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LAST UPDATED:  March 16, 2021

Chevrolet Cruze Reliability

Hundreds of thousands of Cruzes have been recalled

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PUBLISHED ON March 16, 2021

General Motors

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Intro: Chevrolet sold roughly two million Cruze units during its decade-long lifespan, and approximately a quarter of those vehicles were singled out in just one recall. More than 400,000 2011-2012 Cruze cars were recalled due to a fire risk, and that’s just one of numerous recalls that amounted to more than 100,000 vehicles for each one. If you’re considering buying a used Cruze because it’s a cheap option, you might want to rethink your choices.

The Cruze was sold for the 2011 model year through the 2019 model year in two different generations. It was offered as a compact sedan or sleek hatchback, could be ordered with a long-range turbo-diesel engine, and it was available with a stick shift. 

However, any positive headlines have been overshadowed by a plague of issues related to the engine, transmission, and turbochargers. Learn more about the Chevrolet Cruze’s questionable past in our detailed report below.

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CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

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Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand? 

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability?

Short answer: you. The longer answer is that a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Chevrolet Cruze Specs

Vehicle Type: Compact Car

Doors: 4

Engine options: Turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel

Is the Chevrolet Cruze Reliable?

Reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we cannot make a definitive statement that the Cruze is reliable or unreliable. However, we have assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. 

Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the Cruze’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The Chevrolet Cruze’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Cruze’s issues throughout the years.

2019

Recall 1: Missing bolts on Start/Stop Accumulator

Recall 2: Insufficient Coating on Rear Brake Caliper Pistons

Complaints: 3

2018

Recall 1: Missing bolts on Start/Stop Accumulator

Recall 2: Insufficient Coating on Rear Brake Caliper Pistons

Recall 3: Fuel Leak In Rollover After Crash

Complaints: 52

2017

Recall 1: Incorrectly Welded Seat Back Frame

Recall 2: Fuel Leak In Rollover After Crash

Complaints: 102

2016

Recall 1: Incorrectly Welded Seat Back Frame

Recall 2: Fuel Leak In Rollover After Crash

Recall 3: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 4: Headlights May Be Incorrectly Aimed

Complaints: 165

2015

Recall 1: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 2: Seat Belt Assembly Not Properly Tightened

Recall 3: Steering Gear Not Tightened To Specification

Recall 4: Parking Brake Cable Brackets

Complaints: 185

2014

Recall 1: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 2: Steering Gear Not Tightened To Specification

Recall 3: Engine Block Heater Power Cord Damage

Recall 4: Driver’s Front Air Bag Inflator Rupture

Recall 5: Front Right Half Shaft May Fracture

Recall 6: Broken Transmission Adjuster Cable

Recall 7: Front Right Half Shaft May Fracture (again)

Complaints: 527

2013

Recall 1: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 2: Engine Block Heater Power Cord Damage

Recall 3: Driver’s Front Air Bag Inflator Rupture

Recall 4: Front Right Half Shaft May Fracture

Recall 5: Front Right Half Shaft May Fracture (again)

Complaints: 472

2012

Recall 1: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 2: Driver Side Frontal Air Bag May Not Deploy

Recall 3: Possible Loss of Braking Assist

Recall 4: Driver Side Frontal Air Bag May Not Deploy (again)

Recall 5: Driver Side Frontal Airbag May Not Deploy (again, again)

Recall 6: Oil Spilling or Dripping/Engine Compartment Fire

Recall 7: Fuel Tank Weld Spots/Fuel Leak/Possible Fire

Investigation 1: Air Bag Non-Deployment
Investigation 2: Chapman Chevrolet / Cruze Engine Recall

Investigation 3: Engine Compartment FIre

Complaints: 771

2011

Recall 1: Key May Be Removed When Not In Park

Recall 2: Possible Loss of Braking Assist

Recall 3: Oil Spilling or Dripping/Engine Compartment Fire

Recall 4: Fuel Tank Weld Spots/Fuel Leak/Possible Fire

Recall 5: Auto Trans Shift Link Installation

Recall 6: Steering Gear Shaft

Recall 7: Steering Wheel Fastener

Investigation 1: Chapman Chevrolet / Cruze Engine Recall

Investigation 2: Engine Compartment FIre

Complaints: 674

NHTSA Investigation Into Chevrolet Cruze Fires

The first two years the Chevrolet Cruze was offered in the United States were messy. Because of a possible fire risk, Chevrolet was investigated by the NHTSA. The statement below is the result of the NHTSA’s findings:

In a June 21, 2012, letter to NHTSA, General Motors LLC. (GM) submitted a Defect Information Report(DIR) identifying a defect in approximately 413,148 model year (MY) 2011 through 2012 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles manufactured from October 2, 2009, through May 31, 2012 (Recall 12V-288). According to GM, engine oil change procedures can result in spilling or dripping of oil on the engine shield. Also, manual transmission vehicles with a completely worn clutch may cause hydraulic fluid to be expelled from the clutch housing vent hole. If oil, debris, or the burning hydraulic fluid contacts hot engine or exhaust system surfaces, and the engine shield, the shield may ignite and burn, leading to a possible engine compartment or vehicle fire. GM and its engine shield supplier, Hanwha, modified the engine shield to address factors that may contribute to engine compartment fire. The redesigned shields were completely implemented in production vehicles by June 2012.

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) analyzed complaint data provided by GM as well as complaints submitted to ODI from consumers. In total, there were 25 unique Chevrolet Cruze reports indicating hot surface ignition due to engine oil or hydraulic fluid contacting hot manifold, exhaust surfaces, and the engine shield. Four additional fires were identified that resulted from other or unknown causes, including 1 attributed to a missing oil filler cap. Three fires of unknown cause all involved vehicles equipped with 1.4L L4 turbocharged engines. ODI will continue to monitor field experience in Cruze vehicles equipped with that engine.

Owners of the recalled vehicles are notified to take their vehicle to a GM dealer, who will modify the engine shield to prevent oil fluids from contacting the shield. Also, on vehicles with a manual transmission, dealers are to apply protective tape to the electronic power steering wire harness to prevent any incidents related to this issue. This preliminary evaluation is closed.

The ODI reports cited above can be viewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers (ODI Nos.): 10456338, 10453754, 10450556, 10446718.

Other Major Chevrolet Cruze Recalls

Steering Gear Fastener, April 6, 2011

NHTSA number: 11V221000

Model year: 2011 Cruzes

Vehicles affected: 2,100

Steering Gear Shaft, May 6, 2011

NHTSA number: 11V270000

Model year: 2011 Cruzes

Vehicles affected: 128,911

Possible Loss of Braking Assist, August 15, 2013

NHTSA number: 13V360000

Model year: 2011-2012 Cruzes

Vehicles affected: 292,879

Front Right Half Shaft May Fracture, March 31, 2014

NHTSA number: 14V151000

Model year: 2013-2014 Cruzes

Vehicles affected: 174,046

Fuel Leak In Rollover After Crash, May 10, 2018

NHTSA number: 18V304000

Model year: 2016-2018 Cruzes

Vehicles affected: 111,966

Missing Bolts on Stop/Start Actuator, October 29, 2020 

NHTSA number: 20V668000

Model year: 2018-2019 Cruzes, plus 11 other GM vehicles

Vehicles affected: 194,105

Common Chevrolet Cruze Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all of Chevrolet’s models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic Cruze offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car. CarComplaints.com named 2011 the worst model year due to engine problems.

Transmission Failure

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $3,000-3,500, according to CarComplaints.com

Customer Complaints

“With only 12,100 miles on the vehicle, the dual mass flywheel and clutch suddenly failed upon a false start and then made the vehicle unsafe to drive. Repairs required a new flywheel and a clutch hydraulic component replacement. The failure appeared to happen quickly with the false start while parked, but subsequent driving on the highway the clutch was unreliable and caused an unsafe condition where the vehicle could stall in traffic. I was able to limp into the dealership for repairs because it was a short drive from where the failure had occurred.” - 2018 model

“I'm having tranny issues with my car. It's not showing any codes in the tranny control module. It's down-shifting really hard and sometimes not even shifting. I have to pull over and sit there for 15 mins wasting my time when I could be getting my kids or going to work! I have seen about 30+ with these issues and chevy isn't doing anything about it. I do a lot of city driving. I don't even drive the car hard that's why I'm so upset. $24,000 piece of crab.” - 2018 model

Cracked Piston

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $1,700, according to CarComplaints.com

Customer Complaint:

“64,000 miles, the car started sputtering, service stability and check engine lights came on. The dealership said the piston ring broke and scored the cylinder wall beyond repair. Need to replace the engine.” -  2017 model

Antifreeze Smell in Car

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $, according to CarComplaints.com

Customer Complaint:

“2014 Chevrolet Cruze ltz exhaust fumes/mold/antifreeze smells caused sickness, bad allergies, eyes, nose, lungs problems.” - 2014 model

The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contact stated that the vehicle was overheating. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic and the contact was informed that oil and coolant were mixing in the engine and that the engine needed to be replaced. The contact stated that the radiator, water pump, thermostat housing, and coolant reservoir were replaced. Sir Walter Chevrolet (8501 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612), was contacted and informed of the failure and an appointment was scheduled. The contact stated that the vin was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 12v288000 (engine and engine cooling). the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. the failure mileage was approximately 103,000.” -2011 model

Transmission Whine

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $, according to CarComplaints.com

Customer Complaint

“In the park at random times the service traction control and service stabilitrak light will come on. The car is real sluggish at taking off, I can not leave a stop sign with a car any less than 40-50 car links away without fear of getting hit. when the speed finally starts to pick up it shifts roughly at times. The car also feels like it is jumping when in drive and holding the brake.” - 2013 model

JD Power Consumer Quality and Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.” 

2019: 85/100

2018: 87/100

2017: 88/100

2016: 84/100

2015: 84/100

2014: 84/100

2013: 80/100

2012: 81/100

2011: 77/100

The 400,000-Mile Chevrolet Cruze

Every car will have exceptional examples, both exceptionally terrible and exceptionally incredible, and this further proves the fact that reliability is difficult to predict. In the video below, a professional courier drove a turbocharged Cruze Eco model with a manual transmission on regular gas until it died at about 421,000 miles. Instead of getting another car, a new engine was swapped in, and it passed 725,000 miles when this video was posted two years ago.

FAQs About Chevrolet Cruze Reliability

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Do Chevy Cruze Cars Have a Lot of Problems?

A: You saw the rap sheet.

Q: Is the Chevrolet Cruze Expensive To Maintain?

A: Speaking strictly about maintenance and not repairs, the Cruze will require typical maintenance like oil changes, tires, brakes, fluids, and all your filters.

Q: How Many Miles Does a Chevy Cruze Get on a Full Tank?

A: The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel hatchback is rated at 472 total miles on a single tank. The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze sedan is rated at 452 miles on a single tank.

Q: What Does LT Mean on a Chevy Cruze? 

A: LT means Luxury Touring. Don’t expect the Cruze to be luxurious, though. 

Q: Does the Chevrolet Cruze Require Premium Gas? 

A: Because some Cruze engines are turbocharged, the premium could be used for maximum “performance,” but most Cruze’s take regular gas or diesel.

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote