Here Are The Chevy Sonic Years To Avoid (And Why)

The compact Chevy Sonic is a basic and relatively affordable car with a handful of impressive features. However, some model years of this vehicle are plagued with issues that could cost you thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs in the long run. So, which years should be avoided?

It’s best to avoid the 2012 through 2015 model years of the Chevy Sonic. These models have many reported issues, such as the engine not starting properly, the check engine light staying on for no apparent reason, and hesitation when shifting gears.

Now that you’ve got an idea of which Chevy Sonic model years to avoid, let’s take a closer look and find out if the Sonic is genuinely reliable or if you should focus on a different car.  

How Reliable Are Chevy Sonics?

Red Chevy Sonic in a parking lot

Generally, Chevy Sonics have decent reliability ratings (4.0 out of 5.0), even though they fall lower in the ranks when pitted against other subcompact cars on the market.

When rating a vehicle’s reliability, consideration is typically made based on the cost, frequency, and severity of actual repairs.

How Many Miles Do Chevy Sonics Last?

Multiple reports show that the Chevy Sonic can last 150,000 to 200,000 miles. There have even been reports of Sonics that have hit almost 400,000 miles!

So, if you drive like the average American (15,000 miles per year), you’ll likely be cruising in your new Chevy Sonic for the next 10-20 years. This proves that the Sonic is a well-crafted vehicle that lasts.

While the Sonic may lack some fancy features found on rival cars, it can still offer you miles of trouble-free driving as long as you maintain it properly.

Should You Buy a Used Chevy Sonic?

It’s obvious that used cars don’t always come in pristine condition. Previously owned vehicles have a history, and it boils down to you to gear up and use your detective skills to spot any red flags before making a used car purchase.

Newer cars are usually more reliable. Therefore, if your dealer’s Sonic is pretty new, you’re likely to experience fewer problems with it, and it will also last much longer than one that’s been around the block a couple of times.

Essentially, you can use the car’s mileage to help determine how reliable it will be.

Which Sonic Years Should You Avoid?

It’s best to avoid the 2012 through 2015 model years for the Chevy Sonic. They aren’t necessarily unreliable, but their issues can be pretty difficult and frustrating when they surface. It’s better to steer clear just to be safe and avoid the hassle.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2012 model as an example of the issues these years face.

2012 Chevy Sonic Common Problems 

The 2012 Chevy Sonic has a history of various problems with a range of causes. Some of these issues are minor and cost under $100 to fix. Others may call for the replacement of parts that could cost a fortune.

The following are some common issues associated with the 2012 Chevy Sonic:

Hesitation When Shifting Gears

This is the most common transmission problem with the Sonic. This issue is prevalent with the automatic versions of this vehicle and typically surfaces after around 30,000 miles of driving.

Owners of automatic Chevy Sonics observed that the car appeared to be working a bit harder than it should when speeding up or slowing down — an indication that the system responsible for shifting the gears was engaging poorly or at the wrong time.

Luckily, many Sonic owners who reported this problem were able to get their transmissions fixed cheaply. It cost them around $100 for the inspection and repair when the problem didn’t require a new transmission.

Transmission Failure From Turbine Shaft Fracture

In 2014, Chevrolet recalled several Sonics due to multiple reports of the turbine shaft fracturing. 

The turbine shaft plays a vital role in vehicles. It transfers energy from the engine to the wheels, and if it fractures, the car stops running properly.

Depending on the gear you’re on while driving, whether it’s the first through second or third through sixth gear, there are two possible outcomes of a turbine shaft fracture in the Chevy Sonic.

The first scenario (first through second gear) is the less dangerous of the two. The car stops being able to shift past the second gear, so it slows down and gives you time and engine power to put your car on the side of the road.

The other instance is much more threatening because the turbine shaft breaks while you’re in the third to sixth gear, so the car stops altogether while you’re out on the road.

Shifter Button Sticks and Becomes Difficult to Press

There have been numerous reports of the shifter button on the stick shift getting stickier and harder to press over time and eventually becoming inoperable. When this happens, you can’t shift into or out of reverse.

In some situations, the pesky shifter button may be extremely dangerous because it can cause the stick shift to catch mid-gear, meaning that the vehicle can be inadvertently and easily thrown into reverse while driving at high speed.

Check Engine Light Issues

The 2012 Chevy Sonic sometimes tends to have the check engine light on for no reason. Owners who have tried taking their Sonics to the mechanics or contacted their dealers to complain about this problem have received a shrug in response.

It’s easy to overlook the faulty check engine light if your car has been running fine, but it’s unwise. This problem has a few potential short-term ramifications, but you’re looking to face several long-term consequences if the check engine light eventually becomes unreliable.

Engine Randomly Stalls or Won’t Start

After driving for about 70,000 miles, some Sonic owners observed an unusual pattern of stalling and loss of power with their vehicles. 

When this happens on the road, drivers suddenly find out that everything that requires power stops working. The engine may also fail to start when parked, meaning you’ll have to find another car to jump your Sonic, and that’s quite a hassle.

For some drivers, the problem disappeared altogether after a while. However, to the shock of others, the issue came back menacingly.

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