Turbochargers are a great way to improve power and efficiency, and are particularly popular with lower-displacement GM engines. However, some turbocharged engines may actually suffer in performance during the wintertime.
According to GM TechLink, extremely cold weather conditions, that is, temperatures 0 degrees Fahrenheit / -18 degrees celsius or lower, may result in the charge air cooler (or CAC, otherwise known as the intercooler) to ice over, thus restricting airflow and possibly leading to power loss, including throttle hesitation and other related conditions.
For those who may not know, the CAC is designed to cool the compressed charge air coming from the turbocharger, making it more dense and increasing engine power and efficiency. However, if the CAC is iced over, engine performance could suffer.
In addition, this condition may trigger a range of DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes), including P00C7 (Intake Air Pressure Measurement System), P0299 (Engine Underboost), P0234 (Engine Overboost), P0236 (Turbocharger Boost Sensor Performance), P0300 (Engine Misfire Detected), and P2227 (Barometric Pressure Sensor Performance).
A few GM engines that may experience this issue include:
- Turbocharged 1.5L I4 LYX gasoline engine (2018 through 2022 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain)
- Turbocharged 1.2L I3 LIH gasoline engine (2020 through 2022 Buick Encore GX and Chevy Trailblazer)
- Turbocharged 1.3L I3 L3T gasoline engine (2020 through 2022 Buick Encore GX and Chevy Trailblazer)
- Turbocharged 1.4L I4 LE2 gasoline engine (2016 through 2019 Chevy Cruze)
For those GM vehicle owners that experience these issues, the conditions may only be present for the first 10 to 15 minutes of driving in cold weather, after which the condition may diminish as the vehicle and engine warm up. However, if the condition persists, owners can inspect the air induction system, including the CAC, for ice that may be restricting airflow. Ice buildup may also cover some of the related pressure sensors. Accumulated ice should be allowed to melt so that moisture can be drained from the system without causing damage to components.
Additionally, some 1.4L and 1.5L engines may have frozen oil or water contamination in the turbo wastegate regulator solenoid valve, resulting in the need to clean the component or replace it. Notably, a new ECM tune is available to address potential CTC ice buildup, enabling new transmission shift patterns that do not use overdrive as frequently during cold weather conditions.