Chevrolet Equinox won’t start – causes and how to fix it

Your Chevy Equinox won’t start and you don’t know what you can or should do? This guide will help you and tell you what could be the cause and how you can fix it yourself, if possible.

Chevy Equinox, 3rd generation, from 2017 – (photo by Chevrolet)

If you just don’t get your car up and running, the question arises: why? Many drivers are then dependent on help. In order to ensure that you do the right thing in such a case and that the necessary help arrives quickly if your car does not start, you should know the possible causes and solutions.


What does the car need to drive?

In order for a car with an internal combustion engine like Chevy Equinox, to start and drive it safely, it needs gasoline or diesel. In addition, energy such as electrical ignition current and a functional control are required to operate the starter.

Air is also required for the formation of the air-fuel mixture, without which your car cannot drive. In addition, you can’t do without water for engine cooling and oil for lubricating the moving parts of the engine to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

Warning lights in dashboard

Is it flashing or lit in your car? So that you know exactly what to do, you should know the meaning of the indicator lights in the car. As a rule of thumb, you can remember that problems that appear with a red light should be resolved immediately. If it glows yellow or orange, you should have your car checked as soon as possible.

In order to protect your car against wear and tear or self-inflicted damage, such as driving in spite of the illuminated warning light, it is advisable to take out comprehensive insurance, especially for new cars: the cost of engine damage, errors in the cooling system or a defective battery is then normally borne by your insurance company.

Check key fob battery

Before you consider other causes of your Equinox not starting, also check whether the release of your electronic immobilizer is working properly and the battery of your key fob is still charged. Take your spare key, for example, and use it to test whether the cause is possibly only the key. In the event of a defect, an expert must always be consulted here.

Starter is defective

In order for your vehicle to start, you need a little “push”. This is usually done by the starter. If you turn the ignition key and nothing happens, this is the first sign that the starter is defective. It reacts, but nothing happens? Then either your starter turns or your ignition lock is broken.


Reasons for a defective starter can be contamination, for example from resin, or a defective starter freewheel. It protects the starter from excessive engine speed when the internal combustion engine is running. The freewheel is like a clutch and only grips in the direction the starter turns.

If your car squeaks or cracks loudly, a worn sprocket may be the cause of your car not starting. In addition, the ring gear on the flywheel, including the dual mass flywheel (DMF), may be broken or worn. A functioning flywheel reduces torsional vibrations inside the vehicle. Torsional vibrations that are too strong can cause your car not to start. The connection contacts may also be defective.

If your starter clicks when you turn the ignition key, only the pinion moves forward and that means: your starter is broken.

If the starter does not turn, your battery is either empty, the magnetic switch is broken or there was a short circuit due to a defective ignition switch.

So if your car doesn’t start and you can exclude an empty battery, you should consult a specialist. Usually, either a hanging magnetic switch and the resulting faulty switching of the main contacts or the broken motor of the starter are the reason for a defect. A non-functional freewheel and a worn sprocket are also more common. The good news: Rarely is a starter really broken. Because: starters are designed for the life of an engine.

Starter Replacement

Watch how starter motor is replaced on 2nd gen Chevy Equinox.

Fault in the fuel system

There are many reasons for errors in the fuel system. Most of the time, the cause is obvious: the gasoline is empty or the tank was filled incorrectly.

So that you know for sure how much fuel is left in your tank, you should always have errors in the fuel gauge fixed quickly.

But it may also be that your fuel lines are leaking or that your fuel pump is defective. For all faults in the fuel system, with the exception of the empty tank, be sure to have your car inspected by a specialist.

Defective Engine

What every driver dreads: the engine is defective. This can be caused by a broken toothed belt or a broken timing chain. Most of the time, the answer is much simpler:

  • It was refueled incorrectly.
  • Too old or too little oil does not supply the engine with sufficient lubricant.
  • The cooler is overheated (especially in summer).
  • The engine was overturned too often.
  • Water after driving through deep puddles has damaged your engine.

No matter why your engine stops working, it is always annoying and one thing is certain: your car won’t start. If your car is damaged by an engine, you can repair the engine by changing individual parts.

The following problems can often be solved with a repair, for example:

  • There is fuel in the cylinders.
  • The engine has overheated.
  • Trouble with the engine oil.
  • The compression of the engine has decreased.
  • Loss of fuel on the engine.
  • The valve control is out of cycle.

If the housing is affected by an accident, wear or negligence or if the alternator or water pump is broken, the repair or replacement of the engine can be very expensive. With older vehicles this can also exceed the value of the vehicle and you are then faced with the choice of buying a new vehicle or having your car repaired.

Ignition lock defective

If your ignition key cannot be turned or the engine does not start despite the key being turned, your ignition lock may be defective. The system can usually be easily replaced or repaired here. In any case, drive to your workshop.

Fuse defective

The windows open electrically, the windscreen wipers switch on automatically when the first raindrop drops and your back is warmed by the seat heating in winter: in Chevy Equinox, almost everything is electric. Latest models can now be started without a key, for example, by a smart key and by pressing a button.

If your car does not start, the fuse may also be defective. The fuses of your car are located in a fuse box, which can be found with the help of your operating instructions or the manual.

But: Under no circumstances should you lend a hand yourself to the fuse box! The box is under power and repairs or tests should always be done in a workshop.

How to change fuse

To change fuse on 2010 to 2017 models of Chevy Equinox, you start by opening the hood by pulling the level on the left bottom side of the steering wheel. The fuse box is located in the engine compartment in front of the driver seat, you can see the fuse marking on top. To remove the cover, press the two tabs on the sides and pull it up. You can see the marking of each fuse function under the cover.

Defective Alternator

Your battery is fully charged and completely fine, but there is still a fault in the power supply and your car does not start? Unfortunately, a full battery is not a guarantee of a faultless power supply for your car.

If, for example, there is no longer a light in your vehicle, your alternator may be defective. Even if your car battery is constantly empty, although it has only recently been replaced or checked, you should have your alternator checked. A specialist can determine the voltage supply in your car with a measuring device and help you in such a case.

How to test alternator

You can watch this video tutorial from ChrisFix on how to check an alternator yourself with just a multi-meter.

Oil supply / coolant supply is defective

In order to avoid damage and possible failure of your car to start due to a faulty coolant supply, you must regularly check the coolant level in your car.

If the cooling water is in a cold state between the two markings “Minimum” and “Maximum”, everything is OK. If it is below the minimum, you should top up with cooling water. If it is above the maximum, you should go to your workshop. Because then there is the possibility, among other things, that the cooling system is not completely vented or that there is some other damage to the vehicle.

Tip: Too much cooling water can be removed with a syringe when your car is cold. When warm, your car can occasionally exceed the maximum because water expands when heated. Therefore: The cooling water should only be checked when it is cold!

Good to know: Check your cooling system regularly to avoid overheating the engine. If your engine gets too hot, the cylinder head gaskets will burn out in the worst case and the engine will be totally damaged.

Oil behaves similarly to cooling water: it is best to check the oil level every third refueling stop and to change the oil regularly. Engine oil is necessary as a lubricant for internal combustion engines because it lubricates all mechanical and moving components within the engine circuit. The oil also reduces the engine’s frictional heat.

How to check coolant level

You can see the demonstration of checking coolant level on second generation of Chevy Equinox (2010-2017) in this short chip by “1A Auto Parts”.

Tip: Check the level of the liquids regularly, even without the oil and cooling water control lamp lighting up.

The fuel pump is defective

If your car’s fuel pump fails, it stops and your car won’t start. The pump normally ensures that the necessary amount of fuel is passed from the tank to the injection system of the engine with sufficient pressure.

Before your fuel pump stops working, it usually becomes noticeable: if your car’s engine breaks down from time to time, the car is difficult to start, the engine jerks a little or the engine performance drops, you should have your pump checked.

Wear or contamination of the pump can be the reason for this. If the pump is leaking, a power contact is broken, a line or a pump lever is broken, the fuel pump is usually also noticeable before failure. You can have a defective fuel pump replaced in your workshop.

High Fuel Pressure Pump location

This short informative video by “Auto Repair Champs” shows the location for high fuel pressure pump location on second generation of Equinox.

Injection system is broken

Are you suddenly using a lot more fuel than before? Is your engine running rough? Or the warning light for an engine fault flashes?

Then you should definitely go to the workshop and have the injection system rule out a fault. The injection pump delivers the necessary amount of fuel to the cylinders at the right moment using a piston. If the mechanism no longer works properly, the engine performance suffers and your car may not start. In addition, this can quickly become dangerous in traffic, for example when overtaking. Here, too, a visit to the workshop is essential.

Car battery is empty or defective

If your car does not start, there is another reason, which can usually be clearly identified by the indicator light: your battery is empty or defective. With the former, you can charge your car battery again.

Chevy Equinox battery location

If your battery is defective, you probably cannot avoid replacing it. Have your car checked in a workshop and the best way to have the battery replaced is by a specialist.

Battery replacement second generation of Equinox (2010–2017)

In this brief video you can see how to uncover the battery in 2nd generation of Chevy Equinox and then either jump start it or replace it with a new one.

Also note a few more tips for a smooth ride:

  • Check and charge the battery regularly in extreme cold.
  • Always fill the tank sufficiently.
  • It’s best not to leave your car standing for very long.
  • Make sure that your car is regularly inspected by a specialist.
  • Check your car thoroughly before long trips in summer.
  • When traveling long journeys: take the coolant and starter cable with you.
Contact the author: jamiepratt@wheelsjoint.com


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