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Chevy Express/GMC Savana

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Comments

  • Oil in the brake system?? What kind of oil? My first guess would be someone who had previously done work on the vehicle such as an oil change and if that someone mistaked the master cylinder reservoir for something else and put in the wrong fluid thus damaging the brake system. Other than that, I have never heard of this problem before.
  • As mentioned earlier, our 97 3500 Cargo van has the 5.7 liter and the 4L80E trans. It is always loaded with at least 600 lbs of equipment,not including crew chief and instrument man. The van had over 95,000 miles and no trouble with A/C or heat in the engine compartment. Our experience is good. Don't know about the 1500's. And also, at least when the company bought this van back in 97' there was a heavy duty 2500(w/ 4L80E trans)(look for 8 lug rims) and a light duty 2500(w/ 4L60E trans)(look for 6 lug rims)available.
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    I posted some comments a while back regarding my 1997 Savana conversion van (w/350), especially transmission problems and brake wear. I was nearing 100,000 miles so I decided to sell it before my extended warranty expired.

    I too haven't seen too much mention of problems with the 3500's; I hope that is a good sign. I have put in an order for a 3500, 8.1 liter, extended wheelbase Savana, hoping that the heavier-duty transmission, brakes, etc. will provide better durability. I will still get an extended warranty, though!
  • Does anybody know about the reliability of the Vortec 4300 V6? I'm thinking about a SAVANA with the standard engine. I don't plan to pull any heavy trailers...
  • Will the 3500 Savana fit into a garage with a 7' tall door? Specs indicate the Savana is just under 7' high. Is that the height of the 1500 or does this also apply to the 3500 and for that matter, the 2500?

    Response to Vortec V6 : Whether or not you plan on towing, I would go with a V8 at the very least in a full size van. Remeber the commercial - "I could have had a V8!"?
  • I had our 97 1 ton company van home and tried to put it in my garage once with 83" from floor to garage door trim and the front fit about 2/3 of the way in,but the back sat high enough that it was close to touching. I may have been able to squeeze it in carefully, but if it had been a snowy day and some snow got packed in due to a drift against the door, the van would have hit the top of the door frame. Simple suggestion, borrow a 3500 from the dealer you are purchasing and try driving it in your garage(carefully, as if you break it, you buy it). My friend's 1500 conversion van did fit better with a couple inches to spare. You have at least 2' in height just because the 3500 has 16" rims and larger 245 series tires compared to the 1500 w/ 15" rims and 235 series tires. Not to mention the heavier suspension on the 3500.
  • I had our 97 1 ton company van home and tried to put it in my garage once with 83" from floor to garage door trim and the front fit about 2/3 of the way in,but the back sat high enough that it was close to touching. I may have been able to squeeze it in carefully, but if it had been a snowy day and some snow got packed in due to a drift against the door, the van would have hit the top of the door frame. Simple suggestion, borrow a 3500 from the dealer you are purchasing and try driving it in your garage(carefully, as if you break it, you buy it). My friend's 1500 conversion van did fit better with a couple inches to spare. You have at least 2' in height just because the 3500 has 16" rims and larger 245 series tires compared to the 1500 w/ 15" rims and 235 series tires. Not to mention the heavier suspension on the 3500.
  • My 2000 1500 savana has been in for warranty work five times. The steering/front end problem is the hardest to understand. The steering did not feel right from the first day I drove it. The feeling in the steering wheel was like something was loose or similar to a worn steering gear,and also a vibration/shudder when turning. The dealer rotated the tires and later replaced the steering gearbox,nothing helped. now I have a tire cupping problem and possible premature tire wear at 9000 miles. Also A vibration when braking,possibly from odd wear on the front tires. Any similar problems or answers. Thanks.
  • My van had 59,000 miles on it and has had several problems in the last 6 months. One of which is a leaky axle seal on the rear end which soaked the brake shoes in gear oil, causing them to stick. The next problem has not yet been repaired. Sometimes when cold while driving at speeds of 20-30mph, the engine will misfire and lose power. It generally starts running normally after about 5 seconds. I have never observed this problem when the motor was hot. Oh, and it is a 350 vortec. The van is a dream to drive, i use it to haul motorcycles, mountain bikes, gear, etc. It is the best driving van i have ever had, to bad it is not built as well as it could be.
  • A dealer tried to pull this on me too. They told me my brake pads were worn out, at less than 30,000 miles. I told them that I didn't think that was reasonable, and that I had never gotten less than 100,000 miles from a set of brakes. I asked that they show me the problem. They asked me to wait just a moment and when they came back, low and behold, all of a sudden the problem was something covered by the warranty instead of worn out brake pads. I now have over 150,000 miles on the same brakes, get them checked at least every 6 months. The master cylinder and slave cylinders are tight, with good rubber and no leaks. The pads still have 1/2 wear left - of course I don't go to the dealer any more to check the brakes.
  • I have a 96 1500 conversion that exhibits a similar problem. When starting from cold, I get the same type of "hesitation" that lasts for about 5-10 seconds, usually about 30-45 seconds after the start. When actually driving the van, this has actually been a problem when turning the corner of my street and accelerating. Once it occurs, it doesn't happen again until the next start up. Of course, the dealer can never find it. I have also had the transmission slip issues that many have noted, where it slams from 1st to second. The computer has always shown the code, and the dash shows the "service engine light", but the dealer has not done anything to correct this problem either.
  • drdinky, does your van have a 350? that explanation is very similar to what mine does. how many miles on your van, and have you ever changed the fuel filter? i am going to change mine today. i have not yet tried the dealer, as i am scared of them.
  • Yes, it is a 350 and the fuel filter has been changed to no avail. I believe it is a computer problem, but the dealer refuses to go there. The vehicle has 56K on it now, but the problem first came up around 45K. It doesn't happen every time, but I would say about 75-80% of the time. It is worse in wet weather, with cold weather coming in second. 2 oxygen sensors have been replaced,as well as the wires. Niether has had any impact on a "repair"
    Between the way this thing goes through brakes, the above mentioned hesitation, the occasional transmission "slip", and the lack of dealer quality, I think I'm going to dump this van soon. It is really sad since I love the ride, and the kids enjoy the TV and all the room the conversion package offers.
    I'd be interested to know if you have experienced transmission problems. If you go back an read past posting you'll see that there are so many problems with that, I can't believe there wasn't been a recall.
  • I'm having trouble ordering the 3500 series Chevy 155"wb van (CG31075) with the "YF7" upfitter option (to be shipped to a van converter) with the 8.1 L engine. Has anyone else had this problem? (or been able to actually obtain the 8.1 L engine?) It seems the demand for the 8.1 L exceeds GM's capacity till at least 2nd Qtr. 2002. It appears you can order a regular cargo van not specifically equipped for "Converting" and get the 8.1 L. Is anyone familiar with this problem?? Thanks!
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    Town Hall Vans
    I do not know about the "YF7" upfitter option, but I ordered a 3500 GMC 155" BB SLE passenger van at the beginning of September through a dealer, and took delivery November 20, with the intent of taking it to a local converter for further customizing. I wanted stock windows and a sliding side door, not after market cut-out windows (less crash worthy? No one is sure, don't want to take chances with kids). I am about to take it in to get the high roof, headliner, TV & VCR put in. I was also going to get 6 captain's chairs put in to replace the front seats and first three rows of bench seats, (leaving the last bench seat in) but over the last 2 1/2 months the stock seats have come in very handy. It is amazing how many people you can bring along comfortably! (With the 15 passenger configuration, 10 adults is a comfortable number).

    It took a long time to get it, but WOW. Knocks those pansy little Excursions out of the water! :)
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    You are worried about the safety of the conversion windows, but you are going to cutoff your roof and replace it with fiberglass?

    This doesn't add up.


    Sounds like a nice van, though. Definitely more more utility and practicality than an SUV in a vehicle of about the same length, width, and heighth.


    If you really want to toast the Excursion/Suburban crowd, throw in your own 4wd


    http://www.quigley4x4.com


    I know, you'll never use the 4wd, but neither do they!

  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    Yes, I've also heard the roof weakens the structure of the van by cutting out a few of the cross beams (the front and back ones remain). I've been struggling with that decision too; the van is very nice as is, I don't want to lose the functionality of the rear air controls, but I had a conversion van before and the headroom (+TV and VCR) are very nice to have. Do you know of any additional safety information available regarding the fiberglass roofs? Any options to counteract the weakening of the roof area?

    As far as the 4x4, you are right, I will probably never need it, but I've thought about it. Just another reason I went with the 3500; I can always do it later if I want. For now, I don't want to invest the $8,000 or so for the 4x4 conversion, and I've not been in any area where a locking rear diff. (and chains, if snow/ice) were not sufficient to get me where I want to be. That and a light foot. The torque is great until you want to get up an icy hill.

    And please note, I live in CA, where you have to elect to drive in snow & "difficult driving conditions" means dodging hundreds of cel phone users & other distracted drivers each day.
  • My '99 conversion began making a loud humming sound a few months ago. The service adviser at the dealer heard and thought it was a faulty fuel pump. His technicians said that the fuel pump was fine and that the sound was normal.

    It didn't show up for the first 18 months I owned the vehicle. Has any one had a similar experience?
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    No I really haven't heard any safety testing on extended roofs. However, the better companies reinforce the roof.

    I have seen literature on ambulances with extended roofs often accompanied with gimacky looking photos with the vans upside down resting on there tops. These are difference creatures than a cruising van's hightop. The ambulances were heavily reinforced due to the dangerous driving habits of there owners.

    Sounds like you are building a great van. I really like the six captains idea. Enjoy it and let us know how the customization goes!
  • I purchased a 1998 Chevy Express Van with 70k miles through a bank that leased the vehicle.

    After one month, the first problem became later identified on GM's technical bulletin as a solenoid fault within the transmission. The local Chevy dealer wanted to replace the entire transmission for $1700. Badger Transmission fixed the problem with a torgue converter for $650.

    Stalling, hesitation and hard starting seem to be quite common with this van. Indeed, the Chevy dealership wanted to rewire the entire vehicle without knowing the outcome.

    I had an independent repair shop examine it. After working on it for a week, they installed a mass air flow sensor for a unit cost of $340 plus labor. That seemed to work for about a month, but the problem returned.

    I took it back to the same shop and they later discovered that the computer was corroded. Express owners, please note that the computer is located in the worst possible place for exposure ~ inside the front left fender, underneath the water bottle. The aluminum casing got so hot from electrical shortages due to water/winter salt, it actually fused the copper pins where the wires connect. A new ECU costs about $700. I got a remanufactured one for about $300.

    The computer still has to be re programmed at a Chevy dealership. While it was there, the service manager tried to convince the auto mechanic that the main problem was due to a gasoline leak that was following the wires to the computer and that the only way to fix it was to replace the wiring harness. My mechanic knew better. (He's my brother).

    I got the van for my dogs. It truly is for the dogs.
  • nlongnlong Posts: 1
    How is your gas mileage with the 8.1/496ci engine? Do you have 3.73 or 4.10?
  • I have a 98 Express van and have had the outside rear view mirrors replaced 3 times. Has anyone else had the same problem? The dealer ruined 2 sets of door pads during re-installation, and want to know if a definite fix to the problem before I have them replaced again.
  • I forgot to mention what the defect in these mirrors was. When driving they wobble/shake to the point that they are useless. The glass just shakes, the body of the mirror is stable. When driving at night the lights from behind me tend to flash me and catch my eye in the most annoying way. Right after they get replaced it gets better, but as time goes on it worsens.
  • I am looking for the tracks for the rear seat on a 2500 or 3500. I am trying to put the 4 seater to the back of my 1500 so I need the tracks that bolt on the floor. so if anyone has it please sent me an e-mail to chowini@hotmail.com. I would like to get it off you.
    Thanks. p.c.
  • jgmilberg has had problems with vibrating side-view mirrors. Another Express/Savana driver in this forum had their mirrors replaced many times. The problem went away after the bug deflector was removed. Seems like the bug deflector redirected the airflow to the mirror or created turbulence causing the mirrors to vibrate. The turbulence doesn't affect a new mirror until after a while when it progressively gets worked more and more loose. jgmilberg do you have a bug deflector?
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    Dear Mr. Long:

    I got the 3.73 and I get just about 11 mpg (10.88 to date at 4050 miles) with a rather heavy foot. My old 1500 conversion never got more than 13.5 (it had a 350 and the 3.73), so I am not shocked, although 11 mpg is abysmal when compared to smaller vehicles. Depends on what you want. I've already had 2 "road / day trips" (300+ miles) with 9 other family members (my wife and our 3 kids, brother & sister in law & their baby, grandma and grandpa) & all our stuff. We all have great fun together, so being together for the trips is nicer than taking 2-3 cars.

    And I can't deny it - I like to drive, I always liked full-size vans, and I love the big V-8 torque and horsepower.

    Best regards,

    Marc
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    I do have a bug gaurd, but had it put on after I had already had 2 sets of mirrors replaced. It was installed after only 14K miles, so I am unhappy with the design and think if a little thing like a bug gaurd would effect the mirrors in such a dramatic way they would figure out what was going bad and beefed it up. In all reality how many van conversion companies install them before it even hits the dealer lot.
  • txvanmantxvanman Posts: 2
    I have just ordered a Savanna 3500 with a full high-top Explorer conversion and the new 8.0 liter engine. I am told the van won't be delivered to the dealer until the end of April. While I'm waiting, I'm wondering if anyone else has taken delivery of such a van. The primary reason I ordered it was to tow a 7600 pound trailer over long distances. The Express 1500 we have now, with the Vortex 5.7 and 3:73 rear end is just not up to the job.

    I ordered the 3500 with a 3:73 locking rear miff. My wife drives the van around town everyday with kids etc. I'm worried that the 3500 will be too tall, too truck like and a beast to drive. Since the dealer can't actually show me one, I'm sort of left in the dark while I wait for this thing to arrive. Any experiences anyone? And if you do have one with the high-top.. how tall is it? The dealer is just not sure.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Here is the site with all the specs on the stock van, www.gmc.com go to savana, then select specs. It is only 2.5"-3" taller that the 1/2 ton. The 3/4 to will do the job but the power of the 8.1 L engine is unmatched, and unfortunatly only available in the 1 ton model. By changing to a 4:10 gear in the rear of the 3/4 ton might make a difference, but no where near the difference of the 8.1L. The 3500 is a really stiff ride in the passenger van version, so I would imagine it would be the same in the conversion. The total height will be determined by your "bubble" top. If your current van has one on it add about 2.5" - 3" to the height. An easy way to do this is to drive it up onto 2x6's stacked 2 high laying flat on the ground, this should give you a really good idea how hard/easy getting in and out will be. Check out the SUV topic under trucks and Yukon XL for more feedback on the 8.1L performance. Find out from your dealer if the Allison 5 speed auto is available, if so for the sake of your wallet get it, it will pay for itself in fuel costs. Adds about 3-4 MPG over the 4 spd auto. Have you considered a Yukon XL? Can get a good ride in the 3/4 ton with the 8.1L and autoride. Just an idea.
  • txvanmantxvanman Posts: 2
    Thanks for your post John, I appreciate the help in determining the final height of my new van. The Explorer rep. did call back to say that the 2001 raised-roof is 3" lower than the 1998 raised roof I have now. So the net gain/loss in height for the 2001 3500 should be about zero. This is good, since it has to go under an 8 ft garage door.
    I did speak to the factory rep. about the Allison 5 speed transmission and was told it's not available in a van. Anyone know if that's correct?

    As for the Yukon, my wife really loves the van. We've had three full size Explorer conversions since 1992. They have all been good vans and excellent on long trips with our 3 kids. The 1 ton should be even better with its ability to tow our rather heavy 26ft camping trailer.
    I'm sure you are right that the 3500 will be much stiffer than the 1500. I wonder if it is possible to change the ride height with a different shock/spring set-up to make it a little lower and easier to get in. Time will tell. We have until April to wait for ours.
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