Chevy Equinox Transmission Problems [4 common Issues]

In this post, we’ll look into the common problems with Chevrolet Equinox transmission and how to resolve them.

Chevrolet Equinox

But first, you should know why your car’s transmission has gone bad.

Here are the common causes of transmission problems in a Chevy Equinox:

  • A broken wave plate.
  • A bad Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve.
  • A faulty shift solenoid.
  • Low transmission fluid levels.
  • Loose gasket.
  • Dirty clutch.
  • Broken transmission range error.
  • Transmission settings error.

Chevy Equinox Transmission Problems

1. Transmission won’t shift into 3rd gear

One sign that your Chevy Equinox transmission is problematic is when it often refuses to shift into third gear. You may have to restart the car several times to get it to change from 2nd to 3rd gear.

The usual culprit behind this issue is a broken wave plate. Your wave plate ensures that your transmission moves swiftly across different gears. This is why your transmission can’t shift gears smoothly when the wave plate goes bad.

Even when you have a faulty wave plate, the component might function for a while after you start your car before it fails. This might be why your transmission can easily change from 1st to 2nd gear, but won’t switch to 3rd gear.

The only way to fix this issue is to change your wave plate. Make sure to install the new wave plate in the correct position to prevent another failure.

If your Chevy Equinox model year is less than 2008, GM may replace your wave plate for free. The company recalled some Chevy Equinox models with cracked wave plates in 2016.

2. Transmission keeps slipping

If your transmission keeps changing gears randomly, the system might have an issue.

A bad Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve is one of the common causes of gear slippage. This valve controls the flow of exhaust gas from the fuel tank to your engine.

Once the EGR valve gets faulty, your engine may get less fuel than it needs to function. As such, it won’t be able to supply sufficient power to the transmission, thus causing the system to misbehave.

You’ll need to change your EGR valve to resolve this problem. Search for the EGR valve at the front of your engine. The valve is located between the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold.

Another culprit behind gear slippage is a faulty shift solenoid. The shift solenoid transfers fluid to the transmission whenever you increase or decrease your speed. Your transmission needs this fluid to shift gears smoothly and stay in one gear.

If your shift solenoid is faulty, your transmission might not receive fluid when it needs to change gears. This might be why your transmission slips.

Your transmission should stop slipping once you change your shift solenoid.

3. Transmission won’t reverse

If the Reverse gear on your Chevy Equinox transmission stops working, the transmission has gone bad.

To resolve this issue, you’ll need to rebuild or replace your transmission. Ask your dealer to change your transmission.

4. Burning odor

You can tell that your Chevy Equinox transmission is faulty if it smells like it is burning. A burning odor usually indicates that the transmission is overheating.

One reason your transmission may overheat is a low transmission fluid level in the system. Your transmission fluid isn’t just necessary for lubrication. By running through the parts of your transmission, the fluid also keeps the transmission cool.

But once the fluid level runs low, the oil won’t be able to circulate through the transmission. As a result, the transmission may heat up.

If your transmission is releasing a burning smell, you’ll need to check your transmission fluid level.

Here’s how to check your transmission fluid level in a Chevy Equinox:

  • Start your car.
  • Open your hood and remove your dipstick from its holder. The dipstick usually comes with a yellow top.
  • Re-insert the dipstick into its holder, making sure it sits close to the top of the hole.
  • Remove the dipstick again and check where the indicator falls.
  • If the mark falls below Cold, the fluid level is low.
  • But if it falls above Cold, you still have enough fluid.

If your transmission fluid is low, drain the old fluid and refill it with a new one.

However, if you still have enough fluid, yet your transmission is overheating, the fluid might be leaking. As such, you’ll need to inspect your transmission for leaky areas.

Transmission fluid leaks often occur around the transmission pan gasket. The gasket is a piece of rubber that secures the liquid in the transmission pan, and it usually gets damaged within short periods.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to reseal the gasket. You can order a gasket sealant to fix your damaged gasket.

If you’ve already sealed the gasket previously, consider replacing it.

Another common cause of transmission overheating is a dirty clutch.

Your clutch needs enough space to draw sufficient air from the radiator. If dirt blocks this space, the clutch system will be forced to consume extra energy while rotating. Excess power consumption may cause your transmission to overheat.

Your transmission should stop overheating once you clean the dirt in your clutch. You’ll need to remove the clutch from your car to clean it properly. Search for the clutches between your engine and your gearbox.

5. Slow shifting

If your transmission doesn’t change gears swiftly, the system might have developed a fault.

Slow shifting may point to a broken transmission range sensor. The transmission range sensor informs your transmission of speed changes.

When the transmission range sensor is faulty, it may take longer to detect that you’ve changed your speed. Since your transmission receives the information late, it may only shift gears several miles after you’ve changed your speed.

Change your transmission range sensor to resolve this problem.

A settings error in your transmission can also cause the system to shift gears slowly. If your transmission doesn’t change gears quickly after you’ve replaced your range sensor, ask your dealer to reset your transmission settings.

Chevy Equinox Models with the Most Transmission Problems

The following Chevy Equinox models have the most transmission problems:

  • 2010 Chevy Equinox
  • 2011 Chevy Equinox
  • 2012 Chevy Equinox

Data from reveals that the 2010 Chevy Equinox model has the highest number of transmission problems among all Equinox models. Forty-two users of the model reported issues with the transmission.

Other Chevy Equinox models with transmission issues are the 2011 and 2012 models. These models received 41 and 18 transmission-related complaints, respectively.

Chevy Equinox Models with the Least Transmission Problems

Here are the Chevy Equinox models with the least transmission problems:

  • 2009 Chevy Equinox
  • 2021 Chevy Equinox

According to, only the 2009 and 2021 Chevy Equinox lacked transmission issues.

Cost of Fixing Chevy Equinox Transmission Problems

It costs $150 – $6000 to fix a transmission problem in a Chevy Equinox.

Tips to Prevent Chevy Equinox Transmission Problems

  • Avoid overloading your car.
  • Change your transmission fluid after every 30,000 miles.
  • Don’t shift to the Park gear while you are still driving.
  • Remember to switch to Park when parking your car.
  • Service your transmission regularly.
  • Always warm up your vehicle before driving.

You may also like to see how to go about transmission problems in Acura TL and Ford Fusion.

Wrapping Up

Your transmission should start working properly once you apply the tips in this article. However, if the problem occurs after you’ve tried the recommended solutions, talk to your dealer.