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 8 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #103

Mar 012010


  • 103,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge and several warning lights illuminated intermittently. The contact stated that while driving, power steering failed. As a result, the steering became hard to maneuver. The vehicle was not taken to a repair shop or dealer for inspection or repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who stated that the vehicle should be taken for diagnostic. The failure mileage was 103,000 and the current mileage was 153,000.

- Brookshire , TX, USA

problem #102

Jan 012012


  • 65,000 miles
After having been repaired several times under the power steering recall, the problems have become worse. The car stalls, lights flicker, the low fuel message will flash despite there being gas in the car, the power steering is completely inoperable, the speedometer rests on zero at all times, various warning lights are always illuminated and the car struggles to get out of second gear (it is an automatic.) the dealership service center gave diagnostic codes indicating possible issues with the body control module and electronic control module and stated that it wasn't covered under the recall, but that the power steering motor had again gone out, but they would not fix it. The car has stalled numerous times on -ramps to highways and in intersections and has become too dangerous to drive, but Chevrolet has refused to acknowledge the problem and only technical service bulletins exist, though they will now acknowledge them when asked, as though the problem is not a dangerous one. The entire electrical system of the car is faulty and should be recalled as it is a major safety concern.

- New Castle, PA, USA

problem #101

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 #100

Mar 302012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • miles


My car shutts off every couple of minutes while im driving it also shut down on big intersection and I almost got hit by the car in back of me. It is very dangerous I was so scared the car just honked and was mad because it was my fault the car just shut off.

- Maywood, CA, USA

problem #99

Mar 262012


  • miles
My car shut off while driving out of a parking lot a couple of days ago. Everything shut down. I couldn't even brake. I was able to put the gear in park and restart it just fine. However this is the fourth time this has happened. The last time being on the george Washington bridge. The very first time was 2 months after I purchased this car. I assumed it was because I went over a speed bump that was larger than normal. The second time I went over a pothole. The third time was on the highway. So I had a mechanic look at it and he stated that I could be the alternator. This was about 2-3yrs after purchase. However my time was very limited. I live in md but I work in New York so I spend a lot of time there and leave my car at home. So I haven't had a chance to get it fixed. With this last incident I decided to search the internet and it turns out that I am not the only one with this issue. I found it funny that there were many others with the same or similar problem. I put in a search for "Cobalt shutting off while driving" and found a couple of sites describing similar issues. This last incident reminded me of how dangerous this could be. I had my 4 yr old niece in the backseat and the exit of the parking lot was on a hill. Feeling the car rolling back and not being able to brake would surely be considered a safety issue. On a side note I did have my car examined for the recall I was given notice about. This was completed last year. Nothing abnormal was reported.

- Lutherville, MD, USA

problem #98

Mar 122011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the steering wheel seized while driving at various speeds. The gauges on the instrument panel also displayed inaccurate readings whenever the failure occurred. The contact stated that she had to wait long periods of time before the steering wheel returned to normal functioning ability. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the failure was common for the make and model. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The contact also stated that prior to the failures, the vehicle was repaired under the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 10V073000 (steering:electric power assist system). The failure mileage was unknown. The VIN was unavailable.

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #97

Jan 312011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 182,746 miles


Power steering failure. Shut off while driving.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #96

Oct 102011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 41,022 miles
I own a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, the power steering and traction control lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle then began to jerk and become difficult to drive. The vehicle had to be towed to an authorized dealer and repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 10V073000 (steering:electric power assist system); but the dealer told me that there no recall for my vehicle, apparently they was base on the vehicle VIN # instead of model/made/year of the car. The dealer told me I need to replace steering column which will cost me close to $1000 w/part, labor & taxes. Pickup my car on the same day late afternoon, was able to drive home with no incident. However, the failure recurred the next day, again towed the car back to the dealership, the manufacturer was aware of the failure. The vehicle was awaiting further inspection at the dealership, in the meantime I'm driving the rental that was provided by the dealership. This is mfg defected problem, I should not have to paid to fix the steering column.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #95

Aug 302011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Randomly, chimes sound, gauges on instrument panel cycle to zero and back, power steering warning light, fuel low warning show, sometimes theft light comes on as does check engine light. Electrical assist to automatic transmission is lost resulting in hard shifts. Must manually shift into 1st gear when stopping to avoid engine stalling. Parking car seems to fix/allow car to reset. Has happened many times over past two years. Had mechanic look at it first time. Said every computer on the car had to be reset to the tune of $100. Recurred two days later. Fixed itself before taking it back in. Now I just live with the problem because I don't have the money to let these guys trouble shoot and fix things that are not the problem. Am having the power steering recall done tomorrow hoping that it would solve the problem but apparently it doesn't. problem occurrence is totally random. Sometimes there is 6 months between episodes, sometimes weeks, days. It is really acting up after the heavy rains of irene.

- Dunbarton, NH, USA

problem #94

Aug 042011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 102,400 miles
My 05 Chevrolet Cobalt has a power steering warning on dic when I start it (I had the power steering replace during recall). And then it acts crazy. More warning lights are turned on, check engine light, theft deterrent lights, warning chime etc. The speedometer and tachometer reads jump up and down. I can't accelerate it continuously. Noise can be heard sometimes. It will come to a sudden stop and then pick up speed again when I am driving. Imagine I was driving 70mph on a highway! this problem could be fatal and cause major damage. I have to restart several times to get rid of it. This happens twice a week at the very beginning and then more and more often. Sent it to the dealer but they were not able to locate the problem, simply saying the codes read modules not communicating. But they have no idea of what causes this problem. It's totally unacceptable as this is such a common problem for this model as far as I can see at online forum. GM should really do something after hearing so many complaints on the same issue. It's extremely dangerous. Don't wait til a big price has been paid! big safety issue!

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #93

Jun 052011


  • 53,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the instrument panel gauges were malfunctioning and the power of steering would fail sporadically without warning. In addition, the transmission was shifting gears independently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 53,000.

- Avondale , AZ, USA

problem #92

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 #91

May 122011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 59,324 miles
We just bought a used 2005 Chevy Cobalt from the Chevy dealership. The day we picked the vehicle up the car shut off and would not start. We took it back the dealership said it was the kill switch. We took the car back home with us. The same day, driving to another location the car shuts down while driving. Two months later, the car still keeps shutting down while driving at any given time. I work at a mechanic shop and I have many mechanic friends. No one can explain why it keeps shutting off. I have researched on the internet for a while; many people with the same problems with no solution. This vehicle has low mileage and most complaints in forums with the same issue have the same problem with low miles or happening from first of purchase. Do not know how to fix the problem. Was told that the car must do this while mechanic is driving in order to try to repair the problem. No diagnosis can be made. I feel this problem will cause an accident; was close to getting hit today when car shut off in the middle lane of traffic. No parts purchased at this time.

- Pasadena, TX, USA

problem #90

Apr 122011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • miles
Had the power steering recall done a while ago. Never had any problems before. Now my power steering failure msg will come on the dash, then the transmission will shift real hard, jerking everyone inside. Car will stall out when you come to a complete stop, but if you slow down and keep rolling, it will just stay in overdrive and takes forever to get back to speed. Car also never gets to operating temperature in the winter, according to the temp gauge. Had the temp sensor replaced, still no change, but I do have heat in the winter. Also at times my security light will come on then the car will shutdown while I'm going down the road. Other times it will take about 5 mins to get the car started. There will be other times the car chimes 4 times and nothing shows up, then other times the power steering msg will appear. I have only lost power steering about 5 times with this car since the recall was done, and never before. This is a known problem with these cars as I've been reading internet forums. This has been ongoing for the last 8-9 months.

- Lupton, MI, USA

problem #89

Mar 162011


  • 82,200 miles
The power steering light, traction control light and a bell chimes. While I am in traffic the car slows down and begins to jerk. It has happen twice this week March 14 and the 16 in 5:00 pm traffic. I was going 40 when it happened. I called my used car dealer and he stated no warranty and to take it to get checked out. I have only had this car 5 months.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #88

Feb 112011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt has had repeated problems with error codes that the dealer has been unable to resolve. When these errors occur, the speedometer moves back and forward and the the car attempts to stall. The car does stall at slower speeds at times. Whenever I take the vehicle to bob bell Chevy in bel air, Maryland they tell me the can't find anything wrong when drive it. On 02/11/2011, I was told by the dealer rep ray, again, that he could not find anything wrong and to drive vehicle until it does this again and bring vehile in without turning it off and they will then check the codes. My Chevy Cobalt did the exact same again along with the error code "power sterring" across the screen as I was leaving the dealershipp on 02/11/2011 and I immediately returned to the service shop and the serviice technian obtained the error codes. Ray from the service bob bell Chevy stated now I had to pay for any diagnostic work and repairs even though this was a recall problem. My times this vehicle has been in the shop has been well documented by the dealership who each time intially deny their is a problem and state they cannot diagnose any problems unless they can reproduce they problem or I drive the vechile to them while it is happening without turning it off. This car is unsafe and has stalled several times when these error codes occur causing near accidents. I feel more investigation should be completed into why the makers of the Chevy Cobalt are unable to correctly diagnose error codes and continue to but my life and my family at risk. I am unable to trade this car in to anyone because of the repeated problems and I would never sell it to an innocent buyer who could by hurt with this car. Why GM is allowed to get away with this defective car is not fair.

- Bel Air, MD, USA

problem #87

Dec 282010


  • miles
I have a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, the key constantly gets stuck in the ignition, the last time this happened I was unable to turn my car off for over 5 hours. This is a problem for many reasons. Not only will I probably have to replace that part but eventually the battery due to this. I've researched it online and see that it is a common complaint among many Chevy's especially my model. I think since it's such a common issue their should be a recall for this. I don't see why I should waste over $800 to get something fixed that is more common than it should be.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #86

Aug 152010


  • miles
*please note...the incident date is approximate. We have a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt sedan that was involved in the recall for the power steering motor intermittent power steering failure. We had never had a problem with the steering prior to the recall being performed. After the recall was performed, we began having trouble with intermittent power steering failure - plus additional failures. Upon start-up, we have experienced no power steering, and had to shut the vehicle off and retry numerous times before the power steering returns. In addition to loss of power steering, we have experienced the following electrical problems: Traction control light illuminating random clicking of the brake safety interlock relay / actuator (without touching the brake). Check engine light transmission going into "limp mode"..."slamming" into gear when shifting from park - or improper shifting while driving. Random dash gauge failure random failures of the "driver's information center" - flashing, etc. This was initially happening only upon start-up...but started happening while driving as well - nearly leading to an accident while my wife was driving on a busy urban street. She was fortunately able to drift into the turn lane and come to a stop to avoid a collision and likely serious injury to herself and others, as it was virtually uncontrollable. In addition to the loss of power steering (while driving), the transmission also went into "limp mode", causing very hard shifting and much difficulty in drivability. This has also happened while I was driving the vehicle. I am 6'3", 260lbs., and I was struggling to control the vehicle. I have also been in contact with other Cobalt owners with the exact same set of "symptoms". it is clear that the motor replacement was not sufficient to repair the problem, and - in some cases - may be leading to further problems as in our case. This vehicle is very dangerous!

- Machesney Park, IL, USA

problem #85

Jun 152010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while trying to start the vehicle that the key would not turn in the ignition. The towing company attempted start the vehicle; however, the vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the ignition needed to replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The VIN was unknown. The failure and current mileage were unknown.

- Portview, PA, USA

problem #84

Aug 012010


  • miles
The event leading up to this I would try to unlock the doors from inside to let family members in and I noticed that they unlock button did not work so I was like maybe its a fuse well my boyfriend checked the fuse and it was still in great shape. So then I started to notice that my locks would go up and down up and down by theirselves so I checked the fuse once again same thing great shape so it kept on doing this and finally I said im taking the fuse out so I did and now I have to hand lock all my doors I dislike that. This is what cuts the cake I was coming home from work as I was going down the hill my cars lights start to dim I was like what in the world is going on so then the car started to go haywire on me the cars gauges started to move up and down by theirselves my whole car went pitch black I did not have any lights back or front its like my cars was just a black ball I had no lights my blinkers did not work my flashers did not work. There were like 10 other cars behind me I was praying to god that nobody would hit me so I pulled over my symbols was coming on and going down on my gauges was stuck in downward mode gas hand mph hand my cd player (factory installed with car) quit working it still does not work and im still have this problem......but before all this my check engine light came on so I took it to auto zone and had them put it on their machine and he told me that it wont read it so he said there is a electrical problem and you better get that fix before your car catches fire yea he scared me but hey my car is all I got and I don't have any other means of transportation so could you pleas tell me what the heck went wrong. Thanks

- Frankfort, KY, USA

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