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Chevy HHR: Problems & Solutions



  • I have the same issue in the south. I had my blue 1LT for 1 month when we got a 2 day ice storm in Dallas. They sanded all the roads for the ice. I only drove on the sanded roads for 2 days. Once everything dried out and I washed my car, I found out I'd been sand-blasted. Rear fenders and rocker panels had a frosted look. I only had 1500 miles on my HHR then. My local dealer did not hesitate to say it was a problem. They immediately offered to repaint it for me. They did some investigation with GM and no official word from GM on it. My dealer installed the molded splash guards, repainted the rear fenders and rockers, and provided me a loaner from Enterprise at GM's expense. I suggested that they leave the plastic guards off of the rear fenders and cover them with the clear vinyl paint protection similar to the clear bras. I have been told by several sources that the vinyl would be more impact resistant than the paint or those plastic protectors that GM installed initially. They said they didn’t think it would be necessary after having the mud flaps installed, but said they would do it if I saw the need after trying the mud flaps. As I expected, the mud flaps did help deflect debris from the rear fenders. However, after extensive testing, (washing my car and intentionally running through puddles at a high rate of speed) I found that there was still going to be a problem with debris hitting the fenders and chipping the paint. The spray pattern only covered about 1/3 of the way up the fenders now, but was still there. So, I contacted my service manager again. He gladly added the clear vinyl to the rear fenders and rockers. Their vinyl cutting software did not have a template for the rear fenders of the HHR yet, so they did a custom job. They covered the entire fender from the point it flares out all the way to the wheel well. They covered a much larger area than the pre-cut sets you can get at and others. Can’t even tell it is there. Looks great. I just hope it holds up next winter when I run through sanded roads again. If not, I will be going back to them again…

    I am very happy with my dealer's response. I have to say, I have had great dealer support. I hate to hear that many of you do not have the same luck. To my knowledge, they didn’t go through the district GM rep at all. They just did it and charged it to GM as a warranty issue. I hope GM will eventually step up to the plate across the board for us though.
  • mapperhdmapperhd Posts: 2
    Not to digress too far from this subject, but be glad you don't own a 2004 Volvo wagon like my buddy. We were driving down the freeway when he opened the sun roof for the first time. You should have seen the entire roof start to buckle up and down from the wind. Talk about design flaws!
  • mapperhdmapperhd Posts: 2
    So, I want to be preemptive about this issue. What is recommended? The running boards, the vinyl protection, both? This is my first brand new car and I'd like to try and keep it looking that way as long as possible.
  • geemacgeemac Posts: 28
    From what I have gleaned from the forums you should at least have the running boards. The mudflaps alone do not appear to do the job. People with running boards claim that they have experienced little or no damage. Both the boards and flaps would insure no problem but it is a matter of taste if you want both. Personally, I kept the factory-installed vinyl stone guards when I had my running boards put on but I haven't logged enough miles to know if the running boards alone are the solution. From what I have read they should suffice. I just know that after 4300 miles the rear quarters looked like they had been sandblasted and something had to be done. I didn't add mudflaps because I don't like the looks of them. Some people remove the stone guards when they add running boards because they feel it makes a cleaner look without them.
  • I now have 12,000 miles on my HHR. Love it. But now the engine light comes on, followed by "Low Power" in the instrument panel message board and then the traction control light comes on. I have taken it to my dealer twice. They ended up finding two wires rubbing under the carpet on the passenger side and fixed it. Yesterday. Today the TC and Low Power lights are back. They don't have a clue what is wrong with it. Suggestions? It usually happens after I have been driving for about 20 minutes. BTW, the traction control thing is not helpful when you are stuck on a snowy patch and need to "rock out". :confuse:
  • ALSO I forgot to mention:
    1.Low power means it will only go 35 mph when the light comes on.
    2. the first time in (I had it towed) they diagnosed a sticky rear brake for the TC problem and and emission control leak for the low power issue.
    Isn't it a bit strange that the two would coincide?
    3. Why do cars never act up for the mechanics? Pixies? Demons? Is my car possessed?
  • The running boards alone should eliminate the problem. I take a close look at every HHR that I see. The ones with running boards are free from scars on the rear fenders. Every one without them has the sand blasted fenders. Some wose than others, but it is still there. By all means, get the running boards when you buy one. If you find one on a lot that you like and it doesn't have running boards, make the dealer order them and charge you for the ordered option price (installation included) rather than the after purchase price from the parts dept + installation.
  • beavisbeavis Posts: 2
    very good advise to anyone that has not finalized the sale on a HHR , it's like fighting the U.S. goverment if you bought one without r/b's
  • tomshhrtomshhr Posts: 5
    NW Wis and MN, Superior and Duluth area
  • I bought my HHR in Aug '05w/out the running boards, had it about 1 week and decided it looked more retro with them, so I went to the dealer bought running boards and molded flaps. I have NO damage, I did however have them take the chip deflectors off, IMO I think it's looks silly with the deflectors. They only charged me about $500.00 for everything and labor. A $500.00 well spent!!!!!!!!
  • We have a 2001 PT cruiser that makes the same thundering noise it the rear window is down even and inch.
  • Ok, Folks. Please let me know if any of you have experienced this problem...

    This problem started with less than 2,000 miles on the car. (a couple of days after I rated the car a "10.0" on the reviews).

    After I drove the car for about 15 minutes, I put it in Park and left it running. Got out and pumped gas. When I got back in, the "TC-off" light was on. When I put the car into Drive, it banged into gear (felt like a broken engine mount). I played around with it for a couple minutes ... turning the car off and back on again. Eventually, I decided to drive it with the light on ... almost 10:00 pm, not much of a choice. As I was driving home, for about 15 minutes, the transmission shifted extremely rough with nearly every shift. Then, all of a sudden, the trans was back to normal shifting. Once I got home, I turned the car off then restarted it, and the light was no longer on. The next day, everything seemed normal again.

    One of my dealer's service techs shops at my store. About a week later, he stopped in. I asked him if he's heard of anything like that. He said it wasn't familiar, but at this time, I had the only HHR in the area. The tech told me if it happened again, to make an appointment and have it checked ... it might store a code.

    About a month or so later, on a Friday, I drove to my parent's house. I left the car running while I ran in for a few minutes. When I came back out, the mysterious "TC-off" light was on again once more. So, I immediately called the dealer and set an appointment for Monday morning.

    When I took the car in, they kept running diagnostics checks and came up empty. The service manager called GM Tech Center for help. They told him the BCM wasn't properly programmed from the factory, and it needed reprogrammed. So, that's what they did.

    About another month goes by, and umm ... it happens again while I'm waiting in line at the car wash... on a Friday afternoon again ... I called and had to wait until Monday to take it in.

    This time, they checked everything possible ... even ran an Evap Test ... and came up with nothing!

    I started asking Service Managers at different GM dealers if they've experienced this problem with any of the vehicles they've serviced. And, of course, none of them have.

    A helpful Service Advisor at the Saturn dealer told me to ask my dealer if they had a VDR (vehicle data recorder). He told me they're great at finding a problem when the dealer can't duplicate it.

    I asked my dealer's Service Manager if they had one. He said they did, and he could install it to see if it may finally find the problem.

    First, the program for the VDR wasn't updated for 2006 models. Second, once it was updated, my car rejected it.

    So, by this time, I placed a call to Chevrolet Customer Service to report the problem with the car. I was told on a follow up call that since the dealer can't duplicate the problem, that I basically just have to live with it. But, if it happens again, I should call her back.

    I know the dealer I'm working with is doing everything possible to help with my problem. I'm one more attempt away from pushing for a replacement or refund under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law. I just want a new car ... MY HHR ... free of electrical / mechanical defects... just like everyone else here who purchases a new vehicle.

    I'm starting to think I got a true lemon. :lemon:
  • beavisbeavis Posts: 2
    this may not help the complete problem but these newer cars the gas cap is very fussy ,it can screw up a cars computer real bad , leaving the car running when gasing up is a no no , or starting the car before replacing gas cap ...both of these really mess things up , i'm surprised the engine light didn't come on . i'm not a certified auto tech. just my my opinion.....
  • Thank you for the tip, but I know that's not my problem. I was only pumping gas once when it happened. Plus, the HHR will display "check gas cap" on the driver information center instead of tripping the engine light as does earlier GM models.

    Again, I truely appreciate your input ... as I'm running out of ideas. I guess I'm going to hang in there and hope for a final solution to come in the near future.
  • Hi! Has anyone experienced any sudden squeeking noises coming from the steering wheel on their HHR?
    Mine started doing this just out of the blue 2 days ago. It's not coming from under the hood as though it was out of power steering fluid. (my car only has 2500 miles on it)
    I checked, and it is definitely an interior noise coming directly from the steering wheel.

    The sound reminds me of the noise that comes from cleaning a window with Windex then wiping it off with a paper towel.
    The sound has been coming and going for the past 2 days.

    Does anybody have any suggestions? Thanks!
  • Not exactly sure about the squeeking noise, but are you sure your HHR was out of power steering fluid? The HHR has electric power steering ... there is no place to put power steering fluid ... there is no hydraulic pump.

    I would suggest taking it to the dealer and have them check the steering column.
  • Ooops! I didn't do a good job explaining my problem. :confuse: When I said "I checked and it is definetly..." I meant that I checked the inside of the car where the steering wheel is located to find the noise. You were right to think otherwise. My sentence read as though I checked the power steering fluid.

    Thank you so much for the info about the electric power steering. That certainly explains why the noise wasn't coming from underneath the hood!

    I have owned brand new Chevy's for the past 20 years, and this will be the first time I have had to return a car to the dealer for a problem so soon after purchasing it. On the other hand, my Caprice, Lumina, and Malibu, were not first-year models. Hopefully its just a computer problem....
  • mlwlkmlwlk Posts: 10
    If anyone has experienced this problem with their HHR, and been able to get GM to fix it properly, would you please share your victory with me at

    We bought our HHR in January. We have had it in 3 times for "radio off" static followed by loud crackling & popping immediately after turning the rasdio on. GM couldn't figure it out the 1st time. The 2nd time, they "re programmed" the radio. The 3rd time, they replaced the radio. But, the problem still exists.

    Please let me know if you have the answer.
  • There are topics one other HHR boards about problems like this.. Seems the fuses in the fuse box under the hood MAY be loose, try pushing down and re-seating ALL fuses in the fuse box UNDER THE HOOD
  • iowabjiowabj Posts: 2
    I have just under 3,000 miles on my HHR. It had been a demo model so had 2,000 miles when I purchased it. It has been in the shop more than I have had it out. The TC off light kept coming on. Might be sitting, might be driving down the Interstate. There seemed to be no duplication of behavior on my part that would cause it to happen. Anyhow, they reprogrammed the BCM as you mentioned. And so far, 200 miles later, it has not repeated.

    But, my main problem is with the security door lock system. Sometimes when the TC-off light would come on (above problem) the doors would lock and the security door lock light would come on. Sometimes it would come on without the TC-off light. Now that the TC-off light problem is supposedly fixed, I am still experiencing the security door lock problem. They replaced the "module"? I think that is what they called it, and found themselves locked out of the vehicle with no way to turn off the security door locks. They called Chevrolet TEC help and were told that the installation instructions need updating and they needed to do step 1, step 2 and step 3. So, they ordered me a third "module" and put it in. I have now driven about 200 miles and sure enough it came on again. Was driving about 35 mph when the doors locked and the security door lock light came on for about 10 seconds. They are not going to be happy when I have to call the dealer's service department this morning to tell them it is STILL not right. Anyone else have this problem?
  • bertvbertv Posts: 6
    I am having the same issue. I am in Canada and have received zero satisfaction from GM on this. I have involved the dealer, GM District Service Manager and GM Corporate (800 line) and received the same response. I too am not willing to spend $800 CDN to resolve GM's design issue. Yesterday I went on-line and initiated my claim with CAMVAP (Canadian Arbitration Process). If GM isn't going to step up to the plate to resolve this, at a minimum I am going to ensure it causes them significant aggravation. I have bought 8 new GM vehicles in the past 20 years and am totally disgusted by the pathetic response to this issue.
  • My dealer (Herb Connolly Chevrolet in Framingham, MA) has been very supportive on this. They were going to repaint at their expense, but GM finally stepped up to the plate on that. I am also having the mud flaps put on. I can't really afford running boards although that would correct the problem. BTW - I had some damage done to mt right front door. :sick: Dropped it off on May 1. They were going to replace the door shell so it would look right. Guess what! GM isn't making all that many repair panels. While mine sits in the shop all pulled apart I have no ride! GM gave a release date of May 19th for the door. Insane! Poor design and poor planning. I think GM was hoping the HHR would bail them out. Hmmm....maybe there is a big discount on running boards in my future ;)
  • philbbgphilbbg Posts: 2
    Fellas, I am a GM Technician. I specialize in electrical, trim & a/c.I do not build the vehicle. I only turn the wrench to repair them. These radios are programmable. The problem you are having is a software issue, not a hardware issue. Service Managers & Advisors do not repair your vehicles. Techs are at the mercy of GM engineers. I have not found any wiring issues w/ these HHR's. The software update addressing the "pop" noise at startup has fixed several radio concerns of these vehicles. I cannot pretend to "know" why some are not repaired. I am not a radio "builder". I can repair obvious wiring & electrical concerns, but do not delve into the software portion of GM audio systems; (except reprogramming). "We" are in the dark as much as you. The HHR is an over-priced piece of crap as far as we are concerned; but folks buy them anyway, and GM keeps building them. The HHR is built on the Cobalt platform; but we are not seeing the same probs w/ the Cobalt. Buy a Cobalt and have more fun. You people need to know that techs are not actually GM employees, but employees of the dealership. We are not to blame. We are trying to find solutions to your vehicles' problems. We do not get compensated for ten hours of diagnostic time if we do not find anything "actually" wrong. The techs are trying to repair these problems. Perhaps we are all too drunk or stoned to "figure" it out; perhaps we just dont care. I do!!!! I can fix the problem when a problem exists; but I cannot work miracles. I leave that to Christ or GM Engineers.
  • tessa1tessa1 Posts: 1
    Try checking to see how close your cell phone is to the radio. I usually have to pitch mine into the back seat to get it to quit interfering with the radio reception, whether the radio is on or off. :(
  • dancermandancerman Posts: 220
    Our 2002 Jetta has the same noise problem as the HHR when rear windows are open. It's called a flow induced vibration that occurs when air passes the edge of the window. At certain speeds, the air flow passing the window opening vibrates at a frequency that resonates with the air inside the passenger compartment. In fact, the VW engineers have included a fence device in the Jetta sunroof to interfere with the flow when the sunroof is open. If you could add a fence-like device to the forward edge of the side windows it would lessen and perhaps eliminate the problem.
  • wiltywilty Posts: 2
    I too had the paint damage and was told that placing Running Boards on the vehicle would solve the problem. I contacted GM and was told that they agree it was a design flaw and GM would pay to paint the vehicle but I had to pay for the Running Boards. I asked the person at GM for my Complaint Number and went to the Chevrolet Dealer and told them that I was going to get Window Markers and place "Don't buy one of these - See me and I'll tell you why" on each of the HHR's windows. My HHR is now scheduled for Paint and Running Boards at no expense to me. Be persistant with this problem.............
  • smogdungsmogdung Posts: 349
    We got our 2LT last November....absolutely flawless so far..27 mpg ave. Traction control great in the snow, remote start good in cold, XM ...addicting, great on favorite curvey roads, >120 mph, paid several thousand less than the 2001 RAV4 - loud-noisey-gas guzzler that we bought new in the time it had 6,000 miles on it it had been back to the shop about 6-7 the time the waranty was up the list was as long as your arm. At about 5,000 miles ...every piece of metal remotely associated with all the brakes was replaced....waranty work bills would have been >$6,000. At about 35,000 miles the dealership had the engine open and someone working inside the engine everyday for 2 - 3 weeks???? I put about 2,000 miles on the loaner car. You want to see some horror stories...go to the new RAV4 V6 forums..... 2LT has been flawless so far. In 95 I bought my 16 year old son a Sunfire GT....he still drives it...only been in the shop once for a switch that was recalled. In 2000 I bought my 16 YO daughter a Cavelier's never been in the shop for anything. You want to a horror story..go back a few issues & look at Car & Driver's long term review of that $50K Toyota or Lexus...
  • jntjnt Posts: 316

    Do you know what company makes the HHR radio? You can see its label on the side of the unit plus the place of manufacturing.

  • philbbgphilbbg Posts: 2
    JT, I do not know if your reply is condescending, but my answer is, yes, I know the manufacturer of these audio systems. However, my point reflects the plight of technicians attempting to resolve the audio system concerns. We are at the mercy of GM engineers. The problem lies in software design; not hardware. GM has updated the audio software to address the popping, crackling noise; and the update has "fixed" several concerns I have dealt with. I am diagnosing an HHR presently which the update did not "fix". I believe the vehicle should be bought back and crushed. :) GM engineers do NOT work closely with Technicians. We are on our own. I understand these systems well, but I do not write software programs. The vehicles get more intelligent and we are left in the dark, like the owner. Again, technicians are not employed by the manufacturer, but by the dealership where they work.
  • bertvbertv Posts: 6
    Not 100% sure, but it is probably Delphi
This discussion has been closed.