ihatemybike buys yet another Astro

ihatemybike

Explorer
Yep, I've done it again. I take a train out to Salt Lake City, UT tomorrow and a bus to Idaho Falls, ID on Tuesday to get this.

http://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/643263512/overview/

2005 Chevrolet Astro AWD 128k miles
02_002.jpg

While my wife and I were on vacation through the PNW, I had her stop occasionally for me to view vans. This was one of them, really clean, no rust.

Two weeks after vacation and many internet searches for other vans, I kept coming back to this one. Called them back up, offered a lower price than I thought they'd take, but they bit.

Big plans for this van, hopefully it still looks great upon my final inspection before sealing the deal.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
It was fun going to get this van.

I set off on Sunday with a backpack and some camping gear, walking to the Elgin Metra stop, riding it to Chicago, walking around the downtown area for an hour, then catching Amtrak's California Zephyr to Salt Lake City. Monday's scenery on the train was much better as we passed West of Denver. A slide involving the tracks delayed us for a couple hours, but they managed to make up an hour by the time we arrived in SLC just past midnight. Texting my AirBnB host Scott had him at the station to pick me up just before the train arrived.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Tuesday morning he dropped me off at the Temple Square to catch the bus to Idaho Falls. Warren, the sales rep working with me, met me at the station in the van and I drove us back to the dealership. Driving back the van's ABS and Brake lights lit up, didn't seem to affect anything, but he agreed to have it looked into. I met with the finance guy and started on the paperwork, not signing and setting aside anything that had to do with accepting the current condition of the vehicle. Warren returned letting me know that the brake issue appears to be an intermittent issue as they were off when the tech looked at it to pull the ABS codes, with the tech believing the problem is moisture related. Knowing too much about these vans, I asked that they put it up rack so we can inspect the front wheel bearings, as they can set ABS codes when they are going bad.

With the van on the rack, the bearings checked out good and they said they would pull the ABS connectors, clean them and apply dielectric grease. Having the van up on the rack also allowed me to do a better inspection of the undercarriage. What I had seen as a leak free van on the lot a month earlier, showed signs of oil pan and rear diff seeping.

Since I hadn't signed any of the vehicle condition paperwork, I still had the ability to change the deal a bit. I told them the deal can be worked one of two ways, repair the leaks with no change in price or reduce the selling price by the retail cost of the needed repairs (which I would do myself later), but I would prefer the first option. They agreed to do the work, but service was closing soon and they would perform the repair the next day. The condition paperwork was amended to include the repairs and signed, then the van was paid for.

Started looking for an AirBnB host, then Warren suggested that I take the van and return in the morning, being that it was my van already. Having not had anything since breakfast in SLC, I went and found a taco truck that I had read about. Whiled away the evening at a cupcake cafe, then returned to the dealer's lot, parked it out back, moved the seats around and went to sleep.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Wednesday morning I woke, somewhat rested, just before the dealer opened and moved the van to the staging area outside of the service bay doors. Their shuttle driver dropped me off in the downtown area and I spent my time hiking the greenbelt along the Snake River. Around 2 PM I received notice that the first attempt at replacing the oil pan gasket leaked and they were redoing it, this time letting the sealant cure overnight before putting oil in the van.

Not having the van to sleep in that night I contacted several Couch Surfing hosts near the downtown area and checked for AirBnB hosts as a backup. Within a couple hours I had a place to stay with Couch Surfing host Joshua and I'd be joining him for Kareoke at a local bar. Grabbed a happy hour brew at a local bar and ended up sharing a rather large serving of waffle fries that a travelling watch salesman ordered. I had the dealer pick me up there so I could grab my stuff out of the van and they offered the Cruze that they picked me up in as a loaner for the night. Joshua was a great host and we had a great time at the bar that night.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Thursday about 8:30 AM, I received the call that the van was ready. I picked up the van, had breakfast at a cafe, filled the tank and headed East. Within 16 miles of leaving the dealership I turned onto my first unpaved road with the van. Two lightly muddy pick-ups pulling travel trailers were at the beginning of the road, so I stopped and asked about the road conditions. They looked at the van and said, "You won't make it." and suggested a pavement route. I looked at their trucks again and told them I'm going to give it a shot, turning around if it gets too bad. Really glad I risked it, as the road wasn't that bad. After 30 miles of fun and excellent scenery I turned back onto pavement near Swan Valley, ID.

Just east of Wilson, ID I turned north on the Moose Wilson Rd and entered Grand Teton NP. Was hoping to find a Grand Teton sticker for my wife as she had failed to get one for her Jeep both times she drove through it and to find lunch, but the park had closed just about everything for the winter season. Undaunghted I continued on, gave a ride to a through hiker and passed into Yellowstone NP where just about everything was also closed for the season. I arrived at Old Faithful just after 6 PM and about 10 minutes after the last eruption. I choose to hang around for the next one, which was watched with very low light while still being impressive to see.

Getting quite hungry I decided to make my way for the nearest park exit, despite it having me head back west a bit. During the drive I had a car come up behind me, flashing its lights a lot. Next available place I pulled off to let them by, they pulled along side me and rolled down their window. Turned out to be a lost Asian gentleman, not knowing how to get back to his hotel in West Yellowstone. Since I was heading that way, I told him to follow me. Managed to arrive in West Yellowstone shortly before 9 PM and being rather hungry having not eaten since breakfast, get into a diner before they closed. Fed I parked the van in a darker spot on the street nearby and went to sleep.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Friday, with two and a half days left before I wanted to be home and Yellowstone NP in front of me I choose to see as much of the park as I could while passing east through it. This lead to me running on the paths at pretty much every feature along my route, with the vast majority of my time on Friday being spent at the Norris Geyser Basin. With the Beartooth Hwy already closed for the season due to construction I exited the park on the East Entrance Rd, had dinner at Cassie's Supper Club in Cody, WY, then overnighted on a side street in Greybull, WY.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
On Saturday my plan was to burn through miles. Continuing east I entered the Big Horn National Forest. Rounding a curve the engine stumbles and dies, shift to neutral and hit the starter, engine fires and I get back on the gas. Climbing the hill just before the turn for the Cabin Creek Campground the van died again. Shift to neutral, hit the starter, rotation by no fire. Coast the van to a stop right at the turn for the campground. Try to start it again, no fire. Turn the key to off, open my door, then turn the key to on. Listen hard for the fuel pump, nothing. I let out a little chuckle. Another Astro fuel pump dies roughly on schedule. Guess I should have had the dealer replace it when they were doing all the other work, especially since I know they typically die somewhere between 100-120k and this van had 127k when I bought it.

I tried every test and trick I knew to get the pump to spin, but came away empty every time. I checked my phone for signal, none. Again I chuckle, lock up the van and frantically wave my arms at the first vehicle that comes by. They stopped, I explained the situation and they gave me a ride 40 miles to the next town east, Dayton, WY. In town and now with signal, I called AAA for a tow. I was hoping they would dispatch a tow truck that would pass through Dayton and give me a ride back to the van, but the tow truck was sent out of Greybull, meaning I'd have to get a ride back to the van. I called Hammer Chevrolet in Sheridan, WY inquiring about fuel pump replacement. Two different pumps used for my year, neither were in stock, they could get one in Monday and replace on Tuesday. I called my wife, as I started walking back to the van, to give her the news. Trying to thumb a ride didn't work worth squat, however flailing my arms around like crazy got the next vehicle to stop and agree to give me a ride.

Just before they closed, the van was unloaded on to Hammer's lot. This worked out quite well for me since it's located a block off Sheridan's downtown strip and across the street from the cinema. I made my way to a cafe and contacted work arranging for someone to cover me for a few more days, then hunted the web to find out which fuel system my van has and found a Delphi pump available locally. Wanting to kill time I went to the movies and saw "The Last Witch Hunter", then checked out a local bar before heading back to the van to crash.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Sunday morning, back to the strip for breakfast, then walked to a department store for things I didn't think I'd need on this trip and to the auto parts store that had the pump. Late afternoon I visited the YMCA to get myself clean, then walked north on the strip till it turned residential and then back to the main area for dinner. After dinner I started walking to what might have been a soccer game that I could hear, but was distracted by deer watching in Whitney Commons Park. Followed that with more hanging at the local bars before returning to the van for the night.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Monday I was in the dealership as soon as they opened. Informed them that I had researched the van's fuel system and obtained a correct, quality replacement pump. As per normal, they still had spend about an hour verifying the pump was the issue. Once they started on the install, I headed out to pass some time by having breakfast. Just past 10:30 AM they had the van done and I was back on the road. I drove till around midnight, stopping for the day in Fairmont, MN and sleeping parked behind an optometrist office.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
I awoke Tuesday to the sound of someone getting out of their vehicle to go to work, then headed in the direction that I thought would lead to restaurants, but I was mistaken and ended up just getting back on the interstate heading east. I ate the last of my snacks while fielding phone support to the office. Around noon the van and I were both needing fuel and the Wisconsin Dells were close so I went to Monk's Bar & Grill for lunch. I arrived home just before 3 PM and promptly took a nap.
 

screwball48

Explorer
And my wife complains about my car buying adventures. Wow what a trip. Sounds like you had a good trip given the small set backs.


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