ZR-1 Maintenance Tips

General Maintenance

by Jim VanDorn


The most common call we receive by far is from a confused ZR1 owner. After years of reading everything from which thermostat to use, to what type of spark plug is best, the average owner is totally and completely confused...and for good reason. There are many varied opinions of what is best for our cars but that may depend greatly on how you use your ZR1.


After seven years plus, many ZR1's are finally accruing some mileage. We have had the opportunity to closely inspect many engines with a variety of types of use from normal street driving to severe "weekend" use (track time). Compiling this information we can now offer the ZR1 owner some observations. One rule we've adopted after hearing so many owners say the same thing is the "DIMWIT" or "Darn, if I didn't Mess With IT" rule. In other words, if you didn't have a problem, then what are your intentions in the first place? To date, the only company known to have a fleet of engineering ZR1's to test with was GM and it's affiliates.


Therefore, we must ask ourselves if their suggested procedures and parts recommendations should have a considerable amount of merit. Obviously they do, but on the other hand, there are no doubt areas for improvement. Although we will begin our segment discussing the routine and normal maintenance of the ZR1, there are many areas where an upgrade will be suggested.


Please understand that these are personal opinions and experiences and are not intended to conflict with service procedures outlined in the appropriate service manual.

The LT5 requires much the same routine care as most other engines. As we've mentioned before, unless your car will see severe duty, we highly recommend using original brands and types. The stock AC spark plugs perform beautifully and should be replaced at 15,000 to 20,000 mile intervals, and although there has been much discussion of switching to platinum (etc.), type plugs, there is little documentation to prove any performance increase other than a longer service life.

We've seen some restriction in fuel filter flow in as few as 12,000 miles. The fuel filter is located under the passenger footwell. In addition to the plugs and fuel filter service, we also recommend the cleaning of the PCV valves and throttle body at periodic intervals. We do not recommend using ANY un-approved fuel additives or other methods of injector cleaning as they may damage your ZR1's fuel system.

The original spark plug wires on the LT5 are highly susceptible to wear. This may be as a result of the tight placement under the plenum, their proximity to each other, their construction, or the high energy ignition system itself. We have found wire damage in as little as 20,000 miles. If your LT5 seems less crispy on power or seems a bit rougher at idle than it once did, this is likely a place to start. The replacement wires are identical except they are not marked with "Corvette LT5" as are the originals.

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