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2014 Equinox Steering Goes Unstable While Towing

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While towing my 2014 Equinox a couple months ago through an interstate construction zone about 50-55 mph the steering on the tow went unstable and started violently swinging from hard left to hard right. Stopping was the only way to get out of this. After stopping and checking for damage, none apparent, it towed fine the rest of the way.

The tow bar was level and tires at correct pressure. I had the alignment checked at a Chevy dealer and 3 of the wheels were out, don't know if this bad alignment was before the incident or damage from the instability. I have towed this car over 15,000 miles. It has towed fine the rest of the year. Wondering if anyone has heard of this before and what caused it?

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We have written to FMCA about this in hopes they would help Equinox owners like they did with Jeep and Chrysler and Chrysler responded by paying for a fix because of FMCA, so far no word from FMCA for any help with this problem,  I have also written a complaint to NHTSA, FTC and GM.  Have heard from GM, they responded that they have NEVER heard of this problem in their 4 cylinder electronic steering vehicles, although they did send us a voucher to go to a GM dealer and do a dioanostic test to see the problem and when we went to the GM dealer he said there was no way they could reproduce the problem with towing with fuse 32 pulled like our manuals say to do.  Our tire pressure is correct, our alignment is correct and you never know when the car will violently swing from side to side and shake the 45' 45000 pound motorhome.  People behind us are scared, back way off and when we can finally get safely stopped the swinging stops and we can be on our way again.  Some day this will kill the people in the motorhome or kill someone behind us. We are surprised our Roadmaster hitch has taken so much pressure from the swaying.  Oh well, I feel like no one belives us or cares. But if more people owning Equinox, 4 cylinder vehicles would write to GM, National Highway Traffic Safety Assocaition, Federal Trade Commission and FMCA, someone might listen and help do something.

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We are towing a 2013 Equinox, 4 clylinder, AWD LTZ behind our 38 ft Monaco Safari Cheetah. This was our first trip with both rigs and we set the toad up according to Chevys instructions using a fuse bypass switch. The hitch alignment and tow bar are all installed correctly.

All was well until we got to Stockton Ca where we experienced the death wobble. It only happened once that day but the next day it occurred 3 more times and we finally disconnected the toad from the coach and drove seperately. 

Thanks to the info on this forum we are tried the toad again today on our drive from Indio CA to Mesa AZ with the fuse intact. We did not have any issues with teh towing instability  and the road has presented plenty of opportunities. Only issue is the toad battery is quickly being discharged so we will have to resolve that before the next long jaunt. 

I am planning to write to Chevy, FMCA about this serious saftey issue. It is particularly frustrating since we gave followed all of the manufactures towing guidelines.

Would appreciate any information about who and where other Equinox Owners are sending their correspondence. 

Thanks,

Brenda King

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I have a 2013 GMC Terrain SLE . I tow it behind a 2008 Holiday Rambler 36' diesel pusher. I have add the same problem as the above FMCA members have. This has happened frequently when we go through construction zones . I have a fuse disconnect which disables Fuse 32 preventing the battery from discharging. I have disconnect the battery when towing but the problem still exists in adverse road conditions. I have gone to the GMC Dealer where I get my car serviced and no one has reported this occurrence. I am frustrated that no one takes responsibility concerning this serious problem. I am awaiting the results of the forum you are having with GM. Please keep us advised of your findings.

 

 

 

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An update on the towing issue:

We have been towing with with the fuse intact and the road has provided ample opportunities to the oscillation to occur and it has not. Of course, our battery goes dead within an hour and multiple stops to start the engine are tiresome. 

I have spoken to someone at Chevrolet Customer Service Assistance and while she is trying to be helpful it doesnt seem to be a big enough issue for Chevrolet to be interested in resolving. I am also reaching out to GM but am not hopeful for much assistance.

I would encourage anyone with the issue to contact Chevrolet - this is the person I spoke to:

Susan - 1-888-790-5700 EXT 592-1238

Below is my email correspondence with Chevrolet:

Hello Lalaine,
 
Thank you for your response. I have provided the additional information below as requested.
 
Phone Number: 
Mailing Address: 
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): 
Current Mileage: 50,798
Nature of Concern: Dangerous towing instability when set up for flat tow behind motorhome as instructed by Chevrolet. We have had 4 occurrences of violent shaking of the motorhome as the Equinox front end oscillates behind the RV. These oscillations seem to occur when the highway is rough, or rutted.
Is it an ongoing concern? YES
Has it been diagnosed by the dealer? The vehicle was taken to Chevrolet Cadillac of La Quinta for service after the incidence's occurred (12/21/16). The service advisor was made aware of the towing issues and was asked to do a through inspection the vehicle. The service advisor, Henry Hodges was not familiar with the towing issues we described. However, a front end alignment was suggested and performed, tires showed some indication of excessive wear on the front (likely due to skidding action that occurred during the towing incidences) and were rotated. They will be replaced within the next 2 months.
Is the customer willing to get the vehicle diagnosed by the dealer?: Yes, if there is a dealer who is familiar with the towing issue
Preferred/Involved Dealership/Name of the last GM dealer involved (If any): We will be in the Phoenix area for the next 6 weeks if another service or diagnostic needs to be preformed.
Date of last GM visit/inspection/diagnosis for your concern (If any): 12/21/16
Contact person in the dealership (If any) 
Preferred Date and Time of Appointment (If any)
Type of assistance requesting from General Motors: First and foremost, we want Chevrolet/GM to be aware that this towing issue exists with certain models of the Equinox and that the instructions for towing as provided by Chevrolet and the FMCA may be incorrect and cause dangerous towing conditions. There are other Equinox owners who are experiencing these towing issues as well and many of which are documenting the issues in the IRV2 forums and on the FMCA forum. It seems to be more prevalent with the 4 cylinder models. 
Secondly, we would like GM to reimburse us for the front end alignment costs and the cost of setting up the tow vehicle with an auxiliary battery charger for the vehicle since the fuse 32 can not be pulled when towing. In two subsequent trips since the initial issue occurred, we have not experienced the towing instability when we do not pull the fuse 32 as instructed by Chevrolet. However, our battery is discharged very quickly and goes dead within 60 minutes of towing. We plan to alleviate this by buying a new wiring harness that takes the motorhome battery power (and alternator charging) to the Equinox. We would like to send this expense on to GM as well for reimbursement. We are happy to provide additional information or speak to someone at either GM or Chevrolet.
 
Sincerely,
 
Brenda King and Walter Byers
 
 
 


Brenda
On Jan 19, 2017, at 6:50 AM, "cac@chevrolet.com" <cac@chevrolet.com> wrote:
 
Dear Brenda,    


Thank you for contacting the Chevrolet Customer Assistance Center.  


We appreciate the time you have taken to write us with regard to towing issue of your 2013 Chevrolet Equinox.  We are sorry to hear of the concern you have indicated, we understand this can be very frustrating and we appreciate you giving us the opportunity to assist you further.  


In order to assist you better, we will need some additional information.  Please contact us through email using the ‘Reply with History’ option to ensure that we have all the details needed for any follow-up.  Please provide the following information: 

Phone Number
Mailing Address
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Current Mileage
Nature of Concern
Is it an ongoing concern?
Has it been diagnosed by the dealer?
Is the customer willing to get the vehicle diagnosed by the dealer?
Preferred/Involved Dealership/Name of the last GM dealer involved (If any)
Date of last GM visit/inspection/diagnosis for your concern (If any)
Contact person in the dealership (If any)
Preferred Date and Time of Appointment (If any)
Type of assistance requesting from General Motors


If you prefer to expedite the handling of your concern, please contact the Chevrolet Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-222-1020.  Customer Relationship Specialists are available Monday through Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. EST.


Thank you again for taking the time to contact Chevrolet.


Lalaine
Chevrolet Customer Assistance


[THREAD ID:8-185KSPN]



-----Original Message-----

From:  Our38ftlife@outlook.com
Sent:  1/17/2017 11:55:24 AM
To:  corporate@gm.com
Subject:  

Name: King,Brenda 
Email Address: Our38ftlife@outlook.com
Address: 
Phone numbers:  Comments: 
We are towing a 2013 Equinox, 4 clylinder, AWD LTZ behind our 38 ft Monaco Safari Cheetah. We set the tow vehicle up according to Chevys instructions using a fuse bypass switch. The hitch alignment and tow bar are all installed correctly. All was well until we got to Stockton Ca where we experienced the "death wobble" which was the Equinox violently shaking the motorhome. We were safely able to pull off the freeway, fully expecting to see a t least 2 flat tires, but after a complete vehicle inspection there appeared to be no reason for what occurred. This happened once that day but the next day it occurred 3 more times and we finally disconnected the vehicle from the coach and drove seperately. 
We did some research on RV fourumns and learned many Equinox owners are experiencing this problem I would like know how at GM I can speak to. Thank You.
Edited by Roadhouse38

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Fred and Jill,

 

I’m sorry again to hear that you didn’t get a satisfying answer from GM. As I mentioned previously, GM is saying this is the first they’ve heard of the issue. Last Wednesday, I emailed to GM the concerns of another Equinox owner who also contacted FMCA about the wobble issue. I will continue to do that for any Equinox owners who contact me. (And if you know of anyone else who has this problem, feel free to give them my contact information.) I’ve asked GM to provide me with the specifics of where GM owners can report this problem, so that there’s an ongoing record. I’ve not yet received a reply, so I’m recommending owners contact GM customer service and ask for a case number. In my view, generally speaking, there is strength in numbers, so the more people who report a problem, the less likely that GM will view it as an isolated issue.  

 

Best regards,  

 

John Johnston

Associate Editor, Family Motor Coaching

Family Motor Coach Association

8291 Clough Pike

Cincinnati, OH 45244

(800) 543-3622

(513) 388-5209 (direct)

www.FMCA.com | www.FMCmagazine.com

 

This is a letter we have received from John Johnston. He has been a tremendous help in starting getting a line to GM. More of 4 cylinder Equinox owners that are having this problem need to write to GM, get a customer number, and start complaining. Help will come in numbers. Write to NHTSA and FCA also.  Addresses are in the internet. Complaints can be done online, GM needs a letter and go from there.

Fred and Jill Wilkins

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I tow a 2010 Chevy Equinox LT2 with the 2.4 liter engine.  The first time my car misbehaved while being towed occurred when I made a hard right hand turn on a downward sloping driveway while exiting a parking lot.  The back of my motorhome shook right and left until I slowed to a stop.  When I began moving again, my car towed normally.  I have experienced the "death wobble" approximately a dozen times since the first occurrence.  It tends to occur as my motorhome and car pass over a severe bump or dip in the roadway, such as a construction zone or bridge abutment.  I believe the front of the Equinox gets slightly airborne and its front wheels get cocked.  When it lands the cocked wheels pull the back of the motorhome sideways.  A tug-of-war ensues between the motorhome and the car producing the sensation of the "death wobble".  This continues until the motorhome is slowed to a stop or near stop at which time the wheels of the Equinox begin tracking correctly.  A final observation is that several patches of rubber have been peeled off of the tread on the outside edges of the front wheels of my Equinox.  I believe this has been caused by friction between the tires and the pavement during these times when the tires are being dragged "sideways" down the road.

Sincerely, 

David Mann

 

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I may not be understanding what's going on but it sounds like everything works just fine until the battery goes dead after and hour or so.  If that's correct then the simple and obvious solution is to just add a charging circuit from the coach to the car which is easily accomplished.  If I am missing something here please give me a bit of clarification.

Thanks.

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We've had this issue with a 2010 and 2013 Equinox, towing behind four different coaches.  I think I've finally got it figured out!  I have a drop down hitch to my Blue Ox tow bar; both the drop down and the Blue Ox has some play at the receiver.  I think that play gets the car started going back and forth and then it gets pretty violent depending on your speed.  I had a welder put a couple of beads on each piece that goes into the receiver, I used a grinder to take some off until it fits tight.  About the same time I had my brainstorm, I had the front end aligned on the Equinox to rule that out (no problems there).  The mechanic told me he's seen a lot of problems with the electronic traction control on the Equinox while pulling four wheels down.  So now we turn off the traction control just before pulling the dash fuse.  So far, with limited testing (a few hours driving, but purposely trying to duplicate the problem) this has worked!  Next month will be the big test with two months on the road.

Instead of welding and grinding you can buy this:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015TLZXB0/ref=cm_sw_r_taa_eTqyyb9HBMFCF.

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I have a similar bracket on my RV but it has brackets that tighten both H/V but side to side.  It includes the same U-joint connection and a 2nd U-joint connection on the horizontal plane.  It locks everything in place with no possibility of movement.  I think it was a Blue Ox bracket but I did not do a search to try to find it.  That's your homework for tonight!

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I think it is a simple fix , leave the key on acc don't remove the fuse and add a charge line until GM decides to fix the problem 2 or 3 years down the road. I towed a 2010 4 cylinder Equinox with the oil drinking problem that GM finally admitted to the problem in I think 2014 or 15 but to late for me.

I took the loss and unloaded on a dealer. I just could not sell it to a individual but didn't bother me to let another GM dealer have it.

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Walt, you found the answer. :lol: 

The other is, don't buy a Equinox to tow...there are so many others out there, why complicate it ?

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2018 Equinox Owners Manual (available online) has deleted pulling the fuse prior to flat towing.

To tow the vehicle from the front with all four wheels on the ground:

1. Turn the vehicle on.

2. In vehicles equipped with AWD engage the AWD system and confirm that it is on.

3. Position the vehicle to be towed and secure it to the towing vehicle.

4. Shift the transmission to N (Neutral).

5. Turn the ignition to ACC/ ACCESSORY .

6. Turn all accessories off.

Once the destination is reached:

1. Set the parking brake.

2. Shift the transmission to P (Park).

3. Turn the vehicle off.

4. Start the engine and let it idle for more than three minutes before driving the vehicle.

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On 2/6/2017 at 7:01 PM, BillAdams said:

I have a similar bracket on my RV but it has brackets that tighten both H/V but side to side.  It includes the same U-joint connection and a 2nd U-joint connection on the horizontal plane.  It locks everything in place with no possibility of movement.  I think it was a Blue Ox bracket but I did not do a search to try to find it.  That's your homework for tonight!

A simple way to eliminate the sideways movement is to drill and tap 1/2 inch holes on the side of the receiver one behind and one ahead of  the hitch pin.  Use a bolt and jam nut and take out the movement.  I've been doing this on all my motorhomes for the last 42 years.  I will be at Indy next month if anyone wants to see how its done.

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On 1/28/2017 at 2:22 AM, manholt said:

As stated in other posts, use a bungee cord on your steering wheel. 

Bungee cord might have worked in older vehicles but the steering column in our Eqinox is about 6" x 6" then a 1/2 gap then the steering wheel. Guess where the bungee cord gets caught and stays there until you physically remove the cord. Does not work in these newer vehicles  Wheels stay in the wrong position and you buy new tires

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