The LS1 vs LS3 Engines – Which is Better

The LS1 vs LS3 Engines – Which is Better ?. The LS engines from General Motors are among the most popular engines in the world. “What mods should I do to my car?” you might ask. If you poll a few people, someone will almost certainly say, “LS swap it.” As a result, it’s no wonder that the LS engines are frequently compared. This page compares the specs of the LS1 and LS3 engines, as well as their durability, alterations, performance, and swaps.

The LS1 vs LS3 Engines – Which is Better

What Vehicles Use the LS1 and LS3 Engines?

The LS1 5.7L V8 was available in the following configurations:

  • 1997-2004 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1998-2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28/SS
  • 1998-2002 Trans Am / Pontiac Firebird
  • Pontiac GTO 2004

The 6.2L LS3 from General Motors is available in the following years and models:

  • Chevy Corvette Base / Z51 2008-2013
  • Chevy Corvette Grand Sport 2010-2013 *
  • Chevy Camaro SS 2010-2015
  • 2014-2017 Chevrolet SS

*Corvette Grand Sport vehicles from 2010 to 2013 have a customized LS3 engine. The main distinctions were dry sump oiling and a forged steel crankshaft.

Engine Comparison: LS1 vs. LS3

The following are the specifications for the GM LS1 and LS3 engines:

The list of LS1 vs LS3 specifications could go on and on. However, the engines have a lot in common. Both engines are NA with aluminum heads and blocks. The length of the connecting rod, the height of the deck, the location of the thrust bearing, and so on are all the same. Given that they share the same LS engine platform, that makes sense.

In any case, the main distinction is in the displacement. The LS1 has a 5.7L engine, whereas the LS3 has a 6.2L engine. A larger diameter results in a higher displacement, although both engines have the same 3.622′′ stroke. GM was able to place a better flowing head on the LS3 because to the bigger bore.

The compression ratio of GM LS3 engines has also increased. All of these elements contribute to the LS3 producing 436 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque. The LS1 is no slouch, but it falls short with peak power and torque figures of 350hp and 365tq.

More specifications will be discussed throughout the text as they relate to the LS1 vs LS3 debate. Check out the LS1 and LS3 specifications pages for more information.

Notable Engine Differences in the LS

The main distinction between the LS1 and the LS3 is merely displacement. However, a number of underlying adjustments were made to accommodate the larger LS3 engine. This is in addition to any other minor changes brought about by the LS3 engine’s 11-year-older architecture.

After that, let’s have a look at some of the main changes between the LS1 and LS3 engines. These are crucial considerations that may lead you to prefer the larger, newer LS3 engine. One continuing trend is that the LS3 is simply the better performance engine.

LS1 Cylinder Head vs. LS3 Cylinder Head

To begin, some LS cylinder heads can be switched out for different engines. However, this is not the case for the LS1 vs LS3 heads. The reason behind this is that the larger 6.2L engine has a 4′′+ bore. A larger bore enables larger intake and exhaust valves, which improves flow.

The cathedral intake port shape is used by LS1 engines, whereas the rectangular shape is used by LS3 engines. During testing, the LS3 head produced 293 cfm of intake air and 244 cfm of exhaust air. A significant improvement over the Chevy LS1 head’s 244 intake and 206 exhaust cfm.

It’s worth noting that Chevrolet has traditionally produced excellent cylinder heads that flow well. The LS1 is still a nice head, but it can’t compete with the LS3’s enhanced design. When it comes to power mods, the LS3 has a definite advantage due to cylinder head flow.

Updates to the Intake Manifold

Another significant improvement to the Chevy LS3 engine was the intake manifold. Overall, the LS1 and LS3 intake designs are relatively similar (much like the engines), although there are some major variations that benefit the LS3. It’s also not a direct fit for the LS3 because the port shape on the LS3 is different.

With a straighter design, GM enhanced the flow of the LS3 intake manifold. This smoothes out the airflow, resulting in better flow and performance. Again, this isn’t a direct fitment and would necessitate an LS3 cylinder head swap, which would be a headache and probably not worth the effort or money.

Modifications/Upgrades to the GM LS Engine

Upgrades are roughly the same for every LS engine. Of course, fitting varies greatly, but the broad list of mods remains consistent. That principle also applies to the LS1 vs LS3 debate. Among the best LS improvements are:

  • Tune
  • Intake
  • Headers
  • Exhaust with a catalytic converter
  • Camshafts
  • Work on the intake manifold and the head
  • Induction by coercion

Because we’re dealing about LS engines, this list is far from exhaustive. Almost any improvement you can think of is available for both the GM LS1 and LS3 engines. It is entirely up to you how far you wish to go.

However, the LS3 has a better starting point. It’s the better performance engine, with greater displacement, better flowing heads and manifold, and other minor modifications. We understand that it is becoming tedious. However, the LS1 will soon receive some advantages of its own.

LS1 vs. LS3 Issues & Reliability

The LS1 and LS3 engines are both strong and dependable. However, some LS supporters like to hide the reality that they still have their share of issues. That can be stated about any car or engine. Finally, these LS engines have above-average dependability.

Both engines have certain difficulties in common. Check out our post on LS1 engine issues. Failures of the water pump and pushrods are also recognized difficulties with the LS3 engine. Lifter, roller, and other head/cam difficulties occur on occasion. Over-revving is frequently the cause of bent pushrods.

In any case, the LS3 is likely to be the more reliable engine in the short run simply because it is newer. Age can be equally damaging to an engine as mileage. It has a negative impact on gaskets, seals, o-rings, and other components. Otherwise, it is frequently down to the luck of the draw.

Maintenance is the fundamental key to LS1 vs LS3 reliability. Use high-quality oils, change fluids on schedule, and address problems as they arise. If you do all of this, both LS engines will easily reach 200,000 miles with little troubles.

Cost of a Chevy LS Engine

Finally, something works in favor of the LS1 over the LS3. The 5.7L LS1 engine is older and more difficult to find. Most complete LS1 engines with 50-120k mileage will cost between $3 and $5k. They are even cheaper in certain auctions and junkyards.

The LS3, on the other hand, will most likely cost between $5 and $8,000. Again, with little effort, you may find the LS3 at a lower price. You’ll still be paying at least $1,000-2,000 more than you would for an LS1. If you want something brand new and very pricey, Chevy also offers the 6.2L LS3 as a crate engine.

If you can afford the extra expense of the LS3, it is unquestionably the superior choice between the LS1 and LS3. If you’re on a tight budget, the LS1 is still a fantastic engine. With the savings, you may have enough for some LS1 tweaks to bring it near to the performance of the 6.2L engine. When comparing them mod for mod, the LS3 will always be the superior engine.

Related : The Engine Comparison: LS1 vs. LS6

LS1 vs LS3 Engine Comparison

The LS1 and LS3 engines from Chevrolet have a lot in common. After all, they’re both part of the LS engine family and use many of the same or comparable designs. The main distinction is the 5.7L and 6.2L displacement of the LS1 and LS3, respectively. The bore of the engine is widened to provide a larger engine, which also allows for a better cylinder head.

Because LS3 engines are nearly 11 years newer, there are some small changes that favor the 6.2L V8. When you add it all up, the LS3 outperforms the older, smaller LS1. That’s not to say the LS1 engine isn’t good, but as they say, displacement can’t be replaced.

Both GM engines are extremely reliable and rarely have engine problems. However, no engine is flawless, and the LS1 vs LS3 comparison is no exception. Because it is a newer engine, reliability benefits the LS3 (at least in the short term). Even low mileage LS1s may have age-related difficulties. Fortunately, while the engine is out and ready to be switched, it’s typically simple to fix.

Finally, the LS3 is the superior all-around engine, and its greater price reflects this. If you’re on a tight budget, the savings on and LS1 could be significant. It remains a good engine that is simple to maintain and adapt.