Which Oil for a GM 5.3 w/Aluminum Block & Heads?

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Mar 3, 2003
NW Tn.
I just bought a new 2003 Chevrolet SSR with the 5.3 motor which has an aluminum block and aluminum heads. I normally run Mobil 1 10w-30 and AC Delco Ultra Guard Gold filters (UPF Series)in my other GM motors, a 6.0 and a 5.7. The SSR owners manual calls for an AC-PF44 filter and this size is available in the UPF Ultra Guard Gold. Does the aluminum block and head pose any difference as far as using my normal Mobil 1 10w-30 or is it the same requirements as an iron blocked motor? I plan to drain the factory oil and change the filter at 1,000 miles. Some say not to use synthetic that early but the factory Corvette motors(which are very similar to the SSR motors) come from the factory filled with Mobil 1. Any comments on this, as to what's correct, would be appreciated. Thanks.
I would defer to others that know more about this engine. The more I read here the more I am convinced that no one on this board (and there are some truely knowledgeable folks here) can tell you which oil is best for you. If you go with an oil like Pennzoil, Chevron Supreme, Motorcraft, or GTX and change about every 4K miles your oil analysis will look about the same as Mobil 1 10W-30. The difference though will be the Amount of deposits your engine has after 50K+ miles. Probably with Mobil you'll have less. Also with Mobil you can almost be garanteed that the oil will hold grade to at least 7K miles. Depending on the engine some of the Dino's won't hold it to even 3K miles. You will also have an extra margin of safety with Mobil 1 if bad things happen. I'd just say, stay tuned here and you'll come up what is best for your particular engine. I see no reason why you can't go to the Mobil 1 any time you choose. I changed to Mobil 1 as soon as I got my 01 Sentra home from the dealership. And note that this 2L-145HP (SR20DE) is all aluminum (block and heads). After 38K miles, oil consumption is almost negligable. The other thought is that Mobil 1 is relatively thin and has moly. Both these properties I think are beneficial when breaking in a new engine. That's just an opinion though. [Frown]
M1 10W30 will work fine. I would consider Schaffers #132 to boost M1's anti-wear and Extreme pressure chemistry. It will also thicken up the 10W30 a bit! If money is no object go for Redline 10W30! They are nice but they are sure are heavy!! Have you played with the tail gate yet? IT weights as much as two or three convetional tailgates. I am woundering if GM made it that heavy to try and put some weight over the rear axle?
JohnBrowning, You're absoulutely correct about the SSR being heavy. I can't figure out how GM managed to get a small, 2-wheel drive, 2 seater pick-up, to weigh 4,760 lbs. Both the hood and the tailgate weigh about 3 times as much as an average one should. The weight makes for a smooth, firm ride but a "pocket rocket" it isn't. I'm at the stage of life where cruising and listening to a Bob Seger CD is more important than blinding, fast speed is. Cops nowdays don't have a sense of humor and tickets keep getting more expensive not to mention points against your license and insurance raising your rates every time you get a ticket. The 300 hp 5.3 with the :373 geared Torsen differential makes for a nice torquey combination but you feel the 4,760 lbs. of weight it's pushing. The exhaust note it makes almost makes you turn the radio off so you can listen to the exhaust sound!
I have a 5.3L in my 2001 GMC truck. While it does not have the aluminum heads and 300 hp, its the same engine. My 2002 Trans Am WS6 (LS1 all aluminum 5.7L) has the Thorsen Limited slip differential also. I use Amsoil 10W30 in the GMC and the WS6, 75W90 Series 2000 gear in both the Thorsen and Eaton limited slip alxles. Can't go wrong with those lubes... My Trans Am been to TN and the Corvette Museum in 2002.. [ December 21, 2003, 06:05 PM: Message edited by: Mike ]
I have a 2002 Sierra with 5.3, last July I made trip from Dallas to Colorado and back with a 4000 pound travel trailer, at the time it was serviced with Castrol 5W20 dino oil, it didn't use any oil during that trip, I have since serviced it with Wallyworlds 10W30 blended, the truck has used about 1/4 of a quart in 2000 miles. But on the good side this truck gets 21 MPG at 70-75 mph. Think I will change to Mobil One and rely on the oil change program built into the vehicle. I changed oil at 3k but didn't reset the monitor and the light came on at 7000 miles. My wifes 97 Taurus with 100k on it has Wallys 10w30 blended and it has not comsumed any in about 1500 miles. [ December 21, 2003, 07:04 PM: Message edited by: Bob Woods ]
That engine is similar to the LS1 engine, so you will probably see your best results with a 5w30 or 0w30 oil which is formulated closer to 12cst at 100c. Amsoil 5w30 would work very well for instance.
Yah I have played around with some captured fleet SSR's. They are nice. GM has done a good job of tameing the truck platform done alot. THe addition of tration control helps alot in the rain. I wish they whould have made the rest of the vechile lighter so awd could have been added. I also do not like how you can see obvious plugs in the interior hideing panel retainers but they got most of it right! I am hopeing that you can send in a UOA so we can see how this engine does compared to other Gen III designs. We also have a low number if any 4200 Vortec engine UOA.
Your choice of filters (UPF 44) is excellent. I would run a good dino in it after the 1,000 mile oil change for 2,000 miles and then run a good synthetic in it such as GC, Redline, or Amsoil. Some might disagree but that is what I would do.
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