Chevy LFX Engine Problems

4 Common Chevy & GM LFX Engine Problems

Jake Mayock

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GM’s LFX engine was the successor to the LLT, which had a terrible reputation for reliability. Timing chain failure would cause catastrophic engine damage. Unfortunately, some of these problems did transfer over to the LFX engine but were eventually fixed.

The LFX engine suffers from oil consumption issues, water pump failure, timing chain issues, and front cover oil leaks. We’re going to discuss each of these problems in-depth and note which model years are most prone to issues as GM fixed a lot of the timing chain issues in 2013. Overall, these engines are a lot more reliable than their predecessor, but read on to learn more.

Common LFX Engine Problems

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

1. 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.

Symptoms

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

2. Water Pump Problems

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.

Symptoms

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

LFX Water Pump DIY Guide

3. Timing Chain Cover Leaks

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

  • 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)

4. 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.

Additionally, the timing chain tensioner worsens the problem. 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.

Timing Chain Failure Symptoms

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

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 oil life monitoring 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.

If oil levels are properly maintained, the LFX engine shouldn’t have any problem reaching the 200k mile mark.

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14 Comments

  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.

      Regards,
      Zach

  6. only the one made by Ford or Chysler The 3.6 in my wifes 2007 buick has been nothing but trouble. since day one however no problems with my 21 blazer
    My Dad always told me if he couldn’t make me a ford man the junk from GM would

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