Chevy LFX Engine Problems

4 Common Chevy & GM LFX Engine Problems

Jake Mayock

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Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

GM’s LFX engine was released in model year 2012 as a replacement to the LLT engine. The LFX is a direct-injected 3.6L V6 engine producing 301-323hp and 262-278lb-ft. of torque.

Its predecessor, the LLT was released in 2006 in various GM cars. The LFX debuted in the Chevy Camaro LS and received an updated cylinder head with integrated exhaust manifold, new fuel injectors, intake valves, fuel pump, along with a new intake manifold. The LFX engine is 20lbs lighter than the LLT,  11hp and 5lb-ft. of torque more than the LLT at the top end. With an increased compression ratio of 11.5:1, the LFX is also E85 compatible.

By 2017 the LFX was predominantly phased out although it lasted until 2020 in the Chevy Impala. The LFX was phased out in favor of the LGX which launched in 2016 and is still used today. Also a direct-injected engine, the LGX was increased slightly in size with larger bores and intake and exhaust valves. It additionally received an upgraded cylinder head and higher RPMs, increasing power levels up to 335hp and 285lb-ft. of torque.

Cars that use the GM LFX Engine

In addition to the below models, the LFX was also used in various Holden models in Australia such as the Caprice and Commodore.


  • 2012-2016 LaCrosse


  • 2013-2015 ATS
  • 2012-2015 CTS
  • 2012-2016 SRX
  • 2013-2019 XTS


  • 2012-2015 Camaro
  • 2012-2017 Caprice
  • 2015-2016 Colorado
  • 2013-2017 Equinox
  • 2012-2020 Impala


  • 2015-2016 Canyon
  • 2013-2017 Terrain

Common LFX Engine Problems

A few of the most common GM LFX engine problems include:

  • Excessive Oil Consumption
  • Water Pump Failure
  • Front Cover Oil Leaks (Timing Chain Cover)
  • Timing Chain Failure (mostly LLT engines)

In the rest of this article we examine these four LFX problems in-depth. They aren’t all common issues in the sense they affect a large percent of engines.

1. GM LFX Excess Oil Consumption Problems

The LFX engine is known to consume up to 1 quart of oil for every 2,000 miles. While GM claims this is normal consumption, problems are caused by the engines oil change intervals. The “change engine oil” light on the LFX is computer-calculated and generally appears every 8,000-12,000 miles.

The issue that arises is that at 1 quart per 2,000 miles the engine becomes very low on oil before the change engine oil light appears. While the low engine oil light may still appear prior to this, it is very common for drivers to find themselves low on oil in between oil changes.

When oil runs low on these engines, the cam phasers are the first component to be deprived of oil. When the phasers are not being properly lubricated the result is poor engine timing which can lead to cylinder misfires and codes being thrown for the camshaft sensor.

Additionally, the timing chain is the second component to become deprived of oil. Excess oil consumption resulting in low oil levels are a common cause of timing chain failure as mentioned above.

LFX Oil Consumption Symptoms

  • Low engine oil light
  • Losing 1 quart of oil every 2,000 miles or more
  • Camshaft sensor engine code
  • Timing chain failure

How to Prevent or Fix Oil Consumption

Unfortunately, the engine oil consumption is considered normal in these engines. The excess oil consumption is less of the problem however. The problem is people not checking oil levels and continuing to drive on low oil levels. If you follow GM’s recommend oil change intervals and wait 8,000+ miles for an oil change, you need to make sure you top off the oil in between changes.

For cars with OLM (oil life monitoring), GM did recall this item to recalibrate the system to suggest earlier oil changes. If you haven’t had this performed we would recommend doing so to prevent low oil levels.

While we recommend still changing the oil every 5,000 miles, you can alternatively keep an extra quart or two of oil in your trunk and top it off every few thousand miles.

GM does have an oil supply kit that will keep the cam phasers and timing chain adequately lubricated, but it requires about 15 hours of labor to install. Maybe this is an option if you still have some warranty left but otherwise the cost of adding the oil supply kit is not worth the benefit. Just make sure you keep your oil levels topped off.

2. LFX Water Pump Problems

Water pumps circulate coolant throughout the engine. They are the primary system responsible for keeping engine temperatures within spec. The internal components of a water pump are subject to high pressures. The internal pressure naturally causes the internal components of the water pump and the gasket and seals to wear down over time.

As the internal components begin to wear down, the pump has to work harder to maintain adequate coolant flow. Additionally, gasket or seal leaks cause pressure drops within the system again requiring the water pump to have to overwork itself.

On the LFX engine the water pump is known to go out around the 80,000-100,000 mile range. Fortunately, there are warning signs of a failing water pump and you can catch it before the pump completely fails and overheats the engine. The LFX water pump has a “weep” hole which is a small drain hole on it. When the water pump starts to leak internally, coolant will drip out of the weep hole which is a telltale sign that the water pump is on its way out.

LFX Water Pump Failure Symptoms

  • Coolant leaks onto underside of engine
  • Engine overheating (water pump has already failed)
  • Whining noise from engine

If you are overheating then the water pump has already failed. If you find small amounts of coolant leaks around the engine then the water pump is likely on its way out, but not completely gone yet.

We recommend replacing the water pump once you notice coolant leaks to prevent overheating. Overheating can toast head gaskets, internals, etc. and lead to numerous other problems if not addressed promptly. A dealership is probably going to quote you near $1,000 for a water pump replacement on the LFX. However, the parts themselves should be around $100 and it can be DIY’d in a few hours.

LFX Water Pump DIY Guide

3. LFX Timing Chain Cover Leaks

The timing chain cover, also commonly referred to as the “front cover” protects and lubricates the timing chain. The cover bolts directly up to the front of the engine block and prevents the timing chain from being exposed to road dirt and debris and helps prevent it from coming loose off of its gears. However, the most important purpose of the cover is to help lubricate the timing chain with engine oil.

The LFX uses a timing chain instead of a timing belt, and therefore has a metal front cover. The cover is bolted up to the block with a gasket between the two. Because the gasket sits right up on the engine block it is subject to a lot of heat. Over time this heat wears down on the gasket and causes oil to leak out of the front cover.

The gasket also seals the engine pressure or vacuum. A failed gasket will not only leak oil but will also leak air and engine pressure which can result in various performance related issues.

Symptoms of a Failing LFX Timing Cover Gasket

The following symptoms may point to Chevy LFX timing cover gasket problems:

  • Oil leaking from timing cover (block/cover have noticeable oil on them)
  • Low engine oil light or excess oil consumption
  • Engine runs poorly, bad performance
  • Knock sounds from engine
  • Engine code for vacuum leaks, AFR issues, etc.
    • P0016, P0017, P0018, P0019 (usually associated with chain failure)

Replacement Options

While it is possible to crack a timing chain cover, most of the issues with the LFX arise from gasket failure. When the gasket fails it is important to replace it immediately as it can cause performance issues but can also result in low oil levels which can further damage the timing chain and engine internals.

4. LLT & LFX Timing Chain Failure

Most timing chain issues are caused by low oil levels. As mentioned with the excessive oil consumption problem, low oil levels are commonly caused by the oil change monitoring system recommending oil changes too infrequently. When oil levels become low, the timing chain is one of the first components to be starved of oil. When this happens, the timing chains aren’t receiving enough lubrication and the temperature of the chains metal increases from the increased friction. As timing chain metal temps increase the chains stretch and can jump teeth on the gears.

Additionally, the timing chain tensioner worsens the problem. The tensioner is responsible for keeping the proper amount of tension in the chain so that it does not become loose and jump gears. The tensioner is hydraulically-actuated meaning it uses oil pressure to function. When the engine is low on oil, the tensioner does not receive enough oil pressure to keep enough tension in the chain, causing it to become loose.

The lack of lubrication can also cause the timing chain guides to wear down and need to be replaced too.

Is timing chain failure an LFX problem?

These timing chain problems were mostly associated with the LLT engine from 2007-2011. However, they also affected the 2012 models of the SRX, Camaro, and Impala. In April 2012, the timing chains received an upgrade which minimized the problems going forward.

With that being said, timing chains are maintenance items and can still fail over time. While they are known to fail as early as 30,000 miles on the affected 2007-2012 models, they should last closer to 150,000 miles on later model years without these issues.

For cars with oil life monitoring, GM did recall and recalibrate the OLM monitoring systems to prevent the extremely length oil change services and reduce the likelihood of running low on oil.

LLT & LFX Timing Chain Failure Symptoms

Symptoms of LLT and LFX timing chain problems include:

  • Various engine codes
    • P0008, P0009, P0016, P0017, P0018, P0019
  • Poor engine timing
  • Engine runs poorly, idles poorly, etc.
  • Cylinder misfires
  • Metal shavings in oil

When a timing chain fails, it throws the engines timing out of whack. If your timing chain completely falls off or jumps too many teeth it is extremely important to not turn the engine on. Running the engine with extremely poor timing can cause the valves to collide with the pistons causing serious internal engine damage.

GM Timing Chain Failure Technical Service Bulletin

LFX Engine Reliability

The LLT engine got a bad rap for reliability primarily because of the commonality of timing chain failure. Fortunately, this issue was addressed for most LFX engines and cars with OLM were recalibrated to prevent low oil levels.

The 2012 LFX models are going to be less reliable than 2013+ models as it suffered from the old timing chain issues. However, this problem is really only a problem if you let your oil levels run too low. Since the LFX is known to normally consume 1 quart every ~2,000 miles or so, we recommend either topping off oil in between changes or changing your oil more frequently.

While GM says service intervals in the 8,000-12,000 mile range are acceptable, we recommend changing the oil more frequently than that especially if you don’t drive that many miles yearly.

Outside of problems that can be caused by running low on oil, the LFX doesn’t have any catastrophic engine problems and has proven to be reliable. If you own or are planning on owning an LFX just be aware of the oil consumption issues and make sure you check your oil levels frequently to make sure they don’t get too low.

If oil levels are properly maintained, the LFX engine shouldn’t have any problem reaching the 200k mile mark. Just understand that by the time you reach these mileage levels there is likely a handful of maintenance items that will have arose like water pumps, hoses, timing chains, sensors, etc.

Let us know about your experience with the LFX engine in the comments.

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  1. My 2012 LFX has 62,194 miles on it and runs like a new engine. I only use Mobile 1 Extended mileage 5w30 15000 mile oil and change it and oil filter every 7500 miles. Since it’s my grocery getter it rarely goes over 50mph. No drips, no skips. No leaks, squeeks, or hard starting. And I only use top tier premium fuel.

  2. My 2019 Impala’s LFX has 40k miles on it. I bought it a year ago at about 27k miles and I have already put about 14,000 miles on it. I have had literally ZERO problems in that time. I’ve changed the oil twice, probably after about 5k miles each time, and I intend to get another change here at about 41k miles. I find that the engine oil life sensor actually follows that pattern pretty accurately.

    Time will tell how reliable the engine is, but I have a good feeling about it. I intend to be as diligent as I can in keeping it well-maintained, and I think the every-5k-miles recommendation for oil changes is probably sensible. The LFX can probably get away with doing it only every 10k, but why chance it?

  3. I bought a 2015 Camaro brand new. This is May 2022. The car has 1,604 actual miles on it today. I change the oil once a year just to have new oil in it. It is garage kept and still smells new inside. My son turns 20 on May 25th. I’m giving it to him for his birthday. I’m 63.

  4. My 2012 impala has 260,000 miles with none of the issues mentioned, I change the oil when it calls for it (seems to be around 5k miles). It is the most reliable car I’ve ever had.

  5. My 2012 Camaro *might* have the LFX engine. Let me explain. I bought this car used in 2021 and the minute I got it had the water pump fail at around 83k mi on the body but the dealer said the engine was not original to the car. “Say what?” So nobody knows how many miles on this mystery engine. I don’t even know if it is an LTT or LFX engine that someone put into this thing. I hope it isn’t an LTT – are they swappable? It was probably replaced after 2016 during the vehicle history blackout, and Carfax indicating Odometer tampering – which would make sense if a new engine was put in I’m guessing. I wish I could find out more about the engine, if anyone know how to trace it back? I’ve also had multiple sensors go on it – oil pressure sensor, knock sensor, fuel rail pressure sensor, purge solenoid. I do experience a really bad vibration at idle sometimes not sure if that’s the timing chain or mounts or both? The dealer said the engine mounts need replacing and oh yeah, the transmission had a complete failure at 88k mi.

    1. Hi Nate,

      That sounds like quite the unfortunate experience so far. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is not only listed on a vehicle itself, but also on the engine block. I believe most GM’s will have the VIN number on the left rear side of the block. You can then use the VIN found on the engine block to learn more about the engine in your Camaro.


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