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:
12 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 1
Average Mileage:
55,544 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 10 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #63

Dec 102009


  • 64,000 miles


1) occurs when both driving at low speeds and high 2) car completely shuts off (as if driving a manual shift car and stalling - my car is automatic). Failure has occurred 3X now, twice at low speeds, once going 60 mph on the highway 3) put the car in park and restart the car. Took the car to dealership, they kept it for 3 days and told me nothing was wrong with the car.

- Edmonds, WA, USA

problem #62

Feb 232010


  • 58,344 miles
At roughly 40,000 miles and 3 years of ownership, a problem with the shift lock on the car was observed. At first, the problem was limited to the key being stuck in the ignition even when the car was in park. After ejecting the key with the button on the bottom side of the steering column, the shifter would remain in park. Eventually, the problem escalated to the point that the shifter could be moved from park to other gears without the key in the ignition. The car was taken to a dealership, but the problem could not be reproduced at the time. A few months passed after the escalated problem was first observed where the shifter behaved as intended or in the manner where the key would need ejected but the shifter would remain in park. After a failure in power steering system resulted in the replacement of the entire steering column by the dealership, the car was returned to the owner with the gearshift button stuck "down." Since then, the key remains stuck in the ignition unless the ejection button is used and the shifter moves freely from park to any other gear even without a key in the ignition or a foot on the brake.

- Lynn Haven, FL, USA

problem #61

Oct 292008


  • 21,330 miles
Rough idling, check engine light... replacement of the ignition control module... 2 times... parts replaced 2 times...

- Casselberry, FL, USA

problem #60

Mar 052006


  • 10,000 miles


In March of 2006 I was driving about 40 mph & the check engine light came on. As soon as the check engine light came on the power steering locked up. There was a clicking noise that came from the shifter (where you put it in park, reverse, drive). The car started to jerk forward at random & the brakes did not work. I pulled over as soon as I could & turned off the car. After letting it sit for about 30 minutes I turned the car back on & it had reset itself. I called the dealership and brought the car to them immediately. They kept the car for 3 weeks & were unable to get the car to act up while on the diagnostic test. They said that there was nothing that they could do. I had numerous episodes over the next 6 months including multiple times when I was driving between 60-70 miles on the freeway. They could never get it to act up doing the diagnostic testing. I took it to another dealership. They contacted gmac; the dealership agreed to fix the computer system. They told me that they were going to replace one of the computers that they thought was causing the problem and & just write it off since by this point the mileage was at 31,000 but the problem started when the mileage was at around 10,000. When I got the car back it was October 2006. I did not have anymore problems until November 2009. I turned on my vehicle & it did the whole thing again. I turned my vehicle off & called a dealership. I had the vehicle towed to the dealership & they kept it for a month and a half. While they had it I was calling gmac to try & get while they had it I was calling gmac since the mileage was at 94,000. While talking to the service manager at frank parra dealership & gmac the computer was never replaced; only reloaded. To this day the problem has not been fixed & it still happens at random. It has also started to have problems with the locks. They lock at random & trap me in the car or will not let me in. There is a definite electronic issue!!!!

- Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #59

Feb 102010


  • 22,000 miles
Battery going dead constantly - key getting stuck in the ignition

- Akron, IA, USA

problem #58

Sep 012009


  • 42,000 miles
2 things: 1-the steering column problems in 2009 Chevy dealer replaced unwillingly. 2- electrical issue. Panel lights go on and off and the car cant shift unless we start the car over and over again.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #57

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 #56

Dec 122009


  • miles
2005 Cobalt Chevrolet power sterring goes out

- Madsion, VA, USA

problem #55

Jan 012010


  • 25,000 miles
This scenario has happened numerous times: Start engine, engage in driving after giving time for engine to idle down, begin to drive, all gauges go to 0 or blank out, power steering is lost, fuel gauge shows empty when driving with a full tank or less, RPM gauge states 0 when engine is still noticeably running, cid displays "pwr steering" indicating it is out. The only fix? turn off car, unplug battery terminal, wait 5 minutes, attach terminal, drive again. But the check engine light remains on for a day or two. This normally happens once a week and no dealers say there's a problem reading on my ECU/PCM. I'm so fed up with this. My car is a 2005 model and this has never been corrected.

- Mccalla, AL, USA

problem #54

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 #53

Jun 012006


  • 8,000 miles


My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has had problems with the steering starting when the car was less than a year old. Had taken the car in to fix the emergency brake that had snapped and spoke to advisor about the steering problem but at that time it had occurred intermittently, they checked and found no problem at that time. Following another broken emergency brake (that still does not hold) I again explained the steering problem that was happening more frequently and at that time I was told that the repair would cost about $1200 and that there were no recalls or warranty left (car had 36,000). There is no explanation of why it happens, it can occur at any time and may remain out for days. There is no way to prevent it that I have found. While driving it will go out and it is almost impossible to turn the wheel, I have had to completely stop the car to avoid missing or not making a turn or avoid another car then while youre struggling to turn the wheel the steering has come back on and the car moves erratically. The cars gauges will stop working (almost like a surge) while the steering is out and I will have no speedometer. The car is driven, we have no choice at times but we try not to drive it because we cannot rely on the steering. We have not fixed the car because we cannot afford the repair.

- Stevensville, MD, USA

problem #52

Jan 212010


  • 46,931 miles
My wife owns a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. She was turning into an intersection when her electric power steering failed without warning and she lost control of the vehicle. This caused her to be unable to complete the turn and was almost hit by the vehicle behind her. Luckily the driver behind her was paying attention and was able to avoid a collision. The car had to be taken to the dealer where they had to replace the power steering module and we were advised that if it eventually failed again (which they stated may be only a temporary repair) that we would have to replace the entire steering column.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #51

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 #50

Jan 022010


  • 76,384 miles
I own a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. This vehicle is my families' only means of family transportation. Also, I have very serious medical conditions, including a very high risk pregnancy. The vehicle is my only means of traveling to my doctors and hospitals. At random times my car has shut off while driving, and locked the keys in the ignition. After restarting the vehicle it has trouble staying in drive, and starts to slip into neutral periodically. The problems usually occur while I am driving on the interstate. I have taken the vehicle to the Chevy dealership in town on more than one occasion to have the issue fixed. They have changed items within the steering column and told me the problem is fixed. Yet, just today, the car shut off again. I cannot explain how important it is that I have a reliable mode of transportation to and from my doctors. I have explained that fact to the dealership, but still have the problem. If I am unable to make it to the doctor of hospital, my medical conditions can take my life, or my unborn child's. I need to have the problem fixed, before I go bankrupt paying for them to fix what they cannot seem to find.

- Lake City, FL, USA

problem #49

Oct 292009


  • miles
1).nothing just driving and the power steering when out had to stop turn the car off and start the car again 2)power steering start Thursday 10-29/until 11-2 I took the car to the shop, would go out and couldn't turn the car without both hands and it was hard. No consequences thanks goodness I had to small kids in the car but was able to stop and turn the car off 3) had to take to the car to the shop and it going to cost up to 1300 to get it fix. Part needed was to replace the electronic power steering column assembly and program. Which they don't have so they have to ship overnight for 30 extra.

- Houston , TX, USA

problem #48

Apr 202006


  • 5,000 miles
2005 chevorlet Cobalt ls sedan- purchased new 15 miles on odometer. @ 5000 mile service after nearly dieing on the I-5 from violent shaking! found (non disclosed)hit before purchased, rail dust corrosion on moldings, weights missing from three of four tires, dash cubby broken and 1 yr to replace, electrical demons! (locks, radio, gauges, etc...) maintenance @ $100 a pop under warranty ( but still major problems!) struts replaced three times, electrical harnesses replaced, power window motor on two windows replaced, ignition cylinder replaced, fob keyless entry reset, new radio. A never ending nightmare prospect motors dealership in jackson ca whom I purchased the vehicle from has filed bankruptcy and is no longer in business. Frank halverston owner has made no attempt to help me! continuing problems; 70K miles clunking, rattling, shaking, feels like the car is going to fall apart! steering problems, suspension problems, electrical problems- rear shocks shot, replace tire four fourth time! family chevorlet, under "extended service plan", did nothing this last time to ammend the situation but rather blamed it on my brakes and a plastic retainer wall on my right front tire unsafe to drive! yet GM has denied my claim for a new vehicle four times! and the GM certified dealership held me out on warranty till it was no longer eligible for lemon law! just want my car fixed and operating properly, not to walk through !@#$% for my consumer rights!

- Ione, CA, USA

problem #47

Oct 232009


  • 34,145 miles
Was stopped at a red light, after the light changed I proceeded to go and car stalled going about 15 mph. No warning lights were on dash, the car had no power, no lights, nothing. I was able to coast to side of road, put car in park, waited a minute and started up. Dealer has been unable to locate a problem with car, miles on car when problem started, 34K.

- Montclair, CA, USA

problem #46

Jul 152009


  • 30,000 miles
The Cobalt power steering randomly fails making it extremely difficult for the driver to steer. This has happened in many instances, with many people and should be considered very dangerous. You have to replace the entire steering column to fix the problem. There should be a recall. There is no warning before it happens and there is nothing you can do to prevent the problem. Dangerous.

- Tigard, OR, USA

problem #45

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 #44

Aug 102009


  • 82,346 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt power steering has gone out. When I am driving on the freeway the power steering light comes on and I am unable to control the steering since it fails. I have to pull over and restart my car in order to continue driving it. The more I drove it the worse it got! I drive no more than 2 minutes with my power steering light coming on and a 5 minute drive I would have to restart my car at least 5-6 times before getting to my destination. I feel like this is putting me in danger since I am not able to navigate the car properly. This shouldn't be happening! my car has been back and forth in the shop for 2 weeks now, and I don't know what to do.

- Livingston, CA, USA

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