Friends helping friends - we're here for you! Below are tech tidbits for all generations (and many will even work with non-Corvette vehicles). Do you have a safety, repair, maintenance or car care tip you'd like to share?
C7 Fuel Recommendations: There's a little known fact that GM has changed the Owner's Manual verbiage for fuel requirements for all C7 Corvettes several times throughout the model run. The 2014 Owner's Manual requires using gasoline with a posted octane rating of 91 for all models. For 2015, this changed to a minimum posted rating of 87 octane as acceptable and 91 octane recommended for all LT1-equipped cars (Stingray), and required 91 octane for all LT4-equipped cars (Z06). 2017 manuals indicate LT1-equipped cars are highly recommended to use 93 octane fuel, but can use as low as 87, with LT4-equipped cars to use 93 octane where possible, and 91 where 93 is not available. For 2019 this has changed to 87 octane as acceptable with 93 recommended for LT1-equipped cars (Stingray & Grand Sport), and 93 required for LT4- and LT5-equipped cars (Z06 & ZR1). Other model year manuals likley have additional verbage differences. Ultimately, it is strongly suggested to use the highest octane rating available at every fill-up in your Corvette for best performance and protection against engine damage. The few dollars you might save at the pump has the potential for very costly repairs down the road, and in some cases can void your warranty (this is explicitly stated in the sampled Owner's Manuals).
Note there may be some regions around the country where the higher octane fuels may not be available, such as the mountain areas out West. As cheap insurance, a bottle of octane booster is a great idea to keep on hand, espcially for the LT4 and LT5 engines. Additionally, do NOT use fuels with greater than 15% ethanol content, as again this may damage your engine and will void your warranty.
Similarly, it is recommended by GM in all manuals to use Top Tier Gasoline's, and wherever not available to use fuel system cleaner regularly. This keeps the fuel system as clean a possible during use. Click HEE for a list of all Top Tier gasoline brands.
Winter Storage: Now that winter is just around the corner, a lot of us will be putting our cars up for the winter. A few tips for winter storage:
Wash and clean the car inside and out.
Change the oil before putting away.
Put cat litter inside (box in floor of car) just to keep moisture out of electronics.
Hook battery up to a good-name brand battery tender.
Put steel wool in exhaust tips, (just in case rodents get in storage area).
Put extra air in tires (35 lb. in each tire).
Put a good car cover on car and don’t start until spring.
(Wait, what? People don't actually drive their Corvettes all year?! Poor cars....! - ED.)
Tire Pressure: Correct tire pressure is an essential part of your regular vehicle maintenance routine. Proper pressure ensures the best possible safety, traction and fuel mileage regardless of vehicle type. It is easy to check - all new cars sold after September 1, 2007 has on-board monitoring systems. Become familiar with how to access the pressure display in any newer vehicle you own. For older vehicles (and as a good backup for newer vehicles), a good quality mechanical dial type or digital gauge is a required to check the pressure. Avoid cheap pencil type gauges as they are not very accurate. You should always check pressure with the tires at ambient temperatures for the most accurate reading. They will be artificially high if checked shortly after just a few miles of driving.
It is important to check tire pressure frequently, as pressure can vary considerably with outside temperature changes, due to the Ideal Gas Law. In general, pressure goes down in cooler temps, and goes up in warmer temps. Click to check it out in greater depth. Additionally, tire rubber is not a perfectly sealed material - over time, air molecules gradually work through the rubber, further decreasing tire pressure.
Improper tire pressure can lead to uneven tire wear causing premature need to replace them, as well as increase fuel consumption. In extreme circumstances, tires can and do explode from excess friction and heat - evidence can be seen along the sides of virtually every road in America with so-called "tire gators". A blown tire at highway speeds in NOT something anyone wants to experience, and has the potential to be fatal! So remember, frequently check your tire pressure for the safest and most enjoyable drives!
Microfiber Care: Many of us spend significant time keeping our Corvettes (and daily drivers!) spotlessly clean. One major component for this care is the microfiber cloth or towel. They come in many colors, textures and weaves, and are used on almost every surface on and in the vehicle - especially the paint. To help keep the paint as flawless as possible, extra attention should be paid to the various cloths before they touch the car. When fresh from the package, inspect each cloth closely for foreign debris, such as cardboard fibers, bits of plastic and tags. Remove all such debris, or if extensive, relegate the cloth to maintenance duty (such as oil changes or applying tire dressing). The slightest bit of debris could lead to those dreaded swirl marks or even deeper scratches.
Once a microfiber cloth is used, don't re-use it for a different task until it's been washed thoroughly. Likewise, it's a good idea to use a given cloth for the same task each time, such as for detailing wheels or glass. The various surfaces on the car tend to collect distinctive dirt's, and it's always a good idea to keep brake dust or bug bits isolated to wheels or windows. With the wide variety of colors, it's pretty easy to dedicate a particular color cloth to a particular task. The more nasty crud you keep from the paint the better! MOST IMPORTANT: If you drop a cloth on the driveway or garage floor while working, DO NOT CONTINUE TO USE IT! A microfiber cloth is designed to pick up dirt & debris efficiently, and it's guaranteed to pick up anything on the ground. The last thing you want is for it to pick up a bit of wood or sand right before you buff the paint. Either toss the cloth or relegate it to maintenance duty. It's way less expensive to buy a few more cloths than have to repaint a portion of your Corvette! Once you're finished using a cloth, don't just set it on the workbench or table. Place them in a sturdy plastic container, with a lid. This will help reduce the chance of debris falling on them or getting picked up by them, as well as make it easy to transport them for cleaning.
Okay, so now your Corvette is spotlessly clean, and you have a pile of dirty microfiber cloths. Be sure to wash them by themselves - you don't want cleaning chemicals getting in with your clothes! Also, to help ensure the microfiber cloths do the best job possible as long as possible, DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENERS! They will clog up the tiny channels in the fibers that are intended to pick up dirt and hold it, and will cause all kinds of grief in paint swirls and streaks. Also, if at all possible, wash with softened water to minimize mineral build-up in the fibers. A good idea is to invest a little money in cleaners specially formulated for automotive microfiber cloths. A number of retailers carry them. These will help keep your microfiber cloths at their best for a long time. - Steve Doak
Cooling Clean-up: Is your Corvette's engine running a little warm? Is your A/C not quite keeping up? For many, this brings to mind expensive repairs. However, for owners of the so-called "bottom breather" Corvettes, it may just require a little extra effort in cleaning. The C4 (1984-1996) and C5 (1997-2004) Corvettes do not have forward facing grill openings - they obtain cooling air from underneath the nose. Because of this and the orientation of the radiator, these cars can easily accumulate leaves, paper and other light road debris across the front of the radiator and A/C condenser. In most cases, it's a very easy fix. Simply elevate the front of the cars with jacks stands or ramps, crawl under the nose and with gloved hand pull the built-up leaves etc. out. Take your time, don't be aggressive, as the radiator fins are very easily bent. Once you have the bulk of the debris removed, take a garden hose or air compressor and from the top of the engine compartment blow forward through the radiator, flushing any remaining debris out. If you use a hose, don't put any sprayer nozzle on, just use the flow straight from the hose. Keep the water pressure low. If you use an air compressor, be very careful. Do NOT use a typical high-pressure blow gun, use a low pressure unit. Also keep the line pressure very low. Both water and air at high pressure have the potential to bend radiator fins or even punch holes in the thin aluminum - then you WILL have an expensive repair!
Once your radiator is clear of debris, there is an additional step you can take to prevent debris built-up going forward. There are aftermarket screens designed specifically to address this issue, and they are a relatively inexpensive ($60-$70). They are also easy to install from underneath.
Generally, the C1-C3 and C6-C7 Corvettes don't have the same problem, as they are all front breathers, and have much larger grill openings. However, the C7 does have a couple of potential points to address. For those who have coupes with automatic transmissions, the Z51 package, or Grand Sports or Z06s, there are a pair of vents on top of the rear fenders. Some Corvettes have these vents blocked off as they are not equipped with extra heat exchangers, but many will have these open and functional. If your Corvette tends to sit outdoors for any length of time, be it at work, in the driveway, etc., it is possible for smaller leaves, paper bits, or other debris to enter the ductwork. This can gradually accumulate at the bottom against the heat exchanger, and possibly cause reduction of cooling efficiency, or in extreme cases, block it entirely. There is a small gap between the end of the duct and the face of the radiators, so in most cases, simply flushing the duct out every time you wash your car by hand should take care of it. In more extreme situations (say, you park near maple trees in the spring or locust trees in the fall), you may want to crawl under the rear of the car, and check to see if there is any build-up at the base of the duct. Cautiously working a flat tool back and forth should clear the worst, follow with a flush from the intake vents. Automatic non-Z51 cars will have only one functional vent, all Z51s, GSs and Z06s will have one on each side. Convertibles do have the same heat exchanger options, but as they do not have top-mounted intake vents, the potential for debris accumulation is very low.
A little "elbow grease" can in this case go a long way to restoring your Corvette's intended cooling capacity. Of course, there is always the chance of bigger issues, but certainly check for this first. If you're not ready to tackle the task yourself, contact one of our more tech-savvy member or our sponsor, Lou Fusz Chevrolet - we're here to help!
Corvette Tires: With winter hard upon us, there are a few things to remember regarding your Corvette's tires. First, even if you do not drive your Corvette over the winter months, it's a good idea to periodically check the tire pressure. For every 10 degrees in temperature drop, your pressure will drop about one pound. Also, even new tires will gradually lose air over time, as molecules of oxygen and nitrogen slowly work their way through the rubber. Periodically checking and adjusting the pressure will ensure your Corvette is ready to go when that warm spell hits and you have the itch to go for a drive.
On a similar note, be aware of the outdoor temperature, and how it relates to the type of tires currently installed on your car. Corvettes for many years have been factory-equipped with high performance summer tires. If your car still has summer-only tires, avoid driving the car if outside temps are below 40 degrees F, and never below freezing. The rubber compounds in these types of tires will harden in cold weather, to the point you have little traction when you need it most. They are especially hazardous if there is any moisture, frost or snow on the pavement. If you intend to drive your Corvette in the winter on those deceptively sunny days, do yourself a favor and invest in a set of all-season tires. They are available from several manufacturers in sizes for virtually all Corvettes (well, except for 2015 & up Z06s and Grand Sports - but snow tires are available for you!). The use of summer-only tires in the winter is critical enough that GM has issued a bulletin to all Corvette owners - in summary they state that those factory-equipped with Michelin Super Sport tires cannot drive on them below 40 degrees F, and those factory-equipped with the even softer Michelin Cup tires (Z07 package) cannot drive on them below 50 degrees F. Failure to heed this can result in cracking of the rubber along the sidewalls and treads (ruining the tires even if they don't end up leaking), and WILL NOT BE COVERED UNDER WARRANTY.
Electric Door Latches: With the introduction of the 2005 C6 Corvette a major change was made to the way the doors are opened from the interior of the car. Instead of a mechanical lever to pull, there is now only a small button to press on each door panel. The latch mechanism itself is actually now on the body of the car with the striker on the door. This is great for conserving space on the panel, and allows for more features, larger speakers, etc. but does have one small aspect to be aware of: the button will not open the door if the battery is dead or the actuator fails! But fear not, Chevrolet did think about this and has provided emergency back-up releases for each door. These are large plastic levers located on the floor just in front of each seat, near the sill, and is labeled with a door open pictogram. If the electric system fails for any reason, simply pull up on the release lever to open the door. Please note that with dead battery conditions, extra effort may be needed to push the door open, as the automatic window indexing will likely not function as well.
We encourage all owners of 2005 and newer C6 & C7 Corvettes to familiarize yourself with the location and function of these emergency release levers, and to point them out to others who may not be aware of the levers and their importance. With extremes of summer heat and winter cold, knowing this tech tidbit may just save a life!