2001 - 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe C5 (5th Generation) Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Corvette Z06 Coupe C5

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5th Gen Chevrolet Corvette Z06 What Owners Say

  • The Z06's LS6 powertrain is a notable step up from the LS1 on which it is based. With a higher rev limit and increased power output, it's a smile-inducing motor that blends well with the Corvette's independent suspension setup. Owners also note that it is more dependable.
  • There is only space for two in the cabin of the Z06, but both driver and passenger will feel cozy as the seats feature soft leather with generous cushioning. The head-, leg-, and shoulder room are class-leading.
  • The Corvette is not short on electrical assists and features such as traction control, active handling, a head-up display, and a Pass-Key II theft-deterrent system are all included as standard, not to mention an enjoyable Bose premium sound system.
  • Cabin quality is an issue that most Z06 owners complain about and it's been noted to feel low-rent when compared to the regular models, with generous use of poorer plastics throughout the cabin.
  • Oil leaks and high oil consumption can become an issue for the LS6 powertrain, with some owners stating that it will consume a quart for every 500 miles.
  • The electric steering column lock can become finicky with age and completely lock the steering wheel while on the go. A recall was issued for this fault, but some owners have reported that the issue still stands on certain models.

Fifth Generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Facelift

The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 had a short lifespan as it was introduced in the last four years of the C5 generation. Thus, the flagship performance derivative never had a facelift. A Commemorative Edition was introduced in its final year of production with new wheels and some vibrant decals. It's not an update, but this is the only visual change that can be noted for the Z06.

Corvette 5th Gen Front View Chevrolet
Corvette 5th Gen Front View
Corvette C5 Rear View Chevrolet
Corvette C5 Rear View

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

In a bid to make the Z06 a truly special product, Chevrolet introduced the LS6 naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V8. This was based heavily on the overhead-valve pushrod LS1, but with some significant adjustments applied to increase its performance. The LS6 was only used twice more after the Chevy Corvette Z06, making it a fairly exclusive powertrain in the General Motors stable. For the sake of ensuring a driver-engaging experience, Chevrolet only mated this to its six-speed manual transmission.

5.7L V8 Gas LS6
385/405 hp | 385/400 lb-ft
Horsepower
385/405 hp
Torque
385/400 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-speed manual
Drivetrain
RWD

Like the LS1, the LS6 uses mostly aluminum construction with a wet sump and a hydraulic roller-lift camshaft. The design of the block is slightly different as it features enhanced web strength and breathing via windows that are cast into the block between the cylinders. Further improvements include a new intake manifold, MAF sensor with a higher flow capacity, higher lifters for the camshaft with improved duration, an increased compression ratio of 10.5:1, and a more robust oiling system. Models produced in 2001 and 2002 deliver 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, but this was increased to 405 hp and 400 lb-ft for the 2003 and 2004 models thanks to a larger air intake, stiffer valve springs, valves filled with lighter sodium, and extra aggression for the camshaft lift and timing. The Z06 was sold exclusively with the Tremec T-56 Super Magnum six-speed manual transmission with the added benefit of a Quaife ATB helical limited-slip differential.Common issues relating to the LS6 are excessive oil consumption, valve springs that tend to break, powertrain overheating, and rocker arm bearing failure.

2001 - 2004 Chevy Corvette Z06 Real MPG

Oddly, the C5-generation Chevrolet Corvette did not receive an EPA-estimated mpg range, so there are no verified gas consumption figures available, but judging by owner-submitted results, it is understood that the Z06 may deliver an average consumption of anywhere from 13 to 23 mpg, which is not too hard to believe. Bear in mind that these results are sourced from drivers with wildly varying driving styles and conditions. Without any regulation, it's not advised to treat these figures as official results.

EPA mpg (city/highway/combined)Real-world combined mpg*
5.7-liter V8 six-speed manualN/A13.0 to 23.0

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.

Safety

Along with the entire range of the 5th-gen Corvette, the 2001 to 2004 Z06 was never crash-tested by the NHTSA, which is a common situation for performance cars in this segment.

For peace of mind, the 5th-generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06 coupe boasts a generous list of standard features, which includes an airbag for the driver and passenger, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, speed-sensitive power steering, an Active Handling System, and traction control. When parked, owners can have peace of mind thanks to GM's PassKey II theft-deterrent and immobilizer system featuring remote keyless entry.

5th Generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Trims

There's only one trim for the 2001 to 2004 fifth-generation C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with the list of standard features being focused on providing the owner with a driver-engaging experience. This is coupled with a fairly respectable catalog of standard and optionally available comfort and convenience features that add value.

Only one special edition model is available for the Z06 model:

  • 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Commemorative Edition: Chevrolet was pretty chuffed about the fact that its C5-R duo achieved a 1-2 finish at that year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 2,025 of these Z06 Commemorative Edition hardtops were assembled to celebrate this alongside a larger run for the LS1-powered examples. This limited package provided the sports car with a Le Mans Blue metallic paint and two-tone leather upholstery with a special Commemorative Edition decal pack, special badging, a lightweight carbon fiber hood, and a bespoke set of polished alloy wheels.
Z06
2001 - 2004
Engine
5.7L V8 Gas
Transmission
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain
RWD

The Z06 specification of the fifth-generation Corvette C5 has all of the features you'll need to be comfortable and exhilarated. From the exterior, 17-inch front and 18-inch rear alloy wheels, daytime running lamps, and heated and electrically adjustable sports mirrors are fitted as standard. The interior benefits from dual-zone air conditioning, an LED head-up display, and Z06-specific six-way manually adjustable leather-upholstered sports seats. Optional extras for the Z06 include an electrochromatic rear view mirror and the Memory Package, which includes presets for the exterior mirrors, radio, heater, defroster, and air-conditioning. For entertainment purposes, this model comes standard with the Delco AM/FM stereo with a CD player and premium Bose speaker and amplifier system. Handling prowess is added to this model via the Active Handling system and model-specific FE4 suspension. This features increased shock absorber damping, a thicker front stabilizer bar, a higher spring rate, and greater negative camber. The Z06 also features a power steering cooler, and a titanium exhaust system for the LS6 powertrain.

Fifth Generation Corvette Z06 Features

Z06
A/CN/A
Head-Up DisplayS
MP3 PlayerN/A
Multi-Zone A/CS
Power Driver SeatS
Power Passenger SeatS
Premium Sound SystemS
Seat MemoryO
Stability ControlS
Traction ControlS

Interior, Trim And Practicality

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe C5 Interior Overview Chevrolet
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe C5 Interior Overview

The C5 Z06's cabin layout and packaging is something to appreciate as it is equally spacious and driver-focused. With the bespoke sports seats and the hardtop design, headroom measures 37.8 inches while legroom stretches 42.7 inches. This accommodates enough room for people standing close to 6.4 feet tall. With its hardtop design, trunk space is a bit less generous at 13.3 cubic feet, but this is still just about enough space for two medium suitcases. Owners have complained that the cabin feels a bit more budget compared to the LS1-powered offering due to the abundant use of soft and hard plastics., but the inclusion of leather upholstery for the seats, gear shifter boot, steering wheel, and armrest somewhat counteracts this.

Z06
Highwear Nuance Leather Seat TrimS
Leather Seat TrimS

2001 - 2004 Chevy Corvette Z06 5th Gen Maintenance and Cost

Although there are distinct differences between the LS6 and LS1, they both share the same maintenance schedules. This means that an oil and filter change will need to be done every 10,000 miles. Cars that drive through dusty environments frequently will need to receive a new air cleaner filter at 10,000 miles as well. Usually, it only needs an exchange every 30,000 miles. A new accessory drive belt will need to be installed every 60,000 miles. Every 100,000 miles, you'll need to replace the spark plugs and the relevant wiring. A cooling system drain and flush should be conducted every 150,000 miles.

5th Gen Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe Basic Service

The LS6 has an oil capacity of 6.4 quarts for synthetic motor oil which should cost around $80, including the filter. A new air filter is priced at $26 while a set of eight spark plugs costs in the region of $98.

2001 - 2004 Gen Chevrolet Corvette Tires

Z06
Front Tire Size:
P265/40ZR17
Front Wheel Size:
17" x 9.5"
Rear Tire Size:
P295/35ZR18
Rear Wheel Size:
18" x 10.5"

Check Before You Buy

Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:

There are only two recalls for the 2001 - 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe. The first was for GM's electronic column lock which operates under the Pass-Key II system. Several models struggled with a defect that spontaneously locked the steering wheel, even while driving, which can lead to catastrophe. Some 2004 models were recalled for the use of an incorrect washer on the lower control arm ball which can result in the control arm separating from the knuckle.

As for common issues, the C5 Corvette Z06 is known to struggle with a leaky battery, and issues with the braking system. The LS6, much like the LS1 on which it is based, does struggle with a couple of issues, including high oil consumption, poor piston ring seals, oil and water pump failures, and bent pushrods. Issues relating to the electrical wiring and HVAC unit have also been noted by owners.

These are some of the fault codes you may encounter with the 5th-gen Chevrolet Corvette Z06:

  • P0410 is the code you'll see if the engine control module is detecting a malfunction with the secondary air injection system. This could be due to a malfunctioning air pump, air injector, or fuse.
  • Code P0452 indicates that the car's emissions control system is faulty. This could be due to a word fuel cap, tank pressure sensor or wiring, or a vacuum leak in the system.
  • P0719 means that there is a low input being detected from the brake switch. This is likely due to a faulty switch or a poor electrical connection.

5th Generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Common Problems

Leaky Battery

The final year of the Z06 uses an AC Delco Freedom battery which tends to crack close to the battery posts. At some point, battery fluids may have leaked onto the Z06's engine control unit, wiring loom, and air conditioning lines which can result in serious corrosive damage. In some cases, it can spread onto the car's metal surfaces which is sure to corrode the paint and rust the frame. Always opt for a gel-type battery that does not struggle with this cracking case issue when a battery replacement is due.

Mileage: Cracking battery cases are based on age rather than the distance covered by a car.

Cost: A new battery for the Z06 costs about $135. Engine control unit, wiring loom, and air conditioning line replacement may cost anywhere from $300 to $700 depending on which needs to be replaced, excluding the cost of labor.

How to spot: If you notice harsh corrosion through the engine bay, it may be an indicator that the Corvette has suffered from a leaking battery. Some of the affected systems will also not operate properly.

Leaking Interior

The C5-generation Corvette features a poor outer window seal, usually on the passenger side, that allows water to seep through and set in the floor well. GM did not issue a recall for this, but a service bulletin was sent out. Should this occur, you will need to drain the doors via the plenum drain plug. It is advised that you replace the water sealer at a cost of $100 for a pair for a more permanent solution. Additionally, if you own a C5 Z06, it is just good practice to ensure that it is parked in a spot where harsh elements cannot interfere with it, such as in a garage or under a carport.

Mileage: The poor outer window seal is an issue that is not affected by the car's mileage.

Cost: A pair of replacement window seals is priced at about $100. Installation is simple and can be performed in minutes, so do not expect a large labor cost. Refitting the interior with new carpets can cost around $400.

How to spot: Once water starts to find its way into the cabin, wet patches will be present along the doors and floor wells. The seats will get wet in severe cases.

Corroded Electrical System

Corrosive wiring is an issue on the C5-generation Corvette, including the Z06, which leads to electrical problems. This leads to a retractable headlight problem but other electronic components can also be troublesome, such as traction control problems. It is understood that the grounding wires are the most susceptible to wearing out. Replacing the wires is the most ideal resolution, but labor costs in this area are significant. You can take the wires apart and give them a clean, but it is not as effective as a complete replacement.

Mileage: Corrosive wires occur with age and use so it is difficult to pin down an exact mileage for this issue.

Cost: The Z06 employs several wiring looms that can range from $100 to $500. Labor costs are dependent on which wires need to be serviced or replaced. A rewire can cost in the region of $1,500.

How to spot: You'll notice glitches and inconsistencies with the electrical system when wires start to corrode.

Differential Oil Leaks

The Z06 would not be applauded for its handling characteristics if it were not for its limited-slip differential however, it is apparent that this particular component struggles with an oil leak problem. This is because the standard carrier clip is not large enough to properly seal the cover. A common fix by some owners is the application of a solvent that creates a seal to block the oil from seeping out. This solvent must not come in contact with the oil ring, as it can result in the ring breaking. Replacing the axle housing seal and adjusting the axle ratio has also been said to resolve this issue, but it is more costly. If your differential is leaking oil, be sure to resolve it as soon as you notice oil spots when parked or if you experience whining, grinding, or jerking.

Mileage: The carrier lip design is the issue here, so oil leaks from the differential can happen at any mileage.

Cost: The cost to repair the rear axle shaft seal should be no more than $315.

How to spot: Oil spots wherever you park towards the rear of your car should indicate a leaking rear differential. If your differential oil reserves drop too much, you may notice suffocated driving characteristics and excessive whining, grinding, and jerking.

HVAC Problems

Dual-zone climate control is one of the Z06's key comfort features, but unfortunately, it is plagued with a couple of issues. Air delivery is an issue that is due to a damaged or loose vacuum. This is a small issue for the system as there are occasions where the compressor may fail which is a bit more costly. This part gives in with age and is more likely to fail in hot areas where one would use the air conditioner more regularly. You'll notice refrigerant and lubricating oil leaks from the compressor once the compressor is no longer functional and it will need to be replaced. It is understood that the control panel itself is also susceptible to faults with time. The five LED and 14 incandescent light bulbs that illuminate the panel will start to burn out with age, faster than one would expect. This will result in dull or flickering lights. Once this occurs, you will have to open the unit up and replace whichever bulbs have worn out. You may also notice that the temperature control is not blowing the desired temperature and fluctuation between hot and cold air rather than remaining at one consistent temperature will occur. This is likely because the actuator is no longer operable and will need to be replaced.

Mileage: Air conditioning issues are based on age and use, so the distance a car has covered is not relevant in this case.

Cost: A new HVAC inlet hose costs $55. An air conditioning compressor is priced at $817. HVAC control light bulbs range from $4-5 each, depending on which bulb has failed. $100 will get you a new actuator. All prices exclude the cost of installation and labor.

How to spot: Low air pressure through the system points to a loose or damaged hose. Leaking refrigerant and lubricant around the compressor likely reveals a failed compressor. Flickering or dim lights on the HVAC control unit suggests that the bulbs are fading. If your system is unable to maintain the desired temperature, you will likely need to fit a new actuator.

LS6 5.7-Liter V8 Common Problems

Key weaknesses of the LS6 include excessive oil consumption, weak valve springs, and rocker arm and bearing failure. These are standard issues on the 2001 model as this was the year that the powertrain was first introduced by General Motors. From 2002, it is believed that most of these kinks were ironed out.

Excessive oil consumption is a notable issue for the LS6 as some owners note that it can consume a full quart of oil every 500 miles. This is particularly true if you frequent the higher rpms. The reason for this is because of the car's positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system's valley cover which allows oil to seep in. This will result in oil leaks and noticeable performance issues. Seeing that there is no permanent fix for this, the best resolution regarding this issue is to be mindful of your engine oil levels. If the issue gets too out of hand, it can cause serious damage to the throttle body and intake manifold. Once it gets to this point, you'll also need to install a new engine valley cover and piston rings. These parts are relatively inexpensive, but the labor is steep because it requires the powertrain to be removed.

Broken valve springs were a serious issue for the 2001 Z06's LS6 and are likely to be even more susceptible to problems if the powertrain has been modified in any way. This occurred due to a flaw in the design and once it happens, you'll notice a loss of compression which leads to power loss and serious internal damage. This is an issue that needs to be resolved as soon as it is spotted. All 16 springs will need to be replaced. Again, the parts are not costly but the labor is very extensive.

The LS6's rocker arms and bearings are again, accredited to the 2001 model and its overhead valve system. Once this breaks, the valves will not adjust accordingly which can decommission the piston. Rocker arm failure can occur at the same time. Rough idling, misfiring, tapping noises, and powertrain performance issues are key indicators of these flaws.

Mileage: The issues surrounding the LS6's flaws are based more on design flaws and misuse/over-exerting the powertrain. A new PCV valve will add $11 to the bill.

Cost: A new engine valley cover for the Z06 costs $132. Piston rings are priced at $61. A set of valve springs costs $90. A rocker arm set with bearings is $257.

How to spot: The PCV's valley cover will be on its final legs when oil leaks and general poor powertrain performance is present. A lack of compression is likely due to broken valve springs. Worn rocker arms and bearings will translate to rough idling, misfiring, tapping noises, and powertrain performance issues.

Less Common Problems And Problem-Free Areas

A handful of owners have complained about an active handling problem for the Corvette Z06 that appears when at cruising speeds. It appears that when this occurs, directional control becomes limited for a short moment. There's also a concern regarding the gas tank sending unit which may result in a fuel/gas gauge problem that fails to provide the driver with the correct fuel level reading.

You are unlikely to encounter any problems with the power windows or transmission on the C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Which One To Avoid

The 2001 model is said to be the model to avoid when it comes to the fifth-generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06 because it is the introductory year of the LS6. This translates to more flaws and possible engine problems. We also advise against purchasing a Z06 that has any powertrain modifications, as a lot of its common problems are amplified when the engine has been altered.

Which One To Buy

The 2003 model year Z06 is said to be the best year as Chevrolet was able to subdue most of the issues that the LS6 powertrain struggled with and it did not feature the leaky battery problem that plagued the 2004 model. Beyond this, there really isn't much that separates this car from the 2001 year as very few aspects of it were changed. Again, focus on finding a car that has been routinely maintained and subjected to no powertrain modifications whatsoever.

5th Gen Chevy Corvette Z06 Coupe (C5) Verdict

The C5 Z06 gives you a thrilling 90s supercar experience without being too harsh on the bank account. If well-looked after and routinely maintained, there is no reason why the LS6 should give you too many troubles. Active safety and handling features mean that you'll be able to explore your driving limits behind the wheel, but be sure to respect the car and not overexert it through the corners. This era of sports car acts as the introduction of mainstream safety features, so they are not as refined as what you'd get to experience in a more modern performance car. Currently, the Z06 is an accessible special classic, but based on recent auctions, the populace is catching onto its rarity and uniqueness.

Corvette Z06 C5 (5th Generation) Alternatives

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