An Astro Van Transmission Problem Analysis

The discontinued Chevrolet Astro van was a popular workhorse in its time. It was mostly used for commercial purposes, but also enjoyed popularity as a passenger van. Like many automotive vehicles, it had its share of recurring mechanical problems. Chief among the vehicle’s troubles were the Astro Van transmission problems. The information below can improve your understanding of the Astro van’s transmission and its repair.

What is the History of the Chevrolet Astro Van?

When the minivans of the 1980s come to mind, the Chevrolet Astro found a very comfortable niche for itself. Its box-like shape afforded much interior headroom space for hauling passengers and cargo. An added bonus was the solid suspension and wide wheelbase which allowed for towing up to 6,000 pounds. As family minivans became in vogue by the mid-1980s, the major auto makers were producing similarly styles vehicles that included the Dodge Caravan and the Plymouth Voyager. A highly regarded and popular competitor was added to the mix in the 1990?s with the arrival of the Ford Aerostar. The Astro first appeared in 1985 and was discontinued in 2005.

What is a Transmission?

A vehicle’s transmission is part of the vehicle’s mechanical drive train. It changes the gears that control the various speed levels. It is a critical part of any automobile or truck and it is attached directly to the engine. It is an expensively priced component of any vehicle; it is generally reliable and can last for the life of the vehicle. Transmissions come in either manual or automatic versions. If improper preventive maintenance, such as infrequent transmission oil checks and oil and filter replacements are permitted, then problems can arise and subsequently escalate. However, as is the case with many complex manufactured, high stress usage devices, breakdowns can occur because of faulty operation, metal fatigue, or component parts failure.

What are Methods of Diagnosing Chevy Astro Van Transmission problems?

Unlike automobile electrical problems, mechanical issues are usually accompanied by abnormal sounds and driving sensitivities. Accordingly, many of the manifestations of potential transmission failure are: abnormally slow acceleration, slippage of the various gear movements that may feel like slight pausing or hesitation while moving or when pressing the gas pedal, transmission overheating – often accompanied by the smell of oil burning, leaking fluid, or a whining, buzzing or humming sound that seems to come from under the vehicle.

What are Some Options for Chevy Astro Transmission Repair?

The most common problem encountered with the later model Astro transmissions is the failure of the valve body. Less frequent breakdowns have been caused by the failure of the transfer case shift motor or the fluid pressure switch. The costs of repairs can run into the many hundreds of dollars. In some instances, a total overhaul or replacement is required that could cost up to $2,000. Transmissions complicated pieces of machinery and repair and replacement are performed by skilled specialists with the proper equipment. This type of repair should not be attempted by the do-it-yourself mechanic.

The Chevrolet Astro is considered a successful vehicle by historic automotive standards, it nevertheless has had its share of mechanical misfortune – especially with regard to its transmissions. With its rugged power train, frame, and suspension and heavy-towing capacity, the Astro’s transmission was especially susceptible to failure. Early detection and proper preventive maintenance as outlined in this article, the high cost of transmission overhaul and repair can be limited, or even avoided.


The early models of the Chevy Astro seated only five passengers. Chevrolet introduced an extended model in 1990 that was longer by 10 inches for a total of 190 overall inches. This allowed for a third-row, bench seat that increased passenger capacity to eight people.