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2011 Chevrolet Equinox engine problems: clattering noise when starting car

Clattering Noise When Starting Car

2011 Chevrolet Equinox (Page 1 of 2)

This problem may be covered under warranty. Ask your Chevrolet dealer.

6.9

fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,500
Average Mileage:
31,100 miles
Total Complaints:
26 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (17 reports)
  2. none. dealer could not identify (6 reports)
  3. change pistons and rings, update engine management software (1 reports)
  4. replace cam shaft sensor and timing chain (1 reports)
  5. replace pistons and rings and instal agm battery (1 reports)
2011 Chevrolet Equinox engine problems

engine problem

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2011 Chevrolet Equinox Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

Jun 182018

Equinox

  • Automatic transmission
  • 196,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I bought my car with 60k miles on it 3 year ago... at about two weeks after my 2nd oil change my car began to sound like a diesel truck and progressively got worse...( sooo embarrassing). I took it to have it looked at and mechanic informed me that I had no oil in the motor! I could not believe that it had not locked up with how rough it sounded!! Mechanic could not locate an oil leak after putting in fresh oil... I've dealt with keeping an eye on my oil levels for the past 3 years and now my car has started to stall and shuts off when idled low. I was just informed by my mechanic that the cam shaft, timing chain and some other things that popped up while reading the codes for the check engine light(I don't remember exactly) need to be re-placed- ..he told me it would be better to just drop a new engine in it! my millage is currently 196k. (I drive an hr one way to work 5 days a week). I have a friend who bought a 2012 Equinox and hers is burning up oil and having to put in more oil between oil changes!

- Crystal G., Flat Rock, AL, US

problem #25

Jan 152016

Equinox LT W/1LT 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

It took the dealership 8 weeks to figure out what was wrong with my car. The even called in some special engineer. They first told me it was the battery, however when i went to pick up my car after the battery was replaced, it was dead - didn't even get it out of the lot of the dealership.

The dealership after they found out the problem was under warranty (8 wks later) they tried to tell me I owe them for the battery. I said, I don't think so and they waved that cost to me. 8 weeks without my car was unbearable since I use my car to transport my dogs to dog events, I couldn't do that in a rental.

- Karen M., Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #24

Feb 022016

Equinox 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Rattling noise at startup for about 20-30 seconds. Sounds like a diesel. CarComplaints just emailed me that Chevy is being sued for engine defects in the 2010-2017 Chevy Equinox with the EcoTec engine.

I've experienced every problem they are being sued for. Timing Chains broke and were fixed under warranty around 2015. Excessive oil consumption started around the 2014 (burned a quart every 1000-1500 miles). In 2016 Chevy issued a service bulletin on the Equinox for excessive oil consumption.

My car failed the oil consumption test and they put in new piston rings and replaced the catalytic converter all free even though the car was past warranty.

Still don't trust the engine though.It still makes a horrible rattling noise first 20 seconds after startup.

- Greg S., Wallingford, CT, USA

problem #23

May 012013

Equinox

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,900 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Most times during the colder months when starting the car you hear an extra noise. It runs rough and engine light continues to come on

- blairfloyd1, Lucasville, OH, USA

problem #22

May 302011

Equinox 1LT 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles

Nothing but problems, recalls and alerts since I bought the damn car brand new. Died while I was on vacation with family700 miles from home. Has to drive loaner for most of my trip. Car has spent more time at dealership than in my driveway! Just had to get brand new transmission at only 45000 miles. Piece of crap I tell you. Will NEVER buy Chevy again. Thanks for listening.

- Kristen B., Bristol, CT, USA

problem #21

May 312015

Equinox LS 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I bought my 2011 Equinox with only 80,000 miles on it and a week after I buy it I went to start it and it sounded like it was a Diesel starting up. I took to the dealer and they could not find nothing wrong with it, but of course they couldn't. I told them it don't do it every time so as time went on it was getting worse, but I let it go till my first free oil change come due. Well just before I was to go in to have it changed the ck engine lite come on, so I thought I would ck the oil and omg there was no oil in it. So I put oil in it and took to the dealer. By the time I got done telling them what a lemon it was, they told me it was a recall on these engines. I got new rings, pistons, timing chain and lots more of a total engine overhaul. So far so good, but I will never buy another Equinox 4 cyl, they are pretty much junk.

- jillbilly, Whittemore, MI, USA

problem #20

May 082015

Equinox LT 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The car sounds like an old diesel car when it starts. Very loud and extremely embarrassing to have so many people look at me like "ew, what is wrong with that car" every time I start it around anyone. This is only one of MANY problems with this POS. Do yourself a favor and stay far, far away from this car!

- Amy H., Charleston, SC, USA

problem #19

Jun 012011

Equinox ES 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles

Bought this car brand new - wish I new of this site years ago. Occasionally, the car would sound like a diesel engine upon start up. Took it the to the dealership - since we were idiots and purchased a crazy warranty - and wasn't ever addressed. Was told by dealership its just part of owning a equinox with the new 4 cyl engine. Has 104,000 miles on it now, still does it. A recall at about 20,000 miles made it stop for about 9 months, but never fixed it.

- Wendy C., Cabot, AR, USA

problem #18

Dec 152010

Equinox LTZ 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles

My 2011 Chevy Equinox has had a rattle on starting, especially in colder temperatures, and especially after not being started for some time. For the first 50,000 miles the vehicle used no oil between changes. For the last 10,000 miles or so the engine is burning a quart of oil every 3000 miles. I have never let it get more than a quart low. This is not excessive oil consumption, but a concern.

Because of this rattle the dealer changed the timing chain because of the known issue with this part. It did not solve the stating rattle. However it improved acceleration and gas mileage increased five to six mpg, and now the vehicle easily meets its mileage spec. So I have a hunch the original timing chain was a tooth off on the sprockets at installation.

Now going back to the rattle. I think this noise is piston slap, due to a fault or my be even absence of piston skirts. This is likely causing damage to the cylinder walls resulting in the increasing oil consumption over time.

I have not had the steering issue, but I'm concerned about it and I think that GMs letter about it I received yesterday is totally inadequate. Apart from everything else it shifts a good deal of the legal responsibility from them to the driver/owner.

I have not had the known problem of gas getting into the oil sump from the known poor gaskets on the injector pump. I watching out for it though and regularly checking for increased oil level and sniffing the oil.

I do have the groaning brake issue, and have had for the last six months. I have done a personal inspection and the rotors and pads are fine and braking performance is not affected. It is just annoying.

Update from Aug 18, 2015: I want to update this problem which mainly affects the 2.4 Lt. Chevy Equinox vehicles built before Feb 2011. During Feb 2011 the pistons and rings had a design change.

Since my last post bad things progressed. The starting rattle got worse and was present at the 3000 RPM range during acceleration. Misfire for a few seconds after staring became more common. Oil consumption increased to 1 Quart every 2000 miles. Worse at the end of my oil consumption study, the oil level started to increase. My nose told me there was gas in the oil, despite this vehicle having had the fuel pump gaskets replaced. The vehicle also started to show early decline in performance.

GM were very cooperative, and let me conduct my own oil consumption studies. I did two. Only Dexos 1 Mobil 5/30 full synthetic oil has been used in this vehicle.

On the last study, I dropped the oil at 18% life remaining, which was 6949 miles since oil change and the start of the study. I had replaced 2 quarts of oil in that time. The dipstick showed 1 pint low, but the stick had previously been checked close to the add mark. I recovered 4.5 Quarts of oil from the engine. The oil was filthy. I sent a sample to Apex oil Grand Rapids Michigan for analysis. It showed 10% dilution of the oil by gas, and excess iron in the oil indicating excess mechanical wear. When I inspected and changed the oil filter there was some oil in the oil. Clearly there was significant blow by past the rings.

Presented with this data, GM ordered immediate tare down of the engine. Fortunately the bores were fine. The pistons and rings were replaced, with the updated versions. Pistons have been redesigned to prevent gas pooling on the tops of the pistons which is a problem in direct gas injection engines (GDI engines). The ring change is the most significant, as GM had used soft rings to improve gas mileage by lowering friction. The new rings are hard rings of the more traditional type.

Since this service, I have done just over 1000 miles. I did not use cruise control for 500 miles and I have driven the vehicle very gently. It has used no oil and the oil has been clean. There is no rattle and the oil is clean. I will change oil later this week and get another oil analysis from Apex oil. I will do another careful oil consumption test at during the next 7,500 miles or so, and do another oil analysis then. Gas mileage has not decreased, so I see no benefit from the soft rings, just trouble.

A couple of other issues with this vehicle. For a year or so I had the groaning brake problem. Brake performance was fine, but it was really annoying. So I changed the rotors to the finest American rotors made of US steel, not Far Eastern. I installed the highest grade ceramic brake pads. This solved the problem. I think braking is also improved. The old rotors were not scored, but ridging was more than it should have been considering there was 50% or more wear left on the pads. I judged these components to be far from top grade. Considering this an expensive LTZ edition this is not acceptable.

The next issue concerns the notice from GM that the power steering could suddenly require great force. There is no recall and no solution. This is a problem across all brands except the Chrysler Hybrid system. A paper I read from BMW, provided good evidence this problem is caused by low voltage at the electronic steering module due to low ramp up of the alternator, and batteries unable to provide enough instantaneous current. Audi did a recall, at least in Europe' replacing the acid pour batteries with AGM batteries.

Now funnily enough GM could not tell me if the high speed oscillating digital voltage regulator on the Equinox was temperature regulated. This is important, as AGM batteries have a much lower internal resistance, which is why they can provide gobs of current instantly. AGM batteries require the charging voltage to be reduced as ambient temperature increases. These batteries are sealed but have a safety valve to release hydrogen in the event of an over charge. The battery is then useless. I took a chance and installed an AGM battery of American manufacture. I can confirm that the regulator is temperature compensated and charges an AGM battery at exactly the correct voltage for ambient temperature.

I would recommend all owners replace the acid pour battery with an AGM one for two reasons. In my view this change will lessen and probably eliminate the steering issue. Also because I have found that the cranking speed is much faster, and start time just about instantaneous. This latter is important for GDI engines, since it greatly reduces the unburnt gas directly injected into the engine on starting.

Audi recommend replacing the AGM batteries every four years by date, to keep peak performance. That is what I intend to do.

I really like this vehicle on the whole, and plan to keep it a long time.

Unfortunately it is getting to the point of not only needing an advanced engineering degree to design and fix a vehicle, but also own one!

Update from Sep 20, 2018: Yes, it has. However it also required an update to the engine management software. I had a software installed from later models. This necessitate changing the valve shifter solenoid. The only issue since was plugging of the catalytic converter due to the previous high oil consumption. At the time the exhaust manifold was found to be developing a crack. Not through and through, but needed replacement. The excess oil consumption is solved, it does not knock on starting, driving issues, like stalling pulling out into traffic are solved. The one remaining issue is oil sump gas dilution. I had careful analysis of spent oil done many times. This is a known problem of all GDI engines. I found that the oil on these engines needs changing every 5000 miles and not 7500 miles.

- cartermn, Laporte, MN, USA

problem #17

Feb 042011

Equinox LT 2.4L 4 Cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8 miles

From the first day I drove it off the lot with less than 10 miles, there was a horrible knocking noise when it started up. I took it back to where I got it from, they said there is a recall on it so after I had it for only 2 days it went into the shop there. GM put me in a sh*tty ass rental car for 3 weeks while they worked on it they had to tear it apart rebuild it then it still did not fix the problem, after complaining over and over again to GM, which they really didn't care, it finally got cut loose from the shop and the problem was still there but now it was only happening when starting it or after it cooled down or has been sitting for an hour or so.

I could go on and on but the most important thing to remember is to never buy a new car from Viva Chevy in El Paso, TX(especially if you are a soldier) and do not get a 2011. Long story short my 2011 Equinox got totaled in Florida when I got out of the Army when it had 1876 miles on it (not my fault I was sitting at a light) and I couldn't be happier.

I looked around for the longest time and seen that Chevy did a lot of work to the 2012 Equinox and my new 2012 is running like a champ if you have a choice between a 2011 or 2012 spend the extra 1000-3000 and get a 2012 you will thank me later I'm sure of it.

One thing they did get right is the safety features the accident I was in could have been fatal if it was not for the design of the Equinox. I has sitting at a light and had a very big moving truck slam in to me doing 40 MPH and caused me to smash into 2 other cars in front of me and I walked away from that with minor injuries, and that's why I got another one.

- Chris E., Fort Myers, FL, USA

problem #16

Oct 092011

Equinox LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 300 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I'VE HAD THE ENGINE NOISE SINCE A FEW MONTHS AFTER I BOUGHT THE CAR. AS TIME WENT BY IT GOT WORSE. THEN WHEN DRIVING THE CAR SHUT OFF, ONCE ON ME AND TWICE ON MY HUSBAND. I TOOK TO DEALERSHIP AND THEY SAID THEY COULD FIND NOTHING. I ASKED THEM ABOUT A RECALL ON THE CAM, THEY SAID THEY KNEW NOTHING, SO I WENT HOME PRINTED IT OFF AND TOOK TO THEM. THEY SAID THEY COULD DO NOTHING SINCE IT WASN'T IN THEIR SYSTEM. SO I ASKED FOR THE GM'S NUMBER AND WENT FROM THERE. I WAS TOLD THAT THERE WAS A RECALL ON THE TIMING! WHEN I WENT BACK TO THE DEALER THEY SAID THEY HAD NOTHING, WELL WHEN I TOLD THEM THAT I TALKED TO GM THEY CHANGED THEIR TUNE, THIS SUV NEEDS TO BE RECALLED AND CUSTOMER'S SHOULD GET SOME KIND OF REFUND! I GUESS THEY ARE GOING TO WAIT UNTIL A LOT OF PEOPLE GET KILLED FOR NO REASON! GM, PLEASE DO SOMETHING! IF IT WAS YOUR FAMILY MEMBER YOU KNOW YOU WOULD!!!!!

- Debbie R., Mt Sterling, KY, USA

problem #15

Apr 042011

Equinox 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles

I have had issues with my Equinox almost as soon as I drove it off the lot. Shortly after a few 1,000 miles my car would rattle and shake when starting. It was like a semi truck starting. It would do it at random and became worse. I brought my vehicle into the dealership SEVERAL times and they were not able to recreate the problem. They stated I had a bad batch of solenoids? and replaced them. The rattling went away for a little while. Then it started again and was even worse than before. Again, they could not diagnose what was wrong with vehicle. Shortly after my engine would cut off when driving...that's right...cut off. When the engine cuts you lose power steering and brakes!!! I brought it in due to the extreme liability issue for more diagnostic work. They said it was more than just the solenoids and did some more work on it. This has been an on going issue with GMC/Chevy since 2011. It's now 2014 and they still can't fix the problem. The last time they said it was "fixed" I was making a right turn onto the road when my car shut off just a month ago. I was almost struck by another car and could have been killed. I keep advising GMC that this is a serious liability issue and someone is going to end up getting killed because they refuse to recall the vehicle. GMC wont do the right thing in this case. When you search the 2011 Equinox Chevy this issue with the car cutting off and the rattling/shaking when you start it is the main topic of discussion. It appears to be a huge issue among owners but yet...no recall on vehicle. I tried to get them to take the car back because it's not safe drive it but they won't. I was almost KILLED! So now my 2011 Equinox sits in my driveway unused while I make my payments and I am driving my 98 Subaru because it's safer and more reliable than my new car. Also, since I am aware that GMC has not been able to diagnose and fix my car and this is a known issue with the vehicle if I drive it and I'm in an accident because my car shuts off I can be held liable too! STEP UP GMC!!!

- Tiffany M., Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #14

Sep 032014

Equinox

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

click to see larger images

clattering noise when starting car

I have noticed that my car occasionally has a rough idle or rattling sound in the morning which always goes away and was not severe. On my way home from another state, I noticed the noise began during driving. I pulled over and had Onstar run a diagnostic on it which came back "Fuel system not operating as expected. Expect lags in power. Service within 7 days."

I asked to be transferred to the dealer to make sure if this was a recall, that I am safe to drive the car home. I was informed it was a "special bulletin" and he knew exactly what the problem was and I was safe to drive home, just keep it under 60 and bring in next day for service. It would be "fine." I inquired again about my safety and was informed not to worry. I maintained a speed under 55 and it drove fairly well for 2 hours and then became worse, noticeably losing power from time to time. I had decided to pull off next exit and have it towed somewhere when I noticed a puff of smoke. As I started to move towards the shoulder, I lost steering and brakes and rolled helplessly up the shoulder until it came to a stop.

As I moved onto the shoulder, I saw smoke billowing up around my car. I immediately jumped out and moved away from the car. As I did, I saw a puddle of gas forming under the car and flames sprung up. Within 10 minutes, my care was totaled, burned to a cinder. This may have started out as a minor issue, but this could be at the end of the road for you. Get your car looked at if you are having this issue! This should be a recall in my opinion.

- Anonymous S., Callahan, FL, USA

problem #13

Nov 302011

Equinox LT 2.4L Four cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles

Purchased the vehicle NEW in Feb,2011. In October 2011, when starting the car when cold, the engine would "clatter" as if the valve lifters were not getting lubrication. This noise would last only a few seconds,and would not happen again for weeks. As time has gone on, now this might happen with a HOT or COLD engine. Mileage is now 13,000. Oil has been changed every 4000 miles,by the dealer and this problem has been noted but not duplicated. There is a hidden problem here and until something "breaks" will just have to keep eyes&ears open to try to help the repair guys find the problem.

- Larry S., Saint Petersburg, FL, US

problem #12

Mar 102011

Equinox 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only person with a clattering sound when staring the car.. I bought my 2011 equinox in January and by march it started making that clattering sound when I started it up, but not all the time. That's what is so annoying.....the dealer never could hear it. I took it in at least 3 separate times besides at the oil change appointment and they still told me that everything checked out. So irritating!

- Tammy R., Mesa, AZ, US

problem #11

Feb 212013

Equinox LT 2 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,111 miles

IT IS REALLY FRUSTRATING TO DEAL WITH THE DEALER TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. IT'S MAKING A STRANGE NOISE WHEN STARTING UP WHEN CAR IS COLD.

- Ignacio G., Miami, FL, US

problem #10

Dec 202011

Equinox LS V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles

Bought this new Equinox as my retirement car....now we have this loud clattering noise during start up. Returned the car to the dealer few months after driving. Service man did repair but now it's clattering again. Also, the AC fan turned off while on a recent trip. We're returning to the dealer. I will keep returning until the clatter goes away and AC checks out or guess I'll use the lemon law to resolve. Knew I should have bought a Toyota!

I bought this vehicle because the gas mileage appealed to me. However, not worth it if you're returning to the dealer with only 5,000 miles on the vehicle.

- scruffy51, Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #9

Jan 082012

Equinox LT 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,383 miles

So after owning the Car for 1 year the clattering noise started to appear. It is intermittent but it appears to be a problem only during startup when the engine is cold. Concerned there is engine damage happening. Also, the transmission appear to slip intermittently as well. I would think twice about buying another Chevy. The 4 cylinder engine sucks. The transmission is made in Korea. A good percentage of this car is not made in the US. Next time I will buy a Honda.

- gdbtown, Bordentown, NJ, USA

problem #8

Dec 082011

Equinox LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,011 miles

This .is the second time I've had this into the dealer for the same problem. A new cam didn't help so back I go AGAIN This is what I get for buying american too bad I tried to support our economy

- Robin L., Greer, SC, USA

problem #7

Nov 082011

Equinox LS 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,400 miles

I guess I'm a victim as well to the equinox start up problem. Most of the time when I do a cold start, it sounds like the engine is going to drop out from under me. ALSO !!!!!! The transmission problem is really starting to piss me off as well. I noticed when driving at low speeds, say around a parking lot the car jerks me around like crazy from time to time. When I'm stopped at a red light and then start to move, it feels like I'm about to stall on the road. So next week is my first appointment and I'm sure this won't get fixed since I haven't heard any success stories as of yet. So now I fear I'll have to go under the NY state lemon law but I'm coming up on 18k miles so I guess I'm stuck with this or have to trade it in, I'm sure I'll get screwed like all the others. Thanks Chevy.

- amtraker, Hudson, NY, USA

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