Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid: A Guide for Smart Buyers

Since its inception in 2004 as a 2005 model, Chevy Equinox has been a competitive choice in the compact SUV market. Known for its spacious interior, smooth ride, and agile handling, it is an excellent choice for small families and commuters. However, not all model years have lived up to Chevy’s performance and reliability.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the worst Chevy Equinox years to avoid in 2024 and the best years to buy instead. By knowing the years to stay clear of, you will make an informed decision when purchasing a used Chevy Equinox.

Chevy Equinox Years To Avoid

What are the Chevy Equinox years to avoid?

The most problematic Chevy Equinox years to avoid are primarily the first and second model years. Many users complain that these models tend to have issues with the 5-speed automatic transmission, high oil consumption, and engine failure. But what are the worst Chevy Equinox you should avoid?

If you want to buy Chevy Equinox, be weary of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010-2013, 2016, and 2018 models. These years are plagued with heating system malfunctions, excessive oil consumption, engine failures, and transmission issues, among others.

First generation—2005-2007

The first generation of the Chevy Equinox entered the crossover SUV market with their peak share of problems. Right from the first year to 2007, these models had bad scores on the IIHS crash score in both seat and head restraints. However, the back seats performed well in the test, while the front seats had poor ratings. As safety is the first thing to consider when buying a car, avoid the 2005 to 2007 Chevy Equinox years if you are looking to purchase a compact crossover SUV.

Many users of the 2005 to 2007 Chevy Equinox complained of heater issues. Not only will the heater malfunction, but some users complain of the windshield defroster not working. With these safety concerns, the vehicle did not pass vehicle friendliness and on-road comfort.

While all vehicles will have some issues and occasionally have recalls, the problems in the first Chevy Equinox generations are many. The 2007 year is the only model in its generation with defective airbag sensors. Regardless, as a whole, you should avoid the 2005, 2006, and 2007 versions.

If you want the Chevy Equinox first generation for preference or any reason, go for the 2008 and 2009 instead. Avoid the first three models—2005-2007 years. The 2008 and 2009 still have their peak share of problems, but they are more reliable than the first three models. The only problem users complained about in these two models is engine overheating, which only costs between $500 to $700 to fix.

Chevy engineers did major upgrades to the 2008 year model—fixing the major issues in the previous models. Rated by Forbes as one of the best-used cars for the money, the 2008 year model offers power, comfort, and affordability. If you want to get older Equinox, do not go beyond the 2008 year model.

Second generation—2010

While the 2010 Chevy Equinox offered a fresh aesthetic car feel, fuel efficiency, and two all-new-engine options, users complained it had several engine problems, transmission failures, and heater system problems. Some users complained of having engine piston and ring issues after covering 75,000 miles. Some complained of spending $3,000 to replace the piston and rings, while others said they had to replace the entire engine with $5000.

Transmission failure is another issue with this model. The transmission components fail much earlier than expected. Users complained of replacing their transmission at 70,000 miles with $3000. Many owners reported issues with the engine, transmission, heating systems, electrical systems, and oil consumption issues, making it a wrong choice for the money.

Second generation—2013 and 2014

The engine-related issues did not end with the 2010 model. 2013 and 2014 years had their fair share of engine problems. The 2.4 L four-cylinder engine on these year models is plagued with rough idling, engine stalling, and excessive oil consumption. The 2014 model also suffered transmission problems, making it a bad choice for anyone looking for a reliable SUV for a small family.

Second generation—2015 and 2016

The 2015 and 2016 Chevy Equinox years are not perfect after all. They had their fair share of problems in the second-generation years, especially transmission issues. Many users reported transmission issues, which cost a lot to fix.

While the 2015 and 2016 models offer a typical Chevy aesthetic feel, with exterior new front-end styling, the engine and transmission issues remain a great concern, making them less of an option for durable and robust used cars.

Third generation—2018 year model

The Chevy Equinox gets a complete redesign in the 2018 model, making it smaller and lighter than ever before, and its more efficient engine gives it a better fuel economy. It remains stable when turning, and its pliant suspensions are beautifully designed in such a way that they silence bumps. However, some users complained that it has several issues, including engine stalling, unreliable advanced technological features, and electrical issues. This gives it mixed praises.

While the 2018 year model is not as bad as other year models listed in this article because of its many positive feedbacks, it’s worth considering the pros and cons before buying it.

Common Chevy Equinox Problems Across All-Year Models

Despite the problems plaguing some year models, the Chevy Equinox has above-average reliability and performance ratings, making it a good option for anyone searching for a compact crossover SUV. But what is the biggest problem with the Chevy Equinox?

The most common Chevy Equinox problems across all models are excessive oil consumption, defective A/C compressors, lack of piston seals, electrical issues, check engine light, and defective airbags.

Excessive oil consumption

According to user reports, the 2010 to 2013 battle with excessive oil consumption. Users complained their Equinox consumes excessive motor oil after seeing the check engine light on the dashboard.

Defective AC compressors

The 2011 owners complained of issues with the air conditioning system. Freon leaks and cold air not blowing when you turn on the AC are some symptoms they complained of.

Lack of piston seal

Lack of piston seal is one of the significant problems with the Chevy Equinox engine. In most Chevy Equinox with the four-cylinder engine version, users reported cases where the piston rings did not seal well against the piston walls. This manufacturing defect allows motor oil to seep across the piston rings and burn in the combustion chamber. And this is the primary cause of excessive oil consumption in these models.

This was a significant concern to most drivers as it led to several lawsuits and partial lawsuits against Chevy. These users anticipated they would make money out of the piston seal issues, but the case was later dismissed when they came to a settlement.

Electrical issues

Another problem that plagued the Chevy Equinox was electrical issues. Users complained of power window issues, electrical AC faults, the car heater not working, and issues with the blower motor settings.

Also, the interior features have reported battery issues, including Bluetooth, radio, and other electrical problems. Batteries die earlier than they are supposed to, especially during cold climates.

Check engine light

Several users report that the check engine light occasionally appears on their Chevy Equinox dashboard. This issue is common on Equinoxes with 6-speed transmission. According to users’ reports, the ECM/ECU typically logs error codes P0716, P0717, P0776, or P0777. Chevy technicians said this happened as a result of a broken 35R clutch wave plate in the tranny. Gear slipping and loss of reverse gear are the two common symptoms of a damaged 35R wave plate.

Faulty Takata airbags

The first and second Equinox generations were flawed with defective Takata airbags—a common issue with the highest recalls in the US. Mechanics and users complained that the inflator of the airbag could explode or rupture when deploying it. According to reports, the Takata airbag inflator would shoot pieces of metal in the cabin during deployment. There have been 16 recorded deaths due to these faulty airbags.

The most reliable Chevy Equinox years to buy

The American darling Chevy Equinox offers a dynamic driving experience, proving that you don’t have to choose between fuel efficiency and engine performance. This compact family SUV provides both worlds, with nimble handling and easy maneuverability. What are the best Chevy Equinox used?

2009, 2017, 2019, and 2022 are the Chevy Equinox’s best years to buy. These years are not problem-free, but at least they have the most minor issues compared to other year versions.

Chevy Equinox 2009

If you want to purchase a used Chevy Equinox from the first generation, the 2009 is the best option. According to Carcomplaints.com, there are only 170 reported complaints and no recalls for the 2019 model. This is imperative, considering that it is a first-gen model. The few complaints reported about this year’s version are timing chain issues and loss of power. In all, this model is best for the money, but remember that they lack modern features as they are over a decade old.

Chevy Equinox 2017

The 2017 is the best year model in the second generation Equinoxes. While some users reported about oil consumption on the 2017 Equinox, it is far less than the complaints on the older models. According to J.D Power, the 2017 Chevy Equinox had a near-perfect predicted reliability. Likewise, Car Consumer reports gave it a reliability score of 5.0 out of 5.0. From this report and several forums’ best and worst years for Chevy Equinox discussions, 2017 is the most reliable year.

Chevy Equinox 2019

The 2019 is one of the most reliable options for anyone looking to purchase a Chevy Equinox. It ranks well in its class due to its excellent reliability rating, spacious interior, comfortable cabin, and best-in-class fuel efficiency rating (27 MPG). Again, according to Consumer Reports, the 2019 Chevy Equinox has a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. Like other models, it has its share of problems, but most reported issues are interior accessories and electrical system issues, which do not affect performance and on-road safety.

Since the 2019 Equinox is a more recent model, it will offer you advanced safety features and modern tech. Plus, it is a good option for those on a tight budget.

Chevy Equinox 2022

The 2022 Equinox is a solid, reliable option in its class. Thanks to its modern features, spacious roomy, excellent reliability rating, and best-in-class fuel efficiency of 27 mpg. According to Consumer Reports, the 2022 Chevy Equinox has a predicted reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. However, it is not flawless. It has its share of issues. There are a few complaints about problems with the interior accessories and electrical systems.

But considering users’ satisfaction and ratings, it is a real deal for the money. And since it is a newer model car, you will enjoy advanced safety features and modern tech.

Final words

Is Chevy Equinox good or bad? Overall, Equinox is a solid, reliable car known for its performance and fuel efficiency. However, when purchasing a used Chevy Equinox, it is essential to know the worst years to avoid it and the best years to buy it so you can make an informed decision. 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010-2013, 2016, and 2018 models are the worst Chevy Equinox years to avoid.

While I have listed the worst years to avoid and the best years to buy, do not forget that individual vehicle history and maintenance have a big role to play. For instance, our research shows that 2017 is the Chevy Equinox’s best year; that doesn’t mean you won’t experience worse issues if it is not properly maintained.

Always check the vehicle history and maintenance when buying a used car. It is as important as knowing the years to be wary of.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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