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