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Chevy Express/GMC Savana



  • midasgoldmidasgold Posts: 65
    Wow, nice to see this board is still active... I used to frequent this place starting about 4.5 years ago when we first ordered/purchased our '99 Savana 2500 12-pass.

    Anyway, after 60K+ miles, the time has come to replace all four of our Savana's original Michelin LTX A/S LT225/75R16E tires.

    These tires have served us very well. While we're inclined to stick to the old tried'n'true and look for the identical tires for replacements, does anyone suggest that we consider buying a different tire this time around for any reason? We do happen to live in the wintery Northeast.

    BTW, Michelin is offering a $50 rebate on the purchase of 4 tires during the month of July:
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    Sounds like your Michelin's did you well. If I was going to keep that van another 60K I wouldn't hesitate to get another of the same. Our 02 Express Lives in the garage over the winter here in PA. I have gotten tires at BJ's Holesale Club. They can be very good when they have their $7.50 rebate per tire deal going.
  • timyaktimyak Posts: 2
    Glad to see this board still gets activity once in awhile. I've noticed that our 2001 Express LT has had a lot of rough or delayed shifting of the transmission over the last 5,000 miles. This is much more noticeable when we are towing our pop-up camper which weighs only 1800 pounds. Judging from some of the transmission problem posts on this board, is this one of the early signs of transmission failure? We bought the van new in May 2002 and it currently has 17K miles on it. Other than that, my wife and kids love it and only the vibrating mirrors are a complaint. Even our gas milage is 15-16 MPG. Thanks for any input. Timyak
  • csmolskycsmolsky Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Express with factory CD6CHANGER. Does anyone know if there is an additional auxiliary input on the unit? The "AUX/CD" button would indicate that there might be, but one always wonders...
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    I assume you already checked your fluid levels; if they have remained OK then it sounds like you have the same symptoms I had before each of my transmissions failed (I went through two on my 2001 GMC).
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    The Express ( LT) has a towing package which includes a wimpy through the radiator type trans cooler. It is interesting that the 1500 series trucks have a REAL trans cooler parked in front of the radiator. I had one added and kept the original. Just a short drive across town and it gets too hot to touch. Perhaps a worthwhile investment would be to add such a cooler. I paid about $50 for the cooler and about $55 to have it installed.
  • ehoefsehoefs Posts: 1
    I am looking for a full-size passenger van (12-15 pp). Comparing late model Chevys and Fords. Leaning toward G-3500s instead of Ford. Ran across a 2002 Express w/5.7L that is dual fueled (i.e., gasoline and compressed natural gas or CNG). There is a switch on the dash to go back and forth. A couple of questions about the CNG:

    1. Has anyone encountered it? Good or bad experience to report? Wondering about mileage, winter starting, fuel cost benefits, maintenance headaches, etc.

    2. The CNG tank is mounted underneath the floor, just in front of the rear bumper. Yes, it sounds like a rear-end collision bomb waiting to happen, but I have to believe that has been thought through and designed accordingly. But the spare tire has been done away with. And there's a sticker underneath the van saying "don't install a tow hitch on this vehicle" Any way to get around these short of removing the CNG system?

    3. The van seems well priced and has only 2500 miles. Well-equipped, almost to point where price seems fishy. Dealer (Mercury) says they picked it up at a ford auction in MI. Says it was bought by Ford corporate, as they frequently buy competitors' products and study (i.e. spy on) them. Carfax checks out to report sole owner as a corporate vehicle first registered in Dearborn. I suspect Ford was interested in the CNG package.

    4. The sticker under the hood that talks about emission performance on CNG (Quantum Technologies or Impco Technologies) references a "CNG manual supplement for the G-Vans". This is missing (susepct it's still in the desk drawer of some Ford engineer). If anyone has the CNG system, would you be willing to photocopy it for a fee?

    Otherwise, the van is clean as a whistle; hardly a speck of dirt in the wheel wells or under the hood. Like it sat in the garage at Ford (probably being dissasembled and re-assembled) the whole time.

    Any recommendations?
  • I am going to purchase a 2500 express van. I would like to know what the acctual mpg is for the 4.8L and 6.0L, with a 3.73 axle. I drive mostly in the city

    What has your mpg experiance been?
  • My 99 express conversion van sometimes does not start a few hours after a rainstorm and it is hot. If I wait between a few hours up to a day it will start.
    It has happened 10 times know and has been in the shop 4 times.
    It started 4 months after I bought it new and has happened every summer since.
    The dealer says that if they can't re-create the problem they can't help me.
    Does anybody have any suggestions?
  • Does your van not start after you've DRIVEN it in a rainstorm, or will it not start if it just sits there unused during the 100% humidity event? And does "not start" mean it won't even crank over, or does it crank normally and try to start, but just will not fire up?
  • Wow, I'm starting a business and need a cargo van and after reading about all of the problems with the Chevy/GMC vans, transmissions, rear ends, etc, I think I'm going to spend the money on the Freightliner Sprinter. I figure it costs $5000 more but from the look of it, I'll save that in the first 50k miles in fuel and warranty costs. Fed Ex and UPS just ordered 12000 of these vans and now I see why. Many thanks to everyone for their honest assessments and help, I think you've saved me a lot of time, money and aggravation.
  • shortyshorty Posts: 1
    I'm having my third transmission installed at about 80,000 miles. No towing of anything. Love the engine, the ride (custom van), and the shift, but this sudden loss of a transmission with no warning has me very upset. Does anyone have an answer as to what might be causing the problem?
  • Responding to ehoefs posting. We just bought a Dual Fuel (CNG) Chevy Express 3500 Van last week. We too found no Owner's Manual Supplement regarding the Compressed Natural Gas system and how to use it. I've talked to Chevy, to Helm Publications (they say they are out of stock of the $10 item - although I'm still wondering if there even is such a thing) and to three supposed AFV (Alternative Fuel Vehicle) dealers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. None of them seemed to have any experience with AFVs even though their names were given to me by Chevy. No one can come up with any directions on how to use the CNG system. I bought the van with 2400 miles on it and it too was registered to Ford out of Michigan as a test vehicle. We didn't want CNG but got a great price on the van. We're taking it in this week to get an estimate on removing the CNG so we can put in a towing hitch. We're also adding the jack back in and will carry a spare inside the van (hitch, tire, and jack are available on the 2003 CNG vans but not on the 2002s). I'd love to get information from anyone that knows anything about this this CNG Bi-Fuel Express Van. Direct Email can go to Thanks!
  • The Van Cranks over fine and it does not have to be driven in the rain just be out in the rain.
    I am leaving for Florida tomorrow I will let you know if it happenens again.
  • I pick up my 2004 2500 Savanna on Sunday. Would like to add custom wheels (preferable 18" or larger), anyone have any recomendations?
  • I started this topic back in Nov'99. I have a 99 Chevy Express and needed to know what to expect in terms of future repairs.

    What I've learned is that this is a very reliablel vehicle. You can search for my posts to see what repairs I've made to the vehicle since any time I did have a problem not related to build quality I posted it. I believe my issues were a bad alternator replaced under warranty (I'm at 88K now and the replacement has been going strong) and perhaps I may have commented about lingering issues with the tailights/dashboard lights that would go out occassionally when driving down the road. Also, I had trouble with the driver side window which every 6-12 months decides not to work on a consistent basis but somehow gets better. Other than that our expenses have been oil, tires, and things the kids broke.

    As far as transmission troubles that permeatted this board in the early days-- nothing. My brother did replace the tranny in his '97-98 and I believe a defect does exist, at least in those years, but these are actually very reliable vehicles.

    What I'm trying to say is that this discussion topic is going to have more people complaining as than praising. I was worried about the tranny going out by 35K or even 60K at the latest, as well as other issues. In the end I have an alternator, a window, and a chronic dimmer/headlight switch issue that I have learned to deal with.

    This vehicle has truly exceeded my expectations and has been the most utilitarean vehicle I have ever owned. This is actually a conversion van but I remove the seats to convert it into a cargo van when needed. I've hauled 1 ton of cypress mulch in it, a pallet of sod, plywood, sheetrock, and anything else you can thing of to finish a basement including toilets, cabinets, trim, doors, etc. Really, Really, a dependable and great vehicle.

    I saw a post back one or two pages ago that said that they wouldn't purchase a GM van based on the comments on this page. I think that's a mistake-- at least at this moment in time based on my 54 month of owning the vehicle.

    For those whose experience has not been as good, please keep posting as it is helpful for all of us.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    Nice summary and it's great to have the originator around still contributing. Thanks!

    Steve, Host

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • Like mrh3108, I am quite satisfied with the
    Savana SLE 1500 year 2000, now at 70K miles.
    Only minor problems, not important to dwell into.
    But my next vehicle will be a smaller one if only
    to reduce the fuel consumption and have better
    braking performance. Fortunately I do not really
    need all the space the Savana provided.
  • I just watched a Eaton Corporation Video at Braeger Chevy in Milwaukee. It showed how the Eaton G 80 Diff. is a locking diff. Once there is a difference of 100 RPM the non-rotating wheel recieves 50% of the torque. Great video.
  • I just traded in my '97 Chevy Express Van on a new '03 Express. I also own a '97 GMC Sierra. Both '97 trucks had the same powertrains. Both had the transmission failures described throughout this board. Both caused me lots of frustration trying to figure out why these problems were occurring.

    It turned out to be two problems: One is in the valve body, the other is a stamped metal part referred to as the "sun shell" that carries torque in 4th, 2nd, and reverse.

    In 1993, the 4L60 transmission was introduced as the 4L60E (E=electronic controlled) with a new aluminum valve body. Previous versions of the transmissions used cast iron valve bodys that were absolutely bullet-proof. I don't know all the reasons for the change, but have to think it was to save weight. In any event, the Torque Converter Clutch Valve (TCC) had a tendency in the 96-98 transmissions to wear the bore it slides back and forth in. The round hole would become slightly oblong, allowing trans fluid to leak past the valve resulting in loss of pressure to the Torque Converter lock-up circuit. What happens next is that the PCM, sensing slippage commands maximum line pressure, which results in the hard shift many here complain of.

    Interestingly, the hard shift is actually a good thing. It helps prevent the clutches from slipping as they engage by applying the extra fluid pressure so that they engage quicker with less slip. However, if not corrected, the slippage will lead to burning up the torque converter.

    The fix is to resleeve the TCC bore and install a new TCC valve. Sonnax makes a kit and sells a special reamer to do this. The kit costs $40-65, and the reamer around $75. The whole job can be done in a few hours. Sonnax has a web site, and are good about providing information on their kits. There are also some good technical papers available at the site as well.

    The other problem happened to my pick-up truck at around 68K miles, and to my Van at 72k miles. What happens is you lose 2nd, 4th and Reverse gears, probably experience a big "Clunk" sound. The problem is a basket shaped sheet metal stamping that carries load in 4th, 2nd, and Reverse. There's a splined flange that is spin welded onto the bottom of the basket that transfers torque from the sun shell into the output shaft. After 60000 miles or so, the flange fatigues and the spin-weld fails.

    The sun shell has been a marginal part of the 4L60E, as well as it's predecessor models, the 4L60 and the 700R transmissions for a long time. It just became a chronic problem when the company started mating the 4L60E to the higher output Vortec engines beginning in 1996.

    Hope this helps.
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