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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,950 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Jun 202008

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 38,000 miles


I have this problem on my 2005 Cobalt of the gauge cluster going nuts, speedometer and RPM gauge jumping up and down, the lights in the cluster, ABS, security, brake, engine and some others start flashing, the transmission starts clicking near the shifter and the automatic transmission shifts very hard, in fact when slowing for a stop sign or traffic light I have to shift to neutral and then pull the shifter to 1st just to get it to go without stalling, the worse part of this problem is when this starts while traveling down the hi-way and the power steering stops working and I am going around a curve and it intermittently starts working and I have to try not to over steer causing an accident, this first appeared in 2008 and has done it since, no one can fix it not even the dealership.

- Crowder, OK, USA

problem #22

Feb 122014


  • miles
This happens to me on different occasions I when I park my car or stop driving I try to shut my car off and I cannot my key will be stuck in the ignition and still running for about up to 30 mins my last time this problem happened to me. My other problem I am having is I can start my car perfectly fine but I try to shift the gear from park to drive and I cannot its like its stuck I put my foot on the gas and try to shift it but all I hear is a clicking noise coming from the steering wheel area sometimes I have to sit with the car running for about 15-20 mins until I can finally get the car in drive.

- Flint, MI, USA

problem #21

Feb 252014


  • 93,000 miles
TL- the contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that when he turned the vehicle on and then off it failed to restart. The vehicle also made a rumbling noise when the failure occurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the ignition module and the spark plug wires needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 93,000.

- Binghanton, NY, USA

problem #20

Feb 022014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles


I had the ignition cylinder replaced about a year ago, due to the key not being able to release. This was a common problem with 2005 model year Cobalts. Well, the vehicle is doing this again. The key is not being released from the ignition cylinder. However, this time I believe it is the shifter assembly that has gone bad. There is no reverse lock out. I can freely cycle through the gears without applying the brakes which is a safety hazard. I can put the car in reverse without applying the brakes by simply moving the shift lever. Little to no force is needed, I can accidentally knock the lever into reverse with the littlest of force. I have yet to contact the dealer about the issue since I am sure it will cost a fortune to fix even though it is a documented problem with a few technical service bulletins on the issue.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #19

Jul 292013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 89,465 miles
While driving, the check engine light came on and the information display on the dashboard flashed "power steering." The car began shifting in and out of gear. The shifts are very rough and cause the car to jerk. There is also a rapid clicking sound that comes from the area of the gear selector. The code for the check engine light relates to the transmission control module.

- Bartlesville, OK, USA

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problem #18

Aug 052013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
At random times, my 2005 Chevy Cobalt will pop up a "check engine" light and a "traction control" light, where I lose my power steering, the motor shifts hard into each gear, and the motor runs very rough. Also, there are clicking sounds at the shifter, like it is trying to shift into a gear or something. This is a serious hazard and as I've read online, I am not the only one this has happened to. There are thousands of others. This entire car needs to be recalled because no one knows what is doing this!

- Conover, NC, USA

problem #17

Jul 012013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles


While driving on a major highway, "power steering" message is displayed on dash, warning chime sounds repeatedly, power door locks cycle at random, instrument panel gauges stop working intermittently and jump around, complete loss of power, and random warning lights appear on dash. At times the gas pedal was completely unresponsive, then vehicle would lurch forward - had a near miss incident when the loss of power on acceleration from a red light almost caused another vehicle to hit us. Issue has occurred at random intervals since the car was new, but has become more frequent lately and tends to occur more often on hot days. Dealer was unable to duplicate concern, despite hundreds of similar complaints on the internet.

- Manchester, NJ, USA

problem #16

Mar 142013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
My car repeatedly go through times of fits. These fits include losing power steering, power steering chime, traction control chime, clicking behind the radio, spinning speedometer, gas gauge fails, jerking or hiccupping as one person described it, occasional stalling. My car will drive fine for weeks, likes its new even, then all of a sudden it has a fit and this goes on for days. This started when my car was a year or two old. I have taken it to the dealer a total of 8 times. Early on when the car was younger it would seem to be repaired only do start this problem again a year later. Now that the car is older and not under warranty I have quit taking it as I do not believe it will help. They do not seem to know how to correct this problem. They are rude to me.

- Taylor, MI, USA

problem #15

Mar 052013


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that both the traction control and power steering warning indicators illuminated until the engine was turned off. There was also a complete loss of power steering and the transmission began to down shift independently. The contact was able to continue to drive with excessive force being applied to the steering wheel. The failures would recur sporadically. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 10V073000 (steering). The failure recurred one year after the recall remedy was performed. The vehicle was not repaired for the most recent failure. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 45,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #14

Jul 032006


  • 11,651 miles
Why isn't there a recall for the 2005 Cobalt? this happened shortly after I purchased the vehicle! why do you have the recall only for 2009, it should be for 2005 and all models affected, regardless of the year! just picking one year is not accurate for this type of issue. This need to be fixed asap! please and thank you! "transmission shift position sequence, starter interlock, and transmission braking effect", and FMVSS 114, "theft protection and rollaway prevention". on some of these vehicles, the transmission shift cable adjustment clip may not be fully engaged. If the clip is not fully engaged, the shift lever and the actual position of the transmission gear may not match. With this condition, the drive could move the shifter to "park" and remove the ignition key, but the transmission gear may not be in "park".

- Forest , VA, USA

problem #13

May 082006


  • 10,908 miles


If there has been the same recall on 2009 chevelot Cobalt, it should be for 2005! I can tell you of 3 other people with the same issue. This is not safe for cars to be on the road with this issue. Transmission shift position sequence, starter interlock, and transmission braking effect", and FMVSS 114, "theft protection and rollaway prevention". on some of these vehicles, the transmission shift cable adjustment clip may not be fully engaged. If the clip is not fully engaged, the shift lever and the actual position of the transmission gear may not match. With this condition, the drive could move the shifter to "park" and remove the ignition key, but the transmission gear may not be in "park".

- Forest , VA, USA

problem #12

Apr 162012


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated the vehicle would shift abnormally hard and would often jump when driving at various speeds. In addition, the vehicle would sporadically attempt to stall. The contact stated that various warning lights would illuminate on the instrument panel when the failure occurred. The contact had taken the vehicle to the dealer twice and each time the dealer stated that they could not duplicate the failure. The contact also stated that the automatic key fob could not be used to lock the doors because the anti-theft alarm could not be disarmed. As a result, the contact had to manually lock and unlock the doors at all times. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 65,000 and the current mileage was 71,000.

- Cherry Hill, NJ, USA

problem #11

Sep 012012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 74,202 miles
After approach from stop sign, went to accelerate, vehicle stalled, dashboard computer lights flashing, I.e power steering, brake, mph, and pinging. Started vehicle after multiple attempts. Difficult steering, accelerating no more than 30 mph, and transmission jerking. This vehicle has been to shop 2 times. The trans module was replaced August 1, 2012. A day after pick up, it had the same issues I.e. difficulty steering, unexpected stalling, rough limited acceleration, flashing computer lights on the dashboard. The auto shop employee assured me" it is safe to drive and do not be afraid.." the shop had this vehicle for three weeks. It was written on invoice, " car driven for 26 miles trouble free has possible inop issue, but is operating as designed." Nine days after pickup this vehicle still remains unsafe on the road, with unexpected stalling stopping I.e stop/ go traffic, intersections, and computer lights flashing on dashboard. The tcm /ECM issue is still not resolved causing a safety issue with unexpected stalling and difficulty steering and loss of acceleration.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #10

Jun 042012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 38,500 miles
On several prior occasions, the key would become stuck in the ignition. To solve this problem, I would simply shift from park to drive, cycling through the gears. This would allow the key to be removed from the ignition. I figured it was a small problem with the automatic gear shifter, it may not be fully engaging in park. This situation carried on for approximately two (2) years, whenever needed I would repeat the cycling of gears to disengage the key. However, a few days ago the key became stuck in the ignition and the previous solution would no longer dislodge the key. I found the switch under the steering wheel to remove the key, but the car is inoperable due to the key becoming stuck in the ignition cylinder on a constant basis. Upon doing some research, I have come to the conclusion that is a common problem with automatic transmission equipped Cobalts. The shifter is not fully engaging a micro shifter when engaging in park, causing the key to remain in the ignition. It has come to the point where I can not remove the key, even while using the switch under the steering wheel.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #9

Nov 012011


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While stopped, the contact placed the gear shifter in park and noticed that the indicator was still illuminated in drive. The contact was able to shut the engine off but was unable to remove the key from the ignition. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 115,000.

- Tulsa , OK, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Apr 172011


  • 25,300 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while accelerating from approximately 5 mph the vehicle began to jerk. During the failure, the contact also began to hear a clicking noise. The vehicle was pulled onto the emergency lane and shut off. Upon restarting the vehicle, the failure continued to occur. The power steering service light and another warning began to illuminate on the instrument panel. The contact also stated there was no steering failure even though the power steering service light was illuminated. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where they were unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 25,300.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #6

Jun 202010


  • 59,000 miles
I have a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. 59000 miles on it. Had the whole power steering problem right after I financed the car, the recall that went out in March was replaced immediately, 3000 miles later (I drive about 2500-3000 a month) power steering started acting up again, took it to a mechanic, it wouldn't act up for him, he said to bring it back when it was actually acting up. It worked fine for a few weeks, happened again, check engine light came on, took it in still wouldn't give him any problems, mechanic advised to have Chevy check the power steering motor recall to see if maybe they replaced it with a bad motor. Called Chevrolet to get the power steering recall looked at again to see if maybe the replacement was a bad one..... Chevy dealership looked at it, checked the car and said he didn't know what was going on with it, and that he could change a few things.... power steering column, new battery...etc. $1000 dollars + worth of work and not knowing the whole time if it was even the problem. Worked ok again for a couple more weeks and now it doesn't want to shift in and out of gears and gain speed on the highway, check engine light came on, took it to a mechanic as soon as it happened, he took it out to test drive and the darn thing wouldn't act up on him. This car is a lemon, even the idiotic Chevrolet people at the dealership don't know what it is going on with the car and don't know how to fix it. I just want the thing off my hands, don't want to have to pay anymore into it, it's unreliable and unsafe.

- Morro, AR, USA

problem #5

Feb 122010


  • 65,000 miles
2005 Chevy Cobalt power steering failure. We purchased this car a few months ago and it has begun to have major problems. The car is inside of the timeline for power train warranty, but is over miles. The power steering light comes on followed by complete power steering failure, engine stalling, rough shifting, strange movements of the speedometer needle, check engine light comes on. Power steering loss happens while driving and the engine has stalled while driving. The engine also stall when braking. This nearly caused an accident today and the situation is getting worse. My wife and I drive our 1 year old child in this car and my wife is pregnant. We cannot afford another vehicle and may not be able to repair this problem as numerous reports on the web indicate that this is a extremely common problem that is very expensive to fix. This problem happens several times each day.

- Heltonville, IN, USA

problem #4

Jun 132009


  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2005 Chevy Cobalt and my power steering has been out for about 8 months. I've started seeing articles concerning the power steering and thought I should report my car.

- Little Elm, TX, USA

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