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CarComplaints.com 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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,451 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments

problem #19

Apr 092013


  • 38,286 miles


First of all the windshield wiper line keeps popping of of my car not allowing me to use my windshield whipper fluid so the tank is always empty. Second while driving my car radio flickers on and off and sometimes completely goes black not only that my car speedometer is electrical and after 30 min of driving says im going 20/34/whatever mph it wants to read when im really going the hwy speed limit and I have often had to mess with the wires that run to my battery to turn my car back on since its the wires(electrical work and not the battery) my battery has been tested many times. Finally third the little shift button on my car keeps sticking and wont allow for my car to properly shift causing my car to over rev and not want to drive. Im now at 115,000 miles and every time I go to a dealership they say there is nothing wrong with my car when I know there is since I have been the one driving it and then they just give it back to me which still costs me money with no solution my cars state has just been getting worse and worse and due to limited income I cant afford to get a new one at this time otherwise I would have already traded this Chevy pos in. I also called Chevrolet's corporate office where the lady gave me a case number and never called me back like she was supposed to. While on the phone with her she told me that there was nothing she could do for my car since my car wasnt a reacall but I find it odd that my car was made on February 28, 2012 which falls between two major recalls with problems similar to what my car has especially since one is the windshield wiper recall. So I believe that the Chevy corporation as a whole doesn't want to take responsibility for their faulty car that they have made and when you take it to a Chevy dealership they will continue to tell you nothing is wrong so that they just take your money and not fix your car. Unsafe&immoral

- Burton, TX, USA

problem #18

Aug 212014


  • 51,611 miles
1. took car in to dealership in Aug for check engine light on and coolant is low, car overheats. Car was in shop for almost 2 weeks (P/U Sept 5th). They repl. Radiator, thermostat, Sept 10 car stalls at major stop light and again at a stop sign. Engine starts making a loud noise and runs rough. Keeps stalling at idle. Take car back to dealer next day Sept 11. They have the car for 3 weeks. P/U Oct 7th after they repl the engine and some bolts. Sales agent assures me that there will be no more problems its fixed. 5 mins on the fwy at 70mph in fast lane at lunch hour car just turns off almost had a major accident trying to get over four lanes. Stops completely in the middle of slow lane by on-ramp almost was hit twice started the key and it turned on got off fwy and took directly back to dealer who called me three days later and stated that a connector was bad and thats why it turned off and they ordered the part and that should take care of the problem P/U car in three days. Sales agent called back day I was to P/U and said they were still working on it and I told him I want to talk with a supervisor I will not drive the car off lot, come to find out that day on the fwy that it had never been test driven. Contacting business bureau and attorney at this point.

- Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #17

May 072014


  • 13,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle would suddenly shut off. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the battery connection was faulty. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 13,500. Updated 10/14/14

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #16

Jun 152014


  • 65,000 miles


The shifter button/knob always gets stuck. This vehicle has an automatic transmission so it wasn't included in the prior recall regarding the shifter. The car radio turns on by itself after I have removed by car key and locked the doors. This has caused the battery to drain and now it needs to be replaced. Chevy dealer said that replacing the shifter "may" correct the issue with the radio. I would like to know why the shifter needs to be replaced after only 2 years of use. I have had much older cars with far less issues and never needed to have a shifter replaced. It appears to be a defect that they have not recalled yet.

- Duluth, GA, USA

problem #15

Jan 082014


  • 48,000 miles
My vehicle has been a nightmare. In January I visited the dealership because my heater was not working. At that time I was told I would need to replace my battery soon that it had some leaking acid. Three weeks later I replace the battery. At that time the dealership installed a new battery and sent me on my way. Ive spent thousands since then repairing what the dealership described as a electrical nightmare. I also have told the dealership several times that there are transmission problems with my vehicle. I insisted they drive with me and although the transmission issues have been acknowledged, the dealership has been busy repairing the electrical damage of the battery, the have never touched my transmission. I still have transmission problems. My car hesitates and doesn't accelerate causing me to almost wreck several times. I also have had several ignition problems with my vehicle. One occasion my vehicle would not turn off. The key was in the off position but the car remained running for several hours until the battery was dead. Anther occasion I was pumping gas and the vehicle was turned off. My two young children were in the vehicle and the car started cranking itself. It attempted to start three different times. My car stalls at red lights and will decelerate in the middle of heave traffic. I am frightened to drive my vehicle and fear for me and my childrens safety. I have contacted GM several times and have had my car in for repair numerous times. My salesperson advised me to file a lemon law report and my mechanic described my vehicle as an electrical nightmare. No GM rep can explain why my vehicles battery would have caused this much damage being my car was less than 2 years old. Please help.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #14

May 062011


  • 31,000 miles
The battery go's dead when not started for more then2 days

- Casa Grande , AZ, USA

problem #13

Mar 122014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles


For about a month now everytime I go to park my car my shifter get stuck and I am unable to put my car in park or take the key out. I went to the dealer ship and I was told I could spend $150 to get it looked at & then spend how every much money it would be to fix it. I don't have that kind of money for that at the moment but now its to the point where I cant even drive my car at all because the shifter always gets stuck and I cant get my key out to park or put it in park drive reverse etc...... ! ! ! I have seen that a couple people are having this problem so its not just my car. But since it gets suck I can be driving down the road and hit the shifter by accident and it will move the car into another position because it doesn't click witch means I can go from driving to it being thrown into park or reverse in seconds. That's going to cause a accident! I need this fixed I drive with kids in my car on a daily basis.......... their is something wrong in the shifter.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #12

Mar 132014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 34,000 miles
A bad smell like rotten eggs, keeps coming out of the ac/C vents and the engine of the car. I changed the air filter and everything but nothing happen the smell does not go away.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 162014


  • 8,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated while making a turn at approximately 10 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The failure caused the contact to crash into a telephone pole. There were no injuries. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was not destroyed. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 8,500.

- Akron, IN, USA

problem #10

Mar 052014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
On or around December, 2014, the shift cover would not attach permanently. On or around March 10, 2014, the electrical access plug did not operate. On or around March 6, 2014, my mother was driving around 45mph, and we hit an elk. No airbags deployed.

- Grand Canyon, AZ, USA

problem #9

Mar 242014


  • 44,500 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, a chime sounded with the illumination of the engine oil pressure warning indicator. The failure also recurred upon starting the ignition. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician informed that the oil pressure indicator switch would need to be replaced. The vehicle was currently being repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 44,500.

- Altoona, WI, USA

problem #8

Nov 082013


  • 25,000 miles
After manually turning off the radio, turning off the car, removing the key from the ignition, exiting the car, locking and arming the car's alarm, the radio will turn itself back on. In some cases it has done this before we have even walked 20 feet from the car, in other cases it happens up to 2 hours after exiting (and locking) the car. It happens more than 75% of the time. Shortly after the first time we observed the symptom, the check engine light came on and stayed on, but the dealership claimed it was no longer on after I dropped the car off (and it was definitely on when I exited the still running car for them to drive inside) and that there are no error codes in the history. They claim they cannot reproduce the radio issue.

- Countryside, IL, USA

problem #7

Jun 212013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 1,835 miles
I purchased my Sonic in April of this year. I was initially wowed by the avg mpg I was attaining based on the avg reported by the car's computer. After a few fill ups I realized I was adding more gas than the mpg would indicate. Since 6/21 I began recording the difference reported by the computer at each fill up & my manual calculations. The difference thru 10/17 averaged 5.6mpg (a low of 2.3 & a high of 8.4 mpg) always higher. I took it to the dealer & was told there was nothing they could do & that the svc mgr's Cadillac had the same problem. In fact, I was told by him that the computer's figure was the "mpg the car was getting at the moment, not the avg since last fill up. I've called Chevrolet, told numerous people about the problem. I was promised callbacks & have never gotten them.

- Sunrise, FL, USA

problem #6

Apr 152013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 21,967 miles
Was driving and smelt something burning and thought someone was burning something and I drove thru the smoke and so I kept driving and a mile down the road I kept smelling something burning so I pulled over and looked around in my car then got out and checked under the hood and nothing so I went ahead and drove home then looked around again and didn't find anything so I just went inside then the next day after it rained I seen that both my fog lights had moisture in them and when I got down and looked both my fog lights are all burnt and melted inside, I guess it got so hot it melted the light housing and all that.. it got so hot its black inside my fog lights and U can see where it got hot and the plasted melted and ran down to the bottom on the inside of my fogs.

- Morgantown, KY, USA

problem #5

Mar 062013


  • miles
Accessory cigarette lighter was being used to charge a car phone while on a trip out of state, when we stopped to get gas and had the car off and returned it on after filled with gas all the gauges on the car went crazy dropping all the way down to zero on all gauges even though the car was working properly during this time, even the speedometer showed zero, I dont know if it was because we charging the phone or what caused it. But this only happened once so far.

- Pontiac, MI, USA

problem #4

May 212012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
Idles roughly, idle increases dramatically while the car is at a stop, and the engine stalls very frequently, regardless of temperature or weather conditions. On start-up, or while stopped with the engine running, the idle will become rough and vary between 200-3,000 RPM, but not stall. Also at times, while stopped, the idle will increase from normal, smooth idle up to about 3,000 RPM for approximately one second, then drop back down to 750 RPM (normal idle speed) without touching the accelerator. The engine will also stall at parking lot speeds when I push in the clutch to shift from 2nd to 1st gear. The car also often stalls when pulling out from a stop. A re-start cannot be attempted for approximately 3 seconds. Turn the key, nothing happens. I've owned this vehicle (1.4L turbo engine with 6 spd manual transmission) since 05/21/2012, and over 8,000 miles later, it still idles roughly and stalls every time I drive it. The dealerships say, "cannot reproduce. Operating to specifications."

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #3

Dec 132012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 300 miles
Radio randomly turns on when car is shut off. Last night it turned on 13 times. It activates the full electrical system in the car. Won't shut off unless car is started and xm radio is tuned to fm and shut off. Then if your lucky it may stay off. I have been reporting this to the dealership in Vermont and Chevrolet for 8 months. They tell me it is not an issue. They tested radio said it works fine. It is worse when cold out. Radio randomly turns on. Will not shut off.

- Bristol, VT, USA

problem #2

Aug 042012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 3,070 miles
Stalls easily and frequently when pulling out from a stop and is then difficult to restart, or I must wait about 5 seconds before I can attempt a restart. Uneven idle most of the time. Dealer blames me for the stalling (says I'm not used to the manual transmission, but many are complaining on the online forum www.sonicownersforum.com) most importantly, yesterday (08/04/2012), the fully warmed 1.4L turbo engine in my Sonic rev'd to from idle (750 RPM) to exactly 3,000 RPM then back down to 750 RPM (while 6 spd manual in neutral, clutch fully depressed, right foot firmly on the brake and not touching the accelerator pedal. I had stopped at the end of a driveway and was waiting on traffic so that I could pull out. My right foot never moved from the brake pedal and was in no way touching the accelerator pedal. The idle speed increased to 3,000 RPM all on it's own and back down to idle, much to my shock and amazement. Thankfully, I was fully stopped. At only 3,070 miles and not yet 3 months of ownership, my new 2012 Sonic is beginning to have a mind of it's own.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #1

May 012012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 7,800 miles
I purchased my car brand new with 3 miles on it in November 2011. When I hit around 7500 miles I noticed the car when stopped on a hill would drift backwards - when I got to 7800 miles the whenever I was in traffic traveling around 5-13 mph I noticed the car would not shift on it's own the RPM's would shoot up and the tach would rev but the car would not go. I would need to put it in park and then drive and it would be fine. This happened almost every day for about 2 weeks. When going to park and put it in reverse to back in the car would hesitate about 30 seconds before it would move.. I contacted my dealer and took it in. Onstar said they did not find issues when they checked. The dealer corrected the problem.. on the engine control module they had to reprogram it with sps ( not sure what the means ) and it now works like the day I pulled it off the lot.... they also left me know if there are any other issues to contact them right away and they would get it right in. On the electrical - the driver window button sticks and window will go up and down on it's own until you get the button un-stuck -- this is also being repaired by the dealer however they had to order parts.. when they come in is to be determined.

- Palmerton , PA, USA

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