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Chevy Express/GMC Savana



  • akjimakjim Posts: 1
    I think you'll be fine with the Monroe shocks. They probably made the OEM shocks too. In my experience (over 30 years of owning/operating vans..) you'll need new shocks about every 20-30K miles, depending upon the load and road surfaces you operate on. Just plan on it... and if you're going to keep the van longer than one shock wear-out interal... best to buy them only once. Older technology shocks did get pretty stiff due to the fluid getting cold and more viscus. Newer designs are not as temperature sensitive.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,036
    My Edmunds Vans newsletter arrived this morning with this tidbit:

    Chevy Express Updated for '03
    Change comes slowly to the full-size van market, but for 2003 Chevrolet has updated the Express van with a new look, better access and better powertrains. For the first time, the Express comes with a 60/40 left-hand-side hinged door -- a big concession to the minivan crowd that allows pass-through access to the middle row of seats. The front end has been restyled and reinforced for better crash protection, and a new range of Vortec V8 engines bumps horsepower on most models; a 4.3-liter V-6 is the base motor. All-wheel drive remains an option.

    Steve, Host
  • I have a chance to purchase 1 0f 2 2001 leftover conversions at a really good deal. 29,000? The only problem with going through this is that I already have an Astro which I'm trading in. The problem with that is it really stinks in the snow. I'm wondering how the Express is in the snow I live in New England where this year has been terrible but I really like my van other than sometimes I feel a little timid about driving it in the snow.The dealer says it goes great(but anything to sell a car) My children play travel hockey and I just don't want to get stuck. Any help or experiences you can give me would be great.
  • kenavokenavo Posts: 1
    I like my Savana van; I would like it more if it were a TDI engine (Turbo Diesel Injected). I drove 3 different passenger cars last March year in France. They were all quiet, fast and very powerful - and they got tremendeous milage. They don't smell.

    Open your eyes out there!

    The GMC Duramax engine offered in the 4X4 sucks: it is loud (it sounds like a rock crusher).

    The preconceived notions of EVERYONE that I talk to about this subject boggle the mind. The auto industry here is behind the eight ball-as usual. Every SUV on the road here should have a diesel TDI option.
  • wsc9ttwsc9tt Posts: 3
    I just bought an Extended Express 3500 so that
    is bigger than the conversion you are considering, but I have to say that the snow traction is horrible. I got stuck in the middle of a snow covered road on a mild incline. The rear just spins and can't get traction. Extra weight helps, so now I have an extra 400 pounds of softener salt store behind the back seat and that helps.

    I suspect a limited slip differential would help alot. I have considered adding one, it seems you can do it aftermarket for ~$400-500.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    No limited slip differential. I haven't had my 2500 Savana extended passenger van (with limited slip) in heavy deep snow, but it handled itself well on snowy roads. Two wheel drive gives twice the traction over one wheel drive.It's a lot of weight to push (3 tons) with only one wheel in snow or sand to do the work, traction has to give way.
  • The term you are looking for is a locking differential. You have a limited slip differential if only one tire spins. Locking differential spins both tires so if one slips the power don't go all to that side, the path of least resistance.

    If you are running the factory tires that is another slip factor. What tires came on the van Tombstone Steeltex? I had those on my 2500 4WD Yukon XL, they really performed poorly even in 4 WD they slid all over the place.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    Your right, locking differential is the correct term (confirmed it at the GM site). It makes a BIG difference in snow. The term limited slip was used in the article previous to mine, guess I got confused.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271

    Open differential is the standard diff. If one rear tire loses traction, you're not going anywhere.

    Limited slip an option on most trucks and vans. Limited slip will send SOME torque--like 1/4 to 1/3-- to the other tire when one tire slips. For some reason, GM calls its limited slip a "locking differential." It is not, but it sounds better I suppose. Your factory limited slip will wear out within 30-40,000 miles or so and will need to be rebuild (clutch packs). Also, make sure that any grease put in your rear axle has the limited slip additive.

    Locked diffs are not available from the factory anymore (but they used to be available on serious 4wds-- landcruiser etc). They are available for most fullsize vans and trucks, from aftermarket sources, but make some noise when engaging and disengaging. The normal state of affairs is that both tires are spinning with equal torque while the vehicle is driving straight ahead. If the vehicle makes then the differential must unlock, making the noise I mentioned. Most modern ones aren't very noticeable.

    Differential info is here:
  • Yep mrnimmo is correct, GM does label it wrong as far as "locking" term goes. What you are talking about is the famous Detroit locker, GM stopped putting that in because of noise complaints, then deemed the "posi-trac" a "locking" differential. The lockers are still available aftermarket through companies like DTS or Power Trax.

    As far as mileage goes I have 47K on my YXL and still get both tires going on ice/snow/water, I guess it depends on how often you need the extra traction.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    >What you are talking about is the famous Detroit locker, GM stopped putting that in because of noise complaints,

    Funny, I've been in trucks with these and I never thought the sound was obtrusive or that the locking and unlocking was noticeable. Of course, maybe I'm just getting old.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    >As far as mileage goes I have 47K on my YXL and still get both tires going on ice/snow/water, I guess it depends on how often you need the extra traction.

    I don't think you will notice if the LSD wears out, unless you test it in low traction situations. I don't know, off-hand, how to safely do this. (Jacking up one rear wheel and putting the vehicle in drive would be an UNSAFE example of how to do it.)
  • When cornering and the differential unlocks to allow the wheels to turn at different speeds while cornering it clicks loudly. In a truck you probably wouldn't notice it but in an SUV where the cab is over the differential it would be heard. In the old muscle cars with the Detroit Locker you can for sure hear it clicking around corners.
  • If you properly maintain the thing it will last a long time. I changed the original fluid at 15K to synth, and then again at 40K just to play it safe. Most people don't mess with the rear end unless it gives them trouble, that's where the big mistake is. Treat the rear end to regular oil changes like your engine and it will give you a long long service life, posi or no posi.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    The clutch type limited slip differential is the most common traction enhancing device. It is the cheapest, but also the least capable. It uses a clutch or clutch pack to couple the axle shafts when the speed becomes too different between the two sides. The clutch does not transmit all the available torque when new and becomes less effective with time, eventually becoming effectively an open differential. The clutch must be replaced periodically. Special lubricants must be used in these differentials to increase the friction on the clutch.


    Changing the gear oil is great, so long as you add a gear oil formulated for a LSD. But the clutch packs will still wear out a long, long time before the rear end fails.
  • I am in the market for a larger Van. I currently have a 98 Astro and other than the "old fuel injector problem", I am happy with it.

    I was leaning towards the E-350 and the 6.8 V-10 due to more power. It seems after reading both the E-350 and 3500 Discussion Boards the 3500 has more problems then the E-350.

    BUT I like the wider wheel base the 3500 has for towing and it has slightly more total cargo/ pass. room but (again) it only comes with the 6 liter ie: 366 cu. in. I will be pulling a 7k TT. so I don't think the 6 liter can match the 6.8 liter ie: 414 cu. in. V-10. on the hills out west.

    Open for suggestions ??????????????????
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,036
    Some members were talking about towing (with an SUV) and the "consensus" was that there was no replacement for displacement, even if the torque curves for 2 motors is similar. That's a big trailer you're pulling....

    Steve, Host
  • I e-mailed Chevy about only 1 engine for the 3500 ie: 6 liter. Their reply could be taken to imply they will have a new engine for 2004. Does anybody have more info on this or was I reading something into the e-mail that doesn't exist ???
  • They have changed the frame design for the '03 models to fit in the new V8 engines, now they have to reverse engineer the thing to make the 8.1L fit in the van again. If you are lucky enough you might be able to find an '02 model with the 8.1L. I am sure they are working on a way to get the larger 8.1L in the van, but I think they might be running into problems with the AWD set up.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    They have changed the frame design for the '03 models to fit in the new V8 engines, now they have to reverse engineer the thing to make the 8.1L fit in the van again.

    Wouldn't it be easier if the engineers just talked to each other ahead of time?
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