Banks LB7 Intercooler Upgrade

Duramax LB7 Intercooler Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and has been creating automotive content online since 2017. He has been the lead writer for Chevy Trucks and has transformed it from the old and outdated site it was into what it is today. Jake creates a ton of GM related content for the 8020 Media YouTube channel and specializes in Duramax and Vortec information but has a wealth of knowledge across all GM cars and engines. Jake believes the L5P is the best diesel on the market today.

An upgraded intercooler is the best reliability upgrade or supporting mod for the Duramax LB7. While it won’t provide big power gains like the other bolt-on mods, it will help keep EGTs and engine temps lower while also providing more consistent performance.

Whether you are stock or heavily modified an intercooler will provide great performance and reliability benefits making it a worthwhile modification to consider. I’m going to cover the benefits and provide a few scenarios where an upgraded intercooler is worth it along with a recommendation on the best option on the market, based on personal experience modding LB7’s.

LB7 Intercooler Upgrade Benefits

  • Consistent performance, prevent power loss from heat soak
  • Minor horsepower and torque gains
  • Lower engine temps
  • Lower EGTs (around 100 degrees)
  • Overall increased engine reliability (prevent head gasket issues)
  • ~30% increase in airflow and air capacity
  • Slightly better fuel economy

The primary purpose of an intercooler is to decrease the temperature of the air entering the engine. Colder air is more dense which will help lead to some small power gains but primarily to lower engine temps and EGTs, making the biggest benefit come in terms of better reliability.

Outside of reliability you’ll also get a small increase to fuel economy and will reduce restriction within the intake system, which will help support more advanced upgrades like a bigger turbocharger.

Intercoolers are expensive, though so the biggest question is: are they worth it?

Is an Intercooler Worth It?

An intercooler is going to run you over $1,000 and if you include the piping (which is worth it) then you are looking closer to $1,500. At this price point there are definitely some situations where it doesn’t make sense to upgrade the intercooler, so let’s go ahead and layout some scenarios where it does.

An upgraded LB7 intercooler is worth it if:

  • You tow heavily very frequently and your EGTs get hot
  • You are tuned and running an upgraded turbocharger
  • Reliability is a top priority and you are willing to spend $ to achieve it

First, the LB7 is known to suffer from head gasket failure which is caused by high engine temps. This becomes even more likely when you tow. If you tow heavily a lot and have a hard time keeping EGTs down then an intercooler is going to be worth it for reliability.

Secondly, an upgraded intercooler really isn’t going to do much for a stock truck, or even one with just a few bolt-on mods. It isn’t until you upgrade to a larger turbocharger that you will start to push the airflow capacity of the stock intercooler.

Lastly, if you are pushing for maximum reliability and performance and are willing to shell out a grand or more then an intercooler is worth it. Especially if you are tuned and running some other bolt-on or more advanced mods.

Intercooler Piping Only Upgrades

If you want some of the benefits of an upgraded intercooler without spending the money it costs to get a full intercooler + piping kit then you can just upgraded the piping only. Intercooler piping + an up-pipe upgrade is a great option for anyone who is going for “full bolt-ons” and doesn’t need the extra $1,000-$1,200 price the intercooler itself is going to cost.

My recommendation is get the full intercooler + piping if you can afford it or if you need it, but if not you can get away with just piping and see some benefits from that too.

The Bottom Line

There is absolutely no downside to an upgraded intercooler for the LB7. It is worth it’s salt in reliability and performance benefits – so if you think the benefits are worth the price, get one. If not, up-pipes and intercooler pipes are a great alternative to a full kit.

With that being said, you just might not need to shell out the $1,500 if you don’t do a lot of heavy towing, if you aren’t running an upgraded turbo, or if you have an old high mileage truck that you don’t really care about.

Banks Techni-Cooler LB7 Intercooler Kit

Banks LB7 Intercooler Upgrade

If you have the need, or the want, for an upgraded intercooler then the best kit on the market is from Banks, with their Techni-Cooler. It’s pricey at $1,469 but it’s the best option on the market and at least comes with the upgraded intercooler piping as well so it’s a full kit upgrade. There are a few other options on the market like Mishimoto, but they cost the same price so stick to Banks.

Price: $1,469

View Here: Banks LB7 Techni-Cooler Intercooler Upgrade

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