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 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #9

Dec 182012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 9,000 miles


As I was driving down a intersection my car was going 50 miles an hour, then it just shut off. It's a 5 speed and it shut off and then started back up.the car was in 5 th gear at the time it was very scary im glad there was no one directly behind me. I've had problems with this car since day 1 there is other problems with it. But the dealers say its normal. They dont know why it did this. But this car is unsafe and to me its a lemon. I'm tired of feeling like a idiot this car has issues.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #8

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 #7

May 212012


  • 200 miles
Vehicle stalls when pulling out from a stop, and/or at low speeds when the clutch is pushed in. Then, it takes three seconds before the car can attempt to be re-started! very dangerous when turning left across a highway or into traffic, especially since there is what seems to be a 'programmed' waiting period of 3 seconds before you can attempt to re-started. 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 stalls every time I drive it. The dealerships say, "cannot reproduce. Operating to specifications."

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #6

Apr 282012


  • 1,912 miles


This car when sitting at a idle shakes it don't matter if you start it up in the morning or in the day or night. It acts like it has a misfire when driving like all the cylinders aren't working properly. Taken to dealer twice since I bought it new in March 2012. Has a rough idle everyday, after it warms up and you drive where ever you are going and then sit at a idle it bogs down, shakes the car. And im tired of going through this the dealer says its normal. And that the tech guys say its there number one complaint! im upside down in it so im stuck unless I can maybe file the lemon law.the dealer told me the first time I went that it was the alternator from sitting overnight. Lol really"?" and that the Chevy trucks do it too. Come on....and if the car has 3 or less bats showing on the gas area it runs even crappier like its going to break down right in the street. I have the 5 speed, and its a terrible car!

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #5

Nov 212012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 166 miles
November 26,2012 we financed a 2012 Chevy Sonic on November 17th. It only had 5 miles on it. Sweet. Right"?" nope by wed November 21st the engine light came on and the car was over heating. It was spilling out coolant fluid everywhere. Since it was the holidays I has to wait till Friday after thanksgiving to get it towed to the dealership where I purchased it. It is Monday November 26th and it is still in the shop. The service tech said they fixed what they thought was the problem, but it didn't fix the problem. So now they say it's something else now. What a drag! they gave me a loaner on Monday and reassured me that there would be no cost to me, and everything would be covered under warranty. Well of course I just got the darn thing.. I'm really disappointed because this is the fourth car I bought from this dealership. Well tomorrow is Tuesday November 27th let's see what happens. I should fight for a different new car!!!!!

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #4

Feb 222012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
Issues began with an intermittent rattle at cold start after car had been sitting about 30mins to an hr, from being driven. No codes showing so went un-repaired, once pinpointed, it was replicated, still no codes, no fix, starting about Aug 2012 after my 1st service car began to shake at idle while stopped in D, started getting worse progressively. Vehicle stalled in middle of intersection while trying to shift itself (auto trans) into 3rd, violent jerk to a stop and immediately picked itself up and jerked forward and moved, with my children in the car. Next stall occurred about 3-4 weeks later, idled so rough and low while in D at a stop light, car bogged down and stalled, started itself right back up. Engine power surging began at this point. While braking or on brake while stopped, engine would power surge thrusting car forward, came very close to hitting several cars while pulling into parking spot from these surges. Had taken vehicle in multiple times between 1st occurrence and this point in Sept. It was duplicated with multiple symptoms at once, including as given from dealer: Hard shaking, misfire, and rattle/knock at cold start. Only code to show was for the misfire, repair: Valve cleaning, not fixed. Rattle became a knocking. Idle meanwhile getting rougher. Took back for knocking, surging, rough idle, stalling. No codes, repair: GM tech assist had camshaft actuators replaced, fixed knocking/rattle at cold start only! idle worse, now loss of engine power intermittently causing vehicle to hardly move, had vehicle back less than 24hrs. Almost had a "T-bone" accident and head on into a pole in same incident due to said loss of power. Asked for replacement (after 7 service repair attempts), request presently in limbo, no offer of replacement thus far! I am severely concerned for my family's safety at this point, clearly defective in itself with no codes showing.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #3

Sep 052012


  • miles


Multiple reports of Daewoo Sonics (and Cruze, also sourced from Daewoo though assembled in the United States) equipped with the 1.4L turbocharged engine stalling out and/or accelerating poorly in warm/hot conditions when using 87 octane fuel. These vehicles are unsafe in warm weather when owners use regular, unleaded gasoline, even though the manufacturer does not prohibit low octane fuel from being used. (premium fuel is "recommended" but not required, and the demographic groups that will purchase these cars likely will not wish to spend additional money for premium fuel for economical, subcompact automobiles.) NHTSA needs to investigate these examples of government motors once again endangering the general public.

- Anytown, MN, 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 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

Jan 282012


  • 400 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that there was a burning plastic smell in the interior of the vehicle and was causing discomfort to the contact's nose, eyes, clothes and taste. The contact stated that the odor would be come uncomfortable after being in the vehicle for a minimum of 45 minutes. The vehicle was taken to the dealer five times who confirmed the smell but was unable to determine the cause of the failure. The manufacturer was notified and advised that an investigator would be sent to further assess the failure. The failure mileage was 400 and the current mileage was 2,100.

- Tacoma, WA, USA

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