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 most common form of preventive maintenance is the routine oil change. If you drive your car in hot weather, or under severe track conditions (high RPM and high cornering situations) then a good synthetic oil is highly recommended. Redline, Mobil, and others meet OEM standards. If your car is street driven, then use the oil recommended in your owner's manual. Find a name brand and stick with it when possible as several quarts of oil remain in the cooler and is not removable during a routine oil change. 


Oil should be changed at approximately 3,000 miles (for non-synthetic oils) and up to 5,000 miles for synthetic types. However, particular conditions may suggest more frequent intervals. For instance, a stored vehicle which is periodically moved only short distances can allow fuel to pass through the unseated rings contaminating the oil. Check oil for both a fuel smell or for "beading" on the dip stick. 


There are several oil filter brands available and some claim better oil retention in the inverted position reducing the initial tensioner rattle upon start up of some LT5's. This may or may not be true. The recommended AC oil filter is the PF970C. If a tensioner rattle is prominent (first few seconds after start up), there is a corrective tensioner kit (we'll cover that later). The "Oil Change" light is mileage activated. That is, every 7500 miles the light will come on regardless of when the last oil change was performed.


It is a simple reset procedure and is explained in your owner's manual.

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