2020 Chevrolet Spark Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Build quality, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Compact cars don’t dominate the street anymore, but there is still a place for them in urban settings. The 2020 Chevrolet Spark is labeled as a “city go-getter,” but getting it to actually go can be trouble. This vehicle suffers from a defective steering system, poorly-built structure and unimpressive engine.


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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Chevrolet Spark

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Air Bags
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Seat Belts
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking

Problems with the Steering

While driving a compact car, it shouldn’t take much effort to keep the vehicle on the road. After all, the Spark is just a tiny little package. Yet, customers are complaining about the steering system.

Here’s one comment left on the NHTSA website. “Driving 3-5 mph in a parking lot, while in the apex of the left turn to Park in the spot, the steering wheel started to shutter left and right, not so violently that I could not control the vehicle, because I was driving very slow, but just enough to feel, and see the steering wheel move left and right between 1/8-1/16 inch in rapid pulses. It lasted about 5-7 seconds. The vehicle only had 26 miles on the odometer. The new vehicle was delivered by flatbed truck on 3/31/2020 with only 5 miles on the odometer, the date of the event was 04/05/2020. Weather dry, tires full. It concerns me, as my wife drives this vehicle with my grandchildren. Please advise. Thank you.”

This isn’t the only steering issue being talked about. Service Bulletin #16NA109 also discusses how some of the steering gears might have too much grease or sealant applied. This seems like such a simple thing to have overlooked, which could also lead to trouble down the road. Basically, the only way this car is going to “go-get” anything in the city is if the street is completely straight.

Problems with the Build Quality

While the Spark isn’t as cheap as a Hot Wheels car, it doesn’t cost a lot. Budget-minded drivers don’t expect to sit behind the wheel of a luxury model when buying this car, but they do expect it to stay together and work correctly.

One Cars.com review talks about some manufacturing problems with the Spark. “I could not adjust the mirrors when driving, unlock the doors from the driver seat nor from outside the car, nor control the windows. That was very inconvenient.”

Aside from these problems that have been overlooked, Chevy talks about another issue that should have never occurred. Service Bulletin #PI0281H states that customers are bringing cars in because of underbody corrosion. New vehicles should never deal with rust as the Spark does. In fact, there are many older cars sitting in the junkyard that look better than the Spark. Maybe that’s where this Chevy belongs after all.

Problems with the Engine

Above all, the engine in the Spark must function good enough to get around the city. Yet, this is another top issue among owners.

That same Cars.com review goes on to say, “My biggest complaint was lack of acceleration after a full stop at stop sign. I live in Phila. and when there are four people at a stop sign and it is your turn to go and your car won’t move it becomes dangerous when the others decide you aren’t taking your turn. On more than one occasion this happened with a close call collision.”

Beyond this, Service Bulletin #PIP5598B further talks about a no start or extended cranking situation that is caused by the exhaust cam reluctor being out of position. While no one is expecting the Spark to come with a Corvette engine, it should at least be built correctly. Maybe the people working on the assembly line were too busy dreaming about how they were going to head to the city and be a “go-getter” that they missed installing valuable components in a functional way.

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Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System, Engine
DateSep 01, 2022
The contact owns a 2020 chevrolet spark. The contact stated that after the vehicle was idle at a red light, while attempting to accelerate, the vehicle stalled. The contact attempted to restart the vehicle several times before the vehicle restarted. There were no warning lights illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer who was unable to identify the cause of the failure. The contact then took the vehicle to another dealer who stated that the battery might have failed. The battery and battery cables were replaced; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 65,719.
CategoryAir Bags, Seat Belts
DateNov 18, 2021
All of the airbags were too strong. The doctor thought my leg was broken from the leg airbag. I was even wearing ugg boots to my knees, so I would have had a worse injury without them. I got a concussion from the airbag that hit my face and my nose was broken. My left hand was severely bruised almost covering the whole hand, my legs were bruised with cuts all over. There were bruises as if pieces were flying at my legs from within the airbags. One circular bruise on my leg lasted almost a year. Also, the seatbelt was too harsh. It pulled at my shoulder and the injury has lasted until now. My passenger had cuts on her legs and severe bruises on her stomach from the seatbelt. We were in a head-on accident with the other car going about 45 at us and going faster and faster.
CategoryAir Bags, Electrical System, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateOct 08, 2021
Our car broke down on 07/08/2021 and went into the shop on 07/12/2021. It was eventually determined the engine had to be replaced. The car was in the shop until 09/02/2021. The following day during a test drive I noticed some minor, unusual response, almost unnoticeable, from the brakes, but there were no warning lights or messages. I connected a code reader and received the following codes: u0422, u0151, and c0800. I think all of them are sent by the ecu and involve communication problems with the abs and the restraint systems, but yet, no warnings. I took it back to the shop. They found a shorted or bad body control module, probably caused during the engine swap. If I hadn't found those codes, perhaps the brakes or restraint systems may not have performed correctly in an accident. Obviously, the bcm can be defective and no warning lights are displayed, yet the car seems to perform almost normal. My wife did not detect the unusual braking response. We have parked the car. It seems to me, if the bcm goes defective, there should be a red light, stop immediately warning. I think every system in the car has to communicate with it. Could it be a problem created in the factory?
CategoryAir Bags, Unknown Or Other
DateApr 17, 2021
Vehicle #1 heading southbound then cross lanes and ture abruptly eastward into ongoing traffic of vehicle #2 northbound lane. Both vehicle's collided and vehicle #2 air bag's did not deploy during impact.
CategoryAir Bags
DateApr 14, 2021
Tl* the contact owned a 2020 chevrolet spark. The contact stated while driving 35 mph, when another vehicle intersected his lane and he t-boned the driver side of the another vehicle. The airbags did not deploy. The contact sustained injuries on his right knee, low and upper back and neck. The contact's wife(front passenger) sustained fracture ribs on her right side and a whiplash. The contact and his wife did seek medical attention at a emergency room. A police report was filed. The vehicle was not drivable. The vehicle was towed to van chevrolet (100 nw vivion rd, kansas city, mo 64118: (816) 527-8564) and were made aware of the failure. The insurance company deemed the vehicle total. The manufacturer had not been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 24,718.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateMar 06, 2021
Trunk divider opens randomly blocking rear window randomly will have to park and get out open hatch and put it back down definitely a hazard if one uses there rear view mirror as it blocks the window completely need to figure out how to make it stay down or simply remove the piece all together! It has happened many times car now has 3000 miles and any speed!
CategoryAir Bags
DateJan 26, 2021
Tl* the contact owned a 2020 chevrolet spark. The contact stated while her husband was driving at unknown speed when he had a medical event which caused him to crashed into a tree. The air bags did not deploy. The driver sustained a fractured back and head injuries and sought medical attention for his injuries. A police report was filed. The insurance deemed the vehicle total loss. The vehicle was towed to impound lot. The contact called local dealer reliable chevrolet (3655 s campbell ave, springfield, mo 65807: (417) 708-8088) and was made informed of the failure. The manufacturer had been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 20,000.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateSep 22, 2020
The shelf, cover, top over the trunk area does not stay down. It is not attached by any cords to raise it up or lower it when opening the hatchback. If it is up seeing out the back window is extremely limited, posing a safety hazard. It is necessary to put an object on the top of it to stay down, and hope it doesn't fall off while driving.
CategoryElectrical System, Unknown Or Other
DateAug 25, 2020
I sent this unit to the dealership to have a key programmed but they can't program the key. They said they need further information to program a key. Please advise.
DateApr 13, 2020
Driving 3-5 mph in a parking lot, while in the apex of the left turn to park in the spot, the steering wheel started to shutter left and right, not so violently that I could not control the vehicle, because I was driving very slow, but just enough to feel, and see the steering wheel move left and right between 1/8 - 1/16 inch in rapid pulses. It lasted about 5 - 7 seconds. The vehicle only had 26 miles on the odometer. The new vehicle was delivered by flatbed truck on 03/31/2020 with only 5 miles on the odometer, the date of the event was 04/05/2020. Weather dry, tires full. It concerns me, as my wife drive this vehicle with my grandchildren. Please advise. Thank you.

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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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  • Jeanne m

    My new car I bought September 2020 spark
    My wifi has locked me out move. 2020 at&t inform me
    I didn’t have any rights it’s all about a copyright claim by google amazon apple github to name a few. It’s being used for chat lines impersonating me on line. My personal data is being sold to some and given away my email address and password is there for anyone who wants it.

  • Dave

    Well sorry to hear so many people out there have problems with this car, I live 60 miles north of Toronto Ontario, Canada. I ve had my spark for 18 months winter, summer I drive it full time great on the highway, great in the snow with snow tires. Lots of room inside and I m 6 foot tall. I think for those that have acceleration problems try prime gas it will help or run a mixture. Also don’t be afraid of stepping on the gas it won’t get away on you! And remember it’s power steering it helps if the car is moving.come on people it’s not a Cadillac, drive it like you own it.

  • Jacob

    We have a 2020 Chevy spark LS the only good thing about the vehicle is the great gas mileage just as everyone has already said the acceleration is horrible almost feels like it wants to stall It’s a shitbox forsure I even bought the shitbox label and put it on the right side of the trunk.

  • Linda S

    I got my 2017 Chevy spark from a auction it sputters sometime when I go 40 mph.its like its running out of gas.and sometimes when I push the gas to take off it goes dead.

  • Concern S

    I have had my spark for almost a year. About a month after i got it my cousin wanted to ride in my car she went to fasten the seabelt because i will tell u to get out. It fasten. Mind you it was night time was slowing down on a back road for a intersection a deer pops out. I slam hard on my brakes my steering will jerks both ways on this gravel road and her seat belt comes flying off hits the windshield and freaks us both out. Then wouldn’t click back no matter how many times we try for over an hour until we give up and she rides in the back the rest of the way to home. I am afraid to let anyone ride shot gun in my car ever after that. The ones who do know they can’t because my pasenger seat belt doesn’t All ways latch or comes undone after it is fastened. I agree also with the acceleration of my car as All ways. Was at a stop light at the bottom of a hill in cinncinati ohio picking up a relative. It turned green a four lane road making a turn it took a min just so it would accelerate and i almost get t-boned when a person ran a red light That day. I love the gas mileage since i drive up to an hour to an hour and a half to work 5 to 7 days a week. Other than that i proubly would by a old manual honda civic before i bye another new car. And I am still learning how to drive a manual.

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