The 2009 recall of the Chevrolet Cobalt was due to a fault with the vehicle's automatic transmission lever and linkage that could prevent the driver from restarting the vehicle. The fault could also allow the vehicle to roll away when parked.
The cause of the transmission issues prompting the 2009 recall of the Cobalt was eventually traced to a problem with the vehicle's shift cable adjustment clip. If this clip was incorrectly positioned or damaged, the transmission's position indicator did not line up with the actual state of the transmission. This could prevent a driver from starting the vehicle if the transmission appeared to be in the park position but was not. It could also allow drivers to believe they had placed the vehicle in park when the transmission was still engaged. Dealers were instructed to inspect and adjust the clip in affected vehicles and to replace the shift cable if necessary.
As of June 2015, the Cobalt has also been the subject of two additional recalls since 2009. One recall involved a problem with Cobalts built from 2005 to 2010 that caused the vehicle's electric power steering to lose power while driving. The second recall was part of the larger recall of General Motors vehicles with defective ignition switches that could switch to the off position during normal driving, leading to a total loss of power. The ignition switch recall also affected Cobalts produced from the 2005 through 2010 model years.