The Chevy HHR, Cobalt Might Not Be Entirely Safe

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the chevy hhr cobalt might not be entirely safe

Better clean up that spilled drink. It’s a safety hazard.

Yes, two low-end, Recession-era Chevrolets have been singled out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for an investigation, this one pertaining not to faulty ignition switches (that’s all in the past), but the pooling of flammable liquid in areas where such things should not pool.

A probe opened on July 5th concerns the 2008-2010 Cobalt and 2008-2009 HHR, two incredibly sensible vehicles with low ownership costs, according to friends of the author. But not every owner is singing their car’s praises.

According to the NHTSA, 208 complaints about fuel leaks have flowed into the agency. The leaks stem from corrosion in the fuel lines near the left rear wheel well, which is exactly where an identical leak sprung up on your author’s ’93 Corsica many, many years ago.

“The corrosion occurs at the polymer blocks that attach the fuel lines to the underbody and underneath an insulation wrap-heat shield adjacent to the exhaust pipe and muffler,” a document associated with the probe states, adding that 39 of the complaints noted dripping fuel or a puddle of gasoline forming beneath the car.

Given the age of these vehicles, the number built (there’s 614,275 under this particular microscope), and roadway conditions experienced in the Salt Belt for half the year, one could imagine the problem being more widespread than initially thought. The investigation’s still in its earliest stage; time will tell whether the NHTSA turns its focus onto earlier or later models, or whether the agency prompts a recall.

Again, speaking from experience, your author would caution any owner not to be a moron by attempting to light the gasoline pool with a flung cigarette while pulling away from friends’ homes. That kind of thing might be cool when you’re 19, but not now. It’s worth noting that the sister car of this writer’s former compact bowtie sedan (two-for-one auction deal) self-immolated in the driveway of a later owner, cause unknown.

In the Cobalt and HHR’s case, Chevy says no known fires or injuries are linked to the fuel leak issue.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC, General Motors]

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  • Subuclayton Subuclayton on Jul 08, 2020

    You can deride (literally) all the HHR's you want, along with crappy mileage PT Cruisers, but they are having the last laugh. Junk though the elitists say they were and are, I can't recall the last time I saw either one of these cars on the road that didn't have a spiffy new paint job and the obvious affection of its owner. These cars connected with a lot of people, and they will still be around until the government starts arresting drivers of cars with gasoline engines.

  • Yankee Yankee on Jul 08, 2020

    Wow. So much hate on here for everyday cars! I have worked on (and owned) all kinds of cars over my 30+ years in the repair business, and while it pains me to say I'm not a fan of domestics in general, the Cobalt and HHR were not as bad as people say. They are pretty reliable and extremely cheap to fix when they do break. For people of limited means (students, entry-level workers, those rebuilding their credit after a divorce, etc.), these cars are actually a good choice for basic transportation that is reasonably reliable that won't break the bank on maintenance and repairs. For the same money, you'd have to buy the cars I like (e.g., Honda, Toyota) with double the age, mileage, and rust. I've fixed a few of these fuel line issues and it gives you plenty of warning, they don't just explode. The repair itself is cheap. It's a serious issue, to be sure, but if everyone who owns one of these has them checked and/or repaired for it, they can look forward to many more miles ahead. ALL cars have problems eventually, but for working people on a limited budget, what matters is what it costs to repair and how long the car is down.

    • -Nate -Nate on Jul 08, 2020

      Just so ~ I can never brag about whatever hooptie ride is rusting quietly in my driveway, I like sedans and light duty pickup trucks . I konw folks who own an HHR or that Plymouth retro thing , the love them and in the end by buddy saved up the $ to have his busted tranny fixed and still drives and loves that car . Typically, the guys who yammer the lost & loudest about some POS, don't have anything better . -Nate

  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.