Help! Need more towing HP.

Discussion in 'Chevy Silverado Forum (GMC Sierra)' started by lgaddes, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. lgaddes

    lgaddes New Member


    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. lonnie.hausler

    lonnie.hausler New Member

    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: Jun 3, 2012
  3. KyleZ71

    KyleZ71 Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts ROTM Winner

    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: Jun 3, 2012
  4. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    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. rileyjr16

    rileyjr16 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

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

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    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. Boonduff

    Boonduff Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    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.
  8. csltrains96

    csltrains96 Rockstar 100 Posts

    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.
  9. moogvo

    moogvo Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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.
  10. Drake_korthos

    Drake_korthos Rockstar ROTM Winner 100 Posts

    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!

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