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Old 09-17-2017, 10:10 PM   #1
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Unhappy My First Five years owning a Sonic

I have a 2012 Sonic sedan LTZ 1.4L Turbo with 6 speed manual. Now that
I run up on 145,000 miles, I thought I would share my journey with my vehicle.
Issues:
Year one- Chrome peel off on door handle, some chatter from brakes at end of first year.
Year two- Heater not working as well, realized I had to add coolant/antifreeze to keep up. Cooling fan bearing went out towards end of year, had close to 50,000 miles so not covered.
Year Three- Paint on hood and rooftop oxidizing and fading. Check Engine light on for ECS tank pressure sensor, not covered either.
Year Four- Changed brakes and rotors for second time, Check engine light still comes on (hoping for recall). paint getting worse.
Year five- Both sun visors broke within a week of each other at the 5 year mark, Still no recall on ECS code problem and will have a problem passing smog next year. Paint looks like crap

Wonder if anyone has had similar issues...

Additional info:
Paint is metallic grey with blue flake.
I work in high desert and live in a higher elevation where we experience colder temps and occasional snow and high winds. park on driveway. Use as a commuter with little to no traffic, but drive 55 miles each way to work. Had a Focus for 9 years and 250,000 miles, and had no where near the issues at this point and time. Did have to change alternator twice on focus.

Last edited by mckeesa; 09-18-2017 at 04:30 AM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 09-17-2017, 11:06 PM   #2
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I have the same car, but only have 40,500 miles. I will have had mine for 6 years on 11/30/2017.
The only items replaced were a brake position sensor, driver heated seat heat element, and stabilizer end links. Other than this, no real issues; original brakes, tires, clutch etc. Paint finish is still nice and shiny. (Inferno Orange) It still runs and drives perfectly.
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Old 09-18-2017, 12:20 AM   #3
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My sun visor will be broken very soon. I feel like it is too hard to un-clip and I have to force it out each time. My brakes do some weird things from time to time but so far they still work. I'm really surprised how well the treadwear is on the stock tires are.
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:23 PM   #4
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The wife and I had two Sonics a few years back. Sold them for used Toyotas and have been problem free since 2014. I didn't have any major issues with ours, but the build quality left a bad taste in my mouth.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attrapereves View Post
The wife and I had two Sonics a few years back. Sold them for used Toyotas and have been problem free since 2014. I didn't have any major issues with ours, but the build quality left a bad taste in my mouth.
Could you elaborate more on the Sonic build quality? We had a pair of 2012 LTZ's; I still have my 1.4 hatch, and I thought the fit, finish, and overall quality was quite good; especially for a first year production vehicle.

I know that my hatch was built in Aug. 2011, but held on factory constraint until Nov. 2011. Must have had a few issues that needed correction prior to shipment.
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2012 Sonic LTZ 1.4 Hatch 6-sp. manual
2017 Malibu LT 1.5 - Leather - Pepperdust Metallic
2016 Equinox 3.6 LTZ - AWD
2009 Silverado 5.3 LT 4x4 ext. cab
2004 Pontiac GTO 5.7 LS1 6-sp. manual

Last edited by Papasonic; 09-24-2017 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Papasonic View Post
Could you elaborate more on the Sonic build quality? We had a pair of 2012 LTZ's; I still have my 1.4 hatch, and I thought the fit, finish, and overall quality was quite good; especially for a first year production vehicle.

I know that my hatch was built in Aug. 2011, but held on factory constraint until Nov. 2011. Must have had a few issues that needed correction prior to shipment.
Sure thing! Both were 2013 LT hatch models bought only a few months apart.

Mine had a rubbing drivers door from the lot. It was dragging on the latching mechanism and making a scraping noise every time the door opened or closed. It finally resolved itself after the door was opened and closed for months. Suppose I could have taken it to the dealer, but they likely would have just sanded it down.

The little piece of plastic on top of the steering column came loose on my wife's after 6mo.

Some pieces of trim were misaligned or didn't fit 100% correctly. However, I've noticed this on almost all new cars under $30K.

But is what made us sell them is this: The keyless entry remote stopped working on my wife's. We think it was heat related because it would work okay on cooler days, but not work at all on hot days. The dealer replaced some $500 part, but it still didn't work right. They reprogrammed something. Again, no dice. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I figured that problems would only get worse.

I traded mine in for a 2010 Toyota Yaris base model. It's a boringly reliable car. Problem free since I bought it in 2014 with 40K miles.

The wife's got traded on a 2014 Corolla S. Problem free as well. Although surprisingly my little Yaris has a better build quality.

EDIT: Forgot two things. Mine was a 5spd. It would grind going into 2nd gear almost every time. The wife's was an automatic and it had rough shifting in certain situations.

Super cool cars, I just wasn't impressed with the build quality.
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Last edited by attrapereves; 09-27-2017 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attrapereves View Post

Super cool cars, I just wasn't impressed with the build quality.



Hmm .. Daughter has a 2014 Sonic LT HB since brand new with 70,000 miles has been trouble free.

She has just done the oil changes and may need new tires soon is all. Has to have transmission oil changed also.

I thought the build quality was good on hers and so we just got a great deal on a 2017 LT HB with the Convenience Pkg. (?) on it. Push button keyless start , power drivers seat, nice interior, sporty and works great.

Be glad your Yaris is doing well. Many owners not so happy from what I read.
Same with Corrola and my neighbor swears at his for cheap interior parts falling off or breaking.

We've owned 4 Toyotas over the years. The last was a 2001 Sienna minivan with the V6 engine Toyota refused to acknowledge a problem with for years. Finally they did, but repairs were rarely successful for the long term. Was not impressed. Then there was the "unintended acceleration" they tried to blame on floor mats when poeple took them out and still had the issue and accidents.

In the end, all car brands can have issues.

You pays your money and takes your choice.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attrapereves View Post

Super cool cars, I just wasn't impressed with the build quality.
Thanks for sharing your quality issues with your Sonic's. I would feel as you do if we had those same problems. Fortunately ours didn't have those issues as of yet. We traded the wife's 1.8 auto sedan with 57,000 miles; no real reason to trade or problems, she just wanted something newer. If we were to keep it, it was approaching numerous maintenance items, tires, brakes, fluids, timing belt, etc. We intended on replacing a Sonic with a Sonic; ended up with a Malibu for little more $ than a new Sonic due to incentives and steep discounts.

I know this may not be important to most, but we tend to try to buy American manufactured UAW built vehicles, as I am a retired UAW ag worker (Case-IH). The Sonic is the only B segment sub-compact built in the USA by UAW workers. The Malibu is UAW built in GM's Fairfax plant, Kansas City Kansas.
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2012 Sonic LTZ 1.4 Hatch 6-sp. manual
2017 Malibu LT 1.5 - Leather - Pepperdust Metallic
2016 Equinox 3.6 LTZ - AWD
2009 Silverado 5.3 LT 4x4 ext. cab
2004 Pontiac GTO 5.7 LS1 6-sp. manual
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:53 PM   #9
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I just bought a 2013 Sonic 1.4 turbo automatic hatchback about a month ago. It had close to 51,000 miles on it. I have put close to 5,000 miles on it since buying it. It is 2013 bright red. The paint looks great, but until I bought it, it had spent it's life since new in Portland, OR. I live near Phoenix, AZ, and I suspect the AZ sun will destroy the paint fairly quickly. The main reason for this is the clearcoat. Metallic paint also spots much worse than non metallic. Because of the clear coat, which burns off quickly in spots, you cannot get to the actual paint. Years ago, before clearcoat, you could polish faded paint back to almost new condition. This is not just a problem with the Sonic, or GM. I have seen 5 year old Mercedes and BMW's with paint in terrible condition.

My car was abused and neglected by the first owner. The oil, coolant, and trans fluid was not changed often enough, and most of the miles were city miles commuting to work and shopping. I am trying to flush the filthy oil out of the engine by doing frequent oil changes. I changed the transmission fluid once, and will change it again in about 6 months. The only actual problem I've had was caused by the Dexcool coolant. I found a couple of minor leaks, and removed some hoses. They had that brown waxy substance inside. I also found it in the coolant reservoir. It took me about a week to flush out all the Dexcool with about 20 gallons of distilled water. I was unable to get all the brown sludge out. I replaced it with Prestone. I will change it and flush it out once a year.

I did find the front wheels out of alignment, but that was most likely caused by the way the car was driven before I got it. Cost me $80 to get it fixed. I have had no other problems with it so far, which is surprising considering the way it was treated. The interior is cheap, but so far nothing has broken or come loose. It still has the original front brake pads on it, which I will be replacing, but the rotors are fine. It is typical Chevy quality fit and finish wise. Japanese cars are usually more reliable, but I just can't bring myself to buy one. I have always been a Chevy guy, but after the Dexcool fiasco, I am now just an American car guy. Dexcool destroyed the engine in my 2001 Malibu. GM knows about the Dexcool problem, they lost a lawsuit over it. IMO, it is just short of criminal that they are still using it.
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attrapereves View Post
Sure thing! Both were 2013 LT hatch models bought only a few months apart.

Mine had a rubbing drivers door from the lot. It was dragging on the latching mechanism and making a scraping noise every time the door opened or closed. It finally resolved itself after the door was opened and closed for months. Suppose I could have taken it to the dealer, but they likely would have just sanded it down.

The little piece of plastic on top of the steering column came loose on my wife's after 6mo.

Some pieces of trim were misaligned or didn't fit 100% correctly. However, I've noticed this on almost all new cars under $30K.

But is what made us sell them is this: The keyless entry remote stopped working on my wife's. We think it was heat related because it would work okay on cooler days, but not work at all on hot days. The dealer replaced some $500 part, but it still didn't work right. They reprogrammed something. Again, no dice. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I figured that problems would only get worse.

I traded mine in for a 2010 Toyota Yaris base model. It's a boringly reliable car. Problem free since I bought it in 2014 with 40K miles.

The wife's got traded on a 2014 Corolla S. Problem free as well. Although surprisingly my little Yaris has a better build quality.

EDIT: Forgot two things. Mine was a 5spd. It would grind going into 2nd gear almost every time. The wife's was an automatic and it had rough shifting in certain situations.

Super cool cars, I just wasn't impressed with the build quality.
2012 1.8L Auto LT Sedan, bought new in Feb. 2012, currently has 56k on it:

Blown head gasket and cracked cylinder head at 35k miles.
Three sets of stabilizer bar links.
Intake duct replaced.
Rear brake drums and shoes replaced at 25k due to GM campaign.
Entire shifter assembly replaced.
RF power window motor replaced
Floor mats wore out to the carpet at 5k miles.
Transmission reprogrammed three times.
Battery went bad after 2 years.
Alternator went bad after 2 years
Coolant recovery bottle cracked this summer
Thermostat replaced twice.
Brake pedal position sensor replaced

...that's off the top of my head. I did some of the work myself, but most was covered under the BtoB warranty and the extended component coverage I fought for through GM.

I'm not impressed with the build quality as others have stated, and I feel that this was not GM's best foot forward in the small car market and that they have not learned many of the lessons from the 1970s and 1980s.

My .02
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