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 1 of 2)

problem #32

Dec 082012


  • miles


There is no heat in my 2012 Sonic, the heat is turn to the highest position but only blows cold air. Occationally the heat will start but when the car is not in motion there is no heat and only cold air.

- South Chesterfield, VA, USA

problem #31

Jun 062013


  • 30,000 miles
Car will start by itself after key is partially inserted into ignition and car will try to start over and over if left in ignition when turning off. Took to dealer they blamed on aftermarket radio. However, I am pretty sure has done almost from the point purchase. Disconnected radio stuff and still does same thing. Car is stationary in park. No safety issue other than what is stated.

- Springfield, OH, USA

problem #30

Aug 252015


  • 55,000 miles
Power steering was not working as I was leaving the house, so I had the car towed to the dealer. Mechanic said the voltage from the battery was sporadic and prone to spiking. This spiking caused the power steering to fail, as this vehicle has no surge protector to protect electronic chips. Batter acid had also spilled out of both head mounts causing minor damage to other parts under the hood.

- Decatur, TX, USA

problem #29

Sep 252015


  • 44,000 miles


Vehicle started to randomly show check engine light on, smell of gasoline from time to time. Every time I would take it in the light would not be on so they couldn't help. Finally light stayed on and vehicle would shut off while I would drive, especially if I hit a stop light. I had to immediately take vehicle in and I had to rent a rental car so I can get to work that morning. Dealership called and said that it was a vacuum issue causing all the stalling and all the issues with the multiple lights on the dash. It turned out to be the air duct for the air intake box. This vehicle was very dangerous to drive and I have seen several complaints with same issue, vehicle is barely out of warranty and at 36000 miles but vehicle has less than 50K miles. I had to pay $350 for this incident and Chevrolet will not cover it.

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #28

Sep 282015


  • 22,000 miles
When putting my car into park the gear shift button is not releasing therefore the car can not be turned off! the service place is changing me $315 to replace the whole gear shift! also gear shift is sticking not wanting to go into park!!!

- Morgan City, LA, USA

problem #27

Sep 042015


  • 14,990 miles
Air bag light on dashboard came on, intermittently at first, now permanently. There are three (3) air bag related recalls for 2012 Chevrolet Sonics which detail the same symptoms. Nearest Chevrolet dealer said this Sonic is not part of any of those recalls but the problem seems to be the same. Is there any recourse to have the car checked at no cost to owner? thank you.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #26

Jul 062015


  • 40,000 miles


My radio stays on in my 2012 Sonic even after the car is turned off. The first time it happened I went out to start my car in the morning and it was completely dead. The car was jumped and started up fine. I drove the car for a few days without incident then I noticed the radio was coming on and off as I was driving. Even after it was turned off, it would just start playing. I contacted the dealer where I purchased my car and scheduled an appointment. Two days before my appointment the car battery was completely drained again in the morning. ( an extreme inconvenience and annoyance if you need to be to work on time). Again the car was jumped and started right up. The day before the appointment the radio was coming on and off without me touching it. I was so annoyed I pulled the button off. Luckily the radio stayed off. The next day I took the car to the dealer for the appointment and was told that the radio was damaged because I pulled the knob off. I was told $400 to replace radio and installation fees. Are you kidding me" the car is only 3 years old and I have to pay to replace the radio from no fault of my own" I did not get it replaced by the dealer. I was able to pop the knob back on in a second so I know the mechanic didn't try at all. They just wanted to replace with a new one and charge me. I have pulled the fuse and currently have no radio. This is my very first new car and I have had other issues as well, key getting stuck in ignition etc. I will never by anything Chevy again!!!

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #25

Jul 232015


  • 38,000 miles
1. car loses power when accelerating/hesitation - sometimes almost feeling like the car will shut down. It's random but happening more often. Car was repaired once already for this, was better for about 3-4 months and now is doing it again. Extremely dangerous when merging onto highways or making right turns on red or switching lanes. 2. wiper fluid was not working, recall issue, but not on my car. Repaired once and now not working again! 3. something's wrong with electrical system, stereo changing stations, turning itself on and off, very loud screeching sounds occasionally, repaired with an update but still happening. 4. very strange sounds coming from suspension, it started when backing up I was told they could not find a problem 2 times, however, now it's happening while driving, in reverse and it's getting worse! 5. steering is very difficult on a windy day when on the highway. Very hard to keep the car in the lane. 6. car feels like it's trying to accelerate when stopped at a light or stop sign with foot on the break. 7. electrical system/interior lights all dimming when wipers are turned on. Service told me the wiper motor is a big drain on a small engine? now my car is out of warranty and I still have all these issues!! I do not feel that this car is safe or well built. It took me over 10 years to get to a point where I could afford a new hello, went with Chevrolet to keep it "american". I feel like I made a huge mistake purchasing this vehicle....updated 10/20/15

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #24

Jun 072015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that after the vehicle was parked and the keys removed from the ignition, the vehicle attempted to restart independently and the check engine light illuminated. The failure recurred once. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The failure mileage was unknown. The VIN was not available.

- Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #23

May 252015


  • 40,120 miles
My radio will turn itself on hours after my car has been turned off. I've had to take out the fuse everytime I exit the car so the battery won't drain. I don't know where to begin with fixing this problem. It's been going on for a few weeks now. I've called to the dealership where the car was purchased and they said it was a manufacturing problem. Please don't tell me I have to pay for this out of pocket. From what I've seen there's a lot of these cases on the internet. So it's not just a random problem.

- Roswell, NM, USA

problem #22

May 312015


  • 45,000 miles


I am owner of 2012 Chevy Sonic, yesterday again - when I shut off my started back up again just after I shut the key off car was in park. Plze do H E L P - M E !!!

- Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #21

Jan 162015

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 48,419 miles
The button to release the car out of gear, and once in park that releases the key came apart. It has been sticking for awhile then all of a sudden, something sharp started poking out of the bottom of the button, and it has cut my husband's hand. Now the button barely pushes in and the car is very hard to get out of park.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #20

Apr 092013

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 38,286 miles
First of all the windshield wiper line keeps popping of my car not allowing me to use my windshield wiper fluid so the tank is always empty. Second while driving my car radio flickers on and off and sometimes completely goes black not only that my car speedometer is electrical and after 30 min of driving says im going 20/34/whatever mph it wants to read when im really going the hwy speed limit and I have often had to mess with the wires that run to my battery to turn my car back on since its the wires(electrical work and not the battery) my battery has been tested many times. Finally third the little shift button on my car keeps sticking and wont allow for my car to properly shift causing my car to over rev and not want to drive. Im now at 115,000 miles and every time I go to a dealership they say there is nothing wrong with my car when I know there is since I have been the one driving it and then they just give it back to me which still costs me money with no solution my cars state has just been getting worse and worse and due to limited income I cant afford to get a new one at this time otherwise I would have already traded this Chevy pos in. I also called Chevrolet's corporate office where the lady gave me a case number and never called me back like she was supposed to. While on the phone with her she told me that there was nothing she could do for my car since my car wasn't a recall but I find it odd that my car was made on February 28, 2012 which falls between two major recalls with problems similar to what my car has especially since one is the windshield wiper recall. So I believe that the Chevy corporation as a whole doesn't want to take responsibility for their faulty car that they have made and when you take it to a Chevy dealership they will continue to tell you nothing is wrong so that they just take your money and not fix your car. Unsafe&immoral.

- Burton, TX, USA

problem #19

Aug 212014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 51,611 miles
1. took car in to dealership in Aug for check engine light on and coolant is low, car overheats. Car was in shop for almost 2 weeks (P/U Sept 5th). They repl. Radiator, thermostat, Sept 10 car stalls at major stop light and again at a stop sign. Engine starts making a loud noise and runs rough. Keeps stalling at idle. Take car back to dealer next day Sept 11. They have the car for 3 weeks. P/U Oct 7th after they repl the engine and some bolts. Sales agent assures me that there will be no more problems its fixed. 5 mins on the fwy at 70mph in fast lane at lunch hour car just turns off almost had a major accident trying to get over four lanes. Stops completely in the middle of slow lane by on-ramp almost was hit twice started the key and it turned on got off fwy and took directly back to dealer who called me three days later and stated that a connector was bad and thats why it turned off and they ordered the part and that should take care of the problem P/U car in three days. Sales agent called back day I was to P/U and said they were still working on it and I told him I want to talk with a supervisor I will not drive the car off lot, come to find out that day on the fwy that it had never been test driven. Contacting business bureau and attorney at this point.

- Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #18

May 072014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle would suddenly shut off. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the battery connection was faulty. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 13,500. Updated 10/14/14 updated 3/31/2015

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #17

Jun 152014


  • 65,000 miles
The shifter button/knob always gets stuck. This vehicle has an automatic transmission so it wasn't included in the prior recall regarding the shifter. The car radio turns on by itself after I have removed by car key and locked the doors. This has caused the battery to drain and now it needs to be replaced. Chevy dealer said that replacing the shifter "may" correct the issue with the radio. I would like to know why the shifter needs to be replaced after only 2 years of use. I have had much older cars with far less issues and never needed to have a shifter replaced. It appears to be a defect that they have not recalled yet.

- Duluth, GA, USA

problem #16

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 #15

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 #14

May 062011


  • 31,000 miles
The battery go's dead when not started for more then2 days.

- Casa Grande , AZ, USA

problem #13

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

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