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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
46,906 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

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 #25

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 #24

Dec 272010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 99,940 miles
With no advanced signs or warning (mileage at 99,930), upon starting the vehicle, the traction control and security light came on. The car's RPM revved up and down and wanted to stall. The fuel gauge jumped back and forth. There was a constant clicking in the gear shift and the steering wheel locked into place where I could not turn it. I shut the car off and restarted three additional times before everything seemed to go back to normal and I was able to drive. The next time this occurred was when mileage was at 99960. After several attempts at stopping and starting the vehicle, the traction control and security warning lights went out and I put the car into gear to drive, only to be practically jerked out of my seat with hard shifting and acting light it wanted to stall when coming to a stop. I drove the car directly to the dealership and the problem continued on the entire drive there. Once the car was shut off, the problem could not be recreated at the dealership and therefore I was sent on my way with no explanation of what might be wrong. The next repeat event occurred 3 weeks later (mileage 100,450) but corrected itself with several off/on of the engine. Next occurrence again at 100,600 with same results. This has not yet happened while driving, but I did ask the dealership about the possibility of this happening and he said if it did, I would easily be able to control the car and pull off the road. Personally, I do not want to experience this while driving 55-65 mph! the dealership said that this could be a costly fix since it is a process of elimination and no guarantees each time whatever they tried would fix it...not much confidence coming from the Chevy dealership mechanic!!

- Haw River, NC, USA

problem #23

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 #22

Sep 012010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
Chevy dealer replaced power steering assist, since the repair, issue has been recurring. Transmission slips and knocks the car forward, power steering error appears, tachometer and speedometer short out.

- Marion, IA, USA

problem #21

Oct 172010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 40,350 miles
I recently purchased used my 2005 Chevy Cobalt and Sunday a week after having the car gave me problems. According to the carfax report the power steering was replaced in April assuming do to the recall. But I got in my car and the power steering read across the mileage area and chimed. Very little noticeable issues do to steering but when I came to a stop light it vibrated really bad and then everytime it shifted(its an automatic) to another gear higher or lower it would act like it had shifting problems. Also when I would come to stops at a light or stop sign it would vibrate really bad to the point where it seemed like it would stale out. It had only stalled once. I just hope someone can resolve this issue because it seems like tons of people are having this issue.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #20

Sep 152009

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


My "transmission" warning light on my 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt is displayed on my dash and the car will gain or lose R.P.M.'s while driving and trying to maintain a constant speed (without depressing or letting up on the accelerator). This causes the car's speed to jump or drop. Please advise me on what to do.

- Strathroy, 00, USA

problem #19

Mar 062010


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact was driving approximately 20 mph with a loss of power steering. The vehicle was able to continue in operation with caution. Additionally, the transmission slipped and the speedometer fluctuated and displayed inaccurate readings. The manufacturer was notified; the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle has not been repaired for the malfunction. The VIN number was unavailable. The failure mileage was 70,000. The current mileage was 72,000.

- Mcclellandtown, PA, USA

problem #18

Aug 282009


  • 94,000 miles
My 2005 Chevy Cobalt was randomly losing it's power steering. Once I had that costly repair, it began randomly stalling. Usually at intersections, but sometimes just for slowing down. I've had it in to be fixed several times. It has improved but it still happens occasionally.

- E. Chatham, NY, USA

problem #17

Feb 272010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 75,090 miles
I am not able to get my key out of the ignition of my 2005 Chevy Cobalt ls. This has been a persistent problem since I bought the car in 2006 (was a rental). Up until today (2/27/10) I've always been able to get it out eventually. Now however, my car will not start - it just clicks, and my shifter won't move. The car doesn't recognize that it's in park. After doing some research online, it appears many people have had this problem. The conclusion is that there is a defect in the transmission shift cable. Please see this link: this is not the only problem I've had with this car: Power steering failure after about 45,000 bad wheel bearing after about 50,000 cd player replaced because it wouldn't eject cds (this is still a problem even though the dealer replaced it with the same manufacturer's model) faulty glove compartment. I feel this model of car is dangerous and should be recalled after all the problems people are experiencing with it.

- Kaukauna, WI, USA

problem #16

Feb 232010


  • 58,344 miles


At roughly 40,000 miles and 3 years of ownership, a problem with the shift lock on the car was observed. At first, the problem was limited to the key being stuck in the ignition even when the car was in park. After ejecting the key with the button on the bottom side of the steering column, the shifter would remain in park. Eventually, the problem escalated to the point that the shifter could be moved from park to other gears without the key in the ignition. The car was taken to a dealership, but the problem could not be reproduced at the time. A few months passed after the escalated problem was first observed where the shifter behaved as intended or in the manner where the key would need ejected but the shifter would remain in park. After a failure in power steering system resulted in the replacement of the entire steering column by the dealership, the car was returned to the owner with the gearshift button stuck "down." Since then, the key remains stuck in the ignition unless the ejection button is used and the shifter moves freely from park to any other gear even without a key in the ignition or a foot on the brake.

- Lynn Haven, FL, USA

problem #15

Oct 102009


  • 40,000 miles
We purchased a used 2005 Cobalt and have had this issue with the power steering going out on numerous occasions. Each time the car was taken in they would say they couldn't find the problem and would return the car to us unrepaired as it would do the same thing again and again and on one occasion it almost resulted in a severe accident while my wife and daughter were turning through an intersection and the steering went out. Thank god the other drivers were alert and a near and possibly fatal accident was avoided. They tell us it can be fixed but now that it's out of factory and somehow even extended warranty they had us purchase that was supposed to last until we paid it off have expired they want us to now pay for the repairs and even $100 to even look at the car. We got a report that this car had issues from day one and were never told but received it later from GM indicating the car had a some problems and was sold to our dealership at a GM auction. We feel stuck with this car and trusting in god each day that the problem won't occur and cause loss of life to anyone. Please make GM recall and repair these Cobalts so that loss of life or limb isn't a result at anytime. This occurs quit often and should be addressed.

- Winterville, GA, USA

problem #14

Jan 022010


  • 76,384 miles
I own a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. This vehicle is my families' only means of family transportation. Also, I have very serious medical conditions, including a very high risk pregnancy. The vehicle is my only means of traveling to my doctors and hospitals. At random times my car has shut off while driving, and locked the keys in the ignition. After restarting the vehicle it has trouble staying in drive, and starts to slip into neutral periodically. The problems usually occur while I am driving on the interstate. I have taken the vehicle to the Chevy dealership in town on more than one occasion to have the issue fixed. They have changed items within the steering column and told me the problem is fixed. Yet, just today, the car shut off again. I cannot explain how important it is that I have a reliable mode of transportation to and from my doctors. I have explained that fact to the dealership, but still have the problem. If I am unable to make it to the doctor of hospital, my medical conditions can take my life, or my unborn child's. I need to have the problem fixed, before I go bankrupt paying for them to fix what they cannot seem to find.

- Lake City, FL, USA

problem #13

Sep 182009


  • 67,000 miles
Power steering locks while driving on interstate while snowing why is this happening to alot od Chevy Cobalt consumers"?" this needs to be inspected..

- El Paso , TX, USA

problem #12

Oct 012009


  • 62,000 miles
In the beginning of October I was driving to work and a warning light came on and power steering was on my message display. My car then began to buck everytime it was to shift from one gear to another and when would slow down to stop it would act like it was going to stall out. I had it towed to the dealer they said it was the body control module and fixed the problem. Not even a month later the same thing happened. I took it in to the dealer and they said they couldn't find anything wrong with it. 2 weeks later it happened again. I drove it right to the dealer and kept the car running and had a mechanic drive the car to show them the problem. It is now in the shop today 12/1/09.

- York, PA, USA

problem #11

Aug 312009

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving 25 mph the power steering warning light illuminated on the instrument control, and then the gears in the transmission began slipping. He had to exert great force to the brake pedal to stop the vehicle and shut the engine off. He was able to restart the vehicle and resume normal operation. The vehicle was taken to a dealer and repaired. The failure mileage was 59,000 and the current mileage was unavailable. Updated 11/17/09 after all the failed attempts of fixing the vehicle, the consumer was told the body control module needed to be replaced. The power steering would go out occasionally. All of the gauges were acting erratically. Updated 11/18/09

- Green Bay, WI, USA

problem #10

Sep 152009


  • miles
Problem started out of the blue. Traction control light comes on, power steering goes out, transmission shifts hard, clicking noise in gear shifter, gauges for speed and rpms bounce around, lights for E-brake and ABS flash, and check engine light comes on. This can occur at any time. Sometimes it is as soon as you start the car. Other times it is while I am driving. Can not predict when it is coming. Surprisingly I have not got injured driving. I have learned to muscle the car when the steering goes out. I am afraid to drive my car but have no choice sometimes. It is the only car my family fits into. I feel I am putting us all at risk every time we get in it. I have taken it in several times, the first couple times they couldn't find anything. I got it to the dealer when the problem was happening. The only thing they could find was to replace a recalled transmission valve. It did nothing for the problem. It still happens when ever and stops pretty much the same. You do have to turn the car off. It can take one time or several times turning the car on and off. No one can seem to give me any answers. I really feel this problem needs to be solved. I bought the car in 2005. First incident in fall of 2007. Replaced valve in spring of 2009.

- Grand Junction, CO, USA

problem #9

Aug 242009


  • 64,000 miles
Power steering light keeps coming on in the dash, car will miss its shift points, powersteering goes inop, speedo goes from 40 to 60 mph, brakes pulsate when trying to stop. No repair has been found yet.

- Theresa, NY, USA

problem #8

Jul 032009


  • 80,000 miles
Driving 2005 Chevy Cobalt when sudden steering lock up due to power steering. Failure light illuminates and car is extremely difficult to navigate causing a near miss accident.

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #7

Oct 152008


  • 35,000 miles
While traveling at highway speeds (~65 mph) the car has shut off 4 times. Each time car behaved the same way, as if the key had been removed: The engine stopped, instrument panel dials went to 0, lights turned off. Radio stayed on (as it would if the car was turned off). The shut offs were sudden: There were no warnings (lights, sounds, vibrations) before shut off. I was able to coast/brake and pull to the side of the road, shift to park and restart the car each time. The first incident was in July 2008 approximately 100 miles into a trip. The second three incidents happened in about a 30 minute time span on the same trip in mid October. I took the car to the Chevy dealership after the October incidents and they could not reproduce the problem. They performed a computer update. I had them check the wiring in January 2009 and they could not find any problems. The clock radio resets to 12:00 (when I turn on the car, not during driving) about once every 3 months since I bought the car in 2005 - I'm not sure if this problem is related. The car is an automatic 2005 Cobalt, 4 doors with about 35000 miles.

- Rockville, MD, USA

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