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2016MY Cruze - P0300 - low compression in cylinder #1 - seized piston ring

2424 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  snowwy66
2016MY Gen 2 Cruze with 78K miles had a check Stabiltrack light and check engine light that would often come on. It would run a little rough at times while idling. Fuel economy was down maybe 15%.

I took it to my local mechanic. They found the P0300 code (engine misfire), 20 PSI low compression in cylinder #1, and confirmed through some tests that it was indeed a mechanical issue. Upon doing some online research, they discovered that it was likely a cracked piston issue. As it would be very expensive to take the engine out and do “major surgery” they suggested that it might be cheaper for me to go to my dealer as I might be able to get some campaign assistance since this was a known manufacturing defect. Bless their souls, they only charged me 1 hour labor vs. the 3 they spent because they felt bad for me.

Dealer spent some diagnostic time on it, but said they would need to do an engine tear down in order to find the problem. This alone would bring the tab up to $3,200 + parts. I authorized the work, seeing as how I had no other options at the time, and hoping to get my car back by Christmas so that I could travel to Chicago.

Meanwhile, I confirmed my local mechanic’s conclusions from the posts I subsequently read in the forums here.

The vehicle was in the shop for 8 days (5 working days with the holiday). It would have been longer if the dealer did not have all the required parts in stock.

The mechanic determined it was a seized piston ring in cylinder #1 (not a cracked piston). They replaced all four piston assemblies and changed the oil. No ECM reflash.

Total cost was $3,200 labor + $900 parts/tax = $4,100 (original quote was $4,500)

17 billable hours with the 1st hour at $140 and the remaining at $200/hr for an engine mechanic (Detroit area rate).

I pressed for some assistance from GM. I was told by the service guy that the dealer is no longer able to ask for out-of-warranty assistance from their rep but must now use a GM system that determines assistance based on mileage out of warranty, number of GM vehicles you’ve purchased in the past, and a number of other variables. In my case, the system said GM would cover only $140 of the labor.

Afterwards I learned that there are plenty of low mileage used 2018 engines that one can get. Several web sites offer these.
Used Engine Assemblys for 2018 Chevrolet Cruze gasoline 1.4L, VIN M, 8th digit, opt LE2|

So with 20/20 hindsight, I could have purchased a used engine assembly with half the mileage of my current vehicle and had it shipped to my local mechanic for $800. And it would have included a 12 month warranty. If I sourced it locally, my mechanic could have had the part in 3 days. My local mechanic would have charged me $1,500 to put it in. Add in some miscellaneous parts, and I still could of saved $1,500 over my dealer and as a bonus driven away with a newer and lower mileage engine.
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Not that it will make you feel better but I was just quoted $4300 + tax for the same work by my local dealer and minimum $3500+ from an independent for the same work here in southern Wisconsin so the rates aren't out of line. Neither was overly enthusiastic about helping me save money by swapping in a used engine. I ordered a used engine with 14K miles for $1100 including freight this afternoon. I'm a back-yard/hack mechanic and am going to do the engine swap myself. I have no doubt this will test my abilities but can't swallow a $4K repair on this car.
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