Engine pinging - 1.8L
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  • 1 Post By zk_eu

Thread: Engine pinging - 1.8L

  1. #1
    zk_eu is online now [OP]
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    Engine pinging - 1.8L

    Hi,

    firstly, i'll be honest. I don't have a Chevrolet Cruze. I have the first generation Opel Insignia. Both the first generation Insignia and Cruze, when it comes to petrol engines, have the same 1.8 litre Ecotec engine, code name A18XER (Opel) or 2H0 (Chevrolet). Even the software programming for the engine is almost the same, both GM.

    I came to this forum because I could not found the answer elsewhere. Since both cars have the same engine, maybe someone has experienced something similar on the Chevrolet Cruze.

    What I have is a small or light engine pinging. I have this since I have gotten the car a few years ago.

    The sound is not sever and there is never any power loss when it does it. The sound can only be heard if you are not driving in traffic, windows down and you must not have your radio on. I would record the sound, but unfortunately it is not possible because the sound is simply not strong enough. I mention this to establish how light the pinging is.

    It is definitely engine pinging in my opinion. The recommended octane fuel ratting for this engine in Europe is 95 RON by the manual (I will just refer as EURO octane), which is around 91 on your petrol stations (RON + MON / 2, I will just refer to it as US octane). You can use 91 EURO octane or 87 US octane according to the manual, but I don't think you can get less octane ratted fuel in Europe than 95 EURO octane or 91 US octane, so the car was always filled with that.

    Using a 100 EURO octane fuel which is around 95.5 US octane fuel helped a little and made the sound go away, but only in winter or if the outside air temperature would not rise above 10C or 50F. The sound is almost always present when using 91 US octane fuel and regardless of the fuel (using 91 or 95 US octane) in summer.

    Amazingly it is only presents at light load for example when I change the gear and applying a little throttle, like less 1/3 of the way, or when driving up hill with 1/3 throttle.

    For example if I start to go up hill when the engine load is most severe, the engine will never ping or if the hill is really steep and you have to apply more throttle. It will only start pinging when the car reaches a certain speed when the load is no longer so great and the car can climb the hill with less then 1/3 throttle. When it starts pinging, I can apply more throttle and it will stop pinging. It will also not ping if I apply a really heavy burden on the engine, like switch to a too higher gear (I don't actually do this, but just to point out where the engine pings).

    I don't think I am driving the car to low on RPM, since I usually drive uphill around 2.500 RPM to 3.000 RPM, sometimes even more. It will only be present for 1 or 2 seconds top. It will also sometimes ping o straight road when there is little throttle applied, but will always go away after a second or two. The pinging will also never be present at hard acceleration or when I apply the throttle in neutral.

    Spark plugs are new, OEM Bosch. Oil is Motul 5W30 X-clean EFE (it has the Dexos 2 sh*t logo on it) if it helps. There are never any faults logged because of this. I have also run threw Liqui Moly Injector Cleaner, but there was no improvement. The engine does not have an EGR valve, so at least that is ruled out. The catalytic converter is also new so backpressure is definitely not a problem.

    Otherwise than this, the engine runs like a Swiss clock, hardly consumes any oil.

    I know that these engines run hot. 105C - 110C or 221F - 230F is the normal operating temperature for these engines. Is possible that because of this, these engine are a bit prone to pinging? I used to have an Opel Astra with the X16XEL engine and it used to produce a similar sound, but not so often.

    I noticed this on the Maxima forum:

    Light spark knock is mild, barely audible pinging at partial throttle. It's kind of subjective, but if you've ever heard heavy detonation, you'll know what light knocking is.

    Research has shown engines to be the most fuel efficient and to produce the most power when the timing is advanced to the point where light knocking is produced. Engines do not sustain any appreciable damage from light knocking at partial throttle, even over many thousands of miles. Knocking at WOT is cause for concern, though.
    So maybe it is some truth on this?

    Hope someone can help with the answer.

    All the best from Europe!
    Last edited by zk_eu; 06-10-2019 at 04:57 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Since this is not a turbo'd engine, the best I have is remove the coil pack, regap the plugs to .028 and torque them to 18ft-lbs (25 NM). If you are using the stock Autolite / NKG plugs do not use anti-seize on them as they are coated from the factory. When you reinstall the coil pack, make sure the springs are free and clear and not stuck on the boots.

    Possible ticking noise causes:

    1. Could be just the injectors

    2. Could be the plastic ECOTEC cover rattling

    3. Check that the spark plugs are properly torqued -- 18ft-lbs (might as well re-gap them - .028 for a 1.4) and make sure the springs are not stuck/bent etc.

    4. Could be a failing EVAP purge solenoid/valve or possibly a vacuum leak causing the purge valve to stay open

    5. Could be a lifter tick - try seafoam or valvemedic

    6. Could be the timing chain tensioner

    7. Could be a sloppy timing chain

    8. Could be piston slap/wrist pin failure

    9. Pinging caused by low octane fuel

    10. Could possibly be an improperly torqued bolt on the flywheel/torque converter (noise from the trans side)

    11. Could be a bad wheel bearing

    12. Could be the knock sensor which can also be triggered by one of the above
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  4. #3
    zk_eu is online now [OP]
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    Thanks for your suggestion .

    1. I don't think injectors would make such a sound. I really doubt it.

    2. Definitely isn't the plastic ECOTEC cover.

    3. The plugs are 100% properly torqued and not stuck or bent. I will check them but the FQR8LEU2 Bosch plugs that I have in already have the gape 0.034-0.037. And as far as I could read this forum, why would this help? People who made the gape smaller have very little gain? It shouldn't ping on stock plug gap?

    4. I will definitely look in to this. But I don't have any of the symptoms of a bad EVAP valve.

    5. I think in order to be the lifter thick, it would always be present or at lest at certain rpm even in neutral, but it isn't. I remember how it was when the X16XEL had the lifters thick, it was always present at around 2.200 RPM if I can remember. This engine does not have this. I think I can count this one out too.

    6. and 7. Can be count out. The car engine has a tooth belt. The complete service was done less then 30.000 miles ago.

    8. This one can also be count out. Piston slap would be noticeable also in neutral. And I know how it sounds like. This is a different sound.

    9. Fuel is definitely not a problem. The least octane rating that you can get here is 91 US octane. I have also tried different fuel stations, although I now always stick to one. I will try the 95 US octane next week again when I use this tank out. But previously, it did not help.

    10. I don't think this has to do anything with the flywheel.

    11. It definitely isn't a wheel bearing.

    12. I actually thought of this one and wanted to change the knock sensor, but decided not to. After looking at Torque app, I saw that the ECU did register a few misfires, but all in a green or how can I say it. Also, I don't think the knock sensor is even active at light throttle? Any way to test the knock sensor? I don't think that hitting the engine slightly with the hammer works anymore?

    So what remain are 3., 4. and 12.

    I also have to mention that I have cleaned the MAF sensor and the O2 before the catalyst converter is also new and was replaced with the same OEM one.

    What really bothers me is that I only get this ping on really light throttle. As soon as I press on the pedal and demand power, I get it and the pinging instantly stops.

    I will try to check 3. 4. and 12. although I doubt that this is the reason. I know that this light ping is harmless to this NA engine. It just is getting on my nerve. My wife does not even notice it for instance.
    Last edited by zk_eu; 06-11-2019 at 04:47 AM.

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    The knock sensor is ALWAYS listening. The ECM is constantly adjusting spark/cam timing to run as efficiently as it can, and it should pick up on audible knock/pinging and adjust it before you even hear it.

    So it may suggest that 1) it needs a new sensor, or 2) it's adjusting for it since it goes away or 3) it's something that the GM engineers deemed wouldn't cause any engine damage

    Edit: sometimes carbon on tops of pistons or valves can cause some knock. There are several "top engine cleaners" on the market to clean that off.
    Last edited by jblackburn; 06-11-2019 at 12:51 PM.
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    Make sure you come back and let us know what you found,
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    zk_eu is online now [OP]
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    Thanks to both of you.

    What I decided to do now is that I will firstly again fill a full tank of 95 US octane fuel (100 octane in our EURO units), drive at least 10 miles so that the fuel definitely gets to the engine and then go try to recreate the pinging in this hot weather.

    If there will be no pinging at the beginning and it will then start to ping again after a few days when the ECU relearns the new parameters, then I think I can safely assume that this pinging is normal and that the ECU is trying to get the most spark advance out that it can from the fuel. This is why I won't unplug the battery. I want the ECU to keep the learned parameters.

    If this does not work, then I will put in some Valve cleaner . I forgot to mention that I already put in a full bottle of Liqui Moly Injection cleaner. But there I did not notice any difference. If even this does not work, then I will maybe change the knock sensor in September when I also have to change the brake pads and front discs.

    I definitely won't open the engine head if it is not necessary. It's been doing this as far as I can remember and I have never noticed any particles in the oil. If it were be a big problem, the engine would probably consume some oil, but my engine hardly consumes any oil during service intervals (I service my car on 9.000 miles or twice a year).

    I will of course let you know what I found.
    Last edited by zk_eu; 06-12-2019 at 03:21 AM.

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    zk_eu is online now [OP]
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    Ok, Friday I filled almost 3/4 of the tank with 95 US octane fuel. More then 1/4 of the tank was still 91 US octane fuel in there. This means that the octane rating of the fuel inside the tank is between 93 and 94 in US octane units.

    I decided not to wait and also put in a bottle of Liqui Moly Valve clean. The A18XER or
    2H0 is still a SFI engine (I was actually surprised about this)! This means that the cleaner should have some effect on the intake valves and hopefully will also in some way clean the combustion chamber and the exhaust valves a little.

    I did around 300 miles of highway threw the weekend. It almost does not ping on light acceleration any more. You can still hear it sometimes when the weather is really hot during the day, but it is really rare. After the air temperature goes down, it never pings. This is actually similar like on 91 US octane fuel, except that on 91 US octane fuel, it almost always pinged on light acceleration and then stopped.

    But it still pings on when going uphill when light throttle is enough to keep the car going up. What I did notice when I had my Torque app on is, that when I heard the engine ping, the knock retard instantly went into action, corrected the timing between 2 and 3.2 degrees and the pinging always stopped. I think this answers if the knock sensors works good as it was clear that the ECU registers even the light ping.


    As for the intensity of the ping or loudness of the sound. It is the same and it is still really light. Did a test and tried to show my wife if she can hear it. But she couldn't .
    Last edited by zk_eu; Today at 03:37 AM. Reason: Did not know that the A18XER or OH2 is not a GDI engine, but rather still a SFI.
    Blasirl likes this.

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