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Chevy Express/GMC Savana

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  • momof05momof05 Posts: 12
    Hi,

    I have a '99 Savana 1500, 5.7 liter engine, 43,000 miles, never towed anything, no extended warranty. The tranny is slipping, and when cold, does't want to shift out of 1st gear. The dealership has looked at it, run a diagnostic, and said they think a valve is sticking in the valve body. However, they can't tell more without taking the tranny apart. That alone will cost $300 (which would be deducted from the final cost of the repair if I have them do it right then, while the tranny is opened up, otherwise I'm out $300 if I tell them not to fix it, even if I end up having them do the work at another time). I was also quoted $1200 for a new valve body if it can't be fixed, or $2500 for a new tranny, if necessary. No price quote for a rebuilt tranny.

    I've read this message board, and I know that a lot of the owners here have had similar tranny problems, also at low mileages, like mine.

    Anyone here been able to get GMC to fix it without charge? Are there any secret warranties on transmissions for the Savana (or the same transmission in, say, a GM or GMC pickup truck)?

    The service rep and the mechanic I spoke with were both surprised that I hadn't had the tranny serviced yet; apparently they advise all their customers to get their first tranny service at 30,000 miles. I had been following the owner's manual fairly consistently regarding what services to do when, and the first transmission service isn't scheduled until 50,000 miles. BTW, I bought this van at a different dealership - who never said anything about getting the tranny serviced 20,000 miles before GM's owner's manual says to do it.

    Never had any problems with my mirrors - they're solid. I also never power wash the van. Also, my ac smells musty if I haven't run it for a while, meaning several days to several months.

    If anyone here has any advice or comments on dealing with GM regarding anything I've mentioned here, I would appreciate it.

    Thanks!

    PS - Should I have the tranny work done at the dealership or at a transmission specialty mechanic?
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    The a/c smell is less likely to be a problem if you run the fan (heat on even better) to dry out the evaporator under your dash for a bit before you park. All that humidity has to end up as mildew. Another common practice I have heard is to spray Lysol through the intake vents along the bottom of the windshield while your blower fan is on HIGH. That should kill the odor quick.

    YOur problem with the tranny is common with the 1500 series van, not the 2500/3500 vans that come with the heavy duty 4L80E transmission(not all 2500 cargo vans have this tranny, it must be ordered, while it'standard on passenger vans in this class). I would also prefer a tranny shop to the dealership once your out of warranty. Most dealers do not do tranny work and contract it out and will bill you extra. Unless the dealer tells you they do it themselves, why pay them to send it out.
  • My 97 Sav SLE 1500 also blew a trans at 46,000. Repair bill was $1600 GM paid half. MOMOF35 I would write a letter to GM. If you have been having your service work done by a dealer they might help you with the trans. It seems GM only is concerned about customers that pay for work at their dealers. If you haven't then you won't get anywhere. I had someone help me in GM to get my check.

    My dealer says the 2003 Sav will not be avl until Nov 2002 because of a drive train problem. Problems starting already....
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  • I am looking at a 2002 Express 2500 LS with 5.7 and 4.10 rear axle. I need the 4.10 axle because it increases towing to 8200lbs from 6500 lbs. I need the 2500 (8600 GVWR) for HD trans. and increased payload and braking power. I have a 1500 series now and have had numerous problems with trans., brakes, battery connections...List price is $31,700. I am looking at below invoice ($27,700) plus $2000 reduction in rebate. I will get dealer price Monday.

    Does anyone have experience with the 2500 series in GMS or Chevy vans? Towed with them? Reliability? Should I go to an Excursion or Expedition? Thanks in advance.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I got the 2001 Savana extended passenger van, 5.7L, with 3.73 axle. So far mileage is too low to determine reliability. Unless you really tow a lot, I would avoid the 4.10 axle, a 3.73 will be better on gas mileage and much quiter. Mileage wise I get 20mpg Cdn (17 mpg US). The extended is nice for smoothing out the ride, and the seats are really comfortable. The engine has plenty of power.

    Remember that only the 2500 extended "passenger" vans come standard with the heavy duty transmission and heavy duty axle, it is an option with cargo vans (at least in Canada).

    Good luck
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    They are having more of a problem with the drivers side rear doors than the trans. The trans is going to be lifted from the trucks and suvs so the problems with them should be all ironed out by now. I was told by my dealer that the '03 models will be in in late August with the 8 door models in November. It's all speculation at this point, but I am sure that M is anxious to get the new models out and see their sales go up from the new features they are adding.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    The 4L80E heavy duty transmission is a tough tranny. It is only available in the 2500/3500 series Savana/Express, not in the 1500 class vans which have the light duty tranny, and where all the complaints originate. This 4L80E is also standard in their commercial vans with wheel basis of 150 inches and over with GVWR double what the 3500 Savanas are rated for. IF you look at the new information on the 2003 Savanas, they are keeping the 4L80E tranny (the only thing that remains original )and not pulling them as you said from their trucks and SUV's. Why would they do that when for 2001 they did a major upgrade to improve the torque converter for smoother shifting. A few articles I read somehwere in here had comments by tranny shop owners stating the tranny is very durable.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    The 4L80E trans is outdated and replaced in the '02 models by the 4L85E trans. It has a stronger intermediate sprag, torque converter and a valve body change to make shift smoother. The 4L80E is the trans that I have in my '01 model Yukon XL 2500 series. All of GM's trannys are the same now. The 4L65E is the light duty trans, and is still being used on 1/2 ton models, in the vans, trucks, and suvs. If they are planning on using the trans from the AWD 4L65E Denali/XL trans to run the AWD vans then they are having problems with the Denali AWD trans, not the regular 2WD/4WD trans. Check the Denali/Denali XL board in the SUV section, and you will see the problems they are having. This only pertains to the AWD units, not the 2WD or the 4WD SUVs. I think the AWD transfer case and internals are over working the LD trans and that is what they are working on fixing. I have a strange feeling it's gonna be a band-aid type fix too.

    There is a big difference between the AWD and 4WD systems. Check it out in the SUV section.

    I bet you that they will have '03 models on the lots very very soon. You just won't see the AWD units until the bugs get worked out of the tranny.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    The full article can be found at.....

    www.motortrend.com/news/stories/020306fl.html

    For 2002 the 4L80E remained unchanged for the heavy duty version. Why would they change it after a major upgrade in 2001 (torque converter), then go back to it in 2003.

    _______________________________________________
    First Look: 2003 Chevy Express and GMC Savana
    March 6, 2002


    When GM engineers embarked on redesigning the 2003 Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans the mission was clear: deliver more. With the addition of features like all-wheel drive, a left-hand-side 60/40 entry/load door, and unique side-access panels on Express Access and Savana Pro models, these vehicles should impress even the hardest-working commercial customer.
    "We're delivering more by providing solutions to our customer's individual business challenges," says Dave Kanous, brand manager, commercial vans. "All-wheel drive allows more efficient travel to and from the job site, while left-hand door and unique side access provides improved on-the-job productivity."

    The 2003 Express and Savana also feature upgraded mechanical systems and powertrains to further enhance durability, dependability, work efficiency, and safety. A 200-hp Vortec 4300 V-6 is now the base engine for light-duty G-Series vans in all 50 states, featuring new multi-point fuel injection for smoother, longer-life performance than the injection system previously used in the 49 states outside California. The ugraded "Gen III" V-8 range includes a heavy-duty Vortec 4800, a spirited Vortec 5300, or brutish Vortec 6000.

    With 275 horsepower, the Vortec 4800 V-8 produces 50 more horsepower than the Vortec 5000 it replaces and is mated to a standard 4L80-E four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive. Rated at 275 hp @ 5200 rpm and 285 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm, this 4.8-liter engine is primarily used for heavy-duty service applications such as in 2500 Series regular- and extended-wheelbase cargo vans (8600-pound GVW), or as the optional engine on 3500 Series commercial and motorhome cutaways (available with regular wheelbase only).
    ___________________________________
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    The 4800 in the 3/4 ton models?! Sounds really wrong to me, you can't get that eninge trans combo anywhere else in the GM lineup why would they do it for a 3/4 ton van?!!! If you are buying a HD Van you should be getting the towing and cargo towing ability that you need, the 4800 is under powered for the demands of the 3/4 ton buyers, and I would figure that the 5.3 would be the smallest engine I would want. The base engine in all 3/4 ton trucks and suvs is the Vortec 6.0L why deviate. I have never heard of the 4L80E as a base trans in a 1500 either.

    Torque converter is NOT a major upgrade. It is a simple slip in part that couples the motor to the trans. It just slides into the front of the trans. They had to upgrade the thing because they were eating themselves up. In 2002 the truck and suv transmissions got upgraded, and I can't see why they would not continue to use the beefier trans in the vans. Like I said before the new designations are 4L65E, and 4L85E. These replaced the older models with stronger intermediate sprag, and re-calibrated valve body.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    As the motortrend article showed....the 4L80E remains the tranny in the 2500/2500 full size van line for 2003. Your comment ..."Like I said before the new designations are 4L65E, and 4L85E. These replaced the older models with stronger intermediate sprag, and re-calibrated valve body." I guess the trucks will always stay one step ahead of the vans unfortunatley. I am only telling you what I read in motortrend and other articles. The new designations may be 4L65E/85E, but unfortunately the full size vans will stay behind the trucks for the latest in improvements (and were going to still see the older 4L80E).

    Referring to the tranny as a major upgrade....I meant in comparison to any other upgrades they did on the vans since 1996 (fuel injection, door handles, ignition switch, longer lasting brakes for 2001, etc).

    Oh well, guess we will know the truth when they come off the line. It will be interesting to see one. But looking at the photos, they haven't changed much in looks from the previous generation (still the funny rear lights). I think I will wait till the next generation before I sell my 2001....so far I love it!
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Did they change the brakes for 2001? Are they that much better than the older ones, or did they just change the brake pad material to get them to last longer?

    What did they do to the door handles? I know they have added screws to the inside door handle trim panels to keep them from popping off. Is that what you are talking about?

    I have also found articles in Motor Trend and other mags like that print what they speculate, not what is actually going to happen. For the most part they are correct, but sometimes even the auto maker does not know what they are going to do until it's go time. I am not saying that you are wrong, just amazed that GM would keep building a different trans while they can save money by standardizing the parts/transmissions.
  • I purchased Michelin LTX reinforced sidewall tires for my 1997 GMC Savanna 1500 van. What a difference. No longer do semis shake me when they pass and road handling around curves improved dramatically. If you need tires look at these, they cost more but the safety and security you get are worth it.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Looks like they are changing more than we thought. You can check it out here.


    http://www.gm-trucks.com/ART_2003_pre_express.shtml

  • We are currently considering trading our Toyota minivan in for a full size van. Any suggestions out there would be great since we can't decide between the Savana and the Econoline Wagon.

    Paul
  • My detailed experience is with the GMC full sized van. Reliability for me has been very good or better. Service has been excellent for even the most picky of concerns. I'd consider the 3/4 or 1 ton (2500 or 3500) with a 6.0 liter engine because I like something that is sturdy and adequately powered. I would choose the driver side passenger doors because it is cool and I mostly carry passengers. And if I were in Vermont, I would certainly look into the all wheel drive. Interior trim on the Ford seemed a better quality a few years ago.
  • Hello Express folks,

    I'm writing with some concern to see if anyone else has had this problem --

    I own a 2000 Express 3500, bought in Oct 2000. I took the 3 year bumper to bumper warranty.

    In June 2001, at about 6000 miles, the right rear axle boot started leaking. The dealer fixed it under warranty, and had to re-do the brakes too, as they got corrupted by the oil spray.

    In July 2001, the LEFT rear axle boot went. Same deal -- dealer replaces boot, and brakes.

    At the time, I figured/hoped I'd gotten a "bad lot" of axle boots installed on my van in production. But...

    Fast forward to yesterday, July 2002 -- the RIGHT rear axle boot just went again, at 14000 miles (or, only 7000 mile of wear on this replacement).

    Okay, so I've got until Oct 2003 for free axle boot replacements -- ha ha. The van has been fine otherwise, but GAWD, I do not expect to have to change axle boots every year -- it's painful enough under warranty! It's probably $300-500 worth of work for boots/brakes each time.

    Have other folks had axle boot problems? Is the boot design flawed? Or do I have a lemon rear suspension that kills boots prematurely?

    Speaking of which, I'd appreciate any LEMON LAW info folks may have. Come summer 2003, when I expect another failure or two, I need to know if I have any legal recourse to get a new van, or some agreement from Chevy to replace the boots, etc. Or, if I should buy an extended warranty and cut my losses, etc.

    I'd appreciate any advice/similiar experiences you can share. Thanks! -- bob k
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    It sounds like you have a bad set of axle bearings, and if those are bad the seal will wear out prematurely. I have changed several rear end seals and those that repeated within a year got a new bearing installed in the axle tube and the problem never came back. Some of them were cars, and not all GM either. Ask the dealer to try that if it happens again. They may argue that the truck is being used for sever duty and claim abuse, but don't let them give you that line, just push for the bearing replacement.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    I really like the looks of this, but I couldn't convince myself to buy a first year Ford, Dodge, or GM anything.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I thought with your last post there would be a link to some pictures or something else, what happened? Talking about looks of the 2003 GMC....yuk for the dashboard. All the components from air vents, heater dials, light switches, instrumentation area are identical to the previous generation. It looks like they just cut some holes out on the side of a box and screwed them into place. It lacks curved lines, the top part is straight across. Oh well, I own the previous model, so call it bias, but I do have tastes and to me I think they went backwards with the styling. The rest of the vehicle looks fine, and the longer hood probably will make it a little easier to access things.

    Yup, I agree with not buying a first year model of anything when you have a choice, especially if it's from chrysler.
  • Help,

    We just bought a new universal remote for our Express and cannot program it to the VCR.

    Does anyone know who is the manufacturer of the entertainment system (Audiovox, Goldstar)? No matter what code I put in to the RCA remote, it doesn't work.

    Paul
  • I wrote in June about my transmission. Short story: I took the van back to the dealership, they did a more extensive diagnostic, and said that basically the tranny was disintegrating inside. I know my terminology is not very technical, but the tranny had to be replaced. Cost: $2200, GM paid half.
  • Did they replace it or just rebuild your original? What year is your van?
  • Message #242. "I have a '99 Savana 1500, 5.7 liter engine, 43,000 miles, never towed anything, no extended warranty. The tranny is slipping, and when cold, does't want to shift out of 1st gear."

    Because it is in a 1/2 ton van (1500), the tranny is the lighter duty model. It was not too far out of the 36000 mile warranty. I suppose the upshot is that the tranny in it now is new.
  • I am looking at buying a 95 Passenger Astro Van and taking the seats out and using it as a Cargo Van. Is there any difference between the Passenger and Cargo Astro Van in terms of suspension etc????
  • It's a 1999. They did not rebuild mine, they replaced it with a rebuilt transmission. So it's not my original, and it's not new, either.

    They gave me a verbal warranty - 36,000 miles for the rebuilt tranny, which is the same warranty the original tranny had when the van was new. They refused to give me anything in writing.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    I have seen a few new model vans, 1 cargo and one striped down passenger. I am still waiting to see the new up level grille. The dash looks really really plain and way to flat for my taste.
  • I have seen a 2500 LS Express. The interior is disappointing. They are still using the same fabric and the dash is bland. But my Honda is also bland. I am excited about the 6.0L which bumps up the towing capacity to 7900lbs. I am not sure about AWD. We have a 97 Savanna and never needed AWD. Looking to test drive one soon.
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