1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to South

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Wiley
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1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to South

Post by Wiley »

Hi, as some of you know I bought an Astro with the hopes to drive it to South America. Naturally there were no sevice records from the previous owner, so I am going to err on the side of caution and assume that no maintenance has been done. I was looking for a list of what you would do as prep for a trip like this, or even just for others who wonder what they should do 1st when buying a used Astro. I will put a list of what I “think” should be done from what I have researched on here, feel free to add and strike from the list. I am also looking for what can be done myself (realize that is hard to determine), as I am no mechanic. , but I usually do fine with a handy guide (Already saved a bunch to my computer from this site!). Due to lack of time I plan on doing some of the work “on the road” as I am sure I can borrow parts with the help of some cervezas, and paying a mechanic for what I cannot do should be cheaper in most places down there. Some of this was taken from Spike99’s 88K maintenance thread as well. Thanks

Install Trans-Cooler
Oil change/filter
Replace Fuel Filter
Coolant flush, new Thermostat
Replace Brakes/Rotors
Replace Spark Plugs, Wires, (change cap/rotor?) – AC Delco
Change Belt and Tensioner-Carry old one as spare
Spare bulbs/fuses
Air Filter – Read people discourage K&N Air filters. I like that they can be reused, but does it cause damage to the Astros??

The above I plan on doing, below are maybes/questions:
Parts can be tough to get, and expensive with import taxes depending on where I am, so what would be ideal for preventative maintenance:

Thinking about changing the fuel pump, and carrying the old one as a spare. I know its not necessarily easy and is a bit pricey, but it may beat doing this in a desert, and certainly sounds like something I can do on my own. – AC Delco

Also thinking of replacing Idler Arms, will have a 2 in lift, and 29’s so while not excressive,I will need them at some point. I do not know what to look for to check these, have read to have someone crank wheels back and forth, but wouldn’t know what I was looking for anyway. Would it be advisable to change these anyway since I have 85K miles? If this is recommended what other things, ball joints, bearing/ other front end stuff should I mess with while in there? - Moog idle arms

Replacing/upgrading gas shocks? is that unnecessary with the miles I have now? When would a good time be, when they fail the bounce test, or is there a general mileage they usually last to? I will be adding a leaf to my leaf setup, so maybe the originals are ok.

I Will have dual battery to run ARB fridge (low amps), lights, power laptops, cameras, no winching: Should I upgrade the alternator, I am under the impression that the stock one is ok for my needs.

I Think I should change my hoses, and carry the old ones as spares. Again, easier now than somewhere less inviting, and the spares will be a little more flexible than new ones if I do need to work on them somewhere less than ideal. If this is a good idea, if so what hoses should I change? All of them?




I had a list here on my work computer, but also on paper at home, so I may update this list in a few hours, but basically this is just a list of what I could think of, and have read about here, without looking at prices, so I may or may not be doing everything mentioned. Thanks for any input you can provide.
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by MountainManJoe »

Don't forget drivetrain lubricants: Front and rear diff + transfer case and transmission filter. (these would go at the top of your priority list)

Take the idler arms with you but don't change them unless your steering feels loose or you have vibration. That goes for a lot of things. Accessory belt is rather easy to change on the go. If the shocks feel fine, they're not going to suddenly fail.

People like K&N because it increases air intake a bit, thereby giving you some insignificant power increase (and possibly worse mileage). While this may be true, it lets through more dirt, and actually introduces more contaminants into the airstream. I prefer the $12 paper OEM ones myself. I sincerely hope this doesn't start an air filter debate in your maintenance thread.

Perhaps you could carry a roll of vacuum hose with some connectors.
Make sure your brake caliper pistons and bolt sleeves slide easy. (whole calipers are cheap to replace). Test your battery(s). Grease all chassis joints well just before you leave and rotate tires.

Your stock alternator generates 100 amps MAX, meaning it will be less at idle. Add up the consumption of all your devices and see if it will suffice. The battery will make up the difference.

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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by ihatemybike »

I'd say keep the new fuel pump as a spare. Genuine ACDelco/Delphi only. The Delphi FG0127 can be had for $188.10.
http://store.getgmparts.com/fg0127.html
I've dealt with this place and they have done good by me so far.

Air filter, check out the AMSOIL Ea Air Filters, dry and reusable.
http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/eaa.aspx
1992-2005 vans use EAA04-CA. Their site says retail is $34.15, but I have an AMSOIL account with a nearby warehouse, willing to pick and ship at cost. Group buy of 6 drops the retail cost to $31.80. I'll have to check later what my costs would be.

Since the van will be out of country for some time, I would consider replacing the front axle seals. Not terribly hard to do and most LAPS have the special tools you need available as loaners.
Aaron

2005 Astro (Gandalf) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, 130k+ miles
1997 Astro (Grumpy - $250 Rally Van) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, LSD, 2" lift, 31" tires, 335k+ orig engine, $30 eBay fuel pump
Prev Astros:99,97,00,94,87,86
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Wiley »

timelessbeing wrote:Don't forget drivetrain lubricants: Front and rear diff + transfer case and transmission filter. (these would go at the top of your priority list)
Thank you, this is something I need to research more, but really appreciate now knowing it is one of the most important.
timelessbeing wrote: Take the idler arms with you but don't change them unless your steering feels loose or you have vibration. That goes for a lot of things. Accessory belt is rather easy to change on the go. If the shocks feel fine, they're not going to suddenly fail.
Agreed, plan on bringing the arms since I know they will go at some point, but have no reason to believe they are bad at the moment. Am planning on doing the belt at 100K. Security is not a big concern to me, but if something were to break on us at say 3 or 4 in the afternoon, that could leave us exposed after dark wherever it happens, not the best scenario...so hearing the opinions from you and ihatemybikes opinions really helps my planning.
timelessbeing wrote: People like K&N because it increases air intake a bit, thereby giving you some insignificant power increase (and possibly worse mileage). While this may be true, it lets through more dirt, and actually introduces more contaminants into the airstream. I prefer the $12 paper OEM ones myself. I sincerely hope this doesn't start an air filter debate in your maintenance thread.
Thanks for explaining why, I have only read people didn't like them, but not because it was less effective at actually filtering. I like that you can reuse the K&N, but not at the cost of my van..will just use the paper ones and bring spares.
timelessbeing wrote: Perhaps you could carry a roll of vacuum hose with some connectors.
Make sure your brake caliper pistons and bolt sleeves slide easy. (whole calipers are cheap to replace). Test your battery(s). Grease all chassis joints well just before you leave and rotate tires.
timelessbeing wrote: Your stock alternator generates 100 amps MAX, meaning it will be less at idle. Add up the consumption of all your devices and see if it will suffice. The battery will make up the difference.
Again thanks. Some of these were also notes to myself...probably should have removed that one, and while I am still learning about the electrical needs, I believe that the stock is sufficient for my rather simple needs.

ihatemybike wrote:I'd say keep the new fuel pump as a spare. Genuine ACDelco/Delphi only. The Delphi FG0127 can be had for $188.10.
http://store.getgmparts.com/fg0127.html
I've dealt with this place and they have done good by me so far.
Thanks, are those two considered pretty equal quality wise? I hadn't seen much on the Delphi, and as stated above will be doing more than necessary to try and minimize unexpected breakdowns, so don't mind spending a bit more for quality. Figure either will be good coming from you, I know you spend enough time working on your vehicle for me to trust your judgment!
ihatemybike wrote: Air filter, check out the AMSOIL Ea Air Filters, dry and reusable.
http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/eaa.aspx
1992-2005 vans use EAA04-CA. Their site says retail is $34.15, but I have an AMSOIL account with a nearby warehouse, willing to pick and ship at cost. Group buy of 6 drops the retail cost to $31.80. I'll have to check later what my costs would be.
ihatemybike wrote: Since the van will be out of country for some time, I would consider replacing the front axle seals. Not terribly hard to do and most LAPS have the special tools you need available as loaners.
Thanks, another thing I will look into, that I did not have on my radar...this is the kind of stuff I really appreciate. Do not want to overlook anything that can be easily maintained or repaired. I keep reading about the importance of greasing parts, but still need to make a list of what to actually grease....but its clear that staying on top of the normal maintenance will really help the life of these vehicles.


Appreciate the help guys
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by MountainManJoe »

Wiley wrote:I keep reading about the importance of greasing parts, but still need to make a list of what to actually grease
Look for the grease (zerk) fittings. I think I have 12 in the front.
Going off the top of my head...
Upper & lower ball joints (4)
Steering linkage (6)
Moog idler arms have an extra 2

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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by ihatemybike »

Wiley wrote:
ihatemybike wrote:I'd say keep the new fuel pump as a spare. Genuine ACDelco/Delphi only. The Delphi FG0127 can be had for $188.10.
http://store.getgmparts.com/fg0127.html
I've dealt with this place and they have done good by me so far.
Thanks, are those two considered pretty equal quality wise? I hadn't seen much on the Delphi, and as stated above will be doing more than necessary to try and minimize unexpected breakdowns, so don't mind spending a bit more for quality. Figure either will be good coming from you, I know you spend enough time working on your vehicle for me to trust your judgment!
ACDelco and Delphi are both GM brands. Swapping pumps I was not able to find any difference between ones labeled ACDelco and Delphi.
Aaron

2005 Astro (Gandalf) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, 130k+ miles
1997 Astro (Grumpy - $250 Rally Van) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, LSD, 2" lift, 31" tires, 335k+ orig engine, $30 eBay fuel pump
Prev Astros:99,97,00,94,87,86
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Wiley »

Awesome, thanks ihatemybike. Same to you timeless, pics make everything so much easier. Any of you want to go to South America? This would be much easier with a knowledgeable mechanic on board haha.
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by loopie »

Loading up your van somewhat...driving on a lot of less than perfect roads...I think new shocks would be a great investment. They'll improve your ride quality greatly! Bilstein HD...KYB Monomax or Gas-a-just...Monroe SensaTrac isn't too bad either....

High-lift jack perhaps.
A good spade
Recovery straps or rope
Bow saw

Check and lube the spare tire hanger. (a word in case you aren't aware...when tightening it back up, stop right when it just gets snug..if you go even one more turn, they strip!)

Make sure you have Torx bits in your tool set.
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by loopie »

...and yes, I think changing ALL the hoses of the cooling system (and using NEW stainless clamps) is a good idea.
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by LaGrasta »

I had three odd items break on me, cheap and easy to replace. May want to take a look at yours.

oil dip stick tube bracket (made my own using rubber)
belt tensioner ($40)
wiper circuit board ($40)
1998 Astro, 246,000 miles

K&N air filter
TruCool trans cooler
2" Overland lift & 15" BFG Terrain, 3.73 gears
JET Performance SCU-2000 (Speed Control Unit)
Gabriel Ultra shocks, rear AirLift bags & sway bar
Draw-Tite Dual Port Hitch System, hitch-mounted bike rack (4), hitch-mounted cargo tray, Thule roof-mounted cargo box
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by MountainManJoe »

fixing my last broken image link ...

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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Wiley »

Bizzump amigos. So, after the trip the van sat for various reasons, I had a days of thunder heart to heart with the van and it is time to get it back on the road, kicking myself now that it has been so long with Socal and Baja at my disposal.

Anyway, the battery is out but I am going to estimate it is at 185K miles, it is somewhere between 150-200. Took a beating on the trip, and has some rust as well. Here is what I plan on doing since I can take my time, basically would like to know what else I should tackle while I have the parts out. I have it parked in a garage that I will not be able to get back into once I am done....so it is mostly an everything at once kind of deal. Can use my Haines manual when I do not find things on this site.

Obviously changing the fluids: Oil+filter, Coolant, Transmission+filter, Front/Rear Differential+Diff seal, Transfer Case (hoping to swap my current one to NP233C anyway).

Replacing most of front suspension: Spindle nut/washer, Torsion Bars, Idler Arms, Tie-Rods, Sway Bar+Links, Upper/Lower Ball Joints, Upper/Lower Control Arm Bushings, and wheel hub. With all of this out I plan on painting as much of the sub frame and other metal down there that I can reach with POR-15.

I was going to stop here with suspension where the pitman arm connects to the connecting rod? Should I do anything above with the steering system? I am not familiar with the system.

Replacing CV Shafts
Replacing front axle seals
Replacing the crankshaft seal, and any other seal in that vicinity, I believe I have a leak there
Replacing Motor Mounts
Replacing water pump
Replacing spark plugs, wires, cap/rotor
Replacing Belt and Tensioner
Replacing Air Filter
Replacing PCV Valve
Replacing Brakes/Rotors/calipers
Replacing rear springs
Upgrade to 4.10 gears

Brake lines: Not sure I have the room in the garage, but with so many parts out of the way I will probably give it a try.

Thanks, as always.
Last edited by Wiley on Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Astrophysics »

Hi,

Awesome expedition planning!

A small item would be to get spare plastic handles for pop out side windows and install 10-24 stainless machine screw and nylon lock nut instead of drift pin.

AP

Also, spare tail light bulbs and change dome lights to LED festoon and 914 equivalent. LEDs,

Then use can leave doors open with dome light on with smaller battery drain.''also dash mount flex solar panel to trickle charge battery,

And backup boaster charger starter battery, Die Hard with built in jumper cables.

Hand held 12 volt spot light such as 12 volt Milwaukee, with charger, and 12 v drill and bits ,'
Set of wrenches, etc
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Mmusicman »

Ok... so it's 6 years later!
How did the van do in South America?
Did you change all the parts you originally planned on doing?
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Re: 1st time maintenance for 85K 2004 AWD Astro headed to So

Post by Wiley »

Van did great, but it certainly took a beating. During the trip I decided I needed a vacation from the trip so parked 20 feet from the ocean in Colombia for half a year, now I have some rust as well, but overall the van did amazing. I am going to put money back into the van rather than buy a different vehicle, and being a single guy I don't have diapers to buy. Now I want to fix her up, so 3 posts up is the current plan, I will be swapping all that out, and should also read up on the power steering pump and leaks while I am at it.

If you weren't familiar, sometime around 2010-2012 I took the Astro through Mexico, Central Am, and around Colombia living out of it. My biggest complaint was livable space, so I am redoing the interior as well. Since I was in it EVERYDAY, the setup did get old at times. Perfect size vehicle for down there, easy to navigate the at times hectic roads. Handled well enough off road, though I want to upgrade to a NP233C. This vehicle is great to be somewhat stealthy and blend in while handling everything you throw at it.

I had a problem with the brakes/rotors which I was able to fix after a few weeks while in Colombia, but rather than continue on decided to return to the US for a job working remotely, hoping to have them pay my way through Europe :)...unfortunately I took a different job 3 months later that was better for the career, but that also meant I had to give up the traveling...for now.

I hooked up a solar panel, dual battery setup, had a fridge, bed etc. Lifted it 2 inches, threw on larger tires, and headed south, I cannot wait to do it again.

There have been at least 4-5 Astros south of the border now. We still need more, what are you waiting for.

Sierra Madre del Sur, Mexico. The mountains' highest point is 3,703 metres (12,149 ft), the Astro was sucking wind up this one.
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