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?


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,656 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments

problem #16

Jan 052024


  • miles


We have had to deal with severe overheating issues and failing parts our entire ownership of this vehicle, both of which then cause other parts to fail, as the parts are so poorly made and heat sensitive. We have replaced the turbocharger (twice), intake manifold + valve cover (twice), catalytic converter, the radiator (THREE TIMES), the cooling fan (twice), the MAF sensor (twice), and much more. All of this has been done over the course of 18months. This has easily been the most expensive car we have ever owned due to the constant repairs, all of which has been because of Failing Parts and overheating.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #15

Sep 012018


  • 9,000 miles
Automatically stops

- Lafayette, LA, USA

problem #14

Jan 012013


  • 47,000 miles
First issue was electrical issues (bad lights, unfunctioning controls, ac adapter would not give power, outside lightbulbs do not last, headlamp controls fell apart, mirror conrtrols fell off, vent controls fell apart. When electric window control stopps working and hisses and smokes when engine is turned on. I also have been shocked painfully when trying to get the ac adapter to work. Next came repair of the ignition switch.. I could not pass state inspection because my "check engine" light was on. In August 2017, car had engine misfire, which cost me repair on the fuel pump. A few days after that, the battery died and I replaced it. One week later, , it started to smoke under the hood and the car was overheating. Then a few hours later, electric was on and off but power to vechicle stopped.. this ended up being the serp. Main belt. Next came the ignition switch. (novembwr 2017) early 2018.. ac adapter stopped working again, and it was replaced. A C stopped blowing cold air spring 2018, and within weeks, the window control failing again, I have had heat stroke twice. Window control unit smokes and hisses when I turn on engine. Window also cracked while driving 55mph. Plastic vents cracked outside therm fell off & plastic undercarriage cover ripped B4 aircond, followed by the fan. When I brought car in for airc, I was told I needed new rear brake pads and the radiator fan and compressor.. there is no therm for engine. Fixed only brakes. Car then began to overheat while in traffic. Replaced radiator fan 2 weeks later.. still need new ac compressor. Window control began to fail again next. First time window conrol failed, battery died same night, and I had to get serp. Belt and new battery. New battery has already had to be jumped 3 times, and seems as though engine misfire is beginning again. Problems going uphill today.. slow accelleration, unsteady fuel flow.

- Franklin Township, NJ, USA

problem #13

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 didn't 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

problem #12

Aug 062017


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the vehicle exhibited an abnormal exhaust sound. The contact checked the oil and an abnormal fuel odor emitted from the oil. The dealer and manufacturer were not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 66,000.

- Warwick, RI, USA

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problem #11

May 012016


  • 75,000 miles
In 2015, my 2012 Chevrolet Sonic had to have the fuel purge valve replaced. The car worked for a while after this. However, a few months ago, it started having a rough idle, with the rpms dipping up and down. The problem got worse recently, when the car actually completely died while making a left hand turn, almost causing me to get hit. Now, it is even worse. Now, in addition to the rough idle, traction control randomly engages even when I am not slipping, causing me to lose all power for brief periods of time, while in motion. The traction control is glitching so bad that it even randomly engages when I am completely stopped. This is a huge safety issue, and the dealership that sold me the car wants $113 just to tell me what is causing it, and how much it will cost to actually fix. There are no active recalls on this vehicle, but further research on the model I own, shows other owners having similar issues. Chevrolet has been no help

- West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #10

Feb 052016


  • 64,000 miles


When I press the gas pedal the rpms shoot up but car excelerates slowly. It jerks hard when switching to another gear and takes several minutes to finally get to a safe speed. Sometimes the car struggles to go uphill and hardly able to reverse. Dealership cleared my engine codes during my last oil change. Check engine light came back on a week later, autozone pulled 3 codes (P0700, P0300 and P0717). Changed my spark plugs, used lucas oil/5.25 oz. Fuel treatment twice but still no change. Sometimes I can smell burning rubber. This problem makes it hard to safely merge onto highways and get through traffic lights fast enough. Now autozone has accidentally cleared my codes so I can't see if any of the above listed codes have been resolved.

- Dundalk, MD, USA

problem #9

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 #8

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 #7

Jun 062015


  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving 55 mph, the front end of the vehicle began to jerk and the traction control and check engine lights appeared. The vehicle stalled and was coasted over to the side of the road. The dealer diagnosed that the fuel module failed. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was aware of the issue. The failure mileage was 63,000.

- Olympia, WA, USA

problem #6

Dec 222014


  • 39,000 miles


I have had multiple problems with this car, but the latest is the engine light, reduced power light, and the gas cap. While driving the engine light, and reduced power light came on. The car immediately slowed down which almost caused an accident because I was going 45 mph. Took the car to [xxx], and they couldn't find the problem. They decided to replace the computer system on the car because it was still covered by warranty. The light came back on five days later, but this time I was on the interstate in the tunnel. I barely made it out without causing an accident. Lastly, I went to the gas station and couldn't get the gas cap off. I had to use a wrench to get the gas cap off. Bought another gas cap and it did the same thing. I only have 40,000 miles on this car. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #5

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 #4

Jan 012013


  • 11,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact attempted to notify the dealer and manufacturer about having the vehicle repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 14V315000 (power train: Automatic transmission), but was unsuccessful. The contact also heard a popping noise coming from the steering wheel and noticed a strong persistent odor of fuel coming through the ventilation system. The dealer stated that the steering column, fuel pump, and caliper pins needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failures recurred. The failure mileage was 11,000.

- Nitro, WV, USA

problem #3

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 #2

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 #1

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

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