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Chevy Express/GMC Savana Starting/Stalling Problems



  • When the engine cuts out and resumes running are there any indicating lights flashing? It could be fuel pump, electrical, ignition, or the Power Train Control Module could be developing a problem. If the engine will not start that helps in trouble shooting.

    If you are going to trouble shoot this yourself, I would recommend you have a manual like a Chilton's or Haynes for the van.

    You can check for fuel pressure with a fuel pressure tester, the manual will have detailed information.

    Check for spark at a plug or at the coil. There is a spark plug tester with a clip to secure the test plug to the engine.

    An OBDII Tester may show a fault code or help with the trouble shooting.

    Good luck.

    I take it you live on the north side of the city with that much snow. We got about 4 inches of snow, I live about 18 miles south of Market Place Mall.
  • docholiday69docholiday69 Posts: 3
    edited January 2012
    When it stalled and started the speedometer fell to 0 and the check gauges light came on. My abs brake light is always on so that didn't change.

    I just had my plugs and wires changed about a month ago.

    Aside from the 3 time change of the computer in this vehicle{bad design with water shield it dumps on the computer} and the distributor cap it's been a good vehicle.

    I've had it since 1998. I didn't know it was possible for an auto tranny to restart like that, without turning the key? I had it on a charger most of the day yesterday and it just wont start.

  • I had a similar problem after I changed the intake manifold gaskets. I had a loose ground wire that completed the circuit for the computer. My indicating lights acted funny and when the OBDII Tester was plugged in it completed the grounding and everything worked fine.

    If you check spark on the coil wire and it appears to be intermittent, it could be the crank position sensor or the module in the distributor. With intermittent spark the engine will sound like it wants to start. If it just spins over and there is no attempt to start you need to verify fuel pressure and spark.

    Good luck.

    Don, from Livonia,NY
  • It's making no attempt to start at all. Thanks for the help everyone. I will keep you posted as to what it is.

  • roadracermarioroadracermario Posts: 1
    edited September 2012
    i have an 02 express 3500 5.7 since it was new after running park it and it doesn't start. subsequently changed the fuel injection system (standard f504) fuel pressure regulator evap purge valve fuel line o-rings at manifold cap rotor and wires plugs fuel pump. I still have after all that loss of power rough idle bad gas mileage. I was told that the original cats were clogged i cut them out and inspected but they were fine. I read about your split connector c301 how would this stop the truck from running intermittenly there is no corrosion heat damage etc. At a loss where to go next
  • Check your coil. A lot times you replace a part and the part goes bad because of another malfunctioning part. The spark can look good, but under load Its not enough. Problem is in the ignition somewhere.
  • we bought an 03, 3500 express 6.0 yesterday and drove it home. today it won't crank. when i first started trying to start it, the gauges would do a little dance and then register, then the needles would do a little dance and not register and the radio quit coming on. when i turn the key i can hear the fuel pump working but the starter doesn't click or nothing. we changed the batt, checked the fusses and ohm'd the relay. any ideas ?
  • Ok so as many of you I have had all the same problems. I had poor gas mileage, random stalling, starting problems and also missing at highway speed without a load or under heavey throttle. I noticed my timing was all over the place and the cap and rotor button where in bad shape. I changed the ditributor (a bad rotor button and cap may cause missing but play in the distributor shaft will cause the timing to bounce all over) and put a new cap and button on it. This solved my timing issue and missing at highway speed. I figured perhaps it was the distributor. for the next 2 days everything was great, no stalling and fuel mileage was way better. Then the family and I went to the store and out to breakfast. It was really windy and was blowing the van all over the place. while at speed the van stalled again and as many of you, all componets inside the van powered down. The needles on the guages did a little dance and then everything went back to normal. I drove the rest of the way home and parked the van.

    The next morning I went to leave for work and once I turned the key all the lights turned off and I had nothing. No clicks at the starter or anything sign of life at all. I did some research as I was starting to think I had a coputer problem. As it turns out 1996-1998 GM made the housing of the computer out of aluminum and the bolts that hold it together out of steel. What happens is that the steel bolt heads corrode and break off, the heads of the bolts are on the bottum and when the break they allow moisture to enter the computer. If you look under the master cylider you can see how this could be a bad choice to locate the computer and also how rain could sling onto the exact location of the connectors and front bolts.

    So after reading this information and also watching a video, I removed my computer and inspected it. As it turns out I was not impacted by this problem but did see corrotion all over the computer and decided to mitigate the risk by replacing the bolts with stainless hardware and also using rtv to seal the two halves of the computer case.

    Then I sat down and documented all of my problems and what I was doing once the van stalled and something I found in common, each time it was very windy or I was turning the van to the left. I had allready checked all grounds etc and the battery was only 6 months old so I didnt bother with that. Well that was my mistake. The battery hold down was not tight and when turning left the battery was sliding and pulling on the cables. Even though they seamed tight enough I disconnected the battery and cleaned all connection points then reinstalled it and tightened the hold down snug to insure the battery does not move. Needless to say all my problems are resolved.

    I hope that you get as lucky as I did but if it wasnt that simple I also hope I helped by informing you about the computer problem they are known to have....
  • I would also like to add that before changing the distributor I had the random high idle issue others have had as well. If you have a nice scanner you can graph the timing at idle and I would jump between -2.7 and -27.5 degrees at 654rpm. after changing the distributor the timing looks like a flat line and the engine idles proper.
  • i would like to add what we found. we bought the van and drove it home no problem. the next day i went to start it and nothing. DH got under and jumped it with a screw driver while i turned the key and we got it started. we went and got a new starter and DH informed me that we might of saved that cost if he had made sure the wire connections on the starter were tight in the first place.
  • I have read through all five pages of this thread and saw one comment that describes my issue. Three years ago we were buying a new Enclave and retiring our 275,000 mile Express Explorer Conversion to weekend trips. It had been starting and running rough and was overdue for a tune up. With an oil change I replaced air filter, plugs, wires, cap & rotor. Tried for the next four weeks to start it...cranked like stampeding horses, but would not fire. Tried a few more times over months, but in the end it just sat for the next three years. Two weeks ago my 97 Sierra's 350 locked up. Slow charged the battery in the Express. In 20 degree weather I tried it, cranked fire. Gave it one squirt of starting fluid and it started right up...ran and started fine for about a day, then wouldn't start. Another 1 second burst of starting fluid and ran fine for another day. I changed the fuel filter, but still the same problem. When it runs it runs fine...I was always told that if a fuel pump goes bad... stays bad. After the initial squirt of SF the first time I probably started the van 25 times without a bit of a problem...and it always runs fine after I get it started. For now I carry SF with me...but I am looking for the permanent fix...any help out there?

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 50,525
    Just got a note from on owner with a 99 GMC Savanna 4.3 6 cylinder with about 180k miles.

    His message says:

    "I was having the same problems around 150k miles I ended up replacing the whole distributer. There was play in the gear and shaft that was the problem. May be the answer for others here."

    Moderator - Buying questions? Please include city or zip code and trim you are shopping, FWD or AWD, etc.

  • brianj36brianj36 Posts: 3
    Have you ever resolved your starting issues? We have a 2002 Chevy Savana Van that won't start once or twice a day. Van is in great shape but is our work vehicle. If we follow you instructions above it starts every time. However we cannot wait 20 minutes everytime it won't start between jobs. Can't get it to do it when we take it in to GMC. We are exasperated and running out of money trying to resolve. Please share if you have fixed yours
  • brianj36brianj36 Posts: 3
    brianj36 said: its the passlock 2 system that GM has that basically consists of a specific ohm load within the wiring  in the ignition harness that if the module malfunctions it will cut fuel to the engine
    Have you ever resolved your starting issues? We have a 2002 Chevy Savana Van that won't start once or twice a day. Van is in great shape but is our work vehicle. If we follow you instructions above it starts every time. However we cannot wait 20 minutes everytime it won't start between jobs. Can't get it to do it when we take it in to GMC. We are exasperated and running out of money trying to resolve. Please share if you have fixed yours

  • brianj36brianj36 Posts: 3
    GM designs what's called a passlock 1 passlock 2 or passlock 3 system depending on what year the Chevrolet is. Basically when you put the key into the ignition in attempt to start there are two wires that have to read a specific ohm load what happens is those resistors malfunction which then tells the computer to cut fuel to the injectors. This is actually not a difficult fix. I had to install a remote start system in my Chevy 3500 Express Cargo Van in which I had to trick the system into seeing that specific ohm load. Anybody may contact me by email
    I can send you the repair diagram to fix it I've worked for several automotive security system audio system installations certified mecp
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