Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

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Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 20th 2016, 3:11am

Hi There,
My name is Sam and I am from Toronto Canada I just found this amazing forum. To give you a little history I grew up with a Chevy Astro. My father owned one for over 15 years. It's mine and my wife's van of preference.
We came upon a 2005 Chevy Astro with LS trim and 295,000 km's (will do conversion to miles later) for $1500cad or $1166 usd approximately
The van has been off the road and sitting for a few months. It had a new alternator, battery, new front tires installed in December 2015 . Brakes were replaced within the last year. The body has about 3-4 dime size rust spots so not too bad. The rear bumper has a pretty good ding and is rusted on the passenger side. Owner said he accidentally back up into a parking pole.
The van turned on the first time but the engine sounds uneven it looks like it has a slight shake. After about about 15 minutes the engine seemed to even out. The engine light turns on and stays on. Looking at the brakes the rotors look rusted but the brakes still feel very strong. The AC seems to blow cold air.
We had a mobile mechanic look at it and he said that the engine light may be just a matter of needing a spark plugs and cables changed but it might be something more serious. He said the motor is misfiring and that is also contributing to the engine light being on. He said that the brakes rotors need to be replaced or machined to clean them.
The mechanic did admit that he does not like the Astro/Safari vans and tried to steer us towards a Chrysler van but we simply don't like them.
I have enlisted my father and we are ready to replace the spark plugs and cables if we end up buying the van. So we would be able to perform the tuneup. I was under the impression that the rotors would clean themselves once you drove the car. Unfortunately we were not able to drive the car on the highway. I have found a local seller who has a brand new rear bumper that he is willing to sell for a reasonable price.
My questions are as follows: Is this a van worth taking a chance on? Does anyone have any opinions on the engine light and what can potentially cause it? Is the bumper hard to replace? Are there any Canadian members? Any other advice to consider?
Thanks in advance,
Sam
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby WoodButcher » August 20th 2016, 1:36pm

My questions are as follows:
a Is this a van worth taking a chance on?
b Does anyone have any opinions on the engine light and what can potentially cause it?
c Is the bumper hard to replace?
d Are there any Canadian members?
e Any other advice to consider?


a Everyone here will say yes to the first question, that's the reason this forum exists! :D

b Your on the right track with a tune-up. replace all the vacuum lines, check the belt, hoses, expect to replace wear items and rubber.

c nope

d yep

e clean and check the rotors for wear, replace the pads and flush /bleed the brakes.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby tequilasunset » August 20th 2016, 1:53pm

I want to add... tell the mobile mechanic to GTFO... hating on the Astro/Safari and recommending a Chrysler? Sigh... :/
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby WimpTech » August 20th 2016, 3:46pm

x2 with all above.... CRAPsler.. pfffft!

WELCOME!!!!

183K miles is up there, so definitely time for a tune up. Do you remember the exact code it was throwing? P0300 is random misfire which is usually a distributor issue. P0301- 0306 are specific cylinders, which points to a localized issue like bad plug, wire or (lets hope not) a compression issue.

There are a bunch of posts here on tune up pointers, expect to spend $200-$300 CAD off the bat in tune up parts, like distributor, cap, rotor, plugs, wires, fuel filter, etc.

I'd say If you can afford it, then you got a great van there! 2005 is the last production year and what we call a GEN3, which is my personal favorite. The price is right for sure. The rear bumper is an easy install, I recommend going to a junkyard for that, shouldn't pay more than $50 CAD

Good luck, please keep us updated!
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby Mmusicman » August 20th 2016, 4:10pm

rexblue wrote:The mechanic did admit that he does not like the Astro/Safari vans and tried to steer us towards a Chrysler van but we simply don't like them.

GET A NEW MECHANIC!!! SERIOUSLY!!!
The Chrysler mini van is the BIGGEST piece of crap!

The ASTRO van you're considering (for the price) sounds like a GOOD deal. All "used" vehicles are less than perfect, and usually need something. If it's minor, it's no big deal.

Shaking engines are common. People here strive to make them smooth again. Usually a tune-up or new motor mounts will solve the minor issues. Maybe some injector cleaner. It's been sitting.. so it may just need a good highway run. Either way.. probably no big deal.

2005 is the last model made, and the best! You can't buy a newer Astro!
If it's had good maintenance, then it's probably a great deal.

Astro's are GREAT vans! Good luck and welcome!
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby chevymaher » August 20th 2016, 4:58pm

Mmusicman wrote:GET A NEW MECHANIC!!! SERIOUSLY!!! The Chrysler mini van is a BIG piece of crap!



:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
Yea what he just said.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby redfury » August 20th 2016, 5:31pm

Starting up rough and then smoothing out could be as simple as just starting after sitting for so long. Oil may have pooled up a bit in the cylinder or such other nonsense. I bought a 2000 Bonneville for $400 recently. When we first fired it up, it smoked like it had a head gasket leak and once it had cleared itself out, it ran good and eventually stalled. I brought it home, replaced the lower intake manifold gaskets, did an oil changed and took it for a test drive. It had stumbling issues and popped a code for the MAF. Replaced the MAF with one out of the JY and it's been running great through the first 700 miles I've driven it. Another 300 and it gets the oil changed again. Then it goes through a full rotation and gets a sample sent off to Blackstone labs to see what kind of condition the motor is in.

I'd say jump on it, particularly if you don't need to rely on it right now and can spend some down time taking care of a couple of things if you have the tools, skill, time, money and space. The Van is worth more than you are paying for it, and worth more than what you'd put into it in parts.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 20th 2016, 10:53pm

Hey Folks.
I just wanted to say thanks for all your replies. We have come to an agreement and will be picking up the van on monday. The previous owner says he has had it for the last 10.5 years and has always done regular maintenance on it. Will definitely do the tune up sometime this week.
And yes we are currently looking for a new mechanic. :)
We will put plates on it on monday and take it for a spin

Wimpazz: I have read about the codes but I do not have a scanner to read them but will look for one. Are there any that you can recommend?

It has 2 new used goodyears in the front. Do you guys think we should get goodyears for the back as well or does it matter? I believe they are all seasons.

Thanks,
Sam
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby WimpTech » August 21st 2016, 1:17am

I use a Bluetooth OBDII adapter and my phone, Torque on android, something else on Apple. All in works better than any scanner I've used, way cheaper too, $25.

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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 21st 2016, 6:23am

Thanks Wimpazz. I have found a bluetooth ODBII adapter locally here so will pick it up on sunday. So would it be correct to assume that it should tell me why the engine light is on?
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby juststartin » August 21st 2016, 7:01am

I actually just bought a Bluetooth reader and got torque on Wimpazz suggestion. It's really great, I didn't have any trouble codes but yep it should tell you the code and can even clear them
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby redfury » August 21st 2016, 2:52pm

With the bluetooth OBD2 scanner and Torque, you can do a variety of things that a cheap code scanner cannot do.

Most importantly, it can scan and clear codes, but it will tell you what that code is as well.

The useful function for me is being able to watch live data ( see what the sensors are reporting to the computer in real time )

With your van, the options I would add to one of the many screens you can set up would be to add LTFT and STFT bank1 and 2. What those acronyms mean are LTFT ( Long term fuel trim ) STFT ( short term fuel trim ). What they show you is the amount of fuel the computer is adding or subtracting to make up for problems like fuel leaks, air leaks, etc.

If you see positive numbers, it means the computer is adding fuel ( or in reality, extending the length of the injector pulse width- spraying fuel longer ) and negative numbers mean it's shortening the pulse width , effectively reducing the amount of fuel.

What the numbers mean : the STFT numbers should hover as close to 1 or 2 as much as possible, that means the computer has dialed in the immediate needs of the engine to run optimally. LTFT is more of the history of leaning or enriching the fuel to the engine. You want to see these numbers as close to 1 or 2 as well. Many cars will run higher single digits due to dirty injectors, fuel filter, air cleaners needing attention. If you see numbers in the double digits, then you will want to start looking into WHY they are so high.

For example: if you have LTFT=25 and STFT=25 , you are looking for either some kind of vacuum leak, a faulty MAF or a lack of fuel pressure. Usually this points to something like Lower Intake manifold gaskets as this would be a fairly large leak. It could also indicate an EGR that is stuck open or a tear in the boot behind the MAF sensor.

If those numbers were negative, then you'd be looking at a leaking fuel pressure regulator or other causes for excess fuel, such as a clogged air filter, or a dirty MAF sensor.

Bad O2 sensors can also cause issues, so a function of Torque is that you can watch the voltage fluctuations of your Oxygen sensors. Bank 1 sensor 1 and Bank 2 sensor 1 would be the sensors you will want to watch. Bank 1 sensor 2 would be after the catalytic converter ( or your downstream O2 sensor ). Those sensors will display their readings in voltage. You want to see them fluctuate above and below .450v If they hang at a particular voltage for more than a second or 2, you may want to consider replacing them. They need to respond quickly to the changes in the exhaust stream to help the computer tailor the fuel/air ratio. If they are slow, then you will lose efficiency and can ultimately end up breaking down the catalytic converter.

Lots of useful information just from those sensor readings! Other things can be useful for diagnosis as well. But those are the main ones I use when looking at the general health of the engine.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 22nd 2016, 12:41am

Wow! Thanks redfury for all the helpful advice. Questions for you:
Should I put the scanner on the van right away when we pick it up or run it for awhile and then put it on?
At what point do I reset the engine light?
Thanks again
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby redfury » August 22nd 2016, 12:50am

Put the scan tool on it right away. You can check for codes even if there isn't a check engine light on while you wait for the engine to warm up for the first initial bit to get the computer into "closed loop" mode. The LTFT and STFT won't tell you much until the O2 sensors are online, and it takes a few seconds for the internal heaters in them to warm them up enough to start reporting to the computer. It will also tell you if you have weak O2 sensor heaters if they don't put it into closed loop very fast.

Clear codes after you've checked everything out. There may be freeze frame data you can look at if there is a code you are concerned about. Leaving the codes be is fine, clearing them won't cause the engine to run better or worse. If you clear the codes, you will lose that freeze frame data that can be valuable information to tracking down the moment the code was triggered.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 22nd 2016, 2:32am

Thanks so much redfury for taking the time to answer my questions.
I have a few more questions this time. I have found a used rear bumper off a 2002 astro for $50 cad. As far I remember the bumpers from 85-05 are the same and interchangeable right? Does anyone know what size wrenches and sockets I would need to remove the old dented and rusted bumper with and then install the new used one? I was just reminded that it has a towing hitch as well. Also the owner informed me that he has a bumper cover that matches the LS trim. Will I be able to to put that directly over the rear bumper or do I have to strip it down to the metal?
Thanks again
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 23rd 2016, 2:47am

Okay folks.
We got the van today. Unfortunately I was not able to get the odb2 scanner to work on the phone. It was paired correctly but would only give me the speed of the van when it was moving. Otherwise it was just the not connected to the ecu error in Torque pro. Will look into that.

We drove the van for a few hours in the city no highway yet.
The engine light was one for most of the time and then we parked and were gone for about 45 minutes and did not turn on when we turned the car again. Maybe it will stay off permanently.
The ABS light came on and would turn off after hard accelerating and slowing down. The previous owner said he has been driving with it as long as he can remember. It turned on when the car was restarted as well. Any ideas on that?
The car or motor makes a humming sound similar to what a brinks truck makes when its moving but not as strong but we could hear it inside the car. Any ideas on this?
Someone told us that the rocker panels don't look too good. To me it looks like the edge of the panels where the trim or cladding is mounted on looks somewhat rusted. Was told that's an expensive fix. :(
The brakes at first felt like they were rocking when the car was coming to a stop but that improved a little bit with use.
Also the parking break light was on and only turned off when we drove fast but was on again after the car was turned on again.
I have to say it felt awesome to be back in an Astro.
Thanks for reading
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby redfury » August 23rd 2016, 3:21am

ABS could be a bearing that is worn, which could also account for the noise.

Rocker panels can be repaired with repair panels, each side will cost about $150-200 for the outer rocker panels per side depending on where you get them from. Of course, they have to be cut off and either glued or welded on. You can get the glue from an autobody supply shop..all depends on how far up the rust is on the drivers side though.
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby rexblue [OP] » August 23rd 2016, 3:33am

Thanks for your quick reply redfury.
The bearing for the ABS is that an expensive proposition?
I was looking at the rocker panels and it seems that the thin piece of metal that looks like it holds the cladding in place is rusted. Will look closer tomorrow in the daylight. Will take pictures and post.
Thanks again
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Re: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby Leeann_93 » August 23rd 2016, 10:42pm

Is it AWD or RWD?

AWD, the bearing/hub assembly must be replaced as a unit. It's somewhere between $100-$200, depending upon what you get. I stick with Timken, personally, because I've had nothing but good experiences with them.

Torque Pro can't read ABS codes, if I remember correctly, so you'll need to go someplace that can to see what your stored and/or active codes say. It could be a sensor issue (built into the bearing/hub assembly) or it could be an ABS motor/circuit problem, in which case reflowing the solder on the board is the answer. Pics and descriptions of that are in the Brakes forum, top sticky post.
'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: Need Advice on Potential purchase of 2005 Astro

Postby Mmusicman » August 23rd 2016, 11:00pm

rexblue wrote:Unfortunately I was not able to get the odb2 scanner to work on the phone. It was paired correctly but would only give me the speed of the van when it was moving. Otherwise it was just the not connected to the ecu error in Torque pro. Will look into that.

There are numerous cheap Chinese ELM327 readers that will not read GM protocol... but often will read import vehicles. I've seen and tried to use them. There are a few forum posts on the OBD readers that work, and those that don't.
The car or motor makes a humming sound similar to what a brinks truck makes when its moving but not as strong but we could hear it inside the car. Any ideas on this?

Could be possible vibration from u-joints or CV-joints, bad motor-mounts, or a few other possibilities.
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92 Chevy Astro Cargo Shorty | V8-350
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