How to Add Horsepower to 5.3 Silverado

5.3 Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado with a small-block, 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 gasoline engine will produce 355 horsepower when it rolls off the assembly line. For some owners, this is enough. For others adding more horsepower can mean better performance, greater owner satisfaction, and the creation of a true Silverado beast of a truck. There are several methods to upgrade the performance of this engine, so let’s explore some of these options.

Performance Chips and Tuners

One of the best ways to upgrade power and performance in your 5.3 Silverado is by modifying your truck’s computer system. You can easily achieve this by upgrading the output chip and tuner. This upgrading will allow you to create your own custom tuning by controlling details like air-fuel ratios and the temperature sensor. With this upgrade you will increase horsepower and fuel economy and even with little to no experience, the job can be done in about 20 minutes.

Air Intake Upgrades

Upgrading the air intake is one of the least expensive and easiest things that you can do to upgrade your engine’s performance. Aftermarket air intake systems are much more efficient than the factory-installed system that came on your truck. By allowing the intake to pull in a greater amount of cooler air, you will increase horsepower, fuel mileage, and engine roar all in one easy step. Click here for our 5.3 Silverado cold air intake buyer’s guide.

Throttle Body Spacers

Upgrading the throttle body spacer allows the Silverado’s engine to breathe easier. These spacers will improve performance by optimizing incoming airflow and fuel-air combustion. Not every car can benefit from upgrading the throttle body spacer, but for a Silverado, it is one of the best things that you can do. Doing this is relatively easy on this type of truck.

Exhaust System Upgrade

As important as it is to make it possible for your truck to suck in a higher volume of air, it is just as important that the engine is able to expel the spent exhaust gases. There are a multitude of aftermarket exhaust systems to choose from. You should select a system that is constructed of high-grade stainless steel construction and mandrel-bent pipes. Mandrel-bent pipes allows for a smoother airflow that will provide a less-restrictive exhaust. A second benefit of an aftermarket exhaust system is increased engine roar.

Install an Intercooler

An intercooler is basically a radiator that allows intake air to be cooled before it enters the combustion chamber. Warmer air contains a lower percentage of oxygen, so further cooling the intake air provides a higher density of oxygen and better fuel combustion. This will allow an increase of engine horsepower output.

Remove and Replace the Throttle Body

Bigger (in this case wider) is better. Replacing the stock throttle body with a wider one can increase engine efficiency by improving air volume and flow. This is a better upgrade than just changing the throttle body spacer. Not only will this upgrade improve horsepower, it will also increase throttle response.


The 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 is a strong, reliable motor right out of the factory. However, like many things in this world, there is always room for improvement. By adding one or more of these modifications you can make vast improvements in your Silverado’s overall performance.

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