Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Engines Are Exploding: The Reason Is Not What You Expect
As much positive press as the Chevrolet C8 Z06 Corvette is getting, we keep seeing reports of Z06 engines exploding with very few miles on them. It is the one stinker in what is otherwise the sweet smell of success. Several scribes have posited different theories, but this one clearly makes the most sense, and the reason isn’t what you might think. It’s driver error.
Is there a design flaw with the Corvette Z06 engine?
We’ve all read about practically new Z06 Corvettes with engines that fail. One of the more recent ones is the Corvette engine failure with less than 600 miles on it. The immediate conclusion is that there must be something inherently wrong with the Z06.
But the LT6 engines are stout, as one would expect with 670 hp capability. And we know GM tests the heck out of its new engines before any are plunked into a production car. We also know that there have been no revisions or technical service bulletins offering up potential problems.
What is the break-in period for a Z06?
Now, YouTuber Speed Phenom explains his own theory of why this is happening. He thinks it is negligence during the first 500 miles when owners should be adhering to typical engine break-in recommendations. All new engines need some sort of break-in period to season the engine, and in the case of the Z06, it is critical.
You break in an engine in the first 500 miles. During this period you vary the RPMs, even on the highway. And never redline the engine. It is kind of like warming up before a football game or a 10K.
Are Corvette Z06 owners pushing too hard?
On the other hand, for track days, you need to up the break-in to 1,500 miles. The regime of extremes an engine must handle on the track dictates an increased period before dropping the hammer on 470 lb-ft of torque. This is, after all, the most powerful naturally-aspirated engine put into a production car. But whether it is or isn’t, this is common knowledge for track stars with new engines.
All of this background helps to highlight his observation that drivers are not following decades-long break-in procedures. Quick squirts and tight turns beg for smashing the throttle. What enthusiast wouldn’t be tempted to? And that natural reflex to find your new Corvette’s extremes is causing engine explosions.
What about low oil levels?
Another thought from Speed Phenom is that oil may be leaking from an oil filter not properly torqued. Less oil means less engine component protection, especially when pulling Gs at a track. We’ve seen what this does when the main bearings are starved for lubrication, and it is not pretty.
While all of this is speculative, it is a good reminder for those buying new. Especially, with the price of new cars, you need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Voiding the new car warranty will put you on the hook to replace your engine, and you don’t even want to know what that will cost you.