Is Your Corvette Z06 Overheating? Someone Is Already Testing Upgrades And It’s Not Chevy
GM is researching how to fix the 2017 Z06, but what about current owners?by Ciprian Florea, on
Yesteday we found out that General Motors is planning to update the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for the 2017 model year in order to stop its engine from overheating when driven at the race track. The news came from Tagde Juechter, the Executive Chief Engineer of the Corvette, who said that Chevy will address the cooling issue following several complaints from customers who take their Z06s to the track on a regular basis.
But, while the 2017 Corvette Z06 will have better cooling, the fate of the sports cars that are already in customer hands is still unknown. Fortunately, someone is already looking for solutions and working on an aftermarket upgrade for 2015 and 2016 model year vehicles. Specifically, the folks over at GSpeed — a customizing shop from Cresson, Texas — has been developing a cooling package for the Z06 since May and has documented their findings on the Corvette Forum.
Based at its Motorsports Ranch in Cresson, Gspeed has been testing the Corvette Z06 with various drivetrain modifications in what it describes as the "ideal thermal testing environment." In its attempt to solve the sports car’s cooling issues when driven in race conditions, the shop started out with a DeWitt radiator and oil cooler. The setup proved somewhat effective, but it wasn’t enough to keep the car cool so Gspeed went on to install a pre-production LG Motorsports kit. At the same time, the team discovered that the Z06 had the same radiator as the standard C7 Stingray, likely the cause of the cooling problems.
GSpeed went on to make further modifications to car, including adding a second auxiliary radiator in the front and even fabricating a much larger reservoir above the intercooler pump. This solution brought little improvement, so GSpeed decided to reverse the routing of the main coolant circuit in order to increase the heat transfer across the larger main radiator.
Testing continued with laying the auxiliary radiator horizontally in front of the main radiator, which reduced water temperature, as well as adding a second oil cooler in the front bumper just inboard of the left brake duct. This move finally resulted in a significant improvement, decreasing transmission and oil temperature back down to "reasonable/survivable track car levels."
In order to improve airflow, GSpeed opened up the bumper cutouts, moved the transmission cooler forward, and moved the auxiliary radiator back a little bit. A larger oil cooler was added inboard of the left side intercooler radiator to bring oil temperatures down further.
This is pretty much where the project lies as of this writing, and if it sounds complicated, it’s because it is.
"To be frank, a simple solution will not solve this problem. That’s why two years later it’s still unsolved. We’ve been working our asses off to try and find a way to keep the car cool for a full session without cutting up the front of the car, but the simple answer is there’s just not enough air coming through the bumper. If you look at our tests, we’re not running a race pace (...) not super-aggressive, and we’re still finding the overheating problems," they said.
However, GSpeed is getting closer and closer to finding a proper solution and it will soon move the cooling package into beta testing.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why it matters
A quick look over Gspeed’s testing log on Corvette Forum is enough to conclude that the Z06’s cooling issues are pretty serious. Sure, they might not affect owners who use their Vettes as daily drivers and for highway cruising, but this changes dramatically at the race track, where the cooling system is under significantly more pressure. With Gspeed having such a hard time readying an upgrade that will solve these issues, it’s not surprising that GM is introducing an update almost two years after the Z06 arrived in dealerships.
And, even though Chevy’s revised components will probably improve cooling in new Z06 models, there are at least a few questions that need to be asked. What will happen with 2015 and 2016 model year cars? Will they get a retroactive update? Also, will GM’s solution be enough for hardcore track guys that hoon their Vettes on racing circuits on a regular basis? Gspeed thinks that the answer to latter is no.
"We’ve said it before, the basic problem is the air entering the car can only dissipate so much heat. 650hp at the flywheel generates a LOT of heat that needs to be evacuated. The total mass of air entering the car isn’t changing, so we predict the 2017MY+ cars will still overheat when pushed. Will they be better than the current cars? Probably, yeah. GM engineers aren’t idiots. But we still think the hardcore track guys will need a better solution."
It remains to be seen whether GM’s upgrade will solve the issue, but in case it doesn’t, the company is in big trouble with a highly-anticipated track car that doesn’t work as it should.
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 here.