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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
47,275 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2006 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #34

Jul 102013


  • 44,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the power steering failed and the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver. The power steering warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact mentioned that the transmission shifted and made a loud clicking noise. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 44,000 and the current mileage was 77,000.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #33

Aug 012012

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering seized and the vehicle stalled. The contact had to wait a few seconds to restart the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. After diagnosis, the contact was advised that the anti theft module had failed and was later replaced. Immediately after the repair, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 97,000. The current mileage was approximately 109,507. Updated 03/07/13 the consumer stated the power steering will shut off, the transmission will shift very roughly, the instrument cluster go on and off, and the car will die at various speeds. When this failure occurred the steering would lock up. Recently, 02/13/2013, the vehicle had no power steering then, it suddenly turned on nearly causing the vehicle to fly off the road. Updated 03/11/2013

- Olathe, CO, USA

problem #32

Nov 162011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. The contact stated that when applying the brakes during rainy weather, the vehicle would be slow to respond. The dealer was contacted but denied any assistance with repairs to the failure. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 52,000.....updated 12/03/12 the consumer stated the vehicle was designed without a dipstick for the automatic transmission, so there was no way for him to check the fluid. The consumer stated the transmission pan was flimsy and he was having problems with the transmission. Updated evoq 12/13/12

- Helena, MT, USA

problem #31

May 202011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


I own a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt ls sedan. This car every year like clock work has to either have a new transmission put into it, or has shifting problems. The car will be fine for about a year and then it struggles to shift gears and it will be subtle. Then it slowly starts to feel like the transmission is " slipping" when U reverse and then put it back into drive it slides back before it begins to move forward again. This car is only 5 years old but has had 3 transmissions in it's life time, and it's starting to feel like it's going for its 4th.

- Hayward , CA, USA

problem #30

Jan 272011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 90,100 miles
The shifter lock no longer locks out the shifter. The transmission can be shifted out of park without depressing the brake or depressing the lock on the shift lever. This condition would allow the transmission to shift when the car is parked by just being bumped. This condition is constant. The gear shift lock lever began to get rough to depress then it just stopped locking all together.

- Hooper, UT, USA

problem #29

Jan 242011

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 90,167 miles
When the car is shifted to park and the engine is shut down, the key cannot be removed from the ignition. The ignition is locked in the on or acc. Position, if the key is left in place, the battery is drained. There have been instances where the doors will not lock with the key in the ignition and the ignition in the on position. When the car is in this condition, it cannot be left unattended because everyone has access to the car.

- Hooper, UT, USA

problem #28

Dec 032010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 41,153 miles


GM recall notice NHTSA campaign number: 09V073000 for the 2009 Chevy Cobalt should cover all years. I own a 2006 model year with the same problem and have read about more complaints online when trying to diagnose on why mine would not shift into park and I could not remove the key from the ignition going back to the 2005 model year. I believe this is a serious safety issue and believe it should be corrected asap.

- New Kensington, PA, USA

problem #27

Nov 162010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 69,840 miles
First we noticed that the shifter on our 2006 Cobalt was acting unusual, it took more effort to take out of park and the button did not need to be depressed in order to shift from drive to reverse or the lower gears. Then the key got stuck in the accessory position. It could only be removed by depressing the button inside the steering column. The car was repaired by a Chevy dealer by replacing the gear shifter control assembly for $208 as this car is out of warranty. The mileage at the time of failure was 69,800.

- Midland, MI, USA

problem #26

Dec 012007


  • 8,742 miles
Whether the vehicle is being driven (at any speed) or in park, the traction control light comes on and the vehicle makes very hard/jumpy shifts. I bought the vehicle new and this started happening no more than 4 months after the purchase. Though I've brought the vehicle in numerous times 2 "repairs" have been made. I've kept some of the service orders but I do have all with noted repairs.

- Columbia, TN, USA

problem #25

Oct 202010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
My 2006 Cobalt ss sedan has had a recurring issue. The traction control (T/C) light comes on and then the transmission will begin to shift hard, slamming into each gear. I had this problem shortly after buying the vehicle used. I took the car to the Chevy dealership and no problem was found. Eventually the engine light started to come on with the T/C light. I took the car into the shop and I had a cracked exhaust manifold and a damaged cylinder head. The powertrain was still under warranty and I thought that the problem was fixed. Not long after, my power steering started to go out, every time I drove. I had the faulty component replaced per the recall. Now the T/C, transmission problem is back, the car doesn't store any codes and the T/C light goes away when I turn the car off (most of the time) this is exactly the same way it started out last time. This issue is dangerous, expensive and it is being ignored. I have read hundreds of reviews, forums with the exact same complaint. This problem needs to be resolved!

- Yuba City , CA, USA

problem #24

Feb 102009


  • 45,000 miles


2006 Chevrolet Cobalt steel pin falls out of console not allowing ignition key to come out. Then the gearshift will not lock in park. Children can not be left in car because car will come out of park when shifter is moved. Should be a callback on this issue. Just days after warranty expired this took place.

- Canada , 00, USA

problem #23

Aug 052006


  • 12,000 miles
2006 Chevy Cobalt key comes out of ignition and it still runs. Key gets locked in steering column and will not release. Have to wait anywhere from 1 minute to 3 hours. Radio shorted. Automatic transmission slips and car will not accelerate (this happens while car is being driven). Car will not start indicating a "lock key", have to cycle automatic shifter through gears before it will start. Car will not start and just clicks. Battery reads $12.21 volts. Vehicle has a loose thumping noise in front axle area. All these indications generated a year after purchase and becoming more frequent.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #22

Jul 262010


  • 68,000 miles
My 2006 Chevy Cobalts stalls and shuts off while accelerating or while stopped at red lights. This has almost cause driver behind me to rear end my car. Thank goodness, I nor my children have been injured due to this malfunction. I've had the car served numerous times to no avail. The repair shop says, they cant find a problem. Although this happens almost daily.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #21

Jun 252010


  • 48,000 miles
2006 Chevy Cobalt ls: Power steering failure, as well as tach & speedometer fluctuations. Transmission shifts rough. Engine light is on, as well as an icon that looks like a car with a lock on it. All this happened at one time...between the time I parked it after work (no problems), til I went out and started it again to go to the store.

- Schuylkill Haven, PA, USA

problem #20

Jun 242006

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • miles
I have owned my 2006 Chevy Cobalt since June 2006 and have had numerous problems out of this car. I have had to pay out of pocket for every repair because they seem to all happen before a recall is issued and the dealerships will not refund money on the repairs. 1) A/C leaks water in passenger side floor board. I have had it in the shop 3 times and it is still leaking. No one can figure out why the water is leaking into the car. 2) gas tank had to be replaced due to fuel lines cracking. 3) power steering went out while my husband was driving on the interstate and was about 130 miles from home. 4) the car would die if the RPM's got too low, this was caused by a carbon build up on the idler. 5) there is no way to check the transmission fluid and it is starting to slip and take forever to upshift. 6) the key gets stuck in the ignition and will not come out. 7) the drivers side door gets stuck and will not open. 8) the door latch sometimes messes up and the door does not close. 9) the stereo display and buttons no longer work. I can not use the cd player for fear of losing the cd for ever since the eject button doesn't work. I can not see the clock or what station the radio is on. The car lost its value so fast that even after 4 yrs of having it I still can not trade it in due to the amt. I still owe on it. So I am stuck driving this piece of crap until it is paid for. I have already invested several thousands of dollars into this car for these problems. I believe that the car is a lemon and I should be reimbursed for the car and all of the out of pocket repairs I have had to make.

- Gilmer, TX, USA

problem #19

Apr 062010


  • 90,000 miles
2006 Chevy Cobalt-power steering stops working and at same time transmission shifts very hard. Left front turn signal intermittently works. All problems are related to Chevy Cobalts electrical wiring and circuitry. Dangerous to drive and unreliable. There is no pattern and all problems have occurred in the last year approximately six times.

- Wagoner, OK, USA

problem #18

Mar 262010


  • 86,500 miles
I own a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. Well to begin, I initially had an issue with my shift column, which I researched and found out it was a common issue with this vehicle. It would cause my key to get stuck in the ignition. I took it to the delearship and they replace the whole column. Then a a couple of week later, my vehicle was accelerating really fun, I just blew it off for a moment, until I then tried to put my car in reverse one day, and it would not go anywhere. I took it to the delearship and they told me my transmission is slipping, at 86,000 miles. The dealearship has my car, and is trying to figure out if it's even worth fixing. Im also wondering if this problem could have been caught the intial time they fixed the vehicle, and figured it was my shifting column, because even with my transmission slipping, it also affected the shifting column. One other problem I have had with the vehicle is the air bag sensor, I have not got this fixed yet, because the dealearship wants to charge $99 just to see exactly what's causing my airbag sensor to not come on, when I have passengers with me.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #17

Mar 122010

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. Consumer states steering and front end problems. The consumer stated the vehicle has been to the repair shop 3 times for front end problems. The coil pack and module had to be replaced. The shift lever failed and would not release the key when the engine was turned off.

- Greenville, PA, USA

problem #16

Dec 032009


  • 75,000 miles
I have sent a letter to Chevy directly and I feel this is an issue that should be addressed to you as well. I purchased a Chevy Cobalt a few years back. The Cobalt is an 06. For about 4 months now my key has been getting stuck in the ignition at the acc point. It will not allow me to turn past that point. I have found the little plunger to remove my keys in the steering wheel column. The second issue that arises with this is that my gearshifter moves when the car is off. This is a hazard as one day the shifter got shifted out of gear and started to roll away. My car is out of warranty, but this seems to be an issue I have seen posted on the net that many have experienced. My mother has an 05 Cobalt that had a similar problem she had the key assembly and the gear shifter replaced. I'm a soon to be mom and this issue needs to be resolved. I don't have any other complaints other than this.

- River Falls, WI, USA

problem #15

Feb 262010

Cobalt 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
Correction to ODI 10315929. Mistype about engine overheating - the engine overheated due to a cracked head gasket, not a cracked manifold.

- Twinsburg, OH, USA

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