aFe Power Momentum GT Intake for 5.3 EcoTec3 V8
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Ultimate Chevy 4.3 EcoTec3 Performance Mod 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.

The 4.3 EcoTec3 is the smallest engine of the EcoTec engine family, and also the only V6 available. It’s smaller size of course results in a good bit less power and towing capacity than you get out of the V8’s in the family.

While the 4.3 EcoTec3 is built the be heavily modified, there are a few performance upgrades that can help add a decent bit of power and improve overall performance. In this guide we’re going to discuss cold air intakes, exhaust upgrades, tuning, and E85 fueling as some great easy 4.3 EcoTec3 modifications that can help turn the dial up by a notch or two.

Best 4.3 EcoTec3 Performance Upgrades

  • Cold Air Intake
  • Exhaust Upgrades
  • Tuning
  • E85 Fueling

Pushing beyond the level of tuning and basic bolt-on mods doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the smaller V6 engine. At this point you’d likely be best off upgrading to the 5.3 or 6.2 EcoTec3 engines and starting from there. Therefore, we’re predominantly focusing on introductory mods for a little extra power.

1) Cold Air Intake Upgrade

aFe Power Momentum GT Intake for 4.3 EcoTec3 V6

An upgraded cold air intake gains horsepower by sucking in colder air from the side of the engine bay, while also using relatively nonrestrictive and lightweight material. To be fair, the OEM intake is technically a “cold air intake,” since it reroutes the filter away from the engine bay.

Still, an aftermarket intake will use larger piping that is less restrictive, which helps the engine suck in more air at a faster rate. This increases the rate of combustion, which adds up to more horsepower and torque coming out of the engine. Additionally, an upgraded intake will really let you hear the induction sounds from the engine, which can be very pleasing. They also make the engine bay look much better and less bland. 

Ultimately, you can expect about 5-10hp out of an intake upgrade.

2) Headers & Cat-Back Exhaust Systems

Borla S-Type Catback for 4.3 EcoTec3 V6
Borla S-Type Catback for 4.3 EcoTec3 V6

There are two main parts of the exhaust to upgrade, the headers (aka exhaust manifold) and the cat-back. The headers connect directly to the cylinder heads themselves and are the most restrictive part of the exhaust. Cat-backs connect to the headers, and they contain the second half of the exhaust including the mufflers and tailpipes. 

There are two kinds of header upgrades: long-tube and short-tube. As of now, there are no long-tubes available for the 4.3 EcoTec3, making short-tubes the only option. Short tubes cover the part of the exhaust from the cylinder head to the catalytic converter. They are usually good for around 5-15 horsepower and torque.

Cat-backs will not add any performance gains, but they will however add a good amount of volume. With a cat-back, you can really hear the engine much better and more aggressively. Depending on the type of mufflers, single vs dual outlets, and side vs rear exit choices, you can really customize your cat-back to make your truck unique and angry-sounding.

3) ECM Tuning

Flash tuning involves using a handheld programmer to install new software onto your car’s engine control unit (ECU), which is what essentially controls the engine. 

By installing a new tune to your engine, things like the ignition timing, camshaft timing, fuel pressure, and variable valve timing can be optimized to increase the engine’s horsepower and torque output. In addition, if you have other mods — like an upgraded intake or headers — flash tuning will allow you to get even more gains. Usually, with tuning, you can expect to add 5-20% horsepower and torque over stock. 

4) E85 Fueling

For the most gains, you will want to make sure you are always running E85 flex-fuel. E85 is a very popular new type of alternative fueling that can be used in place of gasoline in some engines. It has an effective octane rating of around ~103, meaning that it is capable of much better performance than your standard 87-93 octane gasoline that is usually available at the pump. 

In addition, E85 also has a much lower combustion temperature than gasoline, meaning the engine runs cooler and is less susceptible to things like detonation and pre-ignition. E85 is cheaper than gasoline, though you will notice your fuel economy will probably plummet, so it evens out. Some people also run a mixture of part E85 and part gasoline, to get the octane increase while still balancing out the fuel economy. 

FAQ

How much horsepower can you get out of a 4.3 EcoTec3?

The 4.3 EcoTec3 V6 produces 285-297 horsepower and 305-330 lb-ft of torque when stock. With bolt-ons and tuning, you can make more than 325 horsepower and torque and have a much larger power band. 

How much power can a stock 4.3 EcoTec3 make?

The 4.3 EcoTec3 V6 produces 285-297 horsepower and 305-330 lb-ft of torque when stock. With bolt-ons and tuning, you can make more than 325 horsepower and torque and have a much larger power band. 

What are the best 4.3 EcoTec3 mods?

The best 4.3 EcoTec3 mods are a cold air intake, headers and cat-back exhaust, and ECU tuning. The 4.3 EcoTec3 V6 produces 285-297 horsepower and 305-330 lb-ft of torque when stock. With bolt-ons and tuning, you can make more than 325 horsepower and torque and have a much larger power band.

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One Comment

  1. I have a 2019 gmc sierra 4.3ecotec I have a i3 tuner is there a license I can purchase to get a tune for this car

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