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 11 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #43

Jul 312009


  • 54,972 miles


Was driving my car at or around 60 mph and the powersteering light came on in my car and the steering wheel became extremely stiff and hard for me to pull of the side of the road. I turned my car off for about 2 minutes and turned it back on and it began working normally. Approximately 20 miles later the powersteering went out again. As of today August 3, 2009 it has gone out 3 times within 3 days.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #42

Aug 012009


  • 29,000 miles
Driving my 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, the steering lockup and a alarm appear on dash said power steering failure, to correct this. Have to stop the car, turn off the engine and restart. Then anywhere from 5 to 15 minute the steering lockup again. I think this is a safe issue. The car has a electrical power pump and is not the only car at has is pump, Chevrolet equinox has the same pump and also the same problem.

- West Mifflin, PA, USA

problem #41

May 272009


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving 60 mph, the steering locked up and the contact was forced to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle was towed and is unable to be driven. There were no prior failures with the steering. The dealer stated that it would cost $2,000 to repair the steering. The electrical system was also defective and will not activate the air conditioning or lock the doors. The VIN was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 73,000.

- Antioch, TN, USA

problem #40

Apr 182009


  • 34,423 miles


Ignition key sticks in the "acc" position at shut down about 80% of the time. Restarting the car or pushing up under the key cylinder sometimes releases it. I've gone to two dealers so far and all I get is yup its stuck...maybe its the shifter maybe its the ignition. That's not a great response to hear. This is on 05 Chevy Cobalt ls coupe.

- Ellenville, NY, USA

problem #39

May 072009


  • 33,000 miles
No events leading to failure. Chevy Cobalt 2005 model 33,000 miles power steering random catastrophic failure key sticks in ignition nothing was done to correct the failure by the manufacturer (no recall) even though multiple complaints and problems have been identified with the power steering in these models.

- Martinez, GA, USA

problem #38

Mar 152009


  • 75,377 miles
I purchased a 2005 Chevy Cobalt in August of 2005. Less then a week after purchasing the vehicle it was in the shop to be fixed. I have had problems with the steering panel (key will not come out of the ignition, button on stick shift sticks, can not turn car off without disconnecting the battery), I have had problems with the power windows and locks, I have had problems with the stereo going into "lock" mode - which in turn makes me turn the car on and then off again to get the radio to work. I looked into the lemon law and they stated since it was all electrical, they could not pin point it to being the same problem all 5 times of it being in. Well, it has done it again now in March of 2009. They are stating that me extended warranty through national warranty does not cover this therefore I have to pay $400 to fix something that seems to be a default on this car. It is not yet 4 years old. I have had nothing but problems with this car. I tried trading it in, but I was laid off last year and make less money and do not have the best credit because of not working for almost a year. I hate this car and after the customer service and the problems I have had with this car, I will never purchase a Chevy again!! this is something that has happened since I purchased the car and they say they will not cover it. I have found on several websites that others have had this same problem, but Chevy says it has not been reported enough to them to say that it is a recall. Wow!

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #37

Mar 102009


  • miles


There were no events leading up to the failure; it just happened. The ignition control module has been replaced twice in 4 years on my 2005 Cobalt. The first time was 2 weeks after I bought the car so it was under warranty. The second time it cost me over $600 dollars to have it fixed. The odometer will read "ice possible" when it's 80 degrees outside and the brake dummy light comes on all the time. The radio will display a "lock" on it and the radio won't work. Just recently the rear defogger quit working. I replaced the fuse and relay switch thinking this would be quick fix and neither worked. The 2005 Cobalt has many issues and I've read of others with issues similar to mine. New cars aren't supposed to have this many problems this soon. My car is only 4 years old and I can't wait to get rid of it!

- Lebanon, IN, USA

problem #36

Mar 062009


  • 75,000 miles
I have a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Within the last year the power steering has started going out on it. When you turn the car off and back on, it will be fine for a little while. I have talked to several other people who have had the same problem with this model car. From what I've been told, it is going to be extremely pricey to fix too. The electric power steering system is faulty and should be recalled before someone gets seriously injured!

- Aynor, SC, USA

problem #35

Feb 022009


  • 31,320 miles
For the past month, my Cobalt has been having the check engine light come on while I am driving, happening intermittently. Concurrently with the check engine light coming on, the RPM needle drops and you can feel much less power. Sometimes stalling also occurs, (most likely at stoplights/stop signs) and also occurring in groups. On days when the car is running with no check engine light coming on, there will be no stalling. The car will go for a day or two with no problems, but always reverts back to the check engine/stall problem. And there was one time when I went out to get pizza. I parked the car, went to the pizza place, and when I came back to start the car, not a light nor a sound was made when I turned the key. I tried this several times over a 20 minute period. The car was utterly dead. That only happened once, and luckily, after waiting for about 30 minutes, it did start up again. I have begun taking back roads only as if this would happen on a highway, the results would obviously be disastrous.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #34

Aug 202008


  • 39,000 miles
First experienced warning on display panel for power steering failure August 08. Have had the car back to the dealer 4 times since that time. 2nd time dealer replaced some wires. 3rd time stated nothing was wrong with the car. Have lost complete control of steering 3 times since first occurrence. Yesterday dealer stated car was not fixable. Being advised by GM to clear error codes and return car to owner. Advised I contact BBB to pursue a claim. Car is unsafe to drive.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #33

Jun 222007


  • 35,000 miles


I would be driving 35 mph and my car would rev up and down between 500 and 4000rpm I would be sitting at a light and it would also. I was driving to work I was in the middle of an intersection and my car stalled out I had to turn my car back on and pull into a gas station and my power steering went out. Apparently the body control module went out in my car and in many others have experienced this problem as well. It's very dangerous! it's a miracle I didn't get hurt or cause an accident just driving along and your call stalls out in a relatively new car.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #32

Oct 152008


  • 35,000 miles
While traveling at highway speeds (~65 mph) the car has shut off 4 times. Each time car behaved the same way, as if the key had been removed: The engine stopped, instrument panel dials went to 0, lights turned off. Radio stayed on (as it would if the car was turned off). The shut offs were sudden: There were no warnings (lights, sounds, vibrations) before shut off. I was able to coast/brake and pull to the side of the road, shift to park and restart the car each time. The first incident was in July 2008 approximately 100 miles into a trip. The second three incidents happened in about a 30 minute time span on the same trip in mid October. I took the car to the Chevy dealership after the October incidents and they could not reproduce the problem. They performed a computer update. I had them check the wiring in January 2009 and they could not find any problems. The clock radio resets to 12:00 (when I turn on the car, not during driving) about once every 3 months since I bought the car in 2005 - I'm not sure if this problem is related. The car is an automatic 2005 Cobalt, 4 doors with about 35000 miles.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #31

Feb 142009


  • 42,735 miles
Electric power steering problem. Indicator light turns on and car loses power steering control.....very dangerous.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #30

Jan 282009


  • 75,944 miles
More than six months ago I was driving at approx 55mph when my car started to "jump". reminded me of someone learning to drive a standard. Had car towed to dealership, no codes, did trans service, 1 qt low (approx $500 w/tow). Problem cont randomly, could not afford to take to dealership for them to play guessing game. Finally took in begin of Jan for ck engine light, no code, sent home. Few days later started acting up again. Let me will "jump" when shifting especially into 2nd, ck engine light on, T/C light on, speedometer gage goes goofy and "power steering" appears, oh and ticking in shifter. We have also had issues with the power steering going out. On 1/15 it started acting up while on freeway took it straight to the dealer. They pulled code P0742 and decided to replace transmission valve body (approx$2000). Picked up car on 1/19, next day eng light back on. Husband took to dealer told it would go off. Came back on beginning of this week. Last night on way to school & back experienced worse case yet. "jumping", ck engine, T/C an auto-theft lights on, ticking in shifter especially when breaking. When leaving school power steering wouldn't work, turned car off N on 3 times to get it to kick in. I do not feel that my car is safe to drive anymore. And with as many complaints as I have read today I do not understand why Chevy/GM has not found a resolution for this yet or done a recall. Will it take a fatality to get them to react"??" (1/29/09 sk).

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #29

Jan 142008


  • 87,000 miles
Key locked in ignition - unable to remove. Car would start but was in limp mode.

- Rayville, MO, USA

problem #28

Jan 032009


  • 66,000 miles
Beginning January 3rd, 2009, the 'power steering' warning has intermittently appeared and power steering assist would fail. This occurred about 3 times, between 30 and about 50 miles per hour. This is clearly a safety hazard. I also own a 2004 Malibu. My wife is the primary driver. The same issue happened with her car. After fighting with GM and the dealer they agreed, as a one time exception, to replace the steering column for the Malibu at no cost. This due to my "customer loyalty." Knowing the trouble involved and the likely outcome, I have not yet contacted GM regarding the current Cobalt issues. The cost of repair is suspicious, around $2000. The method of repair is also suspect; the replacement of the entire steering column. Not only does this seem to be excessive, there is little assurance that the new steering column is any different. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to foot this bill as a consumer. It is expensive, and clearly a product defect. I am concerned about using the car, especially on the interstate, thus rendering this costly product all but useless - and dangerous. This is not the only electronic issue I have had with this car. I need to open the bottom of the column to remove my key from the ignition (estimated repair cost from goodwrench - $450), and repeated blown fuses when I first bought the car, attributed to pinched wiring. A recall seems in order for this situation. Thank you.

- Wallingford, PA, USA

problem #27

Dec 092008


  • 46,000 miles
Left blinker randomly will not work. I have tried replacing the bulb and the wiring assembly. Started with just the front driver side and now the rear driver side does not work. Worked after jiggling the wires one day when I was bored but after hitting a bump one time when right back to normal. I have tried putting the flashers on to fix it but does not work. All the fuses and everything are good. Looked it up online and looks like a very common problem for Chevrolet and 05 Cobalts in general.

- Beaufort, SC, USA

problem #26

Nov 192008


  • 42,500 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. When the contact attempted to turn off the vehicle, the key remained stuck in the accessory stage of the ignition module. The failure prevented her from turning off the vehicle. She has not taken the vehicle to the dealer for inspection. The failure and current mileages were 42,500.

- Mount Gilead, OH, USA

problem #25

Nov 042008


  • 53,741 miles
I own a 2005 Chevy Cobalt which I purchased new in 2005. Tonight while driving home a 'power steering' message displayed on my dash at the same time that my power steering went out. I was able to pull off to the shoulder of the road and turned my car off. I turned my car back on thinking maybe it was just a glitch in my computer and it drove fine for another 5 miles then the message popped up again and again I lost power steering. I was able to pull into a nearby gas station to attempt to see if I was low of fluid but found out its electronic power steering. Since I was only a few more miles from home I was able to, with hazards flashing, drive the rest of the way home having to stop once more to turn off and on my car to remove the warning and to re-engage my power steering. I've read online about multiple other Cobalt owners having this same issue and I think it is deplorable of Chevrolet to not have recalled this by now.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #24

Sep 032008


  • 45,774 miles
On 9/3/08 my husband and I were driving our 2005 Chevy Cobalt with 45,700 miles on it going 35 mph, we came to a curve in the road and the warning light in our car went off and it read, "power steering", we then lost all power steering. My husband veered off the road because it was hard to steer, we then turned the car off hoping it would clear the error. We started the car and it then drove fine. When we got to where we were going we decided to check the power steering fluid but couldn't find where it was. We looked in our owner's manual and it stated that it was electrical and there was no fluid. The next day on the interstate at 60 mph driving to work the warning light went off and it read, "power steering", my husband maintained control and it never regained power steering. From that incident on every time we drove it kept happening and we would never regain power steering until we turned the car off and restarted it. First thing Monday morning 9/8/08 we took it to the dealership. They told us there was an internal fault in the steering column motor and they needed to replace the electronic column. I asked if there had been a recall because I found hundreds of incidents with the same problem with our same vehicle, make and year on the internet. The dealership claimed this is the first they had heard of. I told the dealership that when they replaced my motor I wanted the faulty one back. They got an attitude quickly and told me that I couldn't have the old part because it was under GM warranty. I then asked if that's the case then why do I have to pay for this new part because my old one is obviously faulty. They told me it was part of GM policy and I could not have the old part. After that it made us very suspicious as to why they wouldn't let us take the old part. I told them this was a safety issue endangering people's lives that needed to be addressed. I contacted the GM corporate office and they gave me the same spill that they havenT heard of this issue.

- Ladson, SC, USA

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