2021 Chevy Equinox Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

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In the world of crossovers, the 2021 Chevy Equinox stands out from the bunch with its sporty style and high-tech features. The automaker tells customers to “leave it all behind,” but many owners think the Equinox itself is what should be left. This newer Chevy SUV comes equipped with a defective electrical system and malfunctioning powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2018   2019   2020   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Chevy Equinox

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
4
Power Train
3
Service Brakes
3
Engine
2
Tires
2
Air Bags
2
Electrical System
2
Equipment Adaptive/mobility:vehicle Controls:steering
1
Electrical System:body Control Module/bcm
1
Visibility/wiper
1

Most Common Problems with the 2021 Equinox

Common complaints include defective electrical systems, malfunctioning powertrains, and issues with technology, including advanced safety features. Other issues relate to steering, exterior lighting, and tires.

Even though there were relatively few complaints to the NHTSA in 2021, the same components feature in complaints year after year!

There were 6 complaints relating to:

  1. Service brakes
  2. Exterior lighting
  3. Powertrain (2)
  4. Steering
  5. An unknown issue that appears to be electrical and/or technical

One of the two powertrain issues resulted in a minor accident in which no one was injured.

Problems with the Electrical System

In today’s modern vehicle, it’s expected that the SUV would come with the latest bells and whistles. However, customers are complaining about the technology this Equinox provides.

One Cars.com review states, “the ‘advanced safety features’ are annoying more often than not and they will go off simply because a car in the opposite lane passes you. As a result I have deactivated them all. Most can be permanently deactivated but the “auto start/stop” requires more effort to permanently deactivate. Have yet found a way to remove the front camera to disable the most annoying safety features. The ‘lane keep assist’ can be turned off but must be deactivated every time you start the vehicle, another reason I wish to remove the front camera entirely as I do not desire the subtle steering wheel impulses while driving on snow and ice.”

When it comes to building the Equinox, Chevy has a lot to learn. After all, these advanced safety systems require precision and skill to create effectively. Considering that the Equinox already has a recall because of the wrong bolts being used with the seat belts, it’s no wonder that high-tech features don’t work right. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V811000 states that the wrong bolts were used with the seat belts, causing it to fail when restraining an occupant. Maybe Chevy should go back to the basics before attempting to add in today’s modern systems. The company could start by working on something from earlier days – such as Fred Flintstone’s car.

Here is an actual complaint logged with the NHTSA regarding 2021 Chevy Equinox Electrical Problems:

THE CONTACT OWNS A 2021 CHEVROLET EQUINOX. THE CONTACT STATED WHILE DRIVING VARIOUS SPEEDS, THE INTELLIBEAM HEADLIGHT FEATURE CAUSED THE HIGH BEAMS TO ENGAGE AUTOMATICALLY. THE CONTACT STATED NO WARNING LIGHT WAS ILLUMINATED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO BONIFACE HIERS CHEVROLET (800 S HARBOR CITY BLVD, MELBOURNE, FL 32901) WHERE THE MECHANIC DISABLED THE INTELLIBEAM FEATURE IN THE VEHICLE. HOWEVER, THE ISSUE RECURRED. THE MANUFACTURER HAD NOT BEEN INFORMED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS APPROXIMATELY 3,000.

Problems with the Powertrain

You don’t have to be a driver of the Equinox to know just how faulty this SUV is. Even the top auto publications are speaking out.

Here’s what Motor Trend had to say. “On-road performance is disappointing, as well. The Equinox pushes and plows through corners and ride quality is unimpressive, especially on higher trims with larger wheels. We liked the punchy 2.0T offering, but for 2021, buyers are left to make do with the 1.5-liter offering that, while torquey enough, is muddled by a transmission always reaching for its highest gear.”

It’s no surprise to Chevy that the Equinox struggles with the powertrain. Service Bulletin #16NA019 discusses how the transmission has trouble with low mileage harsh shifts, flares and slips. This isn’t something that new car owners should be dealing with, but Chevy thinks it’s completely normal. Maybe the automaker is too busy trying to figure out what bolts to use with the seat belts to spend any time increasing the performance and durability of this model. Word of advice – “leave it all behind” and choose a different manufacturer instead.

Equinox Recalls:

There were 5 recalls in 2018, 4 in 2019, 3 in 2020, and 2 in 2021. Whether they continue to decrease in numbers and components affected remains to be seen.

The first recall was in December 2020 after Chevrolet realized that incorrect bolts were used to attach seat belts in some vehicles. Potentially, 470 units may be affected, including the 2021 Equinox.

If seat belt assemblies aren’t attached to vehicles correctly, the device may not restrain the occupant in a crash. This increases the risk of injury.

GM was to notify owners and dealers were told to replace the bolts free.

The second recall in August 2021 was because the tread of tires was separating. Their report states that the tires may have been manufactured without enough of the curative agent. Tread separation can lead to loss of vehicle control, which can increase the risk of a crash.

A total of 9,597 Chevrolet Equinox 2021-2022 and GMC Terrain vehicles were affected. GMC was to inform owners in August that their tires could be replaced free by dealers.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Chevy pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryEngine, Power Train, Service Brakes
DateNov 28, 2022
StateAL
Description
2021 chevy equinox vacuum pump failed causing the breaking to become impossible to use while operating.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateOct 29, 2022
StateSC
Description
When the ambient temperature cooled down to the 70's , the auto stop start system will stop the engine of my 2021 chevrolet equinox at every stop light , even driving around in a parking lot. Often it will thump when restarting . If my foot is not firm on the brake , the vehicle wll lurch forward . Several times I have almost been rearended because the engine did not restart quickly . I hate the system . My vehicle does not have a auto stop start defeat switch ( pushbutton ) . I'm sure gm would consider my vehicle technically correct. But I am scared of the system and think it will cause me an accident . The savings in gasoline is not worth the risk .
CategoryTires
DateSep 14, 2022
StateTX
Description
As I was driving into my driveway, my front driver's side tire exploded and the back driver's side tire has a huge bubble in it.
CategoryTires
DateSep 14, 2022
StateTX
Description
As I was driving into my driveway, my front driver's side tire exploded. When I checked the other tires, I noticed a big bubble on the rear driver's side tire.
CategoryEquipment Adaptive/mobility:vehicle Controls:steering
DateAug 31, 2022
StateCT
Description
2021 chevrolet equinox. Consumer stated that their vehicle pulls to the left with the slightest release of the steeing wheel. The consumer stated the vehicle was repaired. The consumer requested to compensated for the inconvience.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJul 11, 2022
StateFL
Description
Was driving 75mph on interstate and had to brake for car in front of me and had zero brake assist. Pedal was extremely hard to push and almost no braking power for vehicle. Vehicle has only 32,450 miles on it. Braking assist never returned and had to get vehicle in for service.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJun 17, 2022
StateOH
Description
I purchased the vehicle in feb. 2021. About 3 months after I purchased it, I had a message on my screen that the sd card had been removed and it popped up multiple times. I did what the manual said to do which is to hit the check to remove the message but it still popped up. When I took the car in, I told them about the message and I don't know what service did but I no longer came up. About 6 months later it started again multiple times and in addition my radio stopped working and my phone wasn't connected to my car. Again service did something to fixed it. I recently started to see the message again and my radio didn't work again. The station was identified and I could change the station. It said my phone wasn't connected however, I could bring up my contacts and my recent calls. When I turned my car off and restarted it after I had run my errand I didn't have any issues except for the message. I took my car in for an oil change and asked the service to also put the sd card back in again. They told me then that it was either a problem with the programming or the radio needs to be replaced and there's no recall call on it. Why in the world would I have to pay them to correct the programming or pay for a new radio for a car that isn't even a 1 1/2 years old yet?
CategoryAir Bags
DateApr 22, 2022
StateFL
Description
The contact owns a 2021 chevrolet equinox d2. The contact stated while his wife was driving at 15 mph in a traffic circle, another vehicle crashed on both the front passenger's side door and the rear passenger's side door of the vehicle. The airbags failed to deploy. There were no warning lights illuminated. The contact's wife did not sustain any injuries. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a tow lot. The vehicle was then towed to an autobody shop. The dealer and the manufacturer were not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 18,000.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateMar 21, 2022
StateVA
Description
Front end shakes at 25-30 mph. After 30 it goes away. 35000miles. 4 wheel balanced and no bent wheels or out of round tires.
CategoryElectrical System:body Control Module/bcm
DateMar 18, 2022
StateNY
Description
The contact owns a 2021 chevrolet equinox. The contact stated while driving 70-75 mph, the messages "fuel system needs service", "front detection system needs service", and "side detection system needs service" and other unknown messages illuminated. The contact exited the highway and veered to the side of the road. The contact called onstar, who assisted her to run a diagnostic test on the vehicle. Onstar informed the contact that two unknown codes were found. Onstar advised the contact to take the vehicle to the nearest dealer for repair. The contact turned off the vehicle for a while. Upon attempting to restart the vehicle, the vehicle failed to restart after several attempts. The vehicle was towed to the local dealer, where it was diagnosed that the body control module (bcm) had failed and the part to repair the vehicle would not be available for 1-3 weeks. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and expedited the repair of the vehicle by shipping the part to the dealer within a week. The contact stated that the vehicle was repaired; however, the side detection system was still inoperable. The failure mileage was approximately 11,000.
CategoryElectrical System
DateFeb 12, 2022
StateMI
Description
Power locks with not lock or unlock with key fob or door buttons, doors will only look with the door buttons after exceeding 60+mph
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateFeb 03, 2022
StateMI
Description
Windshield wipers stopped working while driving losing clear forward vision. Dealership has had car for 4 days and still unable to fix the wipers
CategoryElectrical System
DateJan 21, 2022
StateMD
Description
I take my 6yr to school when we got shocked, I thought it was my clothes, but my child got shocked also, then pick her up from school took her to the doctor for her foot, I merged out to the main road and the suv cut off no warning lights of any kind I got it back started after three attempts then about a minute after that the radio cut off , I made it back home and called the dealer they told me to call roadside, I spoke to them , I had my husband to follow me to the dealership, I dropped it of ,they called me and told me it ready for pick up, and told me they could not replicate it ,
CategoryEngine
DateJan 20, 2022
StateAK
Description
I reported earlier in regards to the turbo going out in cold weather. The turbo was fixed finally (happened before thanksgiving) on 1/13/22 by the dealer. Rmps are running high (65 mph - rmps are 2300) and it isnt shifting properly. Wont shift to the next gear.
CategoryAir Bags
DateJan 19, 2022
StateME
Description
The contact stated he was driving a rented 2021 chevrolet equinox. The contact stated while driving 20 mph and crossing an intersection when another vehicle t-bone crashed into his front driver's side door. The crash caused him to collide with a third vehicle. No air bags were deployed in his vehicle. The contact sustained multiple injuries and a type 3 ac joint separation on his left shoulder. The contact did seek medical attention at an emergency room. The contact also stated the driver in the third vehicle did sustain unknown injuries and was unaware if they seek medication attention for their injuries. A police report was filed. The vehicle was not drivable. The vehicle was towed to towing lot. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. A dealer was not contacted. The manufacturer had not been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.
CategoryPower Train
DateDec 05, 2021
StateAK
Description
It was a dark cold (minus 18) morning driving to work. All of the sudden a warning came on. The engine power is reduced mode came on and I went from highway speed to 30 mph instantly. I barely got home. I was terrified and the car would hardly go. Very dangerous. After much research because no dealer could get us in ( three week wait) we figured out what was causing it. Code p0234 turbocharge overboost. The dealer said I was safe to drive it. Still reduced power. After one week it warmed up to 17 degrees and the check engine light came off. I still have reduced engine power. New turbocharge feature for the 1. 5 lt equinox. This should have been tested in cold climates. We regularly have 20 below temps and it's a brand name car. I see a recall coming.
CategorySteering
DateOct 01, 2021
StateOH
Description
When making a sharp turn left or right from a standstill the vehicles makes an audible grinding noise and vibration in the steering wheel. Feels like you're driving over rumble strips. Vehicle was taken to dealer on 7/28/21 and problem was recreated by technician on test drive. Cause of issue was determined to be the electric duel pinion rack and pinion steering gear. This part was replaced under warranty. On 9/30/21 the exact same issue with the same symptoms started happening again. Dealer was contacted and appointment was made for 10/4/21. I feel that my safety and the safety of others are at risk due to if the steering system fails completely I would not be able to control the vehicle.
CategoryPower Train
DateJun 29, 2021
StateNY
Description
I feel the transmission is defective on this car. There are only 800+ miles on the car. In the morning I pulled the car out of the garage and the car did not feel smooth. I said that seemed awfully odd. I drove the car but nothing else happened. In the evening I parked the car in a parking lot up against a curb and a fence. I turned the engine off and placed it in park and I am positive about that. All of a sudden the car lurched forward jumped the curb knocked the fence down and stopped against a tree. Needless to say I was traumatized.
CategoryExterior Lighting:headlights
DateApr 26, 2021
StateFL
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2021 chevrolet equinox. The contact stated while driving various speeds, the intellibeam headlight feature caused the high beams to engage automatically. The contact stated no warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to boniface hiers chevrolet (800 s harbor city blvd, melbourne, fl 32901) where the mechanic disabled the intellibeam feature in the vehicle. However, the issue recurred. The manufacturer had not been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 3,000.
CategoryService Brakes
DateApr 22, 2021
StateFL
Description
We bought a new chevy equinox. One day later, while I was driving 70 mph in the center lane on I-75, my wife engaged the electric parking brake thinking it was a console latch. The vehicle violently swerved to the right, and only because I had both hands on the wheel, did we avoid a roll over. Still we ended up partly in the right-hand lane. Thankfully, there were no vehicles beside us at the time. Adrenaline shot through both of us as we realized that any vehicle in the lane next to us could have hit us or we hit them and serious injuries or death could have occurred. We firmly believe that having the emergence parking brake control in the center console next to the cup holders and in a space where other things might be stored, is a hazard. Online we found several similar instances where someone did this same thing either accidentally or even on purpose. This control does not belong in a space where someone other than the driver could accidentally enable it. Curiosity or simple ignorance could cost a life. Chevy made it easy with this hazardous design! Rick hendrick chevrolet in naples, fl would not let us cancel the purchase; they said we "took delivery even thought the saleman called because we had not signed the title paperwork in the correct place. I should like to know if they would have to take it back since we never completed that particular piece of paperwork. Any chance you could tell me if we can or can't make them return our trade-in and cancel the purchase of this car that "buy" another older, used model that doesn't have that equinox feature. We are leary now. Help!
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateFeb 23, 2021
StateMI
Description
We just purchased/leased the aforementioned 2021 chevrolet equinox in december of 2020. About a few weeks ago, the car starting swaying towards the left. Very dangerous. Especially if you are on the freeway. **also there is a tech screen issue. The dash shows a car that will flash green to warn you when a car is ahead, but it is flashing green when nothing is ahead or no where near us. Concern that this could be electrical or a fuse. Thank you. And be blessed. Pastor [xxx] c/o of [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the freedom of information act (foia), 5 u. S. C. 552(b)(6). *tr

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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3 COMMENTS
  • Bob

    2005 equinox radiator brown fluid, attempted fix
    4 × dealer gave an extended warranty for radiator, later head gasket blown cost $5,500 out of pocket to fix then 6mth. Later over heating could not drive and just got rid of it. Nothing else to do🤨

  • Shannon

    Just found out my Chevy 2021 equinox decided to shut off driving on the highway
    W my kids in the car had to turn left into oncoming traffic my car shuts off it was the scariest moment ever!!

  • Robert M

    I hand washed a 2021 blue equinox today. The blue paint is coming off on my felt rag.
    This is an indication of a shallow clear coat. Living in upper Illinois will have to see how salt effects the paint.

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