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Silverado 4.8 vs. 5.3?

sbehmsbehm Posts: 3
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
Any opinions on the Silverado 4.8 vs. 5.3 V8? I'm
looking to buy a 1500 LS 4x4 ext. cab, mostly for
light hauling, snowy roads, (not much off road or
towing), short family jaunts (two young kids).


  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    Let the transmission you want be the deciding factor. If you want to shift manually, you must have 4.3 or 4.8L.

    If you want an auto, take what comes, either the 4.8 or more likely, the 5.3L.

    That's my opinion and I'm,....sticking to it!
  • teaboy022teaboy022 Posts: 59
    Ive been having trouble with the same issue... weather to go with the 4.8 or 5.3.
    I read up on some magazines that talked a little about the two engines and their performance. The 5.3 has 15 more horses than the 4.8 and much better torque but unless you are doing heavy pulling, go with the 4.8. They did a road test on 0-60 acceleration and the smaller V8 came in .2 seconds behind the larger 5.8 liter. I am going with the 4.8 because i am only doing light towing and have no need for the extra torque.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    Plus the stroke is much shorter on the 4.8 so the pistons don't have to run as far with every mile.... ;o)
  • woj1woj1 Posts: 48
    The issue mainly revolves around torque, or more accurately, the lack of. I have a 4.8 with the 5 spd manual and have found that it is a gutless engine below 4000 rpm. Thrashing the motor on a regular basis just can't do much for engine life. My old K2500 ext cab with a 5.7 and 5 spd had much more grunt and could haul a load. The current truck is a glorified station wagon. I wouldn't buy another one...
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    woj1 - sorry you are dissapointed. My 4.8 silverado pulls way better at 1/2 of its max rpm compared to my F350 diesel at 1/2 of its max rpm. Torque at these two rpms (2,600 rpm for the 4.8, 1,600 rpm for the 7.3) favors the diesel, but horsepower is higher with the 4.8. Horsepower (power per unit time) is what causes acceleration or ability to tow.

    I am very happy with my 4.8, operating at 7,000 feet, pulling a 5,000 lb trailer.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    Mark is right about horsepower. Everyone usually points out that torque is the only thing that matters for towing. That's only partly true, because you also need speed over the road to get where you are going. That's rpm. And the equation for horsepower contains a term for both torque and rpm. Not the other way around.

    If the 4.8L is so gutless, you'd also probably be disappointed in the 5.3L. But either engine will pass your old 5.7L where it hits you in the wallet, at the pump. If you have to thrash it, well it's your truck.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    In fact, every manual I've had, including my old Mustang 5.0 H.O. could start feeling lame, because I would get tired of working it so hard to keep up with the soccer mom's Caravan in the next lane, with her foot planted to the floor, and the automatic doing all the work. Even though manuals are faster ultimately, day to day it's easy to take for granted how much faster it is to drive an automatic on a regular basis.
  • woj1woj1 Posts: 48
    The problem with the new Chev motors is that they have forced any 5 spd owners to settle for the lesser motor which has less torque than the "old" 350. The fact that the max torque is at a higher RPM is another negative aspect of the whole deal. I don't mind revving motors, my Cobra 4.6 lives on it, but in a "truck" it isn't the best thing. The new 4.8 does not make more HP than my 350 did...and it does make less torque...and it drinks more gas. I just don't see the benefit.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    You can get the 5 speed with the 6.0L in the 2500 3/4 ton.
  • woj1woj1 Posts: 48
    Interesting enough, the choice of gear ratios in the 3/4 ton 5 spd is good for driving in muck, but not great for everyday driving (main reason why I didn't get a 2500 this time around). 6.0L motor is probably the way to go. Most truck rags have noted that the rear wheel HP of the 4.8/5.3 is down compared to what Chevy has claimed. The 5.3 is weaker than the new Triton 5.4 as an example.
    I suppose that it's all in waht you're expecting.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    My 4.8L 5 spd has enough power even when loaded to the max GVWR. On some steep grades (6% or more) I may have to downshift. At 17,000 miles it has much more pep than it did a 4,000 miles.
    I have the 3.73 gears and the 4.10's would give it even better pulling power.
    I have never pulled over 4000 rpm and rarely over 3000, it just isn't neccesary, the engine has plenty of torque.
    I'm averaging just over 16mpg fully loaded and at speed (6400lbs, 60-75 mph).
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    from the engines I drove, you don't have to "thrash" the engine when pulling. both the 4.8 and 5.3 generally stay below 3000 unless you stand on the accelerator. not much different than my old 350. pulling in Drive, or downshifting out of OD puts me around 2600-2800 rpms. thats about where these engines pull. what makes the new GM motors pull so great compared to my truck: when i'm doing 65 mph at 2800 rpms, I don't have another gear. but the new GM's will downshift and rev up much higher if you want them too, for situations such as passing or merging on a freeway. if you ever get caught in Austin or Dallas with a short acceleration ramp, YOU REALLY APPRECAITE THIS. my friend's 5.3 merged traffic pulling my boat like it was nothing. My truck would have put myself in danger, as well the 80 mph oncoming traffic in the right lane.

    lots of b**ching and moaning by Ford and Dodge diehards about the "car engines" and no torque, but from the few times I've driven these engines, they pull great.
  • woj1woj1 Posts: 48
    cdean: Bottom line is that when one is passing other vehicles on small roads, one has to utilize the full rpm range to pass safely. Times posted by the mags have shown that the Chevrolet is optimistic in their power claims and that they are behind Ford's Triton 5.4 and Dodge's 5.9. I expect my Siverado to get out of it's own way and it requires a lot of shifting to do so...I currently have 4K miles on my Silverado and am quite disappointed in terms of performance.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    My 5.3L smokes the tires and has no trouble with Dodges or Fords either.

    But maybe you're trying to pass when you shouldn't on those small roads, in a big truck.

    Agree that Chevy/GMS are optimistic in their power claims, but Ford and Dodge are guilty to a lesser extent. It's a ratings game, and if it's that important, you wait for the side by side comparos before making a decision based on performance. Where GM/Chevy didn't lie is the fuel economy ratings...best in class. That one hits you in the wallet.
  • f220swiftf220swift Posts: 103
    Maybe you should take a moment to relax. I did, thanks to cdean and feel much better.
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    sorry that you're dissappointed woj1. I'm not sure if you were expecting the 250 hp to be just like the old 350s, because it obviously not the same power engine at all. really, the GM engines at the lower cruising rpms, are about the same HP as Dodge and Ford. it was there goal to make it perform the way it did, with the wide range. the engine longevity was considered in this, and it shouldn't be an issue, its the way they wanted their engine to perform. just sounds like its not your style. you like the slower turning rpms when towing.

    personally, i've driven a 4.8, and thought it was a very nice driving engine, wouldn't want to pull every weekend with it. i've pulled with the 5.3, and been very impressed with its performance. it gets the job done much better than my current old 350. i would love to pull with one of Fords new upgraded 5.4s to feel a load on it for myself.
  • jeffthrojeffthro Posts: 35
    By the way, the 4.8L engine is fastly approaching the hp of the old 350 hog. A 15 hp boost for 2000 brings the bhp to 270. Why are you argueing over a few hp? The 4.8L with the 4 speed tranny will get 17 in the city and 21 on the highway. No current V-8 in the industry can match the mpg...period.
  • rumblerrumbler Posts: 3
    My 4.8 runs well and I've averaged 16.5 mpg over the first 1700 miles, mostly hiway. Power is fun up and down hills with 1/2 ton load. One complaint...there is a persistent vibration at idle while in Park. Dealer flashed whatever the latest updates were several days ago, but vibration persists. It is characterized by about 2 seconds of smooth idle followed by a one second long slight vibration. Any other 4.8 owners have this going on?
  • rmumfordrmumford Posts: 10
    My Chevy has this vibration too. I was worried about it in the beginning, but I discovered that it was the AC compresor kicking in. If you turn on the defrost, it kicks in the AC, which I wasn't expecting. Try turning off the AC & see if thats it.

    BTW, just my 2 cents: I have the 4.8 litre, if I had it to do over, I'd get the 5.3. No complaints, but I'd take a few more horses for essentially the same gas mileage. I'm getting an average 16.5 to 17.0. with a low of 15.5 (towing a light boat) to 20.1 on a trip.
  • chevy4mechevy4me Posts: 203
    I was debating that when I was shopping .Since I wanted the LS I was concerned about resale .I figure it would be the same as the 5.0 and 5.7 engine choice on earlier years. most would want the 5.7 . Now that I have the 5.3 I wouldn't want anything with less torque.Mileage is close enough for me . I have the 3.42 locking rear and after driving it for 6 months I think I would have been better off with the 3.73 .
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    Why don't you change it out to a 3.73? It's not exactly cheap, but...it's an option.
  • chevy4mechevy4me Posts: 203
    Quad I can get a gear change for around $400 but with the computers on these trucks it may involve a re-flash . It will change the speedo . If I go to the expense maybe 4.10s ?
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    Make sure you can use the 3 series carrier with the 4.10 gear. I think so, but check with the parts counter. If you have to change carriers, it screws things up $$$. Also, stick with the Chevy gear set...no Richmond Gears, or you could end up with gear whine, fine for a race car, but terrible for a daily driver. The speedo re-flash...well the dealer would not/could not do this on my Camaro. I had to purchase a Hypertech programmer to do it myself. $$$. But it's an option. No, it's a necessity if the dealer won't because your transmission shift points will change also. Do you have the locking axle? May be hard to get the dealer to reflash for a 4.10 since it's not offered from the factory for 2wd. One thing I'm sure, you'll love it! Make for a hard charging 1/2 ton.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,721
    I see you do have the locking axle.
  • jdbuffjdbuff Posts: 5
    I'm thinking about buying a 1999 or 2000 GM truck. I'm on the fence about the 4.8 or 5.3. This will be my commute vehicle (70 miles/day roundtrip) and will be a weekend work at home & haul 3 kids around. I have nothing to pull now, but we camp alot & my wife wants a pop-up. I can see a 25' camper as a possibility in a few years.....but for now I doubt if I'll pull anything more than a few times a year. Should I go with the 4.8 and no towing package? Or should I go ahead and preinvest for the future (I may have this truck for 5+ years), not knowing what my long-term towing needs will be? The 5.3 costs $700 more up front & you pay more for gas. I assume there is no reason to get a towing package with a 4.8. Any thoughts?
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    Forget about the mpg difference for these 2 engines - they're basically rated the same. Say you get an extra 1 mpg with the 4.8, this saves you about $1.25 a fillup. You fillup once a week? That's $60 a year! That's insignificant compared to the price of the truck.
    If you get something big to haul later on you'll be glad to have the 5.3. Or you'll lose a $grand on a trade-in of your 4.8 truck, on a bigger engine truck. I would skip some other options (bucket or power seats -there's $800) before saving on the engine and trailer pkg.
    If you still go with the 4.8 get the trailer pkg, as you'll still be able to tow - just with a little less ease. I wouldn't want an aftermarket trailer pkg. installation.
  • jdbuffjdbuff Posts: 5
    I think I'm leaning towards the 5.3...probably is worth the extra $'s. DOes the towing package give a rougher ride? I'll be on the freeway & streets most of the time....
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    The towing package is simply the structural steel - the platform trailer hitch, the wiring, and a harness connector. It does not affect the ride. What would affect the ride is a suspension upgrade, which you need to go over 5,000 lb. in the 1500.
    I bought the Z-71 package. I testdrove this and it is firm, but not harsh at all. The Z-85 HD suspension is also avail. and not as costly - just a shock change. There are plenty of Z-71's on the lots - try one. No worse than my '96 Subaru Outback, but feels much more solid.
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    I agree with kernick. Go with the 5.3 and towing package. The mileage is virtually the same. Even though the 4.8 is smaller, you'll lose any mileage gains because it will have to work a little harder. The towing package, because of the extra weight, will actually smooth out the ride just a bit compared to without it. Plus you'll get a good portion of your money back when the time comes to trade it in or sell it. A truck with a bigger engine and towing package will have much more appeal.
    One more thing, don't compare the engines by comparing horsepower. Horsepower matters if you plan on racing (i.e. pushing it to near redline rpms). Torque is the number people should be looking at for everyday driving (even passing while going up a hill, the average driver doesn't go above 4500 rpm with a V8). Good luck!
  • rfrossrfross Posts: 15
    Here's the scoop on my 1999 Sierra extended cab 4X4 with 5.3, automatic, Z71, 3.73 and trailer package.

    With only about 2,500 miles and some conservative driving with a 50/50 city/highway driving my best tank to date averaged 17.8. I was impressed.

    A friend with the same basic package averaged 19.5 on a 75 mph cross Michigan cruise.

    I just added a new Gibson low restriction stainless exhaust and am checking the mileage now. Will update later in the week when I have to fill up next...

    So, you can't really go wrong with the 5.3.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    My truck has a 4.8L 5 spd 4wd drivetrain. And I wouldn't trade it for a 5.L Automatic if the costs were the same. But they aren't, the 5.3 would cost $1600 more. And I want the manual transmission. I want to shift for myself. And my wife also prefers a manual to an automatic.

    We have 19,000 miles on our Silverado and the 4.8 engine has much more power today than it did for the first 5-10,000 miles. Fully loaded (at max GVWR -6400 lbs) we can pull up hills in 5th that used to require a downshift. Cruise 70-75 into the wind with the camper. And still average over 15mpg with the loaded camper. Without the camper we are over 20mpg. We really like this little engine and see no reason to spend the money to get a 5.3.

  • nuwonuwo Posts: 63
    Mike, I echo your comments. Sound like I've got about the same set up, with a 4.10 rear end. I haven't towed with it yet, but Markbuck's and your comments give me confidence that it will meet my needs. Overall gas mileage has been good too, averaging almost 18 mpg after 7,000 miles of mixed city/highway travel. Also, I've heard of far fewer problems with the 4.8 than with the 5.3. I hope that the good performance with my 4.8 continues.
  • I have driven a Triton 5.4L F150. My 5.3 Chevy kicks its [non-permissible content removed]. This truck gets to 60 in 8 seconds. It is also quiter and smoother. I handles great for a truck. I love the seats and the stereo rocks! The only thing I liked about the Ford better was the feel of the brakes and the door checks. They actually kept the doors open. Oh yeah,the rear windows also shut snuggly in the Ford. Ford Sucks!
  • I'm not a mechanic, but isn't towing in 5th gear or just going up hill in 5th a bad thing to do? 4th is a one to one ratio, but 5th sure isn't. I would think this would put a lot of uneven stress on the transmission? I always take my cars or trucks out of over drive when climbing a hill. Any piston heads out there?
  • zbad71zbad71 Posts: 226
    As long as the transmission is not constantly "hunting" (constantly downshifting), it doesn't hurt a thing unless you start lugging the engine. However the transmission is designed not to allow the lugging to occur, thus downshifts when needed.

    If your transmission starts doing a lot of shifting back and forth, engage the "tow/haul" mode which will keep it from locking the torque converter. Towing in tow/haul mode whenever towing is the safest bet. I don't use the tow/haul mode in the city much when towing light loads because it isn't necessary, but with heavy loads or on the highway, you can't go wrong using it. It takes the guessing out of it.

    These transmissions are better lubricated and cooled as well as designed with lighter but stronger parts that dissipate heat better so unless you are exceeding your tow capacity, I can't see anyone hurting these tranny's.
  • cr3cr3 Posts: 42
    can anybody tell me the seat of your pants differance in power between 5300 & 4800 engines.low rpms vrs high ect.i have yet to drive a 4800 ands was wondering.thanks in advance.
  • graczgracz Posts: 21
    I have test driven both the 4.8 and 5.3 and in
    all honesty I could not notice much of a difference in performance, however I would think
    the difference shows up when you are pulling a
    good size load (due to the difference in torque
    ratings). If you do not plan to pull heavy loads,
    and money is a concern - go with the 4.8, I was
    pleasently suprised!!
  • Cr3

    I have a 4.8 Reg Cab Sportside on order. I am not going to be pulling anything over 2000 pounds so the 4.8 liter was perfect for me. I have test drove them both and there is definetly not much of a difference. I agree with gracz statement...if you dont plan on pulling heavy loads go with the 4.8
  • ...let horsepower be the deciding factor. Torque
    is the real thing to look at when deciding which engine. There's a saying among racers that goes like this: "Torque is what you feel, horsepower is
    what you read about".
  • HP = time rate of work = (Torque * RPM)
    Torque = a twisting moment = (Force * radius)

    You can have gobs of torque, but if no rpm, HP=0.

    To have horsepower, you must have both torque and rpm together. A winch has lots of torque, but very little rpm, so torque alone isn't very useful to racers. Real racers want horsepower, because having more of it properly expresses what it takes to go fast.

    For torque to be useful to the racer, he has to consider torque and rpm together. That's what horsepower is.

    In truck terms, a diesel has high torque and low horsepower, because the torque peak occurs at low rpm. That's fine for easy, relaxed towing. A gas engine has low torque but high horsepower, so the work gets done at a higher rpm. That makes for strained towing, but either gets the job done with the proper gear selection.

    Torque gets you going, horsepower keeps you going. Torque is better for towing, horsepower is better for speed.

    I got off topic. The real difference between the 4.8L and the 5.3L is not torque or horsepower, but which transmission you prefer, since the 4.8L is the only way to get a manual, and a 5.3L is available only with auto. A 4.8L with an auto should be very close to the 5.3L. What it gives away in performance should be made up with economy. Either one good.
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    I think you can definitely save a little money with the 4.8. I've driven both with an automatic, and unless your are pulling a load often, you won't miss that 5.3 too much. the 5.3 has great power band, but nothing wrong with the power of the 4.8. A little better mileage, lot cheaper purchase price. go drive a 4.8, and you'll see its a great light duty, drive around motor.
  • ovalleyovalley Posts: 135
    I had a 99 reg cab 4.8L 3.42 rear for about 5 months. GM bought it back (vibration problems). Now have a 2000 ext cab 5.3L 3.42 rear about 3 weeks. The 4.8L in the reg cab was fine, not as much low end power, but once you got the RPM's up a little it had plenty of get up and go. Didn't drive a 4.8L with manual, but seems like it would be a really good combination. The 5.3 ext cab has better low end, but it weighs more. Haven't had it long enough to really feel it out under full throttle, but to me it was worth the extra $'s considering you're spending 25K.
  • swobigswobig Posts: 634
    From what I've read in the catalog and seen on the window stickers the mileage is the same. I can't speak from real world experience, but I selected the 5.3L for that reason. It costs about $700 more up front, but you get better performance, same mileage, greater towing ability if you ever save enough money to buy that boat. Quadrunner makes an excellent point - typical race car engines make 700-800 horse, but only 200-300 torque. 18 wheelers make 350-450 horse, but have over 1000 ft. lbs. of torque. Once you get by the up front cost the 4.8L does not offer an other advantages that I can tell.
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    The engine is the heart of the truck; well I guess you could also argue the fuelpump is. Most people are paying $20K+ for their truck. If you can't afford another $600 for the 5.3, you should really think about whether you can afford the truck in the first place.
    Of course you may want a standard, so yes you get the 4.8. And if you're really that tight on money, drop some of the other options, instead of the engine. Now to everybody who says that the 4.8 is usually adequate - you're probably right. But the price difference isn't that great, and if you plan on selling it in a few years, you'll get most of that difference back. You can't have enough power, only too little.
  • But the EPA rating is still a little better for the 4.8L for both city and highway.

    As Chris Berman says, "That's why they play the game!"
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    Some might say that if you have to borrow money to buy anything other than a house, you probably shouldn't be buying it.

    I got the 4.8/manual 'cuz it was about $1300 cheaper than the 5.3/auto. That extra money would have come out of my mutual fund, so I went for the less expensive choice.
  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    I don't know what you paid or what configuration you have but let's say $26K is average for people here ... $1300 is only 5%. You aren't worried about the other 95% you have committed to this purchase?? Of course you are.
    I don't want to know people's finances, etc. My point is you pay $25K + sales tax, registration, and insurance. If you can afford all that, what's another $1.3K? Also if you trade it in, you'll get most of that back.
    I am not speaking in particular about anyone, but I have seen so many people (especially right out of school) buy a new vehicle, and then not have money to go thru Mcdonald's drivethru.
  • chevy4mechevy4me Posts: 203
    go to GM's site www.gmpowertrain.com and compare the engines. look up the torque curves for the 4.8 and 5.3 but if you liked the 5.7 see how the peak torques compare.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    Oh ya, good stuff at the gmpowertrain site.
  • Thanks chevy4me. I've been looking for the torque/horsepower curves for my engine (5.7L) for
    quite a while. I didn't know about the gmpowertrain site. It's funny that all my internet searches didn't find it.
    On paper, the 7.4L (L29) looks the most impressive. What a beautiful flat torque curve!
    I hope the new 8.1L retains that.

    Thanks again,
This discussion has been closed.