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.

Many of you do not have access to, or have confidence in a repair facility in your immediate area. As a result, we have seen a remarkable number of you doing something you once thought impossible, working on your own ZR1. We highly recommend the purchase of the appropriate service manual which will usually assist you in performing the basic repair procedures you might attempt. Be sure to carefully read ALL of the procedure before beginning especially any notices or warnings.

Although intimidating at first glance, the LT5 engine is really a somewhat technically friendly design. The plenum can be removed by a novice in less than an hour (be sure to first drain the coolant prior to plenum removal). Physically attached to the plenum's underside, you will find four electrical connections leading to the ignition module. It is highly advised that these be treated with care as they can be damaged and can lead to a host of secondary problems.

On the top of the LT5 engine, you will find the AC compressor, alternator, injectors, ignition coils, spark plug wires, coolant sensors, numerous vacuum lines and fittings related to the secondary throttle system, and of course, deep within the valley, the starter.


Helpful hint: So you're broken down on the side of the road and need emergency access under the plenum? Maybe need to tighten a cam cover? In an emergency, you should know that your targa top ratchet is the same size Torx tool as many fasteners on the LT5 engine including the plenum and camcover screws.


Remember, this is just in case of an emergency.

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