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Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

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maestro
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Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

So here is the story from the newbie... me! I have owned a 1991 Astro TBI shorty two wheel drive for 14 years and it's been a great vehicle. I was using it to tow a 16 foot fibreglass travel trailer (2700 lbs dry) but have since up-sized to a 19' unit which is heavier at 3700 lbs dry. I have the new travel trailer pictured in the attached photo. As you can see, it sits pretty nice with the stock fibreglass springs and no weight distribution. I did purchase a set of coil-over rear Monroe shocks that I wanted to install on it though as it does sink about three inches in the rear. The front of those vans is so darn heavy that it sits at about the same level. Not sure of the tongue weight but I'm guessing 350 lbs since there is no battery on it yet. We have only taken the new trailer out four times this past summer to a campground that we like just an hour from our house in WA State. The Astro pulls it fine at 60 MPH on the freeway but doesn't like hills much. The trailer has great electric breaks and I have a top of the line controller in the van. The van has stock 3.42 gears and now has 120,000 miles on it (200,000 KM).

I have the opportunity to purchase a very cherry 1993 Astro AWD L35 CPI with 200HP / 260 ft lbs torque, of course you guys already know that... Anyhow, the owner has had it since new and it has the same mileage on it as my van but for some reason it feels tighter when I test drove it. I had the old guy in my on the test drive so I did punch it a bit and she seemed to boogie but I couldn't really give'er like I wanted to. The van is fully loaded with power everything and even has the stock Z82 package with the hitch and GT4 rear / 3.73 gears.

I'm wondering if this van would be better suited to towing my new trailer. Either way I will be purchasing a cool, state of the art Andersen anti-sway unit like this: http://youtu.be/HRoQ_yQZQwQ even though I have had zero sway with the trailer under normal driving conditions other than a tiny bit when being passed by semi's on the interstate. I will also be adding some Timbren units.

Any advice would be appreciated. :)
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

Here is a photo of the new van that I would like to purchase. I couldn't figure out how to add multiple photos to the original post. He is asking $3200 for the van and do not think he will take much less so say $3000 Canadian. There is not a drop of rust on it (just on the hitch) and the interior has had seat covers on it since new. The owner is Italian and they always cover everything like that, I know because I am Italian. :cheers: Even the fan switch clicks into place like new, mine feels more on the worn side even though both van have 120,000 miles on them. The van felt really good going over speed bumps too, even better than mine. Alloys are stock as per code but the white-walls gotta go... Lol! :rolleyes:

I should also mention that we normally use my wife's 2003 fully loaded MPV for the family runaround and long trip vehicle. My van sits in the garage all the time and only comes out for my weekend DJ gigs, trailer pulling camping trips and the odd errand when my wife's van is already busy. I only put on about 6000 miles max a year on the van.
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1993 Astro AWD L35 CPI
1993 Astro AWD L35 CPI
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Smiliesafari
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by Smiliesafari »

In my view it's a no brainer. I'd go for the '93.
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

I agree, get the 93 with the 3.73 gears and you'll be very happy with the towing. Between the better gears and increased power, hills won't be too much of an issue. You'll still feel them but not as bad. By the way...both vans are so clean! Love them both!
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

Thanks guys, I am going to try and negotiate a price on the '93. I will let you know what happens... Is there anything I should be aware of on the AWD as I have never owned one... I know the owner says he personally greases all the fittings himself regularly because he found that GM or those lube places didn't do it. I believe he said there was 12 or them, something like that... I asked him about the rear diff and I don't think he has ever changed the fluid but he said that the level has always been checked. Engine oil changed approx. every 3000 miles.
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by doyoulikeithere »

Yup, The 93 awd CPI w/3.73 will have a bunch more power torque and stability on wet or slippery roads.
Perfect rig for towing , but be aware that the awd van will burn a noticeable amount more fuel than a 2wd van.
Or, for 3 grand you could probably install a v8 in your shorty if you DIY.
I had a 95 w/CPI, AWD, 3.73 G80, it was great.
2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 - Blue.
2016 Yamaha XSR900 - Silver.
1990 Astro - AWD - Brown.
1987 Astro - With 5 Speed & 4wd - Silver & Blue.
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

A fellow BC'er, cool.... :canuk: The van doesn't get driven much so using a little extra fuel in exchange for the stability of AWD would be a good trade-off I think. I go up a steep hill by my house all the time and as it turns to the left, my right rear tire always starts spinning, that wouldn't happen with the AWD. :) As you know, it ALWAYS rains in BC. It's raining right now as a matter of fact and probably won't stop until.......................................................................... May. For those of you not familiar with Vancouver, BC, I am not making this stuff up.
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by doyoulikeithere »

I believe ya, Holy Moses it rained a ton last weekend. The river is about to spill.
I'm ready to trade in the stro for an Ark, Lol...

What hill?

With a 93 AWD CPI 3.73, on a steep hill that hooks to the left,
You could just boot it! :guitar: :guitar: :guitar: :guitar: :guitar: :guitar:
If you boot it hard enough in the rain, on a short steep hill, the van will pull till it starts into a 4 wheel drift up & around the corner under pretty good control, if you like to drift.
Snow is awesome too !! Its even funner with a 5 speed !
2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 - Blue.
2016 Yamaha XSR900 - Silver.
1990 Astro - AWD - Brown.
1987 Astro - With 5 Speed & 4wd - Silver & Blue.
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maestro
I am smitten with my van
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Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:25 pm

Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

Deal made at $2800.00! Just waiting for 2 PM to get it up on the hoist on my friend's shop to check it over before payment is made. I have a good feeling since I went back this morning to check it out and it looked even BETTER than I remembered! The owner was meticulous with the vehicle, even the CV boots look like new! I mean, come on...

I'm getting excited! :guitar:
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by doyoulikeithere »

Excellent Smithers !
More Pix coming soon i hope ??
2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 - Blue.
2016 Yamaha XSR900 - Silver.
1990 Astro - AWD - Brown.
1987 Astro - With 5 Speed & 4wd - Silver & Blue.
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Topic author
maestro
I am smitten with my van
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Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:25 pm

Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

Yup, as soon as it's mine, all mine.... Mooo-hooo-hooo-haaaaa-haaaa-haaaa!!!!!!!!! :muhaha:
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by Smiliesafari »

Wise decision........congrats. :supz: I paid $3,000 for my '96... 10 years ago. Have never regretted a moment. It had 112K and now has 245k. Stills runs as good as the day I bought it.
1996 Safari SLX Hotair balloon transport vehicle
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by maestro »

My buddy went through it with a fine tooth comb and found both idler arms worn (big surprise in an Astro! :rolleyes: ) and he found the rear end to be a 'bit' noisy. He figures it might need bearings in the not too distant future which is $$ but the van is too nice to let get away. The two front brake lines could use changing too but other than that, it's cherry so I'll be picking it up tomorrow.

Has anyone use the house brand MasterPro idler arms before or should I buck up for Moog? The Moog is $137.00 and the MasterPro is just $34.99! WTF? They even come with a 'limited' lifetime warranty. Since O'Reilly supplies a lot of professional shops, how bad can their house brand be?

Has anyone found a good diff oil to make it last a bit longer? :)

Tires are OK for another season but will most likely upgrade so I can see some nice white letters. :) The two I have in mind after some research are the BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO and the Yokohama Geolander A/T-S. Does anyone have input on either of those tires?
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by Smiliesafari »

Go for the Moog. They last the longest. The rearend noise may be ring and pinion noise. It's the only major repair I've had to do. That's the reason there is a 12 bolt installed.
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Re: Towing with 1991 TBI shorty or 1993 AWD CPI?

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

I agree with Moog although I bought the AutoZone brand and after a year they are shot. They do have lifetime warranty and are easy to change. I'll have to change them next spring. They get greased every 3k miles and only have about 20k on them.
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy
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