Chevy Astro Van Problemsby Rob Wagner
The Chevy Astro minivan was produced from 1985 to 2005 and was one of the most popular and durable minivans on the market. Like many other minivans it lost a significant market share to sport utility vehicles and was discontinued. Yet its compact size, spunky 190-horsepower 4.3-liter V-6 engine and choice of an automatic or manual transmission made it a popular passenger vehicle or delivery van.
Ball Joint Problems
More than 40,000 2003 Chevy Astro vans have faulty steering knuckles that could cut into the lower ball joint rubber boot, which keeps the joint clean and lubricated. Cutting the boot can lead to road dirt and water contaminating the ball socket area and result in early wear of the joint. The steering knuckles should be replaced, according to Motor Trend.
Faulty Brake Lights
Nearly 80,000 2002 Chevy Astro vans are believed to be prone to non-working stop and hazard lights due to a faulty switch that may develop an open circuit. Motorists following the van may not have adequate warning the van is stopping or may be stopped for an emergency. A Chevrolet dealer should be consulted to have the switch replaced.
The 1998 Astro vans equipped with integrated dual child seats may have a missing seat belt retractor spring that prevents the device from locking, or a missing pawl spring that does not allow the seat belt to lock properly. This could result in injury to the child in the event of a collision. The child seats should be replaced.
Older Astro vans with 4.3-liter V-6 engine replacements may develop severe vibration when applying the brakes to come to a full stop, due to an improperly installed balance shaft in the engine, according to the site www.2carpros.com. This could cause loss of vehicle control. The van should be returned to the mechanic who installed the engine for re-installation of the the balance shaft.
Some older model all-wheel-drive Chevy Astro vans with high mileage may severely pull to the one side during braking. A common misperception is the brakes could be faulty. More likely, however, the problem is due to the van's suspension that may include a broken ball joint, control arm or worn components, according to 2carpros.com.
The 1995 models have a rear nut that attaches the left-hand lower control arm to the frame. It may not be tightened to torque specifications, which could lead to the bolt loosening and breaking and leading to a crash. The vehicle should be inspected to ensure the nut is tightened to proper specifications.
Vibration can occur in some Chevy Astro vans at speeds up to 70 mph. Although there may be a variety of reasons, one of the most common problems is worn CV joints. With each major tune-up these should typically be replaced within 60,000 miles.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.