Seeking advice on a Chevy Express / GMC Savana

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KuxW04

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Hello everybody, new to the community.

I am a few years away from retirement and thinking to buy a Chevy Express cargo van and slowly make it into a camper / travel van.
Depending on the situation, upon retirtement this might become (at least temporarily) my home, but primarily this will be a travelling vehicle.

Also this wil be my daily driver as I mod it.

I am looking at a 2500 6.6L with a 6 speed HD transmission and diff lock, will not consider the V6.
Is the extended version much harder to maneuver than the standard size ?

OPTION 1 - BUY NEW: Since I have a few more years of working I could finance and buy new.
My concerns are engine and transmission reliability on the new vans – will do basic maintenance myself.

Also the 6.6L seems a gigantic displacement for an engine, will I go bankrupt from buying gasoline ? :)

What is your advice.

OPTION 2 – BUY USED: Another option is to buy used, I understand the previous engines / transmissions have beed reliable (6.0L gasoline), but I am concerned about oil consumption, transmission etc., since I will not know how the car was maintained.

Any info appreciated.
 

peteg59

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If you are looking at the lowest maintenance option and your financial situation can support it, buy new.
The warranty security goes a long way, since most folks simply can't work on their vehicles themselves.

While not personally knowing your mechanical ability, anything beyond basic fluid changes on most all new vehicles is beyond owner friendly...
 
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KuxW04

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I can do all fluids maintenance and maybe a basic break job.
I am ok paying a mechanig to do more advanced jobs if needed.
I am trying to stay away from all the electronics and driver assist stuff.

How is the 6.6L, I understand this is a new design ?
Also, the 6 speed HD transmission is the same as in the older models or it is a new design as well ?
 

Giggles

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I have a chevy 1500 and it hasn't really given me any problems....I'm really happy with it. The only thing I wish is that it could tow more, in case I want to tow a trailer. Right now, if I want to tow something, I have to go with something really, really light, so I'm thinking of making my own trailer with poor man's fiberglass.

So if you want to tow a trailer, go with the 2500 or 3500.

In general, I love my Chevy van. :)
 

KuxW04

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@Giggles - is your van V6 engine ?

I don't plan to tow but would like to havve the option, never kn ow what the future brings.

The point is, now that I have a job I can buy something that will probably exceed my needs, but give me more options on the future.

I understand the V6 is underpowered and not recommended ?
 
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We have a 2020 Express Extended. It is long at just over 20'. Only time length is noticed is on a tight U turn. However the extra length inside makes it always worth it for us. We have the 6.0 engine. The new vans that have the 6.6 I have only heard great things about it. Lots of power and better mpg then our 6.0. We just drove over 1500 miles from 200' elevation to over 10K feet elevation and up and down over and over. Stayed off all major Interstates. Fully loaded and have a 24" high top with a side awning. Our ave. mpg was 17.6 for the entire trip. We also stayed away from the 4.3 V6 however it is also a great engine. I was just concerned about it pulling us up the steep inclines. Not sure if the new vans are now available as I have heard of 9-12 month waits. Wish you the best!
 

Aesop

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I can do all fluids maintenance and maybe a basic break job.
I am ok paying a mechanig to do more advanced jobs if needed.
I am trying to stay away from all the electronics and driver assist stuff.

How is the 6.6L, I understand this is a new design ?
Also, the 6 speed HD transmission is the same as in the older models or it is a new design as well ?
I myself have been contemplating upgrading from my current half-ton 1500 awd van to a more heavier duty 2500 cargo van (chevy of course) Yeah, I have been thinking the same thing as you in regards to the new 6.6 L8T gas versus the "new" 4.3L V6 (I think it's called ecotec? similar to ford's ecoboost?).

The answer to your question in regards to the 6l80 (or 6l90 which is slightly more heavy duty, designed for chevy/gmc box trucks) is yes it is the same 6 speed auto trans used in 2010 and newer chevy express/gmc savanas.

I find that at least looking at the gmc savana/Chevy express page on Wikipedia seems to help in terms of information gathering.

And in terms of gas mileage with the 6.6 gas motor. I don't know, either. I just drove up to Alaska with my 5.3 liter and averaged 17-18 mpg, not towing anything. Cruise control at 65mph.

However, in Anchorage, with all that stop and go city traffic, I averaged 12 or 13 mpg.

I would imagine the 6.6 would probably get the same or slightly better gas mileage in that scenario. Cause it has the 6 speed auto trans instead of my 4 speed.

Also, just a thought. There's a 2020 gmc savana at a stealership in my hometown with the 6.0 and only 15k miles. the sticker price on that is $46,999. up here in anchorage, there is a 2015 express 2500 with the 4.8 and g80 locking differential and they want $39,999 for it.

I went on to the gmc website and built one to my specifications, really basic, cruise control, chrome appearance package, tow hitch, etc. and it came out to $37,820. just food for thought.
 

Happy Camper

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A 6 cylinder will use more gas because it'll be working harder to move the van and contents. This will also affect wear and tear.

Ex brother in law bought a v6 RAM truck years ago to save on gas, and it was a hog. The V8s got much better actual milage, regardless of what the sticker said.
 

Aesop

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A 6 cylinder will use more gas because it'll be working harder to move the van and contents. This will also affect wear and tear.

Ex brother in law bought a v6 RAM truck years ago to save on gas, and it was a hog. The V8s got much better actual milage, regardless of what the sticker said.
well, there you go. go with the V8 motor then.
 

wrongway2

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I can do all fluids maintenance and maybe a basic break job.
I am ok paying a mechanig to do more advanced jobs if needed.
I am trying to stay away from all the electronics and driver assist stuff.

How is the 6.6L, I understand this is a new design ?
Also, the 6 speed HD transmission is the same as in the older models or it is a new design as well ?
6 speed transmission? History shows that the since the demise of the 3 speeds in the early 80, the further you get over 3 speeds the reliability of the transmission rapidly disappears. Of course, a lot of that could be due to the lengthened service intervals recommended in the owner's manuals. Some show nothing done to the trans until over 100K miles.
 
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KuxW04

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Thank you everybody for your feedback, great info !

I have a big problem buying used, since I know people and companies don't really take good care of their cars (oil changes, etc) and don't want to end up with an oil burner. The brake in period is critical for the health and lifespan of the engine, and I don't think too many people take that into consideration. I know many say this is 2022 and there is no brake in period anymore, etc. - don't want to get into that topic. I am a bit OCD in this though so reality might be better than what's in my head.

I talked with a Chevy fleet dealer and they told me they sell to private people, but we neeed to sit down and spec the van to what I want (and figure out the price), and then order it. He said he doesn't know how long will take to get the van though. He said trhey typically get about 2 vans a month, and they are ordered and spoken for already.

My thought is to get an extended Express with rear diff lock, 6.6L engine and the HD transmission (6 speed I think that is). That would be a sweet van.

I am still gathering information and doing homework on this van, and what I want to do upon retirement.
I know I DO NOT want to sit on a couch and watch TV, that's for sure ... And being single, I can really do whatever I want.
Still figuring out what that is ... :)
 
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Aesop

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6 speed transmission? History shows that the since the demise of the 3 speeds in the early 80, the further you get over 3 speeds the reliability of the transmission rapidly disappears. Of course, a lot of that could be due to the lengthened service intervals recommended in the owner's manuals. Some show nothing done to the trans until over 100K miles.
I had a farmer/mechanic guy tell me this last year in July 2021, regarding a white 2010 F550 with the 6.4 liter powerstroke ( I believe) that it was a 6 speed auto trans, but that is basically a 3 speed transmission but the gears are split. so, hence a 6 speed.
 

Aesop

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Thank you everybody for your feedback, great info !

I have a big problem buying used, since I know people and companies don't really take good care of their cars (oil changes, etc) and don't want to end up with an oil burner. The brake in period is critical for the health and lifespan of the engine, and I don't think too many people take that into consideration. I know many say this is 2022 and there is no brake in period anymore, etc. - don't want to get into that topic. I am a bit OCD in this though so reality might be better than what's in my head.

I talked with a Chevy fleet dealer and they told me they sell to private people, but we neeed to sit down and spec the van to what I want (and figure out the price), and then order it. He said he doesn't know how long will take to get the van though. He said trhey typically get about 2 vans a month, and they are ordered and spoken for already.

My thought is to get an extended Express with rear diff lock, 6.6L engine and the HD transmission (6 speed I think that is). That would be a sweet van.

I am still gathering information and doing homework on this van, and what I want to do upon retirement.
I know I DO NOT want to sit on a couch and watch TV, that's for sure ... And being single, I can really do whatever I want.
Still figuring out what that is ... :)
Also keep in mind that the 4.3 liter V6 engines ( and the baby 2.8 liter duramaxes) are mated to the 8 speed automatic, which i have seen at least one person complain that it shifts too much compared to the heavy duty 6 speed auto trans, so theres that.

Well, good luck. Although personally, If I was ordering a cargo van from the factory to be speced to my specifcations/needs, I would propbably go with a GMC Savana. They are just slightly better than the Chevy Express and have resale value. Idk if I would personally go with an extended van since that might just be too long for some parking spots/in the city. Plus it might hurt the resale value, some people maybe would not want an extended cargo van from GMC/Chevy. But, to each their own. Again, Good luck and let us know how it goes. =-)
 
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Sofisintown

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Hello everybody, new to the community.

I am a few years away from retirement and thinking to buy a Chevy Express cargo van and slowly make it into a camper / travel van.
Depending on the situation, upon retirtement this might become (at least temporarily) my home, but primarily this will be a travelling vehicle.

Also this wil be my daily driver as I mod it.
I have the 1500, AWD. I bought it in 2016 - like you said, before I retired. It is a 2004, with 43K miles when I bought it.
I converted it myself, and it is my daily driver too. When I don't travel, I take some of the stuff out (mattress, fridge, bluetti, etc) so they don't get rattled out of shape.
She has behaved well. I do scheduled maintenance stuff, and got new tires. New transmission hoses, and E-vac assembly.

I am short and fit in well. If you are tall, you might want to think of something with a high roof, or add one from Fiberine.
Best of luck and welcome here.
I have some pictures from an older post, here at the forum:

 
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Hello everybody, new to the community.

I am a few years away from retirement and thinking to buy a Chevy Express cargo van and slowly make it into a camper / travel van.
Depending on the situation, upon retirtement this might become (at least temporarily) my home, but primarily this will be a travelling vehicle.

Also this wil be my daily driver as I mod it.

I am looking at a 2500 6.6L with a 6 speed HD transmission and diff lock, will not consider the V6.
Is the extended version much harder to maneuver than the standard size ?

OPTION 1 - BUY NEW: Since I have a few more years of working I could finance and buy new.
My concerns are engine and transmission reliability on the new vans – will do basic maintenance myself.

Also the 6.6L seems a gigantic displacement for an engine, will I go bankrupt from buying gasoline ? :)

What is your advice.

OPTION 2 – BUY USED: Another option is to buy used, I understand the previous engines / transmissions have beed reliable (6.0L gasoline), but I am concerned about oil consumption, transmission etc., since I will not know how the car was maintained.

Any info appreciated.
I bought a 2018 chevy express 2500 6.0l with 22k miles on it . It came with a transferable 100k engine and transmission warranty from the factory. The ecm went out on it and the dealership replaced it for free. The 2500 and 3500 models are built to higher standards, also runs on e 85 or regular gas.
 

KuxW04

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@ Aesop - thank you for the GMC info, noted. Agrtee with the extended being harder to maneuver.
@ Sofisintown & White Turtle - did you have any issues with oil consumption or transmission on your van, since you bought this used ? This is my biggest concern buying used.
@ tx2sturgis - I am looking at that site as well, but I need to get over this "don't trust to buy used" thing in my head...
 

tx2sturgis

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I can understand that, but in the case of fleet-owned or fleet-leased vehicles, you can sometimes find the maintenance records in the glovebox and if you begin to focus on one or two units, you can run a carfax report. Of course this won't tell you everything, but it can help eliminate such things as major accidents and salvage titles, etc.

Back in 2014 I bought a fleet-owned 2009 Ford E-250 van and it was a really nice van...it was a keeper. Except, it had the small V8 and just did not have the HP or the gearing to pull a good sized trailer.

But in just about every other way, it was a nice van.

You have to do some homework with a used van, but if you dot the 'I's and cross the 't's, you might save a boatload of money, not to even mention having to wait weeks, or maybe months, to buy a new one.
 
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@ Aesop - thank you for the GMC info, noted. Agrtee with the extended being harder to maneuver.
@ Sofisintown & White Turtle - did you have any issues with oil consumption or transmission on your van, since you bought this used ? This is my biggest concern buying used.
@ tx2sturgis - I am looking at that site as well, but I need to get over this "don't trust to buy used" thing in my head...
I have had zero issues with the tranny and No oil consumption between oil changes every 5,000 miles ,uses synthetic oil. I am just under 38k miles now.This model comes with a tow haul mode and factory transmission cooler.
 

peteg59

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For what it's worth, I have recently heard that the newer 8-speed transmission is having many problems, and a recall on all vehicles equipped with it is highly likely.

Worth more investigation before spending big $$ on a new van only to have it in the repair shop more often than usual/customary...
 
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