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Thread: GM 5.3 pickup motor

  1. #1
    Kindly curmudgeon W7lej1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Spokane Valley, WA

    GM 5.3 pickup motor

    Hope I'm not violating any terms of service or other here. Questions for anyone who has owned or has experience with these engines, please?

    OK, so once in a great while, I drive a four-wheel vehicle. I have a long and mostly agreeable history with GM "small-block" V8s, 350 CI and 5.7l. The current pickup, '99 K2500 is getting a little old and tired, and I'm kinda-sorta looking for something newer. Do not intend to throw down the $$ for new. I spotted a possible candidate pickup, equipped with the 5.3 L V8. I use my pickup to tow a 19 ft aluminum fishing boat, probably 3000 - 4000 lb, and an older 23 ft travel trailer, about 4500 lb.

    So, two questions:

    1. Will the 5.3 handle the load when towing these rigs? (I don't tow for super long distances or at high speeds.)

    2. Is the 5.3 as durable as the 5.7?

    Advice appreciated!

    Regards, Marty
    Last edited by W7lej1; 08-16-2013 at 09:37 PM.
    Marty in Spokane Valley, WA

    '79 R65 - the rolling running project bike
    '08 R12RT - "new scoot"

  2. #2
    I have an 02 Avalanche with the 5.3. 125k, no engine or tranny problems. I tow a 4,500lb boat plus trailer with no problems.

  3. #3
    Registered User dieselyoda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada

    Had a service truck with the GM 5.3 pickup motor, beat the crap out of it.

    I was given a shiny new service truck with a real heavy service body on it, loaded with tools and equipment, it weighed just under 9,000 lbs. Fuel economy was horrific but I have to give it credit, it lasted almost 100,000 miles before it blew up and I don't recall ever having any real issues with it. In some respects, especially really cold winter morning starts, it was good soldier. I wouldn't be shy owning one.

    Now, ask me about the Duraexplodemax......................
    1997 R1100RT (Restored Basket Case) , 1981 KZ 440 LTD (Restored Basket Case, my baby, fast, fun)
    3xR90/6, two just sold, one for a sidecar. 1983 K100RS (Cafe now)
    Very Rough R80RT. 1987 K1100RS (freaking hooped I think)

  4. #4
    neanderssance man sedanman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Pawling NY
    Hot Rod magazine pulled a 5.3 out of a junkyard, slapped a turbo on it, tweaked the electronics and made just shy of 800 horsepower, all with totally stock internals. The 5.3 is a very capable engine.
    Stop wrestling with your motorcycle, dance with it.
    2011 R1200RT Traded
    2014 R1200RT fully optioned

  5. #5
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    If you like the vehicle that you have found and are completely satisfied with it and will buy it as long as long as it tows your trailers well- tell that to the seller. Anyone selling a vehicle that they are not "afraid" of will let you test ride/tow the vehicle. Explain it to them and let them know the route and reason and you should be good to go.
    Most of the "new" engines and transmissions run well for a long time even with semi-regular maintenance. After your test drive look at the oil and give the transmission fluid a sniff.
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  6. #6
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Marion VA-In the middle of some of the best riding in the country.
    Some of the 5.3s had a piston slap issue on cold starts. It was because GM shortened the piston skirt in an attempt to lower internal engine friction. When I was shopping for a new truck in 2004, I got it down to GM or Ford. The piston slap issue was in the news at the time and I asked for assurance from my nephew who worked at the GM dealership that the warranty would take care of the piston slap should the one I bought have it. He said GM paid for several repairs but once they discovered how many had the problem, the decided that the piston slap was normal and wouldn't repair them for piston slap noise alone. I bought the Ford.

    If the engine has the problem, they will display the problem only on cold starts. They will smoke and rattle like a diesel for a few seconds if it is the first cold start of the day.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  7. #7
    Dale Rudolph
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Medford, Oregon
    You didn't say what year truck you are thinking about.
    I have a 2011 GMC with the 5.3, it's the best truck I have owned. It has towed everything I've hooked up to it with no problems.

    The model I have has the cylinder de-activation system, usually runs on 8 cylinders, but drops to 4 when there is no load.
    The 5.3 I have also has the 6 speed automatic with the top two gears being overdrive, it has a button to change into towing mode and is fully automatic or manual shift.

    Between the engine sometimes running on 4 cylinders and the 6 speed, I get around 16mpg in the city and 24 on the freeway.

  8. #8
    BMW MOV Club Director ENFOMAN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Albany NY area
    My mileage is not as good as yours but then again I am in upstate NY with hills and traffic all around me. I have a 07 and has been good since new. The OEM battery lasted as warranted. Replaced with an Auto zone Battery . I was told there are two different types of batteries for the vehicle depending on the support strut over the battery. I have pulled 24' floats and a snow mobile trailer many times at highway speed without issue and fair gas mileage. Rotate the tire religiously and they will last and last. Mine are still OEM and I somewhere between 38-40 K on them. It seems that the right headlight assembly lexan foggs over on these models. I have that issue still after a replacement under warranty. Looks like crap and someday I will change it out along with a left rear Bumper piece that I crunched when backing the Snowmobile trailer. Nice feature in the rear bumper sections. I think GM was thinking that it happens and it makes it cheaper to change out a right or left side instead of a whole bumper. Over all a nice truck and I like the stle of the body.. The New body style for the '14 makes the truck look like a Ford F150 IMO. Wondering if they are trying to confuse people from a distance or something. Regardless, for me the body style is too Boxy.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Traded my 04 Silverado with a 5.3 that I bought new last September with 150k. No problems with the motor. Could tow my trailers with no problem.
    I took good care of the truck, oil change at 3k, trany, coolant, brake fluid, and diff every 30k.
    Truck was hard on brakes. No other issues.
    I would have bought another Chevy but I got a way better deal at the Ford dealer.

  10. #10
    John. jstrube's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Atwater, CA
    My brother has owned 2 trucks with the 5.3 Both awesome. Much more power than the old 5.7, 350 engine.


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