parts yet.

Here are the specs for the 18" x 7 1/2" Jeep Wheels:
Bolt Pattern: 5" x 5"
Center bore: 71.5 mm
Stud Size: 1/2-RH
Backspacing : 6.25"
Offset: 44.45mm

Here are the specs (as far as I can tell) of my 15" x 6.5" stock wheels:
Bolt Pattern: 5" x 5"
Center bore: 78.3 mm
Stud Size: 1/2-RH
Backspacing : 4" backspace (might have been 4 1/4")
Offset: 6mm (based on 4" backspace measurement and rim width)

Yesterday I had a friend pull the tires off the Porsche wheels and mount them on the Jeep wheels. My plan so far is to order a set of spacers that are hub centric to the Astro and wheel centric to the Jeep. However, I’m still not sure how thick the spacers should be.

Today I was taking some measurements off of the Jeep spare, which doesn’t have a tire right now, and decided to pull one of the Astro wheels for measurements as well. Just out of curiosity, I mounted the Jeep spare on the hub to see if the backspacing caused any problems. I was surprised to see that there weren’t any conflicts with the rim so I went ahead and mounted a Jeep wheel with tire. Although I was able to mount them for fitment purposes, there was still about a ½” gap between the hub and the wheel due to the difference in center bore (hub has a larger center bore than rim). This means that my fitment today was like having a ½” spacer installed.

Here is a pic of the wheel mounted in the back.

Image

I was surprised to see that there weren’t any fitment issues with the rear wheel; the wheel fit in the wheel well fine. The tire was close to the stock leaf spring stack, but didn’t make contact. Note that it probably would have touched if it wasn’t for the ½” gap between the hub and wheel.

Image

For the rear, I’m thinking that 1” to 1 ½” spacers would probably be fine. The stock studs are 1” long so that would give me enough space to avoid having to cut them and would add a little breathing space between the tire and the leaf springs.

Here is a pic of the wheel/tire mounted on the front:

Image

There weren’t any issues regarding the wheel fitting the wheel well and when turning the front of the tire away from the van I didn’t see any problems with the tire getting caught on the front fender or the back of the wheel touching the wheel well. However, when turning the wheel just about all the way the other direction the tire contacted what I guess is a t-bar.

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So this is where I’m not really sure what the right size spacer would be. I want to add enough space to give myself clearance to turn the wheels all the way to the inside, but don’t want to create problems with clearing the fender when turning to the outside. I may have to wait until the 2" sub frame spacer kit gets here and see if it helps me out with fender clearances before I pull the trigger on the adapters.

I can’t wait until I get the lift kit and these wheels on the van though. Check out the difference the wheels will make.

Image
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby loopie » May 8th 2011, 7:19am

Very nice van!
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby Leadbelly » May 8th 2011, 6:24pm

Like the looks and the idea of the Overlands 2" lift. This is a nice step and no real messing with the OE geomtry. If you need another 2" seems like it would be easy enough to find coils for the front and a modified shackle in for the rear to accomplish it. Note: the big coils qare stiff enough, your kidney's do not want to cut coils to lower the height.
I always try to remember the amount of engineering the factory has done. The tires look like they fit in the wheel wells and such but you got to remember they will flex considerably with cornering etc (not so much with a 55 series as a 70, but should be considered). Second, I would think twice about different thickness adapters between the front and back The factory has the wheel stance in front and rear the same for a reeason, they engineered it that way for a purpose, handling I would presume. In the case of the adapters I woud stick with the wheel numbers themselves. Just look at the replacement wheel numbers and get a spacer that brings it in line number wise to the factory wheel. Again, it is no coincidence the OE's wheel size, width and spacing is as it is.
Your JP wheel is 6.25 backspaced and the OE wheel is 4.25 - that is 2" there just to get the wheels centered the same.
Dont forget the 1" difference in width (JP's 7.5 v.s. OE's 6.5) that is equalivalent to 1/2" difference on the front and rear of the wheel. In a prefect world it looks like you need a 2.5" thick spacer. I am sure you can get away with a little on the inside, but that can be where tire rub comes from while turning, cornering etc. With what I see here I would go with a 2.25" wheel adapter - not a 2.25" spacer, but any question on the dif should be put to your spacer guy.
All in all looking good and hats off on the thought and design. Will pay off for you in the long run.
If nothing else cut you a couple rings out of 1" plywood and one out of 1/4" and check the clearences with everything bolted up. Turn the front wheels left to right and OPEN THE SLIDING DOOR with the the rear wheel on.
Good luck, you have my attention and curiosity!
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby ProStreet_LS1 » May 8th 2011, 11:52pm

Awesome, rims look cool.
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby unrreal » May 9th 2011, 5:02pm

word of advice, don't order spacers yet!!! wait until you get your other stuff first and also take into consideration for your measurements the up and down travel of the suspension when your driving, because it may look like theres plenty of clearance while standing still but most of the clearance problems can only be found while actually driving it in different conditions(going uphill at an angle, hitting potholes, jumping off the sidewalk on your way out of a parking lot, turning the wheel lock to lock, etc,etc)
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby 1297chevastro » June 4th 2011, 5:56am

I pooped my pants when I saw your van. Almost identical to mine. Yours seems like it's in alot better shape
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Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby McycleRider [OP] » July 29th 2011, 1:30am

1297chevastro wrote:I pooped my pants when I saw your van. Almost identical to mine. Yours seems like it's in alot better shape
[ [url=https://www.astrosafari.com/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=25713] ][/url]


That's a trip 1297chevastro! The vans are almost identical. The stripe on yours is just a little different than the one that was on mine, but they look like they could have come off the assembly line back-to-back.
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2” Receiver Hitch and Yakima Holdup Rack

Postby McycleRider [OP] » July 29th 2011, 1:37am

Our family races bmx so I needed a way to transport the bikes. The van came with a really odd size receiver hitch (rectangular/slot opening) which I replaced with a 2” Class III receiver hitch. Removal of the old hitch was straight forward, as was installation of the 2” hitch.

In the past, I’ve used a Swagman XC 2-bike rack. We really needed the ability to load more than 2 bikes on a rack so I looked into picking up the extension for that rack, which would give me a total capacity of 4. After doing a little research I started to feel like the Swagman rack isn’t strong enough to withstand the stress of four bikes or its own weight.

Through a stroke of luck, I was able to pick up a Yakima HoldUp rack off of Craigslist complete with the additional 2-bike attachment. The rack is amazing and extremely easy to use. The only drawback is getting the monstrosity on and off of the van. Here are a couple shots of the rack mounted:

Image

Image
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2” Body Lift and Add-A-Leaf Rear Springs

Postby McycleRider [OP] » July 29th 2011, 1:45am

My main focus on the van has been trying to fit the 18” Jeep Sahara wheels and my first step was to lift the van a couple of inches. Ironically and as mentioned in other posts, the 29” outer diameter wheels & tires may have fit better before the lift than after. They also may have looked better before the lift, depending on whether you want to fill the wheel wells up or have a little breathing room around the tires, both of which I can appreciate.

Installation of the Overland Vans body lift and rear Add-A-Leaf was straight forward. It probably took me a little longer than most to get everything done (a couple of days), but I followed the Overland instructions closely and didn’t run into any real issues. I also could have done a better job of getting the bumper aligned on the bumper relocation brackets, but may revisit bumper fitment in the future.

I've included the before and after shots of the van. The lighting is different between the 2 pics, but I think you can see the difference.

Before:
Image

After:
Image
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Extra Info: AWD LT

Transmission Cooler

Postby McycleRider [OP] » July 29th 2011, 1:50am

Since I had the front of the van apart to install the 2" body lift, I figured I may as well install a transmission oil cooler. I picked up a Long Tru-Cool 4590 transmission cooler through Oregon Performance on Ebay.

While I was installing the cooler, I went ahead and changed the transmission fluid and filter. I went with Valvoline DEX VI as it seems to be the gold standard right now.

Here’s a shot of the transmission cooler installed:

Image
Original Poster [OP]
McycleRider
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Fueling (1/8 tank)
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Extra Info: AWD LT

AIRAID Performance Air Filter

Postby McycleRider [OP] » July 29th 2011, 1:54am

I got my first look at the stock air filter when I started removing the fan shroud for trimming. It was filthy! The dealer told me they had completely serviced the van prior to shipping it, but what could they possibly have done besides wash it and change the oil?

Nevertheless, I decided to pick up a high-flow cleanable filter. AIRAID (http://www.airaid.com) is a company that’s gunning for K&N and, always a fan of the underdog, I was impressed by their no questions lifetime warranty and claimed quality.

Once the part itself arrived, it did not disappoint. This is a great alternative to some of the other big name brands if anyone’s in the market for a new air filter. There are also ways to get some steep discounts by ordering online from Advance Auto.
Original Poster [OP]
McycleRider
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Years of Membership: McycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full yearsMcycleRider has been a member for 9 full years
Posts: 14
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Joined: May 2011
Location: NKY (across the river from Cincinnati)
Gender: Male
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Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: AWD LT

Re: 2000 AWD Astro LT (when no less than 8 seats will do)

Postby redfury » July 29th 2011, 2:03am

Mind posting a shot of the rear drivers side sparkplug with the lift kit installed? That's the hardest plug to get at and I'd be interested in seeing how much extra space was gained with the lift...I may do the same to my van just for that purpose....
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
doghouse removal by me!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIJ0kuROlbU
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redfury
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Firing on 8 Cylinders (L3)
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Extra Info: LT 5.7L 4wd


 
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