Read Before You Buy: GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG Engine Problems

With all the engine problem articles I’ve written about direct injection petrol engines, I consider myself to be a true expert on the topic. Today we’re taking a closer look at GM’s 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine with both a turbocharger and direct fuel injection.

Doing your own research before you make an expensive purchase is always a good idea. Especially when it comes to GM engines, that sometimes can be pretty unreliable and cause a lot of unplanned repairs. Which can cost thousands of dollars to fix in some cases. But you shouldn’t worry because that’s why we are here to pinpoint these problems for you.

First, we are going to learn the basic specs of the 2.0L Ecotec LTG and then we are going to elaborate on the GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine problems and see what troubles this engine has. Once we clear that out of our way, we will also cover the models that have this engine. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the article.

Basic GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG Engine Specs

The GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine is a pretty new engine that was released in 2013 and is still widely used today. It is a part of the Gen3 Ecotec family.

The LTG replaced the previous LHU, LNF, and LDK Gen2 Ecotec engines. This new engine implements many improvements over the older models.

It uses an open-deck aluminum block with cast iron sleeves that improve the rigidity of the engine and allow it to create a lot of power.

There is a forged steel crankshaft, as well as forged steel rods for the pistons. The pistons on the other hand are not forged, they are made from aluminum. And this is one of the mistakes that GM made with this engine, later on, we are going to see why.

This engine also uses a two-stage variable displacement oil pump to improve lubrication, as well as oil jets that are spraying the piston skirts.

On top of that, you have direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger for creating boost and developing extreme power.

These are the full specs of the 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine:

  • Year Of Introduction: 2013
  • Manufacturer: General Motors
  • Configuration: inline-4
  • Displacement: 2.0L
  • Block & Head Material: Aluminum
  • Bore Size: 86 mm
  • Stroke Length: 86 mm
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
  • Direct Injection: Yes
  • Aspiration: Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 230 – 279 hp
  • Torque: 285 – 295 lb-ft (350 – 400 N-m) @ 2,000 rpm

As you can see, this engine has a lot of torque and what is good is that this torque is available low at the RPM band. At 2,000 rpm you have full torque, making this engine a good application for performance models.

Common GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG Engine Problems

Common problems with the 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine include:

  • Spark Plug & Coil Failures
  • Pistons Cracking
  • Faulty Rod Bearing
  • Carbon Buildup
  • Oil Leaks

So, we briefly listed the common problems with the 2.0L LTG engine, now let’s move on and further elaborate on these problems in detail and learn how serious these issues are.

Knowing when and how these problems appear, as well as the symptoms they produce is crucial if you want to learn how to avoid these problems or detect them on time before things go catastrophically wrong.

Spark Plug & Coil Failures

One of the more common GM 2.0 Ecotec LTG engine problems is the problem with spark plug and coil failures.

These are direct injection engines and direct injection engines tend to go through spark plugs and coils more often compared to your regular non-direct injection engine.

This system simply is much more demanding and easily destroys these components. So, you will highly likely go through a few sets of these components until you reach 200,000 miles (ca. 321,869 km).

These components can fail all of a sudden and you will start to experience the check engine light and engine misfires. The engine can also run pretty rough, especially at idle, and sometimes the engine could go into limp mode.

Luckily, there are only four coils and four spark plugs. So, replacing these components is relatively inexpensive. This is why if you note problems like these, it is important that you sort out the problem on time before it gets really serious and the car is not being able to run properly.

Pistons Cracking

A more serious problem with this 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine is the situation when the pistons start to develop cracks.

We mentioned this issue when we covered the specs. GM did everything well, they added a forged crankshaft and forged connecting rods, but they left the pistons.

The pistons are made of ordinary aluminum and these components tend to fail on relatively low miles. They simply crack and this is a big flaw of this engine because the engine has to be refurbished because of this problem.

The pistons have to be upgraded with new ones in order for the problem to be sorted out and this can be very expensive in some cases.

Whenever there are cracks on the pistons, you will have symptoms like pre-detonation, smoking, loss of engine oil, knocking noises, and engine misfires. Overall, the engine will run extremely rough.

It is important to detect this problem on time because if you delay the repair, the piston can damage the cylinder liner. In this case, you will need a major engine overhaul to bring the engine back in good shape.

And this can cost a lot of money. In some cases, it is far cheaper to get a used engine. So, be really wary of this issue.

Faulty Rod Bearing

Another very common problem that we had to add to our list of GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine problems is the faulty rod bearing issue.

The faulty rod bearing problem is a problem that develops at relatively low miles. This problem is pretty rare, it does not happen on all of the engines.

If it doesn’t happen early on in the engine life after a few thousand miles, you will definitely be good and not have to experience this problem ever on your 2.0 Ecotec LTG.

Whenever this problem happens, you will start to experience knocking noises. The situation when the rod bearings are worn is known as a rod knock.

There will also be poor engine performance and check engine light in some cases. The solution is to replace the rod bearing on time before the cylinder wall gets too worn out. If this happens, the only way around will be to refurbish the engine.

Now let’s continue with the next GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine problems.

Carbon Buildup

Carbon buildup is another very common problem that happens in vehicles that are using direct injection. So, why is this the case, and why is this an issue?

Well, in older port injection vehicles, the intake ports were washed by the gas that was injected through these ports. In direct injection cars, we don’t have port injection unless the model combines both port and direct injection.

And with the 2.0L Ecotec LTG, this is not the case, the engine only runs direct injection and is very prone to develop carbon on the intake ports.

These carbon deposits can become a real pain to deal with because they are very difficult to remove. Only a method known as walnut blasting has proven to be successful at this job.

So, you have to do this method every 60,000 miles in order to keep the engine in good condition. If you don’t, the valves will stop working properly and a complete cylinder head rebuild will be needed. This is expensive and also a very difficult process that requires a lot of work and time.

Oil Leaks

And the last problem on our list of GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG engine problems is the situation with the oil leaks.

Oil leaks are common on these GM engines, they can come from the valve cover and also from the timing cover.

This is a timing chain-driven engine that has a chain instead of a belt. The chain is located behind the timing cover and the seals of the timing cover tend to fail and start to leak oil. Serious oil loss and oil starvation can happen if this problem is not addressed on time. This is why we recommend tackling the issue in the early stages.

Which Models Have The 2.0L Ecotec LTG?

  • 2013 – 2014 Cadillac ATS
  • 2014 – 2018 Cadillac CTS
  • 2016 – 2018 Cadillac CT6
  • 2013 – 2022 Chevy Malibu
  • 2018 – 2019 Chevy Traverse
  • 2016 – Present Chevy Camaro
  • 2018 – 2020 Chevy Equinox
  • 2014 – Present Buick Regal
  • 2017 – Present Buick GL8
  • 2016 – Present Buick Envision
  • 2018 – 2020 GMC Terrain
  • 2018 – 2020 Holden Commodore
  • 2013 – 2018 Opel Insignia


What Are The Common GM 2.0L Ecotec LTG Engine Problems?

Common problems with this engine include cracked pistons, rod bearing failures, carbon buildup, and ignition problems. Except for the cracked piston issue that can happen on the early engines, there are no other serious issues.

Is The 2.0 Ecotec LTG Engine Reliable?

This engine is pretty reliable and able to push a lot of power in a relatively small package. If you intend to tune this engine, we recommend going for forged pistons instead of the original ones. The original pistons are not that durable and can develop cracks when pushed hard.

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