Chevy 5.7 LS1 & LS6 Engine Problems – Two LS Legends?September 12, 2023
Are you looking to purchase a Chevy 5.7 LS1 or LS6 engine and want to learn more about the common Chevy 5.7 engine problems? If that’s the case, you are in the right place because, in this article, there will be a lot to cover on these specific engines.
Doing good homework is always a good idea before you decide to purchase a used vehicle. You just never know what you will get. And being a step forward is always a good idea. You need to be prepared for the possible problems that an engine can have. This way, you will be able to avoid many of these problems. But you shouldn’t worry because that’s why we are here to help you out with your trouble.
So, what are we going to cover? First, we are going to learn the specs of the 5.7L engine and learn more about what these LS1 and LS6 engines make in terms of power. Then, we are going to learn the Chevy 5.7 engine problems and see what kind of problems this engine design has. So, let’s get started.
Chevy 5.7 Engine Specs
The 5.7 engine is a small block Chevy from the third generation. This was a clean sheet design that replaced the previous Gen 1 and Gen 2 engines. And this was Chevy’s first take in creating a proper modern pushrod engine.
The first engine that debuted with this new Gen 3 small-block Chevy engine was the 5.7L that we discuss in this article. This 5.7L came in two variations, LS1 produced between the years 1997 and 2005. There was an LS6 engine that was produced at the same time between 2001 and 2008.
What is interesting to note about these engines is that they are sports car engines that were used predominantly in the Chevy Camaro and the Chevy Corvette.
That’s why all of the 5.7L blocks were made out of aluminum in order to reduce the weight of these engines.
The internals are pretty much the same as with every other small-block Chevy. The 5.7 is an OHV design. You have a single camshaft in the engine that actuates the lifters and pushrods which then open the valves. And this is what makes this engine really special since it is a very simple and reliable design.
Nevertheless, here are the main specs of the 5.7L engine.
- Configuration: V-engine
- Number of Cylinders: 8
- Displacement: 5.7L
- Bore: 3.90 in (99 mm)
- Stroke: 3.62 in (92 mm)
- Block Material: Aluminum
- Head Material: Aluminum
- Head Design: OHV, 2 valves per cylinder
- Fuel Injection: Port Injection
- Horsepower: LS1 295 – 345 hp, LS6 385 – 405 hp
- Torque: LS1 323 – 365 lb-ft, LS6 385 – 400 lb-ft
Chevy 5.7 Engine Applications
Now let’s list the applications of the Chevy 5.7 engine.
- 1997 – 2004 Chevy Corvette C5
- 1998 – 2002 Pontiac Firebird Formula & Trans Am
- 1998 – 2002 Chevy Camaro Z78 & SS
- 2004 – Pontiac GTO
- 2001 – 2004 HSV GTO
- 1999 – 2005 Holden Statesman
- 2001 – 2005 Holden Monaro
- 2001 – 2004 Chevy Corvette C5 Z05
- 2004 – 2005 Cadillac CTS-V
- 2007 – 2008 SSC Ultimate Aero TT
Chevy 5.7 Engine Problems
Now let’s list the common problems with the Chevy 5.7 engine.
- Bent Pushrods LS1
- Piston Ring Failure LS1
- Oil Consumption LS1 & LS6
- Piston Slap LS1
- Water Pump Failure LS1
- Oil Pump Problems LS1
- Belt Tensioner Failure LS1
- Broken Valve Springs LS6
- Rocker Arm Bearing Failure LS6
So, we listed the most common problems for both the LS1 and LS6 5.7 engines and now let’s dive deeper and further explain each of these issues.
We feel the need to do so in order to deliver you the best information. So, let’s elaborate on all of these problems in detail and learn more about the symptoms and how hard these problems are when it comes to solving them.
1. Bent Pushrods LS1
Let’s start with the first problem and this is a problem that affects the 5.7 LS1 engine. Here we are talking about bent pushrods.
The pushrods on these engines can get bent all of a sudden and cause issues. Whenever these pushrods get bent, you will start experiencing symptoms like engine rattle or engine ticking. There can also be engine misfires and overall poor engine work.
Even if the pushrods look good at first glance, if you place them next to each other you will notice how they are little tweaked. And that’s not how they should look.
Luckily this problem is not that serious when it comes to the engine life, with only replacing the pushrods will solve the problem.
The replacement can also be done at home if you want to wrench on your car. The important thing is to have the right tools to adjust the valves once you are done with the job.
2. Piston Ring Failure LS1
The piston rings can also fail on the LS1 engine. For those who don’t know, each piston has a set of rings. There are compression rings and an oil control ring.
What happens is that on these LS1 engines, these rings tend to fail often and cause problems. The problem reportedly lies in the end gaps. These engines came from the factory with very small tolerances that did not allow the piston rings to expand and contract under heavy heat and cooling cycles.
So, what they eventually do is fail and cause a lot of issues for the owner. In these situations, it is important to detect the problem on time and perform a leak-down test and a compression test.
If the rings are not good, the engine has to be refurbished. And by this, we mean that the block should be bored again to make everything nice and smooth, and also the piston rings and bearings have to be replaced with new ones.
Now let’s move on to the next Chevy 5.7 engine problems.
3. Oil Consumption LS1 & LS6
Oil consumption is a very common problem on both the LS1 and LS6, and this problem can be attributed to a few things.
The LS1 has bad piston rings as we noted. This will allow engine oil to seep down into the combustion chamber and allow oil to burn.
And the second thing that is more often the cause is the PCV system. The PCV system is not one of the best on these Chevy LS engines.
It will collect a ton of oil and will drive this oil into the intake of the engine. So, it is recommended that you install an oil catch can to prevent this from happening.
There are a lot of aftermarket solutions for this problem and you should definitely add this as one of your first mods if you decide to get a car with one of these two engines.
4. Piston Slap LS1
Piston slap is another fairly common problem that happens on the LS1 engine. And this problem builds upon the problem with the piston rings.
Usually whenever the piston rings are too far gone they will fall into the oil pan and the pistons will not seal at all.
In this case, there will be a situation when the piston is slapping the cylinder walls. This situation is known as a piston slap.
This is no good since there will be vibrations, loss of compression, low power, check engine light, and a ton of other symptoms.
And your engine will eventually end up too worn out to be refurbished and you will have to get a new engine.
That’s why it is important to track the symptoms and solve the problem before the problem destroys your engine completely.
5. Water Pump Failure LS1
Water pumps on the LS1 engines are also known to fail more often compared to other engines out there.
For those who don’t know, the water pump is the unit that circulates the coolant around the engine. This pump has to be in proper working order in order for the engine to work well.
If the pump is not performing, you will experience engine overheating issues, coolant leaks from the water pump, as well as noises from the water pump.
The solution is simply to replace the water pump with a new unit and this will solve the problem permanently.
Now let’s move on to the following Chevy 5.7 engine problems.
6. Oil Pump Problems LS1
The oil pump is also known to cause problems on the LS1 engine. What happens is that these engines are pushed well above the 6,000 RPM mark.
This causes insufficient oiling to the engine. So, if you push the engine too hard, it could lead to engine failure.
This problem is known as cavitation, which is the case when the pump is trying to deliver more oil than it possibly can. Then air gets trapped into the oil pump and there are implosions that occur inside of the pump.
This problem could lead to oil pump failure and complete loss of the lubrication system. So, if you plan to push the engine really hard, it is important that you upgrade the oil pump with an aftermarket unit that can satisfy the demand for engine oil.
7. Belt Tensioner Failure LS1
The belt tensioner of the LS1 is also known to fail often. So, what is a belt tensioner, and what does it do?
Well, this tensioner is dedicated to the serpentine belt, also known as an accessory belt or a drive belt. What it does is that this belt drives the accessories in your LS1 engine. These include the power steering, AC, alternator, etc.
Each belt has a tensioner, this tensioner is a special component designed to keep tension on the belt all the time.
What can happen is that the tensioner can loosen up and the belt will become loose. The belt will start to squeal and if it’s too loose it can even jump and you will be left with no accessories.
8. Broken Valve Springs LS6
The LS6 engine has a common problem that appears on all of the 2001 models of this engine. This is the broken valve spring.
For those who don’t know, every valve has a valve spring, in total, there are 16 of these valve springs. As their name implies, these are springs that simply return the valve to its original position. Nothing too complex.
But what happens is that these valve springs can break and cause problems. You can lose compression, or even drop the valve into the cylinder. This could cause carnage inside of the cylinder and the engine will be destined for scrap.
This is why we advise that you upgrade the springs with an aftermarket solution and this will bulletproof your LS6 engine.
Now let’s move on to the last Chevy 5.7 engine problems.
9. Rocker Arm Bearing Failure LS6
Another very common problem with the LS6 engine is the rocker arm bearing failure on this specific engine. So, what is a rocker arm?
The rocker arm is simply the rocker that actuates the valves. And each of these rockers has bearings and bearings on these rockers tend to fail quite a lot.
So, in this case, you will start to experience ticking noises coming from the rocker assembly, as well as engine misfires, rough engine work, and check engine light.
The solution to this problem is fairly simple, you will have to replace these components. There are many companies that offer aftermarket upgrades that perform even better than OEM. The only thing you need to know is how to adjust the valves.
And there is a simple trick and that is starting the engine without a valve cover and then adjusting the valves one by one until there is no noise present.
Chevy 5.7 Engine Reliability
The reliability of the 5.7 Chevy engine is decent. However, the LS1 is a somewhat worse performer because it suffers from issues with the piston rings which can lead to piston slap and will basically trash the engine.
The LS6 is not such a problematic engine, although this engine also has its fair share of problems. We can simply say that the LS6 is the more refined variant of the 5.7 Chevy engine. We would recommend buying an LS6 because there are no seriously expensive problems.
In this article, we learned quite a lot about the Chevy 5.7 engine problems. There are a ton of these engines but we primarily focused on the LS1 and LS6 which are the high-performance engines that Chevy introduced in the late 90s and early 00s.
We covered their specs, as well as the common problems. Lastly, we gave our opinion on the reliability of these engines.
What Are The Common Problems Of The Chevy LS1?
Problems with the LS1 engine by Chevy include oil consumption, piston ring failure, piston slap, water pump failure, oil pump failure, and broken belt tensioner.
What Are The Common Problems Of The Chevy LS6?
The LS6 has problems with oil consumption, rocker bearing failures, and broken valve springs. This engine is more reliable compared to the LS1 engine.