GM fullsize AWD Van Info thread

macexpress

Observer
I haven't put allot of miles on them. I've had them a couple years but they are on a vehicle that doesn't get lots of miles. They still look like new. I've had a couple friends that run them and they get around 40,000 miles or so
 

drsmonkey

Observer
I have a quick question:

I'm about to buy my tires for my van and after reading many post and reviews it looks like the 2 tires I'm leaning on are the Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs 265/70/17 or the BFG K02's . There is a price difference between the both of them with a discount from a friend. The Duratracs are $750 for 4 tires and the K02's are $825.

I do take this van to the beach , but in order to take it there I drive about an hour down the highway each way. I'm trying to think what would be a better option for me. NOTE I DO NOT OFF-ROAD THIS VAN. Any opinions would be appreciated !


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I have 235/85r16 Duratracs on my van. They were on my Tacoma previously. About 25k total on them and still going strong. By far the best AT tire I have owned for all conditions I drive. I drive on ice and snow 4-5 months out of the year, lots of highway miles, wheeling in the desert, mud in hunting season, and they do everything well. If I didn't drive in winter conditions so much they would not be my first choice, especially for highway and sand use. They make some noise at highway speed, and in sand they dig a little more than float unless aired down.
 

86cj

Explorer
Help Boardrider247

There seems to be a lot of questions and confusion around the GM AWD fullsize van platform. The purpose of this thread will be to get as much information as possible in one place regarding these vans. Maybe some day it could be a sticky??
I will make a handful of posts at the beginning as place holders and keep them up to date. If I post something incorrect please feel free to correct me. If others post good information I will add it to the first postings to keep it on the front page.

This thread is a work in progress:elkgrin:
Just a reminder, try keep this thread for info like part numbers and what fits etc.......

Don't fill it up with introductions or your build, do post a link to Your GM build here, there is a vans for sale thread etc........

It just seems like people are afraid to start a random thread about a GM Van in our Camping Van section, GM Vans are welcome here man, don't be afraid..........
 

boardrider247

Weekend warrior anarchist
Just a reminder, try keep this thread for info like part numbers and what fits etc.......

Don't fill it up with introductions or your build, do post a link to Your GM build here, there is a vans for sale thread etc........

It just seems like people are afraid to start a random thread about a GM Van in our Camping Van section, GM Vans are welcome here man, don't be afraid..........
Yes this thread does not need to be the catch all for everything AWD. That being said I don't mind seeing some chatting and it helps keep it at the front.

I try to keep an eye on it and as people add good tech info I will add it to my posts on the front page.
Admittedly I should probably go through and do that here now
 

riNR

Observer
I know I saw somewhere in someone's build thread all the hardware they used for a body lift. I can't find it now. Anyone know the whereabouts of that? Would be good if it was in this thread.
 

TeleSteve

Adventurer
I know I saw somewhere in someone's build thread all the hardware they used for a body lift. I can't find it now. Anyone know the whereabouts of that? Would be good if it was in this thread.
I did a 2" on mine, here is my build thread. I thought it was in the list in this thread, but I don't see it now.
I think Zuren did a 1" on his.
 
Last edited:

macexpress

Observer
So had anybody successful added the outside dic temp readout to their van? I read the discussion on it earlier but didn't know if anybody has got it to work yet.
 

timelessbeing

New member
I'm shopping for a 2013/2014 1500 AWD. It seems most of them have the 3.42 axle. Were they ever sold with higher ratios (such as 3.72) and how common are they?
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
by Dan Grec, Dan Grec
From $19.95
Overland: A Mercedes-Benz Journey Through the Americas
by ri M. Stroh
From $20

Pest

Adventurer
I'm shopping for a 2013/2014 1500 AWD. It seems most of them have the 3.42 axle. Were they ever sold with higher ratios (such as 3.72) and how common are they?
Yes. When we bought ours, the dealer had more 3.73 axles than 3.42. We specifically wanted the 3.42 for slightly better fuel economy.

I think it was an upcharge/special order for the dealer to get the 3.73, and in Colorado it seemed they thought it was better because mountains, and stocked more of those. So maybe you'll have better luck finding them in mountainous areas?
 

edouble

New member
Hey guys, this is going to be a long post, sorry. Just want to add a bunch of data points to this thread.

2014 Chevy Express 1500 AWD Cargo
Interior is built out pretty much just the way we want it.
Exterior has solar panels on the roof, 2 Thule cargo boxes, MaxxFan roof vent.
Van is currently lifted ~3" in the front, ~4" in the rear. Initially I cranked the front all the way up and got 4" lift in front, but the ride was too bouncy, so I backed it down.
Check our van blog for details on interior/exterior stuff. Almost everything we've done is there except for the lift, our current radio and subwoofer setup, a new passenger side interior cabinet, and there's no mention of our current tires. www.vanlifemantra.com

It seems the lift and tires are the most desired information, so I'll summarize our setup in this post.

Complete Parts list:
Suspension Maxx Cam 3" Front Torsion Bar Key Leveling Lift Kit 4X4 4WD SMX-MC2 - $224 (ebay)
GM Chevy Ford Dodge Torsion Bar Unloading Tool - $26 (ebay)
22-907 1992 - 1999 Chevy Suburban rear leaf springs, 2900 lbs capacity, 6(5/1) leaves - $380 w/shipping (generalspringkc)
(U8020) U-bolt reversal, 1/2 ton - $87 w/shipping (offroaddesign)
2 pair of Energy Suspension 9.9132G Ultra Low Bump Stop (keep springs from slapping) - $26 (amazon)
2 of Bilstein (24-186643) 5100 Series Shock Absorber (front shocks) - $150 (amazon)
2 of Bilstein (24-221948) 46mm Monotube Shock Absorber (rear shocks) - $184 (amazon)
Total Cost: $1077

Initially I didn't think I'd need new U-Bolts, but the nuts were right at the very end of the bolts. No threads exposed. The spring pack provides 1 7/8" lift just due to it's thickness. So I got longer bolts and decided to flip them as well, help the axle clearance a fraction.
The brake lines in the rear are JUST BARELY long enough at full droop. There is a clip in the frame that holds the slack when using stock springs, I had to remove that clip with the taller springs.

My impressions:
Stock, the van sucks. It has like 3 inches of clearance. On a few occasions I scraped the front crossmember and the exhaust on the mildest of terrain. The trailer hitch would scrape exiting driveways. The rear end was really sloppy, way too soft. Loaded up, it would bounce and hit the bump stops in the rear going over speed bumps at a crawl.
I highly reccomend new rear leaf springs. Putting blocks under the stock sponges didn't seem like it would help much to me. The ride now is very truck-like. Firm, but not bouncy, not spleen-killing. (It was bouncy and spleen-killing with the front cranked to 4").

Cheers!
All- First, let me thank all of the contributors to this thread. It has been a gold mind of information without which I would not have taken on the challenge of lifting my 2004 explorer conversion van (AWD 1500). That said I had a few additions which I thought either reaffirmed other postings or address some of the open ended questions I've seen or had and not found on the forum.

-Parts list provided above is spot on. I thought I could cheat the system and buy the "white" keys from GM to save a buck but it turned out I already had the white keys in it. Just like the lotto, you have to play to win ;D That said, the suspensionmaxx keys worked as advertised. More on that later.

Before specs- 2004 stock explorer conversion van with 265-70-16" wheels. measured 33" to the top of the wheel well (measured from the ground on the side at highest point above the wheel to the body). I cranked up my current keys all the way up and got to 34" in the front. Installed the rear leafs and it went to 37" (4" of lift as advertised). The old leafs were smoked (~130k on them) and though I soaked them with PBlaster two days in a row I could not get the bolts out of the eyelets. Nuts came off, bolt would not slide through. Found a local shop who completed that swap for $240. A bargain at twice the price IMO. My only regret was not taking it there in the first place (put the new bilsteins on the rear while I was at it). Next I swapped the front bilsteins and saw basically zero additional lift. I'll skip over the false start with the white keys b/c it was clear as soon as I dropped the old ones they were the same. Next I ordered and installed the suspensionmaxx keys on setting B3 (supposed to give 2.7" of lift). Note, the passenger side key was a bit frozen but the same PBlaster treatment and a bit of heat from the torch did the trick...fortunately the gas tank is on the driver side or the heat would have been a bad idea. All total it took me less than an hour to do the key swap in my driveway with jackstands so I'd highly recommend doing this yourself. After install with the screw roughly half way in the front is up to 36.5". I could probably get it higher but would rather have a bit of a forward bias so will let it settle and probably set it to 36". I am noticing a slight sag on the driver side rear (measuring about 0.5" shorter than passenger rear) which I can't figure out since the leafs and shackles are new. I'm thinking it may be a body mount but have yet to find it or maybe it will settle out when I balance the front correctly.

Next is a wheel swap. I'm seeing a fair number of late model z71 wheels for sale at a reasonable price and I like the look. Based on what I've read the offset should fit nicely with the slightly larger tire (~31.5")

Again, my compliments and thanks to everyone on the forum. I'll contribute my two cents where I think it is valuable. Happy driving.
 

zuren

Adventurer
I did a 2" on mine, here is my build thread. I thought it was in the list in this thread, but I don't see it now.
I think Zuren did a 1" on his.
Yes, I have a 1" body lift on mine. I'm not sure that I would do it again considering all of the progress made on mild suspension lifts for these vans SINCE I did mine. Actually, once I have the cash, I plan to install new torsion keys and springs and get rid of the body lift.

I will see if I can find the info at home but the body lift involved trimming the bottom of the plastic engine fan housing, disconnecting the spare tire winch hardware, loosening all of the bolts, lifting the van body one side at a time, installing the new bolts, then rigging up a new attachment for the spare tire winch tube (if you plan to store the spare in the factory location; I would love to get mine bumper mounted). It definitely eliminated some rub I was having but like I said, I would do a suspension lift first.
 

jknight

New member
Hey, i know the AWD Express/Savana came with the 3.42/3.73 Front gear ratio. My rear end has a factory sticker on it, that says it's ratio is 4.11. I have the 03 Savana AWD. Is it possible for me to have a 4.11 rear end with the front gear ratio being so much different? I haven't looked at the parts sticker to see the code, but i'm assuming the axle is original. But from what i understand about gear ratios matching, this can't truly be possible. Or can it? The AWD works great, had a big snow storm here not too long ago, and the van drove just as good as a 4X4.
 

boardrider247

Weekend warrior anarchist
Hey, i know the AWD Express/Savana came with the 3.42/3.73 Front gear ratio. My rear end has a factory sticker on it, that says it's ratio is 4.11. I have the 03 Savana AWD. Is it possible for me to have a 4.11 rear end with the front gear ratio being so much different? I haven't looked at the parts sticker to see the code, but i'm assuming the axle is original. But from what i understand about gear ratios matching, this can't truly be possible. Or can it? The AWD works great, had a big snow storm here not too long ago, and the van drove just as good as a 4X4.
I believe you need to have matching front and rear ratios or the AWD system would tear itself apart.
03 being the first year of the AWD vans it seems possible to me that you have 4.11s all around. 03 was also the only year a 2500 badged AWD was available, making this scenario more likely.

Can you post up your cruising rpm at 70mph? Then maybe we can compare.
 

epinfRN

New member
Howdy, y'all! Long time lurker here. I'm running an 04 Savana 1500 AWD that I started building out one year ago. As time has gone on I've identified a few things I would like to change. Have any of you successfully mounted propane externally on a rear door? I'm not doing things completely budget, but I'm not looking to spend 2500 on just a rear bumper with a galley box. I don't mind punching a hole through the door for propane hose, either.

Also, if anyone has a line on somewhat affordable, metal roofracks (not just crossbars) I'm looking to change up the top as well!
 
Top