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  • Chevrolet Performance Silverado Intake and Exhaust Install

Chevrolet Performance Silverado Intake and Exhaust Install

Adding Performance To A New Truck Without Sacrificing Anything

Jefferson Bryant
Mar 5, 2020

Unless you have really deep pockets or have the ability to throw caution to the wind, most of us wait until the factory warranty has expired before making any significant changes to a new truck. Today's trucks are extremely complex, especially on the electrical side, so voiding the factory warranty is a serious decision. Speaking from experience, a 2-year-old truck with one electrical issue can cost you thousands of dollars without a warranty. At the same time, gearheads with oil in their veins have a hard time leaving well enough alone. GM understands this.

Which is why GM now offers some serious performance upgrades to factory vehicles that are designed to increase your enjoyment of the vehicle without voiding the factory warranty. For the 2018-up 1500-series trucks, Chevrolet Performance offers four different kits to boost your performance and looks, all with factory warranties. These kits include a cold air intake, stainless exhaust system, Brembo brake upgrade, and for the first time ever, a factory lift kit.

Photo 2/31   |   Under the hood of the 2019 Silverado lies an L86 6.2-liter direct-injected beast pumping out 420 horsepower. There is more to be had with just a couple of tweaks, however.

These items can all be purchased when you buy a new truck or afterwards through the dealer or Chevrolet Performance. You can install them yourself or have it done at the dealer. Where you install the kits does make a difference: Dealer-installed parts will be noted on the vehicle's VIN in the GM system, so you will not have any warranty issues. If you choose to install them yourself or at a non-GM shop, you will have to prove that your parts are GM-made. We had a situation on our truck that required this, and it was not hard, but it did require a little extra work.

For the first part of this upgrade series, we are tackling the simplest of the four kits, the air intake and cat-back exhaust. These are easy to install in your driveway with minimal tools. The air intake does require a trip to the dealer for an ECM tune, which should be performed at no charge, because it is part of the kit. These systems are not the least expensive option, but they look really good, fit well, and best of all, don't void that necessary warranty.

Photo 3/31   |   The cold air intake kit is quite simple: a new air box, filter, lid, hose, and filter. This is a 1 to 1.5 hour install. You may need a stepstool to reach the engine, though. Even at 6 feet tall, we needed one.

Air Intake

The intake kits we received did not come with instructions. This made it a little difficult to get the job done, but if you have spent much time around new GM vehicles, it will be easy enough to sort out how to install it. The one thing the one sheet of paper did not inform us of was the retune requirement. This led to a situation of reduced fuel economy and the ECM setting quite a few trouble codes. It took two trips to the dealer to figure out what the problem was. As it turned out, the air intake kit requires a MAF curve adjustment. We had been getting 17 highway and about 14 in town as stock. After the intake without the retune, we were down to 14-15 highway and 11 in town. It was awful. Once the ECM was reprogrammed with the new MAF curve, the truck started knocking down 22-24 highway, 15-17 in town (if we keep it under 80, which is hard with the 6.2 L86 engine). That tune makes a huge difference and is absolutely required.

The kit consists of a replacement air box, oiled gauze air filter element, and some new intake tubing. The air box replaces the original in the stock location and simply connects to the throttle body via a new tube. Unlike aftermarket air intake kits, this one comes with a clear top for the air box. This means that you get the look and performance of the less restrictive filter without the annoying drone of an open-element air filter. Now, this point is very subjective: Some people really like that loud whoosh of an open element, and it is fun to hear sometimes, but on long trips on the highway, that loud drone can become very annoying. If you just have to have that increased sound, you can always leave the top off the air box.

Photo 4/31   |   The stock air box is located on the driver side of the engine bay. It is retained by a couple of screws and some rubber feet that snap into a metal brace.
Photo 5/31   |   We started by removing the wired plug that is clipped to the side of the air box.
Photo 6/31   |   The wiring harness was retained with a tree lock. Carefully remove this as well.
Photo 7/31   |   We removed the MAF sensor and set it aside carefully. These are really expensive, so don't break it, and do not touch the sensor element.
Photo 8/31   |   Next we removed the lid and air filter element. The lid is retained by several screws, which is a weird way to secure the air filter and makes it hard to check it regularly without tools.
Photo 9/31   |   The brace on the backside of the air box must be unbolted to get the air box out. Keep these fasteners for reuse.
Photo 10/31   |   Next, we removed the air tube from the air box to the throttle body. We recommend keeping all of the removed components for reinstallation later should you trade in the vehicle.
Photo 11/31   |   With the braces loose and the intake tube removed, you can pop the rubber feet out of the lower support and carefully flex the box away from the inlet tube at the base of the air box. This is the hardest part of the entire job.
Photo 12/31   |   We installed the original MAF sensor to the new air box using the original screws.
Photo 13/31   |   Then we installed the new rubber feet to the air box base. These come with the kit.
Photo 14/31   |   After finagling the air box into place, including the inlet tube (this is difficult with one person, but it can be done), the box was bolted down to the braces as the original was, using the original hardware.
Photo 15/31   |   The new intake tube was routed to the throttle body and secured with the supplied stainless steel hose clamps. We also connected all of the wiring components that were removed from the original air box.
Photo 16/31   |   We also installed the vacuum line that comes with the kit. This pulls vacuum on the crankcase, which is necessary for correct operation.
Photo 17/31   |   The clear cover is secured with torx-head screws. This is a weird feature of all new GM trucks. Instead of spring clamps, they are using secure fasteners, which goes against everything we know for facilitating regular maintenance. Not exactly a feature of the kit, but something that really bugs us.
Photo 18/31   |   All done. Now the engine bay has a little flash to it, and more importantly, fewer restrictions for air flow.

Exhaust

Chevrolet went to Borla to design a performance exhaust, and it is pretty nice. This kit features the Borla Touring system, which delivers a crisp, throaty growl that is far superior to the factory exhaust note without any cabin drone or neighbor-waking volume that you get with most aftermarket systems. If you have a 6.2-liter in your GM truck, you probably want it to sound like it. This system delivers that without compromising the drive quality, so you can have a normal conversation inside without saying, "Huh, what?" all the time.

Photo 19/31   |   This Borla exhaust kit is very well made. It bolts into the factory locations and is about the simplest exhaust installation we have ever done. It features 3.5-inch tubing and is all stainless steel.

Most of us buy exhaust systems for the sound, which this kit definitely delivers, but the real reason you need it is for the power. Opening up the exhaust means more torque and horsepower, which means your truck is quicker off the line and faster. For towing, it means less fuel burn at low speeds, and you have more bottom end for situations such as whipping, when you need to pull that trailer hard so it will settle down. Inside the factory exhaust pipes are two flapper valves. These spring-loaded valves close the exhaust to reduce the volume, but under acceleration, they open to allow better flow. This is done for comfort and sound; it is a detriment to the performance of the truck. The new system eliminates these valves, so you get the grumble you want and the power you need.

Installing the exhaust is pretty simple, and unless your truck is lowered, it can be done in the driveway or garage without a lift. It is easier to get the factory crossover pipe out with the body lifted (suspension drooping). Always use jackstands to support the vehicle; never rely solely on a jack. You will need a few hand tools (ratchet and sockets) and a Sawzall or cut-off wheel to complete this install. It is all bolt-on, so there is nothing more complicated than turning wrenches and cutting one pipe. This job cannot be done without cutting one pipe unless you have a lift and want to remove a bunch of other parts, so just chop it and be done with it.

Photo 20/31   |   We started at the back, by first removing the two plates that hold the rubber isolators to the frame for the rear exit pipes. The 2019 Silverado has thru-bumper exhaust, and this kit mates up to the factory tips in the bumper.

We spent one day installing both of these parts. The total install time was about 5 hours from start to finish. Once completed (and that MAF tune was added), the truck runs even better than before, which says a lot. While the horsepower and torque performance increases are not published, we have tested this specific truck with a Vericom VC3000 vehicle performance computer, and before the kits, the 0-60 time was an average of 6.0 seconds (Sport setting, Auto drive mode, traction control fully off). After the intake and exhaust system were installed, the truck will run 0-60 in 5.4 seconds under the same conditions, with a 14.2 quarter mile time. That is incredibly impressive for a 6,500-pound truck, and will absolutely frustrate most any sports car you encounter—up to the 106 mph speed limiter, that is.

Photo 21/31   |   A couple of really long extensions make it much easier to get to the Y-pipe flange behind the spare tire. You can remove the tire and get better access, but you also have to remove the guard, which is a PITA, so we skipped that and saved time and effort.
Photo 22/31   |   Most of the factory exhaust is welded together, so you have to make at least one cut. Behind the muffler is the best spot; this is required to get the Y-pipe out of the chassis. Note the mechanism to the right of the saw. This is one of the restrictor valves in the exhaust.
Photo 23/31   |   The entire system is held in place by rubber isolators. This truck has less than 12K on the odometer, so they are not too cruddy, but a shot of lubricant makes removing them much easier.
Photo 24/31   |   Up front, the lead pipe from the engine (the catalytic convertor Y-pipe) connects to the mesh flex pipe with a ball and socket clamp. You need a ratcheting wrench to get to the bolt, which is positioned between the pipe and the floor. The muffler and remaining pipe can come out once this is removed.
Photo 25/31   |   The new flex pipe reuses the original socket clamp, but now you can rotate it in any position for better access to the bolt.
Photo 26/31   |   The front pipe connects to the original isolator. Connect this before adding the muffler.
Photo 27/31   |   Next, we installed the muffler—which does not come with any indication as to which side is the inlet and which is the outlet—to the lead pipe and snugged down the clamp. Do not fully tighten the clamps until the entire system is installed.
Photo 28/31   |   Then the crossover pipes were routed behind the spare tire and to the bumper-mounted exit tips.
Photo 29/31   |   We reinstalled the hangers on the back of the frame using the original hardware.
Photo 30/31   |   The tailpipes slide up to the hanger and have a long bar for the hanger itself. This allows you to adjust the pipe to fit under the chassis as needed.
Photo 31/31   |   The last step is to connect all of the crossover pipe clamps and tighten them down. Once the full exhaust is installed, you can go back and torque all of the clamps. It is necessary to recheck the clamps for tightness after 50 miles and then again after about 100-200 miles. They can loosen up from the initial heat cycles.

Parts used

Part Part Number Cost Source
Intake kit 84789794 $625 Chevrolet Performance
Exhaust 19419433 $1,699 Chevrolet Performance

Sources

Chevrolet Performance
800-222-1020
http://www.chevrolet.com/performance.html

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