GM LY7 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the GM LY7 engine!"

A site visitor recently commented asking for more information on the LY7 and how to tune it up and modify it, so this page has been assembled which covers our go to modifications that we rate and are the main enhancements you can do to this engine.

The GM LY7 is popular for tuning projects and with the right motorsport enhancements like remapping, turbo upgrades, and camshafts you will noticeably maximize your driving opportunities.

In this article, we look at LY7 tuning and report on the greatest upgrades.

History of the LY7 Engine

GM High Feature engine  family and we saw the first LY7 in 2004 it boasted a variable cam phasing , but this was only for the intake cam on lower-powered models whereas others had exhaust and intake.

The LY7 was a 3.6 liter engine and came in many revisions and power levels.

  • 2004–2007 Buick Rendezvous CXL/Ultra
    242 hp 180kW 245ps@6000 rpm 232 lbft 315Nm@3500 rpm
  • 2004–2007 Cadillac CTS
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6200 rpm 252 lbft 342Nm@2800 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Cadillac CTS
    263 hp 196kW 267ps@6200 rpm 253 lbft 343Nm@3100 rpm
  • 2004–2009 Cadillac SRX
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6500 rpm 254 lbft 344Nm@2800 rpm
  • 2004–2005 Holden VZ Commodore
    235 hp 175kW 238ps@6000 rpm 236 lbft 320Nm@2800 rpm
  • 2006–2007 Holden VZ Commodore
    231 hp 172kW 234ps@6000 rpm 236 lbft 320Nm@2800 rpm
  • 2004–2006 Holden VZ Commodore Holden WL Statesman Holden VZ Calais SV6
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6500 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2006–2007 Holden VZ Commodore Holden WL Statesman Holden VZ Calais SV6
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6500 rpm 247 lbft 335Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2005–2008 Buick LaCrosse CXS
    240 hp 179kW 243ps@6000 rpm 225 lbft 305Nm@2000 rpm
  • 2005–2007 Cadillac STS
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6500 rpm 252 lbft 342Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2006–2007 Holden VE Commodore Omega
    240 hp 179kW 243ps@6000 rpm 243 lbft 329Nm@2600 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Holden VE Commodore Omega
    235 hp 175kW 238ps@6500 rpm 240 lbft 325Nm@2400 rpm
  • 2006–2009 Holden WM Statesman/Caprice
    262 hp 195kW 266ps@6500 rpm 250 lbft 339Nm@2600 rpm
  • 2007–2009 Buick Park Avenue China
    255 hp 190kW 259ps@6600 rpm 250 lbft 339Nm@2800 rpm
  • 2007–2009 Cadillac SLS China
    251 hp 187kW 254ps@6500 rpm 252 lbft 342Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2006–2011 Holden Rodeo/Colorado
    211 hp 157kW 214ps@6500 rpm 231 lbft 313Nm@2600 rpm
  • 2007–2008 GMC Acadia
    275 hp 205kW 279ps@6600 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2007 Pontiac G6 GTP
    252 hp 188kW 255ps@6300 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2008 Buick Enclave
    275 hp 205kW 279ps@6600 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2008–2012 Chevrolet Malibu
    252 hp 188kW 255ps@6300 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Chevrolet Equinox Sport
    264 hp 197kW 268ps@6500 rpm 250 lbft 339Nm@2300 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Pontiac G6 GXP
    252 hp 188kW 255ps@6300 rpm 251 lbft 340Nm@3200 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Pontiac G8
    256 hp 191kW 260ps@6300 rpm 248 lbft 336Nm@2100 rpm
  • 2008–2009 Pontiac Torrent GXP
    264 hp 197kW 268ps@6500 rpm 250 lbft 339Nm@2300 rpm
  • 2007-2009 Suzuki XL7
    252 hp 188kW 255ps at 6500 rpm 243 lbft 329Nm at 2300 rpm

Tuning the GM LY7 and best LY7 performance parts.

Best LY7 parts

The optimum LY7 upgrades on an engine are usually the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular LY7 upgrades, they need to be cost effective.

Getting a fast road cam will work better at higher RPM power which makes it a best mod for NASP and turbo petrol engines, but not so much on diesels. You will usually get a peak power benefits through performance camshafts on most engines.

Significant gains on the LY7 can be made from camshaft upgrades. Altering the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the torque and power output.

Fast road camshafts commonly boost the power throughout the rpm band, you might lose a little low end torque but high end rpm power will be lifted.

Competition camshafts, boost the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Race camshaft is not great in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your engines power to your usage of the car so for a car driven daily stick with a mild fast road LY7 camshaft

LY7 Camshaft Upgrades

Some LY7 engines respond differently due to the head and flow characteristics when camshafts are fitted depending on the camshaft being more extreme camshaft durations and cam duration as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variations and do check your engine on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and fuelling also will make differences in the bhp gains you'll achieve.

Longer valve durations can amend the bhp range, and on most engines there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations and valve lift.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - 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.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Intake headers, Panel air filters, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Fast road camshaft, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust manifold.

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

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

    The LY7 engine blocks respond well to upgrades and we're happy to report there is an increase of modifications and tuning parts out there.

    ECU Mapping Improvements for the LY7

    ECU mapping will help fully realize the full potential of all the mods you've installed on your LY7.

    (Sometimes flashing the ECU is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but ensure it has knock protection and that you get it correctly setup.)

    It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but your mileage will depend much on the mods you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Air Flow Improvements on the LY7

    It is the aim of any engine upgrade task to feed more air into the LY7 engine

    Intake manifold carries the air from the intake filter and allows it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    The size of bore and shape and flow rate of the Headers can make a noticeable change to fuel atomization and engine efficiency on the LY7.

    We often see intake headers are crying out for performance upgrades, although some manufacturers provide reasonably well designed intake headers.

    Adding a LY7 big valve conversion, getting 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also raise bhp, the fantastic side effect is it will afford you an improved bhp increase on other upgrades.

    LY7 Turbo upgrades

    NASP 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 LY7

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

    However, you'll find engines will need better parts at higher power limits. It is important to find these restrictions and upgrade to forged components to survive the power.

    We see many tuners spending a lot of money on turbocharger upgrades on the LY7 only to experience the LY7 literally blow up just after its first rolling road session.

    Larger upgraded turbo units often suffer a bottom end lag, and small turbo units spool up more quickly but don't have the peak rpm torque gains.

    Thanks to progress the range of turbochargers is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbochargers, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

    Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and feed these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is common that there's a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the LY7 when loads more air is being fed into the engine.

    You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting power at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large performance gains, although harder to install. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

    LY7 Fuelling Upgrades

    Don't dismiss the need pay attention to the fuel system when you are increasing the bhp - it makes the car more thirsty. Fuel pressure boost valves raise the fuel pressure, can improve throttle response.Don't forget to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

    The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides a bit of spare capacity should the engine require 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.

    LY7 Performance Exhausts

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

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

    Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too big or you may end up reduce the flow rate. Keep the exhaust pipes to around 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

    For road going cars mods such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed This keeps the car road legal and will remove the restriction due to it's higher internal surface area and design.

    The alternative catless mod or catalyst removal should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars (and in some you can't even replace a working catalyst).

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the LY7

    The LY7 engines are not bad as far as reliability goes as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the LY7, and more so when the car is modified and will help prolong the life of the engine.

    If you want to learn more, or just get feedback on Tuning your LY7 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss LY7 tuning options in more detail with our LY7 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased GM tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

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

    We love hearing what our members have got up to and which upgrades work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these LY7 articles which are continually updated.

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