Last post on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:07 PM
You are in the GMC Safari & Chevy Astro
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GMC Safari, Chevrolet Astro, Van
#347 of 1973 Safari Brake Problems
Mar 27, 2002 (12:14 pm)
I have a 2000 Chevy Astro van currently with 29K miles on it. At around 24K miles the brakes started to squeal and grind. My Chevy dealer told me that I needed to turn the rotors and replace the pads - all for around $200! I contacted GM since, based on my other vehicles, I thought that 24K miles was a bit early to have such problems. According to GM, 24K is a pretty "normal" mileage to need new brakes on the Astro/Safari vans... And, of course, no help with the high price either.
My dealer alleges that 24K is actually pretty good, since they've seen Astros requiring brake job swith as few as 10K miles. I took the van to an independent brake shop and had the job done for half of what the dealer wanted, althought the brakes still don't feel 100%.
I believe that the brakes on the Astro/Safari vans are underdesigned, but I'm sure GM disagrees...
#348 of 1973 Safari/Astro Brakes and Rotors
Mar 27, 2002 (8:35 pm)
First of all, rotors can warp for a number of reasons, and heat is not usually the cause. Unless of course you drive into nice cold water while the rotors are heated up from that 70MPH exit you took off the freeway just before you hit the puddle. That can pretty much warp any rotor made. Another common problem is tire shops rotating tires and not properly seating the wheel before tightening the lugs. This is a fairly common problem and the warpage will show up shortly after a rotation, or new tires are put on, or any other time a wheel is removed. Realize that it takes very little warp to cause a strong vibration when braking.
Now, about the brakes in general and the pads specifically. Saftros have very heavy brakes made to handle loads. From the factory the pads will wear out in less than 24K unless most of the miles are highway. Several companies have introduced ceramic based pads to give extended life. When the government determined that asbestos was going to be the end of mankind, it was removed from brake pads. This is another reason why the pads wear quickly. Stay away from the "lifetime warranty" pads as many have very high metallic content and will squeal like a pig as well as wreck havoc on the rotors.
Having hauled a Safari down from 65MPH to 0 in a maximum braking condition on a Dallas freeway while towing a 2K lb trailer and the van fully loaded I feel quite qualified to state that the brakes can stop one of our beloved vans in a hurry. But to this day I still have no idea why the idiot on the freeway slammed on his brakes with no one near him. Maybe his cell phone shorted out and scorched his ear. One can only hope.
#349 of 1973 timely subject.............
Mar 28, 2002 (1:58 pm)
My 2001 Astro just got back from the Chevrolet dealer today with roters turned and new pads. It now brakes just like it did off the showroom. Interesting, the service advisor pulled me aside and told me the next time that I might try a set of carbon metalic pads. He suggested buying them myself and having them install them or even going somewhere that will do the whole job with those pads. He said that they will stand a lot more heat and that they dissapate the heat faster and don't tear up the rotors as well.
I got 31,000 out of these originals but I have been getting a shimmy for the last few thousand miles. I rotate tires every 5000 miles and Les Schwab torques the lug nuts every time. So the rotors just wear unevenly or I guess they may warp over time.
Oh, the price for the front brake job? It's here in my hand: $230.76.
#350 of 1973 Astro-Specific front issues
Mar 29, 2002 (12:28 pm)
Ditto on the brakes on our 2000 AWD. At 23K miles, one local dealer wanted to go the $200+ route while the other said turning the rotors would be covered until 24K miles. Took the later route. The original pads remain on the van at 30K. My limited research indicates reduced mass in the rotors which retains heat evenly is the cause of warpage. I think driving patterns have a lot to do with it. Perhap$ $taying with $oft pads and replacing them frequently would be the be$t $olution.
The AWD has a different brake assembly to accommodate the drive hubs. Does the RWD have the same issue? This and maintaining alignment of the the rather complex geometry of the old tech steering system (idler arms) seem to be common problems.
#351 of 1973 Maintaining Alignment?
Mar 29, 2002 (9:22 pm)
My '95 RWD Safari has never had an alignment. I replaced the idler arm at 60K and had the alignment checked. It was within a half degree of perfect and the mechie said that considering the tires had even wear at 30K miles of driving, he wouldn't touch it. All I have done to the suspension on the van is the idler arm, shocks, and rotate the tires every 5k or so.
I have been told that when replacing the idler arm to go with the replacement part made by TRW. Seems their design is beefier than the original. Unfortunately, at the time I did the replacement no one had the TRW in stock. BTW, replacing the idler on a Safarstro takes about 10 minutes using common hand tools. And, no, you do not need to "re-align" the front end after the repair no matter what the guy who sells alignments says. If you can screw up the alignment while changing the idler arm you shouldn't have been under the van in the first place.
#352 of 1973 More on alignment
Mar 29, 2002 (11:21 pm)
Jim, Glad to learn of your good experience and expertise with idler arms.
When we got our 2000AWD w/18K miles on it took it to dealer for the transfer case fluid issue, The service dept. brought to my attention unusual wear on front tires, said the cords are breaking down internaly and referred me to Uniroyal. Where it was determined the toe-in was set incorrrectly. They rotated tires set toe-in. When I changed to new set of winter tires, about 8K miles later, the left front had excessive inside wear. The right showed no wear. Had dealership do an alignment. Practiclay every angle was out of spec requiring adjustmenet. It now seems to wander and doesn't feel quite right. 30K miles original Idler arms. Previous post seem to pattern their needing replacement. Wish you were here, I'd let you crawl under it.
#353 of 1973 One way to spot a bad idler arm
Mar 30, 2002 (7:54 pm)
Drive the vehicle about 20-30 mph on a road with those little half dome markers glued down the center stripe. With no one oncoming (very important) drive with the drivers side tires hitting those markers. The sharp jolt to the steering linkage will cause a worn idler arm to "clunk" quite loudly. The noise will occur long before the idler is worn enough to be dangerous, but if you hear the clunk you can usually get under the vehicle and feel the play in the arm when pulling back and forth. Like I said earlier, a very easy repair.
#355 of 1973 97 SAFARI ENGINE LIGHT
Apr 02, 2002 (7:26 pm)
I just bought a 97 safari it is a month old. driving home from work my engine light came on what could this mean