GM 2.4L Ecotec Engine (Specs, Reliability & Issues)
Updated: May 2
The 2.4 Ecotec is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline naturally aspirated engine that was debuted in 2006.
General Motors produced this 2.4-liter inline-four engine for a variety of small and medium automobiles, including the Chevrolet Malibu, Equinox, HHR, Saturn Ion, Aura, Vue, Pontiac G5, G6, Buick Regal, and others.
In 2019, the 2.4 Ecotec was still available. For nearly 13 years of production, the engine underwent upgrades denoted by a different engine code: LE5, LE9, LAF, LEA, LAT, and LUK.
Let's take a closer look at the GM/Chevy 2.4L Ecotec engine, covering common problems, reliability, and durability.
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Ecotec 2.4 LE5 & LE9 Engines
The 2.4 LE5 is powered by a 2.2L Ecotec engine, which has proven to be a fantastic engine and was one of GM's greatest volume engines at the time. The 2.4-liter Ecotec LE5 not only has a greater displacement, but it also has a number of unique features that boost power and economy.
The 2.4 Ecotec, like the original 2.2L I-4, is an all-aluminum engine.
The bottom crankcase is very durable, and the cylinder block is composed of cast aluminium (a reinforced "Gen II" block). On the engine block, direct-mount accessories are also accessible. The early engines featured GKN forged connecting rods.
In July 2007, GM switched to C70 forged connecting rods. The design of the block includes piston-cooling oil jets. Oil jets or oil spray squirters continuously spray the bottom of each piston, decreasing operating temperatures and prolonging the engine's life.
The new engine has twin counter-rotating balance shafts. They spin at double the speed of the engine crankshaft to dampen second-order vibrations.
On top is a cast aluminium cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. The engine features two overhead camshafts that are controlled by a chain. Unlike the original 2.2 Ecotec, the 2.4l LE5 has variable valve technology.
Electronically controlled variable valve timing is used on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. In the valvetrain, hydraulic roller finger followers are employed. The ignition system employs a coil-on-plug setup with spark plugs positioned in the middle.
The ECM controls the sequential port fuel injection system on the 2.4 Ecotec (an all-new Engine Control Module). Because the throttle body is likewise electronically controlled, there is no physical relationship between the accelerator pedal and the engine throttle (ETC - Electronic Throttle Control).
Instead of being made of metal, the intake manifold is made of plastic, which saves weight and money.
The LE9 2.4L engine made its debut in 2009. LE5 Ecotec is extremely similar to this variation. The main difference is that the LE9 is a flexible-fuel engine that runs on E85. E85 is a clean-burning alternative fuel created from maize and other crops, consisting of 85 percent ethanol alcohol and 15% gasoline.
The 2.4L LE9 engine has special valves and valve seats that can withstand the wear induced by ethanol's corrosive effects. This engine also has stainless injectors with a higher maximum fuel flow rate.
LEA and LAF Engines
In the 2.4L LAF and LEA models, direct fuel injection is employed. FlexFuel is also an option for the 2.4 LEA. These engines retain the original architecture of the LE5/LE9 2.4 inline fours. The crankshaft is cast iron with forged steel connecting rods, and the diameter and stroke are the same.
Direct-injected engines have slightly dished pistons, which increases combustion efficiency. In addition, the compression ratio has been raised from 10.4:1 to 11.2:1.
Of course, new cylinder heads are used in these engines, which are designed specifically for direct fuel injection into each combustion chamber.
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To withstand the greater heat and pressure encountered inside the combustion chamber, cylinder heads employ premium valve seats, valve guides, and valve materials.
The fuel pressure required by the direct injection system is additionally delivered by a cam-driven high-pressure fuel pump.
The direct injection technology of the 2.4l Ecotec engine, along with variable valve timing, allows it to provide powerful torque even at low rpm, produce more power with less fuel, and release fewer pollutants.
LAT & LUK 2.4L Engines
The LAT and LUK are 2.4 I-4 Ecotec engines with direct injection and GM's mild hybrid Belt-Alternator Starter (BAS) drivetrain (eAssist System). The normal alternator is replaced with a liquid-cooled 15kW Motor Generator (MGU) with additional air-cooled power electronics and a 115V lithium-ion battery pack.
The eAssist System works as an electric boost, lowering fuel usage by up to 25%. Like the LEA, the LAT version can run on FlexFuel.
Manufacturer: Spring Hill Manufacturing plant, Spring Hill, Tennessee, the USA
Production years: 2006-2019
Cylinder block material: Aluminium
Cylinder head material: Aluminium
Fuel type: Gasoline
Fuel system: Sequential port fuel injection, Direct fuel injection
Number of cylinders: 4
Valves per cylinder: 4
Valvetrain layout: DOHC
Bore: 88.0 mm (3.5 in)
Stroke: 98.0 mm (3.9 in)
Displacement: 2,384 cc (145 cu in)
Type: Four-stroke, naturally aspirated
Compression Ratio: 10.4:1, 11.2:1
Power: 164-182 hp (122-136 kW) at 6,200-6,700 rpm
Torque: 159-172 lb ft (216-233 Nm) at 4,800-5,000 rpm
Firing order: 1-3-4-2
Engine oil weight: SAE 5W-30
Engine oil capacity: 4.7 litres (5.0 qt) – with oil filter
Oil change interval: 10,000 (15,000 km) or 12 months
Applications: Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Chevrolet Cobalt Sport, Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Malibu /Hybrid /ECO, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Orlando, GMC Terrain, Pontiac G5/Pursuit, Pontiac G6, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Saturn Ion, Saturn Aura /Green Line Hybrid, Saturn Vue /Green Line Hybrid, Buick LaCrosse, Buick GL8, Polaris Slingshot, Buick Regal, Buick Verano
Problems & Reliability
Now that we've gone over all of the differences between the 2.4 Ecotec models, let's have a look at some of the most common problems they encounter. Bear in mind that common defects may not affect every 2.4 Ecotec engine that is sent from the manufacturer.
Furthermore, since most 2.4L engines are now found in 10-15 year old high-mileage cars, they are susceptible to wear and tear failure, regardless of how good they were when new.
Timing chain failure
Excessive oil usage
Carbon build up
Timing chain failure is one of the most often reported and discussed concerns with the 2.4 Ecotec inline-four. The timing chain might leap a few teeth if the tensioners and top bolt fail.
The 2.4 Ecotec is an interference engine, which means that if the timing is incorrect, the valves will contact the pistons and destroy each other.
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Valves are twisted or shattered as a result, pistons are damaged, and costly repairs are necessary. Keeping a check on the timing chain and looking for any scuffing, scratches, or slack is always a good idea, especially if the mileage reaches 100,000 miles.
One of the first symptoms that the chain is growing loose is rattling sounds at idle. If the timing chain misses a little, you may notice a misfire, poor performance, and power losses with engine diagnostic codes.
Oil consumption is high in GM 2.4L Ecotec engines, which is caused by worn piston oil rings. Due to enhanced piston cooling with fluid blasted by oil squirters/jets, some oil may make its way past the damaged rings and into the combustion chamber, where it burns off.
Fortunately, the matter has been brought to the attention of the manufacturer. General Motors offered extended warranties, and you may be able to work with them to resolve the issue.
Carbon build-up is a particular issue for the 2.4 Ecotec with direct fuel injection (LEA, LAF, LAT, and LUK engines). Carbon build-up on intake valves and ports is caused by oil blow-by in the intake tract. In a typical port injection system, fuel is injected before the intake valves to assist wash away any oil or carbon deposits.
However, none of the direct-injected engines indicated above had gasoline in the intake ports. Normally, nothing is affected by this condition. According to the manufacturer, most 2.4 Ecotec engines will last their whole lifetimes without the need for intake valve cleaning.
Carbon build-up, on the other hand, may cause power loss, rough idle, stuttering, and, in severe cases, misfires. Large deposits impede airflow into the engine, reducing performance and fuel efficiency. They may also fall inside the cylinders, causing them to wear out faster.
To summarise, the 2.4L Ecotec engine is a long-lasting and reliable engine. Despite substantial design flaws in previous models, contemporary GM/Chevy 2.4L engines provide a good balance of longevity, performance, and efficiency.
2.4 Ecotec engines aren't the finest, but with proper maintenance, they can last up to 200,000 miles.
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