{Top 5 Issues} Chevy Cobalt Transmission Problems [Years to Avoid]

Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Robert Wilson

The Chevrolet Cobalt, introduced as a compact car model by General Motors, gained popularity for its sleek design and fuel efficiency.

However, like any other vehicle, the 1st generation Chevrolet Cobalt (produced from 2005 to 2010) has its share of some common issues that owners may encounter.

In this article, we will explore some of the most frequently reported transmission problems and provide insights into their symptoms, causes, and potential solutions.

Chevy Cobalt Top Complaints

  • power steering failure in the 2005 Cobalt 128 complaints
  • engine stalls/shuts off while driving in the 2005 Cobalt 49 complaints
  • key stuck in the ignition in the 2005 Cobalt 44 complaints
  • key gets stuck in the ignition in the 2006 Cobalt 42 complaints
  • power steering turns off intermittently in the 2006 Cobalt 26complaints

What Breaks the Most

  • Steering 258 complaints
  • Interior 240 complaints
  • Engine 158 complaints
  • Transmisssion 56 complaints
  • HVAC 44 complaints

Years to Avoid

  • 2005 399 complaints
  • 2006 303 complaints
  • 2007 156 complaints
  • 2008 105 complaints
  • 2009 48 complaints

Most Common Chevy Cobalt Problems & Fixes

1. Ignition Coil Failure

Ignition coil failure is a common issue experienced by owners of the 1st generation Chevrolet Cobalt. The ignition coil is responsible for generating the high voltage required to ignite the fuel mixture in the engine cylinders. When the ignition coil fails, it can lead to various problems, including misfires, rough idling, and difficulty starting the vehicle.

Symptoms of Ignition Coil Failure

  • Engine misfires or runs rough
  • Difficulty starting the engine
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL)
  • Loss of power or hesitation during acceleration

Causes of Ignition Coil Failure

Several factors can contribute to ignition coil failure. These include:

  • Age and wear: Over time, ignition coils can degrade and become less effective in generating the required voltage.
  • Heat and vibration: Excessive heat and engine vibrations can cause the ignition coil to fail prematurely.
  • Electrical issues: Faulty wiring, corroded connectors, or other electrical problems can impact the performance of the ignition coil.

How to Fix Ignition Coil Failure

When experiencing ignition coil failure in your Chevrolet Cobalt, it is essential to address the issue promptly to avoid further engine damage. Here are the steps to fix the problem:

  1. Identify the faulty ignition coil: Use diagnostic tools or consult a professional mechanic to determine which specific ignition coil is failing.
  2. Replace the faulty ignition coil: Remove the old coil and install a new one in its place. Ensure proper connections and secure mounting.
  3. Test the system: After replacing the ignition coil, test the vehicle to verify that the issue has been resolved. If the problem persists, further diagnosis may be required.

2. Combination/Turn Signal Switch Failure

Another common problem in the 1st generation Chevrolet Cobalt is the failure of the combination/turn signal switch. This switch controls various functions, including the turn signals, headlights, and windshield wipers. When it malfunctions, it can lead to issues with signaling, lighting, and wiper operation.

Symptoms of Combination/Turn Signal Switch Failure

  • Non-responsive turn signals
  • Inoperative headlights or high beams
  • Malfunctioning windshield wipers
  • Clicking or buzzing sounds from the switch

How to Fix Combination/Turn Signal Switch Failure

To resolve combination/turn signal switch failure, follow these steps:

  1. Access the switch: Remove the necessary panels or covers to gain access to the combination/turn signal switch.
  2. Disconnect electrical connections: Unplug the electrical connectors attached to the switch.
  3. Remove the switch: Unscrew or release any fasteners holding the switch in place and remove it from the steering column.
  4. Install the new switch: Take the replacement switch and secure it in the same position from which the old switch was removed.
  5. Reconnect electrical connections: Plug in the electrical connectors to the appropriate terminals.
  6. Test the functionality: Verify that the turn signals, headlights, and windshield wipers are working correctly.

3. Gas Cap Failure

A faulty gas cap can cause several issues in the Chevrolet Cobalt’s fuel system. The gas cap is responsible for maintaining the pressure within the fuel tank and preventing the escape of fuel vapors. When the gas cap fails, it can lead to a variety of problems, including fuel leakage and the illumination of the Check Engine Light.

Symptoms of a Bad Gas Cap

  • Fuel odor around the vehicle
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminated
  • Inability to pass emissions tests

How to Fix a Faulty Gas Cap

To address a faulty gas cap, consider the following steps:

  1. Inspect the gas cap: Check for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks, worn-out gaskets, or broken seals.
  2. Clean the gas cap: Remove the gas cap and clean it thoroughly, ensuring there is no debris or dirt obstructing the sealing surfaces.
  3. Replace the gas cap: If the gas cap is damaged or no longer provides a tight seal, replace it with a new one that is compatible with your Chevrolet Cobalt.
  4. Tighten the gas cap properly: Ensure the gas cap is tightened securely until you hear multiple clicks. This ensures a proper seal.

4. Shifting Problems

Some owners of the 2005 to 2010 Chevy Cobalt have reported issues related to the vehicle’s shifting mechanism. Problems with shifting can manifest as difficulty in changing gears, grinding noises, or gear slippage.

Symptoms of Shifting Problems on the 2005 to 2010 Chevy Cobalt

  • Difficulty engaging gears
  • Grinding or clunking noises during gear changes
  • Slippage or delay in gear engagement
  • Increased effort required to shift gears

Causes of Shifting Problems

The causes of shifting problems in the Chevrolet Cobalt can vary, but some common factors include:

  • Worn or damaged clutch components
  • Low transmission fluid levels
  • Faulty shift cables or linkage
  • Synchronizer issues within the transmission

How to Fix Shifting Problems

To address shifting problems, consider the following steps:

  1. Check the clutch system: Inspect the clutch components, such as the clutch disc, pressure plate, and release bearing, for signs of wear or damage. Replace any faulty parts.
  2. Verify the transmission fluid level: Ensure the transmission fluid is at the appropriate level. If it is low, add the recommended fluid type and quantity.
  3. Inspect the shift cables and linkage: Examine the shift cables and linkage for any signs of damage or misalignment. Adjust or replace as necessary.
  4. Seek professional help: If the shifting problems persist, it is advisable to consult a qualified mechanic or transmission specialist for further diagnosis and repair.

5. Timing Chain Tensioner Failure

The timing chain tensioner plays a crucial role in maintaining proper timing between the engine’s camshafts and crankshaft. Failure of the timing chain tensioner in the 1st generation Chevy Cobalt can lead to significant engine damage.

Symptoms of Timing Chain Tensioner Problems on the 1st Gen Chevy Cobalt

  • Rattling or knocking noises from the engine
  • Engine misfires or runs poorly
  • Illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL)
  • Reduced engine performance

Causes of Timing Chain Tensioner Failure

Timing chain tensioner failure can occur due to several reasons, including:

  • Wear and tear: Over time, the timing chain tensioner can wear out, leading to reduced tension and slack in the timing chain.
  • Oil pressure issues: Insufficient oil pressure can impact the functioning of the timing chain tensioner.
  • Defective tensioner components: Faulty design or manufacturing defects can also contribute to tensioner failure.

How to Fix Timing Chain Tensioner Failure

Fixing timing chain tensioner failure generally involves the following steps:

  1. Diagnose the issue: Use diagnostic tools or consult a professional mechanic to determine if the timing chain tensioner is indeed the source of the problem.
  2. Replace the timing chain tensioner: If the tensioner is faulty, it is crucial to replace it with a new one. Ensure the replacement part is of high quality and compatible with your Chevrolet Cobalt.
  3. Verify timing chain condition: While replacing the tensioner, it is advisable to inspect the timing chain for any signs of wear or damage. Replace the timing chain if necessary.
  4. Reassemble and test: Put the components back together, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Test the vehicle to ensure proper timing and smooth engine operation.

Is the Chevy Cobalt a good car? Review

The Chevrolet Cobalt has been a popular choice for many car owners due to its sleek design and fuel efficiency. However, it is important to note that the perception of a car being “good” can vary depending on individual preferences and needs.

The Cobalt received mixed reviews during its production years (2005-2010). While it offered decent performance and affordability, some owners reported issues with reliability and certain mechanical components. It is always recommended to research and consider factors such as maintenance history, condition, and reviews from current or past owners before making a purchasing decision.

Furthermore, newer Chevrolet models have been introduced since the Cobalt’s production, so it might be worth exploring other options if you are in the market for a car. Ultimately, the perception of whether the Chevrolet Cobalt is a good car or not will depend on personal preferences, priorities, and experiences of individual drivers.

Does Bearing Affect Transmission?

If there is too much bearing play, it can cause the transmission to not function properly and may eventually lead to failure.

However, if there is only a small amount of bearing play, it likely won’t have any major effect on the transmission’s performance.

How Long Does a Chevy Cobalt Transmission Last?

A Chevy Cobalt transmission can last anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

Of course, this number will differ depending on how well you take care of your vehicle and how often you drive it.

If you are someone who is constantly driving in stop-and-go traffic or putting a lot of wear and tear on your car, then your transmission may not last as long.

However, if you take good care of your Cobalt and regularly maintain it, then you can expect your transmission to last for many years to come.

Is It Expensive to Fix a Chevy Cobalt?

No, it is not expensive to fix a Chevy Cobalt. The average cost of repairs for a Chevy Cobalt is $361, which is lower than the average cost of repairs for most other vehicles.

For example, the cost of replacing the fuel pump on a Chevy Cobalt is only $215, while the average cost of replacing the fuel pump on other vehicles is $400.

What Type of Transmission Does a Chevy Cobalt Have?

The Chevy Cobalt is a compact car that was introduced in 2005. It has a front-wheel drive layout and is available with both manual and automatic transmissions.

The manual transmission has five gears, while the automatic transmission has six gears.

The engine options for the Cobalt include a 2.0L four-cylinder or a 2.4L four-cylinder.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Q: Can I drive my Chevrolet Cobalt with a faulty ignition coil? A: It is not recommended to drive your Cobalt with a faulty ignition coil as it can lead to engine performance issues and potential damage.
  2. Q: How often should I replace the gas cap on my Chevrolet Cobalt? A: The gas cap should be replaced if it is damaged or no longer provides a tight seal. Regular inspection is advisable.
  3. Q: Are shifting problems in the Chevy Cobalt expensive to fix? A: The cost of fixing shifting problems can vary depending on the specific issue. It is recommended to consult a professional for an accurate diagnosis and cost estimate.
  4. Q: Can I drive my Chevy Cobalt with a faulty timing chain tensioner? A: It is not recommended to drive the vehicle with a faulty timing chain tensioner as it can result in severe engine damage.
  5. Q: Where can I find quality replacement parts for my Chevrolet Cobalt? A: You can find quality replacement parts for your Cobalt at authorized Chevrolet dealerships, reputable auto parts stores, or online retailers.


The 1st generation Chevrolet Cobalt, despite its popularity, has encountered several common issues that owners need to be aware of.

Ignition coil failure, combination/turn signal switch failure, gas cap failure, shifting problems, transmission problems and timing chain tensioner failure have been reported by Cobalt owners.

By understanding the symptoms, causes, and potential fixes for these problems, owners can take appropriate action to address them promptly and ensure the continued reliability of their Chevrolet Cobalt.


  • Robert Wilson

    Introducing Robert Wilson, your go-to source for automotive technical solutions. With 5 years of industry experience and a mechanical engineering background, Robert's expertise was honed at the heart of Ford Motors in Michigan back in 2010. Join him on this blog as he shares his knowledge and practical fixes to keep your vehicles running at their best.

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