Astro or Aerostar?


Old 11-06-05, 01:16 PM
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Astro or Aerostar?

I'm thinking that I'm going to have to replace my trusty old Chevy van soon. It's starting to rust beyond what I can fix, and the mileage is awful. I'm a plumber and need a cargo van that can carry a fair amount of weight. I've been looking at the Chevy Astro (or GMC Safari) and Ford Aerostar vans. I'll have to pare down what I carry in either case, but that should be ok. I'll be trying to find a used, lo-mileage van.

The question is, what's it like to service a Chevy Astro? I usually do my own work on vehicles, and it looks like murder to do anything on one of these (why didn't Chevy hinge the grille for access?). It looks difficult to work on it whether I do the work, or someone else does, which means it would be expensive to service and maintain.

The Aerostar looks easier to work on, but that's probably because the engine is smaller (3.0L vs 4.3L in the Chevy/GMC) and I wonder if it's undersized for hauling a regular load around town. The load is probably around 500 lbs, city driving in San Francisco, which is hilly.

I guess Iím asking two questions: how hard is it to do simple maintenance on an Astro, and does the Aerostar have enough power to haul a plumberís tool up & down hills? Or, am I dreaming & should start looking for a full size van?

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 11-06-05, 02:57 PM
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My father was a plumber and he too use to "pare" down his stuff. A E-150 was too small and was always overloaded. He had to have leafs added to the springs. Use to wear tires and just plain abused the vehicle cause its use exceeded its capacity.

Your not going to cut it using a Astro or Areostar. The min a plumber needs is a E-250 or a C-20

Last edited by toyotaman11769; 11-07-05 at 09:45 AM.
Old 11-07-05, 05:21 AM
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As Toyotaman said, you really should consider at least a 3/4 ton, ( Ford E-250, Dodge Ram 2500, Chevy/GMC 2500), but if you are truely thinking about downsizing, personally I would reccomend the Astro, the 4.3 engine is a total workhorse, which makes sense since it's pretty much a small block Chevy v-8 with 2 cylinders lobbed off. I had that drivetrain in a 95 GMC Jimmy, and went 185,000 miles without skipping a beat, never used or burned oil. The Aerostars had a 2.9 Liter V-6, that before the Aerostar's intro was largely used in older Rangers and Bronco II's, and had issues like noisy valve trains, (clacking), and I rarely saw one over 65,000-70,000 miles that didn't use oil. Another option for you if you're worried about load capacity is looking around a little more for a Chevy/GMC, 3/4 ton van with the 4.3 as opposed to the 5.0 V-8. If I am not mistaken, this was the baseline engine for the half and three quarter ton units, as it was for the full size pickups of the same weight class. Hope this helps with your issues somewhat.
Old 11-07-05, 08:55 AM
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I second these opinions. If if has to be an Astro or an Aerostar, take the Astro.
Old 11-07-05, 08:41 PM
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There's a wide range of what different plumbers carry on their trucks. I know one plumber that doesn't carry anything, just loads what he thinks he'll need each day, and uses a Toyota pickup. Always has and it works for him. At the other extreme is a guy I know that has a utility body truck and had a second set of utility tool boxes installed on top of the first. He needed a ladder to get to the upper boxes, and I'd still see him at the plumbing supply house. I'm in between somewhere, and believe that I can make a Safari or Astro work (I'm going to forget about the Aerostar).

So, is an Astro difficult to work on? Thanks for the replies so far.
Old 11-08-05, 04:32 AM
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I own a '98 Astro and a '93 Chevy 1500 pickup. Both of mine have the same engine, a 4.3L V-6. I believe they also have the same frame and susension. I am a concrete contractor, so I carry a lot of tools also. I must say that the truck is a LOT easier to work on. You can see everything, and get to it all with ease. On the van, everything is so packed in that it's a complete pain in the butt to work on. Being a tradesman, I would opt for a truck with boxes and racks instead of a van any day.

Old 11-12-05, 11:21 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I'm going to pare down (only a little) and go with a Safari. Now I just have to bring myself to part with all that $$$!

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