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Chevy Express/GMC Savana Starting/Stalling Problems



  • my truck does the same thing, its moisture getting inside a crack in the coil... the best solution i found is spray starting fluid lightly around coil, then air off with computer keyboard aerosol spray air.. will be up and runnin in 3 minuts...
  • I have a 96 Express with the vortec 350. it will only start if I hold the gas pedal to the floor. Once it starts it runs a little rough but able to drive. It will cut out and spit and sputter little but still runs down the road. You can shut it off and have to hold the pedal to the floor to start it again. It does not matter if its hot or cold. Seem to run rich. Its not putting out any codes.Things I have replaced and or ruled out. First I have good gas pressure. And spark seems to be good. I just installed the upgraded fuel injection system, fuel filter,cap,rotor, plugs. all new upper gaskets. MAF is good. Throttle body was cleaned and look to be good. Iam at a loss. Have know clue what it could be.It only has 140,000 mile and I have $700 into it now and it still has not fixed the starting problem. Please let me know what you think. Maybe crank sensor or map?I just know and running out of money to put more parts that dont fix the problem. Thank for any help
  • clean fuel injection..
  • hey everyone just noticed most of the issues everyone is having with their expresses or savanas is after the van is warm or hot. here is a new one for you my neighbours express has issues when its cold. the other day i tried to start it to move it and it took all day to get it going finally after almost killing battery i cleaned all contact points inside the cap including rotor finally engine started. however i noticed that two days ago when my neighbour started van it backfired after trying for quite some time anyway to the point of my issue i noticed that once it was going it idled high and very rough, so i had him shut it down and restart it and when he started it the second time the idle was immediately lower and smooth. i was curious as to what sensors actually run at first because i know that the engine was definately not warmed up so it must have been still in closed loop i think. anyone who knows feel free to help as it seems weird that the van on the second try seemed to run perfect.
  • This Cargo Van will not start, if I take out Air Filter and spray Starting Fluid in it starts and runs, is this the fuel pump? I would think if the pump was out the engine would not run at all.
  • Have you checked the Mass air flow sensor, here is a link where you don't need a scanner to check it, it's a few steps but it till save you money and the directions are clear as glass:

    web site:

    Common Symptoms of a BAD MAF Sensor
    This list is not all inclusive but it does contain the most common symptoms of a BAD MAF Sensor are:
    The CHECK ENGINE LIGHT (CEL) on your Instrument Cluster is lit nice and bright with one of the following codes:
    P0101 Mass Air Flow System Performance.
    P0102 Mass Air Flow Low Frequency.
    P0103 Mass Air Flow High Frequency.
    Lean and/or Rich code(s).
    Fuel Trim code(s).
    A tremendous lack of power upon acceleration.
    Black smoke coming from the tail-pipe.
    Vehicle may idle rough and stall.
  • 97 1500 vortec wont start cold it sounds like it wants to start but may take up to 20trys once it starts it runs great and will start all day....any ideas
  • mip3mip3 Posts: 1
  • Having the same exact problem. Every time it rains. I cannot get it to turn over for squat. I initially had a problem with a severe lack of power. Having just bought my 3500 express (short bus) I was working my way through the vehicle. found a spark plug wire completely off. That fixed my power problem. replaced distributer cap all plugs and wires. Also found a bolt on the exhaust manifold completely missing. I am in the process of tracking that down.

    Bigger issue is the darn rain. as soon as it dries up, the thing turns right over with no hesitation. I found the rain guard over the fuse box on the drivers side a little loose. I have just realigned it. I also saw water on some of the connections. Hopefully it is that simple. I heard replacing the fuel pressure regulator works, but can't imagine thats the case here. It seems purely electrical and due to wetness. Any input would be helpful if anyone has a definite fix for this issue.
  • docholiday69docholiday69 Posts: 3
    edited January 2012
    I have an issue I've never had before. I have had the moisture problem and fixed it with the new distributor cap. Two days ago I was driving on the thruway in NY it was raining and the van stalled but then started right back up. Without turning the motor over to start it?
    This happened about 4 times until it stalled and didn't start. I was pulling off the thruway and put it into to neutral and turned the key and it started. I drove about 20 miles and it stalled again, this time it didn't start. I tried several times to start it but no luck. I started my call to AAA and tried one more time and it started. I then drove from Rochester to Syracuse without incident about 70 miles. However this morning we have about 12" of snow and it will not start. Sorry for the long post but thought I'd have to tell the whole story for someone to diagnose it.

  • 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.
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