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Chevy Express/GMC Savana



  • That's too much like right!!
  • adeneveadeneve Posts: 2
    I want to buy a conversion van instead of a suburban. Is the transmission in the 2500 better than the 1500? I see that most conversions use the 1500. Should I opt for the added cost of the 2500? Is the AWD in this vehicle new or has it been used in other vehicles [e.g.cadillac escalade]? Also, has anyone used the AWD in the snow? Thanks.
  • fordvanfordvan Posts: 2
    adeneve- I traded in a '99 Ford E-350 van for a GMC 1500 AWD Explorer conversion about 2 months ago. Since then I have driven it in snow & ice on numerous occasions and it has performed flawlesly - especially when compared to the Ford with the limited slip differential. The Ford did OK on the flat and level, even with considerable amounts of snow, but had trouble making it up hills. The Chevy 2500 with AWD has the same 5.3L engine as the 1500 & I suspect the same light duty tranny. I'm not sure if the AWD on the full-size vans has some of the same components as the Escalade, Denali, etc., but the overall design/method of operation is probably similar.
  • I have a 1997 express 1500 and like a lot of you, had my transmission replaced at 45,000, no help from gm or dealer,injectors cleaned and 1 replaced, new fuel pump at 900.00. intake gasket, and 2 rear ends. There is a case action lawsuit for astro vans rear end failing, so why are they not for express rear end or at least the transmissions? I have only found 1 person that has not replaced their transmission under 50,000 miles. My van has 118,000 and after 6,000 dollars in it last year I just stopped driving until loan is paid off.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I agree with the tranny problem, and the tranny shop I spoke to had told me it is not as reliable. However, he said the 2500 and 3500 vehicles have a heavy duty tranny (4L80E) that is the best on the market. It is the same one as goes into the huge commercial cube vans with GVWR of 15,000 lbs. My 2500 has a super smooth tranny, which was upgraded in 2001, before that people complained of a harder shift out of first.

    With only 2 choices in full size vans (Ford and GMC), you have to learn to live with one or the other...they all have their problems. You want reliability, buy a Camry, you want a heavy payload, large tow capacity, see how long your Camry will hold up in those conditions (less then 500 miles I bet) simply have no choices like with autos. Period! The money I save in motels, hauling, etc more then compensates for any repairs (and I have no complaints so far with my 2001 extended passenger van), and the comfort is superior to any car on long trips. As for 2 rear ends failing, that has never been a problem that others mentioned.
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    Just crossed 50,000 mile mark with my 2001 GMC 3500 extended. Transmission feels like it did when new. So does the rest of the van - no rattles.

    My prior 1997 GMC 1500 was starting to chew through its second tranny at the 50,000 mark, and as I posted previously, I was on my third transmission when I sold it.

    On another subject: is it just me or does anyone else think the 2003 Savana front end is ugly?
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    It's not just you, I think it is ugly too, and so is the new dashboard. Styling took a step backwards. I'll wait for the next generation, hopefully this time when they introduce a new generation vehicle it will have a new body like it should have. I so far like my 2001 extended 2500 series passenger van and it's nicer dash and front end.
  • 99 1500 has 65,000 on it and I am starting to see some of the tranny warning signs I have read here. Run on the highway for a few hours, then switch to stop and go and I get rough shifts for maybe 5 minutes after which it goes back to normal. As this is just starting and doesn't happen all the time, what should I do to prolong the life of the tranny? Does anyone know what is going on with the tranny? Acts like it is overheated or something, then goes normal when it settles down.
  • ssackssack Posts: 6
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    At least I hope not - I just bought a 7 year old car with 34,000 miles on it.

    I'd pay a bit more attention to the recommended fluid change interval based on time rather than mileage.

    Oh, and please lose the all caps - too hard to read. Thanks!

    Steve, Host
  • richitorichito Posts: 1
    I own a 2001 GMC-Savanna 1500,350-auto with limited slip 373differential.the actual mileage in my van is 18980. At around 3000miles in the odometer it started making a noise from the rear end. GM has done nothing to repair or take the noise away,and provided me whith an extended warranty to 100,000 miles on this part.

     the problems is that it makes a deep whinning noise that starts at aroud 30mph and increases till it peaks at 47 to 50mph. dealer claims it is whithin normal limits, but you can not hear the radio if the speed is kept constant at this 45/50 area.After 53 it lowers it intensity till about 70 when it starts again.
    It is an annoying type of noise. I do not believe that this is part of the ride of the veh.
     . when my mother rides in our van she has to take her hearing aids off not to go crazy with this deep whinning noise..
    three certified techs have told me that GM should repair the rear end.till now no avail.My car is only 18 mths old and have I have had to endure this already for too long.
    If anyone has had knowledge of this problem in other vans, please let me know of possible solutions and who to contact to solve to this problem
  • I'm planning to order a 2500 passenger Savana or Express soon. I'm replacing a 99 passenger Express which I use to tow a travel trailer. Unfortunately the 5.7L 3.73 rear end does not give me the capacity for towing a heavier trailer.

    The van will be 8 passenger with the Vortec 6000 and 4.10 rear axle. According to specs this baby will pull up to 9,900 I'll have at 1200 of unused capacity if I buy an 8700 lb trailer.

    First impressions on a test drive with a Savanah 2500 passenger standard lenght with 3.73 rear end. Ride was harsher than my Chevy Express 1500. Brakes seem to require a much lighter touch. Dash board is a step backwards with the removal of the passenger grab bar that used to be there. Not good for someone who needs a hand.

    I like the engine room the new front end gives me. Steering seems comparable. Choices for wheels are the pits with no chrome or aluminum wheel available from GM.

    My only question at this point is the height of the van. No one at GM or the dealership can explain why the 1500, 2500, and 3500 vans are all shown as 81.6 inches high. Yet there is a 1.5" difference in the step height between the 1500 and 2500/3500. Ground clearance on the 2500 is .8" higher in the 2500 than the 1500.

    The dealer offered my the ability to take a 2500 cargo van home to make sure it can clear my garage entry. I only have 82.75" available.

    Any of you towing with the 2500 with a 4.10 rear end. What kind of gas mileage should I expect? Currently I tow in 3rd with a 6,000 trailer and get about 10 mpg. I'll be selling the Chevy Express which has 20,800 miles.


    STL Mo.
  • richito,

    My '99 Chevy Express with 3.73 limited slip started its growl about 8 months after I bought it new. I can notice it at about 45 and it increases in volume till about 55. It diminishes very quickly and at 60 you can't hear it. Apparently I have seen other posts about this. Chevy says all is ok so I've lived with it. Transmission has worked flawlessly and I see no difference in noise when I do or do not tow. It does not seem to be load related.

  • caexpress1caexpress1 Posts: 1
    I have just purchased a 2003 Express 12 Passenger van 2500 short wheelbase. I bought the van on ebay at a great price. I have owned Chevy's all my life and have never had any serious I'm hoping for the best again. I happen to be handicapped and use a mobility device which I carry around in the van. My question is this, and hopefully someone will know off hand, or be kind enough to check. I would like to know the depth in inches from the inside of the closed rear cargo doors to the back of the 2nd row bench. I will be removing the third row bench to accomodate my scooter and lift. No one seems to have the answer. I do not yet have the van in my posession. The seller has not been willing to measure the space for me. Could I impose upon someones knowledge or kindness? Thanks in advance!
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    The problem you are describing is almost exactly the same thing that happened to my 95 SE V6 Nissan 4X4 pickup, which I bought new. Right around 3000 mile mark, I started hearing irritating whining noise starting around 45 MPH and disappearing around 55 MPH, but only under load, i.e. with my foot on the accelerator. As soon as I took my foot off the gas pedal, the noise diappeared. Nissan agreed to replace the rear end differential under warranty and they did.

    The new differential was quiet for about 500 miles, and then I started hearing the familiar whining noise again, not as loud as before and ONLY when coasting this time, in the same speed ranges. My differential is a limited slip type.

    It is my understanding that the whining noise is caused by somewhat excessive backlash (play between the gears) in the differential. Whatever the cause, it does not seem to affect the differential peformance and hearing the thing whine only when I take my foot off the gas pedal between 45 and 55 MPH is not that bad. So I live with it. However, I must admit that with the original differential the constant whine under load when cruising was rather irritating.

    Feel free to use my post as a proof that other companies (e.g. Nissan) take care of their customer problems, as they did in my case. They should replace your differential under warranty. In your case, the vehicle cabin probably amplifies the noise even more than was the case with my truck. I would also talk to a differential expert and see if they could at least alleviate the problem by altering the gear backlash by shimming. GM should at least attempt that much.
  • wtaylor3wtaylor3 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 chev express 1500 with a 5700, auto, and 3.73 limited slip. At 7000 miles the rear end started making lots of noise-bearings went out. At 9000 miles it started making noise again. Dealer replaced all bearings again, plus ring and pinion gears. At about 11000 miles horrible noise from rear end. Dealer replaced bearings, ring and pinion gears, axles, clutch pack, and rear end housing. At about 14000 miles more loud noise. Dealer replaced all bearings again. I'm currently looking into a lemon law buyback. You need to go to your dealer and demand that they do something about that noise. Hopefully they can fix yours properly. I give up on mine.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    This is truly hard to believe. If you went to a junk yard and bought a used axle asembly from a 10 year old van and bolted it onto your vehicle, chances are really good that you would never have a problem with it. Rear axles generally outlive the rest of the vehicle and survive for years in good serviceable condition. When PROPERLY assembled initially, they last many hundreds of thousands of miles without any adverse symptoms. I had a number of full size American vehicles in the 70's and 80's with all kinds of problems, but never any rear rear differential/axle issues.

    But seriously, if you were to loose a lot of money on this vehicle just to get rid of it, I would pursue a used rear axle approach because it cannot be that expensive, and axles like yours are easy to find because they also fit many pickup trucks.

    At first I thought that you had an improperly machined differential housing, which would explain repeated bearing failures, but you mention that they replaced the axle housing as well? Did they order a whole axle assembly and bolt in on the vehicle? If I were you I would demand that as the last fix before going to arbitration. Sounds to me like these people do not know how to properly adjust the differential after replacing the parts. Proper differential assembly requires shimming and adjusting the gear contact pattern and backlash correctly. If these parameters are grossly out of adjustment, the differential will fail quickly. Also, the bearings must be pressed in properly to avoid damaging them. This is why you would be better off with a complete factory assembled rear axle.

    I have a boat with a 1996 Volvo Penta SX drive. After about 20 hours, there was a loud knocking noise coming out of the drive with the engine running. Turned out that one of the upper gearcase bearings was pressed in crooked and failed. The bearing was replaced, but the drive was noisy and rattled like a bucket of bolts. They replaced all of the bearings in the upper gear case, to no avail. The noise would still be there. They finally replaced the whole drive under warranty and that solved the problem. Either the old gearcase bore was improperly machined, or they reassembled the parts incorrectly. There appears to be an analogy here because both the boat SX drive and your rear axle contain carefully shimmed gears and a number of bearings. I use this example to illustrate that the best fix in your case is replacement of your rear axle with a new complete factory assembled rear axle.
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    I bought a new Express LT July 27 of 02. 5 days later I noticed a few drips of oil under the differential . I crawled up under and found a small hole in the differential housing that was seeping oil. I completely wiped it clean and put newspaper under it while it was in the garage. About every 2 days I had an oil spot the size of a silver dollar. I made an app't at my dealer and took it in when I had it about 12 days. They said yes there is a leak ( as if I didn't know that !) and it is coming from a hole in the differential which was there at the time of manufacture but was supposed to be welded shut. They said to KEEP DRIVING IT AND IT MIGHT STOP LEAKING ON IT'S OWN.

      I took it home and watched it like a hawk. I took notes , consulted our fleet mechanic at work, called 2 other Chevy dealers and the consensus won't just stop leaking on it's own.

      I took it back and said , I am leaving for Florida towing my 26 ft trailer on Sept 10th. I want to make sure it was fixed. They said they would have to replace the differential housing and would have to order the part. They also said that such a housing is hard to find. They will first have to put a request out to all dealerships asking if anybody has one BEFORE they are allowed to order a new one. I said ,fine , just do it.

      Time went by and I kept in contact and was told that we will have your van fixed before you leave. Bottom line, they didn't find one and had to order it. They said it wouldn't be in til about a week after I left. They applied an epoxy cement over the leak saying this will hold til you get back.

      We left Sept 10th and about 150 miles into the trip I started smelling a slight burning odor. I crawled under and looked to see the epoxy was getting to a dark brown if not black from the heat. We got to Florida OK and were there about 2 1/2 weeks when I started to hear a faint whining noise. After a couple of days it got louder. I called around Orlando and found ONE Chevy dealer 22 miles away ( Holiday Chevrolet in Kissimmee) that said " bring it right over" Everybody else said next week. On my way to the dealer , it got louder and LOUDER. It was embarrasing to drive ! I made it to the dealer , spoke to them and a service tech took it out for a SHORT drive. He said " you are not driving this van anywhere". All of the fluid has leaked out and the gears are about to seize up.

      He made some quick mental calulations and said that the entire rear end , gears , bearings and the housing were all going to have to be replaced . He said that the only part hard to get will be the housing. I had them call my dealer at home and .....they had the new housing on hand. Arrangements were made to ship it to Florida from Pennsylvania and than it was fixed. It took a week ( free rental car) but it was fixed and with another 4,000 miles on it works 100%.

      I informed my now FORMER Chevy dealer that I will not be returning to them for any reason ever.

      I made another Florida trip with no problems.

      I also saw that GM says that the Express does not need a transmission cooler as it has the through the radiator kind. All of the truck tow packages have them but not the van. Anyway, I bought a nice sized cooler and had my own mechanic plumb it in so that it looks stock. Just driving 10 miles it gets so hot you can't put your hand on it.

      Towing my 26 ft trailer which weighs about 5400 lbs loaded with the 5.7 and the 3.73 I get a solid 10 mpg. I run about 62 mph.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    The people who told you that the oil may stop leaking on its own probably do not understand that as oil gets hot, its viscosity decreases and the leak wiill become more intense. There are cases where leaking seals for example swell up and stop the leak, but in this case there was no seal. They could have fixed your problem permanently by draining the differential oil, drilling a clean hole through the differential housing, tapping the hole and screwing in a properly fitting hex bolt coated with sealer and also with a copper washer under the head, and refilling the differential wtih fresh gear oil You would never know the extra bolt is there, it would not be seen. Many differential housings have both a fill and drain plug holes already drilled and tapped.
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    They never offered to repair ( weld etc) anything although I wouldn't have refused such a repair knowing it would likely last the life of the van. They just said they would replace the housing and would have it done BEFORE I left on my long trip. BELIEVING that they would be able to do this ( in a months time) I certainly didn't want to turn down a brand new replacement part on my 12 day old van.

      I spoke to the GM at the dealer and also filed a complaint with General Motors but they said they have NO control over dealers regarding repairs.

      This dealer has a billboard nearby their place. ________ Chevrolet. Great Deals, Great Service , Great People. We'll be there for you !

      I told the GM that the only thing they lived up to was the good deal. The service was bad, the service people were terrible and they were NOT there for me.

      We still love our LT and wish we had the newer V8 but I can't complain about the wonderful longevity and reliability of the 350.
  • midasgoldmidasgold Posts: 65
    Wow, nice to see this board is still active... I used to frequent this place starting about 4.5 years ago when we first ordered/purchased our '99 Savana 2500 12-pass.

    Anyway, after 60K+ miles, the time has come to replace all four of our Savana's original Michelin LTX A/S LT225/75R16E tires.

    These tires have served us very well. While we're inclined to stick to the old tried'n'true and look for the identical tires for replacements, does anyone suggest that we consider buying a different tire this time around for any reason? We do happen to live in the wintery Northeast.

    BTW, Michelin is offering a $50 rebate on the purchase of 4 tires during the month of July:
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    Sounds like your Michelin's did you well. If I was going to keep that van another 60K I wouldn't hesitate to get another of the same. Our 02 Express Lives in the garage over the winter here in PA. I have gotten tires at BJ's Holesale Club. They can be very good when they have their $7.50 rebate per tire deal going.
  • timyaktimyak Posts: 2
    Glad to see this board still gets activity once in awhile. I've noticed that our 2001 Express LT has had a lot of rough or delayed shifting of the transmission over the last 5,000 miles. This is much more noticeable when we are towing our pop-up camper which weighs only 1800 pounds. Judging from some of the transmission problem posts on this board, is this one of the early signs of transmission failure? We bought the van new in May 2002 and it currently has 17K miles on it. Other than that, my wife and kids love it and only the vibrating mirrors are a complaint. Even our gas milage is 15-16 MPG. Thanks for any input. Timyak
  • csmolskycsmolsky Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Express with factory CD6CHANGER. Does anyone know if there is an additional auxiliary input on the unit? The "AUX/CD" button would indicate that there might be, but one always wonders...
  • rsmmacrsmmac Posts: 22
    I assume you already checked your fluid levels; if they have remained OK then it sounds like you have the same symptoms I had before each of my transmissions failed (I went through two on my 2001 GMC).
  • mcsapmcsap Posts: 15
    The Express ( LT) has a towing package which includes a wimpy through the radiator type trans cooler. It is interesting that the 1500 series trucks have a REAL trans cooler parked in front of the radiator. I had one added and kept the original. Just a short drive across town and it gets too hot to touch. Perhaps a worthwhile investment would be to add such a cooler. I paid about $50 for the cooler and about $55 to have it installed.
  • ehoefsehoefs Posts: 1
    I am looking for a full-size passenger van (12-15 pp). Comparing late model Chevys and Fords. Leaning toward G-3500s instead of Ford. Ran across a 2002 Express w/5.7L that is dual fueled (i.e., gasoline and compressed natural gas or CNG). There is a switch on the dash to go back and forth. A couple of questions about the CNG:

    1. Has anyone encountered it? Good or bad experience to report? Wondering about mileage, winter starting, fuel cost benefits, maintenance headaches, etc.

    2. The CNG tank is mounted underneath the floor, just in front of the rear bumper. Yes, it sounds like a rear-end collision bomb waiting to happen, but I have to believe that has been thought through and designed accordingly. But the spare tire has been done away with. And there's a sticker underneath the van saying "don't install a tow hitch on this vehicle" Any way to get around these short of removing the CNG system?

    3. The van seems well priced and has only 2500 miles. Well-equipped, almost to point where price seems fishy. Dealer (Mercury) says they picked it up at a ford auction in MI. Says it was bought by Ford corporate, as they frequently buy competitors' products and study (i.e. spy on) them. Carfax checks out to report sole owner as a corporate vehicle first registered in Dearborn. I suspect Ford was interested in the CNG package.

    4. The sticker under the hood that talks about emission performance on CNG (Quantum Technologies or Impco Technologies) references a "CNG manual supplement for the G-Vans". This is missing (susepct it's still in the desk drawer of some Ford engineer). If anyone has the CNG system, would you be willing to photocopy it for a fee?

    Otherwise, the van is clean as a whistle; hardly a speck of dirt in the wheel wells or under the hood. Like it sat in the garage at Ford (probably being dissasembled and re-assembled) the whole time.

    Any recommendations?
  • I am going to purchase a 2500 express van. I would like to know what the acctual mpg is for the 4.8L and 6.0L, with a 3.73 axle. I drive mostly in the city

    What has your mpg experiance been?
  • My 99 express conversion van sometimes does not start a few hours after a rainstorm and it is hot. If I wait between a few hours up to a day it will start.
    It has happened 10 times know and has been in the shop 4 times.
    It started 4 months after I bought it new and has happened every summer since.
    The dealer says that if they can't re-create the problem they can't help me.
    Does anybody have any suggestions?
  • Does your van not start after you've DRIVEN it in a rainstorm, or will it not start if it just sits there unused during the 100% humidity event? And does "not start" mean it won't even crank over, or does it crank normally and try to start, but just will not fire up?
  • Wow, I'm starting a business and need a cargo van and after reading about all of the problems with the Chevy/GMC vans, transmissions, rear ends, etc, I think I'm going to spend the money on the Freightliner Sprinter. I figure it costs $5000 more but from the look of it, I'll save that in the first 50k miles in fuel and warranty costs. Fed Ex and UPS just ordered 12000 of these vans and now I see why. Many thanks to everyone for their honest assessments and help, I think you've saved me a lot of time, money and aggravation.
  • shortyshorty Posts: 1
    I'm having my third transmission installed at about 80,000 miles. No towing of anything. Love the engine, the ride (custom van), and the shift, but this sudden loss of a transmission with no warning has me very upset. Does anyone have an answer as to what might be causing the problem?
  • Responding to ehoefs posting. We just bought a Dual Fuel (CNG) Chevy Express 3500 Van last week. We too found no Owner's Manual Supplement regarding the Compressed Natural Gas system and how to use it. I've talked to Chevy, to Helm Publications (they say they are out of stock of the $10 item - although I'm still wondering if there even is such a thing) and to three supposed AFV (Alternative Fuel Vehicle) dealers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. None of them seemed to have any experience with AFVs even though their names were given to me by Chevy. No one can come up with any directions on how to use the CNG system. I bought the van with 2400 miles on it and it too was registered to Ford out of Michigan as a test vehicle. We didn't want CNG but got a great price on the van. We're taking it in this week to get an estimate on removing the CNG so we can put in a towing hitch. We're also adding the jack back in and will carry a spare inside the van (hitch, tire, and jack are available on the 2003 CNG vans but not on the 2002s). I'd love to get information from anyone that knows anything about this this CNG Bi-Fuel Express Van. Direct Email can go to [email protected] Thanks!
  • The Van Cranks over fine and it does not have to be driven in the rain just be out in the rain.
    I am leaving for Florida tomorrow I will let you know if it happenens again.
  • I pick up my 2004 2500 Savanna on Sunday. Would like to add custom wheels (preferable 18" or larger), anyone have any recomendations?
  • I started this topic back in Nov'99. I have a 99 Chevy Express and needed to know what to expect in terms of future repairs.

    What I've learned is that this is a very reliablel vehicle. You can search for my posts to see what repairs I've made to the vehicle since any time I did have a problem not related to build quality I posted it. I believe my issues were a bad alternator replaced under warranty (I'm at 88K now and the replacement has been going strong) and perhaps I may have commented about lingering issues with the tailights/dashboard lights that would go out occassionally when driving down the road. Also, I had trouble with the driver side window which every 6-12 months decides not to work on a consistent basis but somehow gets better. Other than that our expenses have been oil, tires, and things the kids broke.

    As far as transmission troubles that permeatted this board in the early days-- nothing. My brother did replace the tranny in his '97-98 and I believe a defect does exist, at least in those years, but these are actually very reliable vehicles.

    What I'm trying to say is that this discussion topic is going to have more people complaining as than praising. I was worried about the tranny going out by 35K or even 60K at the latest, as well as other issues. In the end I have an alternator, a window, and a chronic dimmer/headlight switch issue that I have learned to deal with.

    This vehicle has truly exceeded my expectations and has been the most utilitarean vehicle I have ever owned. This is actually a conversion van but I remove the seats to convert it into a cargo van when needed. I've hauled 1 ton of cypress mulch in it, a pallet of sod, plywood, sheetrock, and anything else you can thing of to finish a basement including toilets, cabinets, trim, doors, etc. Really, Really, a dependable and great vehicle.

    I saw a post back one or two pages ago that said that they wouldn't purchase a GM van based on the comments on this page. I think that's a mistake-- at least at this moment in time based on my 54 month of owning the vehicle.

    For those whose experience has not been as good, please keep posting as it is helpful for all of us.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Nice summary and it's great to have the originator around still contributing. Thanks!

    Steve, Host
  • Like mrh3108, I am quite satisfied with the
    Savana SLE 1500 year 2000, now at 70K miles.
    Only minor problems, not important to dwell into.
    But my next vehicle will be a smaller one if only
    to reduce the fuel consumption and have better
    braking performance. Fortunately I do not really
    need all the space the Savana provided.
  • I just watched a Eaton Corporation Video at Braeger Chevy in Milwaukee. It showed how the Eaton G 80 Diff. is a locking diff. Once there is a difference of 100 RPM the non-rotating wheel recieves 50% of the torque. Great video.
  • I just traded in my '97 Chevy Express Van on a new '03 Express. I also own a '97 GMC Sierra. Both '97 trucks had the same powertrains. Both had the transmission failures described throughout this board. Both caused me lots of frustration trying to figure out why these problems were occurring.

    It turned out to be two problems: One is in the valve body, the other is a stamped metal part referred to as the "sun shell" that carries torque in 4th, 2nd, and reverse.

    In 1993, the 4L60 transmission was introduced as the 4L60E (E=electronic controlled) with a new aluminum valve body. Previous versions of the transmissions used cast iron valve bodys that were absolutely bullet-proof. I don't know all the reasons for the change, but have to think it was to save weight. In any event, the Torque Converter Clutch Valve (TCC) had a tendency in the 96-98 transmissions to wear the bore it slides back and forth in. The round hole would become slightly oblong, allowing trans fluid to leak past the valve resulting in loss of pressure to the Torque Converter lock-up circuit. What happens next is that the PCM, sensing slippage commands maximum line pressure, which results in the hard shift many here complain of.

    Interestingly, the hard shift is actually a good thing. It helps prevent the clutches from slipping as they engage by applying the extra fluid pressure so that they engage quicker with less slip. However, if not corrected, the slippage will lead to burning up the torque converter.

    The fix is to resleeve the TCC bore and install a new TCC valve. Sonnax makes a kit and sells a special reamer to do this. The kit costs $40-65, and the reamer around $75. The whole job can be done in a few hours. Sonnax has a web site, and are good about providing information on their kits. There are also some good technical papers available at the site as well.

    The other problem happened to my pick-up truck at around 68K miles, and to my Van at 72k miles. What happens is you lose 2nd, 4th and Reverse gears, probably experience a big "Clunk" sound. The problem is a basket shaped sheet metal stamping that carries load in 4th, 2nd, and Reverse. There's a splined flange that is spin welded onto the bottom of the basket that transfers torque from the sun shell into the output shaft. After 60000 miles or so, the flange fatigues and the spin-weld fails.

    The sun shell has been a marginal part of the 4L60E, as well as it's predecessor models, the 4L60 and the 700R transmissions for a long time. It just became a chronic problem when the company started mating the 4L60E to the higher output Vortec engines beginning in 1996.

    Hope this helps.
  • If you experience the sun shell failure as described above, have your trans rebuilt with a beefier aftermarket part. One that is available is called the "Beast". I've seen them sold at Transmission parts dealers. They're much heavier-duty than the OEM ones.
  • bobputbobput Posts: 22
    I just bt 99 Savana Hi-top after 4 yrs leased (58K miles)-Agree with gd reliability (replacement tires-Dunlops had 4/4 failures! tread sep-only major problem) Are you still on OE battery? What mileage on front(repl @ 30k)/rear brakes? About to do major maintenance (2 yr) -any particular suggestions from your experience?? Thanks BOBPUT in Tampa
  • Im researching buying a 2001 Express cargo van with the v6 engine...ive found little in the way of reviews, but JD Power gives it some low ratings. I was hoping for some specific feedback to help me make my decision...any comments are appreciated...thanks.

  • ssackssack Posts: 6
    I have a 2001 Savana that has 18xxx miles on it and I have not had any real problems to be concerned about. We took it on vacation this summer and travelled about 4000 miles problem free. I also use it to haul all kinds of stuff from the kids to building supplies and have found it to be one of the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned. I absolutely love it. Don't judge the vehicle by the negative complaints, there are a multitude of positives you just dont hear about.
  • I've a 98 savana with 4L60E transmission. Can I replace the 4L60E with the 4L80 without any major modification to the van? Thanks
  • Fought similar problem for months in '91 Chevy Suburban, w/ several tows and only speculative problems found at shop. I found that pulling up the engine harness as it runs across firewall was a temporary fix - was shorting when wet in hidden area between bellhousing and body sheetmetal. (No need for a hard short - just a water path alone apparently conducts enough to confuse engine control electronics). I removed harness and found insulation breaks from rubbing against edge; split into 2 smaller cables and retaped. No problems since. Water short could be somewhere else in your case, probably away from direct engine heat. While cranking, and avoiding personal injury, try moving cable in various places with a wooden stick, or go along the cabling with compressed air to locate bad insulation.
  • I'm looking at purchasing a new 2003 Express conversion van and wondered what experiences - pro and con that others have had with this van.It has the 6 cyl engine.

    Any comments - suggestions - caveats etc would be appreciated.

  • This Chevy has 100,000 miles and no unscheduled maintenance. While driving on a dirt road about 35 mph, the brake pedal went to the floor and the ABS alarm light came on, then the BRAKE light on the dashboard came on. The brakes were soft but held sufficiently to get a dealer's opinion that it was an ABS valve failure with a large price tag. Has anyone had this type of brake failure on this van?
  • I'm considering a full size coversion van but I can't seem to find much info regarding safety, reliability. Neither Consumer Reports nor NHTSA have any information, but here on Edmunds haven't found advice regarding aftermarket production quality and pricing seems all over the board.

    Email: [email protected]
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Check in Full-size conversion vans and Pricing (costing) conversion vans too, but there's not a lot of info about them on the boards.

    Steve, Host
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