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:
40,395 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 1 of 6)

problem #101

Dec 162016


  • 45,000 miles


Starting in November 2016 the gear shift button began sticking a little on the cold days. A month later I was unable to take the key out of the ignition and couldn't get the button to pop back out until the car was warm. Wd-40 helped temporarily and then my mechanic cleaned it and use silicone. It was better but still sticky. No issues during spring, summer and fall but it started as soon as the cold weather hit. If I am in the car long enough it isn't a problem but short trips on cold days mean I have to use a card to pry the button out. Only once has it caused a problem while driving when it too easily slid from D into M1. I dropped my car off to have the gear shifter replaced. The part is about $150. I don't know how much labor will be and I havent been under warranty for years.

- Willoughby, OH, USA

problem #100

Dec 172017


  • 56,935 miles
While driving the car on designated truck route street -speed limit was 45 mph -the transmission would not up-shift to the third through sixth gears, limiting the vehicle's speed causing a unsafe speed reduction. After finally pulling the car over out of traffic and parking the car it would not go into reverse and all four wheels to locked. Car had to be towed to dealer where they had to replace the entire transmission with only 56,935 miles on the car.

- Berkeley, IL, USA

problem #99

Dec 302017


  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the key was unable to be removed from the ignition. In addition, the shifter fractured while shifting from park to drive. The vehicle was driven to a dealer (hennessy Buick GMC, 7261 jonesboro road building 1, morrow, ga 30260, (844) 240-2377) for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 69,000.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #98

Nov 102016


  • 107,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. After stopping the vehicle, it would not accelerate forward and the transmission would get stuck in third gear. The vehicle was taken to milton rubin Chevrolet in augusta, Georgia where it was diagnosed that the tcm was faulty. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The contact was informed that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 141V31500 (power train). The contact stated that the vehicle experienced the same failure listed in the recall. The failure mileage was 107,000.

- Fort Gordan, GA, USA

problem #97

Apr 062017


  • 62,000 miles
12/23/16, I purchased a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. 4/6/17, I was at a traffic light when smoke come in the vents from the hood of the car. I called onstar & to run a diagnostic. The diagnostic didnżT return any information & I contacted the dealer & took the vehicle for service on 4/9/17. I was told the thermostat housing was leaking and caused the smoking. The coolant system was flushed & filled & a GM oil, lube, filter change was done. The vehicle was ready for pick on 4/19/17. A few weeks later the car was smoking again. I called the dealer, I was told it was probably just fluid on the engine. The car continued to smoke periodically. 6/7/17, there was a large pool of oil under the car, I took the car to a local shop. They said that the oil had been overfilled & that it blew a seal. I called the dealer, I was told they did not overfill the oil & made another service appointment. I was told again there was a problem with the coolant system & the oil & that was the reason for the smoking. Repairs completed 7/10/17. 9/27/17, while driving the check engine light came on, so I called onstar for a diagnostic & they gave me an error code P0299. They told me that it was an airflow problem. I called the dealer & asked for the service manager & gave her the error code. She said there was a problem with the turbo & that I needed to bring the vehicle in. I took the car to them 10/3/17. 10/4/17, the service department called me & told me that the turbo on the car was bad. The repairs were completed on 10/12/17. 10/13/17 the car overheated. The vehicle was leaking coolant in two places. I took it to a different dealer & they said the T-joint in the coolant system was leaking. The repairs were completed on 10/18/17. 11/3/17 an email from on-star said there was an engine problem. I contacted on-star for a diagnostic & they said something is wrong with the coolant system.

- Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

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problem #96

Oct 062017


  • 38,000 miles
Automatic shift button gets stuck causing the ability for the vehicle to accidentally come out of gear. When the shift button is stuck in, I then need to pry the shift button out to put it into park in order to remove the key. We have been driving the car for a couple of years thinking it is not a big deal to pry the button out (rather than pay $400 to get it fixed), until we figured out that when the button is stuck in, it can easily be bumped into different gears by accident.

- Durango, IA, USA

problem #95

Oct 022017


  • 0 miles


In 2014 the shift gear was replaced due to a recall. It hasn't been 3yrs, and the shift gear is damaged again. When I shift gear from park the release button stays stuck, posing a safety hazard, if by accident the shift gets pushed while the car is on drive. Upon parking the car, the release button stays stuck and the keys will not come off until that button is release.

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #94

Jul 212017


  • 56,000 miles
I can be driving my car normal when out of nowhere it almost completely loses power in the middle of the road (to the point it is very dangerous to be driving). The tcs light will illuminate as well as the check engine light with 2 codes. I was in traffic and my car literally would not pick up speed/accelerate (even with pedal all the way to floor). This is a very scary situation that should not be happening with a car that isnżT even that old and only just hit 60,000 miles. IżM guessimg on the first date I noticed the issue, and it happened again on September 29, 2017. I do not feel safe driving this vehicle I have invested in and feel my tranny should have been one included in the recall, especially with it failing before 60,000 miles. Please help.

- Citrus Springs, FL, USA

problem #93

Sep 152014


  • 9,000 miles
We do constantly are replacing parts we replaced the window regulator and not even a few months we ha ft to replace again the cooling lines are constantly going out thermostat has been replaced twice now within 2 yrs the seat warmers no longer work been like that the key gets stuck in the ignition had to replace hoses twice constant grinding sounds and no body can figure out why the car is a toy car everything breaks down and not just once

- Lamoni, IA, USA

problem #92

Jul 302017


  • 73,000 miles
The button on my gear shift is sticking. Whenever I shift gears the button sticks. Sometimes it will stick the whole time I am driving and other times it will only stick for a minute or two. What deeply concerns me is when I park I cannot remove my keys or turn my car fully off until the button to return to a relaxed state. Sometimes I will have to sit in my car for a half an hour waiting for the button to come out of the gear shift. This has been happening for the past month.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #91

Jul 142017


  • 102,000 miles


I purchase my car March 2012. Had have been taking it to dealer about the washer fluid not staying in bottle. They told me nothing was wrong. Then took it again for transmission slipping into gear they said again nothing was wrong. Now the transmission is not working and they say the recall is not for my car cause there website says stopped moving on the highway with me having a 2year old in back seat. I finally got my fluid to stay in bottle by some other mechanic.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #90

Jul 172017


  • 46,200 miles
My Chevrolet Sonic has developed an issue where the automatic transmission shift lever button is sticking in the żinż position. In this position, the transmission gears can be changed without touching the button is such a fashion as to move the transmission from park to reverse, neutral, drive and in this module it has a so called manual mode. So one could bump the gear from reverse to drive or from drive to reverse just by touching the gear shifter. Of course, with this button in the in position you cannot remove the key out of the ignition. I feel this is a safety issue and thus reporting it as such. This issue can happen both driving and before driving. As it is not safe to drive the car this way I will be taking this in to a Chevrolet dealer to be fixed.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

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

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

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

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