Chevy Express – From Cylinder Heads to Vehicle History

Categories: Cylinder Head Tips

Since 1996, the Chevrolet Express has been produced by General Motors. This series of full-size vans was the successor to the G-series van and is still quite popular. As GM continues to focus on electrifying their fleet, they’ve announced the retirement of the Chevy Express in 2025. Keep reading as we discover the history of this vehicle and how replacing the cylinder head could potentially help you to extend the life of your Express van.


History of the Chevy Express Van

The Chevrolet Express is a series of vans from General Motors that has been on the market since 1996. It is offered in both cargo and passenger options, with either a standard van body or a cutaway van chassis. Many companies around the world use this vehicle for buses, ambulances, trucks, or motorhomes. This vehicle is also sold and known as the GMC Savana, and has been available in just one generation for over 20 years now. Its longevity is most commonly compared to the Dodge Ram or the Jeep Wagoneer, which have both spent a long time on the market also.

The Chevy Express is assembled in Wentzville, Missouri. There has not been much change to the vehicle except a revision to the design in 2003, which focused primarily on the frame and chassis. Due to the pressure to focus on reducing their impact on the environment, GM is continuing to electrify its commercial fleet. Sadly, the Chevrolet Express will stop production in 2025. No solid future plans have been announced yet for a replacement for this popular van, but we expect a similar-sized electric replacement to be offered on the market instead.


North America Sales History for the Chevy Express

Since its launch in 1995, the company has sold over 2.5 million units of the GMC Savana and Chevy Express. Considering the number of years the van has spent on the market, the sales figures are still very competitive year after year. Around 2005 saw a peak for the sales, with 128,000 units sold in this year. Sales has dropped over the years, with 81,000 units sold in 2012 and 77,000 units in 2019. As with many businesses, there was a drop in interest during the pandemic, but 2022 saw sales of 52,000 units.


What are the Engine Specs for a Chevy Express?

When the Chevy Express was first launched, it was offered with five different engines. The 4.3L V6 was standard at this time, with upgrade options to 5.0L, 5.7L, 6.5L turbo diesel or 7.4L V8s. The most popular options now are the 4.8L and 5.3L, but the company also introduced the 6.0L V8 in 2021.


Driver Reviews Chevy Express

The popularity of the vehicle and its versatility are the main reasons the Chevy Express has continued to thrive on the van market for so many years. With so many different uses for the van, companies continue to purchase it to this day thanks to its power, size, and design. While the vehicle hasn’t experienced many changes over the years, it is certainly well respected within the van market for its reliability and sturdy design.

With only one generation of the Chevy Express since its launch, it is naturally missing some of the more modern design features that other vans offer. However, if you are looking for a commercial cargo vehicle with competitive pricing, then the Chevy Express is a great option. A well-maintained Express can last between 250,000 and 300,000 miles, but the transmission often needs replacing somewhere between 120,000 and 200,000 miles.


Common Problems with the Chevy Express Cargo Van

As with any vehicle on offer today, there are some complaints about the Chevy Express. It has less cargo space than other popular vans, which may be an issue if space is a priority for you. There’s no high-roof option on offer either, and many people find the design and driving experience to be out-of-date now for this day and age. As far as issues with the vehicle engine and components, excessive oil consumption is a very common problem. There are also frequently reported issues with braking and ABS, especially as the vehicle ages. Some models were recalled due to braking issues at one point, so if you are purchasing a used vehicle, be mindful of the year it was manufactured in.


Replacing Chevy Express Cylinder Heads

With the news of the vehicle’s retirement in 2025, many owners of the Chevy Express are wondering what they can do to extend the life of their cargo van. One of the most common issues drivers experience as the vehicle ages is the need to replace the cylinder heads. This head replacement is a job you can either undertake by yourself as a DIY project or outsource to a professional mechanic. Keep in mind that the replacement typically costs between $2,600 and $2,900 for this van, which is why many people try to save the $1,000 or so that the manual labor costs.

If you are looking to try and take on the challenge of replacing the cylinder heads by yourself, then check out this YouTube video. It offers a full guide to how to replace the part and will give you a good idea of the complexity of this job. Replacing cylinder heads is one of the best ways to keep your engine in top condition and allow you to continue driving the Chevy Express for years to come.

The Chevy Express has a long history of being a reliable and popular van for commercial and personal use. With its announced discontinuation in the next two years, we expect more people to start considering ways to extend the life of their current Chevy Express. While we are excited to see the electric replacement for this vehicle, we don’t expect drivers to stop enjoying their combustion engine Express anytime soon. Serving businesses and families across the globe for so many years, this single-generation van will go down in history for its classic design, longevity, and ease of use.


Purchase Express Van Heads from Clearwater Cylinder

If you are the owner or the mechanic of a Chevrolet Express van and need to purchase new or refurbished cylinder heads, then please give us a call. Locating the casting number on your Express engine or existing head will help us identify the correct cylinder head(s) for your specific Express cargo van.