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Last Post 26 Feb 2010 10:58 AM by  Steve Hoelscher
Towing with a Safari/Astro
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Veteran Member
Veteran Member

25 Feb 2010 04:58 PM
    Does anybody tow with either a Chevy Astro or GMC Safari? If so, how is that working out?
    Bob Buxbaum STX E36 328 KC Region
    New Member
    New Member

    25 Feb 2010 05:47 PM

    I had towed with a 1987 and a 1993 Astro Van. The 1987 had pulled my Lotus Super 7 on an open trailer. It did a fairly good job. The 1993 was killed off by pulling a Pace 16 foot trailer. The rear axle is very suspect and will make noise after medium to high mileage. Acutally we got rid of the 1993 right before the 1998 Nationals when I constantly complained to the wife about the rear axle noise and could not find anything wrong with it and she rode with me to Topeka and back during Divisionals and we could not hear each other talk.


    Chris Raglin
    Basic Member
    Basic Member

    25 Feb 2010 05:50 PM

    I towed with one for about 5 yrs. My towing load is about 3000lbs total. 1600lb car, 700lb open single axle trailer, and the rest is gear. With this kind of load, I found the Astro to be fine. I never had any issues with stability, or reliability with it. Power was adequate, and it would easily hold overdrive on flat roads at 70mph. Brakes were marginal. Upgrading to better pads helped a lot, but still not super good. Adding air bags in the rear helped keep it level and improved tracking. I actually got better mileage with the Astro than I have with any other tow vehicle. I could get 16mph towing with it. Made a great hotel room when I was at races. Tons of interior space. Front leg room is tight, and would give me cramps after about 10hrs of driving.

    It definatley doesn't tow as easily as a 1/2 ton truck, but is better than a mid-sized SUV with a 6 cyl.


    Steve Hoelscher
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member

    26 Feb 2010 10:58 AM
    Chris Raglin wrote:

    It definatley doesn't tow as easily as a 1/2 ton truck, but is better than a mid-sized SUV with a 6 cyl.

    I also towed with an Astro for several years. Chris is pretty much right on point in his review. Mine towed adequately, was plenty stable towing my 1500 lbs, double axle trailer with a 1900 lbs car on it and wheels/tires/tools in the back. I too could squeeze 16 mph towing in ideal conditions. 15 was pretty typical. Its not as quiet or comfortable as a half ton truck/van. You find yourself having to work harder to maintain speed and work traffic. Brakes suck. LT tires help with stability.

    I will also second the rear axle issue. This is a problem on any Astro that hauls loads or tows. The carrier bearings go away and make a lot of noise. It will require a rebuild. The 4.3 is a good motor but is showing its age. The things I hated about mine were the little things; Door latches that broke off in your hands. Window channels that repeatedly popped their spot welds. The slider door latch that will fail with the door impossible to latch. AC/Heater fan switch which runs so hot you can burn your hand on the dash above it. The switch will fail as the fan motor gets older and the load burns up the fan switch contacts. I carried a spare. It cost $10.

    Then there is the transmission. '92+ Astros have the 4L60E automatic in it. This is the #1 transmission in the aftermarket repair industry. It will fail. It will fail catastrophically at the worst possible time. Halfway to Nationals for me. ....the first time. The last time three days before leaving for Nationals and resulted in the theft of my racecar/trailer.

    After towing with the Astro I upgraded to a full sized van, a Ford Clubwagon XLT and wondered why I suffered with the Astro for all of those years.

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