What’s Wrong With The GMC Savana Years to Avoid & Long Can it Last Compared with Others?

Patrick Oziegbe
Published On:

Now you are ready to invest in a used GMC Savana and wondering – what year and model is worth it for me?

What you really want is to purchase a van that deliver overall great value, top performance and reliability for your investment, so your concern is positive.

Yes, it’s proven some GMC Savana model years are better then other, so this guide will expose the best years and the worst years (common problems, maintenance issues, decreased value rate, consumer complaint issues), to enhance your buying decision and avoid possible loss!

A Short Overview of GMC Savana

GMC Savana years to avoid
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

It’s a full-size van produced and been sold since the mid-1990s, providing a versatile and spacious option for those seeking a reliable workhorse.

With its large cargo capacity and seating for up to 15 people, the Savana makes for a great choice when looking for new vehicles. The van features optional equipment such as available assist steps, making it easier to access the cabin.

Over the years, this brand continued to get improved upon and updated with latest features to secure even a longer longevity and making it one of the top dogs in the full-size van market.

Worst Years to Avoid and Why?

The GMC Savana has a long history with multiple model years, some years have more significant issues than others. In general, it’s recommended to avoid the following years:


This period corresponds to the first-generation GMC Savana. These older models may have outdated technology and can be prone to wear and tear due to their age. Additionally, they may lack essential safety features found in later models.

First Gen Common Problems

There are some common issues that may arise when considering these worst years or first-generation GMC Savana:

  • Fuel System Issues: Problems with the fuel system can lead to poor performance or a complete breakdown. These issues can be costly to fix and may not be evident until the problem worsens.
  • Transmission Problems: Some older GMC Savana models may have issues with their transmissions, leading to slipping gears or the inability to change gears. This can be a serious safety concern and may also require expensive repairs.
  • Electrical Components: Older vehicles, like the first-generation GMC Savana, can suffer from electrical issues such as malfunctioning power windows, locks, or air conditioning systems. These issues can be both inconvenient and costly to repair.

By avoiding the less reliable years and being aware of the potential problems associated with older GMC Savana models, you can make a more informed choice when searching for your next used vehicle.

Oil Consumption Problems

The brand is reputed for having excessive oil consumption problems in some of its models.

What are The Causes?

  • Design of the combustion chamber:

Excessive oil consumption in your GMC Savana could be due to a few different factors. One of the potential culprits is the design of the combustion chamber, which may cause oil to enter and burn off during normal engine operation. This can lead to early fouling of spark plugs and other related issues.

  • The variable valve timing (VVT) system:

Another possible cause is the variable valve timing (VVT) system. The VVT system adjusts the timing of the intake and exhaust valves, which can lead to increased oil consumption if it isn’t functioning correctly. In some cases, this is caused by a manufacturing defect in the VVT components.

  • Low-tension oil rings:

The low-tension oil rings on the engine’s pistons may contribute to the excessive oil usage. These rings are designed to minimize friction, but if they’re not maintaining proper tension, they can allow oil to seep into the combustion chamber and burn off.

Some Good Solutions

If you’re experiencing oil consumption problems, there are a few steps you can take to address the issue. Keep in mind that the solutions vary based on the actual cause of the issues.

For combustion chamber-related issues, consider using a high-quality fuel additive to help clean the chamber and reduce the amount of oil being burned off. You may also want to replace your spark plugs and ensure they’re gapped correctly to minimize fouling.

If the problem is related to the VVT system, you might need to have a mechanic examine the system and replace any faulty components. This can be more involved and costly, but it will likely resolve the issue if the VVT system is to blame.

For issues stemming from low-tension oil rings, you may need to have the rings replaced. This typically requires a complete engine teardown, so it should be considered a last resort if other solutions don’t work.

By identifying the cause of excessive oil consumption in your GMC Savana and taking the appropriate steps to address it, you can potentially extend the life of your vehicle and improve its overall performance.

Reliability and Life Expectancy

Now it is also important to consider the reliability and life expectancy of the vehicle. We shall share a short facts about durability and expected mileage of a GMC Savana.


The GMC Savana is known for its strength and longevity, but like any vehicle, it’s not immune to wear and tear. When properly maintained, it can last for a significant number of miles.

For example, oil changes will help keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently, as this and other maintenance routine will prolong its life expectancy comparable to other commercial vans.

It’s essential to be aware of any potential issues unique to the Savana, as some years may be more reliable than others. The GMC Savana 2500 Reliability Rating is 3.0 / 5.0, while the GMC Savana 1500 Reliability Rating is also 3.0 / 5.0.

Both have an average annual repair cost that indicates they may have higher ownership costs compared to other commercial vans.

The Mileage

As per mileage, the GMC Savana has the potential to last a considerable amount of time, as much as 150,000 to 180,000 miles or more.

Please note that some owners have reported transmission failure after 120,000 miles, so you’ll do well to have the transmission inspected once your van exceeds 100,000 miles.

Moreover, the spark plugs in a Savana can last as long as 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Maintaining these components as part of your routine maintenance will significantly impact how many miles your GMC Savana will last.

Safety and Convenience Features

GMC Savana Cargo Van
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

The GMC Savana offers various safety and convenience features to ensure a comfortable driving experience and gives a positive peace of mind!

The Head Restraints: One such feature is head restraints, which help reduce the risk of whiplash during an accident by minimizing neck movement.

The OnStar Vehicle Insights: Stay connected with OnStar Vehicle Insights, a service that provides real-time vehicle information to help you better understand your GMC Savana’s performance and maintenance needs. This can help you keep a close eye on your van’s health and keep it running smoothly for years to come.

The Rearview Camera: When you’re reversing, a rearview camera is standard across all models, providing you with visual assistance and making it easier to navigate tight parking spots or avoid unexpected obstacles.

Rear Park Assist: The Savana offers Rear Park Assist which gives you visual and audible alerts when you’re close to an object, helping you prevent accidents and costly repairs.

As a driver, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The GMC Savana’s various safety features are designed to give you the assistance and information you need to drive confidently and securely.

What are the Best Used GMC Savana Van Years?

Based on available information, the 2019 GMC Savana Passenger is a great option due to its significant savings and relatively low mileage.

To make your shopping experience easier, here are other best used GMC Savana years, along with their features:

  • 2019 GMC Savana Passenger: This model provides significant price savings compared to a new model, while still offering the same features.
  • 2017 GMC Savana: A used 2017 GMC Savana offers decent value, with starting prices at approximately $32,000 for the cargo van and slightly higher for the passenger version.
  • 2014 GMC Savana 1500: This versatile model allows for easy customization and adaptability to various needs, with a price range that remains budget-friendly.

While shopping, it’s essential to consider your individual needs and budget when choosing a used GMC Savana van.

Newer GMC Savana Models

As a fan of GMC vehicles, you might be interested in the recent developments, innovations and updated changes in the Savana Cargo Van and Savana Passenger models.

Latest Improvements

The newer GMC Savanas definitely trump older boys with some amazing improvements.

First, let’s discuss the Savana Cargo Van. With an upgraded GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and additional engine options, the newer models provide more power, allowing you to handle heavier payloads more comfortably.

The Savana Passenger, on the other hand, now offers more seating configurations, giving you additional flexibility to accommodate both passengers and cargo with ease.

Fuel efficiency is also improved in the newer GMC Savana models, making them a more economical choice for those who require a multi-purpose van for business or personal needs.

Furthermore, some of the latest models are equipped with modern safety features such as lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and rear park assist, contributing to a safer driving experience.

Some Sweet Innovations

The latest GMC Savana models showcase several innovations that set them apart from their predecessors.

For example, both the Savana Cargo Van and Savana Passenger now have optional infotainment systems that include touch-screen displays, smartphone integration, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots, as seen in the 2020 GMC Savana Passenger.

The newer GM vehicles, including the GMC Savana, are designed to meet the evolving market demands and comply with more stringent emissions regulations.

Ssome models now come with an available Duramax diesel engine, offering improved performance and fuel efficiency, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Newer Savana models also feature an enhanced chassis, with increased durability and strength. This improvement makes your van more robust and capable of handling harsh working conditions, ultimately extending its useful life.

As you can see, the GMC Savana has come a long way, with newer models offering a more reliable, fuel-efficient, and comfortable experience for both cargo and passenger transport.

Comparison to Other Vans

This comparison to other popular vans in the American market will cover gas mileage, reliability, and price for used models.

Model Gas Mileage (Combined) Reliability Score (out of 5) Price for Used Model (Starting from)
GMC Savana 14 mpg 3.5 $8,000
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 18 mpg 4.0 $25,000
Ford Transit 15 mpg 4.0 $10,000
Chrysler Pacifica 22 mpg 3.5 $15,000
Ram ProMaster 19 mpg 3.5 $14,000
Nissan NV 15 mpg 3.5 $12,000
Toyota Sienna 22 mpg 4.5 $12,000
Chevy Express 14 mpg 3.5 $10,000
Chevy Equinox 26 mpg 4.0 $12,000


Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is known for its luxury and high-quality build. Although it tends to be more expensive than the GMC Savana, it has a reputation for better overall performance and comfort. Read more about Sprinter reliability issues here!

Ford Transit

Both the GMC Savana and Ford Transit have similar life expectancy, reaching around 200,000 miles before major repairs are needed. However, the Ford Transit is considered to be more reliable in comparison to the GMC Savana.

Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica is a more family-oriented vehicle, providing a comfortable ride and advanced safety features.

However, it may not be the best choice for commercial purposes as it doesn’t offer the same cargo and towing capacities as the GMC Savana.

Ram ProMaster

The Ram ProMaster is another commercial van option in the American market, with comparable size and capabilities to the GMC Savana, including cargo space and towing capacity. Read about Ram ProMaster reliability, issues and best models!

Nissan NV

The Nissan NV offers a more modern design compared to the GMC Savana but has similar cargo and towing capacities, making it a viable option for businesses looking for a cargo van.

Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna is a minivan, catering more to families than commercial needs. It may not be the ideal choice for businesses requiring a larger cargo van like the GMC Savana.

Check our analysis and suggestions for amazing used Toyota Sienna years, as well the versions with owners complaints and other problems and repair cost!

Chevy Express

The Chevy Express, a sibling to the GMC Savana, offers similar features and performance. If you’re considering a Savana, it’s worth looking into the Express as well.

Chevy Equinox

The Chevy Equinox is a smaller SUV rather than a full-size cargo van. It serves a different purpose and clientele than the GMC Savana. Fortunately you stand to gain more goodies if you purchase an Equinox SUV from the best years.


SUV driving safety

The 20 Safest States For SUV Drivers, In America (Hawaii Tops the List)

Safety is a top priority for many drivers, especially those with families. Buckle up for some surprising news that’ll have SUV drivers breathing a sigh of relief – especially if you’re cruising in Hawaii and
kia telluride years to avoid

Discover The Worst Kia Telluride Years to Avoid and Best Used Telluride

Are you ready to take on the open road in a used Kia Telluride? Before you hit the gas pedal, make sure you know which model years to avoid. While the Telluride is a top-notch three-row
Ford explorer

Discover the Ford Explorer Years to Avoid for Used Models and Common Issues

Are you a Ford Explorer fanatic? Are you on the hunt for the perfect SUV but worried about potential issues that may arise with certain model years? Fear not, as we unveil the years you


Sign up now to get the email newsletter and exclusive deals weekly.