Tuning the GM LS2 and best LS2 performance parts.

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the GM LS2 engine!"

We outline options for your LS2 tuning and summarise the best modifications. GM LS2 great bases for a tuning project and with a few sensible modified mods like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will dramatically maximize your driving experience.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

  • 400 bhp (298 kW) at 6000 rpm and 400 lbft (542 Nm) at 4400 rpm
  • 390 bhp (291 kW) (2008–2009) and 400 lbft (542 Nm) of torque

Best LS2 parts

When talking about the best best for your LS2 engine, we are going to concentrate on the modifications that give the best power gain for you spend. Instead of us falling into the common trap of the "if it's shiny and makes more noise it must be good" mentality of many car sites and tuning magazine

Altering your LS2 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine torque. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the torque accordingly.

Fast road cams normally bump the power through the rev range, you might lose a little low end power but top end will be higher.

Motorsport cams, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a car driven daily, really you should, ideally aim to match your power band to your driving style.

I'd be amazed if you have found a Competition cam is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas. This is because a competition cam causes a very lumpy idle, and makes the car more prone to stall or jerk along in stop start traffic, sadly though many ignore this and end up ruining a perfectly good car and having to revert back to a fast road, or OEM cam profile.

Each engine responds better to mild cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the bhp gains you'll make.

Longer valve durations can alter the bhp band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust header/manifold, drilled & smoothed airbox.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, induction kit, high flow fuel injectors, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Twin charging conversions, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

The LS2 power trains respond well to upgrades and we're pleased to see that there are increasing numbers of modifications and performance parts about.

ECU flashing should help to unlock the full potential of all the parts you've fitted to your LS2.

(In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but you mileage will vary depending on the parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

It is the main goal to any engine tuning task to pull more fuel and air into each cylinder

Intake manifold take the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The bore size, shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a noticeable improvement to fuel engine efficiency on the LS2.

We often see intake manifold are ripe for an upgrade, although some car makers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Larger LS2 valves, carrying out LS2 port enlargement and head flowing will also improve bhp and torque, & importantly will raise potential for raising the bhp and torque increase on other parts.

Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your LS2

The more air to get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes massive power gains.

If an engine is fitted with a turbo modifications are going to net you a larger power gain and turbo engines already contain better components.

However most engines have limits

It is important to find these limitations and upgrade to stronger pistons, crank and engine components to survive the power.

We see many people spending a loads of money on turbocharger upgrades on the LS2 only to suffer the indignity of watching the whole thing throw a rod when it's first rolling road session.

Larger capacity turbochargers will usually experience no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbochargers spool up more quickly but do not have the high rpm torque gains.

In the last 10 years the market of turbochargers is always moving on and we now see variable vane turbochargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into two channels and flow these at differently designed vanes in the turbocharger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there is a limitation in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on these engines when considerably more air is being fed into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting bhp at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large performance gains, although more challenging to install. We have a twincharger performance adding guide if you want to read more.

Fuelling

When you increase the bhp you will need to ramp up to the fuel system.

More bhp needs more fuel. Most tuners we speak with say to be generous with your injector capacity.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows you some spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

Exhaust

You may need to upgrade your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll see your flow rate is still good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Don't go with the biggest exhaust you can source this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the emissions filters installed, so adding a higher flowing performance catalyst removes the restriction. We note that performance cats perform similarly to decats and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decats or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories for road going cars.

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the

The engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the , especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which upgrades work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

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