When the Chevrolet Trailblazer SS first got to market it absolutely was praised to be a complete package – a sports utility vehicle that can haul more than just the kids. Pair a 395hp version of the Corvette’s 6.0L LS2 with heavier duty suspension and brakes, then have the looks to match, and you will have an incredibly practical truck with all the performance hot rodders love. Of course you are able to only keep hot rodders happy for so long. The first year TBSS (2006) is currently nearly several years old, and if you want to ensure that it stays on the road and inject a similar level of excitement you had when you initially purchased it – you should get to modding. Plus, let’s face it, for some of us it is just now becoming affordable in the secondary (used) market.
TBSS Front Mount Trans Cooler Kit
1) Transmission Cooler
The 4L70E is a great transmission…for a much lighter vehicle. The ’70 needs all the help it can get, especially if you are considering racing or towing along with it. And for those that only have a heavy foot, this applies to you as well. We’ve spliced in B&M and TCI transmission coolers in the past with great results, but this kit from PCM of NC is completely plug and play for the TBSS. Nosplicing and cutting, or even worm gear clamps. Three varieties of lines are offered including: stock-looking rubber rated to 300psi (Pushlock hose and fittings), Fragola black braided line and black AN fittings, and Fragola braided lines with red/blue fittings. Using among two different mounting locations PCM of NC says it will knock off 30-degrees of fluid temp and installs in about 1 hour for about $220.
2) Oil Pump Pickup Tube
The rod bearings are another notorious Achilles heal of the TBSS, which can be caused by an inherent oiling issue with the oil pan and pickup. The stock pickup tube grabs oil from the front, shallow part, of the pan. You step on the loud pedal, the oil sloshes to the back of the pan and starvation occurs. PCM of NC’s mandrel bent tube relocates the pickup to the midst of the pan where it can be deepest. Problem solved just for under $260.
) Electric Fans
Yes, believe it or not, your TBSS has mechanical fans. What is this 1957? These are sucking horsepower and just plain ugly. PCM of NC has two great solutions, which are both computer-controlled and require no cutting or splicing. The budget version uses ‘98-02 Camaro/Firebird fans that you can acquire in a junkyard or purchase for $155. The 3-relay version is recommended for variable fan speed, and runs just below $342. Meanwhile a custom Spal fan kit is also available, complete for about $554. This kit is designed for more modified trucks, and is a little louder.
4) Air Intake
While there isn’t as much selection on the TBSS as with a Camaro for instance, there are a number of intakes available on the market. Cold Air Volant and Inductions use a traditional sealed air box to stop the engine bay heat from entering the intake tract. Meanwhile K&N, Airaid, and Spectre Performance offer slick designs with smooth bends as well as a high-flow air filter that seals to the hood. PCM of NC offers a fendwell kit that may be sort of the most effective of both worlds. Each style and model does have its advantages and disadvantages, but all should install in around 30 minutes with ease as well as increase power and fuel mileage. Combine this using the e-fans and tuning, and you could be considering 1-2mpg more. Each will run about $200-300.
Performance gains from ECM tuning are substantial on any GM truck, as well as the TBSS is no exception. Whether you choose a handheld tuner, mail order tune, or custom dyno tuning you could expect at least 10hp and much crisper shifting. 50-rwhp might be had when also adding an intake, fans, and 160-degree thermostat, although pCM of NC says 10-20hp gains are typical having its mail order tune. Fast Motorsports is yet another solid supplier of mail order tunes; prices are typically $200-300. SCT and Diablosport are a few examples of handheld tuners, which are incredibly convenient all-in-one packages that start around $300. A custom tune is preferred because it will yield the best results, and can be done with HP Tuners or EFI Live software. However, if you don’t have a reputable tuner tickling the keys, this could be expensive and problematic. It is very important note that the ’06 as well as the ’07-08 use different ECMs.
The factory manifolds are really restrictive, as well as the single exhaust pipe is definitely an oversight in design. At least on the GTO’s second coming, GM fixed this for the 2005 model year. The Trailblazer SS wasn’t so lucky. Kooks, American Racing Headers, Stainless Works, OBX, and Pacesetter all make headers that are great for – some better than others. Prices start around $700 with all the crossover pipe and increase to $1,500. Dual exhaust is available from SLP and Stainless Works for those daring enough to slice the bumper. In fact, SLP provides a complete replacement piece, which requires paint. Many offer the single pipe setup including Magnaflow, Gibson, JBA and Corsa and Borla. Expect to pay $500 to $1,000.
The stock LS2 cam measures a scant 204/211-duration with .525-inch lift. Even LS6 cam is bigger. Considering that the truck is really heavy, you don’t would like to go too crazy and placed a large duration cam developed for top end power. Thankfully there are plenty of cams out there built for trucks, and in many cases some particularly for the TBSS. Comp Cams and Crane Cams have bumpsticks within their catalogue for trucks. However, if you want something TBSS specific you will have to head to places like Vengeance Racing, Fast Motorsports, Tick Performance, Futral Motorsports, PCM of NC, Speed Inc, Brian Tooley Racing, etc which have developed proprietary grinds. With the stock torque converter, cam specs should (roughly) be 212-220 on the intake side and 225-232 around the exhaust. The LSA and lift are also critical to developing a cam that idles nicely, has an appropriate powerband, doesn’t beat the valvetrain, and doesn’t cause any P-to-V clearance issues. Make sure you do your research and speak to a professional. gaskets, lifters and valvesprings timing set, etc, we omitted price on this one because opening the motor up means you will in all probability incur additional fees besides just the cam – valvesprings.
8) Lowered Suspension
If you want a lowered stance in your TBSS you’ll need to start with a lowering spring right in front, adjust the factory rear air bags, and then swap out the rear shocks. You should also consider replacing the top shocks to higher accommodate the lowered ride height. Other choices include swapping to a rear spring set (ditching air bags), front lowering control arms, and coilovers in any way four corners. These options will bring the truck even lower, and can necessitate an adjustable Panhard front and bar upper A-arms to dial the geometry back. Fast Motorsports carries most of these products, as well as the basic kit is just under $272.
9) Turbo Kit
Most of the time Roots superchargers are the hot ticket with these trucks, although the factory exhaust system makes for a unique mid-mounted turbo setup with comparatively minimal effort and nearly unlimited power potential. A 72-76mm turbo is going to be plenty for the stock LS2. Deals can be had on eBay for turbos and intercoolers if you are within a strict budget. Just remember to purchase a quality wastegate and fuel system upgrades to keep the engine safe. But a quality wastegate will run $250-450 new, we won’t venture a cost estimate here since it will vary heavily. Turbos are normally in the four-digit range, as well as the intercooler will be somewhere in-between. If you opt to use a custom kit built with the likes of Vengeance Racing, Fastlane, Speed Inc, Redline Motorsports, or Kentucky Turbo (to name a few) it will be pricey but worth it.
10) Transmission Rebuild
It’s just a matter of time for that 4L70E, so keep your builder of choice on speed dial. RPM Transmissions is on a short list of quality shops that build these right, and you’ll pay quite a penny for this. The Level VI ($2,895) is typically what is recommended for heads, cam, and nitrous or supercharged stock engine combinations. RPM’s 3-4 clutch pack, upgraded forward sprag, and 300M output shaft are the main features that allow it to hold up to 700hp. However, according to your driving style or combination, the Level VII or X is usually necessary. Unlike the Camaro, RPM says a 4L80E is not exactly easy to swap and should be reserved for all-out race trucks. The crossmember and wiring are just the tip of the iceberg, seeing as there are also some fitment issues. Sonnax Performance, Performabuilt, CK Performance, and Century Transmission are a couple of more reputable builders.