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2011 Equinox LTZ Piston change


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Hello, Used this forum and others many times, about time I pay it back. We have a 2011 Equinox 2.4L ...





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Old 06-04-2019, 10:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2011 Equinox LTZ Piston change

Hello, Used this forum and others many times, about time I pay it back.
We have a 2011 Equinox 2.4L LTZ AWD 144,000 miles with the oil consumption problem. I did a piston, timing and balance chain swap, with the engine in the car. No hoist access, and didn't take that much longer. Have not found a write up with the engine in car, so I will go thru a brief run down of the steps in the order I did them.

• Remove ground from battery
• Remove air intake shroud and engine cover
• Remove air cleaner box
• Remove ignition coils and wiring/plugs as required, mark them
• Remove spark plugs
• Raise vehicle
• Drain coolant
• Drain oil
• Remove oil dipstick tube, pull from pan
• Remove front tire passenger side
• Remove passenger side engine covers as needed
• Remove drive belt
• Remove drive belt tensioner
• Pull AC compressor off engine and secure against radiator shroud
• Use pressure relief valve and relieve fuel pressure (low pressure side)
• Disconnect fuel hose (Rubber) leave high pressure pump and rail in place
• Remove intake
• Remove exhaust shield
• Inspect exhaust manifold for cracks, cracked, order new one
• Spray exhaust manifold bolts
• Spray remaining exhaust bolts
• Remove valve cover & cover engine, keep it covered
• Remove exhaust manifold to catalyst nuts
• Take engine to TDC #1
• Remove timing chain
• Remove other wire connections and brackets as needed
• Remove head, with fuel pump, fuel rail, and exhaust header attached.
• Remove exhaust manifold & visually inspect head
• Remove exhaust, remove cross bar to remove catalyst, catalyst pulled from top
• Remove oil pan, head off, head on requires extra clearance.
• Remove rods/pistons
• Change pistons & install rings use ring tool
• Clean bore ridges with solvent and scotch brite pad
• Install pistons and rod bearings, new bolts Use piston sleeve tool
• Clean/scrape Head, block, Valve cover, Engine cover and oil pan
• Install oil pan using GM sealant
• Verify TDC #1
• Install head & exhaust manifold, new head bolts
• Remove balance shaft chain set
• Install new balance shaft chain set & new guides
• Install new timing chain set & new guides
• Install new seal and gasket on engine cover & install
• Install valve cover with new gaskets
• Install intake with new gaskets
• Install throttle body
• Install AC compressor
• Install oil dip stick tube
• Install drive belt with tensioner
• Install new exhaust system & new O2 sensors
• Add Oil
• Add Coolant
• Assemble rest of engine, reverse for the list above. triple check for missing connections, hose and electrical.

Special tools, E sockets #12 and smaller
Ring expander
Use the special ring compressor sleeve, normal compression tools failed for me. Got mine used on ebay for $41 to my door
O2 sensor socket
3/8" fuel hose tool
An oil filter socket, use it on the timing chain tensioner.

I also replaced the exhaust system complete, including the exhaust manifold which was cracked. That took about 2 hours, used AP cats, all aftermarket cats are ceramic substrate factory are metal.
My cat closest to the engine looked like the rocky mountains, defiantly burnt. Plus I had a cracked muffler.

I spent a lot of time messing around with the rings and the ring compressors I had, once I got the Kent-Moore EN-47836 tool they literally slid in with finger pressure.
New Timing and balance chain took a while, you can see everything, just takes extra time because you are working in the vehicle.
Intake was the worst to mess around with, if I did it again I would just zip tie the intake out of the way, no need to fully remove it.
I left the motor mounts attached the entire time. But note, the oil pan comes off easy without the head on the engine, once you put the head on, you will need to pry up slightly on the axle shaft housing to get the last bolt in, so put the pan on before the head.
I removed the exhaust manifold with the head, put it in separately, the cat closest to the engine needed to be removed from the top, easy with the head off.
Total time was 17 hours included the exhaust and my time messing around with the rings. I lost about 2 hours on the rings, and a couple more on the exhaust system. So for just the engine 13 ish is good.
I used ebay for most of the exhaust, once shipping was factored they were cheapest, Rock auto for just about everything else, and GM Parts for the pistons and Rings, I wanted to go enginetech for the pistons and rings, but they were not going to have stock for a while.
Used enginetech gasket set, and head bolts, felpro head gasket, cloytes for the chains and guides. Went with new chain tensioners, and O2 sensors
Cost on the exhaust was $764, manifold to tail pipe
Cost on the engine was $ 880
And about $110 in tools I didn't have, mostly Harbor Freight, this includes the $41 ebay ring sleeve.

I was getting the P0420 code before, no more. Rough idle is gone.
don't know about oil usage yet but the engine is noticeably better, not that it was bad before. but we went thru a quart per 1000 miles give or take.
The oil control rings were defiantly stuck. compression rings seemed okay.
No metal ridge, but make sure you clean the oil/carbon ridge before you install new pistons, brake cleaner and a scotch brite pad did the job nicely.
Rod bearings looked great, but replaced them anyways.
The pistons themselves looked identical, rings fit in either.
Cylinders actually looked pretty good, only a couple tiny zebra strips.

I am not a mechanic, just fix my vehicles myself, and help a few close friends. Have a very good selection of tools, mostly craftsman.
This was not hard by any stretch. But it is tedious, especially the chains.
Downloaded a factory manual off the net, and purchased a Chilton manual.

If you have specific questions I will do my best to answer. And if I remember I will update every oil change on the success or failure.

Local mechanics tell me this fix should be good for 60,000 miles give or take.

Hope this helps someobdy

Last edited by blackmax100; 06-05-2019 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 06-05-2019, 06:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by blackmax100 View Post
Hello, Used this forum and others many times, about time I pay it back.
We have a 2011 Equinox 2.4L LTZ AWD 144,000 miles with the oil consumption problem. I did a piston, timing and balance chain swap, with the engine in the car. No hoist access, and didn't take that much longer. Have not found a write up with the engine in car, so I will go thru a brief run down of the steps in the order I did them.

Remove ground from battery
Remove air intake shroud and engine cover
Remove air cleaner box
Remove ignition coils and wiring/plugs as required, mark them
Remove spark plugs
Raise vehicle
Drain coolant
Drain oil
Remove oil dipstick tube, pull from pan
Remove front tire passenger side
Remove passenger side engine covers as needed
Remove drive belt
Remove drive belt tensioner
Pull AC compressor off engine and secure against radiator shroud
Use pressure relief valve and relieve fuel pressure (low pressure side)
Disconnect fuel hose (Rubber) leave high pressure pump and rail in place
Remove intake
Remove exhaust shield
Inspect exhaust manifold for cracks, cracked, order new one
Spray exhaust manifold bolts
Spray remaining exhaust bolts
Remove valve cover & cover engine, keep it covered
Remove exhaust manifold to catalyst nuts
Take engine to TDC #1
Remove timing chain
Remove other wire connections and brackets as needed
Remove head, with fuel pump, fuel rail, and exhaust header attached.
Remove exhaust manifold & visually inspect head
Remove exhaust, remove cross bar to remove catalyst, catalyst pulled from top
Remove oil pan, head off, head on requires extra clearance.
Remove rods/pistons
Change pistons & install rings use ring tool
Clean bore ridges with solvent and scotch brite pad
Install pistons and rod bearings, new bolts Use piston sleeve tool
Clean/scrape Head, block, Valve cover, Engine cover and oil pan
Install oil pan using GM sealant
Verify TDC #1
Install head & exhaust manifold, new head bolts
Remove balance shaft chain set
Install new balance shaft chain set & new guides
Install new timing chain set & new guides
Install new seal and gasket on engine cover & install
Install valve cover with new gaskets
Install intake with new gaskets
Install throttle body
Install AC compressor
Install oil dip stick tube
Install drive belt with tensioner
Install new exhaust system & new O2 sensors
Add Oil
Add Coolant
Assemble rest of engine, reverse for the list above. triple check for missing connections, hose and electrical.

Special tools, E sockets #12 and smaller
Ring expander
Use the special ring compressor sleeve, normal compression tools failed for me. Got mine used on ebay for $41 to my door
O2 sensor socket
3/8" fuel hose tool
An oil filter socket, use it on the timing chain tensioner.

I also replaced the exhaust system complete, including the exhaust manifold which was cracked. That took about 2 hours, used AP cats, all aftermarket cats are ceramic substrate factory are metal.
My cat closest to the engine looked like the rocky mountains, defiantly burnt. Plus I had a cracked muffler.

I spent a lot of time messing around with the rings and the ring compressors I had, once I got the Kent-Moore EN-47836 tool they literally slid in with finger pressure.
New Timing and balance chain took a while, you can see everything, just takes extra time because you are working in the vehicle.
Intake was the worst to mess around with, if I did it again I would just zip tie the intake out of the way, no need to fully remove it.
I left the motor mounts attached the entire time. But note, the oil pan comes off easy without the head on the engine, once you put the head on, you will need to pry up slightly on the axle shaft housing to get the last bolt in, so put the pan on before the head.
I removed the exhaust manifold with the head, put it in separately, the cat closest to the engine needed to be removed from the top, easy with the head off.
Total time was 17 hours included the exhaust and my time messing around with the rings. I lost about 2 hours on the rings, and a couple more on the exhaust system. So for just the engine 13 ish is good.
I used ebay for most of the exhaust, once shipping was factored they were cheapest, Rock auto for just about everything else, and GM Parts for the pistons and Rings, I wanted to go enginetech for the pistons and rings, but they were not going to have stock for a while.
Used enginetech gasket set, and head bolts, felpro head gasket, cloytes for the chains and guides. Went with new chain tensioners, and O2 sensors
Cost on the exhaust was $764, manifold to tail pipe
Cost on the engine was $ 880
And about $110 in tools I didn't have, mostly Harbor Freight, this includes the $41 ebay ring sleeve.

I was getting the P0420 code before, no more. Rough idle is gone.
don't know about oil usage yet but the engine is noticeably better, not that it was bad before. but we went thru a quart per 1000 miles give or take.
The oil control rings were defiantly stuck. compression rings seemed okay.
No metal ridge, but make sure you clean the oil/carbon ridge before you install new pistons, brake cleaner and a scotch brite pad did the job nicely.
Rod bearings looked great, but replaced them anyways.
The pistons themselves looked identical, rings fit in either.
Cylinders actually looked pretty good, only a couple tiny zebra strips.

I am not a mechanic, just fix my vehicles myself, and help a few close friends. Have a very good selection of tools, mostly craftsman.
This was not hard by any stretch. But it is tedious, especially the chains.
Downloaded a factory manual off the net, and purchased a Chilton manual.

If you have specific questions I will do my best to answer. And if I remember I will update every oil change on the success or failure.

Local mechanics tell me this fix should be good for 60,000 miles give or take.

Hope this helps someobdy
Awesome info! Thanks for posting it up!
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