Stock 317 Heads: Good or Bad? Are They Worth the Investment?

What exactly are “317” heads, and are they a good or bad choice for your vehicle? In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of stock “317” heads, discuss their performance, and help you decide if they’re the right choice for you.

In short, stock “317” heads are known for their decent performance and can be a cost-effective upgrade for certain vehicles. However, they may not be the best choice for those looking for maximum power and efficiency.

What are Stock “317” Heads?

Cylinder heads are a crucial component of an internal combustion engine. They seal the combustion chambers, allowing the air-fuel mixture to combust and produce power. The cylinder head also houses the intake and exhaust valves, as well as the spark plugs.

The stock “317” heads are a type of General Motors (GM) cylinder head, specifically designed for their 6.0-liter Vortec engines. They are known for their budget-friendly performance and have become popular among car enthusiasts, especially those working on GM LS engine builds.

Performance of Stock “317” Heads

Flow Capabilities

The stock “317” heads offer decent flow capabilities, making them a suitable choice for budget-minded car enthusiasts. The intake and exhaust ports are reasonably sized, and with some porting and polishing, they can offer increased flow.

Compression Ratio

One of the main reasons people opt for the “317” heads is the lower compression ratio they offer. This is particularly beneficial for those looking to run a forced induction setup, such as a supercharger or turbocharger.

Potential Upgrades and Modifications

Porting and Polishing

Porting and polishing can improve the flow capabilities of the “317” heads. This process involves smoothing the intake and exhaust ports to reduce turbulence and improve air and fuel flow through the cylinder head.

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Valvetrain Upgrades

Upgrading the valvetrain components, such as the valves, springs, and rocker arms, can significantly improve the performance and durability of the “317” heads. These modifications can help the cylinder heads withstand higher RPMs and boost pressures.

Common Concerns with Stock “317” Heads


Stock “317” heads are made from cast aluminum, which may not be as durable as aftermarket heads made from higher-quality materials. This could be a concern if you’re looking to push your engine to its limits.

Performance Limitations

While the stock “317” heads offer a decent performance boost for budget-minded enthusiasts, they may not be the best choice for those seeking maximum power and efficiency. Aftermarket performance heads may be a better option in these cases.


In conclusion, stock “317” heads can be a good choice for those on a budget and looking for a moderate performance upgrade. However, for those seeking maximum power and efficiency, aftermarket performance heads may be a more suitable option.

Keep in mind that potential upgrades and modifications can enhance the performance of the “317” heads, but they may not be the best choice

for everyone. As always, it’s essential to consider your specific vehicle, engine, and performance goals when deciding whether to invest in stock “317” heads or opt for a different solution.


1. What vehicles are stock “317” heads typically found on?
Stock “317” heads are usually found on General Motors (GM) 6.0-liter Vortec engines, commonly found in trucks and SUVs like the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Cadillac Escalade.

2. Can I use stock “317” heads on other engine types?
Yes, stock “317” heads can be used on other GM LS-based engines. However, make sure to research compatibility and potential modifications needed to ensure the best performance.

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3. Are stock “317” heads better than aftermarket performance heads?
Stock “317” heads can be a cost-effective solution for a moderate performance boost, but aftermarket performance heads typically offer better flow capabilities, higher-quality materials, and improved durability for those seeking maximum power and efficiency.

4. What kind of power gains can I expect from stock “317” heads?
The power gains from stock “317” heads will vary depending on your specific engine setup and any additional modifications you’ve made. Generally, these heads can offer a moderate performance boost, especially when paired with other upgrades, such as porting and polishing, or valvetrain upgrades.

5. Are stock “317” heads suitable for forced induction setups?
Yes, the lower compression ratio of stock “317” heads makes them a popular choice for those looking to run forced induction setups, such as turbochargers or superchargers. However, it’s essential to ensure the cylinder heads and other engine components can handle the increased stress and pressure associated with forced induction.