30th Jun 2002, 19:17

Unfortunately a lot of these problems sound familiar. I have a 1996 all wheel drive Safari with 137,000 miles on it, which I have a ongoing problems with from the start. It started out with a transfer case problem, then the air conditioning, the heating, the electric door locks, the cigarette outlet, the drivers side window does not work, the windshield wipers have a mind of their own, which usually means they start to work only when I pull in the driveway. I have had brake problems, new tires that wear unevenly, and have blown while driving, transmission problems, and most recently the air conditioner will only come out the front windshield defroster, and the worst, it is now doing a front nose dive to the left! I don't know what is wrong with it yet, it just happened Friday. We have had it up, and cannot see anything broken, but yet the front left wheel well area is just about sitting on the tire! If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! Thanks!

10th Jul 2002, 22:27

I Have a Safari 1988 and it runs pretty well. The engine was replaced about 4 years ago. For an old vehicle it runs good. Obviously things break down just like any other car. I'd have to say that my windshield wipers don't turn on by themselves and I don't have any electrical problems. I do have some transmission problems, but nothing major. What can you expect from a 14 year old van? The body has over 300 000 kilometers on it and the engine has about 100 000 kilometers on it. Over all I like this van because it is very spacious and it's a nice looking van when it is in good shape.

27th Aug 2002, 18:05

I have a 1996 Safari van, rear wheel drive. Love it except for wheel-alignment/tire-wear problem (which are both due, in part, to the tie-rod idler-arms wearing out prematurely, about every 25,000 miles) and the driver's side window problem.

The window problem is that it stops working part way up or down. I cleaned and lubricated the fuzzy glass tracks and the internal scissor mechanism inside the door. When it works it moves fast and sounds great. It occasionally stops, however. Just before it is going to stop you can hear and see it running slowly, then it stops. It will not start again and keep running unless you let it set for about 30 seconds or more. I suspect the control electronic module inside the door (just below the two rocker switches). A GMC service manager said he did not have many problems with the window on the Safari, but that he suspected the motor.

The electronics module is easy to change (about 10 minutes) and costs only $55. The motor is a major costly job, $135 for the motor plus several hours of labor at $55/hour. I would appreciate any feedback on the window problem. My e-mail address is piocon@vcn.com.


25th Jul 2003, 22:57

I own a 1996 GMC Safari SLT Van with rear wheel drive. I really enjoyed our van up to the point our van was rolled over upside down. It has never left me stranded anywhere. I have put 199,996 miles on it driving it all over the US and some in Canada.

My van has an odd size tire that came with it. Sears was one of the few places that could order it, but I always had over a week waiting for them to be in stock. Average price per tire was $125 - $150. I finely switched tires to a better match that seems to last longer and gave me better ware. It came with P235/65R 15 Good Year Eagle GT. I switched to 255/60R 15 Grand Prix Performance GT. These ran around $85 per tire.

I have had the front air conditioning compressor replaces after 175,000 Miles. We've had some hot summers in Florida, and it gets used constantly. The electric door lock actuators on all doors had to be replaced at different times. The cigarette lighter outlets seem to come loose after time, but if you can reach around the dash, or loosen the dash and reach behind, they are easily tightened back up. I've never had any problems with my electric windows. The windshield wipers did give me problems like all the others here had described, until I learned about the wiper motor kit that cost less than $20. (Under the hood you will see the wiper motor on the back firewall in the middle near the top, 4 screws on the cover plate, remove old parts and replace with new, and put cover back on, real easy to fix!).

With the brakes, you need to have the rotors replaces every time you do a front brake job. Rotors cost about $25 - $30 each. Rear breaks don't need replacing all that much. I have never bought rear drums to replace the old ones. The transmission has always been strong. I have towed a truck and UHaul trailer both and had no problems. The problem with the A/C and Heat coming through the windshield defroster vent, I found was a small black rubber hose or tube that dry rot. (It is under the hood on the right passenger side. It follows along the top of the firewall near or under the wiring harness, and comes down near the A/C condenser. It is hard to see because there are some wires along next to it). Repair or replacing the hose should fix the problem.

The front end parts do wear out; I found buying the parts in Canada was a lot cheaper then buying in the US. One of the idler arms was $235 in the US with US Dollar, and only $60 at Canadian Tire in Canada with Canadian dollar. If you're in the US and live near Canada, you may want to consider this. (The person with the nose dive problem might consider if this being their problem). My sliding door not opening or shutting has never been a problem on my van. I've never had any problems with any of the sensors. Spark Plugs are a pain to change out. (It is very hard to get to all of them without reaching though the wheel well or climbing under neither, and going though the cowling). It is a good thing that you only have to replace them every 100,000 Miles on the 4.3 vortex engines. The problem the person who had the fuel take drained might consider changing out the ignition coil on top of the engine. I had the same problem, even after changing the fuel filter, spark plugs and spark plug wires. I seen a small crack in the coil which made the spark jump to ground, replaced that and problem went away.

I have had other problems like my rear end would go out after 75,000 Miles (happened twice). I found a place that replaces them with an 80,000 mile warranty. (Hmmm, makes you wonder if that is all they are good for). I have replaced the water pump once at 90,000 miles. (It was an odd ball to replace; it had a huge nut in order to remove the fan from it). I have replaced the idler pulley on the engine.

I have replaced the back hatch shock stabilizers twice. (If they quit working, don't let the hatch slam closed or you could knock the rods clips loose on the inside of the hatch near both sides of the window, and the back hatch will no longer open). Then you have to unscrew and "pull" the molding off from the inside of the back hatch being careful not to crack or break it. Use a flat tip screwdriver to push the rods back into the hatch door to allow you to open it and get in where you can repair it.

One point I like to make is, new parts seem to be at least 1/2 to 2/3 cheaper in Canada they are in the United States with this van.

Now that I have covered most of the problems that this van seems to have, let me express my better points about it.

I have made many long trips in the van with my family, and it is a very comfortable van to ride in. The seats have very good back supports. It has the power to get up hills, and move about in traffic in the city and highway. The engine and transmission needs very little maintenance. I have used a TV, DVD Players and Laptop computers, off a power inverter and never had any problems with the charging system, or starting system. For making road trips, I have really enjoyed this van and will buy another one here soon to replace my wrecked one.

I know this has been long and I hope it helps out others who may read it.