1997 Chevrolet Astro LT-AWD-EXT Vortec 4.3 from North America


I wish they still made these vans, they are terrific!


The gas gauge quit working and required fuel pump assembly replacement. That was expensive.

Normal maintenance, tires brakes, battery, etc.

General Comments:

Great in the snow, rear heat and A/C a huge plus. Gas mileage average, but for a big old box it hauls! We can fit 8 adults in it comfortably, and still fly up the mountains of Colorado.

The cabin is a little bit noisy.

I love this van!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th April, 2007

1997 Chevrolet Astro LS 4.3 Vortec V6 from North America


Great vehicle, except for a few issues


Passenger side power window motor and switch at 110,000 miles

Differential bearings at 112,000

A/C Vacuum line broke at 116,000

Transmission broke on a trip at 120,000

Intake manifold leaking coolant at 123,000

Oil pan gasket at 123,800.

General Comments:

Great acceleration and power

Extremely comfortable, except for the driver and front passenger foot well

Would be better if transmission was more reliable

Great van, but would be better with a few design changes if they still made it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th January, 2006

1997 Chevrolet Astro 4.3L gas from North America


The van that is built like a truck


I have changed both idler arms.

Catalytic converter imploded.

General Comments:

This van is the perfect family vehicle.

Although it is a little hard on fuel consumption, it is no different than any other van.

It has the power when needed either for speed or for torque.

It has the comfort of an econoline and yet when you take the seats out, there is enough room in it for a general contractor to put all tools needed.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st January, 2006

18th May 2006, 11:49

Yes, I got mine second hand off a banker who was looking for a smaller vehicle. With gas prices skyrocketing (in Canada it is about $4.00 per gallon now, May 06) we took out the two back (3 passenger) seats (this is the 8-passenger model). It is great for camping too.

Does anyone know how much these heavy back seats weigh? We are thinking of leaving them out for a bit.

18th May 2006, 19:53

No offense, but pulling the back seats out of this particular van is going to do NOTHING for fuel consumption. We're talking about a very inefficient 4.3L V-6 driving the rear wheels of a very heavy van.

3rd Oct 2006, 09:36

How is the 4.3L V-6 inefficient? I only ask because I thought it achieved about the same gas mileage as other minivans that are less powerful and less capable, no offense.

8th Dec 2006, 14:34

The Astro isn't and never has been known for its fuel efficiency. It's designed to haul stuff and people. The 4.3's strength is its durability. These monsters eat up the gas, but they run forever.

Not sure if removing the extra benches will help you or not, but weight IS weight. Consider your driving habits as well (jack-rabbiting, city driving, etc).

- Owner of a 1997 Astro Cargo.

24th Sep 2009, 02:21

Bought my cargo van with 140000 miles, it now has 210000 and still going strong.

1997 Chevrolet Astro Extended 4.3L Vortec from North America


A huge money-pit


Entire front end (suspension) was rebuilt at 119,000 miles to fix a wander problem that was still there after the $600 - NOT at the dealer.

Intake manifold gasket replaced at 119,500 miles and cost $350 at my regular mechanic - NOT the dealer.

Replaced the brakes all the way around at 120,000 - I did it myself for about $100.

Water pump replaced at 121,600 at regular mechanic - another $250.

Replaced the radiator due to leaks caused by the new water pump and increase in pressure (as I was told) at 121,650.

Many electrical issues with the vehicle: fan would not blow on high (was not the switch because I blew $40 on the part to find it didn't fix the problem), gauges would intermittently stop working when lights turned on, rear A/C fan quit, transmission shifting problem, many others too numerous to mention.

The van had an engine miss that was NOT cured by plugs, wires, cap, and rotor replacement. Never did find out what was causing that.

The final straw was the bearing on one of the connection rods blew out at 124,000.

General Comments:

I ended up with a lemon. I had $8000 in the van, drove it for less than a year and sold it as it sat for $2200.

Positives were:

It did have a good towing capability for my small trailer to haul camping gear, etc.

Cabin was very nice and roomy and had 8 passenger seating - we have 6 kids and needed the space.

For what is supposed to be the "best" engine out there (the 4.3L Vortec) it sure didn't impress.

We went back to a V-8 in a full-sized van.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 28th December, 2004

3rd Jun 2006, 16:52

I'm impressed that the author is out of touch with typical costs of general automobile ownership. It is normal for brakes, suspension, and water pump to need replacing after 100,000 miles. I too would have been disappointed to replace the radiator at 121K, but it's not uncommon. He could indeed have had a lemon, or he could have had poor mechanical advice. I suspect his money saving mindset may have led to inadequate maintenance.

20th Sep 2006, 19:57

My 97 Cargo Version has 451,000 kilometers on the original motor and trannsmission Had to replace normal wear and tear stuff, but I give the old girl lots of credit.

8th Dec 2006, 14:40

Yep, care for the truck, and it'll care for you. Author bought the truck with 115K+ Miles, and didn't go into the deal eyes-open, and was suckered at the purchase. Sounds like a bad case of sour grapes.

Do a little more research and testing before you make major purchases, and you're less-likely to get burned.

Bought my Astro Cargo with 175K Miles for ~1500, with a few mechanicals to deal with, but nothing huge other than the radiator (~$200).

I'm up to ~260K Miles now... the old girl is still rockin'...

God Bless Mobil 1 Synthetic. :D.

16th Jun 2009, 07:00

This is a vehicle where it is helpful to know the quirks.

Fan not running on high is a fuse blown, probably. The fan high speed is a separate circuit from the other speeds.

Suspension wear-out at that mileage is not unusual, idler arms are a trouble spot on these vehicles, and often misdiagnosed.

This miss you could not locate could have been a plugged or defective fuel injector poppet.

The radiator would not fail from a new water pump, that is BS. Water pumps don't put "pressure" on the radiator.

These vans do have their issues, but repair costs tend to be a lot less than some newer vehicles, and parts are easy to get. I have owned 3 which had a total of over 760,000 miles. The one I have now is a '97 with 245,000 miles and still going strong, although I have replaced the transmission (I wrecked it myself).