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Old 05-24-2020, 10:52 PM   #1
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GM 5.3 vs 6.0

I'm buying an older used Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/XL. I'm seeing a lot of 5.3's and a few 6.0's in the Yukon Denalis. I'm not sure which is the better engine. Are there particular problems associated with each? I'll be towing our Tracer 20RBS
which is about 5000 lbs loaded. Anyone out there have any experience with each?
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:49 PM   #2
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Depends,

Everyone is going to tell you get the bigger engine. If all you are doing is towing your camper a few times a year, and not using your vehicle for much else, the 6.0 will be great.

However if you are going to also daily drive your vehicle, the 5.3 might be the better choice.

Both with do the job just fine. The 5.3 will get 20 mpg unloaded, and get 10 mpg loaded. The 6.0 will get 15 mpg unloaded and 8-9 mpg loaded, but will tow better and have more grunt.

Either way, check the rpo codes and stay away from 3.08s and 3.42 gears. Try to find one with 3.73 rear end gears.
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Old 05-25-2020, 12:43 AM   #3
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What years are you looking at? Over the years GM has been able to up the HP and torgue on each motor. I had a 99 5.3L. Very underpowered. It could still tow the trailer in your signature with no problem though. Getting 20 MPG with a suburban with a 5.3L is wishful thinking.
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:21 AM   #4
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I've owned a 6.0. Excellent engine. Much better for towing.
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:30 AM   #5
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Definitely go with the 6.0 You will be better off and happer with the choice. Later RJD
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:49 AM   #6
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I worked 35 years as a tech at Chevy/GMC dealers and the LS engine platform is a very good design. as was said in another post stay with a 3.73 gear ratio, the only other thing I would recommend is look for a 6.0 liter as they don't have the displacement on demand system like the 5.3, we did see some cam and lifter issues with the DOD system.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:28 AM   #7
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Everything you want to know about the LS engine. They are bullet proof.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LS_bas...l-block_engine
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:27 PM   #8
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The transmission is better behind the 6.0 too. I was looking at Denalis for the 6.0 but then found a 2500 which has both the 6.0 and a low range transfer case along with 2800 pounds of payload so that's what I got.
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:33 PM   #9
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There is a reason the 6.0 made it into the HD trucks and continued for so long..
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:23 AM   #10
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There is a reason the 6.0 made it into the HD trucks and continued for so long..
Other than the 6.0 being bored out, they are the same basic designed engine. 6.0 would have a steel block though in the heavy duty versions. The block material, back when they were being used in the year suburbans the OP is looking at, could have been steel or aluminum depending on the year.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:53 AM   #11
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The only known issue you will have to look for besides the DOD would be oil leaks. In higher mileage motors tend to have rear main seal leaks also oil pan leaks. I normally suggest doing it at the same time. My 6.0 2500 just hit 162k and i would tow my fifthwheel across country without a fear.
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:05 PM   #12
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Early on, the 5.3 had intake manifold gasket issues so people were getting coolant in their crankcase. Not sure if the 6.0 had the same issues or not. I had a 1999 5.3 and never had issues although I also change out antifreeze at 50k miles so that likely helped me. Was supposedly a combo antifreeze gasket material issue.
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babock View Post
Early on, the 5.3 had intake manifold gasket issues so people were getting coolant in their crankcase. Not sure if the 6.0 had the same issues or not. I had a 1999 5.3 and never had issues although I also change out antifreeze at 50k miles so that likely helped me. Was supposedly a combo antifreeze gasket material issue.
You may be thinking of the 5.7 motor. The ls is not set up like that.
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:32 PM   #14
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You may be thinking of the 5.7 motor. The ls is not set up like that.
Nope...it was the 5.3L, 4.8 and 6.0

https://www.fixmyoldride.com/Chevrol...-manifold.html
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Old 05-27-2020, 12:52 PM   #15
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The 5.3-6.0 has no coolant going through the intake manifold, you can remove the intake and not have to drain any coolant cause I have removed more intakes than I can count in my 35 years as a Chevy tech. the link that is posted in the other post is for a vacuum leak which will cause a miss on a lean fuel condition.
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Old 05-27-2020, 01:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
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The 5.3-6.0 has no coolant going through the intake manifold, you can remove the intake and not have to drain any coolant cause I have removed more intakes than I can count in my 35 years as a Chevy tech. the link that is posted in the other post is for a vacuum leak which will cause a miss on a lean fuel condition.
Yep...looks like you are correct. Not sure why all those years I thought it was a coolant issue.
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Old 05-27-2020, 01:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Yep...looks like you are correct. Not sure why all those years I thought it was a coolant issue.
The 4.3 5.0 5.7 and 8.1 were very common for the coolant leak. I had a customer with a 4.3 S10 with such a bad intake leak it put enough coolant in the oil pan it travelled up the distributor shaft and was towed in as a crank no start. When i pulled the cap it had salad dressing all over it.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Early on, the 5.3 had intake manifold gasket issues so people were getting coolant in their crankcase. Not sure if the 6.0 had the same issues or not. I had a 1999 5.3 and never had issues although I also change out antifreeze at 50k miles so that likely helped me. Was supposedly a combo antifreeze gasket material issue.
My 2001 iron block 6.0 has 235,000 on it. It had a bad idle when cold, would stumble and die if you didn't hold the throttle down some. Once warmed up it was fine. It also was getting knock sensor codes. I knew the idle was a bad older design of the intake manifold gaskets but I also bought 2 new GM knock sensors and a new harness for them as well. So you don't get coolant loss but you do get a bad vacuum leak. Pulling the intake was not too bad, took me a couple hours with normal tools. New gaskets, cleaned up knock sensor wells and put in new sensors. Now it's running great again even when cold, no check engine light. Was under $200 total in parts.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:43 PM   #19
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We had the optional 6.0L Vortec in our half-ton 2007 Avalanche, towing a trailer that weighed about 5,500 lbs. The 6.0 was paired with a heavy duty transmission and a 4.10 rear end. The Avy pulled the trailer great, but gas mileage was poor for daily use (12-13 mpg overall). You will find many more Tahoes / Suburbans with the 5.3L, and I think you will be fine towing a 5,000 lb trailer. Just make sure it has the 3.73 rear axle. (The 4.10 rear-end is rare in the GMT900 platform line-up .. ours was special-order.)
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