Chevy 350 Engine Identification

by Floyd Drake III
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A Chevy workhorse for 30 years, the 350-cubic-inch engine was used in production models from 1968 until 1998. The engine, used interchangeably in many models, often presents identification issues that are most reliably resolved by identifying the engine code.

Chevy Engine Identification

Initial identification of a Chevrolet eight-cylinder engine is simple. The model car and year are initial indicators the engine is possibly a 350. After model year 1973, it is most likely a 350; Chevrolet used it in practically everything. Chevrolet engines are originally painted safety orange; other indicators the engine may be a 350 include tags and markings, either GM or Chevrolet.

Code Location

The only method for positive Chevrolet small-block identification is by recording the casting number on the block and checking it against an engine code list. Chevrolet small-block engine codes are located on the right, or passenger side of the engine block (left side when facing the engine from the grill). They will be near the alternator, and may even be obscured by it.

Decoding The Code

Chevrolet has a code system which gives key information on a particular engine. The code will be eight digits long and uses both numbers and letters. When identifying the engine, the last three letters of the code are the most important. For an engine code reading V0103TBT, the TBT, when checked against the Chevrolet coding list, tells you the engine is from a 1979 1500 series truck with California modifications.

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