GM 2.4L Ecotec: Everything You Need To Know

The great GM 2.4 L Ecotec engine made its way to the automotive industry in 2006 and remained in the field for several years until its graceful exit in 2019 in the form of Polaris Slingshot.

However, throughout its tenure, the engine served many vehicles, including Buick, Chevy, Saturn, Pontiac, and GM models. 

The engine has a power rating of 182 HP at a maximum which is pretty decent for a small N/A design. It is also efficient and economical, offering good fuel consumption averages. 

What are GM 2.4 Ecotec Engines?

The GM 2.4 Ecotec engine is a four-cylinder, 2.4-liter gasoline engine.

General Motors produced this engine to power various compact and midsize vehicles such as Equinox, Saturn Ion, Aura, Vue, Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G5, and Buick Regal to name a few.

The engine has remained in the industry for 13 years and has further updates marked with unique LE9, LE5, LAF, LAT, and LUK. 

In addition to that, GM 2.4 Ecotec engine features variable valve timing; extended spark plugs life, extended coolant life, and electronic throttle control. 

Engine Specifications and Design: 

  • Production Run: 2006 – 2019
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: Inline 4
  • Bore: 88.0 mm
  • Stroke: 98.0 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.4 L (2384 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 10.4 (LE5/LE9) and 11.2
  • Weight: 331 lbs. 
  • Maximum HP: 182 HP at 6,200 – 6,700 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 172 lb-ft at 4,800 – 5,000 RPM

The 2.4 LE5/LE9 Ecotec

The 2.4 LE5 engine is a larger 2.4L version of the Ecotec family. Its bore and stroke dimensions are larger. It is also integrated with Variable Valve Timing on the intake and exhaust to improve low-end torque levels. 

The basis of the 2.4 LE5 engine is the 2.2L Ecotec engine. The latter has proven itself to be one of the excellent engines in the modern era. It was also one of GM’s highest volume engines at that time. 

Further, the 2.4 L Ecotec LE5 features a larger displacement and new and exciting technologies to make it more powerful and efficient at the same time. Like its brother, the 2.2 Ecotec, the 2.4 Ecotec is an all-aluminum lineup engine.

The cylinder block is made from aluminum with a highly rigid lower crankcase, a reinforced Gen II block. 

The block also features direct-mounted accessories. Early engines were equipped with GKN forged connecting rods but changed after a year to C70 connecting rods.

Moreover, GM introduced piston cooling jets into the engine block design. This integrated design aims to spray oil continuously under each piston, increasing the durability and strength due to reduced engine operating temperatures. 

This new engine is also installed with twin counter-rotating balance shafts. These guys spin at twice the speed of the engine crankshaft to minimize second-order vibrations. 

Mounted on top is an aluminum cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. The 2.4 Ecotec engine features a chain-driven double overhead camshaft design. As mentioned above, the 2.4 Ecotec engine has variable valve technology, which is absent in the older 2.2 Ecotec, which is also electronically controlled. 

The valvetrain uses hydraulic roller finger followers, central-located spark plugs, and a coil-on-plug design for the ignition system. The GM 2.4 Ecotec uses a sequential port fuel injection managed by a module.

The throttle body is electronically controlled – Electronic Throttle Control, where there is no physical link between the engine throttle valve and the accelerator pedal. 

The cylinder headcover is made from aluminum also; the intake manifold is plastic to save weight and cost. 

Furthermore, another engine besides the LE5 engine is the LE9 2.4 engine, which appeared in 2009 in response to an E85 fuel compatible engine. If you’re asking, the E85 is a clean-burning alternative fuel organically made from corn and other forms of crops. It is composed of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. 

Due to the corrosive effects of ethanol, the LE9 engine has special valves and valve seats to withstand the effects. Also, the machine has unique stainless injectors with a higher maximum flow rate. 

Applications of the LE5/LE9 Engines: 

  • 2006 – 2008 Buick LaCrosse (China) 168 HP and 166 lb-ft 
  • 2006 – 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt SS 173 HP and 163 lb-ft 
  • 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt Sport 171 HP and 167 lb-ft
  • 2006 – 2008 Chevrolet HHR 175 HP and 165 lb-ft
  • 2006 – 2008 Pontiac G5/Pursuit 171 HP and 167 lb-ft
  • 2006 – 2009 Pontiac G6 169 HP and 162 lb-ft 
  • 2006 – 2009 Pontiac Solstice 177 HP and 173 lb-ft
  • 2006 – 2009 Saturn Sky 177 HP and 173 lb-ft
  • 2006 Saturn Ion 170 HP and 162 lb-ft 
  • 2007 Saturn Ion 175 HP and 164 lb-ft 
  • 2008 – 2009 Saturn Aura 169 HP and 160 lb-ft
  • 2008 – 2012 Chevrolet Malibu 
  • 2008 – 2009 Saturn Vue 
  • 2006 GM Taiwan Buick LaCrosse 
  • Buick GL8
  • 2006 Shanghai GM Buick LaCrosse 

2.4 Ecotec LEA and LAF Engines

Another version of the 2.4 Ecotec is the LEA and LAF engines. There are reports, though not officially confirmed that this engine LEA will be replaced by the newer 2.5 Liter LCV or LKW engines. But still, that’s only speculation. 

The framework of both of these engines is derived from the original LE5/LE9 straight-fours. Further, these two engines utilize a direct injection technology; the LEA is FlexFuel capable. Both machines have the same bore and piston stroke dimensions, forged steel connecting rods, and cast-iron crankshaft.

Plus, the direct-injected engines are equipped with slightly-dished pistons for better combustion efficiency. 

The cylinder heads are restyled and designed for direct fuel injection into each combustion chamber. The heads also use premium valve guides, seats, and materials developed to absorb tremendous heat and pressure inside the combustion chamber. 

The engine is also installed with a cam-driven high-pressure fuel pump providing the required fuel pressure of the direct injection system. The variable valve timing system combined with the direct injection allows the 2.4 Ecotec to deliver decent torque with lower RPM, produce lower emissions, and more power with less fuel. 

Applications of LEA and LAF Engines:

182 HP and 172 lb-ft

  • 2010 – 2011 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2010 – 2011 Buick LaCrosse 
  • 2010 – 2011 GMC Terrain
  • 2011 – 2014 Chevrolet Orlando (174 HP)
  • 2011 Chevrolet Captiva
  • 2012 – 2013 Buick Regal
  • 2012 – 2017 Buick Verrano 
  • 2012 – 2017 Chevrolet Captiva Sport
  • 2012 – 2017 Chevrolet Equinox 
  • 2012- 2017 GMC Terrain

2.4 LUK/LAT Engines

The LUK and LAT engines are still inline-four but adopted to use GM’s Belt-Alternator Starter mild hybrid drivetrain (BAS eAssist System). The eAssist system functions as an electrical boost improving fuel economy by as much as 25%. 

The conventional alternator is replaced with a liquid-cooled Motor Generator, with additional air-cooled power electronics and a 115V Lithium-ion Battery. The 

Applications of LAT and LUK Engines:

  • 2007 – 2009 Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid
  • 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
  • 2008 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
  • 2008 – 2009 Buick LaCrosse Hybrid
  • 2008 – 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
  • 2012 – 2016 Buick LaCrosse 
  • 2012 – 2017 Buick Regal
  • 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Malibu ECO
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala 

Problems Surrounding 2.4 Ecotec Engines:

Though it is among the most reliable engines, the 2.4 Ecotec has its fair share of shortcomings and a few common problems. These issues cover all of the engine modifications and versions. So with that, let’s take a few minutes to discuss some of them. 

1. Timing Chain

2.4 Ecotec engines seem to have a problem regarding their timing chains. And without question, one of their most reported and discussed issues. The primary problem with the 2.4 Ecotec timing chains is the upper bolt and tensioners.

When the tensioner fails, it prompts the timing chain to slack, causing the timing chain to jump a few teeth. To make it worse, the 2.4L Ecotec is an interference engine, meaning that there is an overlap in the travel of the pistons and valves. 

It may result in a broken or bent valve, damaged pistons, and other internal components when that happens. So it is essential to assess the timing chain. Check for marks, scuffings, or slack, especially on 100,000-mile old.

You can notice rattling sounds at idle when the chain starts to develop slack. 

2. Carbon Build-Up

This issue is more common to 2.4 Ecotec with a direct injection system. Carbon build-up on intake ports and valves as a result of oil blow-by through the intake tract. This happens because it does not have the exact mechanism as the conventional port injection system.

Traditional ports spray fuel before the intake valves and wash any oil or carbon deposits.

However, as the GM claimed, this issue does not affect anything. As a matter of fact, most 2.4 Ecotec engines will last their useful life without any need to clean the intake valve.

However, the carbon build-up can cause rough idling, power loss, misfires, and stuttering in a worst-case scenario. 

It will also suffocate the airflow going into the engine as big chunks of the deposit will block that pathway. This can affect the overall performance and efficiency of the machine. 

3. High Oil Consumption

2.4 Ecotec engines also have the tendency to consume large quantities of oil, primarily due to piston oil rings wear. Due to additional piston cooling, some of the oil made its way to the bad rings into the combustion chamber, where it was combusted.

Good thing, GM acknowledged their mistake and offered a warranty extension for such an issue.  


Overall, the 2.4 Ecotec engine deserves the recognition that it gets. It is reliable and heavily durable at the same time. Though the initial and previous releases have troubles with their design but their recent counterparts proved that they are a force.

The 2.4 Ecotec has a good balance between longevity, efficiency, and performance. 

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