Not all engines are equal when it comes to reliability. Some of them can run past a million miles and others have fatal flaws that make them ticking time bombs. The turbocharged 1.4-liter “LUV” engine from the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic is a very problematic powerplant. Let this teardown video show you why.
Even before cracking it open, it’s clear this engine has a story to tell. There’s a sticker on it from a self-service salvage yard and new parts for the intake, valve cover, and water pump. This suggests the mill came out a junked Cruze or Sonic and then received some maintenance before going into another car.
Taking the valve cover off reveals the first major problem with this engine. Coolant somehow mixed with the oil creating a creamy-looking “forbidden milkshake” substance. The water caused rust to form on the camshafts and rockers, rendering them no more useful than scrap metal.
While the water pump is new, someone installed it wrong. For some reason, the person used two gaskets and used glue to affix it, ruining a perfectly good part.
Taking off the cylinder head reveals a hairline crack between one valve and the opening for the spark plug. Oh, and the head is warped. If this were from a more exotic vehicle, an owner could have a machinist fix the issues, but the work would cost more than the piece is worth for this engine.
There are even more problems as the teardown continues. There’s a lot of water-contaminated oil in the pan. The piston skirts have lots of wear, and there’s matching damage in the cylinders.
Eric from the I Do Cars channel suspects this engine only ran for a short time with water-contaminated oil. There would have been more damage if things were like this for a longer period.
Eric doesn’t recommend buying a car with this turbo 1.4-liter engine because there are so many problems with them. That’s not just his opinion, either. There are forum threads recounting horror stories with this powerplant.
A person on Reddit wrote: “I did preventative maintenance regularly and definitely on schedule. This engine leaks everything eventually so I would not recommend it to anyone. Past owner of 2012 Cruze 1.4. Every weekend was spent changing coolant parts I feel like or changing the valve cover or installing the pcv fix kit.”
A user on Cruze Talk wrote: “I am currently at 67k and I have had a water pump and a turbo replaced. I am not confident in the life of the second turbo. I also have the whining manual transmission, so I am hoping by 70k+ I can get it replaced as well. I plan to ditch this Cruze at the end of my extended warranty. Fun car, but I don’t trust it.”
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