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:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,740 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #29

May 282015


  • 45,000 miles


When my wife places car in park, removes keys, the car will attempt to restart?!! yes re-start<< this is very dangerous & I am fearful for her life!!!! 2012 Sonic was purchased @ jon hall Chevrolet in daytona beach, fl. In 2011. With 700+ miles on it already. I'd certainly appreciate somebody contacting them (jon hall) and allow her to take it in for a free repair. Car is used only for her to go to work & back. This car fairly new (2012) has defect in it from the day she received it...plze do help. Her life may be at stake. (fire, explosion etc..)!!!!!!!

- Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #28

Jun 012015


  • 50,000 miles
Engine light came on. Took car to dealership to diagnose problem. Dealer codes: P0101, P0171, throttle body intake tube torn allowing unmetered air to enter engine. Repair cost about $450 please advise if this is frequent occurrence in Chevy Sonic my 12. Are there similar complaints subject to recall?

- Plymouth , MI, USA

problem #27

May 312015


  • 45,000 miles
I am owner of 2012 Chevy Sonic, yesterday again - when I shut off my started back up again just after I shut the key off car was in park. Plze do H E L P - M E !!!

- Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #26

Jan 012012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 25,000 miles


A few months after purchasing my 2012 Chevy Sonic, I've noticed a decease in power and hesitation in its automatic shifting between gears. I've taken it in several times with the same issue, and each time the service techs (even the service manager) has told me and explained that it is behaving "normal" and "to design". if it were "normal" why hadn't it done that driving right off the lot"?? and why is it, years later, its shifting hesitation has gotten worse to the point of severe jerking as it shifts from one gear to another, as if someone were learning how to drive stick for the first time?????" there is nothing "normal" about how my vehicle is performing. It is complete[xxx] that I've been getting the run around about this issue for years. And they refuse to admit there's a problem, nor will they service it, which makes my vehicle ineligible to be claimed as a lemon, which it obviously is!!! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #25

Apr 172014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that antifreeze was leaking from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician was unable to find a leak and no repairs were made to the vehicle. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Burkesville, KY, USA

problem #24

Jun 022014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the vehicle would hesitate to accelerate over 10 mph. In addition, the vehicle stalled when idling and the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who diagnosed the unknown parts needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Burlington , NC, USA

problem #23

Nov 272014


  • 50,300 miles


My wife was driving on the highway and it felt like transmission was slipping. We have a 6 speed manual turbo Chevy Sonic. While the car was under the 36000 warranty an engine fault light came on and we brought it to the dealer. I believe they said it had to do with turbo " they repaired the fault and now at 50000 miles it appears the transmission has let go and/or clutch " recall 14234 appears to be what happened to our vehicle or the aforementioned turbo problem they worked on and want us to pay for something that maybe a recall item or faulty workmanship during warranty period.

- Southington , CT, USA

problem #22

Oct 182014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 47,740 miles
Beginning from the first month of ownership. Approx. 28,000 mi. At cold start there is a rattle noise like metal on metal. Then will disappear right after. Has been getting worse/ louder. Hard shifts, loss of power. Now as of last night the check engine light is on and the car runs rough. High idle, stalls, knocking noises from engine. Fault code. P0011?

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #21

Aug 212014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 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 #20

Sep 012014


  • 32,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the check engine and gear box warning indicators illuminated while the vehicle was in drive, reverse, or park. While traveling approximately 55 mph on a major highway, the vehicle decelerated and stalled. The contact stated that the gears were difficult to shift during the failure. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The dealer stated that the intake duct and boot needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer stated that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 32,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #19

Aug 052014


  • 1,200 miles


Current mileage is 26,985 1. car seems to lose power when accelerating and hesitates (almost shutting down), it happens randomly while driving as well and is now happening more and more often. It' very dangerous when crossing intersections or making a right on red and especially dangerous when accelerating to enter a highway. 2. rear suspension makes strange noises upon backing up/stopping; 3. very bad odor coming from A/C vents....disgusting, almost smells like plastic burning or burning rotten eggs; 4. I hear strange noises in the back brakes, not constant but random and getting louder when it does happen; 5. wiper fluid not working, I've been told this is a recall issue; 6. the automatic dashboard lights are constantly changing, most especially when turning the wipers on/off. It doesn't seem to matter if you're in complete darkness or daylight. 7. sometimes the car will not lock until you put the key back in the ignition, restart the car, take it out of park and put it back in park. Sometimes I have to do this 2 or 3 times, each time getting back out of the car to try to lock it. 8. steering this car on the highway at highway speeds is difficult...the car swerves and if it's a windy day it's beyond difficult to keep this car in the lane. Very dangerous. 9. the radio turns itself on and off as it pleases. It took me years to be able to finally purchase a new car and now there are not only 6 recalls on the car but I also have all the additional problems listed above. There's a 45 day wait to have the recalls repaired and event with that I am now going to have to take a day off of work without pay to get this crap all fixed! I feel like I have wasted my money. So much for expecting reliability and quality.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #18

Jan 082014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 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 #17

May 062014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Consumer writes in regards to recalls and vehicle repairs issues. The consumer stated the check engine light illuminated. The knock sensor and lower transmission mount were replaced.

- Spring Valley, NY, USA

problem #16

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 #15

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 #14

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 #13

Feb 082013


  • 14,978 miles
Every cold start the is a grinding and rattle noise that comes from the timing side. I took it to Chevy and they said that cant do anything unless they hear it which I thought was reasonable and the next morning they called and stated my car has no noise even tho this happens every cold start. I also have a loud knocking noise coming from the engine when it is warm or has been driven for more than 20minutes the dealer says its normal but at 21454 the noise is 3 times louder than ever before. I had a check engine light code P0011 intake camshaft position timing -over-advanced (bank-1) which I took in and they fixed it 4days later and it is back same code I called the dealer and they said to bring it in I explained I don't have a ride to work they said I have to figure it out because I have to pay the deposit for a rental I shouldn't even need. The engine also seems to sputter and lose power randomly also the rpms will go up to 2500 sometimes while stopping I have always drive. Manual transmissions I believe I would know when I am pushing the gas! Chevy seems like they don't want to touch my car until my warranty is out I am so disappointed by their actions and this car sad I got 4 of my friends to buy them too in 2013 I just want Chevy to buy back my car or fix all of it! this is my first american 100% brand new car and I feel like it is the biggest mistake I have ever made. The whole we cant just cant look at it unless we see or hear it is kind of bs!

- Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #12

Sep 302013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 21,765 miles
I brought my car in because there was something wrong with the steering. I asked that an oil change be done and when I picked it up the car had white smoke coming out of the engine and had a strong burning smell. There was a lot of smoke I was only gone 10 minutes from the dealer before I had to bring it back. Brought it back dealer said they smelled burning and sprayed a deodorizer in vents to mask it, but they did not address the smoking that is still happening. Filed compliant with GM requesting a buy back of vehicle. I bought the vehicle the first year it was out, and have also had multiple issues with the front end, air conditioner not to mention that the dealer dropped car off rack and caused damaged.

- Palatine, IL, USA

problem #11

Apr 172013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
I have a 2012 Chevy Sonic lt automatic with the 1.8 liter. The car started having problems around 45,000 miles and has gotten worse over time.the car on cold start ups has a grinding sound. This grinding most of the time only happens on cold start ups but does at times happens on warm start ups. This sounds like metal against metal and it rattles. This seems to happen until the car is fully started and running. I am getting concerned because it is getting worse and louder.

- Huntington, WV, USA

problem #10

Mar 152012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 5,000 miles
Idles 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 very between 200-3,000 RPM. 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 automatic shifting from 1st to 3rd gear completely skips around. The car shifts are hard to the point, once you come to a stop it feels like the transmission is going to fall out.

- Lithia, FL, USA

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