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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
87,184 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.

2005 Chevrolet Cobalt brakes problems

brakes problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments

problem #14

Sep 012015


  • miles


While driving vehicle power steering light comes on, steering wheel locks up, gear shift starts clicking, stalling out during driving at speed. I have ran off road several times and have to use both hands to turn a curve because of steering locked.

- Smithfield, KY, USA

problem #13

Jan 082016


  • 135,345 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving approximately 30 mph to make a turn into an intersection, there was a sudden loss of power steering, braking, and the power steering warning light flashed. The contact was able to coast the vehicle over to the side of the road. When the vehicle was turned off and restarted, the failure code reset. The vehicle was driven to the contacts residence and, upon parking, there was a sudden loss of power steering and the brakes were slow to respond. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA action number: PE10005 (steering) and NHTSA campaign number: 10V073000 (steering). The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 135,345.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #12

Sep 162014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 109,000 miles
He traction control light came on, the car started jerking really bad. The check engine light came on, and the "power steering" started flashing on my dashboard. My power steering went out, happens randomly.

- Norwich, NY, USA

problem #11

Mar 162014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles


While in drive, the vehicle made a buzzing sound like electrical wires being fried, and then completely shut off. There were no brakes and no steering ability- the car was completely lifeless, no ability to control it at all, stranded in the middle of a street.

- Ellicott City , MD, USA

problem #10

May 152013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
On two separate occasions in the last couple of years the spring mechanism in the rear drum brakes of my Chevrolet Cobalt have broken causing the rear drum brake to lock up the wheel while in motion, meaning the brake becomes fully engaged and the wheel stops rotating dragging the tire down the road. On the most recent occurrence 6/25/2014 the broken spring caused over $300 in damage to the braking system. GM has been notified but refused to accept responsibility for their mechanically defective subpar spring mechanism.

- Pittsfield, ME, USA

problem #9

Apr 112014


  • 137,231 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact received notification for recall NHTSA campaign id number: 14V171000 (electrical system), NHTSA campaign id number: 10V073000 (steering) and NHTSA campaign id number: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The recalls repairs were performed but the failures recurred. The dealer was notified of the failure but no action was taken to remedy the failure. The contact stated that the check engine and ABS sensor illuminated intermittently. The steering wheel became hard to maneuver and each time the contact applied the brakes it made a loud noise. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for further inspection, diagnosis and repair. The technician indicated that authorization from the manufacturer was required. The contact was waiting for the vehicle to be inspected and repaired again by a another dealer. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 137,231. Pam

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #8

Dec 262013


  • miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated while driving 35 mph the brakes were applied and failed to function properly. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician stated the rotors, brakes, master cylinder and the ABS system needed to be repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure and current mileage were unknown.

- Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #7

Jan 222012


  • 106,000 miles
Well driving to dinner for my birthday and going around a curve, I hit a pothole that I could not avoid without crossing the center line of the road into oncoming traffic causing my ignition switch to turn from the on position to the off position, much like the most recent recall states. Though I was able to safely get the car to come to rest on the shoulder of the road, I am still extremely nervous that it will happen again and I am also very, very disappointed to hear that this has been a known issue since the car was released. This is the third recall on this car since I have owned it, and I am far less than impressed with the vehicle. This vehicle is truly a death trap, much like others have stated. My greatest fear is that someone in my family will be driving my car and not return, all because of this giant mess created by GM. It is very depressing to know that I am still paying on an extremely faulty vehicle, in which these issues were known about long before I had actually purchased the vehicle. I would like something done about this, something more than just a "simple" fix (like all the other recalls with this death trap were said to be). It is one thing after another with this car, and though something serious has yet to happen to me, I am concerned for the future of others and myself.

- Copenhagen, NY, USA

problem #6

Feb 262014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 138,000 miles
Was heading to work when the Chevy Cobalt suddenly shut off, causing me to lose power brakes, power steering, and causing the air bags not to deploy when I went straight threw a stop sign impacting into a snow bank.

- Frederic, MI, USA

problem #5

Jan 102010


  • 50,000 miles
On January 10th, 2010 our daughter [xxx] 21 yrs. Old was killed in a car accident. We received a recall notice from GM in April 2010 on the car a 2005 Chevy Cobalt for power steering failure. The recall involves removing entire power steering mechanism built by a partially owned Toyota factory. I knew the minute I got the news that my daughter was killed so violently and that it did not involve another car that it had to be mechanical failure. It was too late to save our daughter [xxx] but not too late to save others, I contacted GM who sent three representatives to the coparts scrap yard in duryea where the Cobalt was stored in July to investigate the car accident. A photographer, an accident reconstruction and a mechanical engineer that flew in from detroit, the objective was to remove the black box, computer from the car and analyze the data. We went to the scrap yard and for the first time saw the wreckage that was once a beautiful red sports car. All the windows including the sun roof were blown out, the Cobalt had flipped, rolled, ejecting [xxx] on to the highway where she was run over. We are not sure if [xxx] was killed on impact. The Cobalt burst into flames melting the instrument panel, shift, upholstery. At the coparts scrap yard in duryea, myself and my husband [xxx] father saw the car for the first time the Cobalt told the story of an extremely violent wreck. I was told by [xxx]that I would know the results from the black box data the next day. When I tried to contact GM through [xxx], miss price that they would not communicate with our family. GM has my property and they will not release the data without us providing proof that the car was defective. This is not possible since they took the most valuable piece of information from the car. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Scranton, PA, USA

problem #4

Dec 102009


  • miles


The brake caliper was rattling because it was broke I had a auto repair man replace part then all of a sudden it brakes again that was for the front and back it also has elected electrical problems the windows work when they want and the car mostly always stalls it has even stalled on me in the middle of traffic on hwy what it does is act real sluggish and the more you press on the gas the more it bogs out and pulls back instead of taking off as supposed to the turn signals in the front always blow everytime replaced there is also interior electrical problems such as the interior lighting works when it wants to and the doors lock and unlock themselves with will unset the anti theft system and allow for Prowler to take the car.

- Nalcrest, FL, USA

problem #3

Aug 112009

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 35,000 miles
In Aug 2006 purchased a 2005 Chevy Cobalt ls 4 door sedan. After having for 6 months, needed new front brakes, had replaced and was informed that the rotors were warped; had to replace two other times. Finally got another manufacturers installed. Since getting this car have also had the key stuck in the ignition whereas I couldn't get it out dealership can not reproduce (and it is out of warranty). Am still having this problem to date, more so now because of having to replace the steering column. (see below) in Mar 2010 because of recall had steering replaced. In July 2011 it was replaced again, and again (9/13/2013). I lost control of the car while making a turn almost hitting a parked car. Mechanic was able to reproduce this. But because GM is the only place that you can get these parts you therefore have to use them.(no after market parts made) it cost me $792 to get this replace this (out of pocket).. since getting this car, have had to replace struts, springs, shocks, brakes, control arm bushings most of this as I understand it would normally with higher mileage. When I got the car it had I believe 22K miles on it. Now it has 54200 on it...that's roughly 5K/yr. All maintenance has been performed and the car has not been abused. GM needs to do something with these cars not just ignore the problems.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #2

Feb 202013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the vehicle started to shake violently and would hesitate sporadically. The contact mentioned that she attempted to engage the brakes but the pedal abnormally traveled to the floorboard, accompanied by an abnormally loud noise. The vehicle was taken to the dealer however, the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 122,000 and the current mileage was 125,458.

- Auburn , WA, USA

problem #1

Aug 292012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 170,000 miles
The power steering message was on and the car ran like a dog and shifted roughly and traction control light was luminated and had no power is similar to all other accounts on this year and model" I need to know if GM is going to fix it and if it happens again am I going to loose control of the car? I understand it has a recall on it but considering the miles I have on it are they going to honor the recall? I don't have money to fix it so I don't know what to do if it happens again" I never seen or had anything like this before and I have always had GM products form Oldsmobile, Pontiac and mostly Chevy I need reliable transporting on my job please tell me GM make this right by me [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Davenport , FL, USA

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