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If you’re looking to buy a reliable subcompact SUV, you can’t go wrong with a Chevrolet HHR. This modern-retro SUV has an estimated fuel economy of 23.9 miles per gallon (mpg) and lower than average ownership costs, making it one of the easiest vehicles to maintain. Its latest model, the 2011 redesign, has also been reported to have impressive frontal crash test scores, according to the insurance institute for highway safety (IIHS).

How Reliable is the Chevrolet HHR?

RepairPal gives the Chevrolet HHR a 4.0 out of 5.0 reliability rating, ranking it 13th out of 36 compact cars. The annual repair and maintenance cost for this model is approximately $540. And that’s lower than the average for other vehicle models, which is $650.

Chevrolet HHR owners tend to bring in their SUVs for unscheduled repairs 0.3 times a year, which is less often than the usual 0.4. The HHR also has a 10% probability of having a severe problem. This is lower compared to the average of 11% for subcompact cars and 12% for all vehicle models.

Common Chevrolet HHR Problems

Despite being a dependable daily driver, the Chevrolet HHR may have damaged or worn-out parts that could affect its drivability and quality. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems found across its different model years.

Poor Engine Performance

Poor engine performance has been a common issue reported by some owners of the 2011 Chevrolet HHR redesign. Owners of the affected models have reported that their SUVs would vibrate excessively and lurch forward. Their HHR’s RPM’s rev also dropped at an alarming rate.

2011 Chevrolet HHR by Jim Duell on Flickr
Poor engine performance has been a common issue reported by some owners of the 2011 Chevrolet HHR redesign. Photo by Jim Duell on Flickr.

There are several reasons why your Chevy could show signs of reduced engine performance. They include a clogged or dirty air filter; damaged intake hoses, tubes, or ducts; faulty fuel pumps or injectors; and damaged sensors. If you’re dealing with the same problems, have your vehicle checked by a licensed mechanic for a proper diagnosis.

Loose or Worn-Out Gas Cap

A loose or worn gas cap has been a common issue found in all Chevy HHR model years. Although there haven’t been any reports of performance loss or drivability issues due to the problem, an illuminated check engine light has been a common occurrence reported by the affected owners.

A loose gas cap won’t necessarily affect your vehicle’s ride quality, but it could cause harmful vapor to be released into the air. It may also force you to spend more money on fuel. Gas caps can cost anywhere between $10 and $100.

Power Steering Shuts Down

Power steering problems are a common complaint from Chevrolet HHR drivers, particularly among those that own the 2008 redesign. Many owners of this model year have complained about their power steering working intermittently. Some drivers couldn’t make a turn because the power steering locked up, while others had to shut off their engines to get the power steering working again.

According to reports filed by the affected owners, they had to replace the power steering module, which can cost anywhere between $300 and $500 plus labor costs.

Keep in mind that aside from a faulty power steering module, there are other factors that may contribute to power steering failure. Some of these include a low or contaminated power steering fluid, a snapped power steering belt, worn-out steering pumps, and leaks from damaged hoses and failing seals. If you’re dealing with a similar issue, make sure to have your vehicle checked by a licensed mechanic to identify what’s causing the problem.

Transmission Issues

The 2008 redesign has also been reported to have several transmission issues. Some owners of this model have reported that their transmission would slip or produce hollow noises, while several drivers experienced having burnt transmission fluid. Other reasons that may cause the transmission to fail include a damaged transmission solenoid, a bad torque converter, or a faulty clutch.

Suspension Problems

Suspension problems have been a common complaint from some 2007 Chevrolet HHR owners. Drivers have reported that their SUVs would clunk terribly when going over bumps, produce rattling noises, and have issues with steering control.

Some have also complained that the same problems persisted even after replacing several parts of the suspension system. Some of the parts they replaced include faulty struts, rear springs, bearings, shocks, front stabilizer shaft, and control arms.

Keep in mind that problems with the suspension system can affect how you control your vehicle when driving. Other than having an uncomfortable driving experience, your Chevy may also pull to one side or nose dive as you accelerate. And this could put you and other drivers at risk of getting into an accident. For your safety, make sure to address your vehicle’s suspension problems as soon as possible before taking it out for a drive.

Broken Door Handle and Stuck Ignition Key

Some 2006 Chevrolet HHR units have been reported to have a couple of problems with their interior accessories.

Many owners of this redesign have complained that their door latch broke off despite owning their SUVs for a short period of time. This forced them to open the door from outside their vehicles. Several drivers have also reported that the same problem occurred even after replacing the entire door handle. Interior door handles for the Chevrolet HHR can cost you anywhere between $20 and $100 plus labor costs.

2006 2007 Chevrolet HHR LS - Wikimedia
Some 2006 Chevrolet HHR units have been reported to have a couple of problems with their interior accessories. Image source: Wikimedia.

Another problem reported by some owners of the 2006 HHR was a stuck ignition key. Several owners have complained that their keys got stuck in the ignition, while others were unable to insert their keys. Some drivers resorted to taking a plate off the steering column to remove the key. Resolving this problem typically involves replacing the ignition lock cylinder, which usually costs around $50 plus labor costs.

Your Chevrolet HHR may develop some issues as it racks up mileage. But don’t worry. By being aware of some of its most common problems, you’ll be able to address which parts may need replacements ahead of time and prevent issues from escalating. Also, make sure to follow your SUV’s maintenance schedule to keep it performing at its best.

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