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 12 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Aug 032008


  • 33,200 miles


My 2005 Cobalt has had electrical and power steering problems ever since I leased it. Intermittently, while driving, the instrument messages start flashing (usually "power steering"). the car then becomes very hard to steer and brake, the engine surges up and down. On Aug 3rd the car was involved in a minor accident when it was steered into a curb, possibly caused by another equipment failure. I took the car in to a Chevrolet dealer again, when it failed again two more times after the accident. Both times the dealer found error codes. However, they said they had a "tsb" on this problem, from Chevrolet which says to just clear the logs, give the car back to the customer and to "perform no work". they are putting lives in danger by following this procedure. I have copies of the service orders to confirm my statement.

- Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

problem #22

Aug 232008


  • 49,500 miles
The time the incident occurred was when we were on our way (my wife and I) to Canada for a wedding, we got to our destination and the all of the sudden the car literally starts hoping down the road, then in the middle of the road it completely stalled. The power steering light came on the dashboard and then the check engine light came on. We looked in the manual, because we have only had the car for a month and found the power steering piece to contact GMC. Well being in the city and all dealerships closed we couldn't do anything. We shut the vehicle down and tried to restart, the same thing occurred- we were able to drive it to a mechanic near by (when finally it was working) and they had no idea what to do because of the electric power steering. We gave up and finally went home to my mother in laws house. I researched on the internet and then I came onto not one but many websites via google on how much trouble people are having with their Cobalts. We are very unfortunate and do not have warranty left over. So when it comers to replacing the $2000 part we can not. I really need my car to run properly -my wife and I live in the United States and its a long way home!!! I really hope we do not get into a vehicle accident along the way due to the power steering malfunction, otherwise our lawyer and GMC will be talking. At this time I want a resolution from someone! how can GMC produce a vehicle with multiple known issues and continue to sell it without notifying people how deadly it is. I am very upset and I will never buy another GMC product again. If anyone at this company can do some easy research and find out that there are so many people with the know issue of power steering out there. I want a resolution and someone to pay for the consequence. I need to be contacted asap!!!

- Altmar, NY, USA

problem #21

Aug 202008


  • 9,957 miles
Several times the ignition would not turn off without continuously cycling it several times. Also several times the ignition would not turn on without continuously taking the key out and putting it back in and retrying to turn it several times.

- Bowie, MD, USA

problem #20

Aug 192008


  • 10,000 miles


2005 Chevrolet Cobalt with only 10,000 miles has had repeated problems with ignition failing to start the car.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #19

Jul 172008


  • 44,000 miles
Power steering failure signal comes on after any length of time of driving, at any speed and on any pavement. The steering wheel locks up and the car has to be turned off and restarted in order for the steering to reset. Fuel injection failure. Key won't turn in ignition. Cd player picks and chooses when it will work.

- Clayton, MO, USA

problem #18

Jul 152006


  • 22,000 miles
2005 Cobalt door automatic.. since June-July of 2006, the automobile has repeatedly been taken to 2 different dealerships for repair or correction during the warranty period. The would act as to stall, shaky, and hesitate while driving. Each time the dealer said they were unable to find or determine the problem. Now, that the warranty is out and the car has done the same problem (July 10. 2008) the dealership says there is a problem and they will have to look farther into it.. I knew this was going to happen, the moment its out of manufacture warranty, they can find a problem with it.

- Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #17

Jun 042008


  • 24,500 miles


2005 Chevy Cobalt power steering goes out at random, car locks you inside, you have to go out the window, car dies while driving. These are all common problems with this car. Chevy does not make redesigned parts to replace its current stock of bad parts. Someone is going to get hurt, if Chevy is not forced to take action.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #16

May 212008

Cobalt 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Power steering light warning light comes on check engine light comes on, security anti theft light comes on all gauges fail, speed, gas, tack the car will run rough and stall car will not shift multiple computer error codes dealer replaced a computer component didn't fix problem. The car is unsafe to drive when problems occur.

- Bath, NY, USA

problem #15

Jan 182007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 49,862 miles
I have had my 2005 Chevy Cobalt since July 2005. At 800 miles I had it serviced for a leak in the passenger floorboard. It was in the shop 5 times before they found a fix. Next was the lights flashing on the dashboard, specifically the check engine, brake and high beam lights. Then the heater would not blow so it was in the shop to have that fixed. Then the reverse lights stopped working and there is condensation in the headlights. Now, two days ago, my power steering light comes on and it becomes very hard to steer. I almost had an accident when I couldn't turn fast enough. When you turn the car on and off it works again temporarily. I will be taking it to the shop again, but at this point it has 50,000 miles and is out of warranty. Very disappointed with the quality of this car!!

- Driftwood, TX, USA

problem #14

Sep 122006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,253 miles
Car purchased on 3/14/05 from rk Chevrolet. Starting Sept. 12, 2006 the car electrical system started malfunctioning. Various dash board lights came on, tick noise from the shifter, power steering light and fails, and the gauges began to go crazy! the car also wanted to shut off, and has boosts of energy. The same issue occurred November 2, 2006, June 8, 2007, September 19, 2007(colonial Chevrolet), and October 16, 2007 (colonial Chevrolet). After we got it back from colonial, the same problem occurred approximately 2 days later. Colonial Chevrolet indicated that that could not fix the problem and they were waiting to talk to GM about it! they even suggested initiating a buy back. We have been in contact with gmac in detroit about the issue and no answers have given nor a resolution. Currently we have to drive a very unsafe car that jolts, can't turn, and will not accelerate at times. We have been requesting at least a rental (safe car) until this problem can be addressed and no one has offered this in lue of a resolution. What has been done: PCM replaced: (9/15/07)body, throttle (8/7/07, 11/2/06), replaced: Body control (11/2/06); shifter bind & ndash; replace slide, automatic control lever replace, floor shift replace, wiring /connector steering suspension ride control??< control assembly. Floor shift replace (9/12/06).

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #13

Sep 022007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,996 miles


I had been driving my 2005 Chevy Cobalt coupe yesterday for about an hour and a half when it just suddenly shut off. I had the cruise control on and was going about 80mph and I have about 27,000 miles on the car. I lost power steering and had to coast over to the side of the road. No warnling lights came on before hand. After I pulled the car over, I was able to restart it with no problems and it drove fine all the way home for another hour or so. I have seen many other complaints on this website similar to this one. Luckily there were no cars around and the road wasn't very busy but its disturbing to imagine what would have happened if that had not been the case. The car is going to be worked on tomorrow so I don't know what the dealer thinks is wrong with it yet.

- Wake Forest, NC, USA

problem #12

Jun 142007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
I had just over 25,000 miles and my first my power steering light came on then the car just started stalling and power steering locked up, also was making a clicking noise. Then the car competely stalled and could not be moved at all. The dealer replaced the shifter. My car again was fine while driving on the highway approximately a month to two months then my warnign chimes were coming on but indicating nothing. After a total of a trip on the highway after slowing down to a mim. Speed on non-highway my power steering light again came on and my car started stalling and jumping, steering locked up and car was making a grinding noise. I shut the car off and restarted, it was fine for the time and as soon as possible I sent to dealer for repair. Dealer states it is the body control modular. I am afraid that my life my be in danger if this would happen at highway speed not to mention the lives of others on the highway as well other Chevy Cobalt owners.

- Osawatomie, KS, USA

problem #11

Apr 242007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt sedan randomly shuts off while driving. So far it has happened about 6 times. The first time was a few months ago. I was driving at a speed of about 30mph making a left turn crossing a very busy lane of oncoming traffic when the car just shut off. The radio was still on but if I pressed on the gas, nothing. I had to put the car in park, shut off the ignition and then restart it. It immediately started back up. I called the dealership right away and was told that because no warning lights came on they wouldn't be able to trace the problem and hopefully it was a one time thing. Well then about a month later it happened again. The dealership told me to wait about a week and call back, well within a week it happened again so I called and told them I was bringing it to them. When I brought the car in they installed a flight recorder and sent me on my way. About a week later the car shut off again so I pressed the button on the flight recorder and brought it back to the dealership. The mechanics informed me that the flight recorder did not work because they forgot to put something else on my car at the time of the installation in order to make the recorder work and wanted me to bring the car back to have the recorder re-installed. I refused and told them I would bring the car back but they needed to keep it until they figured out the problem. On my way back to the dealership the car shut off again while going 65mph on the highway. The dealership had the car for about a week and claimed it was fixed for sure. They said they found the problem and replaced the ignition switch and power train relay. Well I have now had my car back for two weeks and as of last night it happened again. I called the dealership and told them to have the car towed because I refuse to drive it. At this point I do not want the car and have no faith in them repairing it. The car should be recalled before there is a fatality.

- Windsor, CT, USA

problem #10

Apr 062007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has shut off 3 times while driving on the expressway. The car acts just like you turn off the ignition while you are in the driveway, except you are driving 70 mph and there is traffic all around you. When we pull over and park the car, the car starts right back up and drives fine. There have been no obvious warning signs indicating that something is going to happen. The first failure was when my wife was driving the car for about 45 minutes. She told me that the Cobalt turned off while she was driving and had to pull over and turn it back on. She was driving at 75 mph and did not have cruise control on. The second time I was driving the Cobalt with her as a passenger. We were driving at 75 mph for about 40 minutes when the car turned off. We made an appointment with the dealership and told them about it. The dealership replaced the defroster switch and updated the computer. The third time I was driving with my wife. We were driving at 75 mph with cruise on a really straight stretch of highway. I was not touching anything and was talking to my wife when the car turned off. I pulled over and immediately called the dealership. The dealership drove the car for 40-45 miles and checked the computer. They told us that they saw no codes and could not duplicate the problem. They gave us the GM customer service number and I them regarding this safety concern. GM told me to take it to another dealership for them to look at it to see if they could duplicate the problem. This dealership only drove the car 8 miles and told us that they did not have time to spend driving the vehicle longer. I called GM again, the adm of the area passed on to us that, since the problem cannot be duplicated, the only things that we can do is to 1) attach a flight recorder to the vehicle and continue driving it in hopes that this problem continues and we can catch it with the flight recorder or 2) take a service man on a road trip to see if the problem duplicates.

- Wyoming, MI, USA

problem #9

Feb 022007

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
- the contact stated that while driving the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt at 25 mph, the dashboard icons turned on, the vehicle began to jerk back and forth. While stopping at a red light the vehicle lost power, and had to be restarted. The vehicle lost power again while going up a steep hill, the vehicle had to be restarted. The vehicle has not been driven since. The vehicle was being assessed at the dealership. Stalling happened on 4 occasions. The trac light and brake light illuminated. Various componets were replaced on the vehicle, however the problem continued. Updated 02/22/07.

- Mckeesport, PA, USA

problem #8

Sep 012005

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles
#1 I brought it back because steering wheel always was to the left even though I was going straight. Dealer said it was fine, I complained to customer service and then dealer said they fixed it. When going straight the steering still looks left. #2 air conditioning not working, #3 liquid coming out of vents #4 cricket noises out of passenger side dash area. I was told air conditioning was fine, no cricket noises and it was normal for fluid to come out of vents. I brought the car back again said A/C is not fine I asked them if it could be some sort of filter (I am no mechanic) but it was. They had car all day, went to pick it up but they said dash was apart because they were fixing the problem with the fluid coming out of the dash (and I said I was told there was no problem) they had the car for the weekend. They tried to charge me for the filter and I said I would not pay for it because there was problems with that ac and defroster etc since day one. They took out the filter and put in an old dirty filter that did not come from my vehicle as the guy from the Chevy dealership in malden said he found it in the trash, (has made my daughter sick). #5 while driving the car I was getting off of the highway into a rest area and the car just died, there was no power steering no brakes etc. The key was in the switch and it was not off. I started the car up again. #6 the electrical didnt work, they fixed that. I have contacted Chevy customer service on several occasions and they say they will check into it etc and call me back, but they never do. I want them to fix the steering wheel, fix the car stalling out for no reason (we could have been killed) and put in a new filter not someone elses dirty filter. I don't trust the malden dealership. I have brought the car to the dealership on at least 7 occasions most of which they say nothing wrong.

- Malden, MA, USA

problem #7

Dec 162006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,500 miles
I purchased my 2005 Chevy Cobalt in March of 2005. I have had repairs done in June of 2005 on recall for air conditioning unit. No real problems until last month 12/2006. The car, while driving at 65 mph just shut off (no warning). I had no steering, no brakes and thankfully was able to coast to the side. About 5 minutes later I was able to start the car to try to get it to the next exit. The car was driving ok so I tried to get to my destination (slowly under 50 mph) the car then began to lose power and shutter. As soon as it started it stopped. Took car to dealer and computer was fixed. No problems until 1 week later. Car at a red light just stopped working and now has no power to accelerate. Taking car back to dealer but very frustrated over brand new car not working properly.

- Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

problem #6

Dec 012006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I was driving at about 20 mph after stopping at a red light when my car shut off, my dashboard lights went blank. I was able to restart my car and it has happened since. Today while driving at 65 mph on the interstate, my car started to shake badly and I almost lost control. I tried to brake but it made the shaking worse. The car felt like it had lost power. I was able to pull over. I thought at first maybe a flat tire but no. As quickly as it happened it went away. I am very unhappy about this and had problems with GM cars before. You would think I would have learned my lesson and went with a Honda or Toyota.

- Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

problem #5

Aug 152006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
Car stalls while driving at all speeds with no warning. Dealership unable to duplicate problem.

- Plymouth, MA, USA

problem #4

May 262006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt was towed in for the 3rd time in 3 months. It is not even a year old yet. All three times have been exactly the same - I go out to start the car in the morning & the car's electrical system goes haywire and the car will not start. This first 2 times, the dealer said it was an electrical problem & they replaced everything. This last time they said it's just a dead battery. If that is the case, wouldn't they have figured that out the first 2 times? something clearly is awry in the electrical system and it is draining the battery. I don't want this car - I can't trust it to start & the dealer clearly doesn't know what's wrong. I intend to take legal action.

- Finleyville, PA, USA

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