07 Tahoe 5.3L DoD killed it, Mama wants a 6.0

BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Looking and gathering all the details on a 6.0swap. Tahoe has 220,xxxmi and the #1 cyclinder (lifters) is where the noise is coming from. We were aware of this, just not now, winter is on us, but anywho, What I found so far, go for the 07 6.0 almost all the sensors are int he same spot. Will deal with the 4L60E in the spring. Wife said, can we put a light cam in it then get it tuned? I said well yes we can. good low/mid rpm cam suggestions? We don't hotrod the Hoe, it may tow a camp trailer later down the road, but it is her winter/backup unit. Camaros don't do well in snow ;-) Anything I need to look for before say perchasing a reman/rebuilt long block? It will have the DoD delete. Thanks in advanced "BigJ"
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Donor
Oct 22, 2015
5,729
Tampa Bay Area
Welcome to GMT Nation...

This Thread has a pretty good overview of ALL the LS Motors and will steer you towards the better flavors for your 6L choices. I think that @Reprise recently either built (or bought) a Six Liter LS Engine for his Truck and put in a Mild Cam (for Towing) from Texas Speed & Performance:


Naturally, unlike "The Old Days" of Bigger Cams, Bigger Intake Manifolds, Dual Carburetors and Headers"... anything other than using a Matching PCM Calibration to the OEM Stock Engine and Camshaft set up will require either a "Store Bought Tune" or prime the need for buying HP Tuners Gear and a Tech 2 Scan Tool to set things up properly and not wind up ruining the engine but running it "Way Too Lean" at Higher RPM.

.
 
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Mooseman

Master Blaster
Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
21,859
Ottawa, ON
Ya, that 4L60e won't live long behind a cammed 6.0 and neither will the diff. You'll need to find one from a 6.0 Tahoe or Avalanche. I know my 6.0 Avalanche came with 4.10 gears, which would be pleasant with that engine :smile: .
 
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BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Thanks for the info, Yeah I know down the road other stuff will have to swapped, but for how she drives it for the most part lol it should hold together for a while, if she breaks it, guess it will get parked until then..lol Watching alot of Richard Holdener yt stuff, I'm liking that SS2 Cam. Decent low end to mid rpm range, not quite "RV cam" but I like the numbers.
 

TollKeeper

Platinum Donor
Dec 3, 2011
6,401
Brighton, CO
I'm contemplating this swap on my Envoy... Subscribing just for info. Hoping my V8 rear end is good enough.
 
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Reprise

Lifetime VIP Donor
Jul 22, 2015
2,455
I'll offer my own 'welcome', as well. But after doing a little homework of my own, I'm going to make a different recommendation to you... keep the existing 5.3L, and freshen up the top end with a AFM delete kit, which will allow you to do a cam swap while you're in there.

(Unless you own one of the hybrid models...) Your Tahoe came with an LY5, which is a Gen 4 engine (iron block). That gives you a couple of things...
- The Gen 4 powdered connecting rods (stronger), along with floating piston pins (again, stronger than the pressed-in Gen 3s)
- The 2nd-gen truck intake (almost exactly as good as a TBSS, which is the best Gen 3 intake out there)
- The LY5 came with 799 / 243 heads. Those are basically LS6 heads, which are the best flowing ones out there (for stock GM).
- Compression is 9.9:1, with the stock flat-top pistons. Which potentially puts you in great shape if you ever decide to go for 'more', later on.
- The Gen 4 PCM opens up a lot of choices, both in engine tuning, and in potential transmission swaps, down the road.

Your issues should be limited to the top end of the engine, and you'll be replacing / upgrading all of that stuff -- for a LOT cheaper than you'll spend on a reman / rebuilt 6.0L, which you'll pay dearly for. If you've taken care of the 5.3L otherwise (regular oil changes, etc.), it should have a lot of life left in the bottom end, especially for your stated usage.

Since you have to remove the heads to replace the lifters on an LS, that's an opportunity to have them freshened up, if you like, and you'll want to swap out the valve springs to something that will accommodate a higher-lift cam (the LS6 'blue beehives' are great for this, as they're safe to .550 lift). Put in a new timing chain / timing set, and upgrade the oil pump, since you're there, and you'd be in good shape, IMHO.

As far as the cam... it sounds like you're in the hunt for something like a 'tow' or 'torque' cam; there are many choices out there. I went with Comp Cams; TSP was mentioned by MRRSM (btw, he misidentified my truck / build slightly... you can find out what I did HERE
(lots of reading, but lots of details, too). The Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) Stage 2 truck cams are popular these days, too -- the specs on them are very similar to my 6.0 tow cam. You can also get them in a kit with mated lifters, springs, & pushrods. From reading your profile, I'm pretty sure you can turn a wrench, and OHV pushrod LS engines are stupid simple to put together, just like the SBCs were. When I got done with mine, it started on 1st turn of the key. Very satisfying, too.

As long as you don't go with *too* wild of a cam, it'll be easy to get started, and either get it to a tuner, or depending on how much you like to 'roll your own', get a base tune in it with a programmer (like HPTuners). My build thread doesn't have tuning info in it, but I've done mine myself, with a copy of HPT I picked up on my local Craigslist. There are also mail-order tunes (where you either send them the PCM, or they'll send you a 'canned' tune that you upload with HPT or similar). One of our members (Limequat) does the physical type, where he takes yours and loads the tune to the PCM, then mails it back. About as plug-n-play as it gets (he'll remove your AFM, so you'll be set with respect to that, on 'day 1')

Now... what will you give up, if you keep the 5.3L ?
Well, displacement, as the 5.3L can't be punched out to 6.0L (you can get it to 5.7L safely, which is going to be like making a 327 into a 350, if you're thinking in terms of SBC). With a stroker crank, you could get to 383ci (which is actually larger than the 366ci of a 6.0L). But that would take longer than just doing the AFM delete / cam build, and it would be more expensive, of course.
But... you notice that I didn't say you'd be giving up a ton of torque? Some, to be sure, but with a good choice of cam, it would be as if you had put a (base) 6.0L in your truck (and if you decided to do 'more', later, you'd be on par with a 6.0L, for sure)

So... for those reasons... I'd think seriously about rebuilding the top of the LY5, rather than spending the $$$$ on a fresh 6.0L. With the intended usage of the Tahoe, I think a freshening of that motor, with some tasteful goodies, can give you guys what you're looking for, at a MUCH lesser cost (and possibly in less time).

Here are some links for you to get started with (Summit owns the domain, so if you click on the links in the articles, you'll be taken to their site):


(and for a rundown of Gen III / Gen IV engines):

(You'll find links there to info on the L96 and LY6, which would be the most likely Gen IV 6.0L candidates for you to swap to)
 
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rchalmers3

Platinum Donor
Jul 11, 2020
166
Irmo, SC
I'll offer my own 'welcome', as well. But after doing a little homework of my own, I'm going to make a different recommendation to you... keep the existing 5.3L, and freshen up the top end with a AFM delete kit, which will allow you to do a cam swap while you're in there.
I'll second this.
Retaining the Gen IV 5.3 with a freshening of the heads plus fitting a cam will put you in the sweet spot of maximum gains vs expenditure.

I did this for a neighbor and he is very pleased with both the project budget and improved drivability.

Rick
 

BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Funny this was all "commented" while I was fading my thinking too this. Yes I can turn a wrench, but my mechanic yrs fade around 2002/05 for some. Folks that tinker almost on the dialy/weekely know more of the "ins and outs" over just me just pulling out what I have and rebuilding or swaping. Judging while watching some dyno runs of 5.3's and 6.0's you basiclly said what I had seen. lol Time is a kind of factor thats contolled by money. What I come to know, is: the oil filter assembly has a thermostat, during a cold start, the oil filter is bypassed. IF the lifter turned or seized, its chewing on the cam, sending metal through the engine. This engine has 230/240,000Mi on it. and I think we are the 3rd owners? I do know the previous owners had it in South Dakota and lived on dirt roads. (Its well worn out through and through) but don't look too bad? lol I will have to price a rebuild by (me) AFM delete kit, cam, head work ect. VS a long block and then do all my BS to it. (currently working on the ol lady on exhaust upgrade plans) which would make a mild build 5.3L do good work. I just installed a JBA system on the 12' Camaro SS Convertable. She says "well if the tahoe sounds like that" lol work in progress for sure. I do appreciate the detailed info, helps me a ton!!!
 
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rchalmers3

Platinum Donor
Jul 11, 2020
166
Irmo, SC
The lifter noise from the typical AFM/DOD failure is due to those special lifters collapsing, not a twist and turn in the lifter bore, so don't assume the engine is trashing itself. But on the other hand, don't wait too long!

As I recall, my neighbor paid about $2k in parts for his 150k 4 gen engine update. I did all the labor: the cylinder walls were pristine, and I cleaned and lapped the valves and fitted new seals.

If you can build a Gen I or II Chevy small block, this motor is not so different. It has a lot more sensors, but the major architecture is the same. As the guy in the movie once said in a most encouraging way: "You can do it!"

Rick
 
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BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
well , Its parked for now ( the Tahoe) The Wife works at a body shop and has worked on some replacement parts and from what I am hearing a full on Paint job? Its black. I'll slip through some adds hear and there, I won't do a top end rebuild without paying attention to the bottom end . Its just me. It will get new rings, rods and main bearings, Melling oil pump. Along with a full blown once over at the machine shop, Boil out, clean up ect ect. I have done minor head work on imports in my garage. its pretty easy if one takes their time. lapping , cleaning with light polish ect ect. I guess I won't really "Know" whats going on until I open it up. What I can hear is (driver side, front cyl) vibration and a hell of a squal noise. Assuming lifter is seized or "turned" . I got out of the Mechanic bizz in 05 when alot of ths was new and wasn't having issues. So the concept wether it being a LA block 360, chevy 350 ect ect... I get all that, and yes a few more sensors. ( thats the easy part) what needed to be said for me is what yr was the great combo? heads, blocks, ECM ect. Seems I have the right yr for play time , while still keeping some "practical" in the mix. Fully appriciate the info of all of it. As winter gets going around here, be nice to find a corner of a shop, pull the engine out and go over it as I disassembal it, reading its history so to speak. Be interesting what the cylinders look like.
 

BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Thoughts on the AMS Racing AMF/DOD delete kit? They are currently sold out, but is this Kit with the LS9 cam a step in the right direction? Just poking around to see whats out there..as for kits.

AFM DOD Delete Kit with LS9 camshaft for 2007-2013 GM Chevrolet 5.3L Trucks / SUVs​

 
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Reprise

Lifetime VIP Donor
Jul 22, 2015
2,455
Well, you'd have one-stop shopping, pretty much... but given what you wanted out of the motor / cam... I'm wondering if the LS9 cam would be the best choice for what you wanted to do? That cam, in your engine, is going to be a little lacking down low (the LS9 is a 6.2L supercharged, so that blower is giving you power down low. You'll have power with the LS9 cam, too -- but you'll feel more of it in the upper RPMs, especially w/o boost.

That cam might be perfect for the Camaro. But I might go with something that produces more grunt down low, for the 'Hoe (since you want towing, and not to have to flog the motor to get it).

If you're going to re-ring the engine, and even *think* you might want to add boost later on... gap the rings for boost (e.g.; 'more' gap). That covers you for the future and ensures you won't have to tear down the bottom end again, later. Downside is that you might get a little more blow-by. But if you go with (a lot of) boost later on, and don't have enough gap... 'boom'.

As far as bearings... Clevites for the rods / mains. Can't go wrong there. But the hot ticket these days for cam bearings seem to be Durabond (they're solid one-piece, with no squiggly 'join line' running thru them like the stockers / Clevites have). Since you're going to disassemble / hot tank the block, talk to the shop you're going to use, and get their thoughts, as well. And talk to some cam suppliers, too -- discuss what you want from the engine and see what they recommend.

There'll be a tradeoff, someplace, with a cam -- if there were a cam that was 'perfect' for any / every application... they'd just make that one, and save a bunch of R&D time / money. :laugh:

Finally, when I tore down to the short block on mine, I still had the hone marks on the cylinder walls, and no real ridge to speak of at the top of the bore (I was able to clean / wipe them away). Don't be surprised if you have the same situation on yours.

Assuming the cylinders measure in-round, etc. -- that would let you re-hone and use .005 oversize pistons (if you're going to tear it down, may as well take care of the weakest link in the bottom end, which are the slugs). For a budget build, check the existing crank & rods, and feel free to reuse, unless you want to build a stroker.
 

BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Yeah after I posted that AMS kit I ran into Texas Speed site, that stage 1 cam they offer along with the kit, looks about right It's her tahoe, but I have to do all the work. ;-) and Its our tow unit as well as her back up winter unit, so , alot to play with as in numbers as ya stated. I mean, I know what I would do? then Practical use hits. I'm currently working on some space I can pull out the engine, one thing all of us know with any engine rebuild ect, is the tear down, thats the story. I can atest to what and how we drove it, but not the other 2 owners. Honestly, Its very weak the way it was/is. It can't get out of its own way empty while getting on the Hwy or Interstate. I guess is why i was thinking 6.0L with cam and light goodies. But as I get into some of these specs on the 5.3, and if this has all the "good stuff" (LY5) I don't see any reason a light built 5.3 is out of the question. I think she says a hard NO on forced induction, so stuck with the basics,cam, tune, still working on exhaust... as for futher knowledge on the 5.3's... I have a 91 RS v6 Camaro as a lawn ornament, will see how the Tahoe engine goes... and again, I thank you for the info. Last engine I rebuilt was a Suzuki 1.6L 8v head with a 16V block , plenty of engine swaps back in the day, but is was reman swap stuff for a shop, not "tinker" with cams and aftermarket stuff..
 
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BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
just an update, with ya'lls input and doing some looking around , this is whats going to go down; Texas Speed & performance AFM/DOD delete kit, TSP Stage 2 low lift 212/218 .550-.550 112LSA cam with springs, Melling High Volume oil pump. Going to pull the engine, pull the pan, rear main seal ect. I know I been told this fix, cam, dod delete can be done in frame, but , I'd like to give it all a good going over and a full gasket set and call it done. I'll lap the valves and stick new seals on. clean everything all up. See what a tune shop can do with the rest. Trans will be next im sure ( cause thats just my life) but have a friend who has done a few 4L60Es a time or 2. Maybe it will hold out til summer? then poop out? idk. Of course I'll take pics ( so I know how it all goes back together) but If i find anything odd, I'll be back. Seems straight fwd for the tear down, will be a learning experiance for sure. We have a 91 RS v6 camaro as yard art..... be interesting to actually "build" a decent 5.3 and stick that in , for a weekend road toy. Will see...
 
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Reprise

Lifetime VIP Donor
Jul 22, 2015
2,455
just an update, with ya'lls input and doing some looking around , this is whats going to go down; Texas Speed & performance AFM/DOD delete kit, TSP Stage 2 low lift 212/218 .550-.550 112LSA cam with springs, Melling High Volume oil pump. Going to pull the engine, pull the pan, rear main seal ect. I know I been told this fix, cam, dod delete can be done in frame, but , I'd like to give it all a good going over and a full gasket set and call it done. I'll lap the valves and stick new seals on. clean everything all up. See what a tune shop can do with the rest. Trans will be next im sure ( cause thats just my life) but have a friend who has done a few 4L60Es a time or 2. Maybe it will hold out til summer? then poop out? idk. Of course I'll take pics ( so I know how it all goes back together) but If i find anything odd, I'll be back. Seems straight fwd for the tear down, will be a learning experiance for sure. We have a 91 RS v6 camaro as yard art..... be interesting to actually "build" a decent 5.3 and stick that in , for a weekend road toy. Will see...
That sounds like a good plan! A couple of things...

- Pushrods. If they're not included in the kit, get a set of CrMo (.080 wall thickness). Stockers bend (and bend more with increased lift pressure). Stock length (7.400) is fine for your application.

- Rocker arms. Upgrade to full trunnion (modify the stockers with a kit, or get a new set.) The stockers can shed needle bearings. FYI - You'll need a press to upgrade the stockers yourself; I found new ones for about $20 more than it would've cost me to upgrade the stockers on my own.

I'd also freshen up the timing chain, since you're in there. As long as the timing gears aren't worn (mine weren't, with 250K), a new chain is cheap insurance. Cloyes sells a LS6-spec replacement for under $25 (at least it was, a couple of years ago; I'm sure prices have increased).

Good luck, and post pics. And you can always follow along with my build thread, to see what you're in for. Only difference is that you'll be doing the rear main as well (the only thing I didn't touch on mine).
 
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BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
Yep got the cam sprocket (3bolt) kit along with a single row chain. So I NEED the .080 push rods? or can the old stock ones work? This tahoe isn't going to see anything over 4200RPM ish. Its why I went with the low lift stage 2 cam, something like 5800 Rpm is its max perfomance. If i'm pulling a camp trailer uphill, I know how to down shift and slow up a few mph. I hate seeing a screaming v8 ect ect, I know, I know, its old school, still though... In answer to the kit question, no they don't come with new push rods, I think they do offer with a more agressive kit, they do... or you have a choice to get them added to the kit on the site. This cam imo is something between a stage 1 and what some of us called a RV cam. Times have changed and things get called or tagged as something else more fancy and eye catching. As for the trunnion upgrade, I see its more for the high RPM or heavy hi performance level.. and of course the amount of money invested in the engine. I see why its available, but for the time being, I might pass on it of rnow, working on over time if possable the next few weekends, If I can, I'll do it, if I can't? it will have to take a pass. Water pump, oil pump, AC compressor and possably a alternator will be included while doing all the other stuff, alt may take a back seat as for its easy to get too and the old one (oe) is still charging along (so far). Im formilor with AC work, so , changing ou tthe compressor while the engine is out, is a no brainer in my head... b ut does raise the cost of the "quick refresh". I was thinking new mains and rod bearings, but if what I see once "opened up" and what ya'll have said, that may take a pass as well. We also have a few boxes, of front end parts, ball joints, front strut assembly, rear shocks, Tie rod ends ect that go into pay while all this "other" engine stuff is going on... so those who are following along, this isn't just a AFM/DOD delete, cam and go go thing. Got a front bumper cover and rear cover, hood, and front fenders along with a full paint job awaiting. Timing is of the essence, while front is torwn down, the engine work will be done ( in a perfect world). lol As one might see, there is alot going on than just a cam and dod delete. Found a semi local shop that does "tuning" . I am interested to hear more about this HP or HP 2 tuning? I am not PC savy. Last thing I had a PC hooked too was a FORD VCM to a cheap lap top I had to keep plugged in, becasue the little dealer owner wouldn't spring for a new battery pack for the lap top, and thats was all FoMoCo Corperate mumbo jumbo, heavly watched interface.... Js We couldn't even chat about the 6.0L head gasket BS replacement inside info, we just posted "Call (so and so at Felx ford in (whatever state)..lol then talk on the phone... those that done dealer work know what I'm talkin about.... was a afew yrs ago for me... 7,9 yrs?
 
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Reprise

Lifetime VIP Donor
Jul 22, 2015
2,455
Do you *require* the hardened pushrods? No.

Would I re-use the old ones? No. (at the very least, I'd check them for bending / warpage & blockage (oiling holes), and give them a good soak in solvent.)

New stock pushrods? Yeah, but for the price difference between new stock & new hardened, I'd spend the little bit extra.

If you do reuse the stock ones, try and keep them in order (and up/down direction), relative to the rocker arms (wear pattern), although when I took off my stock ones, I really couldn't tell any wear pattern on mine, myself. But that's what's advised.

Trunnion kit *required* ? No, but again, if you're putting the $$$$ into the engine, and keeping it for the long haul, I'd want to remedy one of the few known weak points, and it's easily done. Again, that's 'me'. A kit to upgrade your existing rockers is about $80 or so (and you can do it with a C-frame press, which you can rent for free, if you don't have one).

If you're shy about doing the tuning, probably better to take it to a shop you trust. I'm thinking you should be able to get that cam to run / drive with stock ECM tuning, although it'll be a bit rough running. So you could safely drive it to the tuner, and wouldn't have to tow it to him.

HPTuners (or any tuning software, except for the 'all-in-one' programmers, where they have self-contained parameters), is a fairly steep learning curve, so I'm not going to sit here and write "dig in! It's easy!" That would be lying.

The basic concepts of setting up airflow > fueling > timing, like on a car with a carb / distributor, are similar - it's just that there are a million tables that you wind up going through. It's kinda like Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet), but on steroids.

Have your tuner provide a unlocked copy of both the stock / OEM tune, and his finished product, when he's done. A 'locked' one keeps you coming back to him for any later modifications, so unless he's promising 'free lifetime updating' (who would do this?), avoid a locked tune, if you can. Expect to pay $500, maybe a little more for a tune with dyno runs included. But it should be delivered to you optimized for power, fuel economy, and longevity, given your application.

Finally... keeping the RPMs down. Yeah, you acknowledge that's 'old school' -- and it is, to be honest. The LS is a very robust motor (and you're making it stronger).

If you're planning on climbs up the Ike Tunnel on I-70, etc., out there in CO... the advice is to 'let her eat'. She'll handle it. Don't worry about 4000-5000 RPM, if you need it to get up a climb. Put a good transmission cooler in, and you'll be OK (either hook up a gauge, or run a OBD monitoring app on your phone like Torque Pro or similar, where you can set up the trans temp and monitor it as needed.) On the 4L60, the weak point for you will be the 3rd clutch; heat compounds it. The cooler it is, the longer it'll live.

Your goals for the engine / truck are very similar to mine. I think you'll enjoy the result, once you're all done & have her tuned.
 
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BigJ

Registered Member
Original poster
Oct 24, 2021
11
Colorado
trunnion and push rods added to the list, Will be sitting down, filling out the order this evening. I haven't read any of the articals yet, but intend too. Busy with OT to buy this tahoe stuff. Was talking to the wifes' boss ( he runs a body shop) Sounds like a pile of LS4's and a few square bodies maybe put together. See how the Tahoe ordeal goes. I do appreciate the info and the "point in the right direction" approch. Its what I needed, and it takes time to explain things outta persons day. Thanks!! ( I do transceiver (cb/ham gear) repair on the side and have to explain things to others like this here.
 
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