Print this page Notes: The Cobalt was introduced to replace two of Chevy’s smaller cars, the Cavalier and Prizm. But the compact’s fresh start that Chevy was hoping for was riddled with issues, most notably widespread power steering failure.

The power steering failed so often that GM was forced to issue a recall in March, 2010. Great, but what about other problems like the key getting stuck in the ignition or all the other electrical demons this car possesses?

And, oh yes — then there’s the terribly dangerous issue where the Cobalt randomly shuts off while driving. As it turns out, that problem is related to GM’s massive 2014 recall for a dangerous ignition switch defect. A recall that eventually ballooned to 2.6 million vehicles in one of the automotive industry’s biggest scandals.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
45,550 miles
Total Complaints:
44 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (26 reports)
  2. replace shifter (10 reports)
  3. use key release (4 reports)
  4. popped access panel and hit button to remove key (2 reports)
  5. press reset under steering colom (1 reports)
  6. replace ignition (1 reports)
2005 Chevrolet Cobalt accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Jul 182014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,100 miles


Chevrolet dealership kept my car for over a month to do GM recall ignition repair. Got car back one week ago. Attempted to drive car on Friday, July 18. Inserted key ignition switch. Car would not start. Could not retrieve key from ignition switch. Had car towed to dealership. Tow truck driver could not remove key either. He had to access gear box to be able to move car to place on tow truck. Have not received word yet from dealership about scope of or responsibility for problem.

At the moment, I am without any transportation. My mom is 93 and is now afraid to ride in this car.

- mfsm24, Lake Charles, LA, US

problem #43

Feb 032014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,675 miles

I went to leave school last night and couldn't start my car. I tried to get the key out and it was stuck. I had to YouTube the solution. It said there was a recall on it but there isn't. There should be. Getting stuck in a bad neighborhood because of this issue isn't a convenience nor is it safe.

With all of the complaints and this being a constant issue I don't see why there isn't a recall. I've had the electric steering replaced twice already and I don't think this falls into the same category.

- Danielle A., Jacksonville, FL, US

problem #42

Apr 132014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,814 miles

My key sometimes gets stuck in the ignition when I turn the car off. I have to then turn the car back on, move it into either reverse or drive, back up or drive forward a tiny bit, then put it into park again and turn it off and try to take the key out. Sometimes it works right away, sometimes I have to do it 2 or 3 times for it to work. It happens randomly, doesn't seem to matter where I'm has happened on hills, flat areas, gravel, you name it, it has happened on it.

- jennifermarie, Muncie, IN, US

problem #41

Nov 052012

Cobalt LS 2.200L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles


Go to car to go somewhere and when turn key to start it does absolutely nothing, Try several times and then it may start after several tries

Drive then when stop cannot turn off engine or get key out

- Jennie L., Mckeesport, PA, US

problem #40

May 022011

Cobalt LS 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

ocassionally when you try to turn the car on, the key will get locked and will not turn ignition. take key out, move steering column reinsert key it usually works

- pammyj08, Strasburg, OH, US

problem #39

Mar 102010

Cobalt 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

i love my cobalt. i bought it 2 years old and never had a real bad problem. knock on wood. the key thing is annoying, i just don't want to get stuck with it in the ignition. it gets 37 mpg on the highway and is fairly fast for a 2.2. i don't beat the car but i do drive fast.

- Robert L., Wesley Chapel, FL, US

problem #38

Dec 302010

Cobalt LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


This problem is such a hassle and should never been put into a vehicle in the first place. Things like this need to be put through strenuous tests.

- sbyers, Louisville, IL, US

problem #37

Nov 282011

Cobalt LS 4.2L 4 Cllander

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My key is stuck , can not lock car if I should get so lucky that should notice and steal my my car, maybe my random horn blowing problem I have been having will scare them away.

- Linda E., Clarksburg, WV, US

problem #36

Jul 202011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,500 miles

I bought a 2005 cobalt when it was new in 2005, not even a 2 years later i had it in the shop b/c it was spitting black chunks out of the muffler. Now on the 4th of july i got into a accident and my key is stuck on the acc mode, the shiffter button is stuck in and the car's radio and lights stay on all night, I cant figure out a way to get it to shut off so i dont have to get a jump every morning.. If someone could help me out with this problem it will help me so much.. Thanks

- Kylee A., Ft Wayne, IN, US

problem #35

Jan 012010

Cobalt LS 2.2L Ecotec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Intermittently, when I turn off the ignition and attempt to remove the key from the steering column, the key will stick. I must press the gear shifter button and jiggle it a little bit while it's still in the park position for the key to be free-able from the ignition.

This happens once a week or so. I've never had too much trouble getting the key out, so I haven't paid the $250 or so the dealership quoted to fix it.

- Timothy C., Charlotte, NC, US

problem #34

May 242011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


After putting the car in park, the key wouldn't go all the way to off (so I couldn't turn the car off), it would get stuck in Acc. After taking the car to a mechanic shop they said that it was the lock cylinder as well as the key (it was an older key and it had been worn out). They replaced that for about $350 and that worked for about 4 days. After 4 days the same thing started happening (key getting stuck), so I took it back to the mechanic and they said that it was the shifter. Apparently even though it was in Park the shift wasn't going all the way to Park (something along those lines). They ended up replacing that for another $350. So far so good, but it is extremely annoying and expensive.

- brtx, Houston, TX, US

problem #33

Mar 262010

Cobalt 65,000

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Key is constantly getting stuck in the ignition. When you put the car in park it wont let the key come out of the ignition.

- Cas P., Saint Clair Shores, MI, US

problem #32

Aug 012008

Cobalt LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

A problem that im running into quit frequently with this car, among other problems, is the key getting stuck in the ignition. Almost every time I turn my car off theres a clicking noise from under the dash and it wont release my keys. This is a very anoying problem that could potentially cause others. The only things i've found to get the keys out is: pushin the gear shift forward, even when in park, and there will be some more clicks and the keys will sometimes release. Also I've found that turning the steering wheel either way sometimes releases them. Other times i jst dont get them back, and then the doors wont lock with the keys in the ignition. This problem is drivein me nuts! If anybody knows how to fix this problem, please post it on the web!

- tashakade23, Wauseon, OH, US

problem #31

Apr 082010

(reported on)

Cobalt LLX 2.2lV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,156 miles

I had the problem with the key getting stuck, and at the end it sent a surge up to my battery before it damaged one of the computer components and the car would not go in to second,traction control light stayed on and the area that shows the speed went flying around and 800.00 dollars later.Had to buy a new battery so another 200.00.

And still have the same problem of the key sticking and i am using a new key.

And now a recall on the steering problem, and haven't heard anything in Canada when this problem is to be fixed.

GM you better step up to the plate and start looking in to the many problems with the Cobalts.

- Theresa L., Stratford, PEI, Canada

problem #30

Apr 132010

(reported on)

Cobalt EX 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,500 miles

i feel that gm should fix the problem all i ever had is problems out of this car

- Gwendolyn R., Cochran, GA, US

problem #29

Feb 022010

Cobalt LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,564 miles

I first started having problems with my key getting stuck in the ignition about 3 months ago. At first I could turn the ignition on and off and put the shifter in and out of park to release it. About a month ago it completely let go. I took the steering column apart and it seems to be the ignition lock solenoid that let go. It cost about 90$ to fix if I do the work myself. For now I just press the release button under the small access panel in the steering column.

- Alain M., Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

problem #28

Feb 192010

Cobalt LS 2.2L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

About 2 months ago, I turned off my car and couldn't get my key out of the ignition. Thankfully the car was able to shut off, but it is not in lock mode. I can not take my key out so I have to use my lock pad in order for me to get in the car. Very easy for something to steal my car. And also, just on Friday 02/19/2010 I was driving on the interstate and my power steering went out. Had to go over a few passes with no power steering. When I had to turn onto a street in town, my car started grinding. I'm very worried that this is going to happen while taking a huge turn and going head on with another vehicle. I have a 2 year old son and that is not safe. I have read so many complaints about this and am very disappointing that the Steering hasn't been fixed. I also can't afford to lose my car if someone stole it!!!! Please help get this fixed!!!!! before somebody dies!

Update from May 2, 2014: My car has now been totalled out, but when I did have my car, I was able to remove my key out of the ignition while the car was still on. I'm am very thankful that I do not have this car anymore due to these recalls, but was very dissapointed that I was unable to get notice regarding the ignition clip when I had the car. I'm also very thankful that no one was hurt when driving in the car and that me and my family are not at risk anymore.

- Amanda S., Polson, MT, US

problem #27

Jan 182010

Cobalt LS 2.2L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

This has happened probably about 5-6 times since we've had this car (about 3 years). It has never been too inconvenient, but today, the shifter lock stopped working, so sitting in the car, anyone can shift the car out of park at any time... Unlocked shifters and kids do not mix. If you have kids, do not leave then in the car, key in it or not!

- Dillon B., Bryant Pond, ME, US

problem #26

Dec 092009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,500 miles

Found the solution on this website. I will cancel the dealer service appointment. There is a little access panel on the bottom of the steering column. There is a little button up and to the left. Push the button and remove the key.

The release button on the shifter is still jammed, but I don't know if I want that fixed. I heard, but have not checked that it is expensive.

Update from Aug 8, 2010: Dealer said it was a bad solenoid so had to replace the whole shifter - about $400. There seem to be several TSBs on this issue over the last couple of years.

- notacarguy, O Fallon, MO, US

problem #25

Jul 012005

Cobalt Coupe 2.2L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles

After having my 2005 Cobalt for only a few months, I started noticing that from time to time the key would not come out of the ignition when I put the car in park. I would have to either turn the car on/off a few times and/or shift in and out of park until it released the key. I took it to the dealer to be fixed and they told me that the the shift solenoid was sticking, so they replaced the entire gear shift assembly. Nothing like being late for work because you can't get your key out of your car!

- ssumanda41, Plum, PA, US

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