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 1 of 3)

problem #49

Jul 032016


  • 120,000 miles


Has burning smell of anti freeze and wires melting. Air bags don't work on front passenger side.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #48

Jul 012016


  • 90,000 miles
This car has given me so many problems. The radiator, the motor everything.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #47

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 #46

Dec 192015


  • 32,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at 45 mph over a bump, the vehicle felt loose from underneath. The vehicle was taken to a dealer but there was no failure determined. The contact stated that failure recurred five months later and in addition, the vehicle made a humming noise when making a turn. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who diagnosed that the stabilizer links needed to be replaced. The contact also stated that the window washer fluid drained on the engine, and the dealer diagnosed that the hose connected to the fluid container was disconnected and needed to reconnect. The vehicle was not remedied. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 32,000.

- Pinellas Park, FL, USA

problem #45

May 132016


  • 40,000 miles
Takata recall I was driving and I tried to brake at an intersection due to a red light and there was a car in front of me, I was unable to use the brakes because the pad got stiff and it didn't allow me to brake, I had to use my emergency brake but I hit the car in front of me.

- Chino, CA, USA

problem #44

Apr 302016


  • 62,856 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving approximately 5 mph, smoke emerged from the engine compartment and a beeping noise started. Also, the temperature control warning indicator illuminated. The contact stopped the vehicle and turned off the engine. The contact parked the vehicle on the side of the road and left it there for two days. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that four hoses attached to the radiator failed and the thermostat housing was damaged. In April, the vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic because it was experiencing a failure with the heater system. It was diagnosed that antifreeze was leaking from the radiator to the engine. The vehicle was in the process of being repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 62,856.

- Queens Village, NY, USA

problem #43

May 012016


  • 75,000 miles


In 2015, my 2012 Chevrolet Sonic had to have the fuel purge valve replaced. The car worked for a while after this. However, a few months ago, it started having a rough idle, with the rpms dipping up and down. The problem got worse recently, when the car actually completely died while making a left hand turn, almost causing me to get hit. Now, it is even worse. Now, in addition to the rough idle, traction control randomly engages even when I am not slipping, causing me to lose all power for brief periods of time, while in motion. The traction control is glitching so bad that it even randomly engages when I am completely stopped. This is a huge safety issue, and the dealership that sold me the car wants $113 just to tell me what is causing it, and how much it will cost to actually fix. There are no active recalls on this vehicle, but further research on the model I own, shows other owners having similar issues. Chevrolet has been no help

- West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #42

Jun 272015


  • 150,000 miles
Major concern: My power steering failed. The dealer said the power steering column needed to be replaced ($1,300). The car has high mileage (excess of 150,000). I have had several cars with similar mileage but never had the power steering fail. Since this is electronic steering there doesn't appear to be any warning/no preventative maintenance. Fortunately I was not on the highway at the time this occurred but in the driveway after having driven several hours the same day. We checked for relays in the fuse box but none are marked for the power steering. There were at least two previous times when backing out of my driveway that the power steering locked up but then started working fine. Dealer could not find the problem for the first two incidents. My car has been sitting in my driveway since June 2015 because I didn't feel safe driving if even it was fixed. I've always owned GM vehicles (for 36 years) but the lack of concern about this problem prompted me to purchase a Subaru. At the time of the steering failure I still owed 2 years on my loan. The second problem which I've complained about since the car was new was the transmission. There was always slow response when pulling away from a stop. It worsened after the car had been driven several hours. Again, nothing was diagnosed.

- Dowell, MD, USA

problem #41

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 #40

Dec 312015


  • 73,581 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 25 mph, the check engine and traction warning indicators illuminated continuously. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the catalytic converter failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 73,581.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #39

Jan 292016


  • 68,800 miles


I was driving my 2012 Chevrolet Sonic commuting my grandchild to pre-K, pulling out from stop sign onto straightaway street crossing in front of distant oncoming traffic, and my car stalled, very scary as could have been very bad wreck with my grandchild being hurt as myself! fortunately I let coast to side of street as I was only going 10 miles or less an hour when it shut off! it wouldn't start right off! it finally started after a few seconds, maybe 5 or more went by! this is very disturbing as it risks my life, plus another also, as he is only 4 years old! I need to know if car is even safe to keep driving!

- Greeneville, TN, USA

problem #38

Jan 012015


  • miles
My mom purchased her vehicle and for this last year it has been nothing but issues. She took it and had it repaired because the oil light kept coming on and the gear shift sticking and the transmission. She took it to the dealership they charged her 400$. this is the second time. Autoplex in aransas pass Texas. As well as charging her for a battery that was under warranty. The car is now undriveable as it wont shift at all. We again took it to the dealership. They are not very thoroughly fixing it. My mother is 74 and is on a fixed income. The financial repairs are ridiculous as well as the safety issue.

- Aransas Pass, TX, USA

problem #37

Nov 112015


  • 55,000 miles
I bought this vehicle brand new. Paint started to loose shine about two months ago ( I personally wash the vehicle with properly cars wash soup). Took to dealership and they can't cover under manufacture warranty. Cost over $400. Check engine on. Took to dealership and they found two hoses damaged and thermostat leaking.

- Pharr, TX, USA

problem #36

Jun 062013


  • 30,000 miles
Car will start by itself after key is partially inserted into ignition and car will try to start over and over if left in ignition when turning off. Took to dealer they blamed on aftermarket radio. However, I am pretty sure has done almost from the point purchase. Disconnected radio stuff and still does same thing. Car is stationary in park. No safety issue other than what is stated.

- Springfield, OH, USA

problem #35

Oct 282015


  • 21,000 miles
Car with 21,000 miles overheated while using the ac. Engine coolant alarm came on and I turned the ac off and light shut off also. Took it to an auto service chain and they diagnosed that the radiator fan motor had to be replaced. Cost: $463.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #34

Sep 252015


  • 44,000 miles
Vehicle started to randomly show check engine light on, smell of gasoline from time to time. Every time I would take it in the light would not be on so they couldn't help. Finally light stayed on and vehicle would shut off while I would drive, especially if I hit a stop light. I had to immediately take vehicle in and I had to rent a rental car so I can get to work that morning. Dealership called and said that it was a vacuum issue causing all the stalling and all the issues with the multiple lights on the dash. It turned out to be the air duct for the air intake box. This vehicle was very dangerous to drive and I have seen several complaints with same issue, vehicle is barely out of warranty and at 36000 miles but vehicle has less than 50K miles. I had to pay $350 for this incident and Chevrolet will not cover it.

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #33

Aug 072015


  • 66,200 miles
Took my 2012 Chevy Sonic to the dealer today and was told that the cooling fan is cracked, the shifter assembly needs to be repaired (have had a problem with the key sticking for a few months now), and the check engine light was on because of an air duct outlet. Total repairs to be around $1,000. No idea why the cooling fan cracked on a 3 year old car with only 66,000 miles! #totally aggravated#

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #32

Jul 132015


  • 47,025 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The failure occurred on several occasions. The vehicle was jumpstarted in order to start. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the battery was functioning properly. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 47,025.

- Crown Point, IN, USA

problem #31

Jun 102015


  • 28,765 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 20-25 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer diagnosed that the air duct/valve cracked and the transmission cable failed. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 28,765.

- Washington, PA, USA

problem #30

Jun 072015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that after the vehicle was parked and the keys removed from the ignition, the vehicle attempted to restart independently and the check engine light illuminated. The failure recurred once. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The failure mileage was unknown. The VIN was not available.

- Edgewater, FL, USA

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