11.18.2007

Auto Review: 2001 Chevrolet Venture Minivan (Warner Brothers Edition)



Historically, we’re minimalists when it comes to our vehicles. We’ve never owned a new car, and traditionally our cars are a) inherited from family members and b) the most basic editions of Japanese sedans. We also hate mini-vans. However, with the advent of our third (and one might say “late in life”) child, there was no getting around it – to keep the kiddies safe, we needed a vehicle with three rows of seats. The mini-van seemed to be the lesser of two evils, when compared to the Canyonero-esque array of SUVs on the market (“Smells like a steak and seats 35!”).



We weren’t too picky about brand, model or year. My only deal breaker was color (couldn’t be white or red), Michael’s only deal breaker was he wanted it to be free. After that didn’t work out, we became the proud owners of a 2001 Chevy Venture Minivan (Warner Brothers Edition).

The price was right, the inner workings checked out, the color was acceptable, and besides the annoying metal Bugs Bunny/WB logo on the side, it seemed ok.

Our children were flabbergasted we would choose such a wondrous vehicle. It had at least eight thousand buttons, power everything, leather seats, and most amazing of all – a theatre/entertainment system, complete with wireless headphones for the kids! We were overwhelmed. One son kept asking when we had to return this amazing van.

I know a lot of these features are now standard on most minivans, but remember, our last family vehicle was a 1997 Nissan Sentra.

After signing the loan paperwork, trying to avoid too much eye contact with the creepy sales guy, shrewdly (we thought) purchasing the optional one-year “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, we proudly piled into “Vannie” and took a little spin to grandma’s house.

This is the last time I remember a problem-free ride in this vehicle.

You know it’s a bad sign when your mechanic rolls his eyes when you mention the make and model of your vehicle and says “Oh God, I had one of those once.”

Here’s a (probably incomplete) list of everything that’s gone wrong with Vannie since the summer of ’04.

1) Gas gauge inoperable. Estimate to repair - $700. This still isn’t fixed, so we reset the on-board computer thingy to keep track of gas consumption, sometimes with disastrous results – sorry Kelly!
2) Gas tank dicked up, as in, we couldn’t put any gas in the tank. Gas is sorta critical for an internal combustion engine. Repaired to the tune of $600. This problem occurred within two weeks of purchase but was not covered by our “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. I guess the gas tank is somehow outside of the range encompassed by the front and back bumpers. Who knew?
3) Viewing screen for entertainment system breaks. Children inconsolable. Parents gleeful. Seriously, that thing was more trouble than it was worth. We had to create all kinds of weird rules like, “No movies on a trip less than 45 minutes long.”
4) Head gasket replaced. I’m not going to pretend I know what a head gasket is or what it does, but I do know it is critical and costs $1,200 to fix. This was the repair that caused our mechanic to regretfully admit he thought the ’01 Ventures were “lemons.” Excellent.
5) Heating and air conditioning system completely malfunctions. No heat, no air, no defrost, no blower. $600 to get the heat going (it was winter), air conditioning still inoperable (actually, worse than inoperable, it blows a gentle stream of heated air if the blower is on at all).
6) Car overheats and ceases to run. I can’t remember the reason why, but it cost $500 to get it going again. It took the mechanics a while to diagnose this problem, partially because when taking it out for a test drive, they ran out of gas (see #1, above).

Other than that, no complaints!

So, if you want a car your kids will love (until the entertainment system breaks) and that will strip you of most of your expendable income, you could do worse than the 2001 Chevrolet Venture Van (Warner Brothers Edition).

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

You seem to be awfully hard on cars.

Anne Quimby Mathias said...

So you're saying this is a user error? Hmmm.

I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, the 2001 model wasn't the only lemon!! GM's are notorious for head gasket replacement. Not sure why they don't fix the problem at the manufacturing stage now since most people are onto them, but I guess they still have their loyal followers ignoring the issue and buying from them. Sticking to my domestic import thank you!
A ;)

Anonymous said...

We have the same year, make and model. Bought it used at 67k and now has 118k. I'v had pretty good luck with it till 2 months ago. ABS light stays on along with the Service Engine Soon light. Great mpg on highway, around 26 I think. Oh, and the drivers window just started to not go up all the way. Don't know if the previous owner had to replace anything.

Anonymous said...

I TOO HAVE A 2001 CHEVY VENTURE AND HAVE HAD ALMOST ALL THE SAME PROBLEMS. I THINK GM IS GETTING WHAT THE DESERVE RIGHT NOW AFTER ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING THEY HAVE PUT AMERICAN PEOPLE THROUGH THAT BUY THEIR PRODUCTS. MY FAMILY IS NOW FACING BANKRUPTCY PARTLY DUE TO THE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WE HAVE HAD TO PAY OUT ON THIS VEHICLE ON TOP OF REGULAR MAINTENACE. I FEEL FOR THE EMPLOYEES OF GM BUT WE DESERVE BETTER THAN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN!

Anonymous said...

I have the same make/model/WB edition van, fully loaded with all the extras. bought it used (knew i had to replace the wheel hubs BEFORE i bought it and the dealership paid for it. Had it for a year now, kids love it still, no mechanical problems, no inside problems no nothing and theres now 114k miles on it. Im so glad i bought AMERICAN!

David Murray said...

I bought my WB Venture new and it now has 216,000. does not leak/burn oil. I did have a head gasket issue, the dealership replaced it due to recall. I also had wheel bearing issue, at 120k miles, fixed it myself in 2 hours and 150 bucks using common tools. I took good care of my Venture and I love it

Anonymous said...

i just purchased a 2001 venture less than 4 weeks ago. it is the biggest pile of crap i ever bought. its been in the shop 3 times now and still has problems and has to go back. the features on the van are very nice which pushed me to buy it. but im guessing they wont work for long as well. I WILL NEVER BUY A CHEVY AGAIN. !!! how can gm put such crap into the hands that kept them in business. i feel sorry for the workers now that gm is getting what it deserves.

Anonymous said...

my 2001 venture gas gauge was i thought fixed by a dealer 2x .. and the abs system was i thought fixed, not, and now the passenger window wont go up.. the ac died they didnt fix that,,, this has been the last time i buy a friggin chevy,,, i got it new and have had more issues with it,,, i hate to say this...im gonna get honda or toyota..at least they wont go out of bussiness like our dealerships greedy a-holes

Anonymous said...

2001 ventures aer lemons. I am a certified service technician. They have intake manifolds that leak. The gas guage can be fixed by replacing the fuel level sensor. The drivers window. the lube gets old and tough. dont force it to much. you need to remove door panel and clean out window regulator track and use new grease. run u and down. fixed. Havent seen to many head gaskets. Wiring is a big issue. Seen lots of water on passanger side of van. in wire harness under side trim peice. pull plactic panel up and check. That is a huge problem. Bad/weak water pumps and thermstat. Well now federal motors, sorry general motors is getting what it deserved. I wouldnt own a chevy any newer than 1998. Buy a toyota. Very dependable and worth the money. Government very mad at toyota because cash for clunkers back fired. Sorry. Good Luck with your cheys Lemon.

Anonymous said...

All these comments about a 2001 chevy posted in 2009 & 2010. SERIOUSLY! The van is 8-9 years old, you will need to do SOME maintenance on any car. I agree the intake gaskets are something GM should have recalled and taken care of, but some of these other things..................Stuff doesn't just last forever.

Anonymous said...

I've owned this van since new, 2001 Value edition (not quite a value :)

At around 60k miles the rear wiper motor gave out, had it replaced with an aftermarket which gave out 3 months later... I've given up on that.

Rear taillights needed the board replaced to fix lights.

at 80k miles the intake gasket problem manifested. dealership wouldnt' do anything, gm wouldn't do anything... missed the lawsuit too as it happenned a couple of years later. decided to just use some sealer, that worked $2.50 vs. $2100.

at 90k miles the a/c went out, the evaporator/condenser in the front gave out because of poor design of the mounting bolts.

100k the fuel guage went out, would vary between 1/4 and 3/4 of tank and usually move inverse to usage, would read more fuel in tank as you use it. Cute.

120k the abs light has come on permanently. I bought an abs scanner and it says its the right rear wheel sensor. At this point I'll just take whatever I can get from the van.

All in all poor experience with van, don't plan to buy chevy ever again. Runaway Toyota (at least it won't break down) or Honda...

John said...

yeah but my dads toyota did last forever (400,000 miles with maybe one electrical problem) and our fords lasted pretty long too. ford didn't take the bailout and was the first major american car company. I got a 2001 chevy venture and it needs an intake manifold gasket and possibly the head gasket at 140,000... this would be not terrible because I am very good with cars but this has to be one of the tightest hard to work on cars. lower intake manifold gasket fails this causes oil in the engine and sometimes white smoke in the exhaust this is caused from gm deciding to switch to dexcool antifreeze which happens to eat away at some plastic parts and they made their intake manifold gaskets out of some plastic. GM did have knowledge of this at some point but continued to only allow dexcool in those cars or it would void warranties.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2001 chev venture van and I cannot locate the spare tire inside the van. Can someone tell me where to find it?

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this post while searching for some information on our Chevy Venture and nearly died when I saw your list of issues. I thought maybe you were the owner of my van. Wow. Identical issues - every single one of them. I'm floored and discouraged, to say the least. Ugh. Sorry you had to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

I own a venture too and I would say that I had all the same problem that you have. Still losing oil and I can say that I hope I could get 2 to 3 years of life on that van.

Anonymous said...

I bought my 2001 Chevy Venture Extended version new. Right after the three year warranty was up the A/C quit working. A year later I could finally afford to get it fixed at $634.00. It all went downhill after that. I had to have the transmission replaced TWICE. Manifold gasket, fuel gauge, head gasket, heater, steering wheel broke in half, exterior handle broke off passenger side door, windshield wiper linkage broke, windshield wiper motor went bad TWICE, CD player malfunctions every time the heater is on the upper vents, back windshield wiper motor went bad - we never did get it fixed, driver side floor continuously wet - no one ever could figure out why, river seat broke - my husband took it out and reinforced it and put it back in but it has to stay in one position. There was a slew of catalytic convertors being stolen in our area and ours was one of them, so that is not the fault of the car but we had to get it replaced twice as we opted for the universal fit the first time and it didn't work, had to opt for the OEM the second time. At least the body lasted longer than they used to. It's starting to show signs of age but only in little bits.

On top of all this the regular maintenance was over the top, too, Way too many visits to our favorite mechanic for this and that and this again and that again. So frustrating!

All in all this vehicle has been the worst vehicle I have ever owned. My dad retired from GM so I was always loyal but my next vehicle will be a Toyota and my husband agrees.

We will be filing bankruptcy in about 2 months and much is due to this albatross we have had around our neck for so long.

No wonder they stopped making them!!!

Anonymous said...

Hah! after trying to look up the value of our delightful 01 Venture Warn. Bros. edition, I found you blog. As has been mentioned in the comments above, we had the same problems. Bought used with 70k miles on it. The day we brought it home the front AC compressor went out. A few months later, coolant was disappearing...intake gasket. Rear wiper motor dead a month later. Drive's side front suspension goes hinky next. Front wipers now have a life of their own...but, the entertainment system still seems to have life. It'd be a great car, if it wasn't such a piece of junk. American failure at it's finest.

Catherine said...

Dammit! i went to a used car dealership and wanted a DODGE minivan.. i had $6000 cash.. i Looked at like 7 vans and liked the way the 2001 chevy venture drove.. i just brought it home today.. I filled it up with gas and noticed the gas gauge didnt go all the way to full.. It has 99000 miles on it.. everything in the inside looked very nice.. i didnt really reserch this van before hand because i planned on getting a dodge.. i bought it "as IS" and now im scared.. :(

Anonymous said...

Just had my girlfriends 2001 Venture towed to the shop and sure enough it's the head gasket. The shop says 2500 best case, I'm wondering if would be better to replace the whole motor.

Anonymous said...

I own an 01 Venture. Had bought it for 1000 bucks with 98k on it and it's sitting at 140k now.

So far I've got the gas gauge being broken, driver window not going up, and A/C out.

Fun times. Can't wait for other problems to arise.

Anonymous said...

We purchased our 2001 Chevy Venture Warner Brothers Edition in August 2001, and we now (July 2011) have over 215,000 miles on it. We have had no complaints whatsoever with the van. We have never had any major problems with the car except for the usual maintenance -- oil, filter, breaks, tires. We are looking to sell it because the kids are now grown and have their own cars, but we found the van to be GREAT! Sorry to hear everyone having so many problems with theirs.

Anonymous said...

In 2000 we bought the first 2000 Warner Brothers Venture van (we have five daughter) in the state of Missouri. 305,000 miles on it and going strong. 1. Fuel sensor gets coated with sulfer, causing is to bind. (tectron(?) added to tank every few months stops this). 2. Got rid of DexCool after first intake manifold replacement at 145,000. 3. Change oil every 3-5,000 miles. 4. Just changed belt tensioner and water pump.

Anonymous said...

We bought ours used 3 years ago (same make and model).. We've had a couple 'glitches' The gas tank for instance. We couldn't get gas to go in ours. So we just starting turning the nozzle at a certain angle, goes in perfect every time. We've not had any major problems though. It's been good to us.

Anonymous said...

This may be a "lemon" to most, but thanks to most folks not learning how to pick up a wrench, I was able to pick up a 2001 venture warner bros and a 2001 olds silhouette premier for $1000 each. yes, these vans do have their quirks (THEY ARE ALSO 10 YEARS OLD), but nothing that has been broken has been too hard to fix. Both vans needed head gaskets and fuel pump assemblies.) cost $300-$400 each to get them running. Everything works fine in both vans except seat heaters don't work in the oldsmobile. Both TV systems work properly. i get 26-27mpg in either van. Oh yeah, i bought new water pumps for both since they were $14 at the local auto store. The internet is a beautiful thing and while there isn't much room to work under the hood, all you really need is a 10mm,13mm and a 15mm socket and a torque wrench to do a head gasket on these vans. I was able to find a full head gasket kit for $120 for this van online. However, it does take a couple days to finish this job, It really isn't that diffucult. Since I enjoy working on cars and I do fix my families and neighbors vehicles for them, I will say ALL vehicles will have issues. Buying a toyota or honda won't solve the problem. Look around on the internet and you will find Toyota and Honda owners complaining also. The fix is learn how to repair some of this yourself. Use the internet, spend $80 on a decent socket set and own up to some of this instead of pointing the finger elsewhere.

Chevy HHR cold air intake said...

It's important to look unto different angles on your cars. We have different views an opinions on each of them. I learned quite a lot from your opinion and I won't complain about it.

Anonymous said...

Best vehicle I ever owned. Got me through all those grandchildren. Bought it at 20,000 and it just turned 200,000. It's be a great friend these last 12 years. Took good care of her and she took good care of me. Sorry to hear of other owners troubles.