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Common Failures Of The Chevrolet Sonic: Problems, Disadvantages And Criticisms

Available in either a hatchback or a sedan design, the compact Chevy Sonic is an inexpensive entry-level car that sometimes has problems like any other vehicle. Stay until the end and discover the most common failures of the Chevrolet Sonic .


The Sonic is a generally reliable car and has a very good rating of four out of five stars, but like any car the Sonic has seen some reliability issues.

Common failures of the Chevrolet Sonic

The most common problems with the Chevy Sonic have been hesitation when changing gears, a check engine light that stays on for no clear reason, an engine that won’t start, and a “key in ignition” sound that doesn’t work . sounds.

1. Chevy Sonic Transmission Problems

Chevy Sonic transmissions have a history of various problems with a range of causes and solutions. Some are minor and some require a whole new transmission.

These transmission issues are more prevalent on the 2012 Sonic, and are also somewhat common on the 2013 to 2015 Sonics, though not as much.

Hesitation when changing gear

The most common transmission problem in the Sonic is hesitation when changing gears. There is a version of the Sonic with a manual transmission, but this problem is only frequent in the automatic version. The problem starts to show up around 30,000 miles of driving.

Drivers of the Sonic automatics noticed that the car seemed to work harder than it should when accelerating or slowing down, a sign that the gearshift computer was not engaging correctly or at the right time.

Fortunately, many of the Sonic drivers who reported this problem were able to fix their transmissions relatively cheaply.

Failure of the transmission due to breakage of the turbine shaft

Chevrolet ordered a 2014 recall of 21,567 Sonics due to a tendency for the turbine shaft to fracture. The turbine shaft is essential for transferring power from the engine to the wheels, and if it breaks, the car stops working properly.

There are two possible outcomes of a broken turbine shaft on the Chevy Sonic depending on whether the car is in first through second gear or third through sixth gear.

The first case is the least dangerous of the two: the car is no longer able to shift above second gear , so it slows down significantly, giving the driver and engine power time to move out of the way of traffic.

In the event that the turbine shaft breaks while in third to sixth gear, the car immediately stops running.

Here are some common-sense reminders on what to do if your car stalls while you’re in moderate- or high-speed traffic:

  1. If you notice a sudden loss of accelerator pedal response, or anything else out of the ordinary, immediately turn on your hazard lights
  2. Steer the car to an even place on the right shoulder
  3. Brake the wheels in the opposite direction of the road and apply the emergency brake
  4. Try to get help from your roadside assistance company. If you have no other options or the situation is serious, call 911.

Shifter button becomes difficult or impossible to press

This annoying problem does not cost much to fix and is not a defect of the car’s most complex and sensitive mechanisms. However, it has the potential to render Sonic unusable in extreme cases.

Sonic owners have reported that the shifter button on the stickshit became stickier and harder to press over time, eventually becoming inoperable. This could lead to the annoying situation of not being able to change gear or get out of it.

In some cases, the sticky shifter button had the potential to be extremely dangerous, as it caused the shifter to become stuck mid-gear, meaning the shifter could be inadvertently and easily thrown around. reversing while moving at high speed.

2. Chevy Sonic Check Engine Light Problems

Despite this being one of the common Chevrolet Sonic failures, the problem has few potential short-term consequences, but many long-term problems can go undetected if the check engine light becomes unreliable. It’s easy to shrug off a check engine light when your car has been running fine for a while, but this is unwise.

The 2012 Chevy Sonic has a habit of having a check engine light come on for no particular cause. Owners have taken their Sonics to dealerships and mechanics and received a bit of an uncertain response.

A false positive check engine light has nothing to do with the car’s most essential and sensitive systems, but it can still cost you a lot of money for unnecessary inspections.

3. Chevy Sonic won’t start or randomly stalls

Without a doubt, this is one of the common failures of the Chevy Sonic. Some owners of the 2014 Sonic have reported a pattern of stalling and loss of power with the car that is not a transmission problem at all.

With this problem, drivers were on the road and suddenly found everything that required power had gone out, or they tried to jump start the car from being parked and found it wouldn’t start and needed to be jump-started by another car.

Some Sonic users found that this glitch would go away for a while or completely, and some were in for a rude awakening when it returned.

This issue with the Spark has a variety of reported causes and solutions. There is no set solution for it, so here is a list of possible causes of repeated stalling:

  • dead battery
  • Broken or defective spark plug
  • The fuel filter is damaged
  • The fuel filter is clogged
  • faulty alternator
  • battery corrosion
  • Weak key fob battery not activating push-to-start system

4. Indicator noise when key is in ignition does not sound

This is another seemingly trivial problem that can lead to unpleasant consequences. The noise of the indicator that warns you that you have accidentally left the key in the ignition can be the difference between keeping the car or having it stolen by someone who sees the opportunity.

The issue had to do with a particular batch of radios installed in 2013-2016 Chevy Sonics that were incorrectly programmed, waiting ten minutes to start playing the theft protection indicator noise.

Chevy issued a recall to some 317,572 Sonics for this issue, and it never ended up costing any money to replace, as the component was either replaced or refunded via the recall.

Advantages and disadvantages of Sonic

The Sonic achieves its purpose as a vehicle solidly. It’s reasonably reliable, and with good maintenance and care, it can last for more than 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers).

The less impressive aspects of this subcompact are its engine, which doesn’t offer much of a kick, and its gas mileage, which at 31 mpg isn’t as efficient as it should be for such a small car and doesn’t compete with other cars in its class. .


The benefits of the Chevy Sonic are as follows:

  • Affordable in cost
  • Drives very quietly when cruising
  • Maneuverable thanks to its small chassis
  • Easy to maneuver into parking spots
  • 4G cellular hotspot is standard on all trims
  • Excellent for congested urban streets
  • turbocharged engine
  • Equipped with safety features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and parking sensors


Every car has its drawbacks, and this is the downside of the Chevrolet Sonic:

  • Similar-sized subcompacts like the Kia Rio and Honda Fit top out at 31 mpg of gas mileage
  • There is not enough space in the back seats
  • The materials of the surface of the cabin and the instrument panel are not of high quality
  • The brake pedal is more sensitive than usual
  • Lacks active safety hardware found on other subcompacts like automatic emergency braking
  • Manual transmission version has been discontinued

Reviews and opinions of the Chevrolet Sonic

While the Sonic is a solid and reliable car, it’s frankly outclassed in the end by its rivals in terms of gas mileage, price, and safety features. It does have its charm, though, and its gimmickries can make you overlook the advantages of other subcompacts.

After all, buying a car is not just about making the most sensible choice, but about enjoying the car you drive. Among the criticisms of some users, the following stand out:

  • “The entry-level 2020 Chevrolet Sonic puts the emphasis on the basics when it comes to basic transportation. Spend a little more, though, and this subcompact becomes an affordable, quiet, and well-equipped commuter.”

  • “The Sonic comes with a turbocharged engine and still looks fresh – especially in hatchback form – but falls behind in most respects. It doesn’t offer the kind of active safety features found in competitors, and it also costs more than them.”

In conclusion

The Chevy Sonic is available in LS, LT, and Premier types, with the best ones available as a hatchback. Conveniences like satellite radio, keyless entry, heated steering wheel and seats, and an upgraded audio system are available on the two highest trim levels.

It is advisable to avoid 2012 to 2015 models for this car if you have the option. They’re not guaranteed to be unreliable, but their problems are bad enough when they arise that it makes sense to walk away just to be safe and trouble-free.

The Sonic has been discontinued as of 2021, probably because it just didn’t fit the competition overall, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad car or that you can’t find a great deal on one to suit your needs. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a sporty, reliable, maneuverable and fun little companion, you can’t go wrong with the Sonic.

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