2.4L-ecotec-oil-consumption

2.4L Ecotec Oil Consumption – Causes & Solutions

Austin Parsons

Meet Austin

Austin holds a technical writing degree and has 5 years of experience working as a Technical Product Specialist at BMW. He is an avid car enthusiast who is constantly watching F1, consuming automotive content, racing on his simulator, and working on his Toyota’s and BMW’s. Austin’s technical writing skills, extensive automotive knowledge, and hands-on experience make him an excellent resource for our readers.

The GM 2.4L Ecotec engine is interesting in the fact that is a good engine with a bad reputation. Released in 2006 and discontinued in 2019, the 2.4L I4 Ecotec lived a relatively long life under the hood of some of GM’s best-selling models. With modern engine technology such as direct injection, variable valve timing, and FlexFuel compatibility, the GM 2.4L LEA showed immense promise out of the gate. Unfortunately, a few significant issues tarnished the reputation of the GM I4, one of those being excessive oil consumption.

2.4L Ecotec oil consumption is an issue for multiple reasons. Ultimately, if your engine is down a significant amount of oil, there isn’t enough to lubricate the engine properly. This can lead to timing chain problems, rough performance, and even complete engine seizure. Since there are so many problems associated with low oil level and excessive 2.4L Ecotec oil consumption, it is important to address the issue promptly and take the proper steps to minimize additional problems in the meantime. 

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most common symptoms, problems, and solutions to GM 2.4L Ecotec excessive oil consumption.

Check out our full 2.4L Ecotec Common Problem guides for more information.

2.4L-ecotec-oil-consumption

2.4L Ecotec Applications and Affected Vehicles

Piston Ring Blowby Affected Models

  • 2010-2017 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2011-2014 Chevy Orlando
  • 2011 Chevy Captiva
  • 2010-2011 GMC Terrain
  • 2010-2011 Buick Lacrosse
  • 2011 Buick Regal

PCV System Pressure Buildup Affected Models

  • 2010-2016 Buick Lacrosse (including Hybrid/eAssist models)
  • 2011-2017 Buick Regal
  • 2012-2017 Buick Verano
  • 2010-2015 Chevrolet Captiva
  • 2010-2017 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2013-2014 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2010-2017 GMC Terrain

2.4L Ecotec Excessive Oil Consumption Symptoms

When it comes to engine issues caused by low oil, by the time the engine is displaying physical symptoms, damage has already likely occurred. There are some early indicators that your 2.4L Ecotec might be low on oil. For instance, a low oil pressure indication light will often illuminate immediately before you notice any performance dropoff. This light, which is present on most Chevy Malibu and GMC Terrain vehicles affected by excessive oil consumption, is generally caused by low oil levels. If this light does come on, stop your vehicle immediately and let the vehicle cool down before checking your oil. 

It is important to note that GM 2.4L Ecotec oil-level sensors have been known to be unreliable and there are instances where a 2.4L Ecotec owner has received no advanced warning that their car was running dangerously low on oil. For that reason, it is extremely important to check your 2.4L Ecotec’s oil level frequently. Some suggest checking every 1,000 miles or every third refill at the gas station as a rough benchmark. Regardless, as low engine oil levels are the most common symptom of excessive oil consumption, it is vital to know how much oil is in your engine at all times.

Other than low engine oil, blue smoke from the tailpipe, low engine performance, fouled spark plugs, and poor acceleration are all signs that excessive oil blowby is occurring on your GM Ecotec I4. Rough performance is likely what you’ll notice first, which is an indication that your Ecotec is dangerously low on oil. 

GM 2.4L Ecotec Excessive Oil Consumption Cause

Over the years, the exact causes of excessive 2.4L Ecotec oil consumption have been discovered. While a faulty piston ring design is to blame for a lot of the 2.4L LEA I4’s consumption problems, there are also some additional design issues that contribute as well. A couple of these issues can be pinned on the redesigned 2.4L Ecotec PCV system for 2010. In combination, the faulty Chevy 2.4L piston rings, PCV malfunctions, and cooling jet intensity compound to make oil consumption very prominent. 

2.4L Ecotec Faulty Piston Rings

GM’s poor piston ring design on the 2.4L Ecotec is unquestionably the largest contributor to excessive oil consumption. Piston rings serve as one of the most critical components in preventing oil from leaking into the combustion chamber. The issue stems mainly from the fact that the 2.4L piston rings themselves are too thin. 

Piston rings fit around the piston and slide against the cylinder wall. They serve to seal the combustion chamber and control the flow of oil around the piston. Piston rings also transfer heat from the piston to the cylinder wall and help to maintain proper engine compression. In the case of the 2.4L Ecotec, GM’s thin, low-tension, piston rings do not provide a good enough seal within the crankcase. As a result, oil is allowed to leak into the combustion chamber, burning off and creating carbon deposits inside the chamber, fouling the spark plugs, and creating excess smoke from the exhaust. 

2.4L Ecotec Oil Cooling Jet Intensity

To further compound the issue with the piston rings, the 2.4L Ecotec is equipped with oil cooling jets to help lower internal temperatures. Oil cooling jets spray pressurized oil into the cylinders to keep the pistons cool. In theory, this is a good idea, as lower temperatures reduce friction and extend the life of the engine. However, the GM Ecotec’s oil jets add additional oil to the area where the piston rings already struggle to retain oil, causing even more issues. Since the oil from the jets comes out in a pressurized stream, they can cause even more piston ring damage. While the thought was certainly there, GM’s execution of cooling jets is more detrimental than beneficial. 

Faulty 2.4L Ecotec Crankcase Ventilation System

While this problem would technically be classified as an oil leak issue rather than an oil consumption issue, it is still important to mention here, as it has affected numerous 2.4L Ecotec vehicles. An engine’s PCV system is crucial in preventing harmful vapors from building up in the engine by recycling them back into the combustion process. The PCV system uses a valve to draw air from the engine’s crankcase and into the intake manifold. 

In addition, the PCV system also helps to maintain proper engine oil levels. It does this by reducing the pressure inside the engine, preventing oil leaks and consumption. However, 2.4L Ecotec I4 engines are known to develop PCV blockages from moisture, sludge buildup, and even ice. This can cause excess pressure to build up in the crankcase, eventually blowing out the rear main seal. This will allow oil to escape, eventually leading to extremely low engine oil. Outside of the class action lawsuit for faulty 2.4 Ecotec piston rings, 2.4L Ecotec PCV problems also have their own lawsuit

Funny enough, the opposite issue has been known to occur on the 2.4 Ecotec. The PCV system can also extract more than just harmful gasses from the crankcase and strip oil off of the valvetrain, sending it through the intake and into the combustion chamber. This can lead to even more oil consumption. All-in-all, the GM Ecotec’s PCV system is less than perfect. 

2.4L Ecotec Oil Consumption Fixes

Due to the fact that the 2.4L Ecotec oil consumption issue is caused by a problem with the piston rings, there isn’t an immediate or easy solution to the problem. The problem is easier to solve if the oil consumption issue is caused by a clogged PCV system. Unfortunately, if your GM 2.4L I4 has excessive oil blow-by from damage piston rings, the only solution is to replace them. This can be a timely and expensive job that can be straining on the wallet. 

Even more unfortunate is GM’s lack of recognition or sympathy for the clear design flaw. Despite piston ring failure and massive oil consumption on thousands of vehicles, mainly the Chevy Malibu and GMC Terrain, GM has not issued any recalls or free repairs for affected vehicles. Some GM dealers would even refuse to over the issue under warranty. This has led to a large 2.4L Ecotec oil consumption lawsuit that continues to this day. If you have been affected by this issue, it is a good idea to get on board the class action lawsuit. GM was recently sued over a nearly identical issue with the Vortec 5300 V8 engine. The class members received a $102.6 million payout.

Cleaning 2.4L Ecotec PCV Breather Hole

If you discover that your 2.4L Ecotec’s oil consumption isn’t caused by worn piston rings, you’re in luck. While there are other reasons for the engine to be losing coolant, a clogged PCV breather hole is the next most common cause. Luckily, this one is relatively easy and inexpensive to solve. Ultimately, you’ll need to remove the 2.4L I4’s intake manifold which will give you access to the PCV breather orifice. This is generally where the PCV system gets clogged, causing issues down the line. 

Cleaning out the 2.4L Ecotec PCV breather orifice is pretty straightforward. You’ll simply need a pick, flathead screwdriver, or similar utensil to scrape any debris out of the orifice. Once the hole is free of debris, you can use throttle body cleaner to spray it clean. Then wipe down the hole and intake manifold mating surface to ensure everything is free of debris. Dielectric grease can also be applied to the gaskets to increase their longevity. 

If you are interested in cleaning your 2.4L Ecotec’s PCV breather yourself, check out this video that walks you through the entire process.

GM 2.4L Ecotec Oil Consumption Summary 

While the GM 2.4L Ecotec LEA is a stout and solid engine overall, it has multiple Achilles heels. One of the biggest problems with the engine is its tendency to consume massive amounts of oil. The primary cause of 2.4L Ecotec oil consumption is failing piston rings. Since GM opted to use thin and flimsy piston rings, oil blowby is very common as they are known to wear and fail prematurely. This problem is exacerbated by the engine’s oil sprayer system, which can damage the rings further. The Ecotec is also known to have a PCV system that clogs easily, leading to more oil loss issues.

There aren’t many preemptive symptoms to warn you that the issue is occurring. While the 2.4L Ecotec has oil-level sensors, they are known to be unreliable. If engine symptoms begin to manifest, chances are that damage has already been done. That is why it is extremely critical to check your oil frequently and make sure that your oil level isn’t dangerously low.

Unfortunately, GM has been extremely unresponsive about the 2.4L Ecotec’s oil consumption issue. While it is a clear design fault, they haven’t directly addressed the issue or issued any support for affected vehicles. That has led to an ongoing class action lawsuit about the problem. If your vehicle has been affected by excessive oil consumption, you can join the class action lawsuit here. 

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3 Comments

  1. Agree the engine design can be reliable. When this generation of GDI engines were introduced, there were several things going on that contributed to the oil burning, carbon buildup, timing chain wear. From 2006 to 2010 the use formulation of ethanol based fuel increased from an average of 1-2% to near the full 10% ethanol (E10). This ethanol results in higher carbon, low fuel efficiency and higher fuel dilution rates, especially in GDI engines. The first few years GM was recommending an older Oil Spec, which did not take into account the new problems created by GDI, abrasive soot, fuel dilution, and LSPI. In 2012 they finally came out with Dexos spec oil. Even then a cheap synthetic blend could meet the spec. Under pressure to reduce oil use by regulators and compete with European counterparts, they introduced a new Oil Life Monitor. It took cars to over 10k mile drain intervals. This was disasterous, and finally had to revise the ECM calibration to a max of 7500 miles in 2014 when they were fully aware of excessive wear and carbon build up. Fuel dilution was serious problem and GDI petrol engine created a new form of soot, far more polluting, for more abrasive than often seen in deisel engines. They then came out with Dexos1 oil but still too late and did not fully address the problem. They finally admitted through TSBs that oil consumption was a problem and changed pistons and rings in MY 2013, this was only a head fake. They offered repairs for earlier years but knew it was not a fix.
    They knew GDI was a serious problem, fuel dilution and abrasive soot, intake valve carbon and PCV clogging. Early adopters back in late 1990s and 2000s were aware of these problems. Engines built after that still suffer from carbon clogging rings and timing chain wear. I have 500 oil samples of 2.4l Ecotecs from BlackStone labs. Half are port fuel injected and half GDI. Fuel dilution levels were much higher as well as engine wear with GDI engines. As a result of Low Speed Pre-Ignition in Gen 3 Ecotecs, causing massive engine damage they came out with API SN+, but still didnt address soot or timing chain wear. That did not take place until 2021 with the introduction of API SP, with many new engine tests and specs. Many owners who used premium oil and Top Tier Fuel and ignored the OLM and changed their oil every 3k, have experienced few problems with these engines. Those who used standard oil, cheap fuel and followed the poorly designed OLM suffered from oil consumption, timing chain wear and PCV clogging as early as 80k miles. Just Google GDI soot and GDI fuel dilution, it was and still is a problem. I run Amsoil 0W-40 100% synthetic oil, 2-micron bypass filter, use Top Tier, ethanol fuel, and even with 10k mile drain intervals, the wear levels are 4x less, engine is clean, looks brand new, still factory compression, factory fuel efficiency, and PCV system is completely clear of carbon and intake valves only have minor amounts of carbon build up. I now have 175k miles.

  2. I had a 2015 Equinox LTZ with the 2.4L. It was a great vehicle. The engine was good when I purchased it in 2018 with about 70,000 miles. We drove cross country and even to Cozumel with a pretty good load both ways. The return trip was harder on it and it started using oil as I got into Texas. I added oil and seemed to be fine but after that it started using about 1 qt per 1500 miles which within GM’s spec. The exhaust VVT actuator failed at the same time and was easily replaced. I find it hard to believe that a Chevy engine is allowed to consume 1 qt per 1,000 miles. After I read about the issues and the piston ring issues, I started adding Rislone Compression Repair and was able to make 5,000 mile oil changes with by adding 1/2 qt around 4,000 miles. A Chevy dealer quoted $4,500 to rebuilt the engine with new piston rings.

    One thing that bugged me about the experience is the oil life indicator goes to 7,000 or 7,500 miles. For those that follow the life indicator, it is too long of an interval. The manual specifies a shorter interval and the life indicator should as well. The oil should really be changed at 5,000 miles unless using a boutique oil. Second, a quick lube shop talked me into semi-synthetic oil being the recommended oil for the 2.4. I only changed it there because I didn’t have a choice at the time. Only full synthetic should be used. I believe that if owners changed the oil at 5,000 miles with a quality synthetic, there wouldn’t have been any piston ring failures. GM really missed it on something so simple.

  3. i change oil every 3000 miles still burns oil so i was told heavy oil would help so will try shell 15-40 oil see what happens poeple say they did it and it worked worth a try
    thanks
    bill lade 2016 bmc terren 74000 miles there will be no more gmc products in my yard have ford f150 172000 does not burn oil 3.5 twin turbo ford tough

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