1987 Chevrolet Astro 4.3 V6 from North America
In general, Astros are the vans of the gods
Rod blown in engine. Eventually poking through the manifold, causing a major oil leak.
Please do not take this review as an Astro bashing review. Although I had an unfortunate problem with my Astro, I would not hesitate to buy another.
I am seventeen, and my Astro was my very first vehicle. I purchased it for 250 in July after it had been sitting in the street for 8 months.
Some general maintenance was needed (brake lines, radiator seal, brake pads, and a front end alignment). After all was said and done, I still came out under 700.
I got insurance on the van before I ever got a job to pay for it, so in the last 2 weeks before the insurance was due, I had made enough money delivering pizza to pay the bill, and soon after, the Astro had paid for itself delivering pizza.
This Astro was special, it was a cargo, so only 1 friend at a time could fit. It had no radio in it, or speakers, which was fine. It was a different kind of cargo than I have ever seen though. The entire left side of the vehicle was panel behind the driver's side window. This was the only Astro I have ever seen designed like that. I am told it is a special order of a phone company that ordered a fleet of them back in '87.
One time when I was delivering pizzas, I was pulling out through a dangerous intersection, and I had a wreck with a Benz that was a couple years old. My solid ride did about 3 grand in damages to that car, and I repaired my van with a hunk of steel wool.
Towards the end of the van's life, I began a search for big house speakers to put in the van, and a CD player to go with it. My friend had also carpeted the van and gave me a mattress to put in the back, and for those of you who have tried, there is one mattress size (I forget which) that will fit perfectly in the back of an Astro cargo... like it was built for it. I had the sweet cage and all. My friend also did some awesome custom paint (it was spray paint, but it was still awesome).
Not long after that, I had a muffler problem, which I did not mind at all, because Astro's sound pretty good behind that muffler.
Unfortunately one day on a routine trip that I would make every couple weeks, to about 40 miles away to my cousin's house, I noticed an extreme weakness in my Astro; it could hardly keep steady at 60 (and I was on the highway). Once off the highway I could hear the problem much better, and there was a violent tapping. The ride home was just as bad, if not worse, and after asking around, my problem was discovered, and I was forced to quit my pizza delivery job. Everyone told me to find a job close, but I can still drive to it, because the van would still be drivable until it would not drive anymore. The general guessed life was about 3 months.
A week later, I was on my way to my senior tailgate, and I was plenty excited about my friends sitting on the mattress in the back, and hanging out and loving my big van like I did. About a half a mile from the school, there was a terrible grinding sound and I had to stop the van. After school, I had returned and the van had stopped making that sound. It however was shaking very bad and smoking on occasion. I found that the smoking was the oil leaking and dripping on my exhaust pipe, and unfortunately that was the last of the Astro, I still own it, but the engine is unsavable, and I still have not found a job.
There are various beat up Safari’s that I see that have been sitting a while, and I wonder if someone would let me have the engine if I would get rid of it for him or her. Either way, I do not have the space, resources or knowledge to change an engine. Oh well, although it only lasted 3 months and it was kind of a rip off, and it is sitting down the street in my grandma's driveway, I had some wonderful times in that van, and I don't know if I could ever love another like I love it. Farewell Astro... I will always remember... the good times.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th December, 2005
31st Dec 2005, 22:49
I'd say you spun a rod bearing, possibly from lack of lubrication. The rod continued to function somewhat normally, clanking the whole time until the day the rod bolts just had enough, stretched out and the rod punched through the block. You only paid 250 for it, so I'd say you got your money's worth out if it. I know how much it sucks, being 17 and not having a car. Maybe get that nearby job, save up a few hundred and buy another Astro van, then keep your one with the blown engine for whatever parts you can salvage off of it.
25th Jan 2013, 00:44
A little late with the response, but... It could have been a rod bearing, but it had a substantial power loss from the jump, so it may have started with a broken rod or deteriorating piston, though I was impressed by the amount of time I drove it after the motor blew up...
I am now going on 25, and I had a 94 Astro (with a swapped in Vortec), and many many cars later I got another first gen shorty Astro. It's an 88 with a 5 speed, and it has given me 3 solid years for 1500 as of now. A little power steering whine, but that's it. It is not a cargo like my first, but it is very basic. No radio, rubber floors, vinyl seats, manual locks/windows.
I love it, it's the perfect every day car for me.