Notes: The 2006 Cobalt continued to carry the torch first lit by the 2005 model year. To be clear, that torch is burning bright with widespread power steering issues, electrical curiosities and a dangerous ignition switch defect which led to a massive recall by GM. This isn’t a great torch to carry.

The 2006 added it’s own special flare with gas leaks due to cracks in the “return portion of the modular reservoir assembly.” A recall of 2006 Cobalts was issued to fix the problem, but only to vehicles sold in or current registered in Arizona and Nevada, leaving other owners to pay for repairs themselves.

Between this car stalling while driving, giving owners fits with power steering failure and having it be a potential tinderbox because of gas leaks, we felt we had no other option than to award it our “Avoid Like the Plague” badge.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
68 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
129 / 3
Average Mileage:
60,443 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt steering problems

steering problem

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2006 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 32 of 56)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #493

Jan 312010


  • 55,924 miles


I read that you are investigating the lost of power steering in Chevy Cobalts, and we had an incident this last weekend. My son was practicing parallel parking in front of our condo, and the vehicle lost the power steering. It only occurred when the vehicle was idling very slow, since he was not moving fast to do the parking, but if you pulled back out into the road, and accelerated, the power assist to the steering came back. When the assist was off, it was extremely difficult to move the steering wheel. I have owned the car almost 4 years and this is the first time I have noticed the loss of power assist steering. So it may have something to do with turning the steering to extremes as you do when parking, or maybe with steering at a very slow rate of speed while doing the work of parking. Just thought I would report this to help in your investigation.

- Hartford, WI, USA

problem #492

Dec 142009


  • 29,600 miles
Electronic steering in the Chevy Cobalt. Around Oct 2009, I bought a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, primarily for my daughter to continue her drivers ed training and practice. I noticed when she tried to parallel park within the 3 minute mva time limit that she would loose power steering and the wheel would lock. It would stay locked for some time (a few minutes). My daughter mentioned that she wasn't allowed to drive the Chevy Cobalt at her drivers ed training because of the same problem--so the company couldn't use the vehicles for the students to practice parallel parking. The company was friendly driving academy in glen burnie, md I filed a complaint with GM customer service and took the car to the dealership and was told that they were aware of the problem, but that is how the car is designed. I told them that I thought it was poor engineering and that trying to make parallel parking adjustments within a 3 minute mva time limit should not cause the steering to lock. My daughter was unable to use the vehicle to take the mva test because of this. It seems that this should be defect and the vehicles should be recalled.

- Glen Burnie, MD, USA

problem #491

Jan 032010


  • 88,523 miles
While driving my 2006 Chevy Cobalt the power steering message popped up on the digital read out where is shows the mileage and I noticed that the steering was harder to maneuver. I slowed down and it became very hard to steer. So I turned the car off and looked for any fuses that might have been blown not knowing if there was any and restarted started the engine and everything seemed to be fine. But it did it 3 more times in a 4 mile distance.

- Medina, OH, USA

problem #490

Apr 052008


  • 45,000 miles


I have a 2006 Chevy Cobalt which was bought brand new. It now has 67,000 miles on it. At approx. 45,000 the power steering light and theft deterrent light began blinking. The car doesn't even have a security system. We took it to the GM dealer who "fixed" the problem by tearing into the steering column and cleaning all of the plugs. It works fine for a few months, then it did it again. They then did the same thing and cleaned the plugs. The third time we took it back they replaced the steering column and it was good for about a year. It began acting up again and we took it back and they cleaned the plugs again. After years of frustration and complaining, we finally figured out what controls it. When you operate the tilt wheel it will either fix or hinder the problem worse or better than what it is at the time. I saw that NHTSA is looking into this and I wanted to file a complaint as well as everyone else to let them know I am not happy with the electronic assist steering. There was a point where you could be going down highway and going around a turn and the power steering wouldn't' be working, and it would kick in and out jerking the wheel. Making it difficult for the drive to keep the vehicle in its own lane. In addition to being hard to park, this is a horrid system. I will never buy a Cobalt again due to this safety issue, it almost forced me to wreck going down the highway.

- Jersey Shore, PA, USA

problem #489

Nov 272009


  • miles
The power steering on my car became very "tight" and difficult to steer. The steering problem pulled my car into the lane of the on coming traffic. I jerked my wheel and went off of the road. I did prevent an accident from occurring but every since then my power steering has been difficult. If I turn my car off and turn it back on sometimes it resets the power steering put shortly after I start driving I hear a dinging and the power steering light comes on and once again it is difficult to steer my car. I reported this to the place I bought my car and they told me that there have been several complaints with this issue and they felt there would be a recall. Then today, February 3, 2010, I heard the news reports so I figured I should file a complaint also.

- Vandergrift, PA, USA

problem #488

Nov 272007


  • 28,318 miles
My Chevy Cobalt ls 2006 2-D lost its steering power and I had a hard time driving it but luckily I was still under the 36,000 miles warranty when I brought it to the dealership. It was fixed but I'm just worried that it may happen again and my car is not under warranty anymore and I see that it costs $2000 to have it fixed and in addition to this, it may cause a major accident without steering capabilities.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #487

May 202009


  • 60,000 miles


I own a 2006 Chevy Cobalt ls. I have had problems steering my vehicle when parking, backing out of parking spaces and when traveling at low speeds and trying to turn. I have mentioned this problem to my Chevy dealership service center and they have stated that this is just something that happens with the Cobalts over time. Recently my ignition locked up twice, and right before it locked I felt the steering column tighten up. Not sure if that's related but it might be. The service center replaced the shifter in the vehicle and it hasn't locked up again but the steering wheel is still tightening.

- Gwynn Oak, MD, USA

problem #486

Jan 252010


  • miles
I have had problems with my steering on my 06 Cobalt since I have bought it. It seems to get stuck when turning the steering vehicle to the left. I have taken it to the dealer but was always told they did not find anything wrong with it. At this time there has not been any major problem like a crash but it still concerns me and I know it should not operate like this. This has occurred on more than one occasion and still nothing has been done to fix the problem.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #485

Nov 182009


  • miles
I was driving and my power steering stopped working. The warning light went on the dashboard and I was unable to turn my wheel very much in any direction.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #484

Jan 122010


  • 27,154 miles
2006 Chevy Cobalt, power steering goes out without warning.

- Tuckahoe, NY, USA

problem #483

Aug 152009


  • 51,600 miles


Daughter has a 2006 Chevy Cobalt ltz purchased used in 2009. Last year on one occasion, as she was backing out of the garage, she indicated that her car suddenly became very difficult to turn the steering wheel. I came out and determined this was in fact occurring. I then turned off the car, re-started it and this seemed to take care of the issue. I now report this as I have now read of similar occurrences from other owners to which you are now investigating.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #482

Dec 012009


  • miles
The steering:electric power assist system keeps giving out. While driving at a slow speed the car shakes and it is hard to keep control of the steering. It often goes to one side or another.

- Martinsburg, WV, USA

problem #481

Jan 302010


  • miles
On Saturday Jan 30, 2010 I was leaving a business and I went to back out and when I started going forward as I was turning my steering wheel it was hard to turn the power steering had gone out. Also a few times during the summer it had happened. I would be turning a corner and I found myself turning with 2 hands or just going down the street my power steering light would come on. I had not had anything done as of yet because it hadn't done it for a few months until Saturday.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #480

Jan 132010


  • 40,100 miles
Loss of power steering 2006 Cobalt "power steering" flashed on the dash and I lost power assist. This has happened 4 times already since I purchased the vehicle.

- Tonawanda , NY, USA

problem #479

Aug 282009


  • 72,000 miles
We own a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, our first Chevy purchase ever. Purchased it used in spring of 08. Don't know what previous problems it may have had, but one can only wonder. While driving this past fall, my husband heard dinging sounds, looked down, and the screen said the power steering failed. Sure enough, there was no power steering. The manual says to shut off engine, restart, and rock the steering wheel. Every time we restart, the power steering comes back on, but only for a very short time. As soon as we drive 20 feet, it goes out again. This happens for us while driving at any speed - could be going 55 miles an hour down the road, could be while going around a turn. We live in West Virginia with mountains and sharp turns, and this poses a serious danger. If we lose power steering going around a big turn, we're in trouble. I've read reports of power steering failing at slow speeds. However, this is certainly not the case for us. It will go out at any speed, and the more you restart the engine, the more it continues to go out. We took the car to the place of purchase to see how much it would be to repair, and they told us that they couldn't fix it there or guarantee it if they did try to fix it. But the cost could be as much as $1100 or more. Well, I don't have $1100 to fix the newest vehicle I own, it's very dangerous the way it is, and so the car has been sitting for the past 6 months. I couldn't be more tickled if Chevy had to correct their mistakes and fix my car for no charge. If we had known that everything in this car is electrical and had no steering fluid, we would never have purchased our "first-ever" Chevy to begin with. Next time we'll stick with Ford. Thank you for your investigation and hope that we get this resolved.

- Fort Ashby, WV, USA

problem #478

Jan 212010


  • 40,500 miles
My power steering on my Chevrolet Cobalt has gone out on several occasions one time on the highway. When it goes out it is difficult to keep control of the vehicle.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #477

Nov 102009


  • 52,664 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the power steering failed while driving 30 mph and she was unable to control the vehicle. The contact had to drive onto the emergency lane and turn the vehicle off and then back on so that it would reset itself. The dealer replaced the entire steering wheel assembly. The Chevrolet manufacturer was notified before the vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 52,664.

- Sterling, VA, USA

problem #476

Nov 012009


  • miles
I own a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. Approximately three months ago my vehicle alerted me that my power steering is no longer engaged. It first occurred while I was driving through my neighborhood. The power steering went out all of the sudden, and I was forced to operate the steering wheel without the power steering. Originally it occurred once a week, but for the past month my power steering has been going out everyday. It usually occurs while I'm driving less than 45 miles per hour, but on three different occasions it has gone out on the interstate while I'm traveling 70 miles an hour. The only way I know how to fix the problem is to put my car in park, turn off the ignition, and then restart my vehicle. When I restart my vehicle the power steering is engaged again.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #475

Jan 152010


  • 40,000 miles
While driving our Chevrolet Cobalt, the power steering kept going out. The car is three years old. And it was a really scary experience.

- Howard, OH, USA

problem #474

Jun 012008


  • 40,000 miles
Power steering failure with my 06 Chevy Cobalt. Started occurring around 40,000 miles. It spontaneously fails about twice a month with no real reason that I can tell. When it occurs, I have to pull off of the side of the road and turn my car off and then back on again. Sometimes I have to wait several minutes before restarting to correct the problem.

- Amelia, OH, USA

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