One thing I’m learning is if you want to use a 1999 Chevy Conversion van as a mobile cabin, you have to keep it running properly. The upkeep is much less expensive than the upkeep of a house. But, if you don’t do things right, you can cost yourself a lot of money. The other thing is when you purchase an old Chevy van, you know you’ll have to spend more in repairs upfront than you would if you had purchased a brand new van.
As I mentioned before, I bought a 1999 Chevy Express conversion van. While the prior owner took very good care of it, there were a few things I noted that needed care. The things I noticed were:
- The steering wheel pump needed replacement
- The air conditioning system needed recharging
- The undercoat needed scraping and an application of oil/rust inhibitor
Those were the things my untrained eye found. The mechanic, however, found the following:
- Steering wheel pump needed replacement
- Air conditioning system needed recharging because of two small leaks
- The front wheel bearings needed repacking and greasing
- The van needed shocks
- As far as the rust goes, the worst section was the bumper brackets, the remainder of the undercarriage was in good shape.
OK, since I’ll be driving it around, I wanted those things repaired. After reading through the manual, apparently repacking the bearings is a thing that I’ve got to do routinely. Having never owned a large van before, I’m learning about the routine care and maintenance.
Chevy Van Non-Essentials
There were a couple of items that weren’t as important as repacking the bearings that needed tending to. When I purchased the Chevy conversion van, the prior owner wanted to replace the front and rear bumpers. He ordered the bumpers and gave them to me with the van. I brought the van and bumpers to the mechanic for installation. He said it would take about two hours to do the job. Well, that’s two hours for a new van, not one that has rust.
Because the van had rusted support brackets, it required four new support brackets to the tune of $100/bracket in order to install the bumpers properly. I wanted things done right so the vacuum cleaner turned on, reached into my pocket and sucked out the appropriate amount of money to get it done.
Another non-essential, but essential for me is a rear view mirror. The van doesn’t have one. I not only want/need a rear view mirror, but I also want a backup camera. The Chevy conversion van is high off the ground and I cannot see if a small animal or child is directly in back of it. Rather than live with the remorse and regret of hitting someone/something, I’ll spend the money on the backup camera.
A good thing, however, is each mechanic that worked on the van marveled at its condition. For the age (almost 20 years old), it’s really in good shape. Fortunately, I believe I found a mechanic that will keep me on the straight and narrow as I do the same for him. He needs to lose weight so I’m holding him to it. I took a photo of him and told him that when I come back I expect to see a change (pretty ballsy of me isn’t it). In the meanwhile, He’s keeping me in check with my vehicles so I keep up with the proper maintenance schedule.
Converting the Conversion Van -Taking it Slow
When you buy an old van, learn to expect the unexpected. Either you pay up front in terms of a deposit and monthly loan payments, or you pay sporadically as things wear out. I’m trying my best to anticipate and prevent things from happening, but things do happen. I have a goal to set aside monthly “loan” payments in a separate account so that when the unexpected happens, I’ll be ready (the big one that we won’t mention is transmission – it is a 20-year old vehicle with the original transmission).
Unfortunately, since purchasing the van, the mechanic has spent more time with it than I had. I really want to get my hands on my mobile cabin so I can replace the curtains and make it homey. I want to take a trip, but I’ve got to wait until it’s mechanically sound and safe. *Heavy Sigh*
The repairs to the van pale in comparison to house repairs. I think after we take a trip my husband won’t think we purchased a mobile cabin money pit. After a nice trip, he’ll begin to see the possibilities (hopefully).