Common 2.4 Ecotec Engine Problems

2.4 Ecotec, the American Beloved inline four-cylinder engine from General Motors, known for its excellent fuel economy, is not perfect after all. General Motors debuted this engine in 2006, and due to its reliability, it remained until 2019. However, the engine has plagued owners with several problems; timing chain failure, high oil consumption, leaks, and high carbon build-ups.

However, every engine comes with its glory and pitfalls. But if you want to get a ride with the 2.4 Ecotec engine, you should read this article to the end. You’ll learn 2.4 Ecotec engine specs, history, vehicle that uses it, and the common 2.4 Ecotec engine problems.

chevy equinox 2 4 ecotec engine problems

The 2.4 Ecotec engine

The 2.4 Ecotec engine is a 2.4L inline four-cylinder engine first produced by General Motors in 2006. General Motors has fitted this engine to a wide range of compact and midsize cars. The production lasted 13 years, that is, from 2006 to 2019.

Throughout the 13 years of production, the engine has undergone several upgrades. Each 2.4 engine upgrade has a unique code — LE5, LEA, LE9, LEF LEA, and LUK to differentiate it from another. Let’s take a closer look at the 2.4 Ecotec Chevy/GM engine upgrades.

2.4 Ecotec engine (LE5/LE9)

Before the invention of the 2.4 LE5 was the 2.2l Ecotec engine, which was known for its reliability and was one of the highest-produced four-cylinder engines by General Motors at that time.

The introduction of the 2.4 LE5 Ecotec not only increased the engine displacement but also featured new technologies that improved overall engine power and efficiency. Like the predecessor 2.2l, the 2.4 ecotec engine is an all-aluminum engine. It is designed with a cast iron cylinder head and engine block.

The cylinder head has four valves on top of each cylinder, making it 16 valves in total. It features a chain-driven dual overhead camshaft. Unlike the predecessor 2.2l, the 2.4 Ecotec features an electronically controlled variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust cams.

The early 2.4L engine is equipped with GKN-forged connecting rods. In July 2007, GM discontinued the GKN connecting rod and switched to C70 forged connecting rods. General Motors engineers designed an excellent piece of engineering called piston cooling oil jets. This piece of engineering continuously sprays engine oil to the underside of each piston. Invariably increasing its longevity and maintaining optimal engine operating temperature.

In 2009, General Motors introduced the LE9 version. The LE9 and LE5 are basically the same. The only difference is that the LE9 runs on E85 flexible fuel. GM introduced special valves and valve seats because of the corrosive elements in E85 fuel.

2.4 Ecotec engine (LAF/LEA)

The LAF and LEA versions are engineered with direct fuel injection technology. They also have the same design as LE5 and LE9 of four-cylinder inline engine. They also retained the same forged steel connecting rod, cast-iron crankshaft, and stroke and bore size. The LEA is also E85 flexible fuel compatible.

However, the LAF and LEA are equipped with dished pistons, which enhances combustion efficiency. They also have a higher compression ratio. Instead of the 10.4:1 on the LE5 and LE9, they have 11.2:1.

2.4 Ecotec engine (LAT/LUK)

LAT and LUK are 2.4L Ecotec direct injection engines. However, they add eAssist mild hybrid systems and also adopt the use of General Motor’s Belt-Alternator Starter (BAS). The eAssist serves as an electrical boost that improves fuel economy by 25%. In these models, traditional alternators on other models were replaced with liquid-cooled 15kw Motor Generators (MGU).

chevy 2 4 ecotec engine problems

What cars Use the 2.4L Ecotec engine?

The 2.4L Ecotec engine undergoes several upgrades during its 13-year run. Each Upgrade comes with a unique code to differentiate it from other versions. Stay with me as I list all the cars that use the 2.4L Ecotec engine. I will list the vehicles that use each version of the 2.4 Ecotec engine.

2.4 Ecotec LE5 engine

  • Chevy Cobalt Sport/SS 2006 to 2008
  • Chevy HHR 2006 to 2008
  • Chevy Malibu 2008 to 2012
  • Pontiac G5 2006 to 2008
  • Pontiac G6 2006 to 2009
  • Pontiac Solstice 2006 to 2009
  • Saturn Ion 2006 to 2007
  • Saturn Sky 2006 to 2009
  • Saturn Aura 2008 to 2009
  • Saturn Vue 2008 to 2009.

2.4 Ecotec engine LE9

  • Chevy HHR 2009 to 2011
  • Chevy Malibu 2010 to 2012
  • Polaris Slingshot 2014 to 2019.

2.4 Ecotec engine LEA

  • Chevy Captiva Sport 2012 to 2017
  • Chevy Equinox 2012 to 2017
  • Buick Regal 2013 to 2017
  • Buick Verano 2012 to 2017
  • GMC terrain 2012 to 2017.

2.4 Ecotec engine LAF

  • Chevy Equinox 2010 to 2011
  • Chevy Orlando 2011 to 2014
  • Chevy Captiva 2011
  • GMC Terrain 2010 to 2011
  • Buick Lacrosse 2010 to 2011
  • Buick Regal 2011.

2.4 Ecotec engine LAT

  • Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid 2007 to 2009
  • Saturn Vue Greenline Hybrid 2007 to 2008
  • Chevy Malibu 2008 to 2009.

2.4 Ecotec engine LUK

  • Buick Lacrosse 2012 to 2016
  • Buick Regal 2012 to 2017
  • Chevy Malibu Eco 2013 to 2014
  • Chevy Impala 2014.

2.4 Ecotec Engine Specs

Production Years 2006 to 2019
Manufacturing plant Spring Hill manufacturing plant in the USA
Engine block material Aluminium 
Head cylinder material Aluminium 
Fuel system  Direct injection system, sequential port fuel injection.
Fuel type Gasoline
Configuration Inline
Valve train layout DOHC
Valves per cylinder 4
Number of cylinders 4
Stroke, mm 3.9 in (98.0 mm)
Bore, mm 3.5 in (88.0 mm)
Compression ratio 10.4:1


Type of ICE Four-stroke, naturally aspirated
Engine weight 139–150 kg (306–331 lb)
Torque 159-172 lb-ft
Horsepower 164-182 hp
Firing order 1-3-4-2
Engine oil capacity, liter 4.7 L
Engine oil weight SAE 5W-30
Oil change interval, miles 10,000 miles
Applications Buick Verano, Buick, Regal, Buick GL8, Buick Lacrosse, Polaris Slingshot, Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid, Saturn Aura, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G6, Pontiac G5/pursuit, Pontiac Solstice, GMC Terrain, Chevy Orlando, Chevy Captiva, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Impala, Chevy Cobalt Sport, Chevy Cobalt SS, Chevy Malibu/Hybrid/ECO, Chevy HHR.

Now that you have learned about this powerful four-cylinder inline engine from General Motors let’s see the Chevy 2.4 Ecotec engine problems.

What are the most common problems of the 2.4 Ecotec engine?

Sorry for the long list of 2.4 Ecotec engines and the vehicles that use each version. The purpose of doing so is so I can explain problems that are more common to some 2.4 engine versions than others.

Timing chain issues, excessive carbon buildup, motor oil leaks, and high oil consumption are the most common problems you will find on a 2.4 Ecotec engine.

Stick around while I explain these problems and how they can affect your engine. Just to ensure we are on the same page, while these problems are common with General Motors 2.4 Ecotec engines, that doesn’t mean it is a bad engine. Instead, they are the issues that you will see more often than any other engine problem.

High oil consumption

One of the most common 2.4 Ecotec engine problems is high oil consumption. This problem is more common on Chevy Malibu and Equinox models – though it affects other models.

The high oil consumption is a common issue high enough that it led to a GM 2.4 Ecotec lawsuit. Fortunately, the class action lawsuit against General Motors made them extend the warranty coverage and fixes to curb the problem.

The high oil consumption is a result of manufacturing defects on the piston rings. The piston rings are not tight enough to seal the cylinder walls, so it allow motor oil to pass from the crankcase into the combustion chamber. The oil gets burned in the combustion chamber and exits the engine from the exhaust.

Some oil consumption is high enough that it leads owners to top the engine oil frequently. However, as the engine ages, the piston rings will wear out and lose its ability to seal the cylinder walls properly.

However, a high number of those that filed the class action lawsuit against GM for a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine problems have high mileage cars. Some of the owners have covered 7 to 10 years. So, it is not a serious issue for a high-mileage car to consume engine oil.

For those still under warranty, the high oil consumption issues were caught up and repaired for no extra charge.

Engine oil leaks

According to the class action lawsuit against GM recorded by Car Complaints, some of the owners claimed that the 2.4 Ecotec does not have the traditional positive crankcase ventilation valve. Instead, GM fixed an orifice vacuum port in the intake manifold. The Orifice port can become clogged with sludge, grime, water, or, in extremely cold conditions, ice. 

If the positive crankcase ventilation valve becomes clogged, the crankcase pressure will be too much for the rear oil seal to withstand — Causing it to fail prematurely. This will cause the rear oil seal to leak oil, and if not fixed on time, it may lead to premature engine breakdown.

Believe it or not, Oil leaks from the rear oil seal are the most common cause of 2014 2.4 Ecotec engine problems. Most of the Chevy owners I know complain of the oil leak from the rear oil seal. According to Car Complaints, the most affected vehicles are:

  • Buick Lacrosse 2010-2016 (including eAssist and Hybrid models)
  • Buick Regal 2011-2017
  • Buick Verano 2012-2017
  • Chevy Captiva 2010-2015
  • Chevy Equinox 2010-2017
  • Chevy Malibu 2013-2014 (including Hybrid, eAssist, and Eco models)
  • GMC Terrain 2010-2017.

Excessive carbon build-up problems

While this is not big enough for a class action lawsuit, it is a Chevy 2.4 Ecotec engine problem that is common with LAf, LUK, and LEA versions.

Carbon buildups are common in these 2.4 Ecotec versions because the fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chambers. In other engines, the fuel injectors spray fuel into the intake ports — where the oil deposits are washed away to keep carbon build-up at the lowest point.

The truth is, the excessive carbon build-up may never get so serious to overhaul your engine. However, it can lead to drivability issues in the long run. Some pieces of the carbon buildup can break up and cause issues in the engine.

While the carbon build-up occurs mostly on high mileage 2.4 Ecotec engines, always ask the mechanic to check for carbon deposits whenever you are doing any engine work.

Timing chain failures

2.4 Ecotec timing chain problems are another common issue owners complained about. The timing chain issues mostly affect the early versions of the 2.4 Ecotec. GM engineers made some upgrades along the line to address the issue on the later models. The timing chain issues are common with most Chevy Malibu and Equinox models.

The timing chain is built with a strong material. The main problem is the upper bolt and the chain tensioner. If the tensioner fails, it’ll cause the chain to slack. The thing is, a slack timing chain will jump a few teeth. The bad news is that the 2.4 Ecotec engine is an interference engine — there’s an overlap travel between the pistons and the vales.

If an engine timing jumps, the pistons and valves can hit against each other. And this will cause the pistons to bend or break. Replacing bent or broken valves will drop expensive repair bills on the table. If not addressed on time, it can lead to severe engine breakdown.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQs

Is the 2.4 engine a good one?

While the 2.4 Ecotec engine has been criticized and uncouth by many, it is a strong and reliable engine. The internet has a way of blowing things out of proportion, and that is what we see in the case of the 2.4 Ecotec engine. Though it has its pitfalls, most of the owners who complain about the engine are running high-mileage cars.

What is the timing chain problem on a GM 2.4 L Ecotec?

The major timing chain problem on the GM 2.4L Ecotec engine is the timing tensioner and the upper timing bolt. The tensioner easily fails, and when that happens, the timing chain will slack. A slacked chain will cause strange noise from the engine and may cause the timing chain to jump teeth.

What is the lawsuit for 2.4-liter oil consumption?

The class action lawsuit against General Motors for high oil consumption alleges that GM installed defective oil rings on their 2.4 Ecotec engines that failed to properly seal the clearance between the cylinder walls and the pistons. As a result, the engine oil seeps into the combustion chamber and burns along with the air-fuel mixture. This reduces the oil level in the engine and consequently reduces overall engine lubrication.

According to some of the complaints, some of the oil in the combustion chamber that doesn’t burn coats the spark plugs, preventing them from firing properly. The unburnt oil could also harden and form carbon buildups, leading to a spark knock – also called pre-ignition detonation.

What years did GM have timing chain issues?

While 2.4 liter GM Ecotec engines are known for having timing issues, they are notorious for the ones made from 2010 to 2016. Especially the ones found on small to midsize SUVs, such as the Buick Regal, Buick Lacrosse, GMC terrains, and Chevy Equinox.

Final Words

No engine is perfect, and that implies to the GM’s 2.4 Ecotec engines. Though you have seen the GM 2.4 Ecotec engine problems, it is an excellent choice for you if you are looking for a good balance of efficiency and power.

While the 2.4L Ecotec engines are plagued with excessive carbon buildups, timing chain failures, high oil consumption, and oil leaks after covering high mileage, it is not big enough to say it is a bad engine. Certainly, the 2.4 Ecotec are not the most reliable engine within its range, but they are still a good choice for your money.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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