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Chevy Express/GMC Savana



  • Well this evening will be intersting. I called the service Manager Wed. And they have rebuilt the trans and replaced the TCI Solenoid. They said that was went bad on my 2500. I think I have the 4L60E but since I only saw my van for two weeks in the past two months I am not sure just yet. They informed me that the instrument cluster was all hosed up it failed all the diag tests they gave it etc.. But it has not come back yet. Well they have until this evening to get it right or refund me. If not I am going to the Better Business Bureau and the local News agencies here in town and voice a few things. As well as putting a lawyer on retainer if need be.
    For Mr. Chalik I wish you good luck with the dealerships you find.
    Hopefully some one in the higher headquarters of GM will get wind of this site and read the postings. All I can say is talk to the head honcho of the dealership along with the owner I did and things started to get moving along after a long delay. If that doesnot get the ball rolling go above them to the regional manager or something. I am sure the fine folks who post here have some gouge for you.

    Until I see the dealer wish me luck!
    97 2500 Cargo.
  • According to the literature, the heavy duty transmission comes at GVW of 8,600 pounds and above. This GVW is on the 2500 extended and the 3500's.

    My sticker says my 3500 came with the code MT1 transmission. I suppose somewhere I can find the translation into the model number (such as the 4L80E).

    Mobil 1 transmission fluid exceeds the Dextron requirement of the warranty.
  • Well as of Monday I returned my 2500 Van back to the Chevrolet Dealer I bought it from. They were in breach of contract as per my sales agreement. After a month and a half they still had not repaired all the noted discrepancies it had wrong with it. I gave them deadline after deadline and they pushed me to another one Monday and I rebelled and asked for a 100% refund of my money. After hours of why fors and what nots I got my full refund back and left the dealership.
    I had a very bad experiance with this dealership and do not care to ever do business with them or Chevrolet in general again.
  • You got your money back, as well you should have!
  • Hi again. I've been so busy it's been hard getting everything done. My GMC is the 1500 chassis and the transmission is an electronic control 4-speed auto with overdrive (don't know the model #). I've got the 350 FI V8 (5700 vortec).

    The service dash light comes on and goes off with regards to the transmission. The trans will create the fault code with two consecutive failures and likewise go out with two consecutive passes under the same conditions. I've found that if I do a strong start so that the 1st to 2nd upshift is under some load the trans will shift okay and eventually the light will go out. If I baby it or if I let off the gas as I approach the 1-2 upshift it'll bang into place. No burnt fluid YET.

    I've written a complaint to the FTC. I tried to test the waters with GMC by an online customer care message on their website only to find out it wouldn't submit. Wrote the webmaster and he said they'll look into the problem but suggested I call in. That will happen Monday.

    It's a quandary going to the dealership(s). They have screwed up and know I'm onto them. And if I wanted to trade in the vehicle they would know it's got a problem on the trans and make a ridiculously low offer. I've also found out that hardly anyone knows how to handle conversion vans for appraising value. I went to a Dodge dealer to see what I could trade my van for. My sticker price was $40,363. They didn't know that. They offered a trade in value of just over $15,000! If I could find the same van to buy for $15,000 I'd do it in a minute and buy a whole new trans!

    So I'm hoping to skirt the dealerships and deal with GMC more directly. Anyone have a contact at GMC who may be helpful?

  • Almost all of the transmission problems I have read about here sound too familiar. I have a '96 1500 (before they put EXPRESS on it.) At about 40K on it, the service engine soon light would come on intermittently. At first the only problem was that the van would hesitate and almost stall for the first 5 minutes. The dealer said it was an oxygen sensor(so the code said). He replaced it. Still had the same problem, but now the tranny started to bang occasionally when shifting. Brought it to another shop, they claimed wires and it needed a fuel injector flush (I don't run bad gas.) Guess what? Same problem, but now it was ANOTHER O2 sensor. Had it replaced. You guessed it, same problem. Now they tell me the code came up with a tranny slip (no kidding), but they could not reproduce the code or the malfunction. The dealer said I may need a new valve head. What has that got to do with my tranny?
    I paid darn good money for this conversion van, and have dumped a ton of money into repairs that haven't done a thing for me. I still have 2 yrs left on the loan and only have 55K on it. I don't know what I'm going to do, but monthly payments on another manufacturers vehicle are starting to look better than putting money into this one.
    Any body have suggestion on recourse with GM? (no I did not buy the extended warranty, and no the dealers have been of no help whatsoever)
  • I am new in here, but have read a lot of the postings. All these problems sound exactly like mine, except I've had jusy about all of them! Balding tires, failing brakes, air conditioning and heating, transmission, service engine soon, loose panels, and on and on. The worst part is how many times I need to take the van in for repairing the same things over and over without success, despite trying different dealer service depts.

    It's a 1996 Savana Hi-Top Traveler Conversion by Explorer. We love the van except for the GMC part of it. It's great too when there aren't problems. We've had the engine rebuilt at 28,000 miles under warranty as they could never fix the service engine soon light which stayed on constantly, even after numerous servicing attempts. The O2 sensors were replaced at least 6 times prior to that. Tranny is hard shifting at times, and loses power frequently.

    Our heated side view mirrors vibrate incessantly, and yes, I do have a bug/wind deflector. The driver's side window often would not go back up when put all the way down, until we had the motor and switch replaced. Rear air conditioning blows heat, very day 1, if the front is set to anything but top vent a/c. Even put on front defroster, bi-level, or floor air flow, the rear shoots out burning heat which the dealer said was normal!!!!! Also had a time when the rear fan control did not work unless I pulled and held the emergency brake release out...not easy when you are driving.

    On premature brake replacement and tire replacement at about 26,000 miles, the dealer again said it is normal because it is a truck, a heavier vehicle than a car. Therefore, not a vehicle problem and not a warranty item.

    Like I said, when things are working fine, I love it. But too often, there are problems. With only 47,000 miles on it, I am glad God gave me the sense to purchase an extended warranty!!! Typically, this is a stupid thing to do for the consumer. I just know I will never make the GMC Savana/Chevy Express mistake again in my life. Screw me once, shame on GMC. Screw me twice, shame on me!

    Oh yeah. Traveler/Explorer conversion has been superb.

  • I have 35,000 on my Express and will be taking it in this week or next week.

    The power antennae just stopped working. The only other repair was the alternator at 15-18K and a fuse for the break lights. Brakes made it to 30K.

    Sounds like I will have trans problems shortly but the van is showing no symptoms at this point.
  • I'm interested in getting a 2001 extended Express 3500 LS. I'll be doing some towing and I'd like either the 8.1L or the 6.5L turbo diesel.

    Some questions:
    1) When will they offer the Duramax and/or Allison trans in the vans?
    2) Any problems with the ext. 3500?
    3) How much more does it cost to maintain (i.e. does the dealer charge more to work on a van vs. a truck due to the restricted space)

  • I just bought a 2000 Express cargo 2500 with the 5.7. As I work out of a van I was hoping that this one would hold up better than the 97 Dodge I paid off that was constantly in the shop. It was a nightmare, and I was treated like dirt, as South Carolina has the worst lemon laws and I suspect that lemons get dumped in our state for this reason.

    Anyway, I did notice the hard shift from first to second in the Express. Should I have this repaired, or is this normal? My experience is that the dealership will do anything not to come clean and I would only be waisting my time, with them telling me "we cant duplicate the problem" I think I got lucky with a heavy duty trans and diff. and can only hope this one holds up, as I need reliable transportation. I also noticed a heavy click when the ac was turned on. There is also a minor squeek in the front wheels when driving down a dirt road.

    I paid to have speed control added when I bought it, but they sent it out to have it installed. So I wondered why the factory didn't install the speed control.

    So far with 5,000 miles it is a pleasure to drive and the only problem is the hard shift at times from first to second.

    I am also very careful not to back into anything because with all the new electronics on modern vehicles, one good knock could, i suspect, cause a lot of problems.

    So, what problems should I expect from the 2500 5.7 ? Should I get the extended warenty?
  • Decision to buy and extended warranty should be based on:
    how long you expect to keep the vehicle
    how well you maintain and treat the vehicle (fully loaded with heavy plumbing supplies?, towing?, hard driving?, not regularly checking fluid levels, etc.)
    your expectation of the vehicle's reliability.

    I plan on keeping mine for 8 years.
    I don't expect any GM to be as reliable as my old honda was even though it had transmission problems. So I got the extended warranty. I try to take better than required care of it (easy driving and frequent fluid changes), so I am perhaps paying too much (warranty and extra care).

    Make sure you have written evidence of taking it into the shop for the transmission--especially if you don't get the extended warranty.

    Over 12,000 miles on big problems.

    Hope you enjoy your van as much as I have been enjoying mine.
  • lmp3lmp3 Posts: 2
    My 2000 Chevy Express Van 5 litre V8 uses 1 quart of oil in less than 1000 miles. I am using 15w40 motor oil and the van has only 6000 miles on it. I asked one Chevy dealer and they told this is normal,I dont't think it is. Also out of round brake rotors seem to be problematic with these vehicles, no wonder they go through brake pads prematurely.Richard,Richard
  • Just both a 2000 Conversion van with the Mark III package. I traded in a 1997 Chevy van with Mark III package with 102,000 miles. The only problems I had with the '97 was the door windows not working(Dealer never did fix that problem) and a broken gas gauge that caused me later problems when dealer replaced float in tank and caused tank to leak because they replaced the gasket wrong.
    Other the van was great---thus the decision to buy another--same engine, 5.0 engine. Hope this one is as good as the other.
    The salesman told me the 2000 5.0 engine had more horsepower and torque than the '97 engine. Is this true?
  • wes16wes16 Posts: 4
    I do not understand it but you might try 5w30 and see if that helps your consumption. My Buick will use (burn) 10w30 but not 5w30.

    Good Luck!
  • Caution! You are in warranty. Use only the oil weight the manual says to use!

    Any good mechanic will tell you that, during the break in period, you can expect higher than expected oil consumption as the parts wear-in.

    Keep good records, fill to the same spot on the stick, always measure when the same temperature (hot). Take the records to the GM dealership and they will have guidelines to compare to your oil consumption.
  • lmp3lmp3 Posts: 2
    Your observation makes sense. When the first number of the oil grade or viscosity ends in 5 it denotes a much higher quality oil. Another example of this would be comparing 10w40 oil to 15w40 oil. the 15w40 being a much better grade of oil.I live in the deep South and it is very warm here most of the time. Most vans also have very clostraphobic engine compartments which mean very high motor oil temperatures
  • from philly60 at 19000 the air compressor went 25500 trans would slam 1st to 2nd shift so hard it would hurt your back. service light came on,and they replaced valve body. trans quit at 62400 miles . dealer instaled a factory rebuilt unit, I drove 1/2 mile from shop it quit .2nd new trans still working 2300 miles later.1st brake job 24500 miles. driver side window quit 31000 miles. at delivery the rear was so noisey you here it above radio. 3 rears later from 2 dealers finely got it right. I had bought a 5 year 100000 mile warranty from american mercury ins co for 550.00. they paid 1950. dollars less 50. deductible, waiting for check. this unit has a 350 vortex engine 4 speed auto trans 3.73 rear with positrack. Gas milage is 14 to 17 mpg. oil milage at 65000 mi.has never burned any. oil is changed at 3500 to 4000 mi. 15/40 DELVAC mobil oil is the best is comforting to find out I am not the only one with trans troubles,as dealer claims very few problems.
  • I've seen quite a bit of written about the transmission slipping in 1st than banging hard into 2nd (see #75 for a comprehensive wtite-up). Has anyone had this fixed properly? If so, please explain remedy and how long ago (in miles) it's been since last occurence. Any other comments?
  • I own a chevy express with a explorer conversion package. The conversion package is fine. I have the same a/c cycling problem. The a/c which blows ice cold, cycles every 10-15 seconds. My 1996 did not do this. The dealer tells me it's normal. Yeah right!!! Also, i have had 2 alignments in 6000 miles. My 96 had 3 alignments in 32,000 miles. My 2000 has had 2 sets of tires, a complete rear end and a drive shaft changed for a vibration problem. I feel it was a alignment problem. I love the express van, It has great design, super bright headlights, wide opening doors and you can not beat the 5.7. I have not had transmission problems with either van but I have not had many miles. My a/c problem and alignment problems are the current pains in my butt!!. I did buy the extended warranty this time. When they fix my a/c problem I will post. As for buying a dodge or ford, I feel the dodge is out dated and the ford may have the same quality control problems. I do not think that the big 3 care all that much about the full size van line.
  • After having the first transmission replaced by a rebuilt while under warranty at 17000 miles I have added a trans oil cooler to my 97 Savana Starcraft conversion. I also cahange the trans fluid and filter every 15-20K miles even thogh the maintence chart with the owners manual says 50k. I use this van for road trips only and when in town keep the trans on 3 instead of D. Been informed that it will keep changing to and from overdrive repeatedly while in town driving which can eventualy cause early wear. I now have 50K and still no trans difficulties even though I do tow while on the road. Will keep you up if any changes occur with the trans after all the preventative measures.
    The dash instrument cluster was replaced under warranty after 12k miles still no problems. Had the front end alligned after 300miles they (dealer) tried beg off of this but I found every new car I have ever bought (except my Toyota and Honda) had misalligned front ends and the van was no exception, I was insistent and they did it. (got under and checked).
    Starcraft was great replacing VCR and other minor things on their end. Still no drivers window problem but after reading these stories I remain on the lookout.
    I wish Toyota or Honda made a full size van for conversion but then it would probably use US parts and the quality would be in the pits as GM, Ford and Mopar.
  • Well I finally traded off my '97 GMC Savana and have real mixed feelings. With the transmission still having the 1-2 shift problems off and on, the brakes needing replacing at 46K and a few other odds and ends, I decided now was the time. We babied it until the check engine light went off and took it to a dealer and traded it off for a '00 Isuzu Trooper. BIG change in purpose of the vehicle. If the van would have given peace of mind and no tranny problems we probably would have kept it. Really hated to say goodbye to such a beautiful conversion van. GMC has lost my business from this one. Buyer beware. Whoever buys this van better purchase a warranty or they'll be hurt.
  • Karen,

    Do you ever purge this, or any part of this, list?
    I'm not sure if it's admissible, but this list and the items mentioned may be of use down the road. I find it incredible that the same items are continuously being mentioned, yet GM seems to be very, er, unhelpful.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    Sorry for the slow reply.

    Topics/Discussions over 50 posts are not deleted from the system unless it is determined it contains little/no value, i.e., off topic posts and/or spam. After 30 (or so) days of inactivity, the discussion is frozen and eventually archived.

    Whether the information/experiences posted here would be considered relevant to GM is another matter.

    Hope this answers your questions!

    Vans host

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • Although my company, of which I order the vehicles, is switching to 3/4 ton extended cab 4wd pickups, we have a 97 Chevy Van for our land surveying division. To date at 96,000 miles with a 5.7 liter V-8, 3.73 locking axle, this van has mostly had just regular scheduled maintenance. Chevy build this van right. We highly recommend it and probably would stick with the vans if they had factory four wheel drive.
  • I am assuming this is an aftermarket four wheel drive conversion and not a luxury conversion with nice interior and exterior trim??? Saw a converted Ford E330 once but didn't see a name of the conversion on the van. I prefer factory four wheel drive due to being able to get parts and dealer service if needed after the warranty runs out. Would be interested in seeing Quigley's product if they have a webpage though.
  • I have ordered a Chevy Express 155"W.B., locking diff., 4:10 rear end, air, locks, pwr wind., pwr. locks., with the Vortec 8100 engine too. I have not had too much reply on this vehicle, likely, since its very new and no opportunity for trial yet. One thing though, I have heard that a bug deflector does cause excessive vibrations to the exterior side mirrors at higher speeds. Have you had any reply about your new 2001 3500 Express Cargo van? If so, I would be interested in hearing what you have been instructed. pls?
  • Quigley has been converting vans to 4X4 for over 25 years. They do work for government agencies like forest service, etc. I don't think you should worry about spare parts and service. Their web site is
  • We have a 2000 Chevrolet Express (purchased straight from the dealer's lot) now with 36k+ miles on it. We experienced some shuttering going down the interstate and my husband felt the brakes were sticking. Keep in mind, we have never had to have the brakes system serviced....the dealership didn't even believe us that the pads have not been changed out. So, we took it into the dealership to be checked out. We were told that oil had gotten into the brake system and basically has ruined the entire system and can not give me a probable explaination. $3,000 later we can have our van fixed. Has anyone experienced this?
  • i've just recently found edmunds on the net. i own a 96 savana 2500 with a 305, it's one of the first with a sliding side door and a canadian edition. i have had a number of problems during warranty and after. 1st problem: switch gear for heat and adjustments, i couldn't change from defrost to floor etc.(vacuum hose problem) 2nd problem: total computer failure, some type of moisture got into the computer and grew mould on the components, hence the van wouldn't start(called gm and had it towed to dealer, replacement of computer). 3rd problem: fuel pump quit(left me on a job site and had to call roadside assistants). all these problems were covered under warranty.

    4th problem: front passenger side brake stuck on while working in a remote area, i drove it 500yrds hoping it would release, it did, but then would jam on as soon as the brakes were applied, locking up the brake on the passenger side and jerking the van to the right(collapsing brake line and one set of burnt brake pads) 5th problem:sliding side door, it doesn't open from the inside, i've tried the child lock switch in both positions and it still won't open.

    i love the way the van drives, but the problems are getting expensive. i'm thinking of getting rid of the van, but i don't want another 2500 savana if its going to have as many problems. has anyone else had as many problems, or are my problems attributed to just the 96 model? your responses are welcome.
  • I just had my rotors replaced today at 20k miles.
    Of course the dealer says its my driving and I had
    to pay. No warranty. Vehicle is GMC Savana 1500 SLE.
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