My search for a cargo van to use as a camper continues. Thanks to all who have weighed in on previous possible vehicles. Now I’m looking at a 2002 Astro cargo van with 98k miles, a 4.3L V6 Vortec engine, and RWD. Any potential major problems? Most of the owner comments I’ve read say the engine is very reliable, but on the other hand, one auto website listed a whole raft of known frequent failure points in the engine: crank position sensor, fuel injectors, etc, etc.
I do like the more compact size of the Astro versus full-size vans, and the less-thirsty V6 over a V8, so I think I’m willing to risk some repair headaches as long as it’s not a total lemon. And it’s RWD, so the tranny problems I’ve read about on the AWDs won’t apply.
In my opinion, the condition of a 10 year old vehicle is more important than any reliability records. If this van meets your needs, pay a competent mechanic to check its overall health. This won’t mean that you won’t have problems, but it will lessen your chances of a big repair bill.
My son started having issues with his late 90’s Astro at about 130 K miles. He ended up having a rebuild done on auto trans and engine within eight months of each event. This vehicle was purchased in a very used condition, so I could only assume that it was taken care of all that well previously. I have also heard of others getting 200+K miles on theirs, with few issues. He also had several interior trim and door latch repair issues that were not expensive but inconvenient and somewhat painful.
Hope this helps. Not sure my son’s experience was typical.
The Vortec 4.3 V6 is a great little motor as long as it is maintained. I used to sell ex-fleet astros all of the time and they were great little vans. Keep in mind that the 4.3 is a small block chevy V8 with two cyls cut off, so all of the SBC auxilary items (alternator, power steering, waterpump, starter) interchange. This makes it a very cheap motor to keep running. They were very popular with fleets back in the day due to cost and efficancy. The biggist issue I have with them is lack of foot space in the front seats, its not as bad on the drivers side, but on the pass side its very bad…
I understand that astro vans in general have an issue with their suspension parts. Up here in New England those parts rot out quickly.