1997 Chevrolet Astro LT 4.3 Liter from North America


More reliable than a Chrysler 4 speed automatic any day


My 97 Astro has been a dream. Lux touring model. My previous Grand Voyager was a drivetrain nightmare. 4 transmissions in 4,000 miles. Never again...

Only Astro problems so far:

Wiper motor (recall).

Window motors (easy fix).

1 fuel pump (replace with GM Delphi only please, all others die too easily).

Problem with cylinder misfire codes (bad pickup assembly in distributor).

Also, fan motor speed had issues here lately after 10 years (resistor inside motor/heater core under hood). Like I said, easy.

General Comments:

The plugs are easy access, pull front wheels and straight in. Oil and filters are remotely located for easy access.

My wife drives this thing pretty hard, so sport tires last longer due to rounding on the fronts during cornering.

Great truck chassis for pulling or hauling a large family with a cargo box on top.

Nice sound system, comfy seats.

Easy to steam clean the interior twice a year. The van looks near new after almost 11 years.

One the A/C, DO NOT use the R134 With sealer. It will plug up your compressor. No fix, have to throw it away after that.

One other thing, watch for the class action suit on the GM extended life antifreeze. It corrodes the gaskets in the engine and the radiator. Also seems to sludge up the works on the rear heat. So flush regularly and fill with regular good antifreeze. Check the web for the class action suit on the antifreeze issues.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st March, 2008

6th Mar 2008, 19:45

Thanks for the tip on the R134A with the sealer!!! I am in the market for a later model Astro and will avoid using that.

I heard conventional antifreeze and DexCool are not compatible with each other though. I could be mistaken, but I thought mixing the two (e.g. changing from one to the other without COMPLETELY eliminating all traces of the previous one) could lead to corrosion and possibly sludge.

I prefer the DexCool (pink stuff) because it is FAR safer to have around my pets than conventional antifreeze. My only experience with it thus far has been in my '03 Cavalier with 70,000 that I have had since new and not had a problem with (the car or the DexCool).

Any insight on this from somebody who knows more about this topic than mr would be appreciated.

28th Sep 2008, 12:23

I am the person with the VAN THAT CAN review.

When I purchased the van it had some of the nastiest sludge orange coolant I've ever seen. When my dad and I finally got it to his garage we drained and flushed the entire cooling system. I never saw such filth. The orange fluid was full of grit and fungus like bits. It was obvious that my Astro hadn't had a proper flush EVER. We replaced the thermostat and water pump and refilled the entire cooling system with the good old green antifreeze/coolant. That was all done in December last year. It made it through the winter and the summer this year (2008) plus about 12,000 miles of driving in all conditions and speeds without a problem.

In short the old green stuff is still the best. The orange "long life" antifreeze/coolant is being used by more manufactures and does a good job, and is one less thing to worry about for 100,000 miles. I flush the cooling systems on all my cars every two years. I've had numerous cars, put lots of miles on them - all without overheating issues!

Antifreeze is cheap - head gaskets aren't!

1997 Chevrolet Astro LS 4.3 from North America


Like the slogan said decades ago, it's "THE VAN THAT CAN!"


Before I go into any detail, I just want you all to know that I will be updating or at least trying to update this post on a monthly basis. If I get a blue frowny face, it is because I don't know much about this used car, nor do I take it to a dealer - EVER!

Known defects when I purchased the Astro:

Bad blower fan speed relay or switch - It does not work on the "High" position.

Striker bolt for cargo door was mashed in from abuse.

Needs sway bar bushings.

Needs a good clean-up in and out and a change of fluids.

General Comments:

This Astro is replacing my 1986 Astro. You can read about that one on this site. "Chevy Astro Never Dies". Well it did die, but it took 22 years to kill it!

Night and day would describe the differences between the two Astro vans.

It is basic transportation.

Burgundy exterior with gray interior.

It includes options like PW, Airbags, ABS, Daytime running lamps, PL, CC, and AC. All of which was NOT included on my '86 Stro. Big difference.

I'm not used to driving an automatic and I'm still searching for the gear stick and clutch pedal.

This van has much more giddy up then the old one. I find myself pulling onto a highway going uphill doing about 80, where on my '86, it would struggle to get to 50 in 3rd and 4th gear.

So far I have filled the tank one time for $50 and it has been getting great fuel mileage (compared to my old Astro). At one half tank of fuel consumption it has gone 188 miles. Let me know if this is common for this van.

The front seats are nice. They have adjustable lumbar support and recline, but they just feel a bit sloppy, not enough side support for me.

The body is in good shape.

The under body has a lot more rust than my '86 Astro, but is sound.

The engine is very quiet.

It has had the GM "orange" coolant circulating through its veins for years, which has started to create a build-up of disgusting algae-like sludge. That will be fixed.

The transmission was rebuilt 30,000 miles ago and seems to be in good shape. I don't like automatics, but I can't find another Astro with a stick shift.

I threw in a Sirius radio so I have something to listen to besides ads and the same 23 classic rock songs on all classic rock stations.

I will keep you all updated. Please leave comments or give me some knowledge you may have about this van.


Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th December, 2007

19th Sep 2010, 22:21

Since December 2007:

Replaced ball joints.

Replaced driver side exterior door handle (miserable).

Replaced rear exterior door handle (not as miserable).

Repaired sliding door mechanism after door failed to close (miserable times 8).

Replaced front brakes.

Replaced driver side brake rotor.

Replaced water pump.

Replaced fuel filter.

Replaced fuel pump (how the heck can a fuel pump cost that much and be absolutely this miserable to replace? - drop tank and re-wire).

Oil changes every 3,000 miles (done lovingly as with all cars I've ever owned).

OK. I put over 50,000 miles on this van. Spent a lot of time in and some money on it. I really like the size and looks of the Astro.

Great van!

Besides hauling mowers, yard tools, antiques, furniture, boxes-o-junk, festering yard waste, wood working tools, log splitters, trailers, and other work related items, it would clean up just fine and take me to the beach, woods, lake, down to Tennessee and up to Vermont.

This heap died in June of 2010. 245,000 miles on the odo. It had a good run! I just wish I could have killed it. It limped to a local garage. I'm sure it would have lived longer if I cared for it a bit more, however, it was kind of at the end of its life when I bought it and I strongly believe that the use of the Dex-cool orange coolant contributed to the death of the van.

Had I kept and fixed it, I would have had to replace all the plumbing. The Dex-cool really ate up the rubber and gaskets everywhere.

Repairs needed:


Catalytic converter.

Replace all plumbing.

Head gaskets were leaking.

Blower fan relay.

Chevy technicians advised me that when the intake manifold came out, the wires for the fuel injectors could break, causing more headaches.

I was facing a bill that I never want to pay!

Wish I could have this van again, but brand new with zero miles. I loved the power and the room. I agreed to live with the color (reddish purple - it wasn't purple - it would have never been mine if it was purple!).

R.I.P. 1997-2010.

Rundown (all within a few days of its death) :

Ignition coil fried and left me stranded (fixed on side of road - horrible).

Intake manifold gasket failed resulting in massive loss of coolant.

NO SANE MECHANIC wanted to touch it with a ten-foot-pole, and the cost of fixing it surpassed the purchase price. I felt it had lived up to its duties as a work van and (reluctantly) led it behind the barn and plugged it between the eyes.

Actually I sold it for scrap and used the money to buy...

...A 1992 Astro!