GM's 2.4 liter Ecotec engine debuted in 2006 and remained in the Polaris Slingshot through 2019. 2.4 Ecotec engines are found in many Chevy, Buick, Saturn, GM and Pontiac models. The engine offers a respectable 164-182 hp considering its small NA design. It is also an efficient engine that offers good fuel economy. However, no engine is perfect and there are no exceptions. In this article, we look at some common issues with GM 2.4 Ecotec engines, as well as overall reliability.
Which cars use Ecotec 2.4L?
This engine can also be found in a few different Chevy, Buick, Saturn, Pontiac and GM models. The 2.4 Ecotec has also gone through some updates in its more than ten years of operation. Each 2.4 liter engine has a unique engine code within the Ecotec family. Here is a breakdown of some models that use the engine:
*Join us on this long list. It is important to distinguish these variants from the 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine. Some common issues may affect certain variants more than others, and we'll clarify those as needed throughout the post.
Motor GM 2.4 LE5
- 2006–2008 Chevy Cobalt SS/sport
- 2006–2008 Chevrolet HHR
- Chevrolet Malibu 2008-2012
- 2006-2008 Pontiac G5
- 2006-2009 Pontiac G6
- 2006-2009 Pontiac-Sonnenwende
- 2006-2007 Saturn-Ion
- 2006-2009 Saturn's Skies
- 2008-2009 Saturn-Aura
- 2008-2009 Saturn Vue
2.4L Ecotec LAT
The 2.4 LAT version of the GM Ecotec is the same as the previous LE5 engine. However, GM uses LAT as a designation for use on mid-size hybrid vehicles. It is found on the following models:
- 2007-2009 Saturn Aura Green Line Híbrido
- 2007-2008 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
- 2008-2009 Chevy Malibu-Hybrid
GM 2.4L LE9
The LE9 engines are simply an E85 compliant version of the original LE5 Ecotec engines. They are in the following models:
- 2009–2011 Chevrolet HHR
- Chevrolet Malibu 2010-2012
- Polaris slings 2014-2019
The LAF 2.4L Ecotec engines made their debut in 2010. It's the same basic design, however GM switched to direct fuel injection. They also increased the compression and redesigned the pistons. The 2.4 Ecotec LAF is on these models:
- Chevy Tagundnachtgleiche 2010-2011
- Chevrolet Orlando 2011–2014
- Chevrolet Captiva 2011
- GMC Terrain 2010-2011
- 2010-2011 Buick Lacrosse
- Buick Regal 2011
2.4L Ecotec LEA
LEA Ecotec engines have the same basic design as previous LAF engines. LEA 2.4L shares increased compression and other upgrades. However, it is an E85 compatible variant that is featured on the following cars:
- Chevrolet Captiva Sport 2012-2017
- Chevy Tagundnachtgleiche 2012-2017
- Buick real 2013-2017
- Buick Verano 2012-2017
- GMC Terrain 2012-2017
Motor GM 2.4 LUK
Okay, the last one. The 2.4 liter LUK variants are the same as the previous LEA engines, but the LUK adds eAssist mild hybrid systems.
- 2012-2016 Buick Lacrosse
- Buick real 2012-2017
- Chevrolet Malibu ECO 2013–2014
- Chevrolet Impala 2014
4 common problems with 2.4 Ecotec engines
Sorry for the exhaustive engine list. It's important to differentiate so we can discuss some issues that affect certain variants more than others. However, some common issues with the GM/Chevy 2.4L Ecotec engine include:
- distribution chain
- oil consumption
- carbon buildup
- oil leaks
We will discuss these 2.4 liter Ecotec issues in detail in this article. At the end, we will also conclude with general thoughts on the reliability of the 2.4 liter. This is a good time to review some key points before getting started. We rank these as the most common problems. This does not necessarily mean that these are really common failures that affect a large number of engines. If problems arise, these tend to be some common areas of GM 2.4 Ecotec.
Also, some variants are more or less prone to these issues. When necessary, we try to clarify. A quick note: some 2.4 liter GM engines are 10 to 15 years old or older. As engines age, they can become more prone to problems. Newer 2.4-litre Ecotec variants are likely to be more reliable in the short term due to age. However, let's discuss the above problems with the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine.
1) Ecotec 2.4 timing chain failure
Timing chains are certainly one of the most discussed topics with the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine. Remember: the internet tends to blow things out of proportion. This is especially true when it comes to potentially costly issues. However, timing chain failures are still a fairly common problem. It mainly affects older engines, as GM eventually updated some parts. The Chevrolet Equinox and Malibu models appear to be the most affected.
The main problem with Ecotec 2.4L timing chains is the idlers and top screw. If the tensioner fails, the timing chain can sag. The timing chain, in turn, can skip a couple of teeth. To top it off, the 2.4 Ecotec is a disruptive engine. This means that the paths of valves and pistons overlap.
If the timing jumps, it can cause the valves to really hit the pistons. When this happens, it is likely that some valves will bend or break, resulting in costly repairs. It is a good idea to check the GM 2.4L Ecotec timing chain for marks, abrasion or play. This will give you a good idea of the condition of the timing chain parts. Problems may arise sooner, but be sure to take care beyond the 100,000 mile mark. Below is a short video of the issue.
Ecotec 2.4L timing chain symptoms
Some symptoms of timing chain problems on the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine are:
- Engine trouble codes
- rattling noises
A rattling noise from the engine is usually one of the first symptoms. If the chain becomes loose, you will hear a grinding noise at idle. If the time really skips a bit, you'll start to notice trouble codes, misfires, and general poor performance. In extreme cases, where the timing varies greatly, you will notice even more symptoms. Ecotec 2.4L pistons and valves can touch each other, which can cause further damage.
GM 2.4 inline-4 timing chain replacement
Again, it's a good idea to check the timing chain from time to time. Removing the valve cover is very quick and easy, and then you can inspect the chain. This can help you catch Ecotec 2.4 timing chain problems early enough to prevent further damage.
A timing chain kit typically costs between $150 and $300, so it's not too expensive for a DIYer. It's a time-consuming repair, so labor costs can quickly add $500 to $800 to the bill.
Worst case scenario, you could end up with broken 2.4 liter valves that require expensive repairs. Depending on the scope, you can easily add up to a $1,500+ job between replacing the valve and timing chain.
2) GM 2.4L Ecotec High oil consumption
As with the timing chain issues, high oil consumption seems to affect the Chevy Equinox and Malibu models the most. However, this is a potential problem across many different years and models. It is a common and worrying problem that high oil consumption has led to some lawsuits. Fortunately, GM has offered some extended warranties and repairs to fix the issues.
However, 2.4 Ecotec engines often have high oil consumption due to piston ring problems. Excess oil from the piston oil spray nozzles can pass through the piston rings and into the combustion chamber. Then it burns, which in itself is no big deal.
However, some cases of oil consumption are excessive and lead to owners not replenishing the oil often enough. Piston ring wear can also cause serious problems with the Ecotec 2.4L in the long run. Loss of compression can also occur if the rings are worn and leave too much clearance.
Anyway, let's hope this isn't a problem for the vast majority of 2.4 Ecotec engines on the road today. Most cases of excessive oil consumption were detected and repaired under warranty. However, some engines may have slipped through the cracks.
GM 2.4 Oil Consumption Repair
A certain amount of oil consumption is natural for all engines. If you notice excessive consumption (more than 1 liter every 1000 to 2000 miles), you should investigate further. The problem may be with the piston rings, which is not a cheap fix.
Fortunately, GM is aware of these issues with the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine. If the final diagnosis is piston ring wear, you can work with GM to correct the problem.
3) 2.4 Problems with carbon accumulation by Ecotec
Carbon deposits in the 2.4 Ecotec are a problem that primarily affects LAF, LEA and LUK engines. All engines naturally produce an oil leak that rises through the intake passage. It can then adhere to intake valves and fittings and form carbon deposits.
GM's first 2.4-liter Ecotec engines used port fuel injection. Fuel is sprayed into the intake ports, removing oil deposits. However, the latest direct injection 2.4 Ecotec engines do not have this advantage. Fuel is injected directly into the cylinder, which can cause carbon deposits to form behind the intake valves.
This is usually not a big problem and some GM 2.4 Ecotec engines go their entire lives without cleaning the intake valve. In some cases, however, carbon buildup can cause uncomfortable symptoms and driveability issues. It is also possible for pieces of carbon to break off and damage valves and other parts, but this is extremely unlikely.
Watch out for excessive carbon deposits, which could become a potential problem within 80,000 to 120,000 miles. Again, this is not an urgent problem, but the engine can run much worse if the carbon deposits are severe enough.
GM 2.4L Ecotec Carbon buildup symptom
Some symptoms of excessive carbon deposits in the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine are:
- idle riddle
- energy loss
Like carbon deposits on 2.4-liter valves, they restrict airflow to the engine. It can also cause uneven airflow to different cylinders, so you start to misfire and idle. You may also notice stuttering or hesitation when accelerating. Eventually, a loss of energy occurs, but it is very difficult to notice. Carbon deposits build up over time, which means energy loss is gradual.
Chevy 2.4 Carbon Build "Reparo"
First, there are some ways to limit carbon buildup. You can test different products in the intake tract at every oil change and install an oil collection canister. However, sandblasting walnut remains the most effective method of carbon removal once present.
Sandblasting walnut requires walnut media trays and a vacuum. Media cases are cheap, but working in a shop can be very expensive. The intake manifold must be removed to access the valves, and then the cleaning process takes an hour or two. Expect to pay around $400 to $600 in labor to clean Ecotec 2.4 valves.
4) GM 2.4L engine oil leak
Alright, let's be real quick on this section. Almost all engines are prone to oil leaks, and most will encounter one or two in their lifetime. Things like valve cover gaskets, crankcase gaskets, head gaskets, etc. they are prone to cracking over time and mileage. The oil leaks on the 2.4 Ecotec do not appear to be due to major flaws or design issues.
The 2.4 liter Ecotec can leak oil at any time, but this is very common after 10+ years and 100,000+ miles. So we don't think it's fair to point this out as a real problem. However, it is something to keep in mind. This is especially true for anyone looking to buy or own an older, higher mileage 2.4 liter GM Ecotec engine.
Chevy/GM Oil Vase Concert 2.4
Again, look for some common areas for oil leaks, including the rocker cover gasket, oil pan gasket, and main gaskets. All these parts are very cheap for the 2.4 liter GM engine. However, working on oil leaks can add up.
Valve covers are simple repairs that should only cost you $200 to $400. However, head gaskets and crankcase leaks can be a lot of work. Fortunately, everything is cheap for DIYers willing to spend an afternoon in the garage.
Reliability Ecotec 2.4L
Is the GM 2.4L Ecotec engine reliable? We give this engine average reliability ratings. It's certainly not the most reliable engine out there, but it's also far from the worst. The 2010-2013 Chevrolet Equinox models seem to be the most prone to timing chain problems and high oil consumption.
Otherwise, later models are prone to carbon deposits. However, it's simply a disadvantage of direct injection, so we don't see it as a real issue. Oil leaks are also probably not considered a real problem on the 2.4 Ecotec. It has more to do with age and mileage than specific design flaws.
Some reliability simply depends on how well you maintain the 2.4 Ecotec and some luck in the toss. Use quality oils, change fluids on time, and correct problems when they arise. If you do, you'll likely have a good, reliable experience with the 2.4-liter GM engine.
GM 2.4 Ecotec engine problem summary
Chevy/GM 2.4L Ecotec engines offer a balance of power and efficiency. Performance is definitely not impressive by modern standards, but for smaller vehicles it's enough to get you from A to B and beyond. Regardless, no engine is perfect, and the same goes for the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine.
Earlier models, particularly the Chevy Equinox and Malibu, were prone to some serious timing chain and piston ring defects. Direct injection models with 2.4 LAF, LEA and LUK engines are prone to carbon buildup. It's simply a compromise with direct injection, which offers many other advantages. Finally, as 2.4 Ecotec engines age, they are prone to occasional oil leaks, as is the case with almost all engines.
The 2.4 Ecotec engines are certainly not the most reliable engines, but they are still pretty solid. Take good care of the 2.4 liter engine and I hope you have a little luck on your side. These engines can last up to 200,000 miles with proper maintenance and a little luck.
What is your experience with the GM 2.4L Ecotec? Are you considering one?
Leave a comment and tell us!
What problems can a 2.4 Ecotec have? ›
If you're the owner of a car with a GM engine, make sure to keep an eye out for these common GM 2.4L Ecotec engine problems. Common issues with this type of engine include high oil usage, failure with the timing chain, and extreme carbon build-up. Take your car to a mechanic if something doesn't feel right.Are 2.4 Ecotec reliable? ›
The 2.4L Ecotec 4 cylinder engine has a flaw that is especially problematic in the 2010 to 2015 model years. This is a popular engine and is used in many Chevy and GM vehicles. The problem is particularly bad in the Equinox and Terrain vehicles equipped with all-wheel drive.Is a 2.4 liter engine a 4 cylinder good? ›
Is a 2.4 engine good? The 2.4 is usually considered a dependable engine without any major issues: head gaskets are designed well while the oil sealing is adequate as well.How long does a 2.4 L engine last? ›
With proper oil changes and maintenance, a 2.4L TigerShark engine should last between 130,000 and 200,000 miles.Why do Ecotec engines fail? ›
The consolidated claim alleges that the Ecotec engines have defective piston rings that wear down prematurely and cause excessive oil consumption as high as one quart for every 1,000 miles. As a result, some owners and lessees drive their vehicles without sufficient oil, causing engine damage.What years of Equinox to avoid? ›
With safety being one of the most significant factors in a new car purchase, the 2005-2007 Equinox model years are the ones to avoid if you're searching for a family car. We looked into price, reliability, features, and more to create this list of the best used SUVs under $10k on the market today.What is the GM 2.4 L Ecotec lawsuit? ›
The lawsuit alleges that the engine introduces an excessive amount of oil into the combustion champers, leading to low oil levels, low oil pressure, engine knock, and fouled spark plugs, among other issues.What is the difference between Ecotec and EcoBoost? ›
The first thing we noticed when looking at the two groups of engines was that the EcoBoost engines are able to create higher levels of horsepower and torque while remaining more efficient than the Ecotec engines. Ford's 3.5L EcoBoost V6 produces 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft.What is the most reliable GM engine? ›
You will be happy to know that the Silverado 4.3L V-6 engine is one of the most reliable engines on the market. It is rated as one of the best engines in the Duramax Vortec lineup. It is estimated to have a lifespan of more than 400,000 miles.What is the most reliable 4 cylinder engine? ›
- 8 Subaru EJ20.
- 7 Kia Soul 1.6-Liter.
- 6 SAAB B234R.
- 5 Volvo Redblock B230FT.
- 4 Ford Focus ST EcoBoost.
- 3 BMW S14.
- 2 Volkswagen 1.9 TDI ARL.
- 1 Honda K-Series.
Who makes the 2.4 Ecotec engine? ›
The LEA is an engine produced by General Motors for a wide variety of compact and midsize vehicles.Does a 6 or 4 cylinder engine last longer? ›
The more cylinders your engine has, the higher the risk that some of these parts will break and you will need to replace them. From this perspective, more cylinders don't seem to prolong your engine life but may be seen as extra aches and pains.What year did Chevy Equinox have engine problems? ›
In 2005, the Equinox was in its introductory year. Kinks hadn't been worked out with the engines though. An overwhelming number of owners reported a blown head gasket. For the 3.4-liter V6 engine in 2005, one or both head gaskets would develop a massive leak that often lead to a blown engine.Is Dodge 2.4 engine reliable? ›
Chrysler 2.4 inline-4 engines are solid engines, overall. They might not offer much power or performance (apart from SRT-4 versions), but they do offer a good blend of reliability, efficiency, and longevity. However, no engine is perfect and that applies to the 2.4 World Gasoline & Tigershark engines.Are GM Ecotec engines good? ›
Along with performance and efficiency, the new Ecotec engines deliver excellent refinement, with low vibration and noise levels. In fact, noise intensity is up to 50 percent quieter than Volkswagen's EA211 1.4L four-cylinder and up to 25 percent quieter than Ford's 1.0L turbo three-cylinder.