Problems With Chevy HHR

by Dennis Hartman
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Image by, courtesy of ian munroe

The HHR is a compact wagon from the Chevrolet division of American automaker General Motors. Available since the 2006 model year, the HHR is built on GM's universal "Delta" platform and is part of the ongoing trend toward retro-style vehicles. While the HHR has only been available for several years, it has already become known for several problems that owners and potential buyers should be mindful of.

Stalling Problems

One of the most notorious problems with the Chevy HHR involves vehicles that stall suddenly. Complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have indicated that the problem occurs intermittently, making it difficult for Chevy technicians to diagnose or repair. Because stalling can occur in a variety of circumstances, its results can range from inconvenient to dangerous. In some cases, owners have had an HHR serviced only to experience stalling again shortly afterward.

Electrical Problems

Another series of problems common to the HHR involve the vehicle's electrical systems. Some owners have had to replace fuse boxes or even the battery after just a few months of standard use. Other owners have cited problems with the intermittent windshield wipers, malfunctioning power automatic windows and door locks and HHRs that are difficult or impossible to start. In addition, HHRs equipped with a sunroof may experience problems with the roof's operation, due to either a faulty motor or problems with the wiring.


Since it began production the HHR has been the subject of several recalls by General Motors. In 2008, nearly 300,000 HHRs produced between 2006 and 2008 were found to have a potential problem involving the interior storage bins. In some cases, the dashboard storage bin could open unexpectedly during a crash, allowing its contents to become dangerous projectiles. Chevrolet dealers installed new latches to bring the bins into compliance with federal standards. In 2009, the HHR was involved in a recall due to the use of faulty transmission shift levers.

Safety Recalls

Two additional recalls of the HHR were enacted to deal with specific known issues with the vehicle's safety equipment. In 2008, it was discovered that many HHRs not equipped with optional roof rail airbags could fail to provide adequate protection to a front seat occupant's head in certain types of crashes. On the 181,000 models affected Chevy offered to install an additional piece of soft trim that would provide added protection. In 2006, fewer than 1,000 of the first HHRs built were recalled because of airbag sensors that could fail to work properly when seat covers were installed after the vehicle was purchased.

General Problems

Another group of problems with the Chevy HHR involve general shortcomings as cited by owners and automotive critics. Among these complaints is the fact that the HHR is only offered in a front engine/front-drive configuration while many of its competitors offer an all-wheel drive option as part of a premium package. Handling and power are also drawbacks of the standard HHR, though the SS (Super Sport) trim level gives it a boost in both areas.

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