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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,277 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 1 of 2)

problem #26

Jul 222014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,651 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the key failed to release from the ignition after several attempts. The contact stated that the vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign id number: 14E021000 (electrical system). The vehicle was taken back to the dealer, who took the components apart and indicated that a part was missing. The recall repair was not remedied correctly. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 59,651. Updated 9/12/14 the consumer stated that there was no part missing. The housing cracked during removal of cylinder. The vehicle was repaired. Updated 02/05/2015*

- Franklin, MN, USA

problem #25

May 302014


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start and that the key failed to release from the ignition. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated that the vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign id number: 14V171000 (electrical system). The failure and current mileage was 65,000.

- Lagrange, IN, USA

problem #24

Jan 012014


  • 900 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the ignition switch failed to release the key while parked. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the technician was unable to remove the key from the ignition and informed the contact that his vehicle had a transmission problem that was not covered under the recall. The contact stated that the vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign numbers: 14V171000 (electrical system) and 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 900.

- Lofkin, TX, USA

problem #23

Mar 192014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 139,671 miles


There is no accident incident in this report. I did receive the Cobalt notice about the "key in the ignition switch may move out of the 'run' position" letter and I feel I should report another problem with the ignition switch that may also be a safety issue. However, I have not experienced any adverse impact of the condition I am about to describe below. I am reporting this because it might be an issue for others and that hopefully may be fixed by the latest Cobalt ignition switch recall. For a couple years I have noticed that after I start the Cobalt and let the key move back to the run position that I can remove the key completely from the ignition switch and put the key in my pocket and the car continues to run. I have only done this while the car is not moving. I noticed that the steering wheel does not lock up in this case, so theoretically I could drive and steer the car while it is moving on the road without a problem. However, I don't want to test that possibility, because the thought is scary. So if this information can help others avoid an accident when the ignition switched is replaced, this report will be worthwhile. I am now driving the Cobalt without any attachments to the ignition key and am waiting to bring the car in for the ignition and power steering recall. I am expecting that the replacement ignition switch will also fix the problem of being able to remove the ignition key in the switch when it was in the in the run position. If you want me to send you a picture of the key removed from the ignition switch while the tachometer shows that the engine is running, let me know.

- Churchville, NY, USA

problem #22

May 182012


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the key could not be removed from the ignition. The contact was able to start the engine and shut the engine off, but the key would have to remain in the ignition. The vehicle was shifted into park and the contact attempted to wiggle the key several times but to no avail. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 65,000.

- Union, NJ, USA

problem #21

Feb 212008


  • 30,000 miles
Ignition key cannot be removed without using the release button in the hole under the column.

- Salcha, AK, USA

problem #20

Nov 022010


  • 30,500 miles


The contact owns 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the key would become stuck in the ignition sporadically. The gear shifter could not recognize the key, allowing the gear to move at any time. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired for the failure. The failure and current mileage was 30,500.

- State College, PA, USA

problem #19

Jun 282010


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While attempting to turn the vehicle off, the key would not come out of the ignition. The gear shaft would not go in park and the vehicle began to roll backwards. The contact took the vehicle to the dealership and was advised this was a known problem and had happened several times. The contact was advised to pay $397 for the repair. The contact spoke with the manufacturer who advised the problem had happened several times. The contact filed a complaint and received a call from the manufacturer who closed the case. No further assistance was given by the manufacturer. The vehicle had not been repaired. The current and failure miles were 50000. The VIN was not available.

- Caryville, TN, USA

problem #18

May 112010


  • 60,000 miles
The key is stuck in the ignition.

- Chico, CA, USA

problem #17

Aug 052005

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
The contact owned a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt coop. The contact was driving 25 mph over the train tracks when the vehicle shut off completely and coasted to the side of the road. The contact restarted the vehicle drove it to a dealer. The dealer inspected the vehicle and stated that there was nothing wrong with it. Eight weeks later the contact was driving 45 mph and tried to switch lanes and the vehicle did not respond when he turned the steering wheel. The steering wheel and the vehicle eventually began to respond normally. The contact took it back to the dealer who was irate and stated that they would not fix the vehicle. The contact returned the vehicle to the dealer three months after he purchased it. The manufacturer was contacted in 2005 and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 3000. The current mileage was unknown. According to the invoice, the vehicle has a low torque ignition cylinder. Updated 09/21/10

- Plainfield, CT, USA

problem #16

Dec 202009


  • 70,000 miles


Two months ago, when I put my car in park, I wasn't able to get my key out of the ignition. I'm worried that my car is going to roll down a hill and hit something or someone. Also two days ago, my power steering went out when I was driving on the interstate. Thankfully I was going straight when this happened. As soon as I turn off my car and turn it back on, the power steering is fine, but if I go a mile or two, all of a sudden it goes out. Very very unsafe especially since I have a 2 year old with me. This is very unsafe for everyone!!! both issues could resolve in a huge crash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! nothing has been fixed because I have been reading on recalls and I hope I can get this fixed before someone gets injured!

- Polson, MT, USA

problem #15

Oct 122008


  • 21,000 miles
Key ignition locks up, can't get the key out, have to play and play with it until it unlocks, oh and the radio locks up periodically too.

- Brook Park, MN, USA

problem #14

Jan 182010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that every time the vehicle is turned off, the key will not come out of the ignition. It is extremely difficult to get the key out. After a few times of jiggling it the key it will finally come out. This has occurred a total of 5 times. The dealer has not been contacted about this failure. There have been no repairs done to the vehicle. The failure mileage was 49000 and current mileage is 49086. Updated 03/12/10. Updated 07/12/10

- Willis, TX, USA

problem #13

Jan 222010


  • 84,000 miles
For about three months my key would get stuck in the ignition. I would have to play with the shifter by moving it back and forth to get the key to come out. Well about two weeks ago the shifter broke and I was not able to get the key out at all. I looked this problem up on the internet and to my surprise found it to be a very common problem with the Cobalt. I now have to push the release button to get my key out.

- Warren, MI, USA

problem #12

Jan 062009


  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. When the contact attempted to start the vehicle, the key became stuck inside of the ignition. The dealer advised the contact that the key cylinder needed to be replaced. There were no prior warnings and the current and failure mileages were 47000.

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #11

Sep 052009


  • 52,000 miles
The shifter assembly on our 2005 Chevy Cobalt broke. My husband was suddenly unable to fully disengage the shifter, so that the key could be taken out of the ignition and the car fully turned off. Because the key could not be taken out, it created a serious draw on the battery strength of the car and caused it to die. The next day my husband tried calling customer service at GM corporate, who refused to look at our problem (the second time this problem had occurred in our car in the 4 years/52,000 miles we had owned the car. They refused to help or even discuss our problem, not seeing it as an issue at all. They refused to recognize the research my husband found online of owners of the same make/model year and customer service was rude and refused us allowance to speak with a supervisor.

- Shakopee, MN, USA

problem #10

Jun 132009


  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact was unable to remove the key from the ignition after several attempts. The shifter was placed in the park position. When the ignition key release control button was engaged, the key suddenly released. The vehicle has not been repaired. The VIN was unable to be entered into the system. The failure and current mileages were 91,000.

- Roseville, MN, USA

problem #9

Oct 182008


  • 50,000 miles
2005 Chevy Cobalt...the key gets stuck in the ignition. No matter what you do, it will not come out. I looked on line and I cannot get over how many people have problems with that and the compressor going out. Chevy needs to own up to their defects. I paid over $200 to have this fixed.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #8

Nov 252008


  • 45,000 miles
Key will not remove from ignition my daughter got stranded told was a very common problem with 2005 Chevy Cobalt dealer said $500 to fix should be recall for this problem.

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #7

Feb 272006


  • 15,429 miles
2005 Chevy Cobalt issues with the ignition module and stalling. Consumer states that the ignition module is defective causing the vehicle to stall. The consumer stated the ignition lock cylinder would bind, which made it difficult to turn. The dealer replaced the shifter assembly, however the problem continued.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

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