1994 Chevrolet Astro 4.3L V6 TBI from North America

Summary:

Like a rock, 390,000 km and still going

Faults:

In 5 years of ownership:

Been in the shop only once for new muffler & catalytic converter (was rusted) $600+/- (includes labour).

Otherwise I have done all service & maintenance myself:

- 1 set of front & rear shocks replaced at the same time, $200+. Cheapo Monroe shocks from Canadian Tire. (Crappy Tire... xD)

- 1 alternator, $120.

- 1 starter, $70.

- 1 radiator (had a small leak, decided to replace for new one), $120.

- 1 battery, $80.

- All done at the same time: Set of brake rotors $100, brake pads $50, calipers (both sides) $80, repacked wheel bearings with new grease + new seals. $20.

- Pair of new rear brake shoes + springs, $80+/-.

- When changing rear brake shoes, I found one brake wheel cylinder had a minor leak. Replaced both sides. $45.

- Tires worn out, bought a set of used tires for $400.

- Replaced windshield. $250. Old one was cracked because of driving behind dump trucks on rural roads.

- Paint started to peel on hood & one front panel. Common on older GM vehicles.

- Dashboard and plastic paneling rattles frequently. That's what the radio's for ;)

$2,215 total maintenance expenses over 5 years. I purchased this van for about $1,500.

So $3,715 grand total. That's $743/year, or $62/month.

For comparison, monthly payments for a new car is about $350+/month.

General Comments:

This van has plenty of space, about 8ft from the back of the front seats to the rear barn doors.

All camping gear tools, building materials will fit. The two benches behind the front seats can be removed for full cargo space.

Astro/Safari van's came with two available back doors:

"Dutch doors" (Two half doors on the bottom, with a lift up glass hatch on the top)

"Barn doors" (Two full doors swing open)

It is based on the C/K 1500 GM trucks. Solid body on frame construction.

Typical van ride quality (leans to one side when in a sharp corner & "boat like" ride on rough streets).

To me, the seats front & rear are as comfortable as the living room couch.

4.3L V6 is powerful & very reliable. Fuel economy isn't great, but not bad either. About 16-17L/100km city (14 MPG), and 12L/100km highway (19 MPG). About 15 MPG mixed city/highway.

The 4-speed automatic transmission always shifted smoothly. Regular ATF & filter changes every 30,000+/- km is the key.

There are two "D's" on the transmission. The one with a circle around the "D" is overdrive. The one beside it, also a separate gear, is just regular "D" Drive. Use it for going around town. On flat ground or at highway speed, I shift it into overdrive to save fuel. Shift to regular drive for the hills.

It leaks a bit of oil now, but doesn't burn any, no blue smoke. Frame is still solid, minor rust on the underbody.

One of my friend's bought the van from me last year. It's still going with just over 400,000 km.

Engine, tranny & axle are still original, never rebuilt.

Like a rock. The most dependable, longest lasting vans out there.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th August, 2012

28th Aug 2012, 07:48

"$2,215 total maintenance expenses over 5 years. That's $443/year or $37/month.

For comparison, monthly payments for a new car is about $350+/month."

To get more accurate numbers as to how much buying a used car can save over new, you should add the purchase of the used vehicle in with the repair costs. I'm pretty sure you will still be much better off (cost-wise) with the used vehicle.

28th Aug 2012, 15:13

Hi, you're right.

I purchased this van for $1,500. So $3,715 total expenses. That's $743/year, or $62/month.

29th Aug 2012, 12:27

Still a good illustration of how much cheaper it is to own a used car. I always figure once the used car starts costing so much in repairs, that you are spending as much as a car payment a month to keep it going, then it's time to get something newer (or with a warranty).

I kept my 95 Jeep until it got to that point, & then replaced it with an '07 with a 5 year 60,000 (additional) mile(s) warranty.

Still much cheaper than buying new. Let someone else take the big depreciation hit.

I used to be in the business and would buy a new car every year or two, then one day it hit me - why buy new? Buy a 3 or 4 year old car with low miles and a warranty - haven't bought anything new since 2004, & so far it has worked out.

1994 Chevrolet Astro LT EXT 4.3 V6 from North America

Summary:

Big mini van

Faults:

Regular items such as Tires, Battery, Alternator, Brakes. I had to have the 3rd gear replaced. Rear end was making noise and had to have rear bearing replaced.

General Comments:

Great work van. It's not something I would have bought brand new. I personally don't feel comfortable hauling children around in it. I do not feel that this van is all that safe for that purpose. If you need a work van that you can store a bunch of tools/junk in and need a roof-rack for transporting a ladder and such, it's awesome. It's a big mini-van that has a great 4.3 V-6 and does pretty decent on gas. Everything else (Form, fit and finish) on the van is garbage. Last, but not least, they are difficult to work on because it is a van.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th September, 2007