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Chevy Express/GMC Savana



  • I'll help as much as I can with the info about the oil leaks.
    The van is an Imperial Conversion mid level value.
    It has a Vortec 5000 engine.
    I do not tow anything and I live out in the country SW of Chicago, Ill.
    I use 10W30 oil and it is serviced by a GM dealer every 3,000 to 3,500 miles.
    The van is used for normal every day driving and we take 3 or 4 2,000 miles trips every year.
    The thing that really puzzles me is that all of the leaks started at the same time. Bummer!!
  • solarisolari Posts: 1
    I have a 99 GMC Savanna and at 19,000 miles I started to have a shimmy in the steering wheel when braking. The dealership turned the rotors.
    My questions are:
    1. Is replacement o fmy brake far
    2. Is this going to happen
    every 19,000
    3. Any GM recalls?
  • There is no way for me (or anyone else) to determine EXACTLY what caused your rotor problems. The bottom line is, your rotors were warped. Warpage is caused from 2 things...

    1. overheating (i.e. riding brakes, not downshifting on long steep downhill grades, towing with inadequate trailer brakes, frequent hard stops, especially with heavy loads, etc.)

    2. Rapid cooling of hot rotors. This is caused when hot rotors (not necessarily overheated) are splashed or submerged in water puddles.

    Of course there is also the possability that the rotors were defective in some way.

    The only thing that would cause your brake pads to wear would be the scenerios described in #1. If you typically brake "normally", brake pads should last between 20K-40K miles, depending on driving environment (city vs. hwy. mountains vs plains, etc.)
  • I just picked up my van from the dealer last week. It was one of those affairs where nothing seemed to go well.

    I was having some warranty issues looked at. I carefully checking off the box to have it LUBED. I didn't check off the other boxes for "oil change", "filter", etc. I called to see if the warranty work was done. The service writer proudly said, "No but we've changed the oil!".

    When I picked up the van, I checked the dipstick. (a previous experience at a Honda dealer had trained me to check to see if they put any oil in). This time the dipstick showed they had overfilled it with too much oil. After idling for a few minutes. It still had too much oil. I drained 2 quarts out before I got the oil level into the acceptable range on the stick.

    If I were to have driven enough with too much oil, I might have ended up with your situation. Others can fill in the technical explanation. For now my basic description is that with too much oil, the oil gets whipped up into a foam. That foam takes up more volume than can be contained. The result is you end up with oil leaking from all sorts of places.

    Just one of the possibilities for you to consider.

  • I just found this WONDERFUL forum! We are in the process of choosing between the Express or the Savana. I have just about made my self crazy researching these two vans over the last two weeks.We are a growing family that enjoys traveling. I'm not a big one for "fluff", rather must have durability. In the TX heat, I was wondering how the A/C's hold out while the vans are parked & running? I have also looked for used in both . . . basically unheard of (could be frustrating if I can't get a good deal on a "new"). We would appreciate some words of wisdom ASAP. Thank you
  • I can promise you there is NO mechanical difference between chevy & GMC. You can literally take any part from one line & install it on the other. The only difference between comperable GMC & Chevy, is the trim packages. You will notice things like grill, door panels, upholstery, etc. Yes there are a couple exceptions like the yukon denal, but when you consider the details, fenders are just really big trim pieces.
  • The Express and Savana are equivalent as mentioned by Roadranger.

    As for fluff, neither has fluff. Both are fairly plain even at the upper trim group level.

    For durability, I suggest you investigate the power and drive train combinations. The 1/2 ton or 1500 series has a softer ride but has lighter weight features. Consider the 3/4 ton or 2500 series you may find that you get larger brakes, larger transmission, and larger differential.

    So far, after 6 months, I am enjoying mine. I hope you find a van that works well for you.
  • Regarding the TX heat, last August we drove our '99 GMC Savana 2500 SLE 12-passenger - loaded with 8 people and *way* too much luggage - 'cross country for 7500 miles, including through much of the Great State of Tejas. The front'n'rear A/C kept us all cool as cucumbers... :-)

    PS - Our van is a beeyootiful shade of plumber's white (well, GM calls it "Summit White"). ;-)
  • Any comments from folks on the difference in ride between a Savana 1500 and a 2500? We need the seating for 12 the 2500 provides (6 kids), but I am anxious about having too bumpy a ride when we don't have a lot in the van ...
  • We have a 2500 12-seater. I think the ride is very nice up front, however it definitely feels more bouncy to the rearmost passengers (I guess because it has old-fashioned leaf springs in the rear) - but they're usually kids so they can take it right? ;-)

    Theoretically, the more heavily-loaded the vehicle, the better the ride. (I've been keeping a couple of cases of bottled water in the cargo area for added weight over the drive wheels for winter driving.)

    I've never driven or ridden in a 1500, but last summer we did meet some fellow "Edmunds" Savana owners (Hi, Ariel, if you're reading this!) on our cross-country trip. Theirs was a 1500 8-seater with 60/40 swing-out side doors; our 2500 has a sliding side door. The first thing we noticed when we parked our vans side-by-side was how much taller our 2500 is - that's because of the heavier-duty suspension and larger wheels.

    Another point that may interest you was that the step-in height in our van was further increased by having the sliding door: the inside tread is raised because the sliding-door track goes below it. So if you want a 2500 but wish to minimize the climbing-in height for the kiddies, you might prefer to get 60/40 doors (we preferred the slider because there are no visible hinges and we wanted easy enter/exit when parked close to other vehicles). Alternatively, you might consider adding a running board.

    Anyway, I'm very pleased with the ride in our 2500, at least up front! :-)
  • Sixisenough,
    I concur with Midasgold that the ride up front is rather pleasant for these vans. I have the longer wheelbase and that seems to help smooth out the ride.

    The ride/handling out back is different from the front. I know you aren't shopping for the 3500 but to give you a reference point: The rear of my beast doesn't seem to budge when I step my 180 lbs onto it.

    When I carry 12 people, the ride/handling is super and I have better confidence in the drive trains of the 2500 and 3500's.

    I suppose it all comes down to how you plan to use the van and your priorities. You will need to weigh the priorities of a softer ride against the versatility of the 2500.

    PS. I was amused by Midasgold's post about the water--because I too carry a case of bottled water in the back! When I don't tow or haul a load and to get a better car "feel", I believe I really need about 800lbs of water!
  • A 3500 Extend-O, huh? Wish I could see the smirk on your face when you pull up to a traffic light next to a Ford Excur$ion....
  • You have good intuition. Try as we might not to, when we pull up alongside a 'burb or an Excursion the kids, wife, and I do get a bit smug! After all we could have bought another new car with the money we saved and we are still noticeably BIGGER.

    I believe I found the greatest accessory for these vans. I am in the midst of installing this incredibly simple ultrasonic distance detector (Poron). After I saw it demonstrated, I thought this beats those unsightly frensel lenses. Now when backing up, I can tell within 1" how far away the wall is behind me! The device has passed the masking tape temporary install test so I'll spend a bit more time routing the wires this weekend. I'll be able to give a better opinion after I have more than 1 afternoon trying it.

    P.S. I prefer your spelling of Excur$ion.
  • Having trouble finding any comparative data about reliabilty of Ford 250HD versus the Chevy Express 2500 ( with the 8600 lb gross vehicle weight) and the Comparative Dodge van, I guess the Do9dge Ram 250 Heavy Duty? I need a payload over 3000pounds. I just totaled a 97 Ford Econoline 250 Heavy Duty van which had spent about close to 10 days back at the dealers for repairs in its first 2 years so I would like to know if Chevy or Dodge makes a more relible van.
  • I dunno, Bob - all I know is our independent mechanic practically *begged* us not to get a Ford (can't imagine why - he could've made lots of money fixing it after the warranty expired), and loves to ooh and aah over our GM van whenever I drive it onto his lot to check on work he's doing on our old car. The Dodge is a much older design than either GM's or Ford's - but may be tried and true. If your Ford van was troublesome it would make sense to try something else this time around.
  • The master cylinder on my 99 Express started leaking and was replaced under warranty at 22K. So far I've had two warranty repairs, the alternator at around 17K and the master cylinder.

    My brakes were checked at 24K and appear to be wearing fine, with plenty of pad left.
  • I own a 1996 Chevy 1500 Express Full Conversion Van. I purchased this new in April 1997 and have had many problems with it, including electrical (which the Chevrolet Dealer never fixed), loss of engine power, side doors not shutting tight and rattling, sensors, brakes, rear air conditioning, window frames cracking, and just before Christmas had to replace the transmission, all not covered under warranty due to the mileage. I have less than 65,000 miles on this Van, have never towed anything with this Van. I have never had to replace a transmission, especially with less than 65,000 miles!
    I am very disgusted with the poor quality of my Van, the unreliability of it, the poor Chevrolet Dealership Service provided to me, and the poor Chevrolet Customer Service Complaint System. They will be happy to take your complaint, but will they stand behind their product? I would never recommend anyone to purchase a similar Van, much less a Chevrolet.
  • Susan,
    Sorry about your troubles. Makes me want to go out and get an extended warranty right away.

    I am curious about some of the details of your problems. In particular:
    Electrical: what is wrong?
    Loss of power was temporary or chronic?
    Sensors: which ones went bad?
    Rear air conditioning: What went wrong?
    Brakes: What kind of problem?

  • I too purchased a 1996 Chevrolet 1500 Express Full conversion conversion van in early 1997 and folks let me tell ya it SUCKS! I have had more problems with this vehicle than any I have owned in my whole lifetime and I am 40.

    Electrical problems - battery cable, battery plus other problems.
    Noisy fuel pump - Which Chevy won't replace
    Fuel Injector problems
    Dead cylinder
    Rear passenger door hinge (recall)
    Must change front brake pads every year
    Leaks oil and something else.
    Door panels coming alose
    Rattles and sqeeks
    My 35 gallon gas tank (sticker) only seems to hold 29 gallons (wonder were the other 7 gals are at?).
    Starting to idle poorly now (here we go again)

    Now this vehicle gets routine maintance and oil changes. Never has towed anything, has 66,000 miles and is used as a daily transporter of the family with a bi-annual trip to one coast or another. The Chevy dealer never seems to fix the problems correctly the first time so we must often return it several times to get the problems resolved. If it were not for the warranty and extended warranty I would have spent well over $5,000.00 in repair work. Even with the extended warranty I was often stuck with bills exceeding $500.00. The Chevy dealer will listen to your problems but getting them to properly fix them is another story.

    This lifelong GM consumer is currently searching for a new van and trust me it won't be a GM product.
  • Gee, srehme and faninbigd, what can I say?

    Not that this is any consolation, but '96 *is* the first model year of the van's new design, and GM is notorious for lots of bugs in their first-year models.

    I also have long been concerned with the fact that many conversion companies use 1500 vans instead of 2500 or higher. The conversion stuff adds a lot of weight to the van, which has to take its toll somehow or other.

    Our 31-gal tank also appears empty and will then take only about 24 gallons. That may be intentional on the part of the manufacturer to prevent running out of gas. Last summer, we were on a long cross-country trip, and stupidly left a town without refilling our tank. We found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere, with the needle on empty, praying that maybe the next tiny dot on the map would have a gas station, then the next one. We kept going like that for something like 40 miles, I think, until we were finally relieved to find a gas station. So I think there's plenty of reserve in the tank.
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