GMC Savana Problems

by Andy Joseph

The GMC Savana is a full-size van manufactured by the General Motors Truck Company, a division of General Motors (GM) that specializes in trucks, vans and SUVs. It shares a platform with its more popular sibling, the Chevrolet Express. Making its debut in 1997, the Savana is currently in its second generation.

1st Generation Problems (Factory Recall)

Some defects in first-generation GMC Savanas (1996 to 2002) are covered under factory recall. Prematurely cracking brake rotors can be replaced free of charge if dealers inspect them and find a core date of "287." Also, some vehicles might have power steering cooler hoses that can separate from the power brake booster fluid flow switch assembly, potentially causing an engine-related hazard. Dealers can place clamps on the hoses to rectify the problem. Some first-generation GMC Savanas share an hydraulic pump driveshaft defect with other GM vehicles of that time period, which results in increased steering effort from the driver. Dealers can replace the hydraulic pump free of charge.

Other 1st Generation Problems

Other first-generation GMC Savana problems involve the failure of the crankshaft position sensor, fuel pump, fuel injectors and fuel pressure regulator. Problems with these parts can cause the van to run rough or misfire, and in some cases, it may fail to start altogether. Also, some vehicles tend to have problems with the front wheel speed sensor, which adversely affects the ABS system. A dealership can replace the parts.

2nd Generation Problems (Factory Recall)

Some second-generation GMC Savanas (2003 to present) may have defects covered under factory recall that include a prematurely eroding rear license plate lamp socket that can cause an unpleasant smell, seat belts that fail to latch or unlatch, loose nuts attaching the pitman arm to the steering linkage, and missing wheel bearing assembly retaining nuts. Dealers will replace or introduce parts accordingly without any cost.

Other 2nd Generation Problems

Other second-generation GMC Savana problems include the failure of the powertrain control module (PCM) wire harness. This can cause the "Check Engine" indicator to illuminate, and in more extreme cases, the engine may fail to start. Faulty catalytic converters and front wheel speed sensors also plague this particular Savana generation.


The GMC Savana does seem outdated in a market of myriad vans and SUVs. However, it is one of the largest vans available, suitable for transporting lots of passengers or cargo. Thus, this makes it ideal for large families or small business owners. A second-generation Savana would be the wisest purchase; in addition to having comparatively less problems than the first model entries; GMC introduced more features to the vehicle. Regardless of which Savana you buy, though, always pull up a CARFAX report to check the vehicle history and look out for any substantial problems.

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