Vortec 8100 Big Block V8 Outpowers Competitor’s V10s
The Vortec 8100 (L18) is essentially a new engine. Nearly 80 percent of its parts have been redesigned. Yet, its foundation is one of the most celebrated engine components in automotive history, GM’s Big Block V8. The Big Block even competes against diesels in highly demanding marine and industrial applications – in essence giving Silverado and Sierra HD customers a lot more truck engine for the money than they realize.
The new Vortec 8100 shares its predecessor Vortec 7400’s valve and bore centers and bore diameter. But its stroke has been increased by 9.4 mm (.37 in.) for a higher displacement and more power. The result is awesome: the Vortec 8100 out-muscles even Ford and Dodge’s V10s!
If there is heavy towing or hauling to be done, this is the perfect powerhouse for the job. An impressive 90 percent of its peak torque is available from 1700 rpm to 4300 rpm. And when it comes to acceleration, this engine leaves its competitors in the dust, as the following comparison of comparably loaded, automatic transmission-equipped models shows.
Even with the Vortec 8100’s awesome power and performance, its specific fuel economy (per liter of displacement) is four percent better (than the 6.5 liter).
And the Vortec 8100 operates more cleanly; it already complies with 2002 "clean-fuel-fleet" requirements. Its new design also permits running on alternative fuels, including liquid propane gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG), without requiring any special valves and seats. California versions of the engine are equipped with Air Injection Reaction (AIR) and pup catalytic converters to meet that state’s more stringent emissions requirements.
The Vortec 8100’s 200,000-mile (322,000-km) durability testing includes rigors that no other gasoline engine in its class have been put through; they include running at wide-open throttle for 300 straight hours!
Its low maintenance design requires only normal oil and filter changes during the first 100,000 miles (160,000 kms). Oil changes are based on actual need. The Powertrain Control Module records engine temperature and length of operation at a given temperature, then indicates the need for an oil change with an easy-to-read "Change Engine Oil" LCD message in the Driver Message Center. The driver is also alerted to "Check Engine Oil Level," when necessary.
Long-life engine coolant is good for five years or 150,000 miles (240,000 kms). A standard coolant level sensor warns the driver of a drop in coolant level. If a catastrophic event causes a total coolant loss, the engine protects itself against damage by running on alternate banks of four cylinders and using cool air to cool itself, enabling the driver to reach a service station.
Advanced Design Features
The Vortec 8100’s rigid cylinder block uses four-bolt main bearings to optimize crankshaft rigidity. The nodular iron crank is internally balanced and counterweighted to minimize internal stresses and bearing loads. The bearings are produced with a new alloy (A260) that increases their life and eliminates the use of environmentally hazardous cadmium. An elastic material called Vamac is used in place of rubber to support the crankshaft’s torsional rigidity: it increases both damping capability and durability. A change in the firing order (to 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3) reduces main bearing wear and stress on the crank by seven percent.