When it comes to the 5.3L Vortec, there are cams, and there are…cams. This is a quick review of four of the best cam kits for Chevy 5.3L engines. I included three aftermarket products and one OEM item to show you that you don’t always need to pimp up to the most expensive or elaborate kit to get great performance and increases in power. 5.3 Vortec engines can be found in a wide range of GMC and Chevy vehicles including the GMC Sierra, Silverado range and even the Tahoe just to name a few.

The 4 Best Cams for 5.3 Vortec:

  1. Competition Cams 17001-16 High Energy Die Cast Aluminum Rollerthe best cam for 5.3 Vortec
  2. Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Camshaft and Lifter Kit
  3. Lunati 10120702LK Voodoo Cam/Lifter Kit
  4. Chevrolet Performance 12638427 Engine Camshaft

Top-Rated Cam for 5.3L Vortec List:

 Product namePhotoFeatureProsMore info
1. Competition Cams 17001-16 High Energy Die Cast Aluminum Roller1. Competition Cams 17001-16 High Energy Die Cast Aluminum RollerTested for density and strength

  • solid die-cast aluminum alloy

  • provides extra heat

Check Amazon
Check eBay
2. Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Camshaft and Lifter Kit2. Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Camshaft and Lifter KitClosely resembles the OEM standard

  • comes with hydraulic lifters

  • provides improvements in throttle response

Check Amazon
Check eBay
3. Lunati 10120702LK Voodoo Cam/Lifter Kit3. Lunati 10120702LK Voodoo Cam/Lifter KitDesigned to set the valve down

  • delivers a faster acceleration

  • creates a greater vacuum

Check Amazon
Check eBay
4. Chevrolet Performance 12638427 Engine Camshaft4. Chevrolet Performance 12638427 Engine CamshaftStandard rolling tappet design

  • compatible with and original production

  • aggressive roller profile

Check Amazon
Check eBay

REVIEWS YOU CAN TRUST 

We strive to always give you genuine, accurate information. To do this, all of mechanicguides.com reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience. This knowledge comes from a team of automotive journalists and an independent mechanic, Steve “Whip” Whipple who has 11 years of experience in the auto industry. For more information, see here.

There is something you will need to know before buying a camshaft kit or parts for a camshaft kit. The camshaft is a precision machined item; it is designed to perform for specific engine types. This means that you must know which engine block you have and can then find the different performance or OEM replacement parts to integrate.

Make sure you understand the difference between the camshaft types since there are essentially four types and each one delivers a different level of performance. If in doubt, confer with a professional and make sure you explain what you are seeing. Also, consider that some aftermarket parts will require other accessories changes to complement their installation and improve overall performance.

Here are the best four items I prefer to install for my clients.

Cam for 5.3 Vortec Reviews:

1. Competition Cams 17001-16 High Energy Die Cast Aluminum Roller – the best cam for 5.3 Vortec

COMP Cams 17001-16 High Energy Aluminum 1.5 Ratio Roller Rocker Set for SBC 265-400 w/ 3/8" Stud
  • World's top manufacturer of performance products
  • Package Dimension : 3.8 inches L x 3.9 inches W x 12.8 inches H
  • Country of Origin: UNITED STATES
  • Item Package Weight : 7.98 pounds
  • Fit type: Universal Fit

Specifications

  • Rocker Arm Mounting Style: Stud
  • Rocker Arm Material: Aluminum
  • Rocker Arm Body Style: Standard
  • Rocker Arm Finish: Natural
  • Rocker Arm Fasteners Included: Yes
  • Rocker Arm Nut Style: Polylock
  • Rocker Arm Ratio: 1.5
  • Self- Rocker Arm Style: Full roller
  • Stud Size: 3/8”
  • Slot Style: Standard
  • Maximum Spring Diameter: 1.43”

Features

The17001-16 is a High Energy™ Die Cast Aluminum Roller Rocker Arms model kit for use in Chevy V8 265-400 applications.

These parts come with 3/8” stud diameter with a 1:5 ratio and the body us a solid die-cast aluminum alloy tested for density and strength.

The die-cast aluminum alloy body provides extra heat and strength performance at a very reasonable price, and the strength to weight ratio is near to absolute.

This model comes with a needle bearing fulcrum and a roller tip designed to reduce friction and to lower oil temperatures delivering an improved response and horsepower.

These rocker arms can be used with a valve spring pressure of up to 550 lbs.

The design of these increases valve spring lift, but maintains a durable resistance to the continuous rigors of moderate race performance requirements.

Q&A

  • What tools do I need to install this kit on a small block 350?

You will need a standard set of small wrenches and a hex wrench.

  • Do I need a new tall valve cover for this kit?

Yes, this kit requires a mandatory tall valve cover.

Conclusions

This is a great Chevy 5.3L cam upgrade kit and will improve your performance and experience in an economical and easy to install the application.

2. Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Camshaft and Lifter Kit

Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Camshaft and Lifter Kit
  • Cast Cam Type
  • Hydraulic Lifter Type
  • Exhaust 214 deg/Intake 204 deg Duration @ . 050 Lift
  • Exhaust 0. 442in. /Intake 0. 42in. Valve Lift
  • 112 deg Lobe Steps

Specifications

  • Cam Style: Hydraulic flat tappet
  • Basic Operating RPM Range: Idle-5,500
  • Intake Duration at 050” Lift: 204
  • Exhaust Duration at 050” Lift: 214
  • Duration at 050” Lift: 204 int./214 exh.
  • Advertised Intake Duration: 278
  • Advertised Exhaust Duration: 288
  • Advertised Duration: 278 int./288 exh.
  • Intake Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 420 in.
  • Exhaust Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.442 in.
  • Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.420 int./0.442 exh.
  • Lobe Separation (degrees): 112
  • Lifters Included: Yes
  • Lifter Style: Hydraulic flat tappet

Features

The Edelbrock Performer-Plus Cam and Lifter Kits #2102 is a complete kit designed to deliver optimum torque and acceleration performance.

The cam is a single cast and precision machined part that comes with hydraulic lifters and assembly lube. This cam kit is assembled for integration with an Edelbrock intake.

This kit will deliver optimum torque from the low-end to the mid-range, and match seamlessly with performer manifolds for off-idle to 5500 rpm vehicles.

This kit provides great improvements in throttle response and increases in torque and provides a smooth idle cam daily driver.

This is a hydraulic flat tappet which is used for the mild street to mild race performance. This closely resembles the OEM standard, and the maintenance requirements of this part are low. Take into account that while it is low maintenance, once it is worn you will need to replace it, as all flat tappets have this issue.

Q&A

  • Does this can work with stock timing chain?

Yes, but you must buy and attach an Edelbrock #7800 timing chain for this application.

  • Will this cam generate an efficient vacuum for the brake booster?

Yes, this kit is designed to generate around 14-16″ HG Vacuum at idle.

Conclusions

This is kit one of the great Chevy 5.3L cam and lifters kits around. You should have an expert install it, otherwise, make sure you know exactly how to install a cam and all the appropriate supporting parts.

3. Lunati 10120702LK Voodoo Cam/Lifter Kit

Lunati 10120702LK Voodoo 219/227 Hydraulic Flat Cam/Lifter Kit for 262-400 Chevrolet Small Block
  • Performance street cam with excellent drivability. Great replacement for muscle car cams with auto trans. Stock exhaust manifolds and dual plane intake with mild 4 bbl carb. 4X4 and performance marine cam with dry exhaust.
  • 1400-5800 RPM Operating Range
  • 219/227 Duration at .050". 112 Degree Lobe Separation Angle. 0.468"/0.489" Valve Lift
  • Lunati Cam and Lifter Kits include a camshaft, a set of lifters, instructions and assembly lubricant.
  • More Power Where It Matters - Lunati's Voodoo cams deliver more area under the curve than any other camshaft series.

Specifications

  • Cam Style: Hydraulic flat tappet
  • Lifter Style: Hydraulic flat tappet
  • Basic Operating RPM Range: 1,400-5,700
  • Intake Duration at 050” Lift: 219
  • Exhaust Duration at 050” Lift: 227
  • Duration at 050” Lift: 219 int./227 exh.
  • Advertised Intake Duration: 262
  • Advertised Exhaust Duration: 268
  • Advertised Duration: 262 int./268 exh.
  • Intake Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.468 in.
  • Exhaust Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.489 in.
  • Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.468 int./0.489 exh.
  • Lobe Separation (degrees): 112

Features

The Voodoo Hydraulic Flat Tappet Cam & Lifter Kit is designed for Chevrolet Small Block 262/268 engines and works exceptionally well with stock type exhaust manifolds and dual plane intake with mild 4 bbl carb.

What is special about this kit is that the Lunati witchdoctors engineered the cams to deliver more area under the curve which provides more throttle response, delivers a faster acceleration and creates a greater vacuum.

The asymmetrical lobe is designed to set the valve down through slower closing sides that reduces engine noise and removes premature failure of the valvetrain. This is an expert cam for an expert application.

Q&A

  • Can I apply this cam to 1970 4 bolt main with stock heads

Yes, this is a low to mid-range cam type. This part does not need a carb bigger than 600 cfm. The stock heads have enough flow for optimum performance.

  • I am looking for a rough idle, will this cam deliver?

No, the Voodoo doesn’t have a rough idle

Conclusions

This is perhaps the best cam for 5.3L stock LM7 and will greatly improve all performance features. This is also considered to be one of the most unique 5.3L stock LM7 cam kits around. 

4. Chevrolet Performance 12638427 Engine Camshaft

General Motors 12638427, Engine Camshaft
  • 2009-2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Hydraulic Roller LS9 Camshaft 6.2L OEM NEW
  • Hydraulic Roller LS9 Camshaft
  • 12638427
  • GM

Specifications

  • Cam Style: Hydraulic roller tappet
  • Basic Operating RPM Range: Stock
  • Intake Duration at 050” Lift: 211
  • Exhaust Duration at 050” Lift: 230
  • Duration at 050“ Lift: 211 int./230 exh.
  • Intake Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 562 in.
  • Exhaust Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.562 in.
  • Valve Lift with Factory Rocker Arm Ratio: 0.562 int./0.562 exh.
  • Lobe Separation (degrees): 122.5
  • Camshaft Gear Attachment: 3-bolt
  • Computer-Controlled Compatible: Yes
  • Valve Springs Required: No

Features

Some drivers don’t want aftermarket performance parts, they are satisfied with OEM stock items, and rightly so. Not every vehicle needs to be pushed to its limits and for a safe and secure ride, buying a stock item is the best bet.

The Chevrolet Performance LS Series Camshafts 12638427 is such a part.

All the LS camshafts are compatible with and original production-style LSX and C5R blocks. There is not much to add to this review since it’s an OEM part, and as such, is a straightforward replacement part for any application.

Since this is an OEM replacement, it is a standard rolling tappet design, and gives you an aggressive roller profile that reduces friction, and requires low maintenance. It also reduces valve train noise and delivers more power than a standard hydraulic flat tappet camshaft.

Q&A

  • Will this fit a 00 Chevy Silverado v8 5.3L?

Yes, this is the correct application for this part.

  • Will this cam work with a 4.8 with 862 heads and/or 317 heads?

Yes, this part performs exceptionally well with a boosted 4.8.

Conclusions

This is a great OEM 5.3L Vortec cam kit that is also great as a Silverado 5.3L cam kit too. Whatever you decide to apply this one for, just know nothing really beats an OEM item for daily performance driving.

Cam and Lifters for 5.3 Vortec

Now we know the ultimate combo for the 5.3 Vortec would have to be the cam and lifters. The best cam and lifters we’d recommend would be:

  1. Cam & Lifter Kit – AFM Engines
Cam & Lifter Kit compatible with Buick Chevy GMC 5.3 5.3L AFM Camshaft Single Bolt Cam WITH Trays (AFM Engines)
  • For Single Bolt Camshafts
  • Updated VLOM# 12571609 from GM must be installed with new lifter to prevent future failures and warranty coverag

FAQ

How much does it cost to cam a 5.3?
For a conventional cam swap on a 5.3, the kit will cost you around $1200. The camshaft itself will be around $600, a delete kit is $300, and the VVT kit will cost you around $100. Additionally, a tune would cost you around $200. The delete kit, VVT kit, and tune aren’t necessary but you’ll need them if you want to unlock the full potential of a performance camshaft.
What’s the biggest cam for a stock 5.3?
212/218R, 216/220R duration cams are some of the biggest cams a 5.3 with stock internals can comfortably handle. Anything above that and you will end up tarnishing the drivability of the motor.

How to Install a Cam in a 5.3 Vortec

Tools Needed:

  • Cam degree kit
  • Billet degree wheel
  • Cam bearing driver kit
  • Replacement gaskets.  

Step 1

Before starting the install, you need to take the front timing cover and the pulley off the block. If you aren’t aware, before you begin pulling apart the block, remember to put the number one cylinder piston ring right on the top. You also need to remove the lifters and the oil pump. 

Step 2

The first thing to do with the new cam is to lube it properly. Do not install it dry. Next up, you have to carefully slide it inside the motor through the thrust plate opening. The key to a good install is to take your time and push the cam in slowly and not hurry the process at all. You can use your water pump bolts to handle the cam with more stability while installing it.

Step 3

It’s always a good idea to replace the thrust plate with a new one once you’ve pushed the cam all the way through. Once you’ve replaced the thrust plate and got it all torqued up, you need to get the timing chain back on and torqued up as well. Keeping the first piston at the top dead center before installing is the most effective way to assure that the timing will be set properly with the new cam.

Best Cam for 5.3 Vortec by Year – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

What’s the best 2000 5.3 Cam Kit?
Texas Speed & Performance’s L83 5.3L Camshaft Package offers a universal retrofit for old Silverado models and the 2000 model year is compatible with this performance-oriented camshaft kit. It’s designed to open up the lost horsepower potential of your old truck and ultimately deliver stronger combustion required for pulling harder.
What’s the best 2001 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
Texas Speed & Performance’s L83 5.3L camshaft package is a universal cam kit that’s compatible with early model year Silverado 5.3. It’s a thoroughly tested and developed cam kit that will not only improve the engine’s performance but also make it fit for hauling loads over long distances.
What’s the best 2002 5.3 Cam Kit?
Melling’s lifter kit is both affordable and effective at increasing the horsepower potential of a 2002 5.3 Silverado. This camshaft is stiffer and more durable compared to the stock set up.
What’s the best 2003 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
Brian Tooley’s BTR stage 4 truck cam V2 camshaft kit is suited for any 03 Silverado 5.3 owner looking to have maximum peak power purely for performance rather than utility purposes. You won’t have the best bottom-end pull but if you want excellent mid-range and top-end response from your old 5.3 then this is the cam kit to go for.
What’s the best 2004 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
We recommend COMP Cams’ Stage 1 Thumpr 222/233 Master Cam Kit for the 2004 Silverado because of their proven reliability and ability to make horsepower. Silverado owners have claimed noticeable improvement in horsepower across the top end of the rev range. More importantly, the throttle response is also said to be majorly sharper than what the stock motor has to offer.
What’s the best 2006 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
We recommend Stage 1 Thumpr 222/233 Master Cam Kit by COMP Cam. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for a stable, sweet-sounding idle and plenty of performance gains around the mid-range.
What’s the best 2011 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
Texas Speed & Performance’s camshaft package for the 2011 Silverado is said to work wonders in improving the engine response and outright horsepower. If you’re looking for maximum horsepower gains for your 5.3 then this cam kit is definitely worth your money thanks to its dual valve spring kit and titanium retainers that will last for a long time with proper care. However, keep in mind that this performance-oriented kit is restricted for racing usage only.
What’s the best 2014 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
Texas Speed & Performance’s L83 5.3L Camshaft Package for 2014 Silverado is designed to work well with a stock transmission. Because there’s no milling required on the small block’s head, this cam kit offers an incredibly stable idle and commendable low-end grunt.
What’s the best 2015 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
The camshaft package from Texas Speed & Performance is a great upgrade for 2015 Silverado users. It comes with eight new lifters and is overall claimed to be one of the few companies that uses the camshaft phaser to test and develop the kit. If you are the kind looking for more power for daily driving duties then this kit makes absolute sense.
What’s the best 2016 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?
Brian Tooley’s Racing Stage 1 N/A Camshaft Kit is a safe choice to improve the power without sacrificing bottom end torque when it comes to heavy vehicles such as the Silverado. The 2016 model can be equipped with this cam kit if you are looking for that unique cam noise that comes with the added performance. It’s a treat for those who want their truck to sound louder and better than the stock model. This kit includes a 660″ Lift BTR Platinum Spring Kit with Titanium Retainers.
What’s the best 2017 Silverado 5.3 Cam Kit?

Similar to the 2016 model, the 2017 Silverado 5.3 is known to react well to a performance-oriented cam kit like Brian Tooley’s. This particular kit is not just for the sound but also for real improvements in throttle response and drivability. Because of its weight, the Silverado 5.3 in stock form isn’t the most sprightly truck but this cam kit is bound to improve things noticeably.