Fixing an older Astro van

A friend’s 1997  Chevy Astro had some understandable problems after 197,000 miles and over ten years of service. It also had some not-so-understandable problems.

In the course of repairing some wiring, I noticed that the coolant in the reservoir looked very different from the coolant in the radiator. The reservoir looked great, the radiator was filthy.

Hmm. There must be an obstruction or problem somewhere.

Check the connecting hose? It was unobstructed. Will compressed air clear the obstruction in the reservoir? Nope.

OK – I removed the reservoir for inspection, with particular attention to the squarish section between the small hose spigot and the bottom of the tank. When I tilted the tank, the orange coolant would move most of the way up that passage, but not all the way. The passage that should have gone all the way through – didn’t.

Can’t get air through passage, can’t identify any contamination or debris in the passage. What ???!!!!

Try drilling through the passageway? I got plastic shavings, but couldn’t make it through due to the way it’s configured. The passage is blocked by original plastic. As far as I can tell, it was made wrong at the factory, and never could have worked.

How many dealer visits and repair shop visits must have occurred in ten years and 190,000 miles? Quite a few. Did anybody notice? NONE of them caught it.

For now, the hose just goes into the fill opening, and that works.

pristine coolant in reservoir

pristine coolant in reservoir

ugly radiator coolant

ugly radiator coolant

reservoir side passage

reservoir side passage

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3 Responses to Fixing an older Astro van

  1. Larry Packman says:

    It’s a GM product. What do you expect? I have owned GM, Ford, Chrystler, Toyota, Honda and Acura (I know. More Honda) It’s been my experience that the best and most reliable is a Honda product. The worst was Chrystler with GM following in a strong second place. If you ask me, they both deserve to go chapter 11 bankruptcy.

  2. jmaechtlen says:

    Its heritage is almost irrelevant. Anyone can can have a problem in manufacturing. What’s stunning is that nobody noticed the problem in that long service life. Fwiw, it still runs strong.

  3. jay says:

    And, as far as that goes: I’m driving my third Buick. Also, my project car is powered by GM (Olds/Buick!). The first two were replaced because they had a lot of years and miles on them. The folks who bought them from me got a lot more years and miles from them.
    No complaints. Not only have they run well and held up well, they’re cheaper to maintain than the trendycars.

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