Cat Eye Chevy Diesel Used – After exhausting the pros and cons of each Duramax, it’s time to pick a favorite—but it’s an easy decision. The truth is that every variant of the iconic 6.6L V8 diesel has its strong points. The LB7 is the simplest in terms of emissions controls, while the LLY comes with the largest turbocharger on offer. The LBZ packs a lot of improvements, including a lot more power, and the LMM is almost a mirror image of it apart from its use of a diesel particulate filter. The LML brought higher fuel pressure, cleaner emissions and nearly 400hp to the equation, while the current L5P ups the ante even further and has 600rwhp potential in ’17-newer GM trucks.
To cover what is covered in our Duramax History Lesson series, let’s discuss the ups and some of the downs associated with each mill. Then we’ll reveal what we like best and why. While you may be partial to another RPO code Duramax, we don’t blame you. Regardless of generation, you really can’t go wrong with any rendition of this engine. Hard-part wise, they’re pretty solid. When properly cared for, they can easily give you 300,000 miles worth of use, but are definitely capable of going 500,000 miles (or more) if you’re willing to keep one that long. The Duramax platform has made GM a viable contender in the diesel pickup game since the turn of the century and there’s no indication that will change in the foreseeable future.
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It doesn’t get much simpler than the original 6.6L: the LB7. With the exception of the California models, the first Duramax was effectively free of any of the problematic emissions control devices that would be introduced in the coming years. No exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) yet and certainly no diesel particulate filter (DPF) yet, just a catalytic converter. The LB7 also used a fixed geometry turbocharger—the only Duramax to do so—which meant no sticking turbo vanes or actuator issues.
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Blazing the trail of common-rail injection in the diesel truck segment didn’t come without its quirks for GM. Cracked and/or leaking injectors can fill the crankcase full of diesel fuel, produce excessive smoke in the tailpipe and cause irreversible engine damage if neglected for long periods of time. Now, the LB7 injector issue has been resolved (thanks to improved injector designs and materials), but if we were in the market for a pre-owned Chevrolet or GMC HD, we’d be a little uneasy about buying a low miles. ’01-’04 models.
With the largest version of the factory Garrett GT3788VA turbocharger bolted to it, the LLY (found in ‘04.5-‘05.5 trucks) has arguably the most tune-only horsepower potential of any Duramax made between 2001 and 2016. Thanks to its 62.6mm inducer compressor wheel and the highest turbine vane height (15mm) of any GT3788VA, enough intake and exhaust flow exists to support 530rwhp in 2500 and 3500 model Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras. On top of that, the LLY-spec’d GT3788VA sports a 360-degree thrust bearing for optimal turbo longevity.
Unfortunately for the LLY, it’s pretty notorious for overheating in towing situations. Mainly due to the combination of a tight turbo mouthpiece, a small radiator and a dirty cooling stack that blocks airflow, it is common to see a coolant temp crest of 230 degrees when this engine is running. Over time, and with many LLY-powered trucks tuned for most of their lives, buying the 200,000-mile version could mean you’ll be pulling heads for new gaskets at some point. .
With a stronger block, meatier rods, taller main bearing caps, a revised, higher pressure common-rail injection system and 360hp right out of the box, it’s hard not to like the LBZ, available on GM trucks since ’06 -’07 model year. While working to meet stricter NOx and particulate matter emissions regulations set to take effect in 2007, GM made the necessary changes in ’06 that would actually allow the LBZ to become an LMM (‘07.5-‘ 10) with very little change. . As a result, the LBZ is basically an LMM without the problematic exhaust aftertreatment system (i.e. the DPF, and the mileage-and-longevity-killing regeneration cycles).
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There is no doubt that GM’s use of wrist pin bushings (and a thinner wall wrist pin, to boot) reduces the ability of the LBZ pistons to handle excess cylinder pressure (ie, torque) , but the quality of the castings is also suspect for some. year now. If you are in the market for an LBZ, just know that the failure rate of the factory pistons increases as you approach 650rwhp. At near-stock power levels, we liken the cracked piston scenarios in an LBZ to the killer dowel pin hitting a 5.9L Cummins. It could happen at any time unless you dig into the engine and eliminate the possibility—but it probably won’t.
To handle up to 765 lb-ft of torque in stock form, GM further enhanced the Duramax’s block strength with LML, which was offered on GM HDs from ’11-’16. Because of this, this crankcase is now used as the foundation in many aftermarket performance engine builds. But not only that, higher horsepower requires improved oil flow—and an oil pump that flows 11-percent more than the ’01-’10 engines is used in the LML. To free up horsepower (it put out 397hp, stock), the LML also sports the lightest rotating assembly of any Duramax.
For emissions purposes, GM was forced to move away from the Bosch CP3 in the LML, using Bosch’s CP4.2 instead. While the smaller pump puts out 29,000 to 30,000 psi and packs easier, it is prone to disaster any time there is a lack of lubrication or debris enters the high-pressure system. of gasoline. The pit-in-the-stomach double-whammy is that, when the twin-piston CP4.2 self-destructs, it often takes the injectors out with it. The first thing to do when picking up a used LML is to ditch the CP4.2 in favor of a CP3 (if possible) or install a lift pump (for additional filtration and low-pressure fuel supply) .
No other Duramax in history has offered what the L5P does. The Bosch CP4.2 was dropped in favor of a Denso HP4, Denso state-of-the-art solenoid-style injectors replaced the Bosch piezoelectric units used in the LML and for the first time the injection pump was supported by a lift pump. Different cast-aluminum heads flow a bit more air, the variable geometry turbocharger is a BorgWarner (not Garrett) make, which uses a 61mm billet compressor wheel and is both controlled and electrically actuated. As a result, the latest and greatest Duramax on the market makes 445hp and a mountain-moving 910 lb-ft of torque right off the showroom floor. Check out the table-top torque curve!
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By far, the biggest drawback for the L5P is its newness. While we know the new Denso injection system has great performance potential, we don’t yet know how reliable it will be. The same can be said for the cutting-edge, all-electric BorgWarner turbocharger that sits in the valley. Although everything looks good on paper, it has not yet proven that it can be as reliable, day in and day out, as its predecessors. Only time will tell.
For its use of the tried and true Bosch common-rail system based on the durable CP3, pre-DPF emissions system and its tune-only performance potential, we’re big fans of the LBZ Duramax. It improved on the LB7 and LLY platforms with a stronger block, stronger connecting rods, a higher pressure injection system (26,000 psi versus 23,000 psi) and was bolted to a stronger, six-speed Allison automatic transmission. With an LBZ-powered ’06-’07 Chevy or GMC HD, you get double overdrive, see an increase in fuel economy, enjoy great reliability and still have a lightweight (and arguably better-looking) classic body style. Without any turbo or fueling mods (other than tuning), you can swim in the 12s in the quarter-mile with a ¾-ton 4×4 crew cab. Trust us, there’s a reason these 13-year-old gems are still fetching $20K on the used truck market. Chevy runs deep and Duramax-powered GMs with Allison transmissions behind them run even deeper! All in all, the ¾- and 1-ton Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras offer what are arguably the best all-around heavy duty trucks the big three have made. Whether you want horsepower and torque, fuel economy, ride comfort or reliability, the Duramax-equipped rigs coming out of Detroit over the past decade and a half are hard to beat.
Fair warning, these trucks generally command a higher value than Ford and even Dodge trucks of the same vintage, and the pre-emission versions (2001 through 2007) are highly sought after. So, keep in mind that you may have to fork over $20,000 or more for a clean and tidy, 10-to-12-year-old truck.
While the early models of GM trucks that offered the Duramax engine/Allison transmission combo are getting old, clean versions can still command a pretty penny. An Achilles heel of the LB7 Duramax engine is injector failure. Sooner or later, the injectors will need to be replaced (a $3,000 to $4,000
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