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Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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:
43,033 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 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #89

Jul 172017


  • miles


There is a button on the transmission gear selector that allows the selector to move from park to the driving gears. On my car the button is now sticking in (will not release) this cause the gear selector to move freely from one gear to another such as drive to reverse ect also as this in in the in or engaged position the key cannot be removed. This is a safety issue as the car can be placed into reverse and or drive just by touching the gear selector

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #88

Jul 082017


  • 107,000 miles
The heated seats stoped heating at 90K miles transmission went out at 107K mikes

- Lake Elsinore, CA, USA

problem #87

May 252017


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving approximately 65 mph with the gear shifter in drive, the transmission downshifted into second gear. The vehicle then decelerated to 30 mph, jerked back and forth with a loud unknown noise, and then went into idle mode. The contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic (lowell automatic transmission in MA), where it was diagnosed that the turbine fractured and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was later towed to the dealer (lannan Chevrolet located at 831 rogers St, lowell MA, 01852) where it was diagnosed that the transmission shaft failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The approximate failure mileage was 125,000.

- Westford, MA, USA

problem #86

Apr 222017


  • 52,956 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. On several occasions, the gear shifter failed to operate. The contact stated that the shifter button would depress, but not release. As a result, the vehicle failed to shift gears and the key became difficult to remove from the ignition until the shifter button was released. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the shifter needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The contact mentioned that he previously had the shifter replaced twice; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure, but did not offer any assistance. The failure mileage was 52,956.

- Camillus, NY, USA

problem #85

Apr 212017


  • 63,000 miles
Gear shift release button has been slow to release for some time and recently cracked in half. That left me unable to shift gears out of park. I repaired with glue temporarily but would like a permanent solution from the manufacturer.

- Hamtramck, MI, USA

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problem #84

Mar 032017


  • 66,200 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While attempting to accelerate and making a right turn depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle jerked forward and decelerated. The gear failed to shift out of first gear. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 66,200.

- Florence, KY, USA

problem #83

Oct 032016

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


Transmission recall14V315000. My son and wife were driving in freeway traffic when suddenly, the vehicle lost speed and would not shift into third or higher gears. The vehicle speed was limited to about 25-35mph. It was a very frightening experience which could have caused a crash as my son was trying to weave out of high speed freeway traffic. The failure is related to a broken wave plate in the transmission which prevents 3-6 gears from engaging. The symptoms experienced are very similar to a recall GM has on some 2012 Sonics where the vehicle has limited speed and won't shift past 3 gear. Research reveals there are hundreds, if not thousands of these transmissions with the wave plates breaking and posing a safety concern.

- El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #82

Sep 212016

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that there was a strong hesitation when the vehicle was in first and second gear, as well as when the vehicle was in motion. The vehicle jerked excessively without warning. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The vehicle was not diagnosed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was not available. Updated 01/11/2017 updated 7/13/18

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #81

Oct 012016


  • 111,000 miles
Car started misfiring when accelerating and would jerk and be very rough when idling but no engine light. Full tune up found that open valve cover gasket was damaged and that seals were plastic when they should've been rubber, this caused oil to enter the spark plug wells. Changed gasket and seals but problem persisted. Took to the dealership and was told that ignition switch in cylinder 1 was bad, this corrected the issue but now car has burning smell at times.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #80

Oct 262016


  • 44,000 miles
Know to shift gears has a button your press to change gears. At around 44000 miles it gets stuck everyday. It pops back out eventually, but it's a dangerous hazard. Surprise it hasn't been recalled yet, with the many complaints I have seen.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #79

Aug 022016


  • 50,000 miles


Shifter button is sticking (will not release) which prevents removal of the key from the ignition. Also, could allow the the vehicle to be shifted into other gears (park, reverse, etc) while in motion.

- Fort Blackmore, VA, USA

problem #78

Aug 222016


  • 62,000 miles
The button that is depressed to put the car in and out of gear sticks in place, allowing for the gear shift to be pushed out of place. I have had trouble numerous times getting my car into park because the stuck button causes the gear shift to get caught in reverse, and today I accidentally pushed the gear shift into neutral while sitting at a red light.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #77

Jun 022016


  • 50,000 miles
Air intake hose has been replaced due to cracking only 3 years old at that time about 45K miles. Now the shift knob sticks and the button takes forever to release, or I have to pop it back out so I can take the key out otherwise the key gets stuck. Getting it is becoming harder to shift into park. All these problems occur when stationary...I have not attempted to move the car into other gears while in motion but I know it will happen if it is pushed while that button is not released.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #76

May 252016


  • 30,000 miles
Automatic gear shift button sticks. Shift lever can move from drive to neutral to reverse to park without locking as the button is stuck depressed. Keys cannot be removed when car is in park. Stationary and in motion. Multiple times. Situation is getting progressively worse, I.e. button is sticking more frequently.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #75

Oct 012015


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While attempting to shift, the gear became stuck intermittently. In addition, the washer fluid was not operating on the windshield. The contact had to constantly add wiper fluid to the washer hose. The dealer could not determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. A month later, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the cause of the failure was undetermined. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 12V408000 (visibility). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 30,000.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #74

May 152016


  • 44,000 miles
My trans will not shift passed 3rd.

- Hickory Hills, IL, USA

problem #73

May 032016


  • 21,379 miles
When car is placed in park, ignition key cannot be removed.

- Burbank, CA, USA

problem #72

Apr 112016


  • miles
Once again my check engine light is on. I have had this car since 2013 with 16000 miles on it. The first time the check engine light came on the dealership try to tell me it was the gas I was using. Come to find out it was the air intake hose was cracked....that was a little over a year ago and now it is on again!!! the first it was barely covered under warranty, I dont think it will this time. I am pissed.....I paid 17000 for this car and have had in the shop so many times it isnt even funny. I even had it in for the sway bar link that was broke which shouldnt have been at 42000 miles.

- Covington, OH, USA

problem #71

Mar 282016


  • 48,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While in park, the gear shifter failed to shift. The contact had to force the gear shifter into the drive position. While driving 55 mph, the gear shifter became stuck and had to be forced again. The vehicle has not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 48,500.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #70

Nov 012015


  • miles
Gear shift gets stuck - unable to take key out, difficult to shift gears.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

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