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:
8 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,025 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Jan 312016


  • 40,000 miles


On 1/31/2016 a vehicle pulled out in front of me. The first and biggest issue was the airbag never went off and the seat belt tensioners did not lock the belts either. I went forward and hit my head on the steering wheel rendering me unconscious!!! almost the whole front end had to be replaced e.g.: grill and front panel, left and right front quarter panels, radiator, both wheel wells, suspension on both sides and everything that goes with those plus a whole lot of other things like the radiator, coolant and washer tanks etc. Etc.... this was a full-frontal wreck and not a single airbag went off!!! secondly are the ABS and traction control. The roads were a little slick so I had the tc on. When I hit my brakes all they did, have done since I bought the car, and continue to do to this day, is immediately lock up! I had zero control of my car. This car has, by far, the worst ABS system I have ever used. The tc is complete sh*t, too!!! thirdly, every time I start the car the engine seems to misfire or something! it rattles and shakes the whole car, hard!!! after a few seconds it seems to find it's groove and idles normally. I have brought the car in to the local Chevy dealership where I purchased the car to address these problems. All they tell me is they are design and/or manufacturing flaws. They said I can pay to fix these issues with my own money or wait and see if the issues become recalls. Which, according to my research, have not yet. To me, these are some pretty big safety issues the manufacturer should be addressing!!! and why aren't they"???" I have photos of the accident, but can't seem to find them anywhere. I'll come back if I find them.

- Kingsford, MI, USA

problem #20

Jul 012016


  • miles
The air bag warning light stays on. Started in June 2016, took it to Chevrolet dealership that I purchased my car from. They ran a computer diagnostic on the car and said that the sensor for the air bags needed to be replaced at about a cost of $500. Since I did not have the money to pay for it, they make it so the warning light was off and said that because of the bad sensor, the air bags may not deploy in an accident. The warning light had come on again. Since is not a normal "wear and tear" part on the vehicle, I feel I should not have to pay to have the issue fixed.

- Davenport, IA, USA

problem #19

Jul 032016


  • 120,000 miles
Has burning smell of anti freeze and wires melting. Air bags don't work on front passenger side.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #18

Jul 192016


  • 68,985 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While driving at various speeds, the air bag warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V300000 (air bags). The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 68,985.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #17

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

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problem #16

Jul 202015


  • 72,000 miles
Air bag light will not go off - air bags will not deploy (per the mechanic). Took to our local dealership and was told the air bag module would not update and needed to be replaced at a cost of $750. How can a part that has never been used not be able to be updated without having to purchase a new one. I see all the recalls on this car / this model / this year regarding airbags. I think this is something that also needs to be addressed.

- La Vernia, TX, USA

problem #15

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 #14

Mar 192015


  • 74,628 miles
I was going down denton road and hit a deer going 55 mph. The front of my car was damaged really bad almost $5,000 of damage. I have two slipped disk in my back because of the incident. My airbags did not deploy

- Douglasville , GA, USA

problem #13

Dec 092014


  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While operating the vehicle, the air bag sensor light would illuminate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the failure was due to an electronic interference which was caused by a cell phone in the vehicle. In addition, the contact indicated that the front passenger seat air bag "off" light would illuminate when a passenger was occupying the seat. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 68,000.

- Cranberry Township, PA, USA

problem #12

Dec 292014


  • 27,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that the air bag off light sporadically illuminated. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was informed that the vehicle was operating as designed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 27,000.

- East Moriches, NY, USA

problem #11

Oct 022014


  • 53,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. While a passenger was seated in the front passenger seat, the air bag sensor light would flash off and on. The contact mentioned that the air bag system was faulty and may not deploy when needed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 53,000. The VIN was not available.

- Dumpries, VA, USA

problem #10

May 102014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 24,543 miles
I was driving with traffic at correct speed down main road. When suddenly a lady that did not have the right away pulled out into on coming traffic. She hit the side of my car on the passenger side in the area of my front wheel. The impact was so hard that my car was pushed across turning lane in middle, across a lane of oncoming traffic and part of car was in the emergency lane when it finally came to a stop. Since she was turning the opposite direction of traffic on her side of the street when she struck me her svc went from my front wheel down almost the entire length of my car. My concern that during this entire accident and my 2012 being totaled over $12,000 worth of damage and I was hurt, not one single airbag out of the 10 in my 2012 Sonic deployed.

- Independence , KY, USA

problem #9

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 #8

May 072014


  • miles
I'm experiencing some issues with the airbag passenger side of my car which is in red on the instrument panel cluster. Same description of the airbag recall made on the Chevrolet Sonic, but mine is not included. I did received a recall on the transmission, but I do believe that airbags is a life hazard for any driver. I called GM customer service, was told no recalls on my model, but not interest shown in finding out about those issues. To be honest there are a lot of things wrong with the car, but for now I'm interest in making sure my airbag is working and I'm more secure on the time of an accident.

- Alfred, ME, USA

problem #7

Aug 062014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 69,200 miles
All ten (10) airbags failed to deploy when my car was struck by a driver attempting to pass me on the left as I was turning left. That driver was speeding, crossed the double-yellow line to pass, did not have insurance nor a driver's license. My driver's door took the initial impact strike and was deeply creased as the other car continued forward into mine, then the front left wheel was struck; the wheel and a rod connected flew off, my fender was obliterated, engine components were smashed, and my car spun around at least 200 degrees. The other driver was going so fast, it continued forward more than 150 feet before the driver could get his vehicle to stop after striking my car. The insurance company deemed my car a total loss. During the accident, my head violently struck the door frame and I was knocked unconscious. It is a miracle from god that I wasn't killed! my husband is livid to think I could have died... and to think that the 10 airbags were a big selling point for us when purchasing the vehicle. We thought we were getting a safe vehicle. We feel lied to and abused as there is nothing that can be done about this--so says an attorney--since I was not seriously injured nor killed. After my insurance company pays, I'll still owe about $4000 on my new-ish Chevy Sonic, and I am still required to pay the balance to ally (holding the loan for this GM car) for a product that didn't perform as it should have to keep me safe. How is this not a crime" isn't this robbery" GM should provide some kind of assistance since it advertised untrue statements about the vehicle. If we would have known the car was unsafe, we would not have bought it. There's too little justice in America these days. GM, if you will make this right, I will place a full page advertisement in my newspaper telling everyone you took responsibility for your fault.

- Teague, TX, USA

problem #6

Mar 102014

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Vehicle was struck on driver side by another car that failed to stop at a four way stop. The impact was mostly on the driver door. The airbag failed to deploy.

- Winter Garden, FL, USA

problem #5

Feb 212014


  • 31,000 miles
I was in a tbone accident where the driver was going well over my speed. After the hit, my head hit the driver's side window. The impact sent me spinning across the road into a wooded area where my passengers side struck a tree. I was out for a little while (not sure how long). When I came to my senses medical was on scene and I had a major headache and my left knee was pretty sore. I went to the emergency room that day to be informed that I suffered head and back injuries. After getting the vehicle inspected I was told that my particular vehicles had more airbags than the standard vehicle and my airbags should have deployed.

- Vandenberg Afb, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 262012

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 7,193 miles
Pulling out from a stop sign the vehicle was struck driver's side from left onto front bumper/front fender area by an oncoming vehicle. Vehicle that struck Sonic traveling 50+ mph impacted entire front of vehicle from left side damaging fenders, hood, bumper(no light casings or bulbs broken), moved radiator. None of the driver's front, side, or head airbags deployed. No airbags deployed at all. Car was determined to be a total loss by insurance company. I requested a detailed listing of their findings and none was given to me. The car was taken quickly not allowing me to investigate the airbag failure. Reasons for totaling it. I feel there was an issue with this vehicle and I have lost thousands of dollars that I will have to make up to replace the vehicle which I purchased only 54 weeks prior.

- Hanover, PA, USA

problem #3

Jul 112011

Sonic 4-cyl

  • 12,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that he could hear a grinding noise whenever making a turn. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the failure might have been cause by a defective suspension. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who offered to send a lubrication kit to remedy the problem. The failure mileage was 12,000....updated 10/19/12 updated 10/25/2012

- Killingworth, CT, USA

problem #2

Jun 242012


  • 1,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The contact stated that she crashed into the rear of a trailer twice and the front driver side air bag failed to deploy. In addition, the hood separated from the vehicle. The contact sustained injuries to the knee, left shoulder and back. The vehicle was towed to the dealer but was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and the current mileage was 1,000.

- Clawson , MI, USA

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