GM 2.4 Ecotec Common Problems
The GM 2.4 liter engine has been in production for just over a decade. It’s commonly found in the Chevy Equinox and Malibu, GMC Terrain, and Buick Verano. The GM 2.4L engine is a part of the Ecotec engine family. The GM 2.4L Ecotec engine features a direct inject fuel system, variable valve timing, and dual overhead cams.
While this engine has inherent issues, it does have some positive design features. The engine block has sand-cast cylinders. This casting not only reduces NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) it also provides rigid strength to the overall engine block. The pistons themselves are manufactured from lightweight aluminum to enhance efficiency and lower mass. The GM 2.4L Ecotec engine is an in-line 4-cylinder design. This design has a small footprint but does produce a decent bit of horsepower; from 164-182. Overall, the GM 2.4L engine was designed for efficiency.
Why is it so Hard to Diagnose Leaks?
Why are oil leaks hard to determine right away, and why is a visual inspection often not enough to diagnose? Let’s think about what is going on in a vehicle’s engine bay while we drive. The vehicle is normally going above 40 mph, driving in all weather conditions, over dirty roads, and every vehicle in front is kicking up dirt and grime into our vehicle. The engine bay sees a lot. As oil leaks out it gets blown around significantly because of the vehicle’s speed. What this means is a small amount of oil can cover a large area because the oil sprays as it leaks.
Similar to the issue with the oil spraying everywhere, a small amount of oil leaking towards the top of the engine will then run down the engine block and accumulate on the oil pan. Visually, the oil may look as if it’s coming out of the oil pan or the bottom of the engine block. Yet, the oil actually came from above. This is why we start by cleaning off the leaking oil, adding the dye, and determining what is the root cause of the oil leak.
Rear Main Seal Leak
Now, for the problems. At Scott’s U-Save we see failure of the rear main seal causing large oil leaks. When we diagnose oil leaks at Scott’s U-Save we define the situation as weeping, seeping, and leaking. Weeping is natural with all oil seals. Seeping is when a seal is starting to get old and crack but still maintaining a decent seal. Leaking is when the seal allows enough oil past that it can now accumulate on the bottom of a surface. We see the rear main seal on GM’s 2.4L Ecotec engine fairly often. We don’t see it often below 70k miles. As with all seals it’s not expected to last forever. But specifically on the GM 2.4L LEA Ecotec, we see the rear main seal leaking as a common issue. Most engine’s rear main seals will last the life of the engine.
How can we tell if the rear main seal is the cause of the engine oil leak? We will often start diagnosing an oil leak with a clean & dye. During this process, we will clean off all the oil on the engine block, oil pan, and other areas. We then put a black light dye into the oil. After driving about 100 miles we will re-inspect the engine to see where oil is coming out and use a black light to find the root cause.
Timing Chain Issue
We couldn’t talk about the 2.4L without at least mentioning the timing chain. The GM 2.4L Ecotec engine’s timing chain is the most common problem for these engines. We have another blog post specifically explaining this issue. It should be noted GM did update parts on newer 2.4L engines to help with the tensioners. Lastly, the GM 2.4L Ecotec engine is an interference engine. Yet another concern with this engine design. You can find out more about these engines in this blog:
A minor problem to note is since the GM 2.4L Ecotec engine uses a direct injected fuel system we do see issues with carbon buildup. This can cause rough idle, check engine light, and power loss. Again, we wouldn’t necessarily say this is a common issue to only the 2.4L engine. This issue is common to any direct-injected engine that is not properly maintained. So, for this issue, we highly recommend owners regularly perform fuel services every 30-45k miles and don’t delay oil changes.
Finally, a common issue similar to the carbon build-up is oil consumption. We’ve rarely seen a 2.4L engine with failed piston rings. We’ve also seen oil consumption past the engine valves. We do feel this issue is most often related to not properly maintaining a direct injected fuel system. It is worth noting GM has had lawsuits over oil consumption. So, this is enough of a problem for lawyers to get involved.
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