GM fullsize AWD Van Info thread


New member
New to the club. Bought a 2003 awd savana hightop. I see alot of good talk about Bilstein 4600 and Supersprings Sumo.
ANY parts store I visit don't list them as being compatible.
Are they a direct fit or any additional mounting hardware/modification required?
I'll be keeping it stock NO LIFT.
I'm looking for the part numbers as well.
Any help greatly appreciated.



New member
Excited to join the Express AWD van fam!

Thanks a bunch to everyone who's shared knowledge and high-quality information. I super stoked to have just picked up a 2003 Express AWD (185k mi) with an Explorer Conversion package from a motorcycle mechanic/racer/engineer in MI. It's got the dual-side barn doors, heated seats, and all the extra bells and whistles (or at least, the 03 version of bells and whistles). Also, I got a lucky bonus, it has a G80 LSD!

The seller added a set of Timbren bump stops in the rear, upgraded the tires to 265/75r16 BFG K02's (@80% tread life) with a size matched spare. I got an extra set of rims and tires. Transfer case and tire rods were both recently replaced.

I had a pre-purchase inspection done, and the mechanic was amazed at the limited amount of rust for a car of it's age from IN and MI. He said someone took very, good care of it, and gave me a clean bill of health on codes, drivetrain, and engine. I'll still have it brought my mechanic for a fluid/fill and check-over.

There are a few warts: A couple rips/smudges/smootze/squeaks here and there. The front suspension is probably due for a refresh, as it rides pretty rough over bumps or I need to air down the tires . There are a few interior lights out, and the radio system is gremlin plagued. All the blower's/louvres for the heat are strong and functional, but the A/C is out. Thankfully, it's winter and I can wait to have the A/C replaced in the spring.

My first set of tasks is getting an underbody rust inhibitor coating, chasing down and quieting shakes/squeaks on the interior that are pretty obnoxious. Then I'll install a lift and will replace the shocks. Depending on how difficult/impractical it is, I'd like to cut off the fiberglass underskirting, running boards, and bumper fascia. Getting rid of that stuff would claw back a couple inches of ground clearance.

My intentions with this rig, are to keep it simple. I have batteries, diesel heater, refrigerator, etc from a previous build of an 03 Sprinter 158" High Roof. I'll use those things so I can basecamp out of ski parking lots for the rest of the season. I still have the Sprinter, but I've been waiting on a new engine for way too long. My former daily driver (07 Honda Accord Hybrid: 270k mi. Held together literally with duct tape and zip ties) is at the far end of it's best days. I'll accept 60% of the liveability from this rig that I built into the Sprinter, for 90% fewer mechanical headaches, and when mechanicals happen, even a far north Maine mechanic will know exactly what to do and have parts in stock.

A few questions:
1. Has anyone done the work to remove the fiberglass underskirting, running boards, faux-bumper, etc? What did you have to do? Was the van two-toned as a result?

2. For the lift kit, I'm planning to just go with the BOR kit. Is there any feedback/opinions of the Fox vs Bilstein and additional helper springs vs none?

3. Swivel Mounts: This van has really fancy seats with a huge bundle of wires powering tilt, swivel, heat, lumbar support, etc. Has anyone installed a swivel seat and been able to keep these functions? Also, the driver's seat has about an inch of play between braking and accelerating which is disconcerting. Is there a a way to eliminate that motion?
Nice find. The ko2 tires, 265/75/16. Were they fitting fine w/o a lift?
Reply here for benefit of the larger community - The BFG's 265/75/r16 fit. There is a smidge of rub on the driver's side for split second if I have the wheels locked turning right and hit a bump. I'm going to also add the body lift kit from Boulder Off Road with new springs and helper shocks this spring when I do the rust work.

Added - The previous owner added timbren bump stops to the rear, and I'm pretty has cranked the torsion keys on the front. It rides a little harsh when I hit bumps/large road cracks in the front. I did have a loose bumper support bar, which exacerbated the sound intensity, but even fixing the, it's still a bit of a rough ride.


Welcome to the club. I have a 2013 Chevy that I love. In fact I love it so much I bought a 2003 GMC similar to the one you've got this past summer. It even has the G80 ( maybe this option was more likely in conversion vans??)

I found some pretty rusted rocker panels when I removed the running boards. I ended up cutting out what rust I could, chemically treating what remained as good as was possible and welded some new steel rockers on. I sanded and sprayed the 5 or 6 inches below the lowest body line with Stone Guard, matched rattle can paint and clear coat. It turned out great and should look good and stay rust free for a long time to come.

I did the 3/4 rear Suburban springs, indexed torsion keys and Bilstein's for a lift on my 2013 and it's a joy to drive. Cruises comfortably at 80 all day and lumps me to some great campsites with no drama. If I can't sell the 2003 before summer, I may end up giving it the same treatment.

I put a passenger swivel in the 2013 and had to lengthen most of the wiring. It's not a power seat so it was just the seat belt and airbag stuff. Worked great as long as it was rotated in then back out. Borrowed it to a friend, they spun it all the way around and tore up the wires. Aaargh!

Page 30 of this thread has links to the lift parts I used.
Where did you get the new rockers from?

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