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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
26,909 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #12

Mar 132014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 34,000 miles


A bad smell like rotten eggs, keeps coming out of the ac/C vents and the engine of the car. I changed the air filter and everything but nothing happen the smell does not go away.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 162014


  • 8,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated while making a turn at approximately 10 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The failure caused the contact to crash into a telephone pole. There were no injuries. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was not destroyed. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 8,500.

- Akron, IN, USA

problem #10

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 #9

Mar 242014


  • 44,500 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, a chime sounded with the illumination of the engine oil pressure warning indicator. The failure also recurred upon starting the ignition. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician informed that the oil pressure indicator switch would need to be replaced. The vehicle was currently being repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 44,500.

- Altoona, WI, USA

problem #8

Nov 082013


  • 25,000 miles
After manually turning off the radio, turning off the car, removing the key from the ignition, exiting the car, locking and arming the car's alarm, the radio will turn itself back on. In some cases it has done this before we have even walked 20 feet from the car, in other cases it happens up to 2 hours after exiting (and locking) the car. It happens more than 75% of the time. Shortly after the first time we observed the symptom, the check engine light came on and stayed on, but the dealership claimed it was no longer on after I dropped the car off (and it was definitely on when I exited the still running car for them to drive inside) and that there are no error codes in the history. They claim they cannot reproduce the radio issue.

- Countryside, IL, USA

problem #7

Jun 212013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 1,835 miles
I purchased my Sonic in April of this year. I was initially wowed by the avg mpg I was attaining based on the avg reported by the car's computer. After a few fill ups I realized I was adding more gas than the mpg would indicate. Since 6/21 I began recording the difference reported by the computer at each fill up & my manual calculations. The difference thru 10/17 averaged 5.6mpg (a low of 2.3 & a high of 8.4 mpg) always higher. I took it to the dealer & was told there was nothing they could do & that the svc mgr's Cadillac had the same problem. In fact, I was told by him that the computer's figure was the "mpg the car was getting at the moment, not the avg since last fill up. I've called Chevrolet, told numerous people about the problem. I was promised callbacks & have never gotten them.

- Sunrise, FL, USA

problem #6

Apr 152013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 21,967 miles


Was driving and smelt something burning and thought someone was burning something and I drove thru the smoke and so I kept driving and a mile down the road I kept smelling something burning so I pulled over and looked around in my car then got out and checked under the hood and nothing so I went ahead and drove home then looked around again and didn't find anything so I just went inside then the next day after it rained I seen that both my fog lights had moisture in them and when I got down and looked both my fog lights are all burnt and melted inside, I guess it got so hot it melted the light housing and all that.. it got so hot its black inside my fog lights and U can see where it got hot and the plasted melted and ran down to the bottom on the inside of my fogs.

- Morgantown, KY, USA

problem #5

Mar 062013


  • miles
Accessory cigarette lighter was being used to charge a car phone while on a trip out of state, when we stopped to get gas and had the car off and returned it on after filled with gas all the gauges on the car went crazy dropping all the way down to zero on all gauges even though the car was working properly during this time, even the speedometer showed zero, I dont know if it was because we charging the phone or what caused it. But this only happened once so far.

- Pontiac, MI, USA

problem #4

May 212012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
Idles roughly, idle increases 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 vary between 200-3,000 RPM, but not stall. 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 engine will also stall at parking lot speeds when I push in the clutch to shift from 2nd to 1st gear. The car also often stalls when pulling out from a stop. A re-start cannot be attempted for approximately 3 seconds. Turn the key, nothing happens. 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 idles roughly and stalls every time I drive it. The dealerships say, "cannot reproduce. Operating to specifications."

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #3

Dec 132012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 300 miles
Radio randomly turns on when car is shut off. Last night it turned on 13 times. It activates the full electrical system in the car. Won't shut off unless car is started and xm radio is tuned to fm and shut off. Then if your lucky it may stay off. I have been reporting this to the dealership in Vermont and Chevrolet for 8 months. They tell me it is not an issue. They tested radio said it works fine. It is worse when cold out. Radio randomly turns on. Will not shut off.

- Bristol, VT, USA

problem #2

Aug 042012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 3,070 miles
Stalls easily and frequently when pulling out from a stop and is then difficult to restart, or I must wait about 5 seconds before I can attempt a restart. Uneven idle most of the time. Dealer blames me for the stalling (says I'm not used to the manual transmission, but many are complaining on the online forum most importantly, yesterday (08/04/2012), the fully warmed 1.4L turbo engine in my Sonic rev'd to from idle (750 RPM) to exactly 3,000 RPM then back down to 750 RPM (while 6 spd manual in neutral, clutch fully depressed, right foot firmly on the brake and not touching the accelerator pedal. I had stopped at the end of a driveway and was waiting on traffic so that I could pull out. My right foot never moved from the brake pedal and was in no way touching the accelerator pedal. The idle speed increased to 3,000 RPM all on it's own and back down to idle, much to my shock and amazement. Thankfully, I was fully stopped. At only 3,070 miles and not yet 3 months of ownership, my new 2012 Sonic is beginning to have a mind of it's own.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #1

May 012012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 7,800 miles
I purchased my car brand new with 3 miles on it in November 2011. When I hit around 7500 miles I noticed the car when stopped on a hill would drift backwards - when I got to 7800 miles the whenever I was in traffic traveling around 5-13 mph I noticed the car would not shift on it's own the RPM's would shoot up and the tach would rev but the car would not go. I would need to put it in park and then drive and it would be fine. This happened almost every day for about 2 weeks. When going to park and put it in reverse to back in the car would hesitate about 30 seconds before it would move.. I contacted my dealer and took it in. Onstar said they did not find issues when they checked. The dealer corrected the problem.. on the engine control module they had to reprogram it with sps ( not sure what the means ) and it now works like the day I pulled it off the lot.... they also left me know if there are any other issues to contact them right away and they would get it right in. On the electrical - the driver window button sticks and window will go up and down on it's own until you get the button un-stuck -- this is also being repaired by the dealer however they had to order parts.. when they come in is to be determined.

- Palmerton , PA, USA

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