Notes: The 2006 Cobalt continued to carry the torch first lit by the 2005 model year. To be clear, that torch is burning bright with widespread power steering issues, electrical curiosities and a dangerous ignition switch defect which led to a massive recall by GM. This isn’t a great torch to carry.

The 2006 added it’s own special flare with gas leaks due to cracks in the “return portion of the modular reservoir assembly.” A recall of 2006 Cobalts was issued to fix the problem, but only to vehicles sold in or current registered in Arizona and Nevada, leaving other owners to pay for repairs themselves.

Between this car stalling while driving, giving owners fits with power steering failure and having it be a potential tinderbox because of gas leaks, we felt we had no other option than to award it our “Avoid Like the Plague” badge.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,052 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.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt engine problems

engine problem

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2006 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #38

Aug 052015


  • 119,000 miles


I was driving on the highway and my traction control came on. I lost steering control and my car started shifting rough and eventually my power deminished. Now comes on periodically for a couple days then will go off and drive fine. Also my airbag light stays on for passenger and shows it to be off. Has done this since I bought it.

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #37

Nov 102017


  • 180,000 miles
Failure to communicate with tcm/ECM/PCM. This problem has caused several occurances where driving the vehicle has been hazardous. Because of either the wiring or the tcm itself, I, the consumer, have nearly been in 2 accidents. At first I was told that it was the power steering assist module. Replaced that and problem still occurred. When the problem occurs, the gauges jump up and down and completely stop working (speedometer and tachometer), transmission shifts extremely hard when accelerating, power steering illuminates in the data information box which in turn causes loss of power steering (replaced power steering assist motor, issue still happens, 1 occurance of loosing power steering and being able to stop before going off the side a mountain when trying to maneuver a right hand turn), check engine light illuminates, when shifting from park to reverse, reverse to neutral, neutral to drive, the transmission engages very hard and results in an audible "clunk". 1 occurance of vehicle switching gears into neutral from drive, while driving (shift lever still in drive position),passlock light also illuminates in dash. Vehicle consistenly acts as it is going to stall (headlights and dash lights dim). Checked alternator and battery, both in optimal working condition. Presenting diagnostic code include P0700 and U0100. Vehicle maintanence has been performed at 3,000 mile intervals but has been pulled off the road due to the 2 occurances of near accidents. Vehicle has been experiencing issues for several months prior to removing it from opperation. I know for a fact, this Cobalt is not the only one having this issue.

- Ocala, FL, USA

problem #36

Nov 102017


  • 40,000 miles
The vehicle can mess up from either driving down the highway or trying to accelerate the vehicle on city street or highway that the engine stalls and says "engine power reduced" the check engine light along with the T/C light comes on. It happens multiple times in just 30 minutes of driving, more for longer trips. It will even do it in 10 minutes of driving. You have to pull over and turn vehicle off for a few minutes and then it drives fine for maybe a mile down the road before it does it again, or, you can continue driving it with the pedal all the way to the floor board trying to get speed which if you do the car shifts gear very badly and rides rough but when you're trying to get to work on time you do what you have too. I have taken the vehicle to a mechanic 3 times over this. Throttle body was changed (twice), they replaced the computer and cleaned the wires. One mechanic was the Chevrolet dealership and they told me they needed it there when it happened to better diagnose the situation. I do not have the ability to let them just keep my vehicle. I have had this vehicle for a little over a year. I bought it used. I have a loan on the vehicle and I am scared to drive this any further than I have to because I know the vehicle will mess up. I have two children that I have to put in this vehicle to take places. This vehicle is extremely unsafe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want help with this situation!! this first happened in November of 2016. I do not know the day specifically. I do remember it did not fall under the dealerships warranty that I got it from.

- Oskaloosa, KS, USA

problem #35

Jul 072017


  • miles


My ignition ion switch is very loose some times can't start car. My locks unlock and lock by them self..this happens while driving and while sitting still.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #34

Jun 122017


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving various speeds, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver when making left or right turns and the power steering warning indicator illuminated. In addition, the speedometer failed to display the actual speeds. The failures recurred numerous times. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The contact also stated that the vehicle would jerk and hesitate to accelerate when depressing the accelerator pedal. When the accelerator pedal was depressed again, the vehicle would accelerate without warning. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000.

- Port Wentworth, GA, USA

problem #33

May 032017


  • 84,900 miles
Power steering shuts off at intermittent times. The rpms go up and down and car sputters when this happens. This happens when driving and when the vehicle is standing still. It also almost dies at stop lights and stop signs. This happens on the highway and on city streets.

- Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #32

Oct 232016


  • 136,000 miles


My problems are came about with the electronic power steering on this vehicle as I have searched and found the problem too be very common. Found that it has been widely recalled including my model year with numerous complaints too the NHTSA. The first time it happened I was getting ready too go to a doctors appointment, the power steering message came on the dashboard, everything seemed too be working except the speedometer and it drove fine. On the way back home however the car would no shift past first gear. I took it too a mechanic that lives next too me. He said the wiring harness was bad, replaced it, got it back. Drove fine with no problems for three weeks, even the driver front blinker was working which had never worked since I got the car back in March of this year. Then after the three weeks the power steering message came back on and all the same symptoms are back, no speedometer, hard shifting if any, it even caused the engine light too come on this time which an auto parts store determined too be a random misfire. I changed the spark plugs and it went off. My theory is that the tcm is not grounded correctly too handle this and shorts out as I have found that others have grounded the tcm and it has fixed all the problems too their claim. I searched recalls on my car using the VIN and my car is not listed on it and since this has been recurring and I've had all the problems everyone else has noted I feel that is a great concern. The message and all the effects happen as soon as I start the car if it's going too happen (so far). It first happened on the date indicated and then again on 11/15/2016.

- Noel, MO, USA

problem #31

Jul 052016


  • 181,000 miles
I was driving the car on the highway, going about 38 mph and the power steering warning beeped and displayed on my dash. The steering tightened up a bit, and the car slowed down, as I was driving (I don't know what the car slowed down to because the speedometer then dropped to zero, but the tachometer continued to rev (I want to say) between 2 & 3 RPM, while the car was still in motion. The locks were clicking up and down too while this was all happening. Then the car bucked and the speedometer began working. The power steering warning light remained lit during the whole time. I was able to pull into a parking lot for safety. This was clearly a driving safety issue due to the vehicle slowing down when the power steering warning light came on. There were other affected parts, but I was not able to select the boxes: Electrical; other (speedometer) this also happened today: 07/10/16, prompting another complaint to be filed.

- Brick, NJ, USA

problem #30

Jun 222016


  • 182,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving 40 mph, the power steering seized and the engine light illuminated without warning. Directly after, the vehicle jerked and accelerated without warning and the speedometer malfunctioned. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The failure mileage was 182,000.

- Brick, NJ, USA

problem #29

Jan 062016


  • 90,000 miles
After recall on ignition switch my car still stalls and the power locks go up and while driving and it sometimes will not come out of park

- Omar, WV, USA

problem #28

Apr 242014


  • 153,113 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving at approximately 45 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. In addition, the contact stated that a sulphur odor emitted from the vehicle. The vehicle was able to restart after an hour. The vehicle was inspected by an independent mechanic but was unable to diagnose the failure and the failure recurred. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was repaired under NHTSA campaign numbers: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) and 14V171000 (electrical system) but the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the throttle body needed to be cleaned and reset and the battery needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 153,113.

- Camden, SC, USA

problem #27

Sep 052014


  • 160,000 miles
The first time this particular problem began, because there have been oh so many others, I turned on the car and a power steering messaged appeared. There was no check engine light or anything else, just the "power steering" message. This happened intermittently for about 2 months. Then one evening while accelerating from a stop light, the car started to hop, the "power steering" message came on with a dinging alarm, the car slowed down to about 5 mph, and the power steering was gone, along with the breaks. It was extremely difficult to turn or stop the car. We were able to get it off the road, where we turned the engine off and on a few times. Each time with no success in fixing the issue. Finally after letting it rest for about 15 min, we were able to turn it on and it returned to normal. Since then, intermittently the "power steering" message comes on and dings, the car hops, and the power steering goes out. I took it to the dealer and they said the steering column needs to be replaced at a cost of $800. I can't understand this, since my steering column has rarely been move, maybe a total of 30 since I bought the car in 2006. I am the original owner and very few people, outside of myself, have driven this car, lending to minimal adjusting of the steering column.

- Cedarpines Park, CA, USA

problem #26

Jan 112015


  • miles
I was stopped at a stoplight. When the light turned green I put my foot on the gas pedal and the car would not move. As my foot left the brake pedal it still did not move. While still on the highway, I turned the car off and back on. Once I turned it back on, the car was able to move as normal. The following Friday, the same thing happened (I was stopped at a stop sign and could not accelerate afterstopping.) this happened multiple times (I turned the car off and on multiple times) and finally, as I was driving normally again with my foot on the accelerator, the car slowed down on its own and came to a stop on its own, as my foot was still on the accelerator.

- Linden, NJ, USA

problem #25

Jan 032015

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
Traction control light came on. Car started running very rough and then lost all traction and shut off.

- Clackamas, OR, USA

problem #24

Sep 102014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 192,000 miles
The vehicle started to emit an odor of fuel when parked, not running. A few days later a visible puddle of fuel was under the body of the car. This has been recurring every day since the first occurrence. Now a visible leak from above the fuel tank can be seen dripping fuel at an accelerated rate.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #23

Jun 192014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
On the first week of June 2014, my 2006 Chevy Cobalt went in for the safety recall 13454 (replacement of ignition switch). (this was the second recall this car has had.) on June 19th, 2014 with the new ignition switch installed by the local Chevy dealership, while driving the car in town, at speeds of 20 and 30 mph the car lost power to steering, brakes which made difficult even to stop and maneuver safely off the road. The car lost most of the engine performance but stayed running. The car was then turned off and restarted, with dash light warnings of engine light, tc light and a car security emblem light on. The car ran with very limited power and strange clicking noise which was coming from the shifter. I have cell phone video of the shifter nob clicking along with cell picture of the dash warning lights that are on. Car had to be "man handled" to get it to a safe destination. The battery was disconnected a then reconnected, with the thought of resetting computer. When battery was reconnected the car was 100% back to normal. For how long, is anyone guess, this strange occurrence has happened more than once. The car is scheduled to go to the Chevy dealership for further diagnostics. They informed that it will be a week or so because their all booked up. What a pain in the (you fill the blank). If I had enough $$ to replace the car, I would have this car crushed so that I would no longer be responsible for any accidents it may cause.

- Hermiston, OR, USA

problem #22

Oct 132010


  • 25,000 miles
Vehicle check engine light came on, followed by traction control light, along with severely reduced engine power. Has occurred multiple times since, about every 3 months. Have had diagnostics performed and it is a code P060E, which translates into 'indeterminate fault'. could result in major accident in it occurred while turning across lanes of traffic or at highway speeds as there is a sudden slowing. Recurs about every 3-6months and after a few days, self corrects.

- Kernersville, NC, USA

problem #21

Mar 262012


  • 35,000 miles
This vehicle is not safe to drive and was not built right. The manufactures knew for many years that the Chevy Cobalt 2006 would have a leaking gasoline system, and they kept this faulty defect to themselves for many years before bring this issue to the customer. I was driving the vehicle leaking gas for a few years unit the crack was large enough for me to smell it, while not driving, the ignition switch; with the key in it while the car was in park has started the car engine without turning the key. The key wont come out of the ignition switch. The car has turned off on me on the freeway more than 9 times. The car turned off on me going in reverse, couldn't control the brake and steering power to move out of the pole. While driving in the freeway I have had to quickly react; putting my emergency lights on and praying to god a car doesn't hit me, while with the left had side is quickly waving at the vehicles coming from behind to stop. Please help me. I have two children and im tired of being exposed to the dangers of this M defected life threatening vehicle. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Bell, CA, USA

problem #20

Oct 082009

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 50,020 miles
Starting the car and pulling out, the power steering not working, car hesitating when accelerating and then I pull over and shut the car off. I wait a few seconds and start the car again, and its running fine. This started a month or so after our purchase (used) on May 15,2009. The dealer did not have any weekend service. The date above is when we 1st reported for service. But turning the car off/on always fixed the problem. Service dates-10/8/09,10/15/09,8/28/10,5/19/11.3/27/12. Dealer couldn't find any dialogistic problems. I brought the car in & running, on 7/2/13, while running a mechanic drove it, said he knew the problem. Dialogistic showed 2- cost $430. To repair. 2wks. Later, happened again, dialogistic showed 6. estimate $6-$800 plus. Too much to fix it. In the past 3 yrs., four times while driving at 60mph, on hwy., no power steering, gas hesitating, & down shifts to 25+/-while flooring the gas, car bucking, & speedometer bouncing B'twn.30-50. Very freighting and once there was no place to stop.

- Milford, CT, USA

problem #19

Mar 062014

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I was driving on busy road car keeps almost stalling out. Start up the car after 10 minutes car drives fine. Next time I'm driving car is not accelerating. Then car keeps stalling out.

- Cocoa, FL, USA

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