Chev Cargo Van Real Slooooowwww on Hills/Engine Light Comes On

Hi! I have a 2001 Chev Express Cargo Van automatic with about 208,000 miles. It runs fine EXCEPT for going up hills, especially those long incline highway hills. The “service engine soon” light comes on whenever I catch myself on a hill (I avoid hills). Last weekend I went a different route to take my son to an event and, of course-hills…where the van gave off a burnt smell and became sluggish-thought for certain I had done it in, but once back on flat ground, it recovered. I think it would quit moving completely if I continued going up a hill.

Am I looking at compression issues, or? How much $$ am I looking at to repair, or is it something beyond repair economics?



Check your transmission fluid for a burnt smell or dark (not pink) color.

Transmission fluid is pink.

If the Service Engine Soon light comes on while climbing hills, it means the computer has stored a code that could indicate what’s causing the lack of performance from the engine.

Some parts stores will for free hook a scanner/code reader to the vehicle and pull the codes.

But if the Service Engine Soon light isn’t on at the time, it may require a scanner/code reader that has the capability of pulling what are called history codes.

But if you find out what codes are stored, I’ll bet it’ll point you to the problem.


Also check for plugged exhaust. A muffler shop can do this.


Good advice above. When going uphill, that tests the ability of the engine to draw in enough air and fuel and rapidly enough, enough of a push on the piston from the explosions in the cylinder to turn the crank, and to get the exhaust gas out the tailpipe. There’s something wrong from among that list. You could list the possibilities yourself. Air filter, fuel filter, fuel pump, compression, exhaust restriction. I’m guessing based on what you say, a plugged cat. Tester is spot on, the place to start is the diagnostic codes. You paid for that diagnostic software when you bought the car, so might as well use it.