It's About That Time

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It's About That Time

Postby occupant [OP] » June 12th 2011, 8:00pm

I haven't driven an Astro since about 2001. I drove Y362 for Yellow Cab of Dallas for a few months in fall 2001. It was a 1999 Astro, yellow of course, had about 115K on it. It was functional, and I loved the dual AC. But the mileage wasn't so good so I went back to car taxis and bounced in and out of a couple minivans (99 Windstar, 00 Voyager, 00 Venture) but stuck with a Crown Vic most of the time. Fast forward to 2005. I'm homeless. Taxi cab driving wasn't very profitable. So I'm living in an Aerostar and missing the dual AC of that Astro. Then I find a girl, get married, and get rid of the van. Fast forward to 2008, friend of mine had fallen on hard times and needed to get rid of their third vehicle to save money. It hadn't been driven much. 1991 Pontiac Trans Sport. So I take it for $250, drive it for a bit, and realize little front-drive vans have nothing on Astros and Aerostars. Sold for $500. Last van I ever sat in. My wife and I buy a 2000 model Dodge Durango with a bad engine. Rest of the truck was nice. So we put a used engine in it and it's been fairly economical (17-19mpg) and until this year it's been fairly trouble-free.

Well now it's summer 2011. The AC in the Durango is dual, but like last year, it only works when you're above 40mph. I tried cleaning the bugs out of the condenser. Didn't help. Tried having the system charged, but the mechanic said it was already filled like it should be and the compressor seems to be working fine. Low side is low, high side is high, nothing out of spec. It's getting to be a problem with constant 95-100 degree weather. Also, we have 5 kids now so the 6-passenger Durango that was fine when we got it, is now one seatbelt short. My poor wife has to sit in the cargo area when we all go somewhere. Another thing, the truck overheats at low speed and idle. Don't go in that drive-thru lane. You won't make it. I'm not done, it also has the original transmission in it. After 216K miles, it's showing it's age. When cold, it shifts sloppy. When warm, it shifts a bit late. When hot (see aforementioned drive-thru comment) it shifts HARD and LATE. So I baby the heck out of it. But it's not going to last another year.

So where I'm at is thinking it would be better to spend $2000-$2500 to buy a late 90s Astro or Safari (or another Durango or a 95-99 Suburban), than drop a few hundred here on a fan clutch and hoses and clamps and things, $1500+ on a transmission, and then whatever it takes to get the AC working efficiently (some owners wrap the cold AC line under the hood with foam and tape), and also the heater core is bad, we get no heat in the winter and I think it may be leaking causing the AC not to get cold enough now in the summer. Gonna try and bypass the core and wrap the AC lines. If that solves that problem, it'll probably just be in time for the transmission to take a permanent nap. I'll still try and fix that AC problem but it's not going to be a long term family hauling solution.

My wife doesn't WANT a minivan. She would rather get a Suburban. I think it would be more economical to get an Astro. Actually I think the most economical choice for moving people and cargo would be a Century/Ciera wagon with a 4-cylinder engine. But you can't get rear AC in a station wagon and cargo on a long trip would have to go in a rooftop carrier (like the Sears X-Cargo my parents kept in the attic to use on the '82 Datsun 210 and later an '86 Celebrity) we had growing up. I don't really want a front-drive minivan, I'm sure it would be fine, but if I can get a rear-drive van, it open up options later, like towing a small camper, or getting a tow dolly to move vehicles around (I LOVE buying/selling cars when I have time/money/space to do it).

So I'm here to check out common problems/solutions and see what to look for in a used Astro/Safari van. My ideal van would be dark blue, pewter, bronze, dark gray, or black, have 8-passenger cloth seating, dual AC, cassette radio with slave CD player, dutch doors, chrome styled steel wheels, and be 1998 or newer (for the 2nd gen airbags).
Alan Moore
Hill County, TX

2000 Durango Sport 4x2, pewter/black, 318/44RE, 216K
1976 Gran Torino sedan, white/blue, 351C/FMX, 91K
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby paintdrying » June 13th 2011, 2:54am

I have a 2000 I could not be happier with it. Watch those idler arms. I like the rwd. People on here love the awd, but I am just not a fan. Those fwd vans get me motion sick, I can not even ride in them. Been that way as long as I can rememmber. Driving in any vehicle with a side ways facing motor is very unhealthy. I am sensitive to that stuff. These astro are really bullet proof. Someone screwed up big time letting these vans go to market. This forum is really boring, we can go weeks without someone having a problem with there van. Sometimes I dream of being back on the ford explorer forum. Never a dull time, three four times a day someone posting these strange problems nobody could solve.
1999 chevy astro van awd ls 108,000 miles
parts van 2000 astro rwd 279,000 miles
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby Leeann_93 » June 13th 2011, 9:45pm

Welcome!

I love my AWD van. It's a '99, so it only kicks in the front wheels when it detects slip. Otherwise, it's RWD. 8 passenger cloth seating (at least, when I get seats to replace those that are missing it will). Mine has rear heat, but I'd rather have rear AC like my '93 Astro (which is sitting in my yard, waiting for me to put the motor that's in the back into the front). That also is AWD, but it's full-time, and also has 8-passenger cloth seating. No airbags at all in that one, though.

Idler arms are just a maintenance item on both RWD and AWD Astro/Safaris. Get the Moog problem solver to cut down on how often you have to replace them. In Texas, I'd get the lightest color other than white (just 'cause I can't stand a white vehicle) with the lightest interior I could - to cut down on AC needs.
'05 Astro AWD vin X
'02 Astro LS AWD vin X
'00 Astro LS AWD - WIP
'99 Safari XLE AWD - broke
'93 AWD EXT vin W - real broke
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby ProStreet_LS1 » June 14th 2011, 1:01am

Welcome
1985 Pro Street Chevy Astro: parted, scrapped & upgraded to
1998 Pro Street Chevy Astro: Tubbed w/ 33x22 rear tires, 350 hp aluminum LS1 V8
PRO STREET 4 LIFE, GEARHEAD 4 LIFE
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby 93xtmoney » June 16th 2011, 3:58pm

Welcome
93 Safari XT awd slt with the GMC touring package a.k.a. Money Machine
5000K foglights, type R headlights 7000K, clear corners, APC black euro tail lights,
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby 94 Van Guy » June 16th 2011, 10:01pm

Welcome to the forum.

Keith
'91 Chevy G30 Bus 39.3K Miles


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Re: It's About That Time

Postby RobbVII » June 26th 2011, 9:27pm

Welcome
Driving fast makes me feel good, the speed of light trapped under my hood!
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Re: It's About That Time

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » August 23rd 2011, 2:38am

Welcome! Unless you really need the towing capacity, don't get a Suburban. It's huge and eats gas. I won't get started on people who buy them just to drive around their one kid or because they like to "feel big and sit high". I get 20 mpg out of both my vans and one's about 24 years old!
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