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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
24,361 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments

problem #5

Nov 232015


  • 37,000 miles


While driving at highway speed on a two lane road at night, applied brakes to avoid animal in road. Conditions were clear and road was dry. There was plenty of time to slow to avoid animal so this was not a panic stop. Upon application of brakes, headlights went out. Dash lights stayed on making it impossible to see out of the vehicle. Applied brakes with more urgency and all four wheels locked. Vehicle skidded straight until the right tires made contact with the right shoulder. The car then spun counter clockwise back onto the roadway, across both lanes, and came to rest on the shoulder of the oncoming lane (approximately one and one-half revolutions). Skid marks on highway confirmed the wheel lock and the spin. Car was shut off and re-started and all systems worked fine. Unable to duplicate the problem.

- Casper, WY, USA

problem #4

Oct 062012


  • 12,361 miles
After purchasing my Chevy Sonic 2012, I went to get my first oil change 3 months later. And the engine light came on. I have gone back multiple times, and have been told that it was the gas cap which by the way had a recall on it. The light came back on a week later. Took it back they said that the one they replaced it with had a bad seal. They ordered the part replaced the cap. Drove for another two weeks and the engine light came back on. Took it back, this time they told me that the car needed a thermostat replacement done the light came back on again. Took it back this time, I was told that it was a air vent tube that was connected to the engine, which by the way is not covered under my power train, did that and yet again the light is back on. Now my radio goes on and off when it wants to. When I get up to go to work my battery is dead. They have also replaced the drivers air bag for some sort of recall. The windshield wipers was replaced as it also had a recall. I really want to trade this car in I am literary scared to drive it. Scared driver...........

- Maple Heights, OH, USA

problem #3

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 #2

Oct 242012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 10,357 miles
This car has so many problems. I have had it to the dealership on 4 separate occasions and it is getting ready to go in for the 5th time. Each time so far I have been told the same thing...."it doesn't throw any codes and we can't get it to duplicate the issue so there is nothing to be done but just keep driving it and bring it back if it keeps happening"....{whatever did mechanics do back in the day before cars had computers?} - anyway, the transmission is automatic and acts like it is grabbing and doesn't want to shift up through the gears so it feels like hard shifting (started before it even had 10,000 miles on it) - it doesn't do it all the time, but often enough that it is a problem that I worry about (it's even done it when on cruise control a couple of times). Now, at less than 30,000 miles the car is idling rough and when I press the brakes it makes a noise in the shifter? the autolights adjust themselves even when there is no change in lighting outdoors (pitch black night and the lights will dim down for no reason at 45mph running down the road with no other vehicles around, etc.) and the radio adjusts its volume the same way and it even turns itself off randomly. The traction control and stability trac lights come on sometimes, stay on for awhile and then go off. Now that it's getting hot and I'm running the ac, it is acting up also - blowing full blast then dropping down, then back up again.... - dealer insists, no codes thrown, won't replicate problem when they have it, therefore no problem exists - this car has problems - I would not recommend a Sonic to anyone. Please investigate transmissions and electrical issues in these cars.

- Chelsea, OK, USA

problem #1

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

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