Chevy Equinox Transmission Problems

TaxiHack is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The Chevy Equinox is a popular crossover SUV that offers a smooth and comfortable ride for drivers and passengers alike.

It was released in 2005 and has been a top choice for thousands of families. With excellent reliability and low maintenance, Chevrolet hit the mark with this vehicle.

However, like any vehicle, the Equinox is not immune to problems, including transmission issues.

While these problems can be frustrating and costly to fix, it’s important to note that they are not uncommon in many vehicles.

If you own an Equinox or are considering purchasing one, it’s important to be aware of the potential for transmission issues and to take steps to prevent or address them if they arise.

Some common symptoms that arise due to Chevy Equinox transmission problems are:

  1. Transmission Not Engaging
  2. Harsh Shifting
  3. Check Engine Light Turned On
  4. Burning Smell
  5. Transmission Grinding
  6. Delayed Shifting
  7. Lunging Forward
  8. Leaking Transmission Fluid

These symptoms are serious and mean that the transmission has reached a point where it needs human interference to work correctly.

This article will look at these problems, so you can know more about them.

8 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Chevy Equinox

Wondering if your Chevy Equinox's transmission will act up along the way or not? Let's find out

Transmission problems can be expensive to fix, but the good news is that they often have telltale symptoms that can alert you to the issue before it becomes more serious.

In this section, we will explore some of the signs of these problems mentioned in the introduction.

Let’s get started!

1. Transmission Not Engaging

One of the typical signs of transmission problems in a Chevy Equinox is when the transmission fails to engage or when the vehicle cannot shift into gear.

Various factors, including a worn clutch or low transmission fluid, can cause this issue.

A worn clutch is typically the result of normal wear and tear, but it can also be caused by improper shifting or driving habits.

Whereas low transmission fluid can be caused by a leak or by not replacing the fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

Another potential cause of the transmission not engaging in a Chevy Equinox is a faulty transmission control solenoid. If it is faulty, it could result in engagement issues.

2. Harsh Shifting

If the transmission is not shifting smoothly, it could be caused by two main reasons:

  • A Dirty Transmission Fluid
  • Bad Transmission Vacuum Modulator

Dirty transmission fluid can cause shifting problems, as the fluid is necessary for the transmission to function properly.

Over time, the transmission fluid can become contaminated with dirt and debris, which can reduce its effectiveness and cause shifting problems.

If the modulator is not functioning properly, it can cause the transmission to shift harshly and may ultimately require replacement.

A faulty modulator can also cause harsh shifting, as it is responsible for calculating how much load is on the engine, which then helps it send appropriate shifting commands.

3. Check Engine Light Turned On

If check engine light on the instrument cluster is turned on in your Chevy Equinox, it could be due to many different things.

This warning light is designed to alert you to various engine and transmission issues. It’s important to not overlook this symptom and to consider the probable reasons.

A fault in the module or a malfunctioning sensor can cause the check engine light to turn on, indicating that there may be a problem with the transmission.

Sensors can get dirty or simply malfunction due to age. The computers can glitch out, which is something not too uncommon.

4. Burning Smell

A burning smell is something that is usually emitted from the transmission.

Many factors, including low transmission fluid or a problem with the transmission seals, can cause this issue.

If you notice a burning smell coming from your Equinox, paying attention to this sign and considering the potential causes is important.

Low transmission fluid can cause the transmission to overheat, leading to it.

An issue with the seals, such as a leak, can also cause a burning smell, as transmission fluid can leak onto hot engine components.

5. Transmission Grinding

The transmission emitting a grinding noise when in use is not to be taken lightly.

There could be several factors that can lead to this issue. Most commonly recognized are low transmission fluid and a problem with the transmission gears.

If the fluid level is low, it could lead to increased friction between the gears. This can cause increased wear and tear, resulting in quicker degradation of the system.

If the Equinox has a manual transmission, then it could be that the clutch plate is not disengaging completely. This can result in a grinding sound being emitted.

6. Delayed Shifting

The problem of delayed shifting is commonly seen in Equinoxes that have high mileage.

This problem can be irritating and reduce the pleasure of accelerating quickly due to the RPM shooting up.

What could result in there being shifting delays in the transmission?

The most common reason is a clogged gear filter. Enough fluid pressure cannot be created, which can cause this to happen.

The fluid could also be dirty, which may result in higher temperatures of the transmission.

A faulty or malfunctioning torque converter can also cause the transmission to not shift promptly.

7. Lunging Forward

There have been instances in which the transmission starts to act erratically when lifting the foot from the pedal.

It can make the SUV jump forward, which can cause it to rear-end someone or something. Although this issue might not be too common but it deserves a place on this list.

Two reasons for something like this are failure of the fuel pump or a shift solenoid.

If the pump fails, it may not be able to meet up with the transmission’s demands. As for the solenoid shifting, in general, will be affected if it fails.

8. Leaking Transmission Fluid

A faulty transmission seal is one potential cause of leaking transmission fluid in a Chevy Equinox.

Over time, the seals responsible for containing the transmission fluid can become worn or damaged, which can cause the fluid to leak out.

A faulty gasket or O-ring can also cause the transmission fluid to leak. If the fluid leaks, it could drop down to hot parts of the engine. This may lead to a burning smell being produced.

This is something that was already discussed above. If that is the symptom your Equinox is having, you need to look at that subtopic.

How To Prevent Your Chevy Equinox’s Transmission Issues

Here are four possible ways to prevent transmission problems in a Chevy Equinox:

1. Regularly Check And Maintain The Transmission Fluid Levels

Ensuring that the fluid levels are at the correct level is essential for the proper functioning of the transmission.

It’s important to check the transmission fluid regularly and top it up as needed. This will keep the temperature maintained while also keeping friction at a minimum.

2. Avoid Harsh Or Improper Shifting

Harsh shifting can cause excess wear and tear on the transmission, leading to problems over time.

To prevent this, it’s important to shift smoothly and avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration. This can considerably improve the lifespan of the transmission.

3. Maintain The Transmission Cooler Lines

The lines that carry transmission fluid between the transmission and the radiator are called cooler lines and they are cool to maintain desired temperature.

If these lines become clogged or damaged, it can lead to overheating and other issues. To prevent this, you must look at the cooler lines regularly and replace them if necessary.

4. Have The Transmission Regularly Serviced

Regular transmission services can help to identify and prevent potential problems before they become more serious.

It’s important to follow Chevrolet’s recommended maintenance schedule and have the transmission serviced regularly.

This can help extend the transmission’s life and prevent costly repairs in the long run.

How To Fix The Chevy Equinox’s Transmission Problems

  • If a Chevy Equinox is experiencing transmission problems, one potential solution is replacing the fluid.
    It is common for people to forget to replace the fluid on time, which can lead to problems such as overheating.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to add transmission additives to the fluid to help prevent leaks.
    These additives are designed to seal any gaps or cracks in the transmission system, which can help prevent fluid from leaking.
  • If the transmission problems are more serious, it may be necessary to consider rebuilding or to replace the transmission. Rebuilding the transmission involves disassembling and replacing worn or damaged parts.
    This can be a cost-effective option for fixing transmission problems, but it can be time-consuming and may not always be possible depending on the amount of damage.

Which Year Did Chevy Equinox Have Transmission Problems?

This section is perfect for you if you are a potential buyer of the Chevrolet Equinox and are looking to avoid models with serious transmission issues.

Here I will list the models commonly searched for by people.

2007 Chevy Equinox

The 2007 model of the SUV was generally safe from transmission problems.

There were a few reports about the transmission jerking and producing a clunking sound, but they can be categorized as isolated problems.

2008 Chevy Equinox

The model launched in 2008 had a bit more complaints when it came to transmission.

The main issue was that the system would slip and not shift gears smoothly, reducing driving pleasure.

2010 Chevy Equinox

Things were a lot different with the 2010 Equinox. There were dozens of complaints about complete transmission failure.

It would also slip and lock up for many owners. The seals were also prone to leaking.

2011 Chevy Equinox

A year later things did not improve much. There were still many complaints about transmission failure.

It tended to stop shifting correctly at times too. Some owners also said it would lunge forward when easing off the accelerator.

2012 Chevy Equinox

In 2012 although there were no issues with the transmission failing on its users, it still was not very reliable.

It would shift irregularly, and the issue of it lurching forward was still present.

2013 Chevy Equinox

With the 2013 model, Chevrolet still had not nailed the shifting. The Equinox would jerk and shift hard, making driving this SUV less desirable.

2014 Chevy Equinox

After many years of unreliability, the 2014 model finally came with a transmission that was not reported at all.

There was a single complaint about it producing a grinding noise, which can be classified as a lone event.

2015 Chevy Equinox

Once again, the 2015 Equinox was the second model in a row with no transmission issues.

There was one report of complete transmission failure and a couple of complaints about it slipping, but nothing that showed a pattern.

2016 Chevy Equinox

Things backtracked a little bit in 2016. There were not many widespread reports, but two complaints about the transmission dying were made.

2018 Chevy Equinox

The final model on this list is the 2018 model, though it had some complaints.

It would not shift properly, especially when the temperatures were low. It would also shake when driving at around 40 mph, suggesting an issue with the TCM.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Chevy Equinox Transmission Replacement Cost?

The cost of replacing the transmission can vary depending on several factors, including the age of the vehicle, the extent of the damage to the transmission, and the cost of parts and labor in your area.

In general, however, you can expect to pay more than $3000. Including labor costs, you should be ready to pay around $5500.

Q2. What Is The Lifespan Of A Chevy Equinox Transmission?

The life expectancy of the transmission is affected by many different things, such as how the vehicle is driven.

Regardless of the factors, a Chevy Equinox transmission should last for around 150,000 to 200,000 miles.

It could cross the 220,000-mile mark, but it depends on how well it is maintained.

Q3. Is It Safe To Drive A Chevy Equinox With A Bad Transmission?

Driving with a bad transmission can sometimes lead to accidents or other safety hazards.

It’s important to address transmission problems as soon as possible to avoid further damage and to ensure safety of yourself and others on the road.

This means not driving the Equinox and getting it towed to a mechanic.


In summary, watching for common signs of Chevy Equinox transmission problems is important.

By paying attention to these symptoms and taking steps to prevent and fix the transmission problems causing them, you can help ensure that your SUV’s transmission stays in good working condition and continues to provide reliable performance.

Regular maintenance and care of the transmission can help prevent problems and extend the transmission’s lifespan.

By following these tips, you can keep your Chevy Equinox on the road for a long time before it needs costly repairs.