Do you want to improve the build quality and performance of your vehicle? An option that you can consider is an LS swap. In this article, I’ll discuss what an LS swap is.
An LS swap is a kind of engine swap that uses any form factor of the LS V8 engine series of General Motors. In 2020, Motor Trend noted that when it comes to engine swapping, the Chevy LS V8 engine is the actual form used by many motor enthusiasts.
The engine swapping process involves replacing the present engine of a vehicle with an LS engine made by General Motors. GM initially built this engine in 1997. It revolutionized the industry of building V8 engines. This engine was the most common way of improving the performance and quality of a vehicle.
Read on to learn more about an LS swap, its advantages, and what it takes to do it.
What Is an LS Swap?
Engine Replacement That Uses Any of the GM’s LS V8 Engine Series
An LS swap is one type of engine replacement that uses any form factor of the LS V8 engine series manufactured by General Motors.
As noted by Motor Trend in 2020, this engine swap has become used by many car enthusiasts who want to improve their vehicles’ performance and build quality.
Usually Performed to Upgrade the Engine of the Current Vehicles
The LS motor swap process involves replacing an existing engine with a new one. Car enthusiasts usually perform this process to upgrade the engine of their current vehicles or to replace their damaged and irreparable vehicles.
The LS swap is an engine replacement that uses GM engines. This engine swap gives the vehicle owner enough opportunities for upgrading and customization. GM originally built the engines used for these projects in 1997.
Famous Due to the Engine’s Compact Design
When GM launched this engine, it revolutionized how car manufacturers built their V8 engines. This type of engine swapping became popular because of the engine’s compact design and its wide availability of parts and kits on the aftermarket.
Relatively Easy to Perform
It is not that difficult a project to undertake. An LS swap is relatively easy to perform. But it depends on whether the vehicle is popular and the budget of the person undertaking the project.
Planning is essential if you want to undertake an LS swap. Costs can range between $2,200 and $9,000 depending on your options and the configuration that you will choose.
For decades, LS swaps have been the go-to choice for many motorists who would like to improve the quality and performance of their vehicles.
Why Should You Consider an LS Swap
If you are no longer satisfied with your vehicle’s performance and want to upgrade its build quality, your vehicle is a good candidate for an LS swap. There are many advantages to undertaking an LS swap.
Here are just some of them:
1. Increase the Vehicle’s Power
This is one of the primary reasons for undertaking an LS swap. GM has developed the LS engine that can be cranked at almost 1,000 bhp. This is made possible by the robust engine block and elevated power output that is reliable and consistent.
While they were initially built as rear-wheel drives, you can see them in vehicles ranging from Mazdas to Porsches.
With an LS engine’s enhanced power and reliability, you will be surprised at how they are very affordable. You can find LS engines in scrap yards and some restored and revitalized LS engines that offer more power and efficiency than other engines.
There are other higher-end choices if you have the budget, such as the LSX, which can cost up to $1,000 or more. But some engines like the LS1s or the LS3s can quickly satisfy nearly all kinds of budgets. Their prices can start anywhere from $2,000.
LS engines have a reputation for durability. They can last from 200,000 to 300,000 miles. So, even those you find in old models still have some years left. These engines have simple designs.
They are also easy to tune up. So, if the LS engine you found is regularly maintained, it should still give you enough service life before it dies out.
4. Plenty of LS Engines to Choose From
There’s a wide variety of choices of LS engines that you can choose from. They come in many sizes and shapes, from the widely available LS1s to the powerful and bigger 7.4-liter LSX. There should be an LS engine that can fit your budget and your style.
With its wide availability of choices, you can get an LS swap that will suit your desired restoration type. When it comes to displacement, you have many options to choose from.
So, your main choice will be how big or small the LS engine you want. Once you have set your eyes on particular engine size, you will have different engine sizes that you can select.
Being light in weight is one of the factors that made LS engines a good option for car enthusiasts. The pushrod design of the LS engine made it unnecessary to build a very heavy valve train that sits near the top of the engine.
This design enabled GM engineers to create a high-powered performance engine with a stable center of gravity and low weight.
6. Breathes Efficiently
Engines require efficient airflow to attain speed for greater power and speed. LS engines have efficient head designs that can be compared to NASCA engines.
GM utilized state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics to build the LS engines in 1997. This is one of the reasons why they are still very popular today.
7. Accessible Information
You can access information online about LS swaps that even beginner mechanics can use to start their projects. This is the main reason why the tradition of LS engine swaps continues. It is not unusual to see LS engines in vehicles such as Honda Civics and Toyota Tacomas.
The simplicity of its design enables even novice mechanics to do their own LS engine swaps. People new to engine building or restoration can undertake this kind of project using the information on the internet.
8. Stable Foundation
General Motors have built an engine with strong engine blocks. For instance, the Gen3 LS block was designed as a ‘Y’ which improves the rigidity of the main cap area. The six-bolt main cap on the LS engine’s crankshaft helped make this possible.
Four bolts face the other vertically. The other two bolts lie horizontally to stabilize the cylinder case and the caps.
GM engineers call this ‘snap-fit cross bolting,’ which provides remarkable block and crank rigidity. They made it stronger by building strong top ends that complement the strong bottom ends.
9. LS Engines are High Valued Engines
With an LS engine, even if you use a small engine block with less power, you only need a bare minimum to increase engine power and produce more horsepower. For instance, if you add a high-performance cam, you can produce as much as 100 horsepower.
It won’t cost much to do this, and it is very easy to install. Many people have found LS engines in the country’s driveways, garages, and junkyards. So, it does not matter how much your budget is; you can get the best bang for the buck with an LS engine swap.
Over the years, GM has consistently built purpose-designed engines. For their costs, reliability, and power, these engines have values that will keep on increasing. This makes them hot commodity items for motoring enthusiasts into engine modding or upgrading.
10. LS Engine Can Fit Any Car
Can you do LS swap any car? LS engines of GM are very nimble. They can easily fit any car, make and model. For instance, an LS1 engine with 5.7 liters has no problem fitting inside a Honda Civic. The swap won’t even increase the weight of the vehicle considerably.
The weight of a 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder engine of a Honda Civic is around 300 pounds. An LS1 engine with four cylinders only weighs about 160 pounds. But it has 3.7 liters more than the Honda Civic. And it has all the accessories attached to the engine.
11. Simple Pushrod Design
The greatest advantage of LS engines over other, more modern engines is their simple pushrod designs. With these engines, GM can build smaller engines with greater power. GM accomplished this with its old-school method of engine building.
According to Road and Track, the last true sports car was the pushrod V8 of the Chevrolet Corvette. These types of engines don’t weigh that much. They have simple designs and fewer moving parts.
Over time, these engines are cheaper to build. This is one of the reasons why LS engines are still popular today.
12. Exceptional Performance
An engine may have all the bells and whistles, but if it does not perform as expected, it will not matter. GM engineers were able to create a head design that offers the best performance, whether the engine is a supercharged 427 or a stock 5.3.
The LS engines are known to give their best performance. GM ensured that their engineers took good care in designing their intake manifolds. Their truck manifolds can produce remarkable low-end torque, and their car-style manifolds can create power at the higher RPM range.
All LS engines are also able to respond well to modifications. Even a simple intake and exhaust mod will result in a noticeable increase in horsepower.
Again, what is an LS engine swap? An LS engine swap refers to changing a car’s current engine with GM’s LS engine. This engine swap results in a more powerful engine. It was in 1997 when GM first launched the LS engine, which changed the V8 engine industry.
How Much Does It Cost to Do a Complete LS Swap?
While it may be considerably cheaper to undertake a DIY LS swap project, you must carefully consider your options before heading into it. You are changing one engine to another, so you should have at least the minimum knowledge, skills, and experience before diving into it.
However, if you feel your know-how about this project is insufficient, you can ask a shop to do it. Just be sure that the car shop has all the necessary knowledge, skills, experience, and tools that will enable them to do a decent job of it.
If you choose this route, you must be prepared to spend a minimum of around $15,000 for a legit LS engine swap job. To you, this may sound very expensive. But remember that aside from undertaking an engine swap, the car shop may also need to perform the following:
- Transmission driveline procedures
- Cooling systems
- Exhaust systems
- Fuel systems
- Other systems
This job can’t be done in just a matter of days. It can take several weeks before it is completed.
Can You Use OEM Accessories for an LS Engine Swap?
Another area that you need to consider when undertaking an LS engine swap is the accessories. Some people try to save money by using the stock OEM accessories, such as the oil pan, intake manifold, wiring harness, etc.
The issue is that if you implement an engine swap, the OEM accessories won’t work well. They were specifically designed to work with and fit with the original vehicle. But since you are swapping the original engine with a different engine, they won’t operate as usual.
So, you need to consider purchasing new parts instead of trying to fit the old, stock parts to your vehicle’s new (swapped) engine. Of course, buying new accessories will cost you more. But they will work far better than the OEM parts, which may not even work.
Some companies sell high-end kits and accessories that range between $850 and $3,000, depending on your needs and the quality of the accessories.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is an LS Swap?
An LS swap is changing the old engine to a new one using any form factor of the LS V8 engine created by General Motors. It is swapping one engine for another.
Why Do People Do an LS Swap?
There are many reasons why people do LS engine swaps. One of the main reasons is that it will increase the vehicle’s power without adding to its weight.
What Are the Advantages of an LS Swap?
People undertake LS engine swaps because of the many advantages they can get from them. Some of these advantages include the following:
- Increased power
- Lots of options
- Breathes efficiently
- Accessible Information Online
- Stable foundation
- LS engine has high values
- Easy to fit
- Simple pushrod designs
- Povide great performance
What Is the Average Cost of an LS Swap?
The cost of an LS swap depends on the size of the LS engine and the build quality. Depending on the configurations, the engine size, the accessories, and all things that come into the project, you may be looking at a low of $2,200 to a high of $9,000 and up.
If you ask a car shop to do it, they may charge you around $15,000 for all the tasks that can complete the job, including installing some accessories.
Is It Difficult to Undertake an LS Swap?
The difficulty of an LS swap depends on the type of swap you will perform. This project can be relatively easy to undertake. But it depends on the popularity of the vehicle and the extent of your budget.
If the engine that you choose is not as popular, you may find yourself doing more research and fabricating parts that are not readily available.
What Is the Easiest LS Swap?
If you want the easiest LS swap, you have to choose an LS engine swap that many motor enthusiasts have already done before. If the LS swap is popular, you can be sure its parts are widely available.
Many have recommended GM SUVs or trucks, particularly those with OBS body styles or those with square bodies. A New Edge Mustang or GM muscle cars like the Camaro are also good candidates for LS engine swaps.
In Closing: LS Swap – What is It?
An engine swap that uses any form factor of the LS V8 series of engines manufactured by General Motors is considered an LS swap. In 2020, Motor Trend stated that many motor enthusiasts use the Chevy LS V8 engine as their actual form of engine swapping.
Engine swapping involves replacing an existing engine with an LS engine made by General Motors. Initially, when GM built this engine in 1997, it revolutionized how car manufacturers built V8 engines.
It is the most common way car enthusiasts use to improve the performance and quality of their vehicles.