2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Sniff and Chat

April 25, 2012


My colleague Dan Frio and his olfactory-champ wife are so right. Our Sonic does stink like three-day-old fish. I haven't had a chance to try banhugh's baking soda trick, but it sounds like it's worth a try. I also decided to check in with Chevrolet customer service last night, via its live chat feature, and pose the question there. This doesn't seem to be a transient problem, and it really does ruin the ride of an otherwise fun car.

I had an interesting few minutes with Matt, the customer service rep on the other end of the Internet. Of course, since we don't have smell-o-rama on the Web yet, he couldn't appreciate exactly what the stink is, or what it might represent. So he recommended that I take the car into the dealership.

In addition to having instant, 24/7 access to customer service, another great feature of chat is that you don't have to take notes. With a little copy/paste, you have an instant record of the conversation. Here's some of what Matt and I discussed:

Matt: I'm sorry to hear about your problem! What does it smell like?
Customer: It smells kind of fishy or chemicalish. I was reading a review … that described it as "a heavy chemical smell from the vinyl seats." My friend Dan, whose wife has an excellent nose for smells, also isolated it to the seats.
Matt: [The dealership] might be able to help you with the problem and remove it.
Customer: OK. Any idea how they'd do that? We've tried leaving windows open, a shot of Ozium, etc.
Matt: If it's a seat or a panel causing the problem, they might be able to exchange it for another, otherwise I don't have information in my resources to be able to know exactly what they would do. Do you need information on a Chevrolet service center?
Customer: Sure … And if they want to give us leather seats, we'd really like that ;)

Matt didn't pick up on my hint or the emoticon, but he did give me several Chevrolet dealerships to choose from. As the conversation closed, there was this exchange:

Matt: Do you have any other questions for me?
Customer: Well, one more: Does your knowledge base show other Sonic owners having this issue?
Matt: Is your vehicle a manual?
Customer: Yes, it is.
Matt: Okay. It may be your clutch -- I would definitely take it to a service center for further assistance.

Now, people here at Edmunds know their stinks, and there's some doubt to the smelly-clutch theory. Nevertheless, there may be an odor-removal service visit in our future.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @7,713 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic in VA is:

$147 per month*
* Explanation