In 1996 GM introduced their new state-of-the-art line of Vortec Engines. These engines were designed to meet the combined needs of performance, fuel economy and limited emissions, and represent the evolution in engineering from carburated engines through the more advanced TBI and TPI fuel injected engines developed 10 years earlier.
Between 1996 and 1998, GM produced three basic Vortec engines: the 4.3L (V-6, 264 c.i.d.), the 5.7L (350 c.i.d.) and the 7.4L (“big block” 454 c.i.d.). Simply put, the Vortec is a Sequential Port Fuel Injection (SFI) engine, which utilizes a sophisticated computer system known as the “Vehicle Control Module”, or VCM for short, in combination with various sensors and inputs to monitor and adjust the control of the engine. Although the electronics are sophisticated and complicated for an old Gear head like me, they result in an impressive engine that is capable of performing for up to 100,000 miles without a tune-up.
The 5.7L Vortec is based on the traditional 350 c.i.d. engine originally introduced by GM, I believe in 1968. It has a 4-bolt main, cast iron block and heads, and as a short-block is not significantly different from its predecessors (differences are primarily in the design of the heads, the camshaft and the addition of block ports for the various sensors). The sequential port fuel injection system (SFI) has each injector controlled by the VCM which regulates the air to fuel mixture based on continuous readings from sensors such as the mass air flow (MAF), manifold pressure (MAP) engine coolant temperature (ECT), rpm, throttle position sensor (TPS), vehicle speed (VSS) and four exhaust sensors. The engine utilizes data from nearly 20 sensors providing information for real-time control of the engine by the VCM. In addition to controlling the air to fuel mixture, the VCM also controls and constantly adjusts an HEI ignition system, as well as camshaft retard.
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