2011 Equinox LT: 106.5k, Sudden No DRIVE

Just stopped at a light, idling fine, no issues, went to take off and vehicle would not move!! Tried several gears, had to push into nearby parking lot. Waiting for vehicle to cool down now. Drove hundreds of miles with one stop. Everything was fine up until now. Any ideas?? I’m kind of in a bad spot here!

Has the transmission fluid service been kept up-to-date?


Drive shaft, U-joint, differential gears, broken flex plate or broken bolts on flywheel?

But, of a more immediate nature…Has the OP checked the level, color, and odor of the trans fluid?

Is the check engine light or any other dash warning light on? If not, and this is an automatic, my first guess is there’s a problem in the shifter linkage system. The transmission isn’t getting the signal that you are moving the gear shift lever for some reason. In my experience – limited I’ll admit for automatics – when an auto transmission is on the verge of failing (think the kind of failing where you need a rebuild) it shows up at the first start of the day, when the engine is cold. Since yours is showing up when the engine is warm, I don’t think that’s your problem. Unless the transmission fluid is overheating. Are you pulling a boat or trailer? Is the tranny fluid level ok? Is the radiator working ok? No signs of engine overheating, right?

Is the engine reving up or just not responding? If not responding, the problem could be the accelerator advisor on the floor, that thing that used to be a gas pedal.

If the engine is reving up but freewheeling like in neutral, then something could have come uncoupled. If the engine is reving but is being restrained by the transmission, could be a brake problem.

But to me, the big question is, is this really you @ColtHero? Its not like you to leave out that much information.

After waiting about a half hour or so in that heavy-equipment store parking lot, and watching the thunderstorm pass, the vehicle started up fine and moved forward (in DRIVE), so off I went. Good thing, too, because the store was closing (5PM), and they were about to lock up the lot for the night.

Tester & VDCdriver:

Before re-starting, I did pull the tranny dipstick, and to me it looked dry - no obvious sign of fluid. But the store manager (with better eyes) touched his finger to it and the fluid was there (and I actually could then see it myself on the stick). I had just replaced the fluid 5 months ago (5 Qts drained out and refilled) with Dexron VI in December prior to the last trip, so without any evidence of any leaking, I was fairly sure it wasn’t going to be a tranny fluid issue. And that was the 2nd time I’d drained and re-filled the fluid on this car since new.


No CEL. Wasn’t towing anything, either. Had just driven hundreds of miles at that point and stopped at a light - like I had done several times previous along the way. No indication of any overheating. Temp gauge stays pegged at just short of mid-scale all the time.


I didn’t hear the engine responding to the pedal push. But then again, the thunderstorm was right overhead, the radio was still on, and I was in shock that the car wasn’t moving and I was the first car in line at the green light, so after the quick shifter attempts, I just jumped out and started pushing the vehicle out of the way before the horns started blaring.

But here’s what I was thinking as I drove off, continuing my long drive: Was I duped by an engine that had simply stalled?? When this vehicle is at idle, you can barely tell it’s running. With the radio on and the thunderstorm making a racket overhead (together with the shock of the car suddenly not responding to the accelerator), is it possible I had just stalled out and didn’t realize it? If so, it would be the first time this engine has stalled, AND - wouldn’t the wheel have locked while I was turning it 90 degrees to get into the parking lot (and then left to get to a parking spot)?? Wouldn’t the radio, or something else on the cluster, have given some indication that the vehicle had stalled??? Could’ve sworn the engine was running as I was pushing it, though. No idiot lights were ON on the dash…

Also - is it possible that - if the vehicle DIDN’T stall, that it suffered some kind of electronic malfunction (where it suddenly thought it was in NEUTRAL, and only a “reset” was going to clear its head)?? I mean, doesn’t this vehicle have no traditional shifter cable linkage? Isn’t it done over the internal “network” (ie: "Fly-By-Wire)?


LOL! … about the lack of information. I was on my phone entering the post and the equipment store people were telling me I needed to get off the lot so they could lock up for the night. One of the workers was asking if I was calling someone to pick me up. I replied - “no, there’s nobody for many, many miles in either direction”. Not sure what was going to happen next if the car didn’t DRIVE off that lot.

Posting to an forum web site instead of trying to find a mobile vehicle service or a nearby open garage. Makes perfect sense.

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Well yet to be determined but hope you just make it home. Not to be a pessimist, but trannies do go quickly and without warning sometimes. I parked my Olds in the ramp one morning and when I came out after work, I backed out of the stall and that was it. No forward gears, only reverse. Required overhaul. So I guess you just have to wait and see if it happens again and be ready for it. I’ve also had a trans just neutral out from 2nd to 3rd for a few seconds and then engage again. Happened at the exact same stop light several times.

Sounds like an electronic throttle control malfunction, a glace at the tachometer will show if the engine is idling, racing or has stalled. Restarting the engine will usually restore operation.

There is a service bulletin for loss of drive/reverse still operational but the engine will race if you step on the accelerator with a transmission failure.


I never jump to conclusions, do anything rash, and I take my time - even when it seems like there’s no time for me to take. I don’t care about the clock. I’m going to do things incrementally and methodically. That’s just who I am. Had the DRIVE not come back, I was probably heading to a hotel to think about it overnight. Could’ve even ended up out there with tools the next day trying to fix it myself. That’s the way I operate. I wouldn’t have called a “professional” until I completely exhausted all my other options first.


I made it to my destination (another several hundred miles). Thought about stopping at a hotel for the night, but that would’ve just been delaying the inevitable. Had to stop for one more gas up, plus traffic holdups (3), where I might’ve been in trouble had the problem occurred again and been unrecoverable!


So you know of a service bulletin for this problem? This is the 3.0L engine. Not sure off-hand which transmission is coupled to it without looking it up.

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