This April, I finally caved and bought a fuel-mileage machine, a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco. 1.4L turbo, 148 horsepower, 40 MPG average with the air conditioning on, wherever I go. Oh, and the six-speed…the entire reason I bought the car in the first place. If I’m going to have a mileage car, I at least want to enjoy driving it. And to be honest, I learned to like this little black sedan quite a bit. It’s quiet, it’s fairly well equipped, and it runs well enough. Rather, it did…right up until mid-November. The first indication of trouble was easy enough to spot: oil vapor coming through the heater vent while heading into town. Next thing I know, the engine is venting oil out of the oil fill cap and is spraying it all over the engine bay. And it runs like hell, to boot. After letting the dealership perform a once-over on the car to confirm a suspicion, I was offered up the chance to spend over seven hundred dollars to replace the intake manifold, because the check valve that resides in the center port had pulled a Houdini and had disappeared.
In the third generation of the Opel-designedFamily 0 engine series, the turbocharged cars utilize an integrated check valve (in GM-speak, a non-return valve) that simply will fail at some point. In fact, it’s one of two failure-prone valves…the other is at the turbo inlet. Now, to be clear, up until this incident, the Cruze’s issues had more to do with age and wear than anything else. I had replaced a leaking thermostat housing and the valve cover already (the PCV itself is an integral part of the valve cover and cannot be serviced separately), and I’ve put about 15,000 miles on the car without real issue. So with the proof that at least the the intake manifold valve had effed off to Narnia (or, more realistically, out of the tailpipe at some point), the decision point was reached: do I shell out several hundred dollars for the same exact setup, or do I make a move that eliminates the most unlikely “trouble-prone nipple” story I’ve ever had to tell once and for all for under $130?
The internet is a beautiful thing…a few minutes of hunting and I got smacked in the face with CruzeKits.com. A branch-off from the CruzeTalk.com forums, CruzeKits was started by Andrei, who has created two different methods of dealing with this serious issue, and is currently working on a third version. The original V1 kit required the use of a throttle body spacer plate made by Bad News Racing, but I chose to go with the V2 kit, which uses a stacked T-port connection at the brake booster vacuum fitting to route PCV gas back into the system. A few days after placing my order, everything I needed to get the job done, including the additional step-drill bit, was at my door, ready to go. Follow along as we get our Cruze breathing a bit better: