Sundog, Lake Marie Oregon 2018

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More trouble with my van

My van, a 1995 GMC Safari, is getting to the age where every breakdown is expensive and makes me wonder if I should just get rid of it.  Two months ago I took it in for an oil change and tire rotation, (at WheelWorks) and was told I needed new "struts."  $800 later it drove pretty smooth.

A few weeks ago it overheated on the freeway and when I got it in to have it checked out at the dealer, I was told it had a hole in the radiator.  $1200 later I had a new radiator and new hoses.

I have driven it twice since, and both times experienced an odd total loss of power.
The first was in a parking lot.  No stress.  The van just shut down.  I put it in park, turned the key and it was up and running just fine.

Today I was driving to Santa Cruz, on the freeway, about six miles from home, in the slow lane, and it just lost power and shut off.  I was able to coast to a stop in a safe turn out.  Once again it started right up with no problem.  Since I was almost to where I was going, I finished my errand and drove back over "the hill" and got it to the dealer's service department again.  Traffic was light, and I stayed in the slow lane ready to coast off if I had to.

Although they usually don't give courtesy rides up to where I live I played the good customer card and told them I had no other way to get home.  (It was noon and I would have had to wait until about six for Craig to pick me up.)

It seems they have no idea what the problem is.  The service writer just called and said they took it out and couldn't get it to fail again. They are going to keep it and try again tomorrow after it sits overnight.

If they can't find the problem, I'm going to avoid driving it any more than necessary.

I guess it's just old.  It is handy to have a van for hauling things and towing the rented wood splitter once a year, but if we decide to get rid of it I don't want another one.

 I would much rather have something that can become our "Toad!"

The hill:  I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.  My mountain is not very tall, only 1808 feet at the summit.  On one side is the ocean and the town of Santa Cruz.  On the other is the Santa Clara Valley, and the city of San Jose. People who live around here refer to going from San Jose to Santa Cruz, as  going "over the hill."  Or if you live up in the mountains you live "on the hill."


  1. Nothing worse than car problems that happen "on occasion"...dangerous too! If it were me I would sell it and not put any more money into it..but hard call for sure.

  2. I had a 1992 Safari van and when it got to 10 years old I started to have the same kinds of problems as you.

    I traded it in on a new 2002 Honda Odyssey which now has more miles on it than the Safari but it is still going strong with no troubles at all.

  3. Although it hasn't put you in danger, it has the potential to do so, doesn't it? Hope you find the problem or a good replacement soon. Stinks to not know what is going o when you set out on a jaunt!

  4. Jim said it could be a clogged fuel filter, or the fuel pump going bad. Just a couple of suggestions. I hate it when the car doesn't work. Time to get rid of it, in my opinion.

  5. Too dangerous to have a car with those kinds of problems. You probably hate to get rid of it now that you have just spent all that money on fixing stuff but be cautious of throwing good money after bad. Hondas make good tow cars and they are very reliable.

  6. I agree with others...it's time to get rid of it and get a toad. Check out a Honda crv. You can tow four wheels down with no modifications.

  7. Once you lose confidence in the ability of your vehicle it is time to make a change. Good 'thinking ahead' on the toad idea. Lots of great toad vehicles out there but I would definately find one that is towable with all four wheels on the ground. You don't want to be messing around with cumbersome tow dollys. Our first choice a few years ago was a standard Honda CRV but we couldn't find a good used one so picked up a 5 speed standard Hyundai Santa Fe. Excellent car. We now tow a Jeep.

  8. You need something you can rely on. There are many gently used vehicles out there. Be careful!

  9. I agree -- time to get rid of it & get your toad. We love our Honda CRV & it tows behind our MH like it's not there!

  10. Not a good thing to have car trouble in the hills.
    I agree too, a toad should be in your future.


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