Notes: What’s that smell – it’s a tad sweet with a tinge of chemical toxicity? If you own a 2011 Cruze it’s probably a coolant leak. It’s a widespread and notorious problem for the car and is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in the state of New York. And that’s not the only problem 2011 owners face…

Many say the 2011 model year suffers from a throttle lag that is probably due to a fauly electronic throttle control. The problem is signifigant enough that some owners say they are too scared to drive their cars. Those that do get behind the wheel often say their transmission isn’t shifting properly and problems start occuring as early as 15,000 miles.

All of this leads us to say you’re probably better off without this car’s headaches (they’re probably chemically-induced anyway).


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,800 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.

2011 Chevrolet Cruze drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Owner Comments (Page 5 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Aug 012012


  • miles


The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that she exited the vehicle with the gear shifted in park and the engine in operation. The contact was standing on the passenger's side of the vehicle and within several moments, the vehicle rolled away in reverse. The contact attempted to re-enter the vehicle on the driver's side and the vehicle began to drag her up against a concrete pole. The contact landed on the ground where the front driver's side tire was and the vehicle then drove over her left foot. The contact's left arm sustained a severe fracture to the radius and humerus. The contact also sustained nerve damage to the left foot. The vehicle was towed to a collision center where the exterior body damages were repaired. Some time later, the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 11V273000 (power train: Automatic transmission: Gear position indication-prndl). The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The failure mileage and the VIN was unavailable.

- Harrisburg, IL, USA

problem #18

Nov 292012


  • 22,001 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that the transmission failed. The vehicle was towed to a dealer for inspection where they stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired at no cost to the contact. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 22,001.

- Pulaski, PA, USA

problem #17

Jun 072012


  • 19,000 miles
Vehicle was purchased used with 18*** miles on the odometer. Vehicle transmission shifts erratically when driving in city conditions. Problem may cause stalling of vehicle at lower highway speeds. The transmission appears to slip at slow speeds. Before shifting, vehicle regularly hits maximum (red line) RPM. Poor downshifting into lower gears causes vehicle to lunge forward at lower speeds. Most notably from park to drive. On icy roads, the hard shifting may cause the vehicle to loose traction, resulting in a crash, causing fatalities or injuries to the occupants. Vehicle was taken to dealership, technicians were unable to reproduce customer complaint. Manufacturer was not contacted. Current mileage 28***.

- Effie, MN, USA

problem #16

Aug 012011


  • 2,000 miles


The automatic transmission shifts very hard between first and second gear, and second and third gear. This happens when the transmission is shifting up or down. The occupants in the vehicle get a whiplash effect every time the car shifts between these gears. Also the transmission takes too long to find a gear resulting in the vehicle not accelerating when the driver commands it. The car has stalled while starting driving away from a red light from a full stop, requiring the driver to restart the vehicle. This should not happen in a car with an automatic transmission. While in motion the car will shift into neutral and will not respond to the drivers push on the gas pedal. It will then slam into gear, causing a more violent whiplash effect than when it is shifting as mentioned earlier in this complaint. I have taken the car to the local dealership multiple times for these issues and they keep telling me that the transmission is operating normally. No transmission should operate this way, and no other vehicle I have ever driven operates as bad as this 2011 Chevy Cruze. The GM customer service people have opened multiple cases and tried to help me with this but they have not followed through well enough and I am stuck with a defective transmission in this car.

- Pompano Beach, FL, USA

problem #15

Nov 152011


  • 1,000 miles
Car will not accelerate when pulling into traffic. This is a problem that happens intermediately. You let up on the brakes and press the accelerator and the car just creeps forward and does not accelerate. Occurs most often when the car is cold or the A/C in on and/or you are making a right or left turn, however, it can occur at anytime. The only solution is to press the accelerator to the floor at which point the car will accelerate too quickly and throws the vehicle into traffic. The dates and mileage given above are estimates on my part. The car has been acting this way since we got it.

- Farmington, MI, USA

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problem #14

Aug 012012


  • miles
2011 Chevy Cruze. Consumer states vehicle slows down by itself the consumer stated the vehicle would slow down as if it were in first gear, instead of high gear.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #13

Aug 062012


  • 33,000 miles


I bought this vehicle as a present for my father. After getting it home, (driving it home was all highway), he drove it around the block and noticed it had a lag in the vehicle speed. It almost felt as though it was a manual transmission. I drove it home that night and noticed the same feeling. It's almost as though it takes a lot of effort out ofthe car to keep driving. It downshifts before its supposed to when driving and as a results isn't getting the gas mileage its supposed too. Driving city, it was only getting 18-19mpg for me. It does much better on the highway, over 55mph, then with city driving. Took it back to the dealer, who took it to a bigger Chevy dealer and they stated nothing was wrong. Got it back and its the same way. We love the car but will not drive it because we are afraid of not knowing what's wrong with it and possibly having something serious happen to it. We have 2 little ones that we need to worry about who ride in the car as well. Seems pretty unsafe to have a car downshift and lag with speed aspect when its not supposed too. Wish a recall would come out.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #12

Jul 102012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • miles
Since I purchased the car last year, it has shifted hard either in auto or manual. Mostly auto. However, when it shifts down to first gear in manual, it jerks me forward. This is an ongoing problem and no real date to be associated to. I have had it in the dealership twice but the 'compuater' says there is not a problem. After much frustration and being honked at when I can't accelerate quick enough at a light, I filed a complaint with General Motors last week. They responded quickly but today I find out that the dealership will not work with me on getting out of the car. It's basically about paying more to get in another vehicle. The computer said it was fine, so it's fine. If I had a small child, I would not want them in this car! I will not be driving my grandson in this car. This is absolute insanity to completely ignore a common issue. I googled and found hundreds of people complaining about the very thing on the ls model. Even a salesperson told me he doesn't not recommend this car to anyone!

- Haltom City, TX, USA

problem #11

Feb 092011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 12,700 miles
Severe drive train decoupling, and hook up delay, when attempting to accelerate into traffic and subsequent attempts to change lanes in traffic. Close calls numerous!!!! accidents and deaths inevitable!!!!!!! further assessment has shown the only way to resolve the issue is to shift transmission to manual mode and keeping engine speed above 2500rpm. Thereby reducing turbo lag and disabling major computer control over transmission shift function. This type of engineering is unacceptable in any modern production automobile and should be immediately addressed by the manufacturer. Or class action lawsuits should be brought forth by the owners of these vehicles. Is this the real reason this vehicle boasts so many airbags"?"

- Chanhassen, MN, USA

problem #10

Feb 102012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 15,422 miles
2-10-12 - 15422 mileage car towed to dealership - would start / shifter would go into gear / car would not drive - check engine, traction control & stabilitrak light were on. - shaft detent lever switch replaced. 3-12-12 - 16471 mileage - brought to dealership car would not engage from the stop position to acceleration & poor gas mileage since 2-10 repair - caused to roll into intersection. - control solenoid valve & transmission control module replaced. Could not duplicate gas mileage problem 4-25-12 - brought into dealership for loud popping & jolting into gear from the stop position to acceleration - dealer ship could not duplicate/ no repair 5-5-12 17661 mileage car towed to dealership - driving on highway 65mph / burning smell coming through A/C vents/ transmission hot (overheat) /traction control & stabilitrak light appeared. Dealer ship could not duplicate/ no repair ( opened case with GM 71-1069459525) 5-18-12 18165 mileage car towed to dealership - driving on highway 65mph / burning smell coming through A/C vents/ transmission hot (overheat) /traction control & stabilitrak light & transmission light appeared. Plus continued poor gas mileage since 2/12 fix. Transmission control module replaced (again) 6-6-12 18800 mileage brought to dealership ( currently there) transmission light appeared upon starting the engine after sitting for 8hrs. - intermittent burning smell from engine noticed after 15-20 mile drives

- Richland Hills, TX, USA

problem #9

May 312012


  • 33,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, the vehicle could not be shifted into gear, causing the transmission to fail. The contact pulled the vehicle over and the transmission control module light illuminated. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to a local dealer to be inspected and he was informed that the transmission control module sent an erroneous signal to the instrument panel, causing the vehicle not to shift into the next gear. The dealer repaired the vehicle but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 33,000.

- Couch, MO, USA

problem #8

May 052012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • miles
I have been having transmission problems with his vehicle since its purchase in July 2011. First incident was the day after I accepted delivery of the vehicle. Dealer stated there was nothing wrong after driving with me and no record of the service was created. After changing dealers, I was told there was nothing wrong with the transmission and they could not duplicate the problem. On future visits, the transmission software was updated which helped some, but did not alleviate the problem completely. Yesterday, the following warnings were displayed: Service stabilitrack system service traction control system I have opened another complaint with Chevy stating the transmission has ongoing problems and I want my money refunded. This is the second complaint I have opened with them. The first complaint was "resolved" by offering full coverage maintenance for 9000 miles at this point in time, I am reluctant to drive the vehicle anywhere because I am afraid it will fail. If you need any additional information, please let me know. Thank you.

- Vandalia, MO, USA

problem #7

Sep 012011


  • 900 miles
The vehicle experiences a severe delay in throttle and transmission response, to the point of endangerment. When driving at 60-65mph and commanding passing power, the vehicle normally will bog down as the pedal is depressed, then disengage the gear, wait up to 3 seconds, rev up 500-1,000rpm and then engage the gear and begin moving forward (at which point it is within a few hundred RPM of redline and bounces off of the fuel cutoff.... while in drive, not manual mode). The transmission also shifts harshly up and down randomly. Upon a cold start, the vehicle nearly stalls when coming out of a parking garage with an incline, then proceeds to idle at 1,800rpm and push the vehicle forward with nearly enough thrust to cause a collision if the brake pedal is not stood on. The vehicle has almost stalled on me while driving on flat ground, a handful of times (sometimes when I turn on the rear defroster, sometimes just coming to a stop). Additionally, there is a pulsating that can be felt throughout the car (most notably through the brake pedal) and a grinding noise coming from the engine bay. The vehicle has been brought in to power Chevrolet in mesa, Arizona where these concerns were brought up, including the concern for safety, at which point the ECM and tcm were reset to default values (which made the transmission even more horrible, due to deleting the adaptive values). I was spoken to like a child and given a printout explaining how an automatic transmission and auto-stop feature worked and told that the pulsating (which is widely acknowledged as a bad ac compressor part for this vehicle and was mentioned to the dealer when the car was brought in) and other issues were non-existent. I guess that I will have to wait for these parts to fail, hoping and praying that it doesn't kill me or my passengers in the process, in order to get these issues addressed.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #6

Nov 262010


  • 20 miles
Engine seems to momentarily cutoff when accelerating after moving about 15 feet or less with accelerator in steady position from a stop after idling in gear. Dealer description hesitation, sometimes it does hesitate when pressing the accelerator but mostly seems to lose all power momentarily. Issue is repeatable and has been noted on at least two vehicles by this owner. This issue is a safety concern, no accident yet but could happen unexpectedly to a driver if not yet aware of the problem. Owner was told by service center GM is aware of problem and a possible software update may be available, unknown date of release as of December 2011. This owner believes all 2011 Cruze's have this issue, just have to be in the right circumstance and know how to reproduce it. If you have been told it is turbo lag do not fall for it, if this was the case it would happen all the time.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #5

May 022011


  • miles
2011 Chevy Cruze manual transmission 6 spd. Random occurrence of speedometer spikes digital and needle (anywhere from 20-120 mph), volume on radio will also spike with this issue. When speedometer spiking the steering wheel will also unwontedly move 1/2 - 2 inches left or right every time which could distract/startle driver leading to a possible accident. Chevy refuses to look for a problem that "isn't there". as stated by dealership without code or a tech witnessing it. Occurrence happens when rolling at slow speeds (0-7 mph) or stopped with clutch engaged or slowly being released. Happens, 10-15 times+ a month. Has startled me several times once including me letting off the clutch and stalling the vehicle from being startled. Vehicle assembled: Lordstown, Ohio mileage when first noticing this issue: 78.0 current mileage, issue still occurring: 18,749. Seen dealership :3 times about current issue.

- Georgetown, KY, USA

problem #4

Oct 292011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • miles
Vehicle was in the park position, when the key was turned in the off position the car started to roll backward down a hill dragging my child with it.

- Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

problem #3

Jun 062011


  • 2,840 miles
When accelerating from a stopped position the vehicle has a two (2) second delay before it engages the transmission. This is very dangerous issue when entering a busy road from a parking lot or other stopped location. A two second delay can place a driver in a life or death situation. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who was unable to diagnose the problem. They did mention that it could be "turbo lag" since it needs time to build up. They also stated that all software programs were up to date. It is still dangerous turbo lag or not. According to a road test conducted by consumer guide automotive this problem was a issue for them: "several test cars exhibited issues with the automatic transmission, including delayed response and slurred shifts. GM was aware of these problems and issued a fix that involved re-programming the transmission's software." It's obvious that this is not a software fix issue since all programs were updated on the vehicle and the problem still exists.

- Waxahachie, TX, USA

problem #2

Dec 012010


  • 24 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, she would notice that the vehicle would hesitate or jerk forward. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer and they advised her that the tcm needed to be replaced. The vehicle was reprogrammed for the tcm yet the failure persisted and the vehicle became hesitant to acceleration attempts within moments of leaving the dealer. The vehicle was then taken back to dealer and they advised her that all of her particular year, make and model vehicle operated in that manner. The failure mileage was approximately 24. Updated 07/21/11 updated 3/20/12

- Orland Park, IL, USA

problem #1

Mar 012011


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated the transmission was reprogrammed, but the failure was not corrected when the vehicle lost power while accelerating at any speed. The brake pedal extended to the floor when the brakes were applied. The vehicle moved backwards while the brake was depressed causing the contact to crash into a vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who did not replace any parts and advised the contact how the vehicle was designed. The failure mileage was 150,000 and the current mileage was 752,000.

- Austin , TX, USA

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