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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Aug 012012


  • 22,000 miles


Vehicle has no power on acceleration so I lose power in intersections and on the highway.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #22

Jun 242014


  • miles
Automatic shifter button sticks which doesn't let the key to come out. It's very dangerous driving while the button is stuck in. You can bump the shifter N it'll take it out of gear due to the shifter button sticking N not popping out.

- Clinton, CT, USA

problem #21

Jul 212014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
Was driving and car stopped accelerating...had just enough power to coast out of was running but would not move forward or reverse. Did exactly what the recall stated if the transmission turbine shaft fracture occurs during vehicle operation in the first or second gear, the vehicle will not upshift to the third thru sixth gears limiting the vehicles speed...

- Archdale, NC, USA

problem #20

Jan 082014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles


My vehicle has been a nightmare. In January I visited the dealership because my heater was not working. At that time I was told I would need to replace my battery soon that it had some leaking acid. Three weeks later I replace the battery. At that time the dealership installed a new battery and sent me on my way. Ive spent thousands since then repairing what the dealership described as a electrical nightmare. I also have told the dealership several times that there are transmission problems with my vehicle. I insisted they drive with me and although the transmission issues have been acknowledged, the dealership has been busy repairing the electrical damage of the battery, the have never touched my transmission. I still have transmission problems. My car hesitates and doesn't accelerate causing me to almost wreck several times. I also have had several ignition problems with my vehicle. One occasion my vehicle would not turn off. The key was in the off position but the car remained running for several hours until the battery was dead. Anther occasion I was pumping gas and the vehicle was turned off. My two young children were in the vehicle and the car started cranking itself. It attempted to start three different times. My car stalls at red lights and will decelerate in the middle of heave traffic. I am frightened to drive my vehicle and fear for me and my childrens safety. I have contacted GM several times and have had my car in for repair numerous times. My salesperson advised me to file a lemon law report and my mechanic described my vehicle as an electrical nightmare. No GM rep can explain why my vehicles battery would have caused this much damage being my car was less than 2 years old. Please help.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #19

Nov 142012


  • 8,000 miles
The shifter mechanism gets stuck & the car cannot be put into drive. This happens many times-especially during the colder months, when the car cannot be shifted into drive & I am left stranded in extremely cold weather. Additionally, GM refuses to admit the shifter is defective & refuses to buy the car back, as I am just a student in college working a part-time job. I bought this car because I needed a dependable car to get me back & fourth to college & my part-time job...because of the cars defects, I am often late for school & or work. Plus, my sister also has a Chevy 2006 aveo she was given, but this car also has the very same issue's with the shifter...therefore, when GM CEO [xxx] testifies before congress and tells congress that GM is not hiding or covering-up any additional car problems...she is a liar & I am stuck with this pretty much useless car, that GM has my money & I don't have a dependable car & I/we are willing to offer both cars so that an independent expert mechanic can evaluate both cars to prove that GM indeed knew about these shifter mechanism defects going back to at least 2006 aveo model, but continued to sell these time-bombs to the young adults of this country, who are scrapping by to make ends-meat & try to get an education...then we buy a car from an arrogant, ruthless, evil, lying company & we have nowhere to turn...I tired an NJ lemon law attorney, but I determined that he was actually I bed with GM & the other GM attorney. I want GM to take this car back, as I wouldn't sell it to my worst enemy, as that is not the right thing to do. I want GM to step-up to the plate & refund all my money so that I can go out & buy a dependable car from a reputable car company. My dad, [xxx], is also helping me with this mess. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Keyport, NJ, USA

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problem #18

May 062014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Consumer writes in regards to recalls and vehicle repairs issues. The consumer stated the check engine light illuminated. The knock sensor and lower transmission mount were replaced.

- Spring Valley, NY, USA

problem #17

Mar 122014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles


For about a month now everytime I go to park my car my shifter get stuck and I am unable to put my car in park or take the key out. I went to the dealer ship and I was told I could spend $150 to get it looked at & then spend how every much money it would be to fix it. I don't have that kind of money for that at the moment but now its to the point where I cant even drive my car at all because the shifter always gets stuck and I cant get my key out to park or put it in park drive reverse etc...... ! ! ! I have seen that a couple people are having this problem so its not just my car. But since it gets suck I can be driving down the road and hit the shifter by accident and it will move the car into another position because it doesn't click witch means I can go from driving to it being thrown into park or reverse in seconds. That's going to cause a accident! I need this fixed I drive with kids in my car on a daily basis.......... their is something wrong in the shifter.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #16

Mar 052014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
On or around December, 2014, the shift cover would not attach permanently. On or around March 10, 2014, the electrical access plug did not operate. On or around March 6, 2014, my mother was driving around 45mph, and we hit an elk. No airbags deployed.

- Grand Canyon, AZ, USA

problem #15

Jan 152014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
When trying to cross a busy intersection, I had no power when I pressed on the gas pedal. The engine just revved. We slowly moved forward and were very nearly hit by both sides of oncoming traffic. I was able to pull over and put on flashers. I drove on the side of road until the gears engaged a few seconds later. Ever since I still have issues merging on highways on in traffic.

- North Grosvenordale, CT, USA

problem #14

Apr 172013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
I have a 2012 Chevy Sonic lt automatic with the 1.8 liter. The car started having problems around 45,000 miles and has gotten worse over time.the car on cold start ups has a grinding sound. This grinding most of the time only happens on cold start ups but does at times happens on warm start ups. This sounds like metal against metal and it rattles. This seems to happen until the car is fully started and running. I am getting concerned because it is getting worse and louder.

- Huntington, WV, USA

problem #13

Oct 242012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 10,357 miles


This car has so many problems. I have had it to the dealership on 4 separate occasions and it is getting ready to go in for the 5th time. Each time so far I have been told the same thing...."it doesn't throw any codes and we can't get it to duplicate the issue so there is nothing to be done but just keep driving it and bring it back if it keeps happening"....{whatever did mechanics do back in the day before cars had computers?} - anyway, the transmission is automatic and acts like it is grabbing and doesn't want to shift up through the gears so it feels like hard shifting (started before it even had 10,000 miles on it) - it doesn't do it all the time, but often enough that it is a problem that I worry about (it's even done it when on cruise control a couple of times). Now, at less than 30,000 miles the car is idling rough and when I press the brakes it makes a noise in the shifter? the autolights adjust themselves even when there is no change in lighting outdoors (pitch black night and the lights will dim down for no reason at 45mph running down the road with no other vehicles around, etc.) and the radio adjusts its volume the same way and it even turns itself off randomly. The traction control and stability trac lights come on sometimes, stay on for awhile and then go off. Now that it's getting hot and I'm running the ac, it is acting up also - blowing full blast then dropping down, then back up again.... - dealer insists, no codes thrown, won't replicate problem when they have it, therefore no problem exists - this car has problems - I would not recommend a Sonic to anyone. Please investigate transmissions and electrical issues in these cars.

- Chelsea, OK, USA

problem #12

Apr 262013


  • 172 miles
The transmission began to jolt, thud, and otherwise not shift. Leaving me extremely slow in high traffic. The selling dealership refused to replace the vehicle. GM refused to replace the vehicle. I contacted another Chevy dealership they noted debris in the transmission and a faulty cam phaser (transmission) and the repair may not correct this.

- Stanley, NC, USA

problem #11

Mar 152012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 5,000 miles
Idles dramatically while the car is at a stop, and the engine stalls very frequently, regardless of temperature or weather conditions. On start-up, or while stopped with the engine running, the idle will become rough and very between 200-3,000 RPM. Also at times, while stopped, the idle will increase from normal, smooth idle up to about 3,000 RPM for approximately one second, then drop back down to 750 RPM (normal idle speed) without touching the accelerator. The automatic shifting from 1st to 3rd gear completely skips around. The car shifts are hard to the point, once you come to a stop it feels like the transmission is going to fall out.

- Lithia, FL, USA

problem #10

Dec 182012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 9,000 miles
As I was driving down a intersection my car was going 50 miles an hour, then it just shut off. It's a 5 speed and it shut off and then started back up.the car was in 5 th gear at the time it was very scary im glad there was no one directly behind me. I've had problems with this car since day 1 there is other problems with it. But the dealers say its normal. They dont know why it did this. But this car is unsafe and to me its a lemon. I'm tired of feeling like a idiot this car has issues.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #9

Dec 282012


  • 3,700 miles
After only owning the 2012 Sonic for less than 4 months and having only @ 3,700 miles on it, I have a problem with the transmission. I pulled out of my work driveway, and the engine was racing in drive but going nowhere. It was moving forward very slowly and not shifting. I eventually was able to get almost off the road, but my back end was sticking out into a major thoroughfare because it completely quit going forward. I put the car in park and back into drive to try to get it to move forward again. At that point, whether in drive, neutral, M1, etc, it was in reverse, so essentially the car ended up being even further sticking out in the busy road. I had to wait for a quick break in traffic and drive it in reverse the wrong way into a parking lot to get towed. Dealership replaced solenoid pack but was not the problem. They tore transmission down and found it was a torn belt on the clutch fan, so they think. As of today, still fighting with General Motors for a new transmission. They just want to fix it and extend warranty. I think that's unacceptable for a car with 3,700 miles on's a shame GM won't stand up to their product. Starting to feel this car was not a safe choice. Seems to be a lot of complaints on the power train, especially shifting issues.

- North Huntingdon , PA, USA

problem #8

May 212012


  • 200 miles
Vehicle stalls when pulling out from a stop, and/or at low speeds when the clutch is pushed in. Then, it takes three seconds before the car can attempt to be re-started! very dangerous when turning left across a highway or into traffic, especially since there is what seems to be a 'programmed' waiting period of 3 seconds before you can attempt to re-started. I've owned this vehicle (1.4L turbo engine with 6 spd manual transmission) since 05/21/2012, and over 8,000 miles later, it still stalls every time I drive it. The dealerships say, "cannot reproduce. Operating to specifications."

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #7

Feb 222012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • miles
Issues began with an intermittent rattle at cold start after car had been sitting about 30mins to an hr, from being driven. No codes showing so went un-repaired, once pinpointed, it was replicated, still no codes, no fix, starting about Aug 2012 after my 1st service car began to shake at idle while stopped in D, started getting worse progressively. Vehicle stalled in middle of intersection while trying to shift itself (auto trans) into 3rd, violent jerk to a stop and immediately picked itself up and jerked forward and moved, with my children in the car. Next stall occurred about 3-4 weeks later, idled so rough and low while in D at a stop light, car bogged down and stalled, started itself right back up. Engine power surging began at this point. While braking or on brake while stopped, engine would power surge thrusting car forward, came very close to hitting several cars while pulling into parking spot from these surges. Had taken vehicle in multiple times between 1st occurrence and this point in Sept. It was duplicated with multiple symptoms at once, including as given from dealer: Hard shaking, misfire, and rattle/knock at cold start. Only code to show was for the misfire, repair: Valve cleaning, not fixed. Rattle became a knocking. Idle meanwhile getting rougher. Took back for knocking, surging, rough idle, stalling. No codes, repair: GM tech assist had camshaft actuators replaced, fixed knocking/rattle at cold start only! idle worse, now loss of engine power intermittently causing vehicle to hardly move, had vehicle back less than 24hrs. Almost had a "T-bone" accident and head on into a pole in same incident due to said loss of power. Asked for replacement (after 7 service repair attempts), request presently in limbo, no offer of replacement thus far! I am severely concerned for my family's safety at this point, clearly defective in itself with no codes showing.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #6

Sep 072012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 6,500 miles
This vehicle is very dangerous and unsafe and needs to be recalled. I was going to make a right turn out of a red light numerous amounts of times and when going to speed up to make a right turn the vehicle would get stuck or stall out and not speed up. I almost got hit by larger vehicles four times now because it stalls out when going to accelerate. I have talked to four other people with this vehicle and they said they have the same problems!

- Murrysville, PA, USA

problem #5

Jun 252012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 10,000 miles
The Chevrolet Sonic that we had started having trouble shifting out of the first and second gears around 9000 miles. It is a brand new car with an automatic transmission. In mid June of 2012 we started noticing that the when the transmission went to shift to a higher gear it would stick, then shift hard, thus causing the vehicle to lurch forward. On June 25, 2012 we were driving it home when again the problem shifting started again. This time however, the transmission stuck in second gear and would not shift up or down. The car had to be towed to the dealership we purchased it from and it took two weeks to repair. The technicians told us that there was faulty control link out and replaced it. They test drove it and it still didn't fix the problem. The tech's determined that replacement part was faulty and replaced it with another one. After this the car was given back to us. The car performed well until September 2012 when it started doing the same thing again. When approaching speeds of 17 to 18 miles per hour, the transmission will attempt to shift, get stuck and jerk forward. It eventually shifts but not easily. The rpms when it does this is approximately 3500 rpms. It also gets stuck when there is a little more torque needed around 25 to 28 miles per hours. This is what concerns me as a driver is that when it does it at this speed, the rpms are 5500 to 6000 and when it gets stuck and cant shift, the rpms will actually red line or reach 7000 RPM. My wife and I again took the car to the same dealership who said that since there is no error code or fault code they are consulting the engineers and technicians from General Motors. They have been unable to determine that cause only that it is an internal problem with the transmission.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #4

Jun 242012


  • 2,460 miles
After disengaging, engaging, and then disengaging the clutch to place the vehicle in reverse the transmission grinds.

- Martinsburg, WV, USA

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