Chevrolet Express / GMC Savana RWD Van Info thread (All years / 1500, 2500, 3500)

Stevemo

Member
I measured a brand new 155" 3500 6.0 with no rear interior and the centre wheel hub to fender height was 20-3/4" up front and 23" out back. That means my van has sagged 2" over 15 years including the 1000 # of additional conversion weight.

I had been planning on replacing the springs on all 4 corners but I'm rethinking that now. Replacing the coils and adding lift blocks with overload springs may be good enough. I don't need articulation. Back in 2002 when I drove my 1987 Ford E150 through Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala all I wished for was clearance and a stiff suspension. The clearance was for the speed bumps and the stiff suspension was to take the mountain roads at speed. Many of the big vehicles down there had their wheel stance widened for the curves. Realistically, a stiff suspension is better for speed bumps too. I'd rather get launched into the air over repeatedly belly flopping on those monster bumps...
 

Andy G

Adventurer
Hey all. Just brought home our 2017 Express 2500 2wd the other day. It’s got the stock 16” wheels on it, and 245/75r16 tires.
I’ve got to buy new tires before the snow flies - what’s the largest size I can move up to without trimming or rubbing? I’ll be buying the Falken Wildpeak AT3W tires, as I had amazing luck with them on my old Isuzu Trooper, and they perform amazing in the snow.
thanks!
 

Middamiff

New member
Back to the alignment issue for a minute, if I may, I finally got the time to replace my steering parts and get the van aligned and some new tires installed. I replaced the inner and outer tie rods and the idler arm and bracket and got it aligned by a shop that does the alignment for a well respected local high-end off-road shop. The steering tracks straight and feels tight but that wandering/darting feeling is still there. Here are the alignment numbers:

F507EA9A-6A0C-447D-954D-388A46AA0FCD.jpeg

The shop owner said there was no more caster adjustment left. Thoughts on these numbers? Does this make sense with how I describe it is driving? I’m really frustrated with this and am about to pull the spacers out and go back to stock simply to regain good steering behavior. It’s funny, though, because nobody else seems to report these issues after a spacer lift.
 

upsidedown

New member
Is it any more work to swap in a solid axle front? Ride quality is the only thing that will really suffer vs ifs right?
WFO makes a DIY solid axle swap kit for the duramax truck. Suspension is King or Fox coil overs...or some other Mgr.

The kit may be adaptable (with some fabrication skills), to the Express van. Welding to the frame would be necessary at the link mounts and the track bar mount. it comes with a new crossmember that has a t-case mount. Steering needs to be crossover.

Most of the parts and info is on their website for using the Ford Superduty axle and making the ABS and wheel bolt pattern work.

It’s a ton of work to do yourself. Looks like it would run about 16k (parts), once the project is all completed with axle, gearing, t-case, steering, and shocks. But you could do it in phases and add the T-case and driveshafts later.

WFO
 

JeepMI

Observer
Hello all, i have a question about the ac ducting on the roof of a Chevy express passenger van.

im in the process of building out my 2018 Express 2500 into a basic Moto/camper/DD setup and would like to install a roof fan. Curious if anyone has done this in a passenger van? I’m wondering if there is even an available 14x14 spot without air ducts or anything else. I would like to retain at least some portion of the upper ducting. Hoping to avoid pulling the headliner just to check as it’s a daily driver and the headliner doesn’t look like it comes down easy. Anyone have any experience with this?
 
Hello all, i have a question about the ac ducting on the roof of a Chevy express passenger van.

im in the process of building out my 2018 Express 2500 into a basic Moto/camper/DD setup and would like to install a roof fan. Curious if anyone has done this in a passenger van? I’m wondering if there is even an available 14x14 spot without air ducts or anything else. I would like to retain at least some portion of the upper ducting. Hoping to avoid pulling the headliner just to check as it’s a daily driver and the headliner doesn’t look like it comes down easy. Anyone have any experience with this?
The duct work is actually molded in to the headliner. So you can cut in the flat areas between the humps with the air deflectors. I've put an RV roof A/C on two different Express vans. The same 14x14 hole that a fan would require. If you have access to a cargo van without the headliner you can get the measurements to cut your hole between the roof cross support rails. Probably not as important if you're just putting a fan up there as apposed to me put a somewhat heavy a/c unit. The only thing to be careful of is the dome lamp wiring.
 

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JeepMI

Observer
The duct work is actually molded in to the headliner. So you can cut in the flat areas between the humps with the air deflectors. I've put an RV roof A/C on two different Express vans. The same 14x14 hole that a fan would require. If you have access to a cargo van without the headliner you can get the measurements to cut your hole between the roof cross support rails. Probably not as important if you're just putting a fan up there as apposed to me put a somewhat heavy a/c unit. The only thing to be careful of is the dome lamp wiring.
Perfect, just what I was looking for. I'll order a fan up and get cutting. Thank you!
 

erik.ling

New member
Does anyone have resources for aftermarket seats for, driver, passenger, and especially upgrades for the rear bench seats? I know a couple places I have seen have adapters for Econolines but I haven't seen much geared toward the express.
 
That is correct. I installed the 81008 coil springs vs. the 81012 that came with my van. It's the same spring rate but with a 1-1/8" static height difference. But I estimate the result of the front end lift of my van at about 5"! :eek: My thread is in my signature and suspension work starts at post #40. Honestly, it's a little bit too much in my case and I believe the caster angle needs to be corrected. Once it's back out of storage I will have to tackle that.



If I had to do it again, that's what I would do.

The ride is pretty good but with all the mods on my van is difficult to compare it to stock.
I'm in the market for new coil springs because my aftermarket springs have sagged too much and unevenly. I saw the note about the 81012 and 81008 being the same spring rate but the 008 is longer. I need length to go with my setup and I have what's supposed to be a 5.5" lift anyway. You say the 1-1/4" longer 008 is too much lift? Is there another spring with a lower spring rate but same length as the 008? Something like that would sit lower and allow me to take advantage of my suspension travel.
 

rickairbound1

New member
Hello all, I have a 2001 GMC Savana 3500. Someone had previously lifted the vehicle with raised spindles, I want to go back to stock but can't find any. Does anyone here know where other vehicles interchange front spindles with this vehicle? Thanks in advance.
 

sackettmw

Member
Hello all, I have a 2001 GMC Savana 3500. Someone had previously lifted the vehicle with raised spindles, I want to go back to stock but can't find any. Does anyone here know where other vehicles interchange front spindles with this vehicle? Thanks in advance.
Pretty much any junk yard
 

Shane Mulligan

New member
Can someone with coil spacers relay their experience with steering behavior after installation and alignment? I installed the 2” to 2.5” coil spacers in the front of my 2016 Express 2500 with 6.0, installed LT265/75r16E Goodyear DuraTracs on OEM 16x6.5 HD aluminum wheels, and had it aligned. The van had only 63k miles at time of installation. In short, the steering sucks. The van wanders terribly at any speed and I hear weird creaking noises from the front end now, but only occasionally. They don’t sound like typical bad ball joint noises and as I mentioned, the van only had 63K miles on it and the balljoints and rod ends all look and feel fine. The noises are inconsistent and don’t normally happen while turning or over bumps. So strange. I had the alignment rechecked and it is supposedly fine. I’m just about to pull the spacers out and give up on them as the van is a bit scary to drive at highway speeds. It feels like it oversteers badly and/or the caster is way off, but the alignment shop says all is good. Anyone with any spacer experience please help! Thanks.
I had 2” coil spacers put on my 2018 gmc Savana extended cargo. No problem with alignment but it does seem like my front suspension travel is more limited now, especially noticeable over speed bumps. Just weighed the van fully loaded on cat scales, 7680 total, 3880 front/3800 rear. Wondering if front shock extensions or longer travel front shocks might help?
 

Shane Mulligan

New member
Ok question, what typically limits the droop of the front suspension on these vans? After adding 2” coil spacers it seems like the front wheels bottom out more easily over speedbumps etc. If the shocks are usually the limiting factor I’m thinking longer shocks or extenders might help. If it’s not the shocks then that probably wouldn’t help. Wondering if anyone knows so I can find out without actually removing one of the front shocks. 2018 gmc savana extended cargo 2.8 diesel.
 

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