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You are in the GMC Safari & Chevy Astro
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GMC Safari, Chevrolet Astro, GMC Safari Cargo, Van
#3 of 170 My Letter to Chevy on Transmission Problems
Jan 13, 2001 (3:35 pm)
September 23, 2000
Chevrolet Motor Division
Customer Assistance Center
PO BOX 7047
Troy, MI 48007-7047
RE: 1997 CHEVROLET ASTRO VIN# 1GDM19W9VB228729
Dear Sir or Madam:
On August 1, 1997 I bought the above vehicle from you through Bob Stall Chevrolet, La Mesa, California. On September 6, 2000, it developed the serious defect of abruptly shifting from 1st to 2nd gear after approximately 30 minutes or 17 to 20 miles of driving.
Upon, taking it to the dealer, I was informed that I needed a transmission replacement at a cost of an estimated $1800 dollars, which I was forced to pay $1823.99 to get my car back in a drivable condition. Dealer service invoice is attached.
The warranty has recently expired but I believe I am still entitled to a free repair because the existence of such a serious defect in a car, which has only done just over 48,000 miles, indicates it was not of acceptable quality when I bought it. Several independent transmission shops have confirmed this opinion. It is obvious that if the public knew that this vehicle’s transmission had a tendency to fail at 48,000 mile, Chevrolet would not be able to sell this Van.
Ordinary wear and tear could not account for this problem so soon in the life of the vehicle. I am a careful and conscientious owner as the general condition of the car shows. I also have ensured that all periodic servicing has taken place as listed in the owner’s manual. I have not done anything to the car to cause this defect.
After, returning from the dealer, I did research and found this exact problem had visibility though several different entries on the Department of Transportation’s NHTSA web site database, (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/complain/compmmy2.cfm) for both the 1997 Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari. I also have reason to believe that Chevrolet has issued a technical service bulletin on this problem for the installed transmission.
I am a loyal customer of Chevrolet. As a result of this experience, I would definitely not buy a Chevrolet product again unless the company made good on this situation. I definitely will tell people about this matter. I believe that this kind of service will have a negative impact on Chevy's business.
I'm sure that Chevy wishes to correct this situation as quickly as possible, so I am asking for a full refund of $1823.99 for my costs. I will, then, consider this situation fully resolved.
I currently have a Chevy unresolved customer service number of C01642150.
#4 of 170 99 Safari Transmission
Mar 23, 2001 (10:41 am)
I have a 1999 GMC Safari with only 3300 miles (not a typo). After coming home last evening from a 1-1/2 hour drive, after a stop sign, the transmission had an abrupt shift from 1-2 gear.
It happened all the way home from off the freeway to driveway (approx 4 miles). Was all prepared to rush it over to GMC dealer this morning, but no symptoms and couldn't repeat problem to dealer when I got there??!!?? Anybody have this similar problem with their Safari/Astros???
Also is your luggage rack missing screws on the cross bars? (front & back, better check)
#5 of 170 Response to Msg #70 Clifford938 re: hard shift 1 - 2
Mar 23, 2001 (10:59 pm)
We had similar problems on some of our 97 Astros, but usually around 50k - 60k. I mention this because that symptom sets up a soft code (one that disappears when the vehicle is turned off). If this problem recurs, I suggest you drive the van directly to a GMC dealer (do not turn off the engine) and have them experience the "hard shift" and pull the code. That's probably what you will need for GM warranty. (I can't guess at a cause, but your problem is probably related to incorrect internal pressure, causing the transmission to switch into "limp mode." The "hard shift" does not cause damage, but it indicates that there is a problem.) Note: unless the '99 transmission is programmed differently from the '97, you won't have Over Drive while in "limp mode." The cause of the problem is not likely to correct itself, but the problem should be easy to confirm and document via the code and a GM tech experiencing "limp mode" symptoms. It's too bad you have the problem, but you shouldn't have trouble getting GM to address it.
As for the roof rack, it is installed at the dealership. The missing screws are not an uncommon problem, but the service manager should recognize it as inattentive and sloppy work by one of his low-level technicians and take care of it for you.
#6 of 170 Thanks for the input
Mar 24, 2001 (12:12 pm)
Went to have the oil changed on my van today
And found the trans fluid 3/4 qt low
Brake fluid 3/4 reservoir low
1 pint of anti-freeze low
I should've checked it out better since it was a 1999 model still new at dealer in oct00
and mfg date of 11/98
Will take your advice on leaving the van running when I get to the dealer
Was wondering if when the shifting starts to act up if I shut off ignition and restart will the problem go away for that moment.
Hate to take the van on a short trip and it starts up//Don't like being stranded on side of road//Thanks again for your advice
I'll let you know if it starts up again after a short drive like last time
#7 of 170 GMC Safari Transmission
Mar 28, 2001 (6:57 am)
In Update to messages 71/72
I contacted cacgmc.com
They have totally ignored my e-mails
So I take it there is a known problem with the
transmissions in these vans. And in not responding to the e-mails, they can use the excuse
"oh, I never got it"
So buy the extended warranty on this van and get ready to use it
I also contacted regional offices but another deaf ears and also
waiting to hear from them (yeah, right)
#8 of 170 Response to #78 by clifford938
Mar 28, 2001 (8:50 pm)
Regarding a "known problem" with these transmissions: I'm not sure I can go that far. I own 75 Astros now, and have had more than 100 others. (We routinely run them to 125-150k.) We experienced those "symptoms" in 3 of our 22 '97 Astros, and perhaps one of the '98 Astros. The problem occurred around 55k miles, and only after driving for a minimum of 45 minutes. So your situation is far from identical. However, I think my advice is still relevant. Go to the dealer when the problem is occurring (when you are in "limp mode") and have them pull the code (probably P1830: transmission component slipping) and experience the symptoms. I believe that will initiate a response for you, and I doubt that anything else will. This is a $500-1500 repair, depending on the cause. They won't commit to that based on an e-mail. They'll have to document it in the manner I described.
On the positive side, this won't leave you stranded (it's probably harder to get the symptom to recur). "Limp mode" is a designed response that protects the transmission from damage. The "hard shift" feels bad, but it's not harmful to the transmission. Just the opposite; the slippage that makes the shift smooth is harmful when it is excessive.
So, talk with the service manager about the problem and tell him you will bring it in when it's happening. A friendly, realistic attitude usually works best. After all, it's not his fault that the transmission is giving you trouble. And likewise, the cost of repair isn't coming out of his pocket. His job is to respond effectively to the customer's legitimate complaint, but he needs to document why he authorized the expenditure. That's why having them pull the code and experience the symptoms is so important. If you do this, I really don't think you will have a problem.
My only concern for you is that the 3 year warranty will expire before you can document the problem. That's another reason to be talking with the service manager. If you're getting close to the three years, ask him to document your complaint via an entry into the GM service computer. Remember, the warranty is a contract. 3/36 doesn't mean 4/46. My experience is that they are "a little" generous if it's close and if it's documented. But if it's neither of those, you can save your breath.
Bye-the-way, has the problem ever happened a second time?
In any case, don't be afraid to use the van; and don't resign yourself to a bad outcome. Follow my advice and it will work out o.k. It will be a bit of a hassle, but life's that way.
#9 of 170 89 Safari Hesitates when it shifts
Jun 21, 2001 (8:02 pm)
We have an 89 Safari with 215,000 that is running strong except for a curious problem that no one seems able to diagnose. When the van shifts from one gear to the next it has a very noticeable hesitation. It never does this for the first few minutes after it has been started. I've replaced fuel filters, fuel pump, had transmission checked and run a couple of cans of fuel injector cleaner through it. Anyone have any ideas? We're confused!
Jun 22, 2001 (8:00 pm)
Since no one has posted in here yet, try scanning or reposting in Transmission Traumas? in the Maintenance & Repair Board. Good Luck.
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#11 of 170 Safari 93 shifting out of Park by Churchill
Jul 25, 2001 (9:38 pm)
I had been having this problem for the last two years and getting worse . Went to the dealer
and was told it possibly was the switch interlock and the cost of repair would be about $100.
I had learned how to by-pass that switch by starting the engine and slowly turning the ignition key switch a little forward and could shift out of park that way as going to the GMC neutral start procedure was not always working .
I got fed up , got a flash light and located the switch (white plastic) attached to the steering post, this switch has a vacuum hose attached to it .
While pressing on the brake pedal I notice that there should be a pin of some sort which should be released from the switch when the brake pedal stop plate was depressed .
I pulled out the vacuum hose attached to the back of the switch and depressed the pedal again and the switch pin (red plastic ) came out when released by the stop (contact plate). I noticed that the pin was streaked with black and possibly dirty .
I used some electronic cleaning spray fluid in the hose input and on the pin and activated the brake pedal while observing the pin going in and out with no apparent stickiness .
I reconnected the hose and repeated the brake pedal action and all is working well now .
As I had a new brake job done three years ago the brake pedal was high, I surmise that dirt entering the plunger pin made it sticky and could not be released out far enough when the brake was applied , this stickiness combined with a residual vacuum pressure is strong enought to prevent the inner spring from pushing the pin out when the brake is applied .
#12 of 170 Re: GMC SAFARI TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS
Aug 13, 2001 (1:42 pm)
Have been reading here about shifting problems with different model years of the Safari vans. I have a 1997 AWD that I have had pretty good luck with until recently. At around 83K I started experiencing a quick shifting thud between 1st and 2nd gear, and to a lesser degree between 2nd and 3rd. This would only happen after the van had been driven for at least an hour. For several days it was happen like clockwork. If I stopped somewhere and shut it off, it would go away for the rest of my ride home. Coincidently, I remember the "service engine soon" light was on, but I paid no attention to it because at other times the light would go on and off for no reason. My mechanic said that the first thing to do would be to do a fluid and filter change, and see what happens. He did that, and the problem went away, until one day after 1 1/2 hours on the highway, it returned, as did the service light. After a few days, before I could call the tranny shop, the light went off and shifting has been ok.I suppose I should take it in and have the codes read, but I was wondering if this sounds familiar to anyone. Other than an intermittent no-start condition after 4k the van has been a keeper.