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Old 06-01-2013, 10:55 AM   #11
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A programmer on anything without a turbo is pretty much useless, esp. while towing.
The 5.3 is a great engine. What rear end gears do you have? Upgrading the gears should really improve you towing experience.
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:01 PM   #12
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I'm pulling a 28 BHS Jay Flight with a 5.3Liter 1500 crew cab Chevy and am looking for more Horsepower. I was wondering if anyone has used a Programmer and do they help? (Or) Would I be better off putting a turbo in?
Can you really get the same amount of horsepower out of the programmer as you can with a turbo? Any ideas would be great thanks!
First, consider joining the Silverado/Sierra forum and you will get all of your questions answered and then some. Now, programmers will add horsepower and so do custom tunes and bolt-ons. A turbo is a little more than a bolt-on in my oppinion and very expensive...however no other horsepower modification will match it if done correctly, short of totally rebuilding the engine. The turbo will cost you $3-4K or more and is a very complicated set-up. A programmer...$400-500 for a good one (don't go cheapy; get what you pay for). Your truck is not towing at its limit so looks like you are just looking to improve a little. Turbo will get you a lot more (50-150HP) but will cost you a ton to get there and NO, you can not get that much with a programmer alone. A supercharger would be better for towing applications but it is also expensive and hard on the engine/power-train. My advice; improve the engine intake and exhaust and plug up a programmer; that's a good 50-60HP and not gonna hurt the power-train.
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Old 06-01-2013, 06:31 PM   #13
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If you are serious about trying to increase hp out of your truck, you could try one of the K & N Filters for your truck. Since you are not running a turbo, you can't do any damage to your engine. I installed one in my 2001 Ford Supercrew for the same reason you want to do your truck. The difference was amazing. I improved my mpg by 1 and the truck was more responsive. There are systems you can get that for the air intake that will also give you a boost in mpg and in hp. http://www.knfilters.com/search/prod...x?prod=63-3070 The 57 Series FIPK is supposed to boost the engine by 10 hp because the engine breaths easier. Do some research on air intakes to boost hp.

Good Luck
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:33 PM   #14
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You are going to get many suggestions for upgrading with the 3 standard bolt-ons: Intake, Exhaust, Programmer. If done right, the three combined can net you anywhere from 25-50 HP maybe more with a custom tune. My advice would be like others have said; do plenty of Research, then Re-research and read customer reviews. I would not recommend ripping out your stock intake for an expensive cold-air-intake kit. The factory intake IS a cold air intake...it feeds air from outside the hot engine compartment/the front wheel fender body...about as cool as you can get. But do get a drop-in high flow/low restiction filter; like K&N, Airaid, Volant, etc. A good intake upgrade that is less expensive is a modular intake tube (Airaid makes one) and it is much less restrictive than the stock tube, which has a stupid resonance chamber for noise. There are lots, uh I mean multiples, of choices for Intakes, Exhausts and Programmers...and oh yeah the paperweight...throttle body spacer. IMHO, and based on hours of research...the TBS is useless for Chevy Vortec longrunner intake manifolds. Just thought I would save you some time...you might see a few people recommend the TBS...AKA-paperweight. Good Luck...you really outta try out the SilveradoSierra forum also...it's a ton of good information on GM trucks all in one spot.
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:31 AM   #15
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Thanks for the replies!
Someone asked what I have for a rear end and I have the 4-10 gear.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:30 PM   #16
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Costly proposition

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Originally Posted by CampUSA View Post
Thanks for the replies!
Someone asked what I have for a rear end and I have the 4-10 gear.


I thought I would add to the thread with my own experience. From an engine upgrade perspective, modifying normally aspirated engines seems to produce very little in terms of results without serious modifications. Turbo engines respond much better to modification, unfortunately that is not the proverbial boat you are in.

I also own a 28BHS and tow it with a 2013 F150 S-Crew; I moved up from a Dodge Durango with the 5.7 and couldn't be happier. My F150 is equipped with the 3.5L ecoboost and the truck produces fantastic towing power, even with my 3.31 hwy gears. On a 5% grade the truck drops to 4th and pulls the hill at 55 MPH @ 2300 RPM.

I wish you the best of luck on your power modification search. That said, I would encourage you to look at the cost per horse power added.
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:24 AM   #17
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I've researched this a bit for my Silverado. I added a drop in K&N filter that marginally increased HP while unloaded but didn't seem to make one difference towing. I've read on several forums that the programers for the 5.3 are also a waste of money in towing application. There is only so much you can squeeze out of the 5.3 without do major work (new heads, change bore/stroke, etc.). The DW and I are going TV shopping later this month for a 3/4 ton.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:09 AM   #18
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What gears do you have? Taller gears can make a big difference in felt power, and most people notice less than .5mpg difference while unloaded.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:30 PM   #19
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If I read correctly, you're already running a 4.10 ratio? So that's covered. With the 5.3 and 4.10's you can produce a heck of a whollop out of that little 5.3 with the right mods. Were it me, I would run straight to a super charger rather than turbo for the increased grunt down load. yes, more parasitic loss than a turbo, but it's on tap, you don't have to wait for a spool up. There is no sense going down that road though unless you verify that your transmission can hold the extra torque. Too many times I have see guys slap on a super charger and at the first sign of torque load, their transmissions heave there guts out the pan.

Or, you could look at doing a full header swap (catback produces nothing but noise and in some cases you actually sacrifice some low end torque) with a new free flowing exhaust. You don't have to have greasy sounding 40 series on it- you can get fairly mellow mufflers. Once that is done, look for undersized pullies if they are available. The two most wasteful upgrades (only in my opinion) on these newer more efficient engines are the "cold air" intakes and throttle body spacers. Both designed to make noise, problems, and a lighter wallet. Sure they claim a 15H gain or whatever, but look at the dyno charts. That gain only comes at or near the ceiling of your RPM range. Who wants to drive like that?

Programmers are not useless as long as they are done by someone who knows what they are doing! Get a custom towing tune done- but make sure they do it for 87 octane so you aren't turning your mill into a grenade if 89 or 91 isn't available. Steer clear of the canned tunes you order online. They are junk. Every engine reacts differently, and a trained eye can maximize this. What you are looking for is to maximize what that mouse can do in the lower RPM range. This is not in its design, but it can be increased a bit. With 4.10 gearing, even the slightest adjustment in shift patterns, etc can make a huge difference.

Since that was the original question, I won't bother saying get a different truck or whatever... and how did payload even come into this discussion???
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Old 03-14-2014, 05:14 PM   #20
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Another thing to look at that no one has mentioned is shift kits for the transmission. That can make you think your are driving a new vehicle with firming up the shifts, and changing some of the shift points.
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