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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
46,539 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 #19

Feb 112012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 142,368 miles


I experienced "catastrophic" brake failure while driving my 2005 Chevy Cobalt lt sedan w/automatic transmission on the highway. I was forced to make a sudden emergency stop from approx 45mph to 0. the ABS system worked perfectly as the roads were wet and I did not lose control resulting from my sudden stop, with the ABS and traction control instrument lites illuminating. However upon quickly trying to resume travel (since I was straddling 2 lanes on the highway) the brakes would not "release" and fearing a rear end collision from approaching traffic, I shifted into 1st gear and simply drove 15' to the shoulder, fighting against the "grip" of the brakes. On the shoulder, with the ABS & tc lites still on, I was safely able to repeatedly shift in and out of park and repeatedly pumped the brake pedal until finally after approx 1min they released their grip and the ABS & tc lites turned off allowing me to resume travel. I traveled for approx 10 min at 65mph w/cruise control, when suddenly an alarm sounded with the ABS & tc lites illuminating again. I traveled approx 1mi before exiting the highway to investigate the alarms and their meaning. I entered the off ramp at approx 60mph and attempted to slow the vehicle but the brake pedal simply went straight to the floor with no pressure! I quickly repeated the action with the same result. Fearing a hydraulic loss, I began pumping the brakes with no success. Simultaneously I downshifted to 2nd however due to the near 60mph speed this had no effect as the automatic transmission will not downshift until reaching a safe RPM level for that gear. My final resort was using the parking brake which only slowed the car to approx 25mph until they also became inoperative with smoke billowing from the rear wheels. I ran through the intersection, finally stopping 1/2 way up the opposing on-ramp, thankfully due to the slight incline.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #18

Oct 102011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 41,022 miles
I own a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, the power steering and traction control lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle then began to jerk and become difficult to drive. The vehicle had to be towed to an authorized dealer and repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 10V073000 (steering:electric power assist system); but the dealer told me that there no recall for my vehicle, apparently they was base on the vehicle VIN # instead of model/made/year of the car. The dealer told me I need to replace steering column which will cost me close to $1000 w/part, labor & taxes. Pickup my car on the same day late afternoon, was able to drive home with no incident. However, the failure recurred the next day, again towed the car back to the dealership, the manufacturer was aware of the failure. The vehicle was awaiting further inspection at the dealership, in the meantime I'm driving the rental that was provided by the dealership. This is mfg defected problem, I should not have to paid to fix the steering column.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #17

Jun 062011


  • 32,700 miles
The power steering light came on. I had no mileage or speedometer reading. I took it to Mr. Tire which was about 3 miles away. They put the car on a machine and found mil code U0101. They told me to take it to the dealer because there was a recall for this. I called the dealer the next morning and took it right over to them. They had the car for two days and finally called me and told me that they had to replace the tcm and reprogram it, clear the codes and retest. This was going to cost $500. I had taken this car to bob bell last June when I received the recall notice. It was repaired. After a few months I noticed that three or four times the signal came on about brakes but then disappeared and everything seemed fine. Then this Monday this happened.

- Jarrettsville, MD, USA

problem #16

Apr 162011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 153,000 miles


I have a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt 4 dr sedan. While traveling down the service road on I-35 I started to cough, I blacked out for a split second. After coming to I realized there was a sharp turn in the road. I hit the brakes hard, the ABS did not work. I went through a sign, it tore up the front drivers side of the car then hit a concrete barrier on the passenger side of the front end.I hit my head on the steering wheel and the air bags did not deploy on either side of the car. With the ABS locking up it caused the car to skid approx 300 feet, without safely slowing down. None of the airbags deployed.

- Aubrey, TX, USA

problem #15

Nov 112010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while exiting a residential driveway at 1 mph, the vehicle lost all power steering capabilities. The vehicle was shut off and upon restart, the failure persisted. The contact stated that the vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign id number: 10V073000 (steering: Electric power assist system) seven months prior to the failure. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer. The dealer advised the contact that they could not duplicate the failure. The vehicle was released to the contact November 12, 2010. The contact stated that the power steering warning alarm sounded and the warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where the contact was awaiting repairs. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The failure and current mileage was approximately 124,000. Updated 04/12/11 the consumer also stated the brakes locked up on a consistent basis. Also, the defroster worked intermittently.

- Elma, WA, USA

problem #14

Apr 092010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 87,233 miles
Traction control warning light comes on then my daughters' car jerks violently at times and she has trouble maintaining control of her car, (2005 Chevy Cobalt). This problem almost caused her to loose total control of her car this past spring, coming too close to causing a serious accident. This happens periodically, no set time span, it has happened about 6 or 8 times since last spring. Our GM dealer said she should bring the car in while the warning light is on so they can pull the code. Unfortunately, when the car is stopped and put into park, the light goes away. And all of these times except one, this problem has occurred after the dealership is closed or well before they open, or she is nowhere near any GM or Chevy dealership. This problem is not isolated, I have read of other Cobalt owners experiencing the same traction control problem with some of the same results or results that are different from my daughters car. The point being (at least in this case) I believe that GM or Chevy should be held responsible for taking care of the problem, before there is an accident that causes severe injury or death. I read about all the others with this problem on the "repair pal" website. The model years seem to be between "04" and "07". the one time my daughter was able to get her car into the GM dealer while the light was on, she had to put the car in park so she could go in to get someone to hook up their computer and pull the code. When they came back out, the traction control warning light was out, as I stated earlier about putting the vehicle in park. Therefore the technician was unable to do anything since there was no warning light ergo, no code to pull.

- Custer Park, IL, USA

problem #13

May 262010


  • 60,500 miles


Approximately 15 occurrences of warnings lights randomly going off. Such as the power steering and traction control. The power steering had been repaired over a year ago so, it was not associated to the recall that just now was issued. After that it started happening more often and more warning lights would light up -- for no apparent reason. It would never happen when I took it to the shop. Then everything went "haywire" one night coming home from work at 1 am. Dials and lights went wild and the car was hesitating, the gear shift was clicking and the car was "slamming" in and out of gear. I took it to my local Chevy dealership and they could not find anything wrong. They told me maybe my fuel injectors needed cleaning!!!! one month later and it happened again. This time they said it was my body control module. Quoted a price of $619 and it turned out to be $729!!!! I have checked on line and have found multiple comments from other Cobalt owners who have experienced the same problem. This if very dangerous and Chevy needs to recall the part!!!!

- Canal Winchester, OH, USA

problem #12

Jan 202010


  • miles
Rear brakes wear out too quick and they are starting to get super noisy.

- South St Paul, MN, USA

problem #11

Sep 152009


  • miles
Electronic equipment in 2005 Cobalt that was going crazy while driving my car. All the testing at repair shops could not detect the problem but when I would drive, radio and front panel lights would go off and on; brake problems, and engine would cut out, even at high rates of spead, then die when car slowed. Replacing ignition cylinder and removing all electronic codes finally resolved the issue but was only a guess on part of many different repair people. Why should Toyota be the only one to take the blame for auto parts that aren't reliable?

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #10

Jan 212009


  • 50,000 miles
I purchased a 2005 Cobalt in April 2008, started having violent shaking in front of car while trying to find the problem my mechanic discovered a defective strut which Chevy replaced even though warranty had just run out. This did not correct violent shaking occurring on a regular basis. Had front end, tires, wheels, rotors, axle checked with no outcome of finding the problem. When the shaking occurs unable to steer and have to reduce speed and pull to shoulder of road, after complete stop normally can resume driving. Since my daughter does not do any long distance travel I hoped that it would not occur as often as it does while I was driving it to work, however in January of 2009 while my daughter was driving car around a curve T/C light came on shaking and inability to control the car left her straightening the curve out spinning around and after weeks in a body shop and 5000 dollars in repairs, several trips back and more money, high insurance rates we still have a car that has a serious defect with no answers to what causes it and what can be done to correct it. Now that she is venturing further from home I am in fear for her life but I have no funds to replace this car or it would have already been gone although I am sure that nobody else would want it due to the publicity that these cars have been getting. Luckily my daughter was not killed in this accident but does someone have to die before Chevrolet steps up to the plate and fixes these cars. I have been constantly been researching trying to find the problem even though I can find other people with the problem nobody seems to have the solution. The cars or in warranty or just out of warranty and we couldn't get answers and as the autos get older they don't feel it is there problem. Our car gets regular maintenance with the same mechanic each time so therefore he has firsthand knowledge of every step it has had, and now that it has hit the news I am seeing some direction to take to get help.

- Hertford, NC, USA

problem #9

Apr 102006


  • 20,000 miles


Several incidents involving steering of 2005 Cobalt 2-door. Each incident occurred on the freeway while driving straight at 55 to 65 mph. Front end of vehicle "jumped" side to side and steering wheel responded only with considerable effort. Last occurrence was witnessed by highway patrol who escorted me from the freeway with lights flashing. Eventually, dealer did replace entire steering mechanism (2006) and problem has not recurred. Also have had to have braking system replaced as well as components related to the computer system.

- Garden Valley, CA, USA

problem #8

Aug 312009

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving 25 mph the power steering warning light illuminated on the instrument control, and then the gears in the transmission began slipping. He had to exert great force to the brake pedal to stop the vehicle and shut the engine off. He was able to restart the vehicle and resume normal operation. The vehicle was taken to a dealer and repaired. The failure mileage was 59,000 and the current mileage was unavailable. Updated 11/17/09 after all the failed attempts of fixing the vehicle, the consumer was told the body control module needed to be replaced. The power steering would go out occasionally. All of the gauges were acting erratically. Updated 11/18/09

- Green Bay, WI, USA

problem #7

Oct 042008


  • miles
We own a 2005 Chevy. Cobalt. The vehicle went in for a standard front brake repair, normally you should be able to turn the rotors once, however we we're told that they we're rusted out and could not be turned under normal inspections and would have to purchase new ones. The vehicle has normal wear with odometer reading 43,923 miles on it, so it was not due to not driving it. The dealer said they had been seeing a lot of this lately and don't know why they should be rusted out, I decided to get a second opinion and took the vehicle elsewhere. The service center said the same thing and think it is a manufactures defect, as they also said they should have at least been turned once in the rotors, (cars) life time. They also said they had been seeing alot of this on GM products and had another vehicle in for the same problem, as did the dealership. Unfortunately, I needed the brakes repaired and had to by new rotors for the car. The service center charged me $84.48 plus labor for the new rotors installed. I feel this is a manufacture defect and needs to be looked into as I am not the only consumer that has had this problem. I should also should be reimbursed for this defect. I have retained the rotors of inspection. Please contact me with any results you may find regarding this problem. Sincerely, constance E wallace

- Fair Haven, MI, USA

problem #6

May 012007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
I have a 2005 Cobalt I purchased new. I have had numerous problems with the brakes, headlights, a.C., signal lights etc. But the newest problem is the power steering it goes out without any warning. It does this every day at no certain time. And this is very dangerous as it is very hard to steer when this happens.when the steering goes out it says power steering on dash, most of the time I can pull over and turn the car off wait a minute and restart the engine and it steers fine for awhile. The car has 37,500 miles on it and the warranty just ran out. This could easily cause a loss of control and or a collision. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.....thanks.

- Wise, VA, USA

problem #5

Mar 262007

(reported on)


  • miles
2005 Chevy Cobalt with brake failure customer states that her brakes didn't work when applied after traveling 30+ minutes a speed of 55+ miles which resulted in totaling her car and the car she hit*

- Unknown, DC, USA

problem #4

Feb 122007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,900 miles
After driving for 30 minutes at a speed of 55-60 mph on the interstate, I was on the off ramp merging from one interstate to another, when the cars ahead of me starting slowing down. I applied a sudden pressure to the brakes to slow down also; however, the brake pedal went soft and then it seemed like the brakes locked, but did not slow down. The car made a sudden jolt to the right bringing me into the on coming traffic in the next lane. This resulted in a collision with another car. Resulting in a total loss to the Cobalt. The air bags did not deploy eventhough the front end of the car was destroyed.

- Jack, FL, USA

problem #3

Jun 092006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving 30 mph on normal road conditions, the engine stalled, all dash board indicators blacked out and there was no power braking. No warning signals alerted the contact prior the incident. The vehicle was able to be restarted. The problem recurred on two other occasions. The manufacturer opened a case and referred the contact to the dealership. The vehicle was taken to the dealership who reset the electronic module, however the defect persisted. The windows would go down slow, the intermediate steering shaft was replaced. Updated 11/30/06.

- West Springfield, MA, USA

problem #2

May 262006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,800 miles
: the contact stated while driving 10 mph the power steering and power brakes failed. The power steering and T-C lights on the dash illuminated. This happened three times. The vehicle was towed to the dealer were an unknown computer part was replaced. Updated 06/23/06.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #1

Jan 282005


  • 2,717 miles
2005 Chevrolet Cobalt developed problems with the brake light equipment. Two days after the vehicle was purchased brake light illuminated on the dash. The consuemr contacted the dealer but they explained that there was not a problem. The vehicle has been taken back and forth to rectify the problem. The dealer has had the vehicle since April 23, 2005. The A/C would not work due to a short in the A/C pressure sensor.

- Cambridge, IA, USA

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