Top Mods for Silverado and Sierra Heavy Duty Trucks

Top Mods for Silverado and Sierra Heavy Duty Trucks

Last Updated July 24, 2020 | Meghan Drummond

Chevy’s Silverado 2500 HD truck line features some of the most factory capable pickups being manufactured currently, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some room for improvement. Depending on what you may need your pickup to do for you, customizing your truck with modifications is a great way to improve performance as well as your truck’s appearance. Whether you're solely interested in horsepower improvements for your 6.0 Silverado or whether you're trying to give your truck a unique look, there's a way to do it.

Because the Chevy Silverado HD and Sierra HD are essentially the same truck, almost all of these modifications can work for either.

Though some people think of modifications and immediately conjure images of a SEMA-ready lifted and custom painted truck, there are subtler modifications that can be satisfying as well. These are a few of our favorite upgrades to get you started.

A large Silverado truck tows a small bulldozer using a hitch


One of the reasons that people purchase Chevy’s heavy-duty trucks is undoubtedly related to their impressive towing capacity. Even the first generation of Silverado HD, which launched in 2000, had a torque rating of 360 lb-ft, and the third generation holds steady at a minimum of 380 lb-ft, with the 2019 Silverado HD already sporting torque of 464 lb-ft. These trucks can haul. But no matter what you plan on towing, you’ll need some way of attaching it to your truck and that’s where a hitch comes in.

Whether you’re looking to attach a camper, a livestock trailer, or a recreational vehicle, you’ll need a high-quality hitch. Hitches not only allow you to hook up whatever you’re hauling, but they can also help with ensuring that it’s an adequate distance from your truck, or that it’s well-balanced, and that the weight is distributed evenly to your truck.

One great hitch accessory is a Giga Hook. Giga hooks are recovery gear intended for off-road use. Because they come in a variety of colors, you’ll find one that works with your Silverado HD’s color scheme for sure.

This video from CJ’s shows you how these hooks can be functional in addition to being eye-catching.

Air Filter Upgrade

Engines need air in order to function well, and, unfortunately for pickups, they end up being asked to run in a lot of dirty environments where they’re likely to be dealing with poor quality air that may be full of contaminants that could reduce power or even harm the engine. If you are frequently driving in hayfields, dirt roads, or any of the other places pickups are likely to tread, then getting an air filter is an easy and smart decision. This is especially true if you’re buying a used Silverado HD and are unsure as to where the last owner preferred to drive it.

A large black Silverado drives off-road, kicking up dirt

Upgrading your filter from the factory one to an aftermarket filter can increase your engine’s power and dependability by keeping harmful elements from entering your engine where they can gunk up the works. Filters make sure that your airflow is unimpeded while simultaneously filtering out harmful agents.

Or, you could take the next step and consider a cold air intake. In addition to offering all of the benefits of an air filter upgrade, cold air intakes also pull in additional air from outside of the engine bay, ensuring that your engine has plenty of cool, dense air.

Cold air intakes are generally one of our favorite modifications for any vehicle, and we stand by that since it’s one of the ones where people pretty consistently see a power improvement and performance-enhancing benefit from the moment it’s installed.

Because the Silverado HD has been improved so heavily throughout generations, it’s incredibly important to make sure you select the correct cold air intake for your year. Though some cold air intakes cover a wide range, others are slightly more narrow in scope. You’ll notice that 2004-2005, 2006-2007, 2008-2010, 2011-2012, and 2013-2014 all have cold air intakes that specify that they only cover those very specific year ranges. It’s important to select a cold air intake that fits your year since minor engine changes through the years did impact the space available for a cold air intake. Fortunately, whether you have a Silverado or Sierra HD the engine modifications, much like the rest of the truck’s design, remained perfectly in sync and they’ll fit fine.

Lifts and Leveling Kits

It may seem ridiculous to lift a truck that’s already relatively high off of the ground, but the more you think about it the more sense it makes.

A lifted 2015 Silverado HD with lighting upgrades

Lifting your Silverado heavy duty allows you to increase your approach and departure angles and gives you additional ground clearance. Lift kits range in height from the slight lift for someone who just needs a little extra distance between themselves and the road, to the heavy-duty super-high kits that enable rock crawlers to exhibit impressive stunts.

Lifting your truck is one of the first modifications many truck owners make for a reason, and that’s mostly because of how many things it improves and how little is lost. If you’re not totally convinced that you love the lifted look but want some adjustability and improved suspension attributes, then airlift kits offer you a more adjustable experience on the fly.


Modifying your exhaust can improve the power of your engine by removing one of the bottlenecks that exists in the Silverado, and really in any pickup straight from the factory. Plus it has the added bonus of improving the sound of your truck, giving it a deep-throated rumble that you’ll be sure to appreciate.

Modifications like cold air intakes and improved air filters ensure that your Silverado HD is inhaling just fine, but a good exhaust system allows your engine’s exhales to be just as strong. Since both components are essential to breathing, this is a modification that pairs exceptionally well with any of the modifications you may also be making to the air intake of your engine.

There are countless options for exhaust modifications, from improving your exhaust manifold to installing a new exhaust downpipe. For pickup trucks in particular, it may be worth considering something like the Gibson Cat-Back system so that your exhaust doesn’t affect your trailer. The exhaust exits behind a rear tire, and bolts on for an easy installation experience.

A major exhaust improvement should create an increase in torque, which will help everything from hauling to off-roading.

Many exhaust systems are available in both single and dual exhaust models.

Exterior Modifications

From running boards to tonneau covers, modifying your pickup truck’s exterior doesn’t have to just be about aesthetics. Many modifications offer additional functionality to your Silverado or Sierra HD. This can be in the form of making it easier to get into with the help of a running board or making it easier to haul things securely with a tonneau cover, but there are a lot of exterior modifications that can help your pickup truck be even more custom-tailored to your needs.

The best thing about these modifications is that you can see the effects immediately and they’re remarkably easy to install, even if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to wrenching your truck.

Though some exterior modifications are year specific, you’ll quickly see that may have a much wider range of years that they’ll work with. Some tonneau covers are able to fit Silverado HDs and Sierra HDs made between 1999 and 2019. No matter what year Silverado HD you have, there are plenty of external modifications that can help your truck be both attractive and functional.

Truck modifications tend to be as unique as their drivers, and while no modification is for everyone, there’s a modification for anyone. These are our favorites if you’re just starting to modify your Silverado 2500 or 3500, but whether you’re more interested in engine upgrades or an exterior that’s ready to go rock crawling, CJ’s has the parts you need.

Image Credit: 2019 Chevys | Chevrolet

Top Mods for Silverado and Sierra Heavy Duty Trucks

Though the Chevy Silverado HD and Sierra HD are already capable trucks, upgrading them can customize them so that they’re equipped to do whatever you need them to.