just got a 2003 Astro

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just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 1:11am

Just picked up a 2003 Astro today. Right now, I have more questions about it than info.
I've attached a cheesy picture of it in my driveway (I'll get a better one soon, I promise).
I also attached a picture of the roof to show what is left of the roof rack.

My first question is about the roof rack. Is it worth trying to find something that will fit in the remaining tracks? What I'm really asking is that, if I figure out a way to get something that will bolt in to the tracks, will they be capable of supporting 100, 150, maybe even 200 lbs?

My second is this: It has a trailer hitch and a button on the shift lever that activated "towing mode" (or something like that). Does this mean that it has a factory towing package? If so, would that include any additional cooling capacity?

My third and final (for now) question is this: both the brake and ABS lights are on constantly. What are the most likely causes?
I have no way of finding out if they both came on at the same time. The brake fluid is on the low side, but about where I would expect it to be of the pads were worn. The brakes seem to work fine.

Once I finish fixing the main broken stuff and get caught up on the maintenance, I'm hoping to add some extras that will be useful for road trips. Possibly including extra batteries, solar panels and miscellaneous other stuff..

Thanks for any help
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby markmitch » August 13th 2016, 1:14am

must be hard to stay in the seats with it upside down and you must lose your change a lot. LOL just playing welcome to the forum.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby BuddyHuggs » August 13th 2016, 1:23am

After taking the photo, edit literally anything on it, save then the orientation will be fine. Your factory rack questions will reignite a common debate. Some think they suck, others say they are fine. For less extreme usage I find mine fine. Jy has them for 20-30 bucks usually complete.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby BuddyHuggs » August 13th 2016, 1:24am

Oh and for the brakes, I believe it's common on the 03 to find cracked brake lines. I think.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby kennysmoke » August 13th 2016, 1:43am

I have an '03 AWD... my lights are on as well... in my case I have a bad front hub ABS sensor which was causing my ABS to kick on for no reason on dry pavement when coming to a stop. The bearing is fine in the hub so I pulled the ABS 60 amp fuse located in the fuse box under the hood next to the battery. I would check there first. Welcome to the forum!
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby Leeann_93 » August 13th 2016, 2:11am

You might need to pull an entire roof rack at a junkyard with what you have left.

The button is Tow/Haul. There is no additional cooling - you have a radiator with an oil cooler on the driver's side and a tranny cooler on the passenger side. If you're going to tow or haul in Texas, I'd advise adding an additional transmission cooler.

As for the brake/ABS light, look at the sticky in the Brake forum for the fix.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 3:00am

BuddyHuggs wrote:After taking the photo, edit literally anything on it, save then the orientation will be fine. Your factory rack questions will reignite a common debate. Some think they suck, others say they are fine. For less extreme usage I find mine fine. Jy has them for 20-30 bucks usually complete.


I did open it and re-save it. It looked fine on my machine. I'll change something next time. It wasn't a very good picture to start with, so even upside down, your not missing much.

For now, I have a smallish (1' x 4') 40 watt solar panel that I figure I might as well throw up on the roof and possibly a black PVC pipe for hot water while camping. But I'm sure that I'll eventually want to add more.

i read through the sticky on resoldering the EBCM. I also noticed that there was a comment that the EBCM on some years was different and not like the type that needs to be resoldered...but it didn't say which vans got the different EBCM. I suppose that I could just take it off and see if it looks like the one in the video.

I can't say for sure, but I don't really think that the brake lines are leaking. The pedal is firm and the brakes seem to work fine. Also there doesn't seem to be anything dripping. I do expect to do a brake fluid change soon. The fluid in the reservoir looks pretty ugly.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 3:05am

kennysmoke wrote:I have an '03 AWD... my lights are on as well... in my case I have a bad front hub ABS sensor which was causing my ABS to kick on for no reason on dry pavement when coming to a stop. The bearing is fine in the hub so I pulled the ABS 60 amp fuse located in the fuse box under the hood next to the battery. I would check there first. Welcome to the forum!


My ABS hasn't shown any signs of life yet. But I 'haven't intentionally tried to see if it is working either...

Other than the lights, everything seems to work properly. I may go to a parts store tomorrow and see if they can get any codes out of the it.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby kennysmoke » August 13th 2016, 3:21am

esc wrote:
kennysmoke wrote:I have an '03 AWD... my lights are on as well... in my case I have a bad front hub ABS sensor which was causing my ABS to kick on for no reason on dry pavement when coming to a stop. The bearing is fine in the hub so I pulled the ABS 60 amp fuse located in the fuse box under the hood next to the battery. I would check there first. Welcome to the forum!


My ABS hasn't shown any signs of life yet. But I 'haven't intentionally tried to see if it is working either...

Other than the lights, everything seems to work properly. I may go to a parts store tomorrow and see if they can get any codes out of the it.



If the light is on it is not working... If the brakes seem to be working well my money is on a bad sensor... not all code readers will diagnose ABS issues...

Could also be bad solder joints on the circuit board for the ABS unit... a very common problem...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 3:57am

I was planning to call the nearby parts stores and see if any of them claim to be able to read ABS codes.
I can believe a bad sensor. But would that also cause the brake light to stay on?

At this point I still don't know if the ABS/Brake issue is all one problem to two unrelated issues.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby kennysmoke » August 13th 2016, 4:05am

esc wrote:I was planning to call the nearby parts stores and see if any of them claim to be able to read ABS codes.
I can believe a bad sensor. But would that also cause the brake light to stay on?

At this point I still don't know if the ABS/Brake issue is all one problem to two unrelated issues.


Yes... it could cause it to stay on... I've owned 5 Astro/Safari's in the last 24 years and all have had bad sensors/ and or bad solder joints in the ABS module...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 4:09am

Well hopefully one of the local parts stores will be able to pull a code that will point me in the right direction.
I'll report back with what I find...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby kennysmoke » August 13th 2016, 4:13am

I'm curious to see what you find... don't forget to check and see if the PO has pulled that 60 amp fuse...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby Astrofarian » August 13th 2016, 4:44am

Hi and welcome. Looks like you're well on your way to getting the ABS issue sorted out. That's one of the great things about this forum....helpful, involved owners/drivers!
Best of luck with the '03!
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 1:30pm

This may be a little better picture...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby HotWire » August 13th 2016, 2:51pm

I think the tracks you have is BETTER than the stock rack. It's probably worth some time/effort to find out what brand they are and get compatible parts.

Yakima, Thule, and Rhino are good places to start. Good luck and welcome!
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 8:44pm

HotWire wrote:I think the tracks you have is BETTER than the stock rack. It's probably worth some time/effort to find out what brand they are and get compatible parts.

Yakima, Thule, and Rhino are good places to start. Good luck and welcome!


You mean they aren't stock? That's news to me.

BTW, I stopped by a parts store and got the ABS code. The guy said that it was 026s. He said that is was an ABS control module error and I think he said something about a "relay." Is anyone familiar with this specific code (maybe I should ask in the brake section). I have a feeling I need to go start warming up my soldering iron...
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 13th 2016, 10:28pm

I looked up 026s and it seems that there is no such thing.
Judging by the fact that the operator of the OBDII reader didn't seem to know what he was doing, (he insisted that if there was no check engine light, he could not read any codes) I'm going to go with the assumption that he meant "C0265 - EBCM Relay Circuit" which seems to be the standard error you get when your EBCM needs to be resoldered.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 14th 2016, 1:54pm

As suggested by HotWire, I've been doing a little research and the closest match I've found to my roof rack tracks is the Yakima roof track.
It is sold in a 60" length which matches the length on the inside (between the end caps) of what I have. The end caps also look the same.
Image

I'll go visit a local kayak shop this week and see if they have any Yakima parts that will fit.

The tracks are held in by 11 visible screws on each side. The Yakima 60" kit comes with some sort of screw that reminds me of a pop-rivet. It expands out on the blind side of the hole as you tighten it. It may also have more screws under the end caps...but not all the pictures I saw had those. But in any case, I'm thinking that 11 screws per track should secure it reasonably well. I also suspect/hope that the way the track lays across the length of the roof will spread the load in such a way that it will be able to handle a pretty decent load. It is unlikely that I would ever put more than about 200 lbs on it (a small boat). But I suspect the wind resistance/lift, not the weight, will be the real force applied to it.
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Re: just got a 2003 Astro

Postby esc [OP] » August 15th 2016, 2:17pm

Just a quick update. After this I'll put my various questions into the correct forums.
Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. In just a few days of ownership I've already learned more here than I could have hoped for.

I called a local Yakima dealer, they said that they could outfit me with two cross bars for $3oo to $450. For that price, I'll think I'll try making my own custom cross bars. The tracks look like they will be pretty easy to work with and if I build it, it will suit my needs better anyway.

I went back to the parts store and had them re-read the ABS code. This time I made them let me look at it and it was C0265. So it looks like there is definitely a little soldering on the EBCM in my future. No big deal, at least I know what to do.

Thanks again and hopefully, after a while, I'll learn enough about these vans that I'll be able to start helping others just like you have all been helping me.
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