862 vs 317 Heads: Which One Is Right for Your Engine?

862 vs 317 Heads: Which One Is Right for Your Engine?

In the world of automotive engines, the choice of cylinder heads can significantly impact your vehicle’s performance. Two popular options that have gained a lot of attention are the 862 and 317 heads. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the differences between them is crucial for making an informed decision. In this article, we will delve deep into the characteristics of these cylinder heads, exploring their specifications, benefits, and applications. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or a mechanic, this guide will help you choose the right cylinder heads for your engine.

1. Introduction

When it comes to enhancing your engine’s performance, upgrading your cylinder heads can make a world of difference. In this article, we will compare the 862 and 317 cylinder heads, which have become popular choices among automotive enthusiasts and mechanics alike. These cylinder heads can transform your engine’s capabilities, but understanding their unique characteristics is essential for making an informed choice.

2. The 862 Cylinder Heads


The 862 cylinder heads are known for their exceptional airflow characteristics. They are cast iron heads produced by General Motors and have a small combustion chamber, which can increase compression ratios. This design is often favored by those looking for improved torque and throttle response.


  • Improved Airflow: The 862 heads feature a unique design that allows for better airflow, enhancing engine efficiency.
  • Increased Compression: With their small combustion chambers, these heads can increase compression ratios, resulting in more power.
  • Cost-Effective: They are often more budget-friendly compared to aftermarket alternatives.


The 862 heads are commonly used in a variety of GM vehicles and can be an excellent choice for street-driven cars and trucks where low-end torque is essential.

3. The 317 Cylinder Heads


On the other hand, the 317 cylinder heads are also produced by General Motors but are favored for different reasons. These heads have larger combustion chambers, which can lower compression ratios. They are often sought after for their compatibility with forced induction systems.


  • Boost-Friendly: The larger combustion chambers make the 317 heads suitable for forced induction setups, such as turbochargers and superchargers.
  • Cooler Operation: The larger chambers also allow for better cooling, reducing the risk of overheating.
  • Versatile: They are adaptable to various engine configurations and modifications.


The 317 heads are often chosen for high-performance applications, especially when turbocharging or supercharging is involved. They provide the flexibility needed for custom engine builds.

4. Performance Comparison

To determine which cylinder heads are right for your engine, it’s crucial to consider your specific performance goals. If you’re seeking improved low-end torque and throttle response, the 862 heads are a solid choice. On the other hand, if you’re planning on forced induction and require versatility, the 317 heads might be the better option.

5. Considerations for Engine Builders

Engine builders should carefully assess the intended use of the vehicle when selecting cylinder heads. Factors such as the engine’s displacement, camshaft specifications, and intended RPM range should all be considered.

6. Pricing

While the 862 heads are typically more budget-friendly, it’s essential to factor in the overall cost of your engine build, including any necessary modifications or upgrades.

7. Installation and Compatibility

Both cylinder head options require precise installation to ensure optimal performance. Ensure compatibility with your engine block and consult with a professional if needed.

8. Upgrading Your Engine

Upgrading your cylinder heads is an excellent way to increase your engine’s potential. However, it’s essential to plan your upgrades carefully and ensure they align with your performance goals.

9. Maintenance and Longevity

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity of your engine, regardless of the cylinder heads you choose. Regular oil changes, coolant checks, and inspections can extend the life of your engine.

10. Fuel Efficiency

Consider the impact of your cylinder head choice on fuel efficiency. Smaller combustion chambers can lead to higher compression and potentially improved fuel economy.

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