1999 Astro Van may have blown engine


#1

My 1999 Astro van recently started making LOUD rattling noises under the hood. No previous problems, ran great up till pulling into my driveway. It does have 160,000 miles on it, but has always been excellently maintained. Towed it to dealership where they told me that “by the sound of it” it would need a new engine. Got estimates from $2800 to $6000 for remanufactured engine. This van is fully loaded, power everything, leather interior, paint job is great, everything works. Breaks my heart that I may have to junk it. I have been offered $300 to $400 as junk.

So, the big question is, junk it or get a new motor?


#2

If the body is in good shape and you really want to keep this van you could call around and find a used engine from a salvage yard. Ask about the miles on the engine and you may find one that has a lot less miles than the current engine.
I’d also look into an independent shop to do the engine swap. I wouldn’t want to put any prices out there, but I’d think you could get a used engine and install for $3500???
The shop you choose may also have someone that they deal with. So you would have to give them the info and have them research it for you.
Ask around for references and go to this sites “Mechaic’s files” , to find an independent shop that you can rely on.

I reread the post. What did they say was wrong that you’d need a whole new engine???


#3

@‌oldschoolguy

Before you get all worked up . . . have somebody make sure your flexplate isn’t cracked

A cracked flexplate makes deep and ominous sounds, as if the engine is about to let go

The procedure for checking would be remove the starter motor, and turn the engine over by hand, all 360 degrees, while carefully looking for that cracked flexplate

Cracked flexplates are unfortunately not uncommon on GM engines


#4

Yosemite, They just “listened to the engine” and said it had likely bent a rod, or bearings might be bad. They didn’t actually take anything apart.
db, I will look into the flexplate idea. Never heard of that but, I am not a mechanic type.


#5

I would get a second opinion,
Unless they get under the hood and get their hands dirty they cant say for sure that it needs a new engine,its very possible that it is something that can be fixed for less than the cost of a new engine.
160,000 miles on a 1999 engine isn`t an extreme amount of miles.


#6

The phrase “excellently maintained” pops up with regularity and in most cases that phrase is a misnomer when it comes to the vehicle in question.

So how often (time or miles) is the oil changed?

How often do you check the oil level and when was the last time it was checked?

What was the oil level at the time the tow truck appeared?


#7

I’m with tardrex on this one. It doesn’t sound like they even bothered to try to find out what was actually causing the noise.

Find a reputable independently owned and operated shop and let them diagnose it properly. Only after that’s done can you know what your options are.


#8

You need to take the van to a good, local shop. Dealerships are for warranty work only. Period. I don’t even trust them with oil changes.


#9

“They just “listened to the engine” and said it had likely bent a rod, or bearings might be bad”

That is EXACTLY what an engine with a cracked flexplate sounds like

Which is why somebody needs to take some more time to properly diagnose the van


#10

Thanks to all for the advice. The van has had regular oil changes every 3000 miles like clockwork. It had just had an oil change about two weeks before this happened. When it first happened as I pulled into my driveway after the 14 mile trip home, I noticed the oil pressure had dropped to zero. I assumed a possible oil pump going bad. But the next time I started it up the pressure was back and oil level was right on the money.

The only problem with getting second and third opinions is that I cannot drive the van for fear of doing more damage so I have to have it towed anywhere I want to take it. I already used two of my AAA tows for the year.

I will pursue the cracked flexplate and see if that is the problem. Again, thanks for ALL the info.


#11

“The van has had regular oil changes every 3000 miles like clockwork”

How many months does it take you to drive 3,000 miles in this vehicle?
I once knew somebody who changed her oil “every 3,000 miles”, but because of her purely local driving patterns, that meant her oil changes took place only ~every 8 months. Eventually, her engine succumbed to lubrication problems brought on by sludging that was the result of too long a time interval between oil changes.


#12

While not always true, I would hope that the 10K miles a year average would be enough to instill confidence in the 3k miles interval although there are other factors.
I do agree with VDCdriver’s comments though.

That oil pressure gauge dropping to zero would be a concern due to the fact that it seemed to coincide with the noise problem.

If the assumption is made that the engine is fine and if the flexplate is not the problem, other possibilities could be an accessory belt with a chunk missing or a faulty belt tensioner.

Rattles and knocks vary in pitch so it’s very difficult to determine a problem over the internet without actually hearing it.


#13

" Eventually, her engine succumbed to lubrication problems brought on by sludging that was the result of too long a time interval between oil changes."

I’m going to guess she also wasn’t using synthetic.


#14

“When it first happened as I pulled into my driveway after the 14 mile trip home, I noticed the oil pressure had dropped to zero”

Thanks for the added information

With that additional information, I can can advise you to prepare for the worst

It’s quite possible your engine is not long for this world


#15

I drive the van every other couple weeks as I have two vans and try to keep both in rotation. I wish I didn’t have to have the vehicle towed to get another opinion, as that limits the times I can have it looked at.