Print this page 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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,242 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments

problem #14

Aug 182021


  • miles


I have a 2012 Chevy Sonic giving a P2138 error code. I have replaced the Throttle Position Sensor and the Accelerator Pedal Sensor and the problem is not going away. I have spent over $700 on this repair and they cannot fix it. It is a known problem with this vehicle but GM is there is no recall for this issue. I wish something could be done. The acceleration loses power and drops to is unable to go above 45 MPH.

- Yorkville, IL, USA

problem #13

Nov 072021


  • miles
Driving 2012 Chevrolet Sonic approximately 50mph, car down shifted on its own to 20mph nearly getting rear ended. Tried driving in auto transmission and manual mode, transmission stuck in 3rd gear. Had to drive 11 miles on busy road at 20mph, speed limit is 50mph. Car is at dealer, has turbine shaft break and wave plate broken. Because car has 1-2012 on sticker, no warranty is available. My option is $4800 to replace transmission or junk it. Car only has 93 thousand miles and was always mainted very well, lucky there was no injuries.

- Shelby Township, MI, USA

problem #12

Aug 062019


  • 74,000 miles
My car keeps shutting completely off even while driving, the radio come on and off by itself and no one can tell me why, this is very dangerous I be driving with my children in the vehicle and the car shuts off while driving in traffic

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #11

Mar 052019


  • 77,300 miles


The car has under 100K miles and seems to be having transmission problems. Everything has been well maintaintanced. I recently purchased the car being the second owner. The car has issues getting up to speed causing people to tailgate me or speed up and go around me. You can also feel/hear the transmission going through the gears. The takeoff is absolutely terrible. You can tell the engine is working hard. The rpms don't go above the danger zone but they do rise when switching through the gears. It's very likely to cause a accident especially on the interstate. The car cannot get out of it's own way.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #10

Jan 082017


  • 50,872 miles
Car accelerated on it's own in drive and reverse causing my husband to hit a fence in drive and hitting a tree in reverse, he was driving on a city street, no one seek any medical treatment, called the police when he got home and made a report but do not have it on hand.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #9

Nov 072016


  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle accelerated independently without warning. The driver depressed the brake pedal, but the vehicle failed to decelerate. In addition, the contact stated that the vehicle started to lose power and the driver was able to coast to the side of the road. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 47,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Nov 092015


  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving approximately 20 mph and depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle failed to respond without warning. The contact pulled over and powered the vehicle off and back on; however, the failure persisted. The contact continued to depress the accelerator pedal. The vehicle eventually shifted into the next gear. The failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and was not diagnosed. The contact was informed that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 110,000.

- Excelsior Springs, MO, USA

problem #7

Oct 162015


  • 40,021 miles
For 2 months my check emissions light was coming on and going off. According to my owners manual the gas cap or air filter need fixing. I went to autozone to get a free diagnostics reading. At the end of August my car started to hesitate, won't accelerate at take off. Then started heavy jerking at take off and when sitting still. I bought some liquid and changed air filter, same results. I called Chevy dealer to have car checked under my powertrain and my emissions warranty. I have been trying to get help so I could get my car checked next Friday on the 23rd. To have them look at my car. But on the 16th of October I'm leaving work I backed out of stall and pulled forward car was dragging roughly. I was waiting to pull out in traffic when car started jutting forward. I press on the gas went forward about 5 to 8 feet and then nothing. I was stuck inmid traffic. The reverse worked so I was able to roll out harms way.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #6

Jul 232015

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 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 updated 12/06/2017

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #5

Jan 142015


  • 45,000 miles
Gear shifter button gets stuck, not allowing releasing key from ignition. Driver has to have lubricant on hand at all times, to get shifter button unstuck. However lately it is getting somewhat harder to get it to work

- Plymouth, MI, USA

problem #4

Jan 012012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 25,000 miles


A few months after purchasing my 2012 Chevy Sonic, I've noticed a decease in power and hesitation in its automatic shifting between gears. I've taken it in several times with the same issue, and each time the service techs (even the service manager) has told me and explained that it is behaving "normal" and "to design". if it were "normal" why hadn't it done that driving right off the lot"?? and why is it, years later, its shifting hesitation has gotten worse to the point of severe jerking as it shifts from one gear to another, as if someone were learning how to drive stick for the first time?????" there is nothing "normal" about how my vehicle is performing. It is complete[xxx] that I've been getting the run around about this issue for years. And they refuse to admit there's a problem, nor will they service it, which makes my vehicle ineligible to be claimed as a lemon, which it obviously is!!! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #3

Nov 162014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
My car was losing speed even upon pressing the gas, in the middle of traffic the RPM's went all the way to 7 and then I let off the gas and they went all the way down. Then it finally started regain speed. Now the check engine light is on and the code was pertaining to the fuel system, I am very furious due to the fact that me and my children ride in this car daily and this happened I understand people make mistakes but I would greatly appreciate a call in this matter because I have called the toll free number twice and they are giving me no information as far as who I can reach out to get this fixed before there is something bad to happen. I don't pay for something to put mine and my children's life in danger. Weather or not this is a recall it needs to be fixed by the people who made it. Thanks [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Portland , TN, USA

problem #2

Aug 012013


  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that while driving various speeds, the vehicle would not shift to the correct gear causing the engine RPM to suddenly increase. Also, the contact mentioned that when the vehicle would come to a stop, the vehicle would accelerate independently. The vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train). However, the vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 20,000.

- New Symrna Beach, FL, USA

problem #1

Aug 052014


  • 1,200 miles
Current mileage is 26,985 1. car seems to lose power when accelerating and hesitates (almost shutting down), it happens randomly while driving as well and is now happening more and more often. It' very dangerous when crossing intersections or making a right on red and especially dangerous when accelerating to enter a highway. 2. rear suspension makes strange noises upon backing up/stopping; 3. very bad odor coming from A/C vents....disgusting, almost smells like plastic burning or burning rotten eggs; 4. I hear strange noises in the back brakes, not constant but random and getting louder when it does happen; 5. wiper fluid not working, I've been told this is a recall issue; 6. the automatic dashboard lights are constantly changing, most especially when turning the wipers on/off. It doesn't seem to matter if you're in complete darkness or daylight. 7. sometimes the car will not lock until you put the key back in the ignition, restart the car, take it out of park and put it back in park. Sometimes I have to do this 2 or 3 times, each time getting back out of the car to try to lock it. 8. steering this car on the highway at highway speeds is difficult...the car swerves and if it's a windy day it's beyond difficult to keep this car in the lane. Very dangerous. 9. the radio turns itself on and off as it pleases. It took me years to be able to finally purchase a new car and now there are not only 6 recalls on the car but I also have all the additional problems listed above. There's a 45 day wait to have the recalls repaired and event with that I am now going to have to take a day off of work without pay to get this crap all fixed! I feel like I have wasted my money. So much for expecting reliability and quality.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

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