Notes: In many ways, the 2012 Cruze continues the legacy of its predecessor. It's a legacy of sluggish transmissions and coolant leaks, but it's still a legacy.

To be fair, the number of complaints about the cooling system are way down versus the 2011 model which led to a class-action lawsuit.

On the flip-side, there's more concerns about brake problems.

However, there were far more Cruze vehicles sold for the 2012 model year so we'll give it our "Beware of this Clunker" badge rather than the "Avoid Like the Plague."


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,351 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.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Chevrolet Cruze Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Mar 012012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 900 miles


Coolant smell inside vehicle cabin and outside of vehicle. Noticed when I first purchased the car during the winter. This occurs after extended drives, typically more than 30 minutes, during cold weather when using the heat. Problem has progressively gotten worse. GM has looked into it approximately 8 times. 4 repair attempts (coolant reservoir cap replacement, water pump, coolant reservoir modification and HVAC assembly replacement). Problem has not been resolved. Internet search has revealed many owners experiencing the same condition, as well as a class action law suit due to the coolant smell inside the vehicle cabin. This is a health risk to all occupants. Further research revealed affected models include the: Cruze, Malibu and sonic.

- Marlborough, MA, USA

problem #21

Dec 172013

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 41,700 miles
The radio and dash board lights (service stabilitrak) have been flashing on and off then this evening while driving on a straight road, the "service power steering" light flashed on and my steering wheel locked up. That continued for approx. 2 minutes then started working correctly. When I got home and pulled into my parking spot and turned my car off everything turned off, including my interior lights and I couldn't remove my key from the ignition. I let it sit for approx. 5 minutes then tried to start the car and it did turn on so I turned it off again and I was able to remove the key. The dealership I bought the car from two months ago (used, with 38K miles) told me that this is not covered under the power train warranty but would have been covered under the bumper-to-bumper warranty (expired before I bought the car). Now, I'm responsible for paying for a serious defect that could potentially result in a serious or fatal incident. Chevrolet/General Motors -- please fix this without causing consumers any further monetary, physical, or emotional issues.!....updated 07/31/14

- Columbus, MS, USA

problem #20

Nov 042013


  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, the clutch failed and the transmission slipped gears. The contact also mentioned that steering the vehicle became difficult and a burning odor was smelled. In addition, the failure occurred three times and there was a transmission fluid leak. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who informed the contact that the fly wheel, clutch, and bearings would need to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 37,000.

- Tacoma , WA, USA

problem #19

Sep 182012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 600 miles


To begin with, I have had several problems with my 2012 Chevy Cruze and have been given the runaround. My first concern is that I bought my 2012 Chevy Cruze on 09/18/2012 and was notified days later of a major safety recall about the possibility of engine fires from fluid spills. I find out that this recall was announced on 06/22/12.(NHTSA campaign #:12V288000) why was I sold a vehicle that was under recall for 3 months" and was never even mentioned prior or post sale. Onstar had to notify me and then I had to get it fixed. My second concern is that there is an coolant smell in the cab of the vehicle and although not always noticeable, it is more noticeable in colder weather. Took vehicle to dealer and they played stupid and said they don't smell anything and that the smell could be a "dirty cabin air-filter"" nobody wants to smell coolant when driving!! my third concern is that when taking off from a dead stop or accelerating after letting off the gas for a second the vehicle almost always shifts roughly. Took to dealer and was told that its probably just the "turbo kicking in". my fourth concern is about the recall (NHTSA campaign #:12V288000) my vehicle(where the engine shield was) is already rusting and is a very big concern with the future of my vehicle(even after warranty period) rust never goes well with a vehicle! I'm concerned that parts will wear prematurely because of this! not to mention that I am getting less mpg since the shields been removed. Now today I get another major safety recall about my brakes.(NHTSA campaign #:13V360000) which would explain why my brakes sometimes require me to press them really hard all the way down to stop it. It currently sits at around 26,000 miles, I am thus far very dissatisfied with the vehicle. I don't know my options but know that if things don't start looking better, I will never buy Chevy or recommend Chevy again.

- Midwest City, OK, USA

problem #18

Sep 012012


  • 600 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that when the vehicle reached 35 mph, it would jerk and hesitate to accelerate. The contact also mentioned that the accelerator failed to respond to acceleration attempts. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the mechanic stated that the transmission had to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but after 16,000 miles the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 600. The current mileage was 17,100.

- Bishop, GA, USA

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problem #17

Aug 212013

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 4,000 miles
While pulling into parking space crawling into position the brakes failed and the car vibrated and lunged forward crashing into a brick wall. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor the car then began to vibrate then accelerate forward hitting brick wall. I believe that the turbo charge engaged because of the vacuum boost failed causing the turbo to engage. Filed complaint with GM no luck said it was driver error. Needless to say we are repairing the car then trading in. I have contacted local media can't seem to get any help. We have been loyal Chevy owners for over 20years never again. I think the public needs to be warned before someone gets killed. If someone was walking across the front of the car they would have died.

- Bolivar, OH, USA

problem #16

Jul 032013


  • 58,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that the vehicle rolled away in reverse as the contact was exiting the vehicle and closing the door. The vehicle then crashed into a truck. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that they could not diagnose the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 58,000.

- Henley, AZ, USA

problem #15

Aug 102013

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 13,000 miles
I when to the dealer to get a new oil drain plug I give then my VIN and they tell me my oil brain plug part numbers was 55568037 when I install the oil plug back I damage my oil pan because the is the wrong part my car has the oil plug part number 96041864 but when they check on the computer it shows a different part number now I my to replace my oil pan.

- Pea Ridge, AR, USA

problem #14

Jul 022012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 3,800 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, the vehicle failed to accelerate and stalled without warning. In addition, the electrical system failed on several occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis but they were unable to duplicate the problem. The vehicle was not repaired and the problem persisted. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 3,800.

- Rio Rancho , NM, USA

problem #13

Jun 152012


  • 4,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that while parked, he noticed a burning anti-freeze smell through the vents and around the exterior of the vehicle. Additionally, the contact noticed a jerking motion and a hesitation when accelerating. The vehicle was taken to the dealer five times for diagnosis. The technician performed updates to the transmission and replaced the canister inside the dashboard to alleviate the burning smell. The failure continued after the repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not further repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 4,000. The VIN was not available.

- Cass City, MI, USA

problem #12

Dec 032012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 800 miles


This car would suddenly and without warning surge/lunge forward creating a safety hazard to all including other drivers. I have had it back to the dealer twice and they have confirmed and duplicated my observations and concerns however, at first they thought it was electronic and then decided to rebuild the transmission after they found metal fragments within this sealed component. This is a brand new car so why would they not replace the car, give back my money or at the very least replace the transmission rather than repair it" the car has now been in the shop for 18 of the 40 something days that I have owned it and its still there today. I am not convinced that the transmission is the real problem and I'm skeptical that GM truly knows what the issue is. I would be interested to know if other Cruze owners are also experiencing this safety issue" I am also disappointed that GM doesn't simply return the few dollars I have invested and let this car fly off into the sunset. I have been a consistant GM buyer for many many years and this particular situation has left a bad taste in my mouth to say the least.

- Lost Creek, KY, USA

problem #11

Nov 142012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 8,910 miles
Vehicle vents antifreeze vapors and fuel vapors into driver/passenger compartment. Odors can become noxious.

- Silverdale , WA, USA

problem #10

Oct 062012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 8,000 miles
My new 2012 Chevy Cruze eco was purchased on 05/15/2012 and has approximately 8000 miles and the manual transmission clutch is already inoperative. The billy navarre Chevrolet dealership will not repair the vehicle under warranty stating that a GM field service rep has inspected the car and has determined that the clutch failure was due to operator abuse/misuse. In addition, the dealership states that the clutch is not covered under the factory warranty and subject to fair wear and tear although I purchased the GM extended warranty as well. Is it normal for a clutch to fail at 8000 miles? certainly not! the car has never been abused and has been operated within normal operating limits but resulting in the clutch disc being fused to the flywheel - as reported by the service department to me. The speculation is that the operator, my daughter, 'rides' the clutch and has caused the clutch to wear out prematurely and fusing the clutch to the flywheel. My daughter has never 'ridden' the clutch nor abused the vehicle as speculated but has driven the car in a safe and proper manner using normal operating procedures iaw the operator's manual. A burning smell was reported by my daughter to me and within a few days (10/06/12) the car would not go into gear and after several attempts would not shift at all. My daughter is the only operator of the vehicle. The car was towed to the dealership and within a week the service department reported to me that the transmission needed to be replaced but would not be covered under warranty. My only request has been and remains that the car be repaired or replaced under warranty at no cost to me as the problem is a defect induced problem and not due to operator abuse or misuse.

- Sulphur, LA, USA

problem #9

Oct 092012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
I purchased a 2012 Chevy Cruze 2lt w/rs package on 9/19/12. I didn't notice right away but after I drove for a few days I notice the engine would have this loud vibration when I barely accelerate, like staying at a steady speed. If I accelerate from a stopped position it doesn't do it or I just don't hear it because I hear the turbo. After driving it a few weeks the vibration sound has gotten worse, so I took it to the dealership to be checked. They test drove it and told me this is the way the echotech w/turbo motors sound and nothing was wrong with it. I wasn't satisfied so I asked I could test drive another car just like mine on their lot. They graciously let me and it sounded the same. My sons girlfriend has the exact same car and hers sounds nothing like mine. She bought hers at a different dealership which means it was probably came from a different manufacturer. Something isn't right and this should be fixed. This does not sound like a new car. It's very embarrassing. My 1995 Chevy cavalier is not as loud as my new car. Another thing is when I slow down to pull in my driveway (on a hill) I just let off the gas and the car will jerk really hard. This doesn't happen all the time but this will be an issue I'm sure when the warranty is up. I'm very disappointed with my first new car purchase. I waited 42 years for this.

- Bedford, IN, USA

problem #8

Sep 052012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 11,264 miles
Car responds erratically and unpredictably to push on accelerator pedal. On above date in attempting to back up slowly accelerator pedal was pushed with delayed response, then followed by extreme motion backward hitting fence, damaging fender. At other times car fails to accelerate out of way of on-coming traffic causing near collisions with little or no response to pedal movement. This has happened several times with this six month old car. My friend has same model with same problem. As per Chevy service manager who was twice contacted on this: A) he took a new Cruze home to drive for several days to investigate this complaint from other customers and he had the same problem, B) same problems are being reported to other Chevy dealers in hot climate areas of country. Chevy service manager says problem is know to General Motors, but no fix is available - all tests on several other new Cruze models brought in for service with same problem show that all systems and electronics are working normally. He's not sure what General Motors will do about it. This is apparently a make/model specific problem that is not being addressed as no pro-active warning info has been received by us from General Motors or the Chevy dealer. This is dangerous and no one is taking any responsibility. Please investigate before someone is seriously injured or killed. The lack of official warning from General Motors is morally outrageous!!

- Miami, AZ, USA

problem #7

Aug 112012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 10,259 miles
Chevrolet's recall fix on the 2011-2012 Chevy Cruze involve cutting off large portions of the underneath heat shield, this piece is also a debris shield. But now with the heat shield completely gone, there now is no protection from debris entering under the hood and causing more damage, also with this fix GM is compromising the biggest selling point of this car which is the gas mileage, this shield is also used to reduce drag underneath the car and in turn increasing gas mileage, but now drag will increase underhood which will decrease fuel mileage. In very wet climates this shield helped prevent water from spraying up under the hood as well, and by removing this shield our cars are now more prone rust, corrosion and abnormal wear to vital parts. GM has done a horrible job at fixing this problem, no logic or obvious care were taken into consideration when addressing this issue. If this kind of similar problem happened on a Cadillac or a corvette would have they fixed the problem the same way"? probably not, so what makes my Chevy Cruze any less important"

- Denver, NC, USA

problem #6

Jun 272012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,551 miles
2012 Chevrolet Cruze LT1 rs package, automatic transmission on June 27 I was in murray, ky driving home from murray state university. I was in heavy traffic. After the light changed I gave the accelerator a light tap to move the car forward. It started slowly but after a few seconds, it seems that the car stalled. The transmission downshifted and when I gave the accelerator a tap, nothing. At this time, I was certain I would be in an accident. Again, I gave the accelerator a tap (mind you, I didn't mash the petal to the floor board, I gave it enough of a tap to switch the gear). The car did nothing, and again my concern was that I would be rear ended soon. Another tip (again, I did not mash the pedal to the floor), and finally the turbo charger kicked in and the car switched gears. But when the car shifted gears, it was an explosion of force that jerked and lurched the car forward including my self. I was glad to get moving since traffic was heavy. Since this incident, it has happened 5 times that the car has been sluggish to respond, and it have continued to shift gears with random jerks and often explosive force that jerks both car and passenger. I have had this to 2 dealerships, and they say they cannot reproduce it, and they both tell me that this is a normal thing, and that this transmission will make erratic gear changes. I am concerned for my safety with I drive this car, and hope I am not stranded in traffic when the transmission fails to shift properly.

- Greenville, KY, USA

problem #5

Apr 052012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 760 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact was traveling 30 mph when the vehicle jerked while changing from first to second gear. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 760 and the current mileage was 1,300. Updated 8/23/12

- Evansville, IN, USA

problem #4

Apr 022012

Cruze 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Back in January 2012, I bought a Chevy Cruze 2012 with automatic transmission. After two month using this vehicle, I found out it has a problem while driving up/down hill. Driving uphill, once I put the transmission into drive and release the brake pedal this car rolls back and the engine cut off. Driving downhill, once I put the transmission into rear and release the brake pedal this car goes down and the engine cut off. I went to a Chevrolet dealer, they tested my car and another 2012 Cruze from their inventory and both cars did the same as I describe above. However, they told me the car is performing as designed and no problems found at this time. Then, I contacted GM, GM contacted its dealer, and three days later GM called me back telling me the same ┐┐no problems found┐Ł. so, I requested a letter where GM tells me that anything was wrong and they will cover any future issues with the automatic transmission but GM told me that they cannot provide me any document. As a customer, I would like to request an investigation because in my opinion those issues are design defects. Thank you in advance for your help.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #3

Dec 122011

Cruze 4-cyl

  • 100 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that the vehicle hesitated to accelerate from a stop. The contact also stated that the vehicle experienced numerous transmission failures in which the vehicle hesitated to change gears while driving at various speeds. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the contact was informed that the vehicle was performing to specifications. The manufacturer was also made aware of the failure and stated that the vehicle was performing as intended. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 100. Updated 07/06/12

- Rootstown, OH, USA

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