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Old 08-26-2011, 11:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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turning an astrosafari into a mini-adventure-mobile

Wanted something a little bit smaller than mah deuce that I can drive further, faster, cheaper, and more comfortably. So I bought a 2002 2WD Safari cargo van. Got four big dogs that I need to haul around, so this is going to serve as my daily-driver for a while. At least until my motorhome is done. Also planning on doing a real basic camper conversion. Trying to keep this one simple: fold-up/down bed on the driver's-side wall, a bit of storage-space, maybe a fresh water tank, deep-cycle battery and small inverter, that sort of thing. But that's it. Down and dirty. Was tempted to build an AWD van, but decided to go with 2WD in the end, hoping to maximize fuel economy. Have plenty of other vehicles to take off-road. Bought this van at auction and something is wrong with the engine, so am pulling it today and have another engine that should be in there by the end of next week. Looking forward to getting it back on the road. Then I'll get to work on the fun stuff.


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Old 08-26-2011, 01:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Now that there is the way to unload a rig from a trailer...
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Spent most of yesterday and today pulling the engine. Have never worked on a van before. Probably wouldn't have bought this thing if I had! What a pain in the ass.




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Old 08-27-2011, 09:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My old boss had a few of these that were awd. Huge piles, good luck.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Man, you pulled the engine the hard way! Easiest way is to pull the entire sub frame from under the van, slide it out into the open, then pull the engine. Of coures this requires a 2 post lift or some really tall jack stands.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, I know. Just wasn't feasible to remove the engine from underneath, given that I'm doing the engine-swap in my driveway. Just wasn't comfortable with how high I would have had to lift the frontend.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Have been spending most of my time working on another project, but finished installing the new engine a few weeks ago. Still can't get it to run right though. Am not much of a general mechanic, but had Kevin at Pacific Fabrication looking over my shoulder and feel pretty confident that I installed the new timing chain correctly. The only thing I was a little bit unsure about was reinstalling the drive-gear on the -counter-balancing shaft, and took the time to make 100% certain that it was correct. Thought maybe I had installed the distributor 180-degrees off, so I tried that, and I had it right the 1st time. It's weird. I can get it to start, and it'll run, but only at the mid-to-higher RPM's. If I let it drop down to anywhere near idle, it'll stumble and die. This is pretty much exactly what it was doing before I pulled the engine, so at this point I'm wondering if I might have replaced the engine for no reason. I did reuse the intake manifold, injectors, throttle body and distributor from the original engine (it was an X engine with a better FI setup than the W engine that I replaced it with). So maybe it's got something to do with that? Anybody have any ideas? Tell you what, I'm about ready to abandon this project because working on vans SUCKS.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Those are actually pretty good vans, not to bad to work on for vans. It sure is a lot easier to have a two post lift when you do it though.

From your symptons I would be looking for vacuum leaks. I have a fair bit of experience working on these.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Are you starting it off of the battery or jumping it off? I had the same problem trying to jump start a vehicle, I ended up not having enough voltage going to the ecu @ low rpms. A new battery fixed the problem.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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what about the IAC? (idle air controller) its a little servo motor that controls how much air bypass the butterflies and is used to control idle speed.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Both above ideas I have seen in customers cars. Anoter thing is the distributor, you need a scan tool to set the timing correctly. I have seen these vans exhibit your symptons from having the timing off.
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Those are actually pretty good vans, not to bad to work on for vans. It sure is a lot easier to have a two post lift when you do it though.

From your symptons I would be looking for vacuum leaks. I have a fair bit of experience workingg on these.
Compared to what? This is my first van.

Thanks, I'll start looking for vacuum leaks. What's the best way to go about that? Remember something about something about gas or propane or something and moving it around to see if the idle-speed increases? Installed new gaskets and seals pretty much everywhere. Didn't skimp on anything or reuse anything that was even halfway questionable. Didn't want to have to take this thing apart again any time soon!

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Are you starting it off of the battery or jumping it off? I had the same problem trying to jump start a vehicle, I ended up not having enough voltage going to the ecu @ low rpms. A new battery fixed the problem.
Was jumping it before with the old battery, but just installed a brand new battery and was starting off the battery.

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what about the IAC? (idle air controller) its a little servo motor that controls how much air bypass the butterflies and is used to control idle speed.
Kevin brought over a scanner and everything checked out OK on the old engine. Haven't had a chance to have him come back over to take a look at the new engine.

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Both above ideas I have seen in customers cars. Anoter thing is the distributor, you need a scan tool to set the timing correctly. I have seen these vans exhibit your symptons from having the timing off.
Did not know that about using a scan tool to set the timing. Thanks, can see how that might have something to do with it as I obviously had to remove the distributor, and haven't done anything except put it back in at TDC.

Thanks for the help guys. Appreciate it.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You dont need a scan tool to set timing on a V6 like you do on a V8. The hold down clamp should only fit on one way. At TDC the rotor electrode should line up with a mark on the distributor housing, and the hold down should line up with the threaded hole in the intake manifold. Its not adjustable, like it is on a V8.

If you dont find a vacuum leak, check a few other things:
Remove the EGR valve and see if there is a chunk of carbon holding the valve open.
Does it smell like rotten eggs at or near idle? Could be a leaky injector.
It could be a partially clogged cat, disconnect the exhaust at the manifolds, see if it runs better.

All are common on these vans.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:35 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Also check the coolant temperature sender. I've seen that make the 4.3 run like that too
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:29 AM   #15 (permalink)
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it looked like the van was jumping onto the trailer before I saw the tractor behind it... lol

I love 4x4 vans should be a sweet project
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:44 AM   #16 (permalink)
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You dont need a scan tool to set timing on a V6 like you do on a V8. The hold down clamp should only fit on one way. At TDC the rotor electrode should line up with a mark on the distributor housing, and the hold down should line up with the threaded hole in the intake manifold. Its not adjustable, like it is on a V8.

If you dont find a vacuum leak, check a few other things:
Remove the EGR valve and see if there is a chunk of carbon holding the valve open.
Does it smell like rotten eggs at or near idle? Could be a leaky injector.
It could be a partially clogged cat, disconnect the exhaust at the manifolds, see if it runs better.

All are common on these vans.
Right, the hold-down tab is keyed to the distributor.

Yes, it did/does smell bad. Kevin thought the cat might be plugged, so we cut it out temporarily. No effect.

Will check the vacuum and the egr valve though.
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Also check the coolant temperature sender. I've seen that make the 4.3 run like that too
Really? huh. ok, thanks.
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it looked like the van was jumping onto the trailer before I saw the tractor behind it... lol

I love 4x4 vans should be a sweet project
Thanks, but this is just a 2WD van. Have plenty of other vehicles to take off-road, and a 6WD motorhome too. This is more for regular old road-trips and stealth urban camping and will be my daily driver too.
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
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There was a 5/32 vacuum hose that was badly rotted, so I replaced that, but the engine did not run any better/worse afterwards. But the good news it that while trying to access the hidden end of that vacuum hose, I managed to break a plastic heater hose manifold that's attached to the AC unit. Also figured out that the X engine in my safari doesn't have an EGR valve.
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:20 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Also check the coolant temperature sender. I've seen that make the 4.3 run like that too
Haven't put any coolant in the radiator yet. Good thing too, because it would have spilled all over the place when that little plastic manifold broke. But that wouldn't keep the engine from running right, would it? No coolant I mean. Unless maybe it makes the coolant temp sensor go crazy?
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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No, it will idle fine with low/no coolant. The sensor would just read whatever the air temperature is. On a cold start coolant temp and air temp are the same.

If your engine doesn't have EGR, and there are no vacuum leaks, I would lean towards a leaking injector. Will make it misfire at idle but smooth out as rpms go up.

Check the PCM too. Its common around here for them to fill with water, corrode internally and split in half. Will cause all kinds of quirks.

Should have asked earlier but does it set any codes?

Edit: Using your scan tool see what the coolant temp sensor reads before you start the engine.
Also if you have a mass airflow sensor, unplug it, see if it runs better.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:41 PM   #20 (permalink)
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That sounds pretty likely to me, especially since I reused the intake manifold and injectors from the old engine, and it's running just about the same as it did before I installed the new engine. The stock engine was an X with the MFI and the engine that I replaced it with is a W that had the older style fuel injection setup on it, which is why I reused those parts. Sucks that I might have wasted a bunch of time and money replacing the engine for no reason, but at that time it was suggested that the timing chain had jumped a tooth. But here I am, and still need to get this thing running. Looks like I should pull the upper intake manifold? Do I buy new injectors or have the injectors cleaned/serviced or what?
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:42 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Oh and yes, we hooked it up to a scanner (old engine) and no, it wasn't throwing any codes. Haven't had a chance to hook the new engine up to a scanner.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:57 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Searching the internet for info about servicing/replacing the injector and the spider harness. Not turning up much. One local auto parts store has the injector in stock, and it costs $100, but I can't buy the spider harness through them. Another local auto parts store sells the spider harness lines individually and they're $136 each? Poking around online, looks like I can do a lot better price-wise, but am not sure what I should be looking to replace. Is it the injector and/or the spider harness that most likely needs to be replaced?
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Old 10-05-2011, 03:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Looks like I can buy a whole MFI injector spider thingy for $180 from gmpartsdirect. The part number I keep reading about online is 12568332, but gmpartsdirect says it's been superseded. Guess it doesn't matter as long as I get the right parts. But am reluctant to keep throwing money at this thing, not knowing what the problem is. Advice?
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:00 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Start by hooking up a fuel pressure gauge. Pressure should be above 60psi, then shut the key off. If it holds pressure the injector(s) isn't stuck open, look elsewhere. If pressure drops off quickly you have a leak. It could be an injector or pump leaking down.

Try it a few times, just to be sure.

If a whole new injector set is only $180 I wouldn't bother trying to clean them. (great photo of the part at gmparts) Don't replace anything until you have some kind of proof.

The no codes thing is kind of odd. How long has the new engine run and will it idle at all?

Good luck, once you get the van running you will like it.
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Put a fuel pressure gage on it and pressure was ok, but did not look to see if it bled-off. Will try that befpre buying a new injector spider. Thanks again for all the help with this.
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