March ’13: I noticed a rumbling noise from the front end, steering wheel wobble and a pull to the left getting worse under braking. Wheel bearings? Lower ball joints? No. The right front strut is falling apart! This is a “Raybestos” brand quick strut, fully assembled at the factory. It was easy to install, but made trouble from day 1. The strut mounts creak like an old barn door when steering. The van received some real struts: Monroe Sens-A-Trac ($430).
The Anco wiper blades fell apart, not just the rubber, the links that hold the rubber broke. I replaced them with Bosch Excel+ blades ($33).
June ’13: The instruments went haywire. The tachometer needle went off the scale and down to the gear indicator. It stayed there, and when I put it into “P”, the needle got bent. I removed the instrument cluster, took it apart for close inspection. I straightened the needle and reset the tachometer to ‘0’. Then I reinstalled the unit. Now the needle was 1500 RPM at rest, but it worked again. The lighting for the speedo did not work. I took it out once more and reset the needle and checked the bulbs for continuity. I found no fault and put it back again, this time with success. I am thinking that there was some corrosion on the contacts and my manipulations removed it.
At 169K I replaced the tires with used set of Hankook Optimo. The Michelin Harmony set came with an 80K warranty. It lasted 70K even though there was still some tread left. However the bad struts, the bad inner tie rod and the out of true drum caused uneven wear, which caused a severe wobble in the steering at low speeds. The Hankook Optimos are very smooth on perfect roads, but they transmit noise on rough surfaces causing a low frequency drone.
Engine and transmission have been flawless since the tune up at 145K.
This is my final update.
3/3/2014, 170600 miles. The battery went bad. I replaced it with an upgraded Superstart 65-72 by O’Reilly’s: $73.55 after the prorated warranty discount. The regular price was $125.00.
There was a transmission fluid leak at the radiator. The fitting was replaced and fluid topped off for $117.00.
Recently the fuel mileage dropped to 17.5 MPG. There was nothing wrong with the van, but my driving patterns changed to mostly short distances and most of the time I drove it alone. Clearly, the van is too large for our altered driving needs. I started looking and researching the market for a more suitable vehicle, and narrowed it down to a hatchback or station wagon in order to provide a separate area for a dog. I finally purchased a 2005 Pontiac Vibe and sold the van with 172000 miles on the clock and noisy strut mounts. I openly told the buyer about the issues and set a very low price of $1300.00. The van will continue its duty as a family hauler.
Keep going, Soccermobile!