Notes: The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is fairly new & is already showing an early trend of transmission problems.

Owners report hesitation when shifting & grinding/hard shifting into gears. Some dealers are calling the condition "normal". Another owner reported his dealership replaced the transmission under warranty, but the new transmission had the same exact grinding problem. Design defect?


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,984 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 Sonic brakes problems

brakes problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments

problem #13

Jan 312016


  • 40,000 miles


On 1/31/2016 a vehicle pulled out in front of me. The first and biggest issue was the airbag never went off and the seat belt tensioners did not lock the belts either. I went forward and hit my head on the steering wheel rendering me unconscious!!! almost the whole front end had to be replaced e.g.: grill and front panel, left and right front quarter panels, radiator, both wheel wells, suspension on both sides and everything that goes with those plus a whole lot of other things like the radiator, coolant and washer tanks etc. Etc.... this was a full-frontal wreck and not a single airbag went off!!! secondly are the ABS and traction control. The roads were a little slick so I had the tc on. When I hit my brakes all they did, have done since I bought the car, and continue to do to this day, is immediately lock up! I had zero control of my car. This car has, by far, the worst ABS system I have ever used. The tc is complete sh*t, too!!! thirdly, every time I start the car the engine seems to misfire or something! it rattles and shakes the whole car, hard!!! after a few seconds it seems to find it's groove and idles normally. I have brought the car in to the local Chevy dealership where I purchased the car to address these problems. All they tell me is they are design and/or manufacturing flaws. They said I can pay to fix these issues with my own money or wait and see if the issues become recalls. Which, according to my research, have not yet. To me, these are some pretty big safety issues the manufacturer should be addressing!!! and why aren't they"???" I have photos of the accident, but can't seem to find them anywhere. I'll come back if I find them.

- Kingsford, MI, USA

problem #12

Nov 072016


  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle accelerated independently without warning. The driver depressed the brake pedal, but the vehicle failed to decelerate. In addition, the contact stated that the vehicle started to lose power and the driver was able to coast to the side of the road. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 47,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #11

May 132016


  • 40,000 miles
Takata recall I was driving and I tried to brake at an intersection due to a red light and there was a car in front of me, I was unable to use the brakes because the pad got stiff and it didn't allow me to brake, I had to use my emergency brake but I hit the car in front of me.

- Chino, CA, USA

problem #10

May 012016


  • 75,000 miles


In 2015, my 2012 Chevrolet Sonic had to have the fuel purge valve replaced. The car worked for a while after this. However, a few months ago, it started having a rough idle, with the rpms dipping up and down. The problem got worse recently, when the car actually completely died while making a left hand turn, almost causing me to get hit. Now, it is even worse. Now, in addition to the rough idle, traction control randomly engages even when I am not slipping, causing me to lose all power for brief periods of time, while in motion. The traction control is glitching so bad that it even randomly engages when I am completely stopped. This is a huge safety issue, and the dealership that sold me the car wants $113 just to tell me what is causing it, and how much it will cost to actually fix. There are no active recalls on this vehicle, but further research on the model I own, shows other owners having similar issues. Chevrolet has been no help

- West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #9

Feb 122016


  • 48,000 miles
I was driving down the street (straight and flat, no turns or hills) at 25 mph and went to use my brakes. To my surprise there was no power assist. The car only has 48K miles on it and had never displayed braking problems prior to this incident. The car did not have issues at the stop sign just a block before. As it happened a few blocks from my house, I drove it home and parked it. Besides the lack of power assist, the motor started to idle rough-- it would surge to 2500 RPM and then slow down to 700 RPM, all with no throttle input. When I popped the hood, to look for an obvious loose hose, I did not see anything that looked out of the norm. However, there was quite a bit more noise than normal-- it was a combination of hissing and whirring. Not the normal sound the engine would make while running with the hood open. There were some noises coming from the brake booster area (driver's side by the firewall) that I had never heard prior to that day. The car has a 1.8 four cylinder and a 5 speed manual. The issues did not impact the clutch pedal in any way, so I doubt it is the master cylinder. As I noted it seems to be a brake booster issue... however, I have not been able to get it to a garage yet as the issue just happened. (I am no mechanic, but have a decent understanding of how cars work.) either way, it was quite a surprise. While I am a male in good physical shape, even I needed to stand on the brakes to get the car to slow down from only 25 mph-- had I been going faster, I would have likely needed to use the E-brake to slow the car. Again, at this time the car has not been repaired, but the issue happened just yesterday. For what it is worth, the temperature was cold at the time of the incident (15 F), but there was no snow or ice on the road, and it was sunny out.

- Royal Oak, MI, USA

problem #8

Jan 072016


  • 35,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the brake pedal stuck to the floor board, while attempting to slow down and driving at 65 mph. As a result, the contact crashed into a guard rail. The vehicle was towed to a dealer but was not diagnosed or repaired. A police report was filed and there were no injuries reported. The approximate failure mileage was 35,500. Updated 03/09/16

- Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #7

Nov 232015


  • 37,000 miles


While driving at highway speed on a two lane road at night, applied brakes to avoid animal in road. Conditions were clear and road was dry. There was plenty of time to slow to avoid animal so this was not a panic stop. Upon application of brakes, headlights went out. Dash lights stayed on making it impossible to see out of the vehicle. Applied brakes with more urgency and all four wheels locked. Vehicle skidded straight until the right tires made contact with the right shoulder. The car then spun counter clockwise back onto the roadway, across both lanes, and came to rest on the shoulder of the oncoming lane (approximately one and one-half revolutions). Skid marks on highway confirmed the wheel lock and the spin. Car was shut off and re-started and all systems worked fine. Unable to duplicate the problem.

- Casper, WY, USA

problem #6

Nov 302012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
When pressing on the brake the brake front pads don't catch all the way some times even the roads are dry. It is especially noticeable if I'm driving over a bumpy road and apply the brakes you can feel the skipping of the brakes not catching. Had brakes inspected they are in good condition with life still on them. The dealership checked the brakes they said nothing is wrong. I made a complain to the dealership about the unsafeness I feel driving. I only drive on the street to work and home. I still have the skipping in the braking. I'm always checking to see if there is a recall of somekind on this car part.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #5

Sep 022013


  • 3,000 miles
When I am slowing and there is a grate in the street, my vehicle has problems braking. This has happened numerous times every time I am on a grate, which is fairly common in the city. I told [xxx] and they advised me that there was nothing wrong with the brakes (they were doing an oil change and said they checked the brakes). When I drive over ice, it makes a loud noise and there appears to be a problem braking. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)......updated 02/10/16

- Maplewood, MO, USA

problem #4

Jul 292014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
I was driving down a 7% grade going down hill at 50 miles an hour my car shut off, steering locked and brakes didn't work the only thing I could use was the emergency brake if I wasn't calm and used my head me and my son would have died. My car now is making a loud noise and shaking after it warms up. My shifter gets stuck and I cant park or take my key out. Everything in this car is an alarm for danger or death. I've called the dealership and they don't return my calls. I finally got a hold of them and they said I can bring it in but its not covered under warranty. We don't have that kind of money for repairs like this.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #3

Jun 172013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 11,570 miles


Rear noise coming from the brake area. GM told me they have to re-design the rear brake drums, they wouldn't give me a fix date and wouldn't say if it was a safety problem. Noise is getting louder. GM produced a document #3213219 Nov 2012 saying they were working on the problem and didn't see it as a safety issue.

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #2

Aug 062013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 12,728 miles
When I apply my brakes at low speed there is a rotational noise in the rear end. I found out on my last recall visit that GM knows of this issue and sent out a document, #pica dated 11/19/2012 saying they were working on the problem. I have contacted GM to see if they have resolved this issue. They reported back to me, after 3 weeks of phone conversations and talking to multiple persons, that the rear drums have to be re-designed and that they are working on the fix. I asked for a letter or email showing me the date my car will be fixed and that it is not a safety issue even though the problem is with the brakes. They refused me a letter or email on this issue and I only talk to someone with a first name. I have heard this same noise since 5/12/2012 but now it is getting louder.

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #1

Jul 112011

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 12,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that he could hear a grinding noise whenever making a turn. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the failure might have been cause by a defective suspension. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who offered to send a lubrication kit to remedy the problem. The failure mileage was 12,000....updated 10/19/12 updated 10/25/2012

- Killingworth, CT, USA

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