2018 Chevrolet Sonic Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Seats, electrical and powertrain problems issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Compact cars aren’t as popular anymore, but drivers looking for a cost-conscious model were fond of the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic.  In fact, it turns out that this compact model features a faulty electrical system, defective seats and a shoddy powertrain.


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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags:sensor:occupant Classification:front Passenger
Fuel/propulsion System
Parking Brake
Seat Belts

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system of any car is needed to start it and keep everything running the way it should. When something malfunctions, it becomes a major nuisance to drivers.

That’s perfectly illustrated with this Cars.com review. “This car is a pile of garbage. Bought it with 6 miles on it. First week of owning it they had to replace my seat. They have had to replace my radio to as it shuts off and skips. Doesn’t connect to my phone half the time. The on star light is red an none of the buttons work… the car only starts when it wants..Wouldn’t recommend this car to anyone.Also the gas mileage is terrible!!!”

While numerous issues were addressed within that review, it’s vital to pay attention to the electrical system complaints. GM hasn’t attempted to hide any troubles, with nearly 70 communications about this system alone. Service Bulletin #PIT5655A is one of the more humorous notes. It states that some owners receive a Bluetooth call that continues to ring through the system until the car is shut off. Of course, the automaker attempts to blame the problem on the phone manufacturer but claims it can resolve it with a software update. It’s quite hard to “Keep Calm” when the phone won’t stop ringing during a morning commute. In fact, it’s downright dangerous.

Problems with the Seats

Another top concern with the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic has been the seats. While no one expects this car to provide luxury seating like that found in a Mercedes or BMW, it’s still common to think that the seats will be safe, but that’s not the case.

One NHTSA complaint states, “My driver seat drops a level while I drive. Very dangerous and hazardous.”

It turns out a recall was issued for other seat-related concerns. In fact, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V342000 says that the seatback frame joint might not be welded correctly. If the car were to be involved in a rear-impact crash, it’s possible for this seatback to fail and cause injury to occupants. To fix the situation, the entire seatback must be replaced. Maybe the assembly welders were a little too calm during the production of this vehicle. What else would explain the lack of strength to the seats?

Problems with the Transmission

Again, no one is looking for high-end features or components out of the 2018 Chevy Sonic, but it should have basic functions that get occupants down the road. Yet, it seems to really struggle with the powertrain.

Just look at what Consumer Reports had to say about this car model. “The six-speed manual transmission is somewhat balky, but the automatic has to dig for gears constantly.”

It turns out these aren’t the only transmission issues that Sonic owners need to worry about. Service Bulletin #16NA019 states that it can also suffer from low mileage harsh shifts, flares and slips. It turns out that the powertrain wasn’t given the time and care it deserved. Instead, owners are left with a bucking bronco as they attempt to travel down the road. It’s unclear yet how Chevy expects customers to remain calm behind the steering wheel of this model. Obviously, the only peace of mind would come from switching brands entirely and chalking this one up to being a lemon.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Chevrolet pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateNov 06, 2022
My car has had cam shaft issues upon buying the car. I have taken the car to chevrolet in dallas and in forney, tx and the car still has the same issue. My car engine check light has remained on and consulting a personal mechanic, they informed me that this could be a recall issue and that I should report it.
CategoryAir Bags:sensor:occupant Classification:front Passenger
DateJun 28, 2022
The contact owns a 2018 chevrolet sonic. The contact stated that while a 95-pound passenger was seated in the front passenger's seat, the air bag system was deactivated. The vehicle was taken to the local dealer who was unable to determine a failure and indicated no failure was found. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The failure mileage was 15,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Fuel/propulsion System
DateApr 30, 2022
The has as well as mileage is not accurate and it constantly changes even while not driving which is adding more miles to car than actually is and you will never know how much gas you have in car truly which is safety concern especially if you are driving on interstate and can't tell how much gas you have in car and suddenly run out of gas while other are behind you going 70 mph which can cause a wreck
CategoryEngine, Parking Brake, Seats
DateOct 12, 2021
The contact owns a 2018 chevrolet sonic. The contact stated that operating the vehicle, the front driver side seat would erroneously slide forward causing the driver's knees to make contact with the dash panel. In addition, while driving at various speeds the vehicle had suddenly stalled. The vehicle was taken to the local dealer who diagnosed that the electronic control unit hardware was faulty. Also, the emergency brake cable was hanging low to the ground under the vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The local dealer was notified of the failures. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 28,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Wheels
DateMar 03, 2021
My radio turns off and on, on its own. Also when I have my bluetooth turned on for my phone, it gets stuck after I hang up the phone after a call. I was driving home from work on a state road. My right wheel bearing went out and I had to replace it last year.
CategorySeat Belts
DateSep 01, 2020
The passenger seat belt does not clip or will come undone at any given time. I made the dealership aware of the concern when the vehicle had approximately 39,000 miles. They stated that since it was out of warranty it did not qualify for production defect. This is a safety concern that could endanger the life of a person if west belt fails during a crash.
CategoryElectrical System, Engine, Visibility/wiper
DateMar 05, 2020
Today I'm writing in behalf of carite of oakland park I had a email chat with brian mccoy the branch owner of the company, I was told by him that the car was put in as repo status, due to me giving the car back. I feel my life was put in danger numerous of times and due to the negligence of the company I was not given a reliable vehicle nor was I treated as a valued customer... Good day, I've made all attempts regarding this situation with carite I'm the time allowed.. I'm requesting a full refund of my money I've made it clear and I don't want nothing else from these people at this company. I've told the owner not to have the car delivered on today 2/8/20 he still insist the driver greg to do so, I've rejected to receive the vehicle instead of honoring my request I'm getting phone calls from other parties at carite I guess to reconsider! No, I want my money my life will not be in danger due to they're negligence.. Thank you,the items submitted are receipts of payments also, the day of 1/20/20 I drove to fort lauderdale on the accept ion of getting the ac repaired and the windshield. Nothing took place for being there for 6 hours only to head back home exhausted�� and to finally get 50 miles home the car started to blow white exhaust from the vents, I immediately called carite and spoke with kim, who's in responsible for repair and maintenance. I told her what was going on and that I've had enough. I get home, wake up the next day to go to a dr appointment only for the car to not star! I lift the hood so my neighbor could give me a jump and this is what I find under the hood.. ( the pliers next to the battery that was left there and I drove home with it on the car that's alone it's enough puts my life in danger...
CategoryElectrical System
DateDec 26, 2019
Having an issue with the radio itself, its went black a few times on me as I was driving. And also when I was parked. No response on it at all. Im afraid if something happens like when im in a wreck and when I try to call onstar while its not working im afraid of it not connecting, and also ive had issues with the window switches not rolling up or down the windows no clicking noises when I push on the switch all four have done it, acting like its not getting a electric signal to the switches, what I usually do when that happens is pull the car over turn off the iginition and let the car sit for 30 seconds then start the car and it usually works. Ive also checked to make sure the safety switch aint on and it isnt.
CategoryElectrical System
DateSep 16, 2019
My 2018 chevrolet sonic radio screen went black without warning while I was driving. I lost all functions through the radio screen. This happened a second time in route to work within a few days. I'm concerned that the radio may go black during an emergency when I need to use on star.
CategorySteering, Unknown Or Other, Wheels
DateFeb 19, 2019
The 2018 sonic is not safe to drive in the snow. It has no traction to start from a stopped position, no traction to stop and no ability to control steering or turning.
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateNov 16, 2018
During night operation, the backlight of the center screen is so bright it causes difficulty seeing the road. The instrument cluster is at an acceptable level (as adjusted by the switch to the left of the steering wheel), but the center screen is still too bright. A simple floating software button allowing a display off function would address issue. As it is, the display off function is hidden in a submenu requiring inattention to the road to activate. *tr
DateNov 14, 2018
My driver seat drops a level while I drive . Very dangerous and hazardous.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Keke S

    bluetooth was working fine, then all of a sudden it disconnected now any button i push it says “feature unavailable while driving” even when im not driving.

  • Christine R

    I owned a Chevy Sonic 2018. I was forced to trade in. It has a lot of electric problems. The rear camera half the time did not turn on automatic. The radio constantly shut off. The blue tooth did not work. My phone could not connect maps to car. OnStar sometimes wouldn’t work and car was hard on gas.

  • Paul S

    My car loses power while driving, now it will not start

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