How to Increase the Horsepower in a 53L Engine

by Don KressUpdated November 07, 2017
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Items you will need

  • 3/8 inch drive socket set

  • Reciprocating saw

  • Dual-exhaust system

  • Screwdrivers

  • Cold air intake

  • Reprogrammed computer chip

Chevrolet's 5.3L V8 engine is used or is available in practically every large sedan, truck, SUV, and even sports car produced by Chevrolet today. It is the backbone of other GM-branded vehicles, including GMC, Cadillac, as well as the now-defunct Pontiac brand. Adding power to the 5.3L V8 engine is a fairly simple matter, as numerous aftermarket performance companies as well as GM's in-house power specialists, GM performance products, offer many options to upgrade the power of GM's mid-sized V8.

Unbolt the stock exhaust system from your car or truck by first removing the bolts securing the exhaust to the catalytic converter. Use the socket set to continue unbolting the exhaust from the frame, including the exhaust hangers. Use a reciprocating saw to cut the exhaust tube so that it can be more easily removed from underneath the car or truck.

Install the dual exhaust system by first routing the exhaust pipes over the rear axle, then aligning them to the stock exhaust hangers. Application-specific exhaust kits will include exhaust hangers which fit into the existing stock exhaust hangers. Bolt the exhaust flange to the catalytic converter flange using the supplied hardware and the socket set to complete the installation.

Open the hood and remove the stock air filter and intake runner from the engine of the vehicle. The air box is bolted to the frame and core support, while the upper section of the intake runner is held in place with a compression band fitting attaching the air intake duct to the throttle body. Remove the mass air flow sensor and the intake air temperature sensor and lay them aside. Remove the air intake system from the vehicle.

Install the cold-air intake system by first fitting the intake "hat" over the throttle body and using the compression band with a screwdriver to tighten it into place. Then, install the intake air temperature sensor into the hole in the upper intake tube with the supplied rubber grommet. The mass air flow sensor is next, fitting into place with rubber compression boots and metal compression bands which are installed with screwdrivers. Finally, install the air filter cone into place at the end of the intake runner and near the core support of the vehicle.

Remove the negative terminal from the battery, then locate the engine management computer. The wiring harness is screwed into the computer to prevent accidental removal. Remove the screw, then pull the wiring harness straight out from the engine computer. The performance chip installs into the computer, then the wiring harness installs into the performance chip. Replace the screw and carefully tighten it down to secure the wiring harness in place.


Bolt on parts are generally best for beginning customizing. More involved custom projects require engine tear-down and rebuild.

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