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 7 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #123

Feb 012012


  • 64,200 miles


Complete power failure at random while traveling at 50 mph.

- Stokesdale, NC, USA

problem #122

Jan 102010


  • 50,000 miles
On January 10th, 2010 our daughter [xxx] 21 yrs. Old was killed in a car accident. We received a recall notice from GM in April 2010 on the car a 2005 Chevy Cobalt for power steering failure. The recall involves removing entire power steering mechanism built by a partially owned Toyota factory. I knew the minute I got the news that my daughter was killed so violently and that it did not involve another car that it had to be mechanical failure. It was too late to save our daughter [xxx] but not too late to save others, I contacted GM who sent three representatives to the coparts scrap yard in duryea where the Cobalt was stored in July to investigate the car accident. A photographer, an accident reconstruction and a mechanical engineer that flew in from detroit, the objective was to remove the black box, computer from the car and analyze the data. We went to the scrap yard and for the first time saw the wreckage that was once a beautiful red sports car. All the windows including the sun roof were blown out, the Cobalt had flipped, rolled, ejecting [xxx] on to the highway where she was run over. We are not sure if [xxx] was killed on impact. The Cobalt burst into flames melting the instrument panel, shift, upholstery. At the coparts scrap yard in duryea, myself and my husband [xxx] father saw the car for the first time the Cobalt told the story of an extremely violent wreck. I was told by [xxx]that I would know the results from the black box data the next day. When I tried to contact GM through [xxx], miss price that they would not communicate with our family. GM has my property and they will not release the data without us providing proof that the car was defective. This is not possible since they took the most valuable piece of information from the car. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Scranton, PA, USA

problem #121

Dec 182013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The ignition on the car is loose and just through the weight of the key chain and by hitting a bump, the key can shift out of the "on" position, causing the car to turn off. This has happened on several occasions, typically on the highway - the car will completely shut off. Fortunately, each time my wife was able to coast to the side of the road and restart the car. The dealership said that this is a common problem in this model year. The dangers of this condition are obvious.

- Howell, MI, USA

problem #120

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 #119

Dec 102009


  • miles
The brake caliper was rattling because it was broke I had a auto repair man replace part then all of a sudden it brakes again that was for the front and back it also has elected electrical problems the windows work when they want and the car mostly always stalls it has even stalled on me in the middle of traffic on hwy what it does is act real sluggish and the more you press on the gas the more it bogs out and pulls back instead of taking off as supposed to the turn signals in the front always blow everytime replaced there is also interior electrical problems such as the interior lighting works when it wants to and the doors lock and unlock themselves with will unset the anti theft system and allow for Prowler to take the car.

- Nalcrest, FL, USA

problem #118

Dec 072013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
Multiple problems with my '05 Cobalt, but this was problem cannot be duplicated by dealer and when I called GMC, they cannot tell me anything about this problem. Driving on a highway approx. 50-55 mph and all of a sudden car dropped to approx 20 mph. Dash reading said 'reduced engine power' and my traction control light came on. Nothing would make the car go faster, luckily nobody was behind me. Car kept acting like it was going to die. Got the car to my in-laws, which was only 5 minutes away and we unhooked the battery. After letting the car sit for a few minutes and the battery together, the car seemed fine. Took it to the dealer and said they can't get a code because the battery was unplugged. I called GMC and they told me they can't do anything without the code. I have children who sit in the back of my car and I am not waiting for the problem to happen again, if I am on the interstate and cars are behind me, they are going to run into me, as there was no warning this was going to happen. Not happy that Chevy seems to be avoiding a huge safety issue and pretending it doesn't exist. There needs to be a recall on this immediately.

- Norwalk, IA, USA

problem #117

Dec 032013


  • 95,000 miles


Driver's side door will not open from inside or outside. Both the inside and the outside door handles will become "loose" and while easy to pull handles, the door will still not open.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #116

Nov 172013


  • 47,500 miles
Vehicle was parked inside garage, filling tires with air. A cigarette lighter powered air compressor was being used to fill tires. Was only in use for a few minutes, when air compressor stopped. The fuse for the cigarette lighter was blown. This was a common problem with the car. On several occasions the fuse for the cigarette lighter would be blown for no apparent reason. I have only used it in the past to use my obd II scanner, being that the obd diagnostic port is powered by the same fuse as the cigarette lighter. Besides using the obd scanner, no other things have been used via the cigarette lighter. Regardless the fuse would be blown. After the fuse was blown with the air compressor, I unplugged it from the cigarette lighter, only to see smoke coming from under the hood. The fuse melted in the fuse block. From there, the window wipers began operating, as well as the windshield wiper fluid being shot out from the nozzles. Smoke began pouring from the inside of the car, from under the dash. I quickly ran to the trunk where the battery is located, and disconnected the battery as soon as I could. Garage was filled with smoke, with the ominous burnt electronic smell.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #115

Aug 242013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 56,900 miles
On Saturday morning 8/24/13 I got into my car and backed out of the driveway. Once I backed out of the driveway and put the car into drive the car started to jerk. I kept driving for about another 50 feet to a stop sign. It jerked to whole way to the stop sign. There I made a U turn to go back home to get my father. He got in the car and we drove back to the same corner and once again it jerked the whole way to the stop sign. So we went back to the house so my dad could get some his shoes on so we could take it to where I bought the car. While he was in the house I turn the car off. When my dad got back in the car and I turn the car back on and drove to the sign the jerking had went away. I drove the car the rest of the day and put around 75 miles on it that day with no other problems. On Sunday night 8/25/13 I got into my car to drive into town. I drove about block and the car began to jerk and shake again. I drove about another block and pulled into a parking lot. Once I stopped I noticed the power steering light on the dashboard had come on. I turned my car off and sit there for a little while turned it back on and drove in town with no problems the rest of the night. On Monday 8/26/13 I drove the car 30 miles back to where I bought it with no problems. Their service department has been trying to recreate the problem now for 3 day with no success.

- Gettysburg, PA, USA

problem #114

Apr 012011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • miles
After starting the Cobalt or even if I am driving down the interstate at 70 mph, the T/C lights, brake lights, power steering lights all light up on the dash. The speedometer and RPM gauges start going crazy. The radio will also go in and out. Usually on the interstate, the car will continue to drive, which is very scary. But if I am in town or slowing down to stop, the car will cut off. Then after I crank it again and start to move, the transmission changes gears really rough and feels like it is going to fall out. The only thing I have found to fix this (after weeks at different dealerships) is to turn the car off and flip the key on and off several(20 plus) times.

- Graham, NC, USA

problem #113

Jul 232013


  • 70,000 miles


I was driving in to my apartment complex when my car completely loss power. I was able to steer, however I was not able to accelerate. The radio turned off and the air conditioner quite working. This has happened twice since I've gotten my car. Luckily, I was in places where I could safely pull over. I had to turn my car off, wait for a few minutes and turn it back on to get it to work correctly. I am also having issues with my power steering. I am starting to think that this car just isn't safe anymore and I am looking into possibly getting a new car because of it. It is becoming dangerous to drive this car!

- Cedar Hill, TX, USA

problem #112

Jun 222013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,500 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving at unknown speeds, the fuel gauge and tachometer fluctuated erratically. The contact also stated that the power steering failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that there was low battery voltage. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 65,500. Updated 08/27/13 when the consumer stated the vehicle, there was a high idle and a hard shift into reverse. The ignition shift lock release solenoid malfunctioned. When the key was held in acc mode, the brake lock release solenoid malfunctioned. The tachometer and fuel gauge fluctuated erratically. Updated 08/27/13

- Ida Grove, IA, USA

problem #111

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 #110

Jun 032012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated he was unable to remove the key from the ignition. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 115,000.

- Downers Grove, IL, USA

problem #109

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 #108

Feb 212013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 68,687 miles
When starting up the vehicle, the check engine and traction lights are lit up. The gauges fluctuate, as well as the temperture reading blinks. Loud clicking sounds can be heard coming from the shift selector. The steering wheel will not turn due to loss of power steering. After shutting off vehicle, the ignition will not release keys for about 15-20 seconds. Have also lost power steering on freeway at speeds of 70 mph. Have attempted to have GM and the dealership resolve the issue, first by having the recalled parts replaced. Problem is recurring for third time, after being "handled" by the dealership the last two times. A very dangerous and potentially life-threatening problem.

- Yelm, WA, USA

problem #107

Nov 202012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
For no apparent reason and without any warning (no check engine light or anything), I received an "engine power reduced" warning and my car's engine completely shut down while I was completing a turn in a busy intersection. Luckily, I was able to coast to safety and park in a nearby parking lot. The car refused to turn back on for several minutes. Once it did, I drove my car to my office and was able to start it and drive it without further incident for several weeks. Then, without warning it happened again while I was on the freeway and has been happening intermittently since then. When I took it to the dealership, they claimed they are not aware of other people having this problem, but I have found numerous complaints and reports from other owners online, so I'm not convinced of their honesty or concern regarding this matter. They say they *think* the problem might be the master computer or at least that is their "best guess" (their words, not mine). I will be replacing it later this week. Unfortunately, I'm not confident the repair will fix the problem. After GM's repeated and explicit denial of the power steering problem and how long it took them to admit there even was one, I have decided to appeal to you. At present, when driving this car, I am a danger to myself and everyone else who might be around me on the are all other Cobalt drivers. Please, investigate this matter before someone has this happen at the wrong place and the wrong time and someone gets seriously hurt, or worse. GM knows it created a car with a faulty electrical system which could result in catastrophic failures and they need to take responsibility for it and fix it. Just because they stopped making the car, does not absolve their responsibility to make them safe for everyone on the road.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #106

May 092012


  • 199,267 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled while driving 50 mph. The contact also stated that the vehicle stalled while driving in reverse. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic for a diagnostic test. The test results showed a defective throttle position sensor. The contact took the vehicle to a mechanic to have the throttle position sensor replaced but the repair did not remedy the issue. The contact did not take the vehicle to the dealer for repairs. The failure mileage was 199,267.

- Collinsville, MS, USA

problem #105

May 152012


  • 68,000 miles
The 2005 Chevy Cobalt, as well as possibly every other model year Cobalt has more problems than just the power steering motor failures. The speedometer no longer works in my vehicle, the low-fuel warning pops up no matter how much gas is in the car, the engine warning light illuminates, as well as the anti-theft light, battery light (the battery is brand new) and just about every light on the dashboard. Though this isn't a big problem, the radio locks itself and cannot be used until the car is turned off and turned back on. The car struggles to get out of first gear and has stalled repeatedly at red lights and on ramps to the highway. I have had the power steering recall repair done twice and when I took the car back to the dealership in may because the power steering warning had popped up again and the power steering stopped working, they said it was not the power steering and they sent me home in my stalling, jumping car with no power steering. Speaking to a Chevy customer service representative, they told me to go have the car diagnosed (they did run a scan at the dealership and came up with codes U2107, U2100 and U2105) and that I should be responsible for the cost. I asked why they didn't suggest this at the dealership, and was never given an answer other than a repeated I should be held responsible and it's probably a bad ECM or BCM. The car is out of warranty and Chevy offered 50% of the repair cost, but how is this a problem that I caused and should be responsible for at all? this car is incredibly unsafe to drive and I have read a number of similar complaints for this vehicle online. GM must be held responsible for their faulty vehicles. The power steering recall did not take care of everyone's problems and the customers should not be held responsible for the manufacturer's failure.

- New Castle, PA, USA

problem #104

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

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