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  1. #1

    Default Help! Need more towing HP.


    I have a very stock 2008 Silverado 1/2 ton w/ gas 5.3L and 3:42 rearend. I tow a 7000# camper and would like a little more muscle under the hood. I'd like to keep my budget around $1,000. Can y'all give me some suggestions on where to get started? I'm sure I'll be looking at CAT back exhaust, CAI and or tuners. Any suggestions on what to do first along with brand/types/models would be great. I've never done any modifications to any of my vehicles before so I'm in virgin territory here. Thanks for all suggestions.

    Larry from Texas

  2. #2


    Hope this helps. This is where I purchased my parts. Might be able to find them cheaper on other sites but at the time this is the cheapest I could find them.

    Cold air intake: K&N 63-3070

    Exhaust: Gibson cat back 315621

    Programmer: Superchips Vivid 528650

    If you get really froggy:
    Headers: JBA 1850S-2JT
    Last edited by lonnie.hausler; 06-03-2012 at 05:44 AM.
    2013 Silverado 2500 HD, 6.6L 4X4 Z71 Crewcab.

  3. #3
    Master Mechanic
    KyleZ71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    York and Wilkes Barre, PA


    Try summit racing, anything auto, and amazon. Lots of good products at low prices. Summit and amazon I know have free shipping. But since your on a budge look at spector cai, exhaust from, and maybe a used predator programmer for your truck.
    Last edited by KyleZ71; 06-03-2012 at 11:03 AM.
    Objects in mirror are losing

    2003 Chevy Silverado Z71, 5.3L, K&N 57 series, 2.5'' Flowmaster Super 10 series dual exhaust , Corvette Servo, McNew Automotive Dyno tune, SS gauge cluster, Extang Trifecta Tonneau, Pacesetter shorty headers, Goodmark cowl hood, Sony Xplod speakers, Kenwood DDX-470 exhaust tips, 16" Ultra Badlands polished wheels, Pirelli Scorpion ATR .

  4. #4


    Have you thought about changing gear ratios along with improving engine performance?
    3.42 gears for towing are ok but something along the lines of 4.10 would work better for the weight your towing, even 3.73 would be better.

    I'm sure I'll catch negative responses on this but first off a cat back exhaust really wont improve performance a lot, if any, all your changing is the muffler and piping with a catback. Sound is affected but thats the biggest change, unless you get mandrell bent tubing, and mandrell bent tubing really wont make a difference unless your pushing more horsepower than that factory 5.3 does. To make Mandrell bent tubes worth the effort and cost you need to change the cam and lifters to something more aggressive, then use domed or flat top pistons and better rings for more compression. Keep in mind this is a 2 bolt main engine so the amount of HP you want to try making has to have a realistic limit so you dont take out the bottom end. Your either running the LC9 aluminium block with AFM or the LMG cast iron block, if it's an LC9 you cant even think of changing the cam because of the mechanics behind the AFM system, at least not for around a $1000. The LMG could be upgraded with new internals to make use of a mandrell bent catback but again the cost would be more than $1000.
    Cold Air Intakes (CAI) look great under the hood but the one flaw many of them share is their drawing warm/hot air directly from under the hood, at least the factory system draws air from out under the fender, it may be a little restricted but the air intake is certainly cooler, which equals denser air.

    My recomendation would be purchase a good air filter replacement, reuseable, dry flow style. Cost $65-$100
    Look real hard at ways to take some of the restrictions out of the factory air intake but retain where the air is being picked up at. Cost $0-$???
    Find a well recommended local muffler shop to do a 1 in 2 out catback exhaust. Cost $250-$400
    A tuner. Cost $250-???
    And finally think about new gears, I'm assuming your truck is 2wd so replacement gears could be done for as low as $500.
    Yea everything together would blow your $1000 budget, the most important performance changes on this list to me would be, tuner, air intake modification, and gear change, followed by the exhaust then the airfilter.

  5. #5


    ^^ That man is a genius. Put it all into perspective. I do agree on the 3.73s.

    If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger cheater bar.

    1999 GMC Sierra SLT Z71 | 5.3 "Vortec" | Spectre "Cold Air Intake" | TransDapt TBS | Hypertech 30005 Tune | 2005 Chevy Tail Lights | Denali headlights | Grill Mounted Fog Lights | AWS Bug Shield | 265/70/16 Futura Scramblers | Boss HD Speakers | 2005 Overhead Console | Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers 2N1O | Mostly stock-ish
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    CVN-69 "IKE-ATRAZ" AIR/V-2 Gear Dawgs

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by tbplus10 View Post
    ... the most important performance changes on this list to me would be, tuner, air intake modification, and gear change, followed by the exhaust then the airfilter.
    Quoted for truth. This is spot-on. I'd personally rate the gear change second only to the tuner, myself, and I agree with the remainder of the recommendations. In addition to tuning for 87 fuel, you need the tuner to be able to tell your truck you've changed gear ratios and not to throw error codes/idiot lights because of it. You'll notice immediate improvement getting off the line and up to speed with the gear ratio change ... as well as maintaining speed on inclines.

  7. #7


    I agree with SurrealOne go with a gear change and a tuner. They'll give you your best bang for the buck. The LS style engines make their power higher up in the RPM range and the numerically higher gears with put her right in the power band. I'd recommend the 4.10s for best towing performance, and you'll love the feel when you pull away from a stoplight when your not towing.

    97 Chevrolet Suburban K1500 5.7L
    78 GMC High Sierra K1500
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go thru life.

  8. #8


    My biggest concern is that you are trying to tow a 7000 pound trailer/camper with a 1/2 ton truck. Usually that much weight on/behind a 1/2 ton truck is not a good idea. I don't know what your year and model are rated for, but I would have gone to 3/4 or 1 ton truck for that much weight.

    But if you are going to tow with it, then I agree that re-gearing to at least the 3.73 would be best. Just remember that higher gear ratios are great for towing, but will also reduce top end highway speed, and will affect fuel mileage at the same time.

    I drive an '89 3/4 ton 4x4 with the stock towing package. It tows my 30' travel trailer great, but at speeds of 60 and above, the truck sounds like I'm trying win the Daytona 500. For that reason alone, I've never had it above 65 mph.

    Good luck, and good camping.
    Myself, my beautiful wife
    3 - boys
    3 - minivans
    1 - '89 Chevy K2500 Silverado Truck
    1 - 27 foot travel trailer
    Not enough family time!

  9. #9


    Gonna have to go with the gear change. 3:73 oughtta get you the extra grunt you want. In my experience, bolt-on mods such as intake tubes and exhaust systems have minimal effect unless you do something about the big chunk of steel between them to allow it to pump more air through. Remember, whatever "goesinta" must also be able to "goesoutta".

    Go with the gears. remember, though that you will have to do the front gears too if it is a 4x4. You will also have to flash the computer to tell it what you did to make the speedo, odometer and transmission shift points correct again.
    "It went together didn't it? Well then there has to be a way to take it apart!" - Me.

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    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

  10. #10


    Gear changes are great, however keeping a budget of $1K in mind you're lookin at 2-3 of the other options (depending on the price you can find!). IMO exhaust, CAI, and a tuner will be the easiest to do. Depending on how savvy you are mechanically, you can install all of this on your own (I was able to do the intake and programmer on my own, and I'm a pretty big n00b). As far as brands K&N and Volant are good intakes, I prefer Magnaflow for exhaust, and a SuperChips flashpaq programmer will run you about $380 (just helped my grandfather with his). Good luck on your search and let us know what ya finally decide on!

    2010 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE Extended Cab Z71 4X4 5.3L Flex Fuel
    MagnaFlow single in duel out system
    Volant CAI & Ram Air Scoop with Power Core Filter
    Rhino Tuff Grip Spray in Bed liner
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    Diablo Trinity with Diablew Tune

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