If you buy a used HHR with more than 70,000 miles, LOOK OUT. This car has a problem with the timing chain. The 2.2 L engine that was used in the HHR and other Chevrolet cars from this era has a history of the timing chain giving out. Chevrolet extended the warranty on the timing chain for other vehicle makes using this engine, but chose not to do so for the HHR. I had about 80,000 miles in May 2017 when the timing chain gave out. You cannot see the chain, as there is a cover over it, and because of the design of the engine, if the timing chain breaks or starts slipping, you can have substantial engine damage. in my case, I just had damage to the valve rods, but it resulted in a $3,000.00 engine job. the dealership worked with me to reduce the cost, but when I contacted Chevrolet about the problem and ask why they would not extend the warranty on the timing chain, they just gave me the cold shoulder and would offer no assistance. I otherwise loved my HHR. Also, the combined MPG was about 2.5 MPG less than what is indicated.
Plenty of room for 2 adults and 2 teenagers, and more cargo space than some larger vehicles. Great gas mileage, and fun to drive. We easily get 33-34mpg on the highway. Bought it at 2 years old with 24,000 miles on it. 4 years later it has 74,000 miles on it and still running great. Only downside is it's no longer made, or we'd buy a new one.
At 40-45 miles an hour the vehicle will start shaking violently, the "traction off" light comes on as well as the "ESC service" & "airbag service" lights. It happens on occasion but when it does its scary. The steering wheel is very hard to navigate when this happens. I purchased this vehicle used from Lake Chevrolet with 36,194 miles in 2012 and to date I have put approx 20,000 miles on the car; I'm afraid to drive it a long distance. I have had it in the dealership at least 7 times, even while under warranty, and Chevy has been unable to fix it. Now they won't even check it out unless I pay. So far I have found 19 complaints regarding the ESC & I haven't finished looking. I believe GM knows there is an issue with the Electronic Stability Control but are unable to fix it.
After working at GM for 30 years and seeing a lot of different designs this one has been an eye catcher from the start. There are several areas that cold have made this little ride even better. Such as a six speed auto transmission for mileage with the double overdrive and a independent rear suspension. Other than that a very practical vehicle. Getting in and out is very easy for someone short or a 6 footer plus. Two problems, brake rotors too small but there is a fix. When buying new rotor buy the ones for an SS model they are 11.680 inches in diameter as opposed to 10.850 original rotor. The only other thing you must do is change both brake caliper brackets and still use your old calipers, then bleed the brakes. If you still feel a shack in the front-end if you have over 100,000 miles on your HHR it probably needs new lower control arms. Don't buy anything but Moog, others are poor quality. Number two problem is plastic inside door handles. When buying new ones consider chromed metal handles available on Ebay for around $22.00. These thing I have learned are from a retired GM tool maker/machinist, ME.