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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,932 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 #17

Aug 222016


  • 105,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the shifter independently moved and the vehicle experienced a loss of power steering. The traction control and check engine warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but the failure could not be replicated. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The contact was informed that the vehicle was previously serviced per NHTSA campaign number: 10V073000 (steering) in 2010. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 105,000.

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #16

Sep 252015


  • 10,377 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. After the vehicle was started, the enhance traction system, check engine, and power steering warning light illuminated intermittently. In addition, when the vehicle was switched into the reverse position, there was an abnormal sound coming from the gear shift. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 10,377. Updated 03/11/16

- Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #15

Aug 272014


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving at 45 mph, the power steering failed. The contact also stated that the check engine and the traction control warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 60,000.

- Murrita, CA, USA

problem #14

Jun 142014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


I was traveling at 40 mph when the check engine and traction control lights lit up on the dashboard. Steering was extremely hard, the power steering was not working and I pulled into the nearest parking lot. After several times restarting the car, the power steering was working again.

- Willow Grove , PA, USA

problem #13

Jul 182013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
The 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, I was unable to steer the car. I had the car towed to the dealership, they could not get it to duplicate the problem. Exactly one week later, it did it again, once again I had it towed to the dealer. They had the car for 2 weeks and could not get it to duplicate the problem. So, once again I have the car back, lets see how long it takes to screw up this time.

- Mount Vernon, OH, USA

problem #12

Apr 282011


  • 46,000 miles
Last year, my 05 Cobalt experienced power steering failure and concurrent hard shifting between gears upon power steering notice of failure. I took my car in to the dealer to be fixed in accordance with the associated recall. Last week, one year later, I have experienced the same exact problems again. The car will chime and report "power steering failure". if driving above 15 mph, there isn't much to notice regarding power steering, however, if changing speed requires your car to shift up or down to a different gear, the car will jerk ("hiccup") heavily, as if an inexperienced driver was trying to drive a car with a manual transmission. The car has 46,000 miles on it and this is clearly not my problem. Please insist that GM issue a recall with a real remedy for this issue.

- Pa, PA, USA

problem #11

Mar 312011


  • 30,000 miles


2005 Chevy Cobalt --traction light came on dash. Light wouldn't go off. Kept hearing clicking noises in the transmission shift area. Dealer says they can repair but it seems to be a problem on many Chevy Cobalts and it can be a safety issue because it causes the car to lose power to transmission. Car only has 30,000 miles. Original owner. Light stays on all the time. We tried resetting the warning, but light still remains and clicking sound still remains. Recommend it be a safety recall.

- Fridley, MN, USA

problem #10

Feb 112011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has had repeated problems with error codes that the dealer has been unable to resolve. When these errors occur, the speedometer moves back and forward and the the car attempts to stall. The car does stall at slower speeds at times. Whenever I take the vehicle to bob bell Chevy in bel air, Maryland they tell me the can't find anything wrong when drive it. On 02/11/2011, I was told by the dealer rep ray, again, that he could not find anything wrong and to drive vehicle until it does this again and bring vehile in without turning it off and they will then check the codes. My Chevy Cobalt did the exact same again along with the error code "power sterring" across the screen as I was leaving the dealershipp on 02/11/2011 and I immediately returned to the service shop and the serviice technian obtained the error codes. Ray from the service bob bell Chevy stated now I had to pay for any diagnostic work and repairs even though this was a recall problem. My times this vehicle has been in the shop has been well documented by the dealership who each time intially deny their is a problem and state they cannot diagnose any problems unless they can reproduce they problem or I drive the vechile to them while it is happening without turning it off. This car is unsafe and has stalled several times when these error codes occur causing near accidents. I feel more investigation should be completed into why the makers of the Chevy Cobalt are unable to correctly diagnose error codes and continue to but my life and my family at risk. I am unable to trade this car in to anyone because of the repeated problems and I would never sell it to an innocent buyer who could by hurt with this car. Why GM is allowed to get away with this defective car is not fair.

- Bel Air, MD, USA

problem #9

Dec 272010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 99,940 miles
With no advanced signs or warning (mileage at 99,930), upon starting the vehicle, the traction control and security light came on. The car's RPM revved up and down and wanted to stall. The fuel gauge jumped back and forth. There was a constant clicking in the gear shift and the steering wheel locked into place where I could not turn it. I shut the car off and restarted three additional times before everything seemed to go back to normal and I was able to drive. The next time this occurred was when mileage was at 99960. After several attempts at stopping and starting the vehicle, the traction control and security warning lights went out and I put the car into gear to drive, only to be practically jerked out of my seat with hard shifting and acting light it wanted to stall when coming to a stop. I drove the car directly to the dealership and the problem continued on the entire drive there. Once the car was shut off, the problem could not be recreated at the dealership and therefore I was sent on my way with no explanation of what might be wrong. The next repeat event occurred 3 weeks later (mileage 100,450) but corrected itself with several off/on of the engine. Next occurrence again at 100,600 with same results. This has not yet happened while driving, but I did ask the dealership about the possibility of this happening and he said if it did, I would easily be able to control the car and pull off the road. Personally, I do not want to experience this while driving 55-65 mph! the dealership said that this could be a costly fix since it is a process of elimination and no guarantees each time whatever they tried would fix it...not much confidence coming from the Chevy dealership mechanic!!

- Haw River, NC, USA

problem #8

Aug 152010


  • miles
*please note...the incident date is approximate. We have a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt sedan that was involved in the recall for the power steering motor intermittent power steering failure. We had never had a problem with the steering prior to the recall being performed. After the recall was performed, we began having trouble with intermittent power steering failure - plus additional failures. Upon start-up, we have experienced no power steering, and had to shut the vehicle off and retry numerous times before the power steering returns. In addition to loss of power steering, we have experienced the following electrical problems: Traction control light illuminating random clicking of the brake safety interlock relay / actuator (without touching the brake). Check engine light transmission going into "limp mode"..."slamming" into gear when shifting from park - or improper shifting while driving. Random dash gauge failure random failures of the "driver's information center" - flashing, etc. This was initially happening only upon start-up...but started happening while driving as well - nearly leading to an accident while my wife was driving on a busy urban street. She was fortunately able to drift into the turn lane and come to a stop to avoid a collision and likely serious injury to herself and others, as it was virtually uncontrollable. In addition to the loss of power steering (while driving), the transmission also went into "limp mode", causing very hard shifting and much difficulty in drivability. This has also happened while I was driving the vehicle. I am 6'3", 260lbs., and I was struggling to control the vehicle. I have also been in contact with other Cobalt owners with the exact same set of "symptoms". it is clear that the motor replacement was not sufficient to repair the problem, and - in some cases - may be leading to further problems as in our case. This vehicle is very dangerous!

- Machesney Park, IL, USA

problem #7

Nov 302010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


While driving vehicle traction control, security light, engine light, brake light, all come on then power steering warning comes on and transmission starts jerking, and is hard to control. It has problems braking and shifting gears. There are alot of problems with this model from Chevy and no one seems to have an answer to what causes the problem. I have had into 2 different Chevy dealers and still this problem not fixed.

- Sauk Village, IL, USA

problem #6

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 #5

Apr 172010


  • 60,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has several issue with traction control, ABS, and emergency brakes. I have taken this car to the Chevy dealership for repairs multiple times and the same problem keeps recurring. All the warning light for tc, ABS, and emergency brake are on again and when this sensor fails the car shifts gears and loses traction control. Very dangerous especially in wet weather conditions. I have heard this a common problem with these types of Chevy cars. So what's it going to take to get a recall! a fatality? someone do something about this.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 202009


  • 54,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has power steering issues since I bought it (11/09). The traction control light comes on and power steering comes on the message board. When this happens and I am driving it, it is very hard to control my steering and jerks when I accelerate and/or change gears. It also becomes a little harder to come to a compete stop. I took it to the dealer and they greased the wires thinking that it was a connection problem. It worked alright for about a month and a half but then the light flashed on again about 2 weeks ago and has flashed on randomly ever since. This seems to be an ongoing problem.

- Oswego, IL, USA

problem #3

Jun 112008


  • 30,000 miles
As many of the other complaints filed, I have a problem with my 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The traction control and power steering go out, which makes it very difficult to control while driving. This occurs at random; has happened while on the freeway or while barely moving in a parking lot. I have now taken it in to the car dealership twice, but they cannot find out what is wrong. I feel like this is very dangerous because I cannot control it very well and with winter approaching, it is just downright scary. I wish they could figure out what is wrong with the car; otherwise, I will consider getting a different non-GM car.

- Mayville, WI, USA

problem #2

Sep 252009


  • 9,300 miles
Chevy Cobalt 2005 traction control light would come on for no apparent reason starting summer of 2009. On Friday, September 2009 I was 5 blocks away from home...heard "bing bing bing", lost power steering, ABS made the car buck, and traction light came on. I drove the car 4 blocks to my mechanic who advised me to get the car towed to a Chevy dealer which I did. Hawthorne Chevrolet said they couldn't find the problem. On the internet if you type Cobalt 2005 defects multiple reports of the same problem are being reported to GM. GM denies a problem and will not cover the repair. I am frightened to drive this car as you get no warning of failure.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #1

Sep 152009


  • miles
Problem started out of the blue. Traction control light comes on, power steering goes out, transmission shifts hard, clicking noise in gear shifter, gauges for speed and rpms bounce around, lights for E-brake and ABS flash, and check engine light comes on. This can occur at any time. Sometimes it is as soon as you start the car. Other times it is while I am driving. Can not predict when it is coming. Surprisingly I have not got injured driving. I have learned to muscle the car when the steering goes out. I am afraid to drive my car but have no choice sometimes. It is the only car my family fits into. I feel I am putting us all at risk every time we get in it. I have taken it in several times, the first couple times they couldn't find anything. I got it to the dealer when the problem was happening. The only thing they could find was to replace a recalled transmission valve. It did nothing for the problem. It still happens when ever and stops pretty much the same. You do have to turn the car off. It can take one time or several times turning the car on and off. No one can seem to give me any answers. I really feel this problem needs to be solved. I bought the car in 2005. First incident in fall of 2007. Replaced valve in spring of 2009.

- Grand Junction, CO, USA

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