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:
1 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
46,494 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #119

Feb 012014


  • 41,000 miles


I can smell a burning coolant type smell inside the cabin of the vehicle. It does not happen all the time. It leaves a film on the windows. When it happens it burns my nose and eyes. I have to roll down the windows to get fresh air. I consider this a health issue, inhaling these fumes. I took the car to the dealership three times. Once they replaced a transmission coolant connector, that didn't solve the problem, and twice they said they couldn't find a problem. I see that there have been many complaints about this. This happens in all situations, moving or standing still. The following I copied from a forum online. This person had the same problem: In the course of that repair the techs detected an extreme amount of lubricant on the inner dash box where the vent doors and controls are located. The tech removed some of it and heated it up and it smelled just like dexcool. This grease is glycol based hence the similarity to coolant when heated. The continuous heating and cooling of the grease resulted in a breakdown of it and the smell only got worse. The techs removed all of the excess grease and replaced with another lubricant which was a type of brake lube good to 400F. They then added a peppermint extract to the coolant fluid to ensure that if there was a coolant leak of any kind the odor would be immediately discernable from any other automotive odor. I ran the heat and defrost heavy with no issues to report. This fix is not easy as the entire dash needs to be removed, but a good tech can do it and resolve this issue. If you need any further assistance or information please let me know. I would encourage anyone experiencing this problem to contact the dealer and have them contact GM to get your vehicle fixed.

- Yorkville, IL, USA

problem #118

Dec 212015


  • 53,700 miles
On December 21, 2015, while on my way to work in dearborn in rush hour traffic at 7:15 a.M., traveling South on southfield freeway at 65 mph in the fast lane, an alarm sounded and my rate of speed was reduced to 10 mph, an exclamation symbol appeared on my display with the words "reduced engine power". I immediately turned on my hazzard lights. Cars travelling behind me had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting me. The shoulder was not the adequate width to move the vehicle off the road to get out of the way of traffic. I pulled off as much as I could and switched the car off, this reset the problem so I did not have reduced engine power and I was able to travel and exit the expressway safely. The problem happened again on the road to my office complex parking lot. I have had the problem fixed at the GM dealership. I feel this type of issue should not happen and poses a very serious threat to the safety of the driver and passengers of the car affected by the malfunction and other motorist that are on the road. It is important to make sure this does not occur on other cars.

- Clawson, MI, USA

problem #117

Dec 062015


  • 80,000 miles
The cooling system in my 2011 Chevy Cruze has failed for the 3rd time in my two year ownership. This is dangerous, my car overheated and went into idle mode on a 70mph interstate(81) with my family still inside. Chevy denys any problem! multiple class action lawsuits have been started regarding the faulty cooling system but they seem to just disappear. My car constantly smells of nauseating coolant and has been "fixed" twice now. So what gives" why is this not being addressed" the NHTSA needs to handle this problem as it is bigger than Chevy will ever admit.

- Kearneysville, WV, USA

problem #116

Dec 052015


  • 62,000 miles


On 12-5-15 I was on my way to ct from mass and was on 91. About 45 minutes into the trip the car began to loose power and the check engine light came on and the service stablitrack light came on. As soon as the light came on the temperature gauge and RPM gauge would fling up and down quickly! I immediately went from 65 mph to 30 mph.( I was almost rear ended by a car behind me) I coasted my way to the right lane and was able to get off the exit. The car took about 4 hours to go back to normal. ( I returned to mass, I had to take the back way home and avoid the highway as the car still had reduce speed) the car will return to normal and the check engine light will go off. Everyday now the check engine light will come on and it will say service stablitrack. The car immediately looses power and you can hear the engine (sounds like a fan blowing hard) the transmission will not shift. The RPM will jump to 4-5 while only getting to a speed of 35 mph. The dealer has no idea what I am talking about. This car was bought in January of 2015 and has less than 65,000 miles on it. I have read a few complaints about this similar situation happening to the same car I have. This is a safety issue!!! the car has been serviced on time!!! please help me!! I refuse to take the highway as I never know when this is going to happen.....

- Monson, MA, USA

problem #115

Oct 012014


  • miles
Engine coolant smell inside cabin. Heat must be on. The vapors are strong enough to irritate the eyes and throat. This vehicle was purchased during summer and smell started when it turned cold and has continued

- Westminster, MA, USA

problem #114

Sep 232015


  • miles
A recall on the valve- cover gasket potentially causing a fire from oil leakage has been reported in the local paper, but not on my make/model. I have the oil leakage and can smell it burning off something. This was not a problem until after the dealership had to rebuild my transmission. My car has 74,000 miles.

- Orient, OH, USA

problem #113

May 012013


  • 60,000 miles


Most of the miles I put on a car are highway miles. I have a 90 mile round trip to get to work. The first time this happened was approximately 2 years after I bought the car and had roughly 60,000 miles on it (summer of 2013). The A/C shut off and the water temperature rose very quickly. I topped off the coolant and didn't have any more trouble for awhile. About this same time I started getting a sickly sweet burnt oil smell in the car. Very strong smell when stopped and there's no air flow to dissipate the fumes. Just recently it happened again. Same thing, A/C shut off, water temp indicator pegged out and I got a message saying "go to idle" or something to that effect. There was coolant sitting on top of the engine. With the car at idle I could only find a small leak at the radiator hose where it plugs into the water outlet. I assume the leak is much worse when the water temp goes up and the system pressurizes. Every 50 miles or so now I have to check the coolant level or risk another overtemp. Next is the transmission. I hate this transmission. It's very jerky when shifting and has been since day 1. I thought maybe as I drove the car it would smooth out eventually. No it did not. It's especially bad if you are coasting to a stop but resume acceleration before stopping. Finally, the brakes have a glitch. From my driveway I back slightly uphill and then downhill into the road. At this point I have to stand on the brake pedal or shift into drive if I expect to stop. It seems to only happen backing out of my driveway. If I back up on level ground I don't notice it happening. It may be the difference in speed. I'm not going as fast on level ground as I am coming down my driveway.

- Blacksburg, SC, USA

problem #112

Oct 032015


  • 35 miles
Almost to into a huge accident driving on the high way at a speed of 35mph when my car slowed down with my foot still on the gas. It felt like my gears were shifting without me shifting them. I really don't know to much about cars but I know this wasn't supposed to happen while driving

- Pleasantville, NJ, USA

problem #111

May 012015


  • 35,000 miles
Practically every day I drive my car, I experience extreme shifting and transmission issues. Specifically, I have to floor the gas pedal for the car to move from 2nd to 3rd shift. This is an automatic car, and it drives like a poorly shifting manual. It is extremely unsafe to drive because it does not accelerate when I hit the gas pedal, rather the engine revs very high and loudly, yet the car does not accelerate. It also has made loud popping sounds from the engine, and the car fills with an exhaust smell, and during the winter coolant smell is obvious in and outside the car. I am very uncomfortable driving-and feel unsafe-driving this car and it is almost four years old with less than 50,000 miles! I have brought it to the dealership on the below dates and they cannot "duplicate the issue", thus have not fixed it. On one occasion, the dealership had my car for 3-weeks! I have no idea if the dealership is even daily testing, or driving, the car. I do know, however, it is extremely unsafe because the shifting and accelerating is unreliable and will most doubtable cause an accident injuring myself and/or others. I have also called GM and numerous occasions and they were very unhelpful, stating they never heard of a shifting/transmission issue with the Chevy Cruze, when in fact the 2011 Chevy Cruze was recalled for shifting lock cable. I have received, unsolicited; a letter from a lawfirm to sue GM noting this exact issues shifting/power issues (amongst faulty water pumps, which I also had replaced after only owing the car 2-years), so clearly there are many others experiencing these issues. Dates brought my car to (sullivan's oneills in avon, ct) 1/16/2015; 5/2/2015; 5/09/2015;5/13/2015; 6/24/2015; 7/17/2015 my GM service tickets are 71-1490864298 & 71-1490864298. The car is either a lemon, or needs to be recalled for shifting/transmission issues.

- West Hartford, CT, USA

problem #110

Aug 242015


  • 64,000 miles
My husband noticed the coolant level was low while changing my oil. He filled up the coolant compartment. A week later, my battery died, so when my husband when to jump my car, he noticed the coolant level was once again low and that there was coolant present on the engine hoses. He filled up the coolant again and it is steadily leaking coolant when the car is running. I received a letter in the mail from GM in 2014 about possible coolant leak. The letter told me to take my vehicle in for service if there were any issues with the engine cooling system. I was not having issues with engine cooling at the time, and I put the letter to the side. Two months ago, my ac broke due to a rock hitting it. When I took my vehicle to the Chevy dealership for the ac, they noticed the open recall for the cooling system and recommended I have it looked at while I was there. They proceeded to inspect the engine cooling system, at which time it passed their inspection. Now two month later, the problem is present and the Chevy dealership claims that it will not be covered since that recall is no longer "open" on my vehicle. That is not fair in my opinion.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #109

Aug 082015


  • 58,278 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while driving at 45 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 58,278.

- Newmanstown, PA, USA

problem #108

Jun 162015


  • 74,000 miles
This incident with my Chevrolet Cruze has happened on more than one occasion in the same month. I will be driving, coming to a stop and the whole car will turn off on me. The air conditioning shuts off, radio, the whole car powers down. I put the car into park, turn off the car, wait a few minutes and turn the car back on. Praying that me and my two year old don't get into an accident throughout the incident.

- Bullhead City, AZ, USA

problem #107

May 012014


  • miles
It said service esp.

- Glenpool , OK, USA

problem #106

May 292015


  • 46,000 miles
The contact owned a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. While at a stop light, the contact noticed smoke coming through the vent and into the cabin of the vehicle. Moments later, smoke and flames appeared under the hood of the vehicle. After exiting the vehicle, several explosions were heard coming from the vehicle. The fire department extinguished the flames. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 46,000.

- River View, MI, USA

problem #105

Jan 012012


  • 20,000 miles
Many recalls on vehicle, over 5. engine issues.. car does not run well... I've taken the car multiple times in the past months..

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #104

Apr 062015


  • 59,937 miles
While driving the vehicle the engine light came on. The car only has $60,000 on it but we took it in because the engine would just randomly stop and the car would stall. The vehicle when brought into the dealership, had been inspected and the car was missing parts. The intake manifold non return valve was missing. There was a vacuum leak at the PCV orifice external port. Water pump was leaking from bolt holes and cover plate. Coolant leak was found even though a few months prior to the leak, Chevy "fixed" the recalled item. I believe that the vehicle has many faulty parts and this is the second time I have written a complaint about this company using faulty parts in there manufacturing process.

- Gilberts, IL, USA

problem #103

Apr 292013


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. While driving at 20 mph, the contact noticed a chemical odor coming from the air vents in the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. The technician was unable to diagnose or repair the vehicle. However, the failure recurred and the contact noticed that there was no coolant in the reservoir. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer, who diagnosed that the water pump needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure persisted and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the hose from the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 25,000. Updated 6/11/15

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #102

Feb 112015

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Never had any problems with this vehicle indicating that this would suddenly happen but it did. I would heat up my car in the morning and the reduced engine light would come on, I would turn the car off and then back on in a couple of minutes and it would drive fine. This happened a few times but then I was driving about 55 mph and then all of a sudden the engine and stabilitrac light comes on and says reduced engine power and the car slows down about 5 mph immediately. This occurred 3 times on my way home that is normally only a 10 minute drive, the very next morning it did it again when starting it up in the morning to take it to the dealership. This happens in the middle of traffic and thankfully did not cause an accident but it could if this would of happened on the expressway. There are several complaints on this issue with the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze on the complaint forums about the throttle body (dealership confirmed this issue). This is very dangerous!

- Lansing, MI, USA

problem #101

Feb 212015

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 119,981 miles
My Chevrolet dealer informed me that my 2011 Chevy Cruze has a leak in the transmission oil cooler lines. Is there or will there be a recall for this problem. I noticed (NHTSA campaign number:14V152000) the Chevy Silverado, Suburban, Sierra, Tahoe, and Yukon had a recall for transmission cooler line issues. Please let me know if/when Chevrolet will reimburse for the replacement and repair for this health and safety issue(potential vehicle fire). Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.

- Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #100

Feb 172015


  • 50,000 miles
About a month and a half ago I had taken my Cruze in for service where I was purchased my 2011 Chevy Cruze. I had a recall on a coolant leak at the pump. I had taken it in for service and oil change. The lady I had communicated with about the problem I was having about a burnt smell when I turned on my heat. She informed me that there was no problems or leak. One day when I was driving home from work I started chocking and my eyes where burning from an intense burning smell. When I arrived at home I popped my hood and noticed there was absolutely no coolant in my overflow tank. I then contacted the dealership and told them what I was experiencing with my Cruze. They took action and had my car towed to the dealership where they replaced the pump and coolant lines where there was a leak free of charge. (she no ionger works for the dealership) I do not know how long I was driving my Cruze without any coolant. I still have a continuous smell of something burning and have to take it in for service again. I also experience a shack when the car is at an idol. Im being to question my purchase of my Chevy Cruze. Hopefully when I take it in for service they are able to pin point the problems and that the last visit I need to make to the dealership.

- Lima, OH, USA

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