I own the safari, 1995 model I love the way the rear dutch doors are.
Very convenient for everyday grocery getting and such.
I don't however like the ride and handling of these models. Try to
rent one for a weekend and drive it a lot! You may hate it after 3-4 hours
of highway driving. Mine is a handful on a windy day I still believe the
alignment is off but it has been in for 4 alignments and to a frame shop
too. I see one now and then one on the highway that tracks straight as an
arrow while mine weaves back and forth across the lane. Also there is NO
passenger foot room up front remember this if your passenger is tall or
I own an 87 Astro with the 4.3 "Z" TBI engine. ("Z" is the eighth digit of
the VIN--non Vortec). Great engine. Usually just normal tune-ups etc. The
engine has 190 thousand miles and uses a quart of oil every 5 thousand
miles. Second tranny. Was in there when I bought the van. I've been the
owner since about 120 thousand and started running Amsoil right away
changing oil and filter every 5 thousand. Astro's are noted for front end
parts, especially upper ball joints, and idler arms. I bought Moog parts
and put them in myself. Moog has a lifetime warranty. I just picked up a
new set of idler arms for free cause I kept my receipt... Saved me almost
another $200 in parts. I really like this engine for pure reliability and
fuel economy compared to the newer engine. When not towing I get about
Any of the Astro/Safari vans with the 4.3 Vortec (typically "W" is the
eighth digit of the VIN) These have higher horse power and a balance shaft
compared to the "Z" engine. Most people I've talked to about fuel economy
for this motor says they can't get higher than 16-17 mpg on the highway
UNLESS they get a major tail wind. On the Vortec's, the injector/regulator
assembly is a common problem. It's not a matter of "if" but "when" this
will fail. If any part of this assembly fails, the entire assembly must be
replaced. The part alone retails for approx. $300. Then there is labor to
put it in. Also, this engine has to have a minimum of 48-50psi of fuel
pressure MINIMUM just to run (50-57 is spec I believe). Without a min fuel
pressure of say 50 psi, the veh WILL NOT start cause there isn't enough
pressure to overcome the spring behind the ball/seat at the end of the
injector assembly. From the factory, these vehicle's came with a fuel pump
and pulsator assembly in the tank. Depending on the state you live in, when
it's time to do a fuel pump, the fuel lines going into the tank are
generally seized and the lines break or they have to be cut. This means the
fuel sending unit needs to be replaced. This sending unit is an assembly of
steel tubing with a place to mount the pump, has the float, and variable
resistor assembly for the fuel gauge. This ridiculous looking invention
retails at almost $400 for a Delco assembly. Sometimes an aftermarket one
will work but your fuel gauge may never work the same without the OEM
assembly. I've seen a lot of bad check valves in the original pumps and
many pulsators blown out which causes extended crank time/no start
condition. There is an updated pulsator that is a much better unit which
retails for approx. $60. I don't usually use the new pulsator. I use the
piece of hose and two clamps that comes in the Delco replacement pump box.
There are enough things that can go wrong with this fuel system so I keep
the fuel tank to one possible point of failure, the pump. If you get what
my shop calls the "full meal deal", your in the ball park of $1500 to
replace the pump, pulsator, sending unit and injector assembly. Usually
it's time to add in a full tune up cause the dog houses on these vans
typically only come off when there is a problem.
In 96 and later the newer Vortec engine has an injection assembly that the
components can be serviced individually. If only one injector fails, you
can replace just the one. I usually suggest to do the fuel pressure
regulator while in there. So it's potentially less expensive, but not a
huge savings. The pump is a complete "module" as they call it, so pump goes
bad, you have to buy the $300-$400 assembly for the tank.
In my opinion, all in all they are good vehicles. Tougher than an average
"minivan", but not a full-size van either. Much better for towing than any
other "minivans". But they do have some known issues.
Hope This Helps
Sorry so long..
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