5.3 vortec cold air intake S&B
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5.3 Vortec Cold Air Intake Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Chandler

Chandler is a leading content writer for 8020 Media. Outside of writing truck related GM content for Chevy Trucks he creates a lot of articles around LS engines over on TuningPro. Chandler is a gearhead with tons of hands-on experience. Furthermore, he has a masters degree in history that makes him invaluable in crafting high-quality, well-researched articles on both classic and modern Chevy trucks.

If you’re looking to add some extra horsepower and torque to your 5.3 Vortec then a cold air intake is a great bolt-on modification. An intake upgrade can add up to 15hp and torque when tuned, offering some decent power gains in addition to a number of ancillary benefits like better throttle response and improved gas mileage.

In this guide we’re going to discuss the benefits and reasons for upgrading your 5.3 Vortec intake, based on our experience with our shop Suburban and Tahoe. Additionally, we’ll discuss a few of the intakes that we’ve tested and prefer.

5.3 Vortec Cold Air Intake Benefits

  • +5-15 horsepower and torque
  • Decreased intake temperatures
  • Increased air flow and air velocity
  • Quicker throttle response
  • Increased fuel economy

There are several different benefits to installing a 5.3 Vortec cold air intake in your truck, SUV, or van. The most obvious is the increase in power. While it’s not dramatic, most intakes show dyno gains of around 5-15 horsepower and torque. Most of this comes from the lack of restriction and larger piping, but decreased temperatures can also play a role. Additionally, if you continue to add other mods, like an exhaust or even a supercharger, an upgraded intake will allow you to maximize those gains. 

Besides just seeing an increase in peak power, you will probably also notice that the throttle is more responsive overall. Once again, the change won’t be groundbreaking, but you’ll probably feel pushed back in your seat a bit more once you really stomp on the gas.

Finally, you might see a small increase in gas mileage from an upgraded intake. The lack of restriction and increase in air flow will help allow for more power with less throttle, allowing you to save a few bucks at the pump every few tanks. However, it’s also important to realize that more air also means more fuel is required to maintain the correct air-to-fuel ratio. So under heavy throttle, you’ll probably see less fuel economy as power increases. 

Best 5.3 Vortec Cold Air Intakes

  • S&B Cold Air Intake
  • Volant Closed Intake with scoop

1) S&B Cold Air Intake

5.3 vortec cold air intake S&B

All of the S&B systems are closed-box cold air intake style, and the air boxes have transparent tops so you can see the filter. There are both dry-flow and oiled cotton filters, but we always suggest going with a dry filter element when available. 

The airflow improvement compared with stock ranges from 28-45%, meaning they flow a substantial amount more than the OEM boxes. The designs are a little bit different for each year, but they place the filter in the same place where the OEM airbox was located. S&B has been a leader in the cold air intake game for several years, and their products are very popular in the truck community. Even many non-S&B kits use S&B’s filters due to their high quality. This is definitely a quality intake, and will make your truck sound great.

2) Volant Closed Box Intake with Scoop

Volant Cold Air Intake for 5.3 Vortec

Next up on our list are the Volant closed box intakes with induction scoops. Volant is another widely popular brand for GM trucks and SUVs, and their 5.3 Vortec units are solid. All of them will outflow the factory unit and are cold air intake style. They also include an induction scoop to help draw in cold air from as low as possible in the engine bay. 

Like the S&Bs, all of them are closed box units with multiple choices for air filters, including dry, oiled, and their proprietary PowerCore. The top option is the PowerCore filter. All of them use a high-velocity venturi-style filter adapter to reduce airflow turbulence and allow for smooth MAF readings. The Volant 5.3 Vortec cold air intakes are very popular and look slick, with the early ones being available with a transparent top for the air box. 


What does a cold air intake do for a 5.3 Vortec?

A 5.3 Vortec cold air intake will improve horsepower, torque, throttle response, and make the engine much louder. It will also make the engine bay look better, and is a very easy modification to make.

How much HP does a cold air intake add to a 5.3 Vortec V8?

A 5.3 Vortec cold air intake will add 5-15 horsepower and torque over stock. This is mainly achieved through less restrictive and larger tubing, which aids airflow and velocity into the engine. 

What is the best 5.3 Vortec cold air intake?

The best 5.3 Vortec cold air intakes are from S&B, Volant, and the aFe Power Momentum GT. All of these intakes will improve horsepower and torque while potentially decreasing intake temperatures. 

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