Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is fairly new & is already showing an early trend of transmission problems.

Owners report hesitation when shifting & grinding/hard shifting into gears. Some dealers are calling the condition "normal". Another owner reported his dealership replaced the transmission under warranty, but the new transmission had the same exact grinding problem. Design defect?


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
34,387 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.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments (Page 1 of 4)

problem #79

Aug 022016


  • 50,000 miles


Shifter button is sticking (will not release) which prevents removal of the key from the ignition. Also, could allow the the vehicle to be shifted into other gears (park, reverse, etc) while in motion.

- Fort Blackmore, VA, USA

problem #78

Aug 222016


  • 62,000 miles
The button that is depressed to put the car in and out of gear sticks in place, allowing for the gear shift to be pushed out of place. I have had trouble numerous times getting my car into park because the stuck button causes the gear shift to get caught in reverse, and today I accidentally pushed the gear shift into neutral while sitting at a red light.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #77

Jun 022016


  • 50,000 miles
Air intake hose has been replaced due to cracking only 3 years old at that time about 45K miles. Now the shift knob sticks and the button takes forever to release, or I have to pop it back out so I can take the key out otherwise the key gets stuck. Getting it is becoming harder to shift into park. All these problems occur when stationary...I have not attempted to move the car into other gears while in motion but I know it will happen if it is pushed while that button is not released.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #76

May 252016


  • 30,000 miles


Automatic gear shift button sticks. Shift lever can move from drive to neutral to reverse to park without locking as the button is stuck depressed. Keys cannot be removed when car is in park. Stationary and in motion. Multiple times. Situation is getting progressively worse, I.e. button is sticking more frequently.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #75

Oct 012015


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While attempting to shift, the gear became stuck intermittently. In addition, the washer fluid was not operating on the windshield. The contact had to constantly add wiper fluid to the washer hose. The dealer could not determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. A month later, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the cause of the failure was undetermined. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 12V408000 (visibility). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 30,000.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

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problem #74

May 152016


  • 44,000 miles
My trans will not shift passed 3rd.

- Hickory Hills, IL, USA

problem #73

May 032016


  • 21,379 miles


When car is placed in park, ignition key cannot be removed.

- Burbank, CA, USA

problem #72

Apr 112016


  • miles
Once again my check engine light is on. I have had this car since 2013 with 16000 miles on it. The first time the check engine light came on the dealership try to tell me it was the gas I was using. Come to find out it was the air intake hose was cracked....that was a little over a year ago and now it is on again!!! the first it was barely covered under warranty, I dont think it will this time. I am pissed.....I paid 17000 for this car and have had in the shop so many times it isnt even funny. I even had it in for the sway bar link that was broke which shouldnt have been at 42000 miles.

- Covington, OH, USA

problem #71

Mar 282016


  • 48,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While in park, the gear shifter failed to shift. The contact had to force the gear shifter into the drive position. While driving 55 mph, the gear shifter became stuck and had to be forced again. The vehicle has not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 48,500.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #70

Nov 012015


  • miles
Gear shift gets stuck - unable to take key out, difficult to shift gears.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #69

Feb 232016


  • 59,800 miles


Shift gear cracked about a month ago...two months ago keys broke, today sitting at stop light couldn't get car into gear. Every gear went to reverse. Had to have cake towed.

- Springfield, IL, USA

problem #68

Feb 052016


  • 64,000 miles
When I press the gas pedal the rpms shoot up but car excelerates slowly. It jerks hard when switching to another gear and takes several minutes to finally get to a safe speed. Sometimes the car struggles to go uphill and hardly able to reverse. Dealership cleared my engine codes during my last oil change. Check engine light came back on a week later, autozone pulled 3 codes (P0700, P0300 and P0717). Changed my spark plugs, used lucas oil/5.25 oz. Fuel treatment twice but still no change. Sometimes I can smell burning rubber. This problem makes it hard to safely merge onto highways and get through traffic lights fast enough. Now autozone has accidentally cleared my codes so I can't see if any of the above listed codes have been resolved.

- Dundalk, MD, USA

problem #67

Nov 302015


  • 48,230 miles
The clean air hose from the throttle body to the clean air hose split at the convolutes causing an unregulated air / fuel ratio and lack of power due to the engine running lean. Potential safety issue if accelerating. Mileage at the time of failure 77,791 kilometers (48,230 miles)

- Windsor, Ontario Canada, MI, USA

problem #66

Oct 052015


  • 83,261 miles
The console gear shift has a button that must be depressed to shift. Button sticks in depressed position. Cannot remove keys in park position. The button broke I had to replace the whole console gear shift and have it installed. There needs to be a recall on this issue.

- Antioch, CA, USA

problem #65

Nov 092015


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving approximately 20 mph and depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle failed to respond without warning. The contact pulled over and powered the vehicle off and back on; however, the failure persisted. The contact continued to depress the accelerator pedal. The vehicle eventually shifted into the next gear. The failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and was not diagnosed. The contact was informed that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 110,000.

- Excelsior Springs, MO, USA

problem #64

Oct 162015


  • 40,021 miles
For 2 months my check emissions light was coming on and going off. According to my owners manual the gas cap or air filter need fixing. I went to autozone to get a free diagnostics reading. At the end of August my car started to hesitate, won't accelerate at take off. Then started heavy jerking at take off and when sitting still. I bought some liquid and changed air filter, same results. I called Chevy dealer to have car checked under my powertrain and my emissions warranty. I have been trying to get help so I could get my car checked next Friday on the 23rd. To have them look at my car. But on the 16th of October I'm leaving work I backed out of stall and pulled forward car was dragging roughly. I was waiting to pull out in traffic when car started jutting forward. I press on the gas went forward about 5 to 8 feet and then nothing. I was stuck inmid traffic. The reverse worked so I was able to roll out harms way.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #63

Mar 282015


  • 55,650 miles
Starting March 28, 2015, while parked in several public and private parking area's, the key could not be removed from the ignition for from 20 minutes to several hours. On April 1, 2015, the dealer, seth wadley, identified the problem as "55729 found shifter to be binding internally". they explained that the button that releases the automatic gear shift was getting stuck. This kept the key from being released from the ignition. While waiting for the problem to be evaluated, the car had to be left, unlocked with the keys in the ignition, in several private and public parking areas where children could have taken the car. The gear shifter would not lock into park while the button was stuck. I have the shifter that was replaced for $448.49 on April 3, 2015, and will provide it at your request. Attached are photos of the invoice and the old shifter.

- Ardmore, OK, USA

problem #62

Sep 212015


  • 45,000 miles
2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Gear shift button stuck in depressed position, preventing removal of the key from ignition when in park position and allows the shifter to shift between gears and park positions with little-to-no intervention. Inability disengage button and to remove the key from the ignition also creates inability to securely park the vehicle and turn the vehicle off. The failure to disengage was first expressed intermittently, with a failure occurrence rate of 20%-30% (with the initial failure mileage approximately 45,000 miles). Within 3 months, the failure occurrence rate increased to 100%. the vehicle was diagnosed as "internal fault of shifter and knob assembly, " with recommendation to "replace shifter assembly and shifter knob" (with labor + parts quote at $406 usd). The vehicle was not repaired. Diagnosis identified as a serious safety concern, with request made to issue recall.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #61

Dec 112012


  • 1,663 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While stopped at a red light and attempting to proceed through a green light, the vehicle failed to shift into second gear and the rpms rapidly increased without warning. The contact stopped the vehicle, powered it off and back on, and the vehicle was able to be driven; however, it was difficult to shift the vehicle into second gear. The failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 1,663.

- Ft. Jackson, SC, USA

problem #60

Mar 262015

Sonic 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 201,000 miles
I took my 2012 Chevy Sonic lt 6 speed manual to repair shop to have multiple repairs done. When shop installed clutch assembly they used all new oem clutch parts and had a clutch hydraulic slave cylinder, over extend and blow out seal, leaking brake fluid. ( about March 26th 2015.) issue was narrowed down to possible binding or blockage of slave cylinder function, during install or after. After several slave cylinder failures I contacted general manager at dealership who past matter to service manager and he looked up in system for bleeding instructions and found them to be as GM repair manual stated, correctly being done. He then said he would check the pi or engineering service bulletins. He found exact bulletin #pi0421D explaining same events and gave me a copy to pass on to shop. Now after reading report, the problem is clear but out of date slave cylinders were still being sold as replacement part. After I received original bleeder valve from shop I cut top in two pieces to inspect and verify issue. I found that the original slave cylinder left behind in bleeder valve, a rubber seal "as described in bulletin". newest updated slave cylinder available has a hard plastic seal that doesn't seem removable. Currently, it seems that this is covered under a bumper to bumper warranty but my car is far from coverage. Coverage not likely unless, car came in with related symptoms that lead to issue. My biggest concern is that this bulletin is not being updated to a recall. Bulletin states clearly that slave can and has failed (as it did on shops, 3rd attempt) after install, within 1,000 miles. Safety issue: Is that if clutch slave fails during operation, clutch failure will cause car to be stuck in current gear or unable to be put back in gear. This can cause an accident and cost, loss of life. This may have already happened but needs to be investigated.

- Clifton, CO, USA

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