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Most people don’t own a passenger van or cargo van because they’re commercial vehicles. Still, automakers like General Motors make some capable models, including the GMC Savana and Chevy Express. Though the two are similar, each has unique badging and pricing.

Both vans offer three powertrain options, but one is prone to problems. According to Detroit News, some engines might short-circuit and cause a fire in 2021 models. If you own one of these vans, here’s what you need to know.

Potential Chevy and GMC van engine fires

In March, General Motors issued a recall for Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans with the most powerful engine. According to GM’s official statement, the positive battery terminals’ anti-rotation tabs could touch a fuse block attachment post. Under certain conditions, this could cause a spark and set the battery ablaze.

That’s the worst-case scenario, and no accidents of this nature have been reported yet. Drivers are likelier to experience a low-voltage warning or a dead battery. Still, it’s important to get the van serviced as soon as possible.

The recall includes over 10,000 Chevy and GMC vans

GM says 10,176 GMC Savana and Chevy Express vans could have this problem. Only the 2020 models with the V8 engine are included in the recall. According to GMC, the Savana comes with a base 4.3-liter V6 capable of 276 hp and 298 lb-ft of torque.

The available Duramax turbodiesel makes 181 hp but a hefty 369 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options include an eight-speed automatic and a heavy-duty six-speed automatic. The V8 is the most powerful engine, producing 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque.

It also gives the GMC Savana the highest trailering capacity of 9,600 pounds. It can seat up to 15 passengers and boasts a maximum combination weight rating of 16,000 pounds.

The Chevy Express has the same engine options, with a slightly higher trailering power of 9,900 pounds. However, unlike the GMC Savana, you can unlock that number with the optional Duramax engine. According to Chevrolet, payload capacity with the 6.6-liter V8 maxes out at 4,280 pounds on the 3500 models.

Both vans are spacious enough to house passengers comfortably and keep them entertained with tech like a Wi-Fi hotspot. The cargo vans have over 283 cubic feet of storage space, with high door openings for easy loading.

Signs of a shorted battery

Battery fires can happen instantly, but there are a few ways to detect an issue beforehand. When the battery is struggling, you might experience difficulty turning the engine over. An unexplained dead battery also indicates a problem.

Oddly enough, a dead battery will supply power to your vehicle’s electronics even if the car isn’t started. If possible, check the battery’s voltage after it’s been charged. Anything below 10.5 volts indicates a battery cell shortage.

How owners can resolve the issue

GM cautions drivers to park their vehicles outside, far from any flammable structures. The automaker might’ve already contacted you if you have an affected vehicle, but you can also check. Visit the NHTSA‘s recall page, where you can enter your vehicle’s VIN and locate it under recall number N202325160. 

You can schedule a free repair online or by calling your GM dealership. Mechanics will remove bits of the anti-rotation tabs to make the vehicle safe to drive again. The NHTSA also encourages you to contact it directly if you know of any accident related to the battery.


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