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:
0 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
23,037 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 1 of 2)

problem #32

Apr 022013


  • 26,011 miles


I've had numerous of maniacal issues with the Chevrolet Cruze 2011. The most serious and deadliest is the coolant system issues the Chevrolet Cruze 2011 has. I was experiencing a cough along with migraines once engaging the air-condition nubs from heat to ac and some sleeping condition where I'd find myself speaking while asleep momentarily awaking. I'd wind my windows down while driving and I'd see that the migraines, coughing along with sleeping experiences would stop. I visited my Chevrolet Cruze 2011 dealership and explained the odor that was coming from my air cooling system. They cleaned my air cooling system and replaced my cabin filter feeling that this maintenance solved the issues I was having I felt I could use the cooling system with no problem. I was wrong. The migraines return along with the coughing and the odor when adjusting the cooling system nubs. I called the dealership to explain the ongoing maniacal problem. After a week of having my windows down my car ran hot and come to my dismay it was out of coolant. I received a letter from Chevrolet recall department that the vehicle has a coolant system issue were coolant leaks and that was the odor. The coolant was leaking onto the motor and burning off returning the odor into the cab of the car. I had it tested for repairs and had a water pump repaired for the vehicle, this did not stop the problem, the hose from the motor and coolant reservoir was replaced, did not fix the problem and the leaking of coolant continues. The recall stated that the only maintenance for this problem is refilling the reservoir with coolant intl the problem is found and fixed. That means I'll have experience each condition I mention above which has worsened. Now it's close related to seizure like encounters see objects move, feel weak, blurred vision and body jerks. I've asked for a rental intl the problem is found.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #31

Jan 022015


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that coolant was leaking from the vehicle. In addition, whenever the heater was activated, a burning odor was present. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000.

- Laguna Miguel, CA, USA

problem #30

Nov 052014


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. While driving approximately 30 mph, the coolant warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician determined that the coolant reservoir was empty. The technician replenished the fluid, but the contact noticed that the reservoir was completely empty the next day. The contact believed the failure was directly related to NHTSA campaign number: 12V288000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 110,000.

- Brooklyn Center, MN, USA

problem #29

Jun 052014

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 58,900 miles


Having to keep adding antifreeze to coolant reservoir about every 2 months, depending on weather change. No signs of antifreeze coolant leaks on the ground.

- Sikeston, MO, USA

problem #28

Jul 012014


  • 28,686 miles
While driving 45miles an hour the A/C shut off and the speed was replaced by an error that showed that the A/C was shutting down due to engine levels. However the level was not high. The check engine light came on. I took the car into the dealership however they are unable to pin point the problem or determine the code for the light. The vehicle will not pass inspection and therefore I am unable to drive the vehicle.

- North Richland Hills, TX, USA

problem #27

Jan 162014


  • miles
My engine sputtered & the engine power reduction message, traction light & check engine light came on. Upon further investigation, this may be due to the throttle body. There are many complaints of this same issue on the Chevy Cruze forum & many have had this happen while driving, causing the auto to stop or slow to 5 miles per hour. This is a safety hazard. One complaint was of the woman driving on the interstate & almost being hit by a semi. This needs to be a safety recall immediately. This is clearly a factory part issue. This is happening on these autos that do not have much mileage.

- Mansfield, IL, USA

problem #26

Feb 142014

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles


Has happened multiple times starting about a month ago, either when idle at a light, driving around town or on the freeway (I have not been at full hwy speed when this has occurred) the stabilitrak warning comes on and engine power is reduced to practically nothing, I can't travel other than at a snail's space, with absolutely no acceleration to help get out of the way. Drive train shakes a little. Very dangerous position to be in. I tried to shut off the stabilitrak and that seemed to work until the last incidence when the issue occurred with stabilitrak turned off. The only way I can get the car to reset is to shut it off for a few seconds and turn it back on. Might go a few days without any concerns, then all of a sudden, it starts up again. Engine light stays on for a few on/off cycles then goes away.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #25

Jan 292014

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 24,000 miles
2011 Chevy Cruze losing antifreeze, had to keep adding antifreeze once it got low the heater would blow cold air while stopped at stop sign/stop light. Found out its the head gasket needs to be replaced at only under 24000 miles.

- Minot, ND, USA

problem #24

Sep 302013


  • 42,000 miles
Every time I use my heater I get a strong burning smell of coolant/ antifreeze and loss of coolant. Mostly when I am stopped at a traffic light/stop sign and it's intermittent between slight or really strong. I did a lot of online research and found lots of other people with the same complaints, even found local news stories from other states on youtube. All fingers seem to point to the heater core and or the grease used in the HVAC system.the smell is so bad sometimes that I have to roll down at least two windows and turn off the interior fan until I start driving again. I bought the car certified used a couple of months ago and they should have came up with a solution 2 years ago when the problem and complaints started. This issue needs to be recalled already. This is a health issue! I would really like to enjoy my first nice car and not worry about getting sick or dying from this!

- Joliet, IL, USA

problem #23

Jan 122013


  • 30,091 miles
After oil change and left the dealership a strong smell of burning antifreeze filled the inside of the car, it was very difficult to breath. I turn the car around back to the dealer they checked (or so they said) could not find anything wrong with it, when I got into my car it was covered with air freshener they put so much of it to cover up the burning smell that it took about 3 weeks to wear off and the smell started all over again. But they won't do anything because according to them there's nothing wrong with the car. The trunk button does not work anymore though at the dealer they confirm is an issue they have with the Cruze they won't cover under warranty and have to pay $200 for something they know is a faulty part on this car.

- Harvard, IL, USA

problem #22

Apr 032011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 75 miles


This car exhibits a hesitation from a stop and also cruising upon acceleration, a symptom I have also read about in some of the complaints already filed on the site. As with most complaints submitted to the dealer the technician said he could not find anything wrong when I took it in to be looked at. After talking to a few Cruze owners one of them said he was told the problem was due to " turbo lag ". this is a period in time that the turbo motor must catch up to the RPM's of the engine which results in the hesitation. This is very dangerous when trying to enter a highway or maneuver out of a critical situation. GM must acknowledge this malfunction and recall affected vehicles and repair them which can be done by tweeking the turbo to sync with the engine.

- Old Bridge , NJ, USA

problem #21

Jun 132013


  • 44,221 miles
When my car is in park, and I take it out of park to accelerate, the engine revs up and it "jumps" out of gear. If I am sitting idly at a stop light, it does the same thing. I have taken it to the dealership and they told me; after performing all the required test, nothing was wrong with it. If I am turning and once I accelerate after the turn, it looses power.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #20

May 202013


  • miles
I have a big problem with my Chevrolet Cruze which is commercialized in mauritius, since March 2013 there R a lot of vibrations and I have been to the dealer almost 10 times and they have change twice the A/C compressor but still the vibrations is getting worst everyday, and this is representing a danger for me and my family. The dealer in mauritius is covering up all the manufacturing fault that the car have, and this morning I have been to the dealer and the mechanics has feel the vibration and they told their boss that there is no problem, they have told lies and it is a very serious as they R putting people lives in danger as the vibrations will damage the car and thus can cause depth in accidents. U have to contact GM as I have call them and they are aware of the problems but the dealer is covering up otherwise their car will stop selling.

- Port-Louis, MI, USA

problem #19

Nov 092011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 6,514 miles
Coolant smell inside the cabin. Car has been to dealership at least 10 times. They have replaced heater core. Replaced thermostat twice. Replace cap. Added a reservoir overflow drain tube per document id# 2859137. Did dye test. Smell is still over bearing. The smell is so strong that it make my family and passengers nausea and onset headaches. There is a film on the window.the dealer's shop foreman and service writer has witness this smell. Very concerned about the hazards of this vapor. We have requested on multiple times to receive a copy of the material safety data sheet and Chevrolet has not been forth coming. It has been a year and a half and no resolution. Please help.

- Charlotte Hall, MD, USA

problem #18

Oct 182012

Cruze 8-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
When using the heater in my Cruze there is an odor of antifreeze inside the cab. When the heater is used for more than 10 - 15 minutes at a time, the odor got so strong that it caused headache, dizziness, and nausea. I took the car in for repair and was informed that GM had sent a memo because it was a common problem. They performed the repairs recommended by GM which was to replace weatherstripping around the heater core and replace a tube at the overflow tank. However, when I used the heater that same night, I discovered that it still emitted an odor of antifreeze, although it was not as strong as before and I could use the heater for a longer period of time without getting the headache, dizziness, and nausea.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

problem #17

Sep 182012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 26,400 miles
Once again my car has an engine cooling problem. This is the 2nd time this happened, the first was about 2 months ago. I was driving the car and the fan was making a loud noise, check engine light came one I called onstar asap they verified I was correct and sent a tow truck to pick up my car. I smell antifreeze all the time in the car and they antifreeze just disappears the dealership does not know where it's going. I'm seriously thinking about trading in my Cruze because of these problems, which never get fixed.

- Clovis, NM, USA

problem #16

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 #15

May 022011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • miles
I would like to put in a complaint on my Chevy Cruze 2011. Since purchasing it, there have been 3 recalls due to steering and engine. I have had to bring the car into the dealership 3 separate times for the recalls beginning one month after purchase. Now, the car has had 2 separate major problems (engine & currently back at the dealership for problem related to transmission), this vehicle has broken down once while in heavy traffic, but luckily I was able to pull to the side of the road, and the second time it broke down was on a street less heavily traveled, however, I was almost rear ended. If this would've occurred while on a heavily traveled or faster speed zone, I feel that a terrible crash would have happened. Both times may have resulted in serious injury or even death. I do not feel safe in the vehicle and would rather it sit in the driveway than to risk driving it. I lease the vehicle, but I would like to know any options for getting out of this lease & getting into a safe car. Thank you!

- Lockport, NY, USA

problem #14

Apr 242012


  • 116,700 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that smoke emitted from under the hood while driving 30 mph. The contact drove the vehicle home and noticed that the smoke was coming from the engine. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer for a diagnostic test, but he had yet to receive the diagnosis. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure and current mileages were 116,700.

- Seattle , WA, USA

problem #13

Sep 132011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • miles
The 2011 Chevy Cruze was driven by our daughter, she was driving 35 mph, when she noticed smoke coming out of the hood. She pulled over and in a matter of minutes the car was in flames.

- Poterville, CA, USA

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