Our 1993 Astro Van Transmission Bucking Problem

1993 Chevrolet mini AstrovanWell, here's our pride and joy, our 1993 Chevrolet mini Astrovan. We bought the 93 Astrovan from a used car dealer in New Haven CT called A1 Auto, paid $4,500 for it in Oct. of 2000.

It came with a three month warranty. It drove perfectly for 3 months. Then after the 3 month warranty expired, it got a thump in the automatic transmission when switching from first to second gear.

We drove it around like that for a couple months, till we couldn't stand it anymore, then I took it to Stellers in Shelton CT, so they could run a diagnostic. They said there was a couple parts that needed to be replaced in the transmission, and they changed them.

It didn't improve the shifting at all. Total cost for parts and diagnostic, $350 dollars. They recommended that the transmission needed to be rebuilt, and sent us to Astro Transmissions in north New Haven. Astro Transmission gave us an estimate of $1,500 for a rebuilt transmission. Which is not a bad price, but why did all this have to happen after the warranty expired?

So, we left the van there a couple of days. I actually had to take a bus from Shelton to New Haven to get there. I did alot of standing around and waiting. After three days he said the van was finished, and took me for a ride in it. He said he put a patch on the transmission that Chevrolet came out with, (there was some kind of a bulletin released on the tranny and was a common occurrence in the 1993 - 1994 vans.) I didn't like the sound of that.

Well, Astro Transmission gave me a 12 month warranty. The patch lasted exactly 1 month, and started bucking again. I took it back to Astro Transmission. The van was there for a week. He got us a rental car, which was a nice gesture, till he finished the transmission again. He said he went through everything, and couldn't fix the bucking. His conclusion was that it is in the wiring harness, and he'll replace that for us for 500 bucks.

Nah, I don't think so, then what if it still doesn't work?

So we drove it around with the bucking till something strange happened. Our daughter was working in Ansonia CT, at the PeaPod Stop and Shop upstairs, as a shopper. She left work and the van wouldn't start in the parking lot.

We had it towed to a small gas station, that also did repairs. They said it needed a new starter, and then called back and said it needed a new water pump. So they changed both for 600 bucks. The strange thing was, that the van quit bucking. We couldn't believe it, and enjoyed the fact that it wasn't bucking for 6 months.

We were also wondering why we had the transmission rebuilt, if it wasn't the transmission, but something else. And what did the gas station workers do to make it quit bucking? Move a wire?

Update May 2005 - The van was running really bad and Emissions is coming due. Here's a list of parts we replaced.

Oxygen Sensor
Map Sensor
Carburetor jets
spark plugs, wires
changed oil
lost the gas cap, so replaced it

Amazingly, after changing all these parts, the van passed emissions with flying colors.

Update June 2005 - The brakeline developed a leak. Fixed it. Air conditioning not working. Backed into a tree and broke the taillight lens. Bought some paint to paint the "peeling off paint" on the roof.
Update July 13, 2005 - The van started bucking again, the door lock on the passenger side broke too. Still bucking slightly, but van still has power.
Update Oct. 14, 2005 - The van is still running good, Hope it makes it through the winter. The Check Engine Light is still on, even after doing the suggestions of unplugging the computer and plugging it back in, and disconnecting the battery for 5 min.

Update Oct. 29, 2007 - So how's the Astro van doing you ask? It's doing amazingly well. First of all, we moved from Connecticut in May 07 to Southern South Dakota, and decided to take the Astro van with us. We put our 750 Virago in the back, packed it up with tools etc. from the garage and drove it 1500 miles to Tripp, South Dakota. We had zero problems with it, even though now the odometer says 186,000, it didn't use any oil, it didn't need any antifreeze, and the bucking problem has all but disappeared. The Check Engine Light is still on though, haven't been able to figure it out.

One thing for sure, it loves South Dakota because it's so flat around here, straight highways and no sitting in traffic.

Update October 2011 - We were driving back from shopping and a back tire blew on the highway. We pulled over and looked at our options. The donut bracket under the back of the van was totally rusted, but amazingly we were able to get it off, and the donut still had air in it.

We also had the belt break and fall off driving home from shopping the next week. After the belt fell off, we lost the power brakes, and the power steering, but was still able to get it home taking the back roads. We need to change the oil though, because it's probably burnt. The water pump also stopped working, and the alternator. So, we were lucky to get home.

Update November 29, 2011 - The van developed a crack in the windshield. Actually, the little chip that started it was there when we bought it. We also made the mistake of running the heater to thaw the ice off the windshield which made it crack more.

Last week, something hit the back rear window on the driver's side while the van was sitting in the driveway, and the window is totally cracked! So, now I'll be calling a repair shop to get these windows replaced.

Update Feb 24, 2013 - Middle of winter here, and we took the battery out of the van this year to keep the cold from draining it. We got the back window replaced easily, and went ahead and replaced the front window too because it had a crack all the way across it. The auto repair guy said the top edge of where the window sits is rusted out, but he fixd it the best he could.

More Information

Okay here's some more information I came across, read what this guy says. This may be our problem right now because our service engine light is still on. (But I think the hubby cleaned the EGR valve.)

"I've got a 93 Astro that shows 223,000 on the odometer, but I think the engine has had some major work done on it. The van ran like a top when I got it, but I eventually had to replace the EGR valve due to rough idling and the check engine light coming on. After replacing the valve, the van ran great again. It is again idling rough, and has been for about 2 weeks now. The van runs great in all areas except idling. It's not as bad as it was before I replaced the egr, and the check engine light does not come on at all.

I bought new plugs and wires which I haven't put on yet. I don't know if the plugs are bad or what. It's strange that the van smokes when you crank it after sitting all night or all day at work, but it doesn't ever seem to be using any oil. I guess these are bad valve guide seals, because it doesn't smoke one bit after the initial long sitting start. When the egr valve was bad; it finally got to where it would try to cut off at a stop light,ect,. this time doesn't seem as bad, and no check engine light is on. Does the van need a tune up or is it possible that the egr is again clogged? I was advised that after putting in a new egr that it's been known to clog again on some folks."

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