This page is meant to give a broad overview of the most common problems with the 2011 Chevy Equinox, with an emphasis on engine problems and transmission problems. 2011 is the second year of the second generation of this vehicle.
2011 Equinox Most Common Problems
Oil Consumption– One of the biggest problems with the 2011 Chevy Equinox is oil consumption. These cars are out of warranty, for the most part. Most of the time, when taken to the dealer, an entire engine rebuild or replace is how they solve the problem.
Chattering on Startup – One of the most common issues with this model year is a chattering sound when trying to fire up the engine. It sounds rough, and will normally only do it for about 10 to 15 seconds after startup.
2011 Equinox Engine Problems
The 2011 Chevy Equinox was available with two engines. They were the direct injected Ecotec 2.4L LAF I4 and the 3.0 LF1/LFW V6 engines. The LAF I4 was rated at 182hp and the LF1/LFW was rated at 264hp. For the most part, they were fairly reliable motors. The number engine problem for this model year is aggressive oil consumption in the six cylinder version.
Oil Consumption– This is a relatively well known problem with the 4 cylinder engine. So, if you are using this page to help you evaluate whether or not to get an Equinox, don’t fret if you are considering the 6 cylinder version. The 2011 Chevy Equinox with the V6 doesn’t have a whole lot of engine problems. Some indicators of this problem include:
- Service engine soon light
- Trouble codes P0013, P0016
Chattering on Startup– The 2011 Equinox is well known for a chatter on startup. It only lasts until it is warmed up.
2011 Equinox Transmission Problems
The 2011 Equinox was equipped with six speed automatic transmissions. They could be manufactured both stateside and in Korea. The 6T45 is a relatively trouble-free transmission. We’ll line out some of the more common problems with it below.
It is considered to be a fill for life transmission. That means that as long as it is operated under normal conditions, it will not require any transmission fluid change. That doesn’t mean that if you are using your Equinox to tow, or some other
Many of the problems that occur with this transmission can be attributed to the fact that it is fully controlled by the engines computer. It uses shift solenoids to accomplish this. When one of them goes bad, it can adversely affect the performance of the transmission.
Here are the main symptoms of a bad Equinox shift solenoid.
- Failure to Downshift– The 6T45E will often fail to downshift if one or more of the shift solenoids are stuck open or closed. This is due to the fact that the transmission fluid cannot be rerouted to the part of the transmission that would be making the next move. To put it simply, it is stuck doing what it was doing when the solenoid failed.
- Delay Going in Gear/ Between Gears– If there is a long pause between gear selection and engagement, it can often be attributed to a faulty shift solenoid. Furthermore, if there seems to be a lot of time between when the transmission exits one gear and enters another, than it’s a pretty good indication of a bad shift solenoid.
- Inconsistent Shifting– Often when a shift solenoid goes bad in the 6T45E, it’ll cause a lot of erratic shift behavior. The transmission will skip gears. It also may act like it is trying to “find the right gear”. Or, to put it another way, it’s can’t quite settle on the right gear.
- Stuck in Neutral– If a shift solenoid has failed entirely, that it’s entirely possible that the transmission will not work at all. In this situation the transitional will remain a neutral regardless of what gear you put it in.
Most of the problems that occur with a 6T45 shift solenoid are caused by the coil wire going bad in some way. It can go bad in a couple of ways. The plunger can also get stuck. We’ll cover the why and the how here.
You can test the solenoids with an OHM meter. You should be looking for 20-30 ohms of resistance. If no resistance is found, than you know that the solenoid is bad, and that it is broken. If the reading is less than 20 ohms than it’s probably melted. There’s more on both of those conditions and what causes them directly below.
- Broken Solenoid Coil Wire– In the event that the a solenoid coil wire breaks in your 2011 Chevy Equinox transmission, the solenoid will no loner be able to create the magnetic field. A broken shift solenoid wire is going to be caused by a lot of harsh vibration, or high voltage that’s out of the normal range.
- Melted Solenoid Coil Wire– The results of a melted solenoid coil wire are the same as a broken one, the difference is going to be the conditions that caused the wire to melt. Whereas a broken coil wire is likely to be caused by vibration or high voltage, a melted one is going to be caused extreme transmission temperature or high voltage.
- Plunger Stuck– The solenoid plunger is an area of failure in the 6T45E. Unlike when the shift solenoids are melted or broken, a stuck plunger can be repaired. Shift solenoids are not expensive. It would be a good idea to replace it if you can afford it. This will keep you from getting under the truck next time the plunger decides to get stuck. A stuck plunger is almost always caused by dirty transmission fluid or debris in the case. You’ll have to replace the transmission fluid anyway, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and change the filter as well. This will really help increase the odds that you won’t be making this repair again anytime soon.
- Broken/Stuck Spring– There is a spring in the shift solenoid that moves the plunger forward, when it is damaged that movement cannot happen.
One of the greatest benefits to a fully electronic transmission is all of the great data that they gather and store in the computer. You can use this information to laser pinpoint exactly what part of the transmission may be failing. Here is a great glossary of all 6T45 trouble codes from Transmission Builders Network.
The great thing about using the trouble codes to diagnose the problems with your 2011 Chevy Equinox transmission is that it takes almost all of the guess-work out of it.
Hunting for Gears
Many folks complain a lot about the 6T45 hunting for gears. In a quest to hit ever tightening CAFE fuel economy regulations, the 2011 Chevy Equinox will shift A LOT. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that there is anything wrong with the transmission itself. It just takes a little getting used to.
If you feel like it is hunting for gears even more than it was, you may need to have the transmission control module replaced.
2011 Chevy Equinox Air Conditioning Problems
The air conditioner may fail to blow cold. In this situation, it is usually the compressor. Due to the difficulty and expense of replacing the compressor itself, it would probably be a good idea to have it diagnosed anyway. Maybe you’ll have a coolant leak somewhere.
- A/C Compressor– The A/C compressor on the 2011 Chevy Equinox is known to have a high failure rate, since these vehicles are almost ten years old, it’s only more likely that it’s an issue that you may come across when owning or buying one.
- Defrost System Failure– There is a recall associated with this. It’s a software issue that can cause not only the defrost to fail, but the instrument panel, radio controls, and panel illumination to fail as well.
NHTSA Recalls: 2011 Chevy Equinox
There were 3 recalls issued by the NHTSA for the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox. That is a direct carryover from the previous model year.
- Key May Be Removed in Gear– Typically, the ignition key should only be removable while in park. This helps to eliminate any vehicle roll aways. GM Recall #50491 or 50490
- Seat Height Adjuster Bolt can Fall out– This recall is only applicable to vehicles with power height adjustment. The bolt may come out and the drivers height in relation to the wheel may lower. This can lead to an increased chance of crashing. GM recall # 14271
- Safety Belt Anchor– The software that controls the defrost system can fail. When it does visibility may be compromised. Gm recall #100370
If you are would like to schedule service for any recall, or confirm that they have been done, contact Chevrolet customer service at: