My 2011' Airstream Avenue - Chevy Express Van - Locked & Lifted

#1
I have been going back and forth on building a van for my photography adventures and weekend camping trips and road trips with my wife. I wanted something with basic amenities with AWD or 4wd. Not being very patient, I went ahead and bought this Airstream Avenue while I was checking out Roadtreks. It looked great inside and out except it was 2wd but I thought it would be easier and quicker to convert to 4wd vs building out a van interior and I could use the van for a while to see if 2wd would work for me. Sitting at stock height I only had 6"-8" ground clearance so first things first I decided to lift it and put larger tires on it. After extensive reading on different forums about lifting the Chevy Express van, I drove over to San Diego to talk to Jeremy at WeldTec and decided to start with his 3" lift spindles with Fox shocks and coil spacer. He delivered them as promised and I proceeded on having my 4wd shop, 4Wheeler Supply install them. I had Valley Spring build the progressive spring packs and install a rear stabilizer bar. I then had 4 Wheeler Supply install 4:10 rear gears with an ARB air locker and twin compressor with air up kit for airing up tires. The Airstream Avenue comes with 16"x7" Alcoa wheels and I installed 285/75Rx16 Cooper Discoverer AT3 tires on these wheels. After it was up and running and the test drive showed a brake sensor /abs sensor light we decided we would have to buy a Bully Dog tuner to dial the new tire diameter and gear ratio in. I was kind of hesitant about how well it would drive after this lift but I was pleasantly surprised and happy at how well it drove and handled! Now I need to get it out on some back roads and see how it works off the highway.

stock-01.jpeg lifted-01.jpeg

stock-02.jpeg lifted-02.jpg

stock-03.jpg lifted-03.jpg
 
#2
Great looking rig...those Airstream's are well built out. I only saw one of them when I was shopping and it was so overpriced I didn't really even consider it. The lift is just right; are you still looking at the 4x4 conversion?
 
#3
Looking good.
I am considering doing the same thing.
Why did the ABS light come on if the the tire size wasn't changed?
 
#4
Great looking rig...those Airstream's are well built out. I only saw one of them when I was shopping and it was so overpriced I didn't really even consider it. The lift is just right; are you still looking at the 4x4 conversion?
I thought I would drive it for 6-9 months and see how it does first. I'm thinking with all the stuff hanging underneath that I am going to be limited where I go whether I have 4wd or 2wd. It would be nice to have 4wd for mud and snow but don't know if I want to spend that kind of money for just that.
 
#5
Looking good.
I am considering doing the same thing.
Why did the ABS light come on if the the tire size wasn't changed?
I changed from 245/75 to 285/75 tires, so about 2.5" taller. I thought re-gearing to 4:10 from 3:42 or whatever stock was would have brought me close to stock. I haven't read about this on other threads, so I wonder if others have run into this?
 
#6
Oh, my bad.
I did notice you went with a different size tire, but I didn't know it was taller.
 
Last edited:
#8
Looks good how is your power and MPG with the changes?
Power is good with the new gears, but I won't be able to check mileage until my tuner comes in and I can re-program the tire diameter and gear ratio into the computer, I can tell my speedo is off a bit. Just from past experience with numerous vehicles I have modified I am expecting less mileage then stock. I usually see approximately 1 mpg less with bigger tires and a lift.
 
#9
I had the pleasure of seeing this van in person today, at a local shop I do Paintless Dent Repair for. Looks even better in person!!
GpnAZ...
I have been kicking around the idea of ordering the Weldtech kit, if possible I would like to take a ride in your van and feel how the ride quality is after the lift! I work right around the corner from the shop it is at.
 
#10
I had the pleasure of seeing this van in person today, at a local shop I do Paintless Dent Repair for. Looks even better in person!!
GpnAZ...
I have been kicking around the idea of ordering the Weldtech kit, if possible I would like to take a ride in your van and feel how the ride quality is after the lift! I work right around the corner from the shop it is at.
I PM'd you with my contact info.
 
#11
Awesome RV! I can't wait to see how you enjoy that suspension!

Did you have any rubbing with the 285/75Rx16? Was any trimming necessary?

BTW, I have a similar project to yours. A 1999 Roadtrek 200 and I'm going to pick up my own Weldtec suspension on Friday. Thanks Santa!
 
#12
Awesome RV! I can't wait to see how you enjoy that suspension!

Did you have any rubbing with the 285/75Rx16? Was any trimming necessary?

BTW, I have a similar project to yours. A 1999 Roadtrek 200 and I'm going to pick up my own Weldtec suspension on Friday. Thanks Santa!
Thanks, no rubbing at this time, but only city driving so far, my 4wd shop had to trim the fiberglass body cladding at the front fender well but you really can't tell by looking at it. You're going to love the lift on your RT!
 
Last edited:
#13
Thanks, no rubbing at this time, but only city driving so far, my 4wd shop had to trim the fiberglass body cladding at the front fender well but you really can't tell by looking at it.
Thanks! Would you mind taking a picture of where it was trimmed? Sorry for the trouble but it will really help me determine if I'm going with 265 or 285 in a couple of months... I still can't decide! Ha ha!

You're going to love the lift on your RT!
I know I will! I can't wait. :wings:I got all the parts, just waiting on installation by a shop during the winter.
 
#14
looking good! thanks for the pictures!

I was and still am debating converting ours to 4x4, a ck3500 frame with components could be had for quite cheap, but its a lot of work. I have been driving our van to go to work and back and to the ski hill, in our Ottawa winters never got stuck once..

I think the air locker and if you wanted to be safe a winch would make sure you never get stuck, the 4x4 sure sounds like a nice luxury that id also like to have, not sure i can justify it.

love the lift and tire size!
 
#15
Thanks! Would you mind taking a picture of where it was trimmed? Sorry for the trouble but it will really help me determine if I'm going with 265 or 285 in a couple of months... I still can't decide! Ha ha!

wheelwell pic.jpg

They trimmed about 1.5" off the fiberglass cladding on the wheelwell, it is only about 1.5" wide now but looks good. My 285 tires were only 32.56" tall in diameter but they look good proportional to the lift. I really like the Cooper Discoverer AT3 tire, it looks good and drives nice!