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

Build quality and electrical 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 2020 Chevrolet Sonic

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Air Bags
Electrical System:ignition

Problems with the Electrical System

While the 2020 Chevy Sonic is considered a budget-friendly vehicle, the electrical system must still be capable and functional. Yet, owners are struggling with getting aspects of the Sonic to function correctly.

Here is one NHTSA complaint worth reading. “2020 Chevrolet Sonic. Consumer writes in regards to defective keyless ignition. The consumer stated that it was possible to turn off the keyless entry without first putting the vehicle in Park. It is also possible to shift out of Park before starting the ignition.”

These are actually concerns that should be part of a recall, especially considering that the vehicle could roll away without even being turned on. However, Chevy hasn’t issued a recall or stated anything about this situation. Instead, the communications are filled with messages, such as what is found with Service Bulletin #PIP4670H. It states that after swapping out the Engine Control Module, owners might face a no start situation. If the ECM is being replaced, there is already a problem being dealt with. No one wants to deal with fixing a problem that resulted from fixing a problem. This is precisely the “excitement” that no one hopes for.

Problems with the Build Quality

When buying a cheaper car, customers expect to lack high-end features, but they don’t plan on having a jalopy that can’t hold itself together. Yet, that’s some of what is happening with the Sonic.

Here is a Cars.com review that touches on several problems. “1. The windshield wash sprayers are crap, The shoot 3 streams. I replaced mine with oem fan pattern sprayers for a cruze… 2. The headrest is tilted too far forward. And that can’t be adjusted… so it can bounce off the back of your head. 3. The fuel tank capacity 12.2 gallons? I don’t think I’ve ever put more than 10 in it. Sure the price at the pump is a nice result because of this. But the range (366 miles) makes you spend more time at the pump.”

It doesn’t seem that the Sonic was well thought out when constructed or designed. Even Service Bulletin #P10281H states that there is trouble with underbody corrosion. On a new vehicle, this shouldn’t even be something that’s coming up. Is the automaker even skilled in putting cars together? “Small packages” don’t require that much precision to get right. If Chevy can’t handle the smallest tasks, how can the company be trusted with the larger lineup of vehicles?

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

CategoryElectrical System, Power Train, Steering
DateMar 07, 2023
Unknown -- during driving the vehicle the radio and power steering will stop working, locks and key for occasionally have issues, and the car shuts down and has to be re-started. Sometimes will take a minute or two to be able to be re-started. If car stalls at high speeds could cause a catastrophic accident, injuring possibly killing driver or other drivers due to not being able to control the car. Car has recently been serviced replacing the radiator, coolant tank, and purge valve (this was throwing the check engine light). No codes can be found and the problem cannot be duplicated. Happens at random times, nothing triggers it.
CategoryAir Bags
DateJun 28, 2021
The contact owns a 2020 chevrolet sonic. The contact stated that while her granddaughter was driving approximately 40 mph, the front driver's and passenger's side air bags erroneously deployed causing the driver to lose control of the steering wheel and the vehicle drove off the roadway. The vehicle was not involved in a crash before the air bags deployed. The cause of the failure was not yet determined. The local dealer was contacted and informed of the failure. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 5,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Power Train
DateOct 26, 2020
Manufacturers owners manual instructions may lead to transmission / electrical failures which may cause an accident when traveling. The recreational towing instructions require that fuses be removed (step 5) before next steps including shifting vehicle into park and turning ignition to the on position . Those steps ( 6-9) can not be executed if step 5 is executed first. Owners who attempt to prepare the vehicle for recreational towing by using a different sequence run the risk of damaging their vehicles and/or causing severe accidents if the transmission locks up under tow (moving). Dealer claims is vin specific. It is not vin specific. I tested several identical vehicles on the dealer lot and they all fail, using the manufacturer instructions.
CategoryElectrical System:ignition
DateFeb 11, 2020
2020 chevrolet sonic. Consumer writes in regards to defective keyless ignition. *ld the consumer stated the it was possible to turn off the keyless entry without first putting the vehicle in park. It is also possible to shift out of park before starting the ignition. *js

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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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Nelda O

    My 2015 Chevy Sonic has been acting up ever since they did a recall adjustment on radio the radio goes crazy changing stations and the touch screen won’t work at times and many other issues with the traction coming on and then going back off

  • Allan

    Is anyone having problems with the BCM on a 2012 Chevy Sonic. It’s running rough & cutting off at low rpms like in traffic or on regular roads. Took into macanic and 10 different codes were coming up. My macanic, which I do trust says thinks is BCM.

  • Steve J

    Daughter’s 2020 sonic turns on the traction control light and locks the brakes up for no reason.

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