3rd Aug 2008, 06:44
340,000k and still going strong. Haul rally cars all over North America. Because it hauls so much it is serviced constantly so that may be why it has been so reliable. Hasn't been to a GM dealer since it was new.
12th Oct 2008, 15:40
In July of 2008. I bought a 96 Safari with over 180,000 miles, started easy, ran smooth, all gauges were where they should be and it passed the emission test. I replaced the glass in the rear hatch and then found out it was AWD when I got ready to change the brakes (AWD uses small pads, why I don't know) and also the rotors are different as well.
It's quite a bit smaller than my full sized Chevy conversion van, but better mileage and handling, mileage went from around 12 mpg to 18 or better, when I think about mileage when driving... and drive accordingly.
Brakes were basically useless when I got it, I had to engine brake on a few occasions until I replaced the pads, I should have replaced rotors as well, shakes from left to right when braking now, although stops in half the distance as it did before the new pads... I returned the set I bought for it, when I was thinking it was a RWD (as it didn't have AWD emblems anywhere on it, like my 94 Astro ext/AWD does) and exchanged the rotors for AWD set, which I will be changing as soon as I get around to it.
I converted it from conversion van to cargo van, by pulling out rear seats and putting in plywood floor, and then installing a carpet cleaning unit, hoses, portable extractor, chemicals and other equipment, basically filling it from front seats to rear door.
The shift speeds have me a little perplexed... at 30 mph it's already in overdrive, which is probably better for city mileage, but has to be limiting the high mileage... you would think it would be near or over 40 before over drive is engaged, or at least have the ability to adjust it. like the older buses had, 3 speed rear end, which could be adjusted for city or highway driving... although with the AWD version, I'm sure it would have been a bit of a problem, although computers can adjust for most things now days.
It has a lot of bounce in it on uneven roads, but struts or shocks should cure that, I like the size of it, although high top would have been better. Not the best van I've owned, and no where near the worst.
I would and definitely will buy another, although I will be looking for mid 2000 next, and definitely a high top to make up for narrower and shorter body than full sized van.
It does suck that Chevy/GMC discontinued it 2006, replacing it with?
Instead of modifying and improving a very useful van, another gear in the trans or adjustable shift locations could easily have improved mileage and usefulness.
24th Dec 2008, 13:10
Still can't decide whether to keep my Safari 2000 and use as a camper van or ditch it for whatever I can get. I want to drive a smaller car because of gas consumption, but there are many things about the Safari I will miss. I love sitting up high and feeling I am driving a solid vehicle with a bumper made of metal. But I am now not that confident that my vehicle will actually make it to my destination. In my 5 years of owning this vehicle I have replaced the fuel pump which just gave up without warning.
Then I had major repairs on the differential. Then there was some gasket in the engine area which was big bucks because of the engine being so hard to get to. That is the main thing I hate about the van, it is a major job to even get to the engine, and I could never change my own spark plugs. The vehicle has over 200,000 kms so perhaps has been reasonably reliable, but does not compare to a Toyota station wagon I had that was still driving well at over 400,000. There are many good features to this van -- the room inside, the truck chassis. Mine is a 2WD, unfortunately it is awful in the snow. Somehow GM got close but missed the mark of a really memorable vehicle.
22nd Feb 2009, 12:45
I own a 1998 Safari van, it is the biggest piece of junk I have ever owned. I am very surprised that GM allowed this van to be built.. multiple problems with brakes, window motors, emission test.
Just try and change the spark plugs, I dare you.
Front end issues.
Multiple sensor issues.
Power mirrors that don't work.
A/C unit works sometimes.
Wow. I could go on.
I would get rid of it, but I am still paying for it. Not to mention the bills for repairs.
DENNIS from Canada.
7th Apr 2009, 13:24
I have a 1998 GMC Safari. I bought it new in 1997. Every year we travel in it from Indiana to Yellowstone and/or the Grand Canyon. It now has 250,000+ miles on it. I replaced the transmission at about 100,000 miles. Apparently, there was a defect in that particular transmission and I replaced it with a Jasper rebuild. When Jasper rebuilt the tranny they made the repairs that would cause the problem. GM wouldn't even admit an issue though. But Jasper fixed the glitch.
That is the only repair I have made other than normal wear and tear items and routine PM stuff. It really blows me away to see people complain about replacing mechanical parts. That is part of owning a vehicle.
1st Jun 2009, 19:23
After viewing all the problems with the GMC van, and the problems that we all have had, is it not Great to see GM going bankrupt due to their lax attitude towards customers and GM's poor quality.
11th Jul 2010, 08:23
In 1996 I purchased a used 1988 Astro van and drove it until I traded it in for a used 1997 Safari van. Both vehicles had about 68k miles on them.
The '88 had zero issues other than having to replace the alternator. I drove it until just over 200k miles. It always ran like new and I loved that vehicle.
The '97 currently has 168k miles and also runs like new. I've replaced a window motor and the water pump. There have also been odd electrical issues. The passenger window seems to die and then work again. The headlights and dashboard lighting flicker sometimes.
I've never need a front end alignment in either vehicle and the brakes last forever on both. The engines have been amazing. I've read all the complaints concerning these issues and wonder if it might be aggressive driving habits causing these failures?
17th Nov 2010, 04:19
I too am surprised to read the poor comments on the Safari van. I purchased a conversion Safari in 1997, and have not had too much trouble with it - tires last about 40,000 miles, no brake issues, over 20 mpg constantly (great for a heavy conversion van), and it runs smooth always. It was recalled for the windshield wiper motherboard replacement. I do agree it is a crudely conceived conveyance - road noise, rear end noise, and that floating feeling on the highway, but it is a truck. The only weird thing that happened when it was new was the serpentine belt tensioner broke while I was traveling, but GM reimbursed me for a hotel room and the cost of repair at a nearby shop.
It is too bad that the Safari didn't progress over time like other van models.