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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,164 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

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problem #63

Mar 282015


  • 55,650 miles


Starting March 28, 2015, while parked in several public and private parking area's, the key could not be removed from the ignition for from 20 minutes to several hours. On April 1, 2015, the dealer, seth wadley, identified the problem as "55729 found shifter to be binding internally". they explained that the button that releases the automatic gear shift was getting stuck. This kept the key from being released from the ignition. While waiting for the problem to be evaluated, the car had to be left, unlocked with the keys in the ignition, in several private and public parking areas where children could have taken the car. The gear shifter would not lock into park while the button was stuck. I have the shifter that was replaced for $448.49 on April 3, 2015, and will provide it at your request. Attached are photos of the invoice and the old shifter.

- Ardmore, OK, USA

problem #62

Sep 212015


  • 45,000 miles
2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Gear shift button stuck in depressed position, preventing removal of the key from ignition when in park position and allows the shifter to shift between gears and park positions with little-to-no intervention. Inability disengage button and to remove the key from the ignition also creates inability to securely park the vehicle and turn the vehicle off. The failure to disengage was first expressed intermittently, with a failure occurrence rate of 20%-30% (with the initial failure mileage approximately 45,000 miles). Within 3 months, the failure occurrence rate increased to 100%. the vehicle was diagnosed as "internal fault of shifter and knob assembly, " with recommendation to "replace shifter assembly and shifter knob" (with labor + parts quote at $406 usd). The vehicle was not repaired. Diagnosis identified as a serious safety concern, with request made to issue recall.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #61

Dec 112012


  • 1,663 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While stopped at a red light and attempting to proceed through a green light, the vehicle failed to shift into second gear and the rpms rapidly increased without warning. The contact stopped the vehicle, powered it off and back on, and the vehicle was able to be driven; however, it was difficult to shift the vehicle into second gear. The failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 1,663.

- Ft. Jackson, SC, USA

problem #60

Mar 262015

Sonic 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 201,000 miles


I took my 2012 Chevy Sonic lt 6 speed manual to repair shop to have multiple repairs done. When shop installed clutch assembly they used all new oem clutch parts and had a clutch hydraulic slave cylinder, over extend and blow out seal, leaking brake fluid. ( about March 26th 2015.) issue was narrowed down to possible binding or blockage of slave cylinder function, during install or after. After several slave cylinder failures I contacted general manager at dealership who past matter to service manager and he looked up in system for bleeding instructions and found them to be as GM repair manual stated, correctly being done. He then said he would check the pi or engineering service bulletins. He found exact bulletin #pi0421D explaining same events and gave me a copy to pass on to shop. Now after reading report, the problem is clear but out of date slave cylinders were still being sold as replacement part. After I received original bleeder valve from shop I cut top in two pieces to inspect and verify issue. I found that the original slave cylinder left behind in bleeder valve, a rubber seal "as described in bulletin". newest updated slave cylinder available has a hard plastic seal that doesn't seem removable. Currently, it seems that this is covered under a bumper to bumper warranty but my car is far from coverage. Coverage not likely unless, car came in with related symptoms that lead to issue. My biggest concern is that this bulletin is not being updated to a recall. Bulletin states clearly that slave can and has failed (as it did on shops, 3rd attempt) after install, within 1,000 miles. Safety issue: Is that if clutch slave fails during operation, clutch failure will cause car to be stuck in current gear or unable to be put back in gear. This can cause an accident and cost, loss of life. This may have already happened but needs to be investigated.

- Clifton, CO, USA

problem #59

Jun 302015


  • 66,655 miles
Gear shift button stuck in depressed position unable to put the car in park and remove key and have to try and pop out button to park car and remove key.

- Glendale , AZ, USA

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problem #58

Jun 212015


  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the gear shift failed to engage in the park position without warning. As a result, the gear shift switched back into reverse and the vehicle rolled independently. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 58,000.

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #57

Jun 102015


  • 28,765 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 20-25 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer diagnosed that the air duct/valve cracked and the transmission cable failed. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 28,765.

- Washington, PA, USA

problem #56

Jun 012015


  • 26,700 miles
Gear shift button got stuck in down position and would not disengage when gear shift was in placed in park. The car could not be completely turned off and the key could not be removed from the ignition. The incident happened three days after the warranty expired on the car. The gear shift had to be replaced at a cost of $450.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #55

May 262015


  • 44,673 miles
During the last week had problems with the key not releasing from steering column. The last two days gear shifter getting very hard to shift and button sticks and key will not release, and wheels will not lock. Have had to leave the key in car which is not a very safe thing to do. Have noticed today that the button after awhile will pop out and then the key will release. This is a safety issue and needs to be recalled before things get worse which apparently is going to happen..

- Lyndonville, NY, USA

problem #54

Apr 282015


  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at 35 mph, the ignition key remained stuck and failed to turn. As a result, the vehicle was unable to be driven. The failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the transmission turbine shaft fractured and the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 44,000. The VIN was not available.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #53

Nov 032014


  • 37,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While attempting to park, the shifter could not be switched to park. In addition, when in park, the vehicle failed to shift into drive or reverse. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 37,000.

- 281-691-1422, TX, USA

problem #52

May 062015


  • 27,110 miles
The shift knob button is sticking. I cannot remove the key from the vehicle. More importantly the car is never fully in park. This is a major safety issue. I took it to the dealership I purchased the car from immediately. He said the car was out of warranty and that was not a recall. There should be a recall as soon as possible.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #51

Apr 142015


  • 34,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 25 mph, the check engine warning light illuminated on the instrument panel and the vehicle started to slow down. The vehicle was towed to a dealer and it was determined that the transmission turbine shaft needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and informed that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V375000 (power train). The failure mileage was 34,000.

- Spring Valley, CA, USA

problem #50

Mar 302015

Sonic 4WD 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
The shifter button sticks when pressed. This does not allow the key to be released. It also doesn't lock the gear shift into place allowing the shifter to move from park to 1 gear with no intervention.

- Goodyear, AZ, USA

problem #49

Oct 272014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Attorney representing consumer writes in regards to parts not available to complete recall. The dealer kept the vehicle for 18 days without performing any work. Recall # 14V315000.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #48

Mar 142015


  • 32,000 miles
The gear shift button was locked in park and I could not release the key from the steering column. After researching on the internet, advice said to push hard to the left on the gear shift to pop the button back out. I did that while jostling the button and it did pop out. When I pressed the button again, this time in neutral, the button got stuck within the gear shift column again, but I found that I could then just push the gear shift forward and back between gears without the button locking on the desired gear. This is a major safety issue because it appeared to me that if I were driving, the gear shift column could move to another gear if I hit a pot hole or bump, without me controlling it. In other words, it might have slipped into neutral or reverse. Shouldn't there be a recall on this? I have to take it to the dealer Wednesday, and if this happens again, I will have to drive the trip with my hand on the gear shift knob to insure it will not slip out of gear.

- Nags Head, NC, USA

problem #47

Dec 182014


  • 30,000 miles
When placing the car in park the gear shifter button gets stuck and doesn't disengage. Since it doesn't disengage the keys can't be removed from the car. If the car is placed in reverse or drive the button stays stuck causing the shifter to be engaged and able to freely shift into reverse or park while driving. This has happened on several occasion and most often in colder temperatures.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #46

Feb 182015


  • 41,000 miles
(automatic transmission) button on gear shift gets stuck in engage. Allows free shifting from park to any gear without the brake pedal being pressed. May easily be bumped into neutral, drive, reverse, or manual with just a touch. Also applies if in drive or any other gear which may result in loss of control if it should accidentally be bumped. When this occurs, it is not possible to remove the key from the ignition. This exposes the vehicle to the potential of theft or other unauthorized use. This video illustrates the same issue with a 2013 Sonic: Https://

- Port Crane, NY, USA

problem #45

Feb 062015

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
I have a 2012 Chevy Sonic and the gearshift will not lock into place and an accidental bump will knock the car into another gear which could be dangerous to me and others. Reading online threads, I have noticed that this affecting many other cars of this make and model. I notice that GM wait until the last minute to issue recalls. I just hope that it is not to late for me and my family.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #44

Jan 012012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
A few months after purchasing my 2012 Chevy Sonic, I've noticed a decease in power and hesitation in its automatic shifting between gears. I've taken it in several times with the same issue, and each time the service techs (even the service manager) has told me and explained that it is behaving "normal" and "to design". if it were "normal" why hadn't it done that driving right off the lot"?? and why is it, years later, its shifting hesitation has gotten worse to the point of severe jerking as it shifts from one gear to another, as if someone were learning how to drive stick for the first time?????" there is nothing "normal" about how my vehicle is performing. It is complete[xxx] that I've been getting the run around about this issue for years. And they refuse to admit there's a problem, nor will they service it, which makes my vehicle ineligible to be claimed as a lemon, which it obviously is!!! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

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