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:
45 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
27 / 5
Average Mileage:
62,740 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 7 of 51)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #884

Feb 242014


  • 95,121 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while reversing, there was a sudden loss of power steering assist and the steering wheel was able to spin all the way without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the electric power steering motor needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 10V073000 (steering). The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 95,121 and the current mileage was 98,000.

- Kirkland , NY, USA

problem #883

Apr 212014


  • 103,600 miles
I have received (both) recall work done on my 05 Cobalt, and yesterday I was driving on the highway at 55-60mph for the first time since I got my car back last Friday. I lost power steering and my car would no longer shift to increase its speed. It felt like I was in neutral gear as the rpms were in the 5000-6000 range yet I was still at a speed of apprx 55mph, as I attempted to pull over to the shoulder I recognized I did not have power steering, and the light on my dash quickly went off and then came back, along with a check engine light. After finding out what the engine codes were via autozone, I was told my transmission control module had failed, hence why my transmission would not engage into third gear. After driving the car around more that afternoon, it continued to happen at the high speed levels, and again the power steering failed. I brought it up to the Chevy dealership that performed the work, yet the service department was closed at 7pm. The sale guy tried to convince me that this recall would not affect anything with the transmission, yet multiple mechanics have told me that if the new piece was not programmed properly with my ECM, then its possible that this is affecting my vehicle. I am going to try and bring my car back in tonight after work, or hopefully tomorrow. I have already call General Motors and reported the same incident, because there is a rumor going online that the new ignition switch may have a "short" in it. But I do not want to confirm that.

- Hanahan, SC, USA

problem #882

Sep 152013


  • 120,000 miles
Car simply stalled on I 376 at highway speed. Car won't start unless ignition key is "jiggled".

- Aliquippa, PA, USA

problem #881

Mar 082013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 17,321 miles


My wife's Chevrolet Cobalt was part of the power steering motor recall and received the repair on May 26, 2010. The car functioned normally until March 31 of 2013 when the Cobalt, with only 17, 321 miles, was brought to the local Chevrolet dealership after my wife experienced a failure of the power steering. Next I accompanied my wife to the parking lot where it had been parked and discovered that upon re-starting, the car functioned normally. The check engine light however was on. We took the car to the dealership on Feb. 1, 2013 where the power steering problem and check engine light was discussed. The technicians indicated that they could find nothing wrong with the power steering, simply stating that, "it works now!" on Friday March 8, 2013, the power steering message appeared on the speedometer, a chime sounded, and the power steering went out. I managed to drive the car home and park it. The steering was very hard to operate, as the power steering was not functioning. If my wife had been driving, I seriously doubt whether she would have been able to control the car. During this same incident the engine ran extremely rough and almost died several times. This car simply is not safe. The recall repair was not successful suggesting that General Motors had its dealers perform on the Cobalt was not the correct one. (was it the most economical for G.M.?). since that time we have driven less than 500 miles and it is now fourteen months later! we are afraid to drive this car.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #880

Apr 052014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 98,400 miles
My power steering went out today as I was driving home from work. I was able to pull over and turn vehicle off for about 10 mins and then restart. After restart, the warning message cleared from the dic and my steering returned to normal. When I reached my driveway, power steering again went out and I almost went in the ditch. Power steering seems to be failing intermittently since it failed on me 3 times today. I noticed there is a recall for 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts for the steering failure but not on any other year including the 2005. Recall needs to be extended to all years of the Cobalts to fix this issue not just one year. Next time I may not be as lucky when my power steering fails. I request an immediate investigation as to why no other year of the Cobalt was included in the recall.

- Seaford, DE, USA

problem #879

Mar 012014


  • 112,250 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that the steering wheel would not return to center after completing a turn. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the power steering motor needed to be repaired. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified about the issue. The failure mileage was 112,250 and the current mileage was 113,083.

- Eaton, OH, USA

problem #878

Feb 192014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 121,000 miles


As im driving from a fast rate of speed and I slow down I lose power steering and on multiple times I have come close to hitting vehicles as im parking or almost running into a house for not being able to turn.

- Newark, OH, USA

problem #877

Mar 122014


  • 181,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving out of a parking lot, the power steering malfunctioned and was no longer controlling the wheels. After inspecting the vehicle she noticed that the wheels were side ways. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician diagnosed that the rack and pinion exploded and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 181,000 and the current mileage was 183,000.

- Phelps, WI, USA

problem #876

Jan 222012


  • 106,000 miles
Well driving to dinner for my birthday and going around a curve, I hit a pothole that I could not avoid without crossing the center line of the road into oncoming traffic causing my ignition switch to turn from the on position to the off position, much like the most recent recall states. Though I was able to safely get the car to come to rest on the shoulder of the road, I am still extremely nervous that it will happen again and I am also very, very disappointed to hear that this has been a known issue since the car was released. This is the third recall on this car since I have owned it, and I am far less than impressed with the vehicle. This vehicle is truly a death trap, much like others have stated. My greatest fear is that someone in my family will be driving my car and not return, all because of this giant mess created by GM. It is very depressing to know that I am still paying on an extremely faulty vehicle, in which these issues were known about long before I had actually purchased the vehicle. I would like something done about this, something more than just a "simple" fix (like all the other recalls with this death trap were said to be). It is one thing after another with this car, and though something serious has yet to happen to me, I am concerned for the future of others and myself.

- Copenhagen, NY, USA

problem #875

Aug 162010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • miles
I entered this once, complaint #10356159 but my daughter is still paying for the accident. She was charged because they said she was at fault. She had the steering "fixed" by the dealer and about a month later it did not respond in a turn. She hit a telephone pole. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Ravenswood, WV, USA

problem #874

Feb 262014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 138,000 miles


Was heading to work when the Chevy Cobalt suddenly shut off, causing me to lose power brakes, power steering, and causing the air bags not to deploy when I went straight threw a stop sign impacting into a snow bank.

- Frederic, MI, USA

problem #873

Mar 252014


  • 157,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving approximately 10 mph, the steering wheel fractured while the contact was making a turn into a parking space. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 157,000.

- Long Beach , CA, USA

problem #872

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 #871

Feb 032014


  • 158,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled. The engine was restarted and the vehicle operated normally. The contact also indicated that the power steering malfunctioned and made the steering wheel very difficult to turn. In addition, the key became stuck in the ignition switch and was unable to be removed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 158,000.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #870

Jul 012013


  • 39,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that NHTSA campaign number 10V073000 (steering) was performed however, the vehicle stalled numerous times after the repairs. Additionally, the vehicle exhibited an abnormal and sporadic clicking noise. The instrument panel lights were abnormally dim and the transmission exhibited a loud noise. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 39,000.

- Hardy , VA, USA

problem #869

May 112012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
I was traveling home with one other passenger in the car with me at 35 mph, the car turned off, the steering wheel locked up. I was scared and didn't know what to do. I shifted the car from drive into neutral and then restarted it, then slipped it back into drive... I've never been more scared then when I had absolute no control over my car. Im just lucky I didn't panic. This has happened twice to me. I now don't feel safe driving my Cobalt and very disappointed this problem has been fixed. To me I don't feel safe driving myself or my family in that car.

- Buchanan, MI, USA

problem #868

Jan 202014


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet. The contact stated while driving approximately 40 mph, the power steering assist failed without warning and the steering wheel became hard to turn. The contact later received notification of NHTSA campaign id number 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The vehicle was not taken to for inspection or repairs. The manufacturer was not notified of failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Union Ville, CT, USA

problem #867

Dec 122013

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
After stopping at a light, I proceeded into the intersection and the car just turned off, locking the steering and would not restart. I coasted over the lanes of traffic and attempted to restart the car three times. Eventually I was able to restart it.

- Trabuco Canyon, CA, USA

problem #866

Jan 032006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
My elderly parents purchased this car new from a Chevy dealership in palm harbor, fl. They took the car in numerous time for the car seizing up while driving and power steering problems shortly after their purchase. The starter would turn off, the power steering would go out, and they often complained about the car stopping in the middle of driving. There were very few miles on the car when this happened since they purchased the vehicle new in 2005. They took the car in for repair for such problems but were told by the dealership that nothing wrong. They sold the car to me, their daughter, because they had gotten to old to drive and they were too scared to drive the vehicle. I purchased the car from them in apx. 2010 and it had apx 9000 miles. Since the purchase of the car I have had the same problem numerous times. I have taken the car into the Chevy dealership for service several time in chapel hill, nc. They insist that they could not get the problem to repeat. When the power steering goes out, the ignition switch turns off thus turning off the car, and the stalling while driving is very scary to say the least. The most recent receipt from Chevrolet for this problem is from 8/14/2013 with 42950 miles on the car. Again they said they could not get the problem to repeat. The most recent time it happened was about 2 weeks ago. I replaced the electrical power steering fuse and it has been not indicating that problem. The start still turns off while driving. I think Chevrolet has know this was a problem with the Chevy Cobalt since 2005 and didn't want to do anything about it. $500 toward a new car..,.certainly not enough to want to make me purchase a Chevy any time soon. If they can fix the car it would be greatly appreciated.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #865

Aug 132011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
The 05 Cobalt, regularly serviced by the dealer where it was bought crashed after going out of control when the ignition switched off on the interstate at 60 mph. The steering locked, the ABS did not function, when it crashed into the guard rail the air bags did not deploy. The only warning was the dash warning lights all lighting up and the alarm sounds. The one second or so did not allow any chance to the driver to react before the crash. After the accident, when the dealer was contacted, we were advised to contact the GM person. The GM person was friendly and nice, but very firm in stating that we needed to have proof that the car failed, rather the driver at the wheel. The cars computer was not analyzed because the wrecking yard demanded over $700 to tow the car out of the wrecking yard so any investigator could look over the car. GM told us that it was our problem to pay the bill to allow their investigator to look at the car. We did not have the money. After reading numerous comments on the NHTSA site and blogs, people never heard a word from GM after they retrieved the computer. The salient point is that many of the over a thousand complaints about the Cobalt and other similar GM cars that identified the power steering as the problem that caused a crash are wrong. The power steering was not the cause of the crash. The problem was that the ignition switch turned off. The GM recalls about the power steering problem hide the fact that the ignition switches were turning off while the car was moving down the road. We know that the lack of power assist only affect the car at a stop or very slow speeds. Experienced drivers do not crash their car into guard rails, ditches, trees or other car simply because the power assist fails. That story is what GM has been selling in the past few years.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

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