One Chevy Cobalt Owner Dealt With a Phantom Airbag Problem

The Chevrolet Cobalt was a fairly standard-looking compact sedan that was produced between 2005 and 2010. Although it isn’t a vehicle that is necessarily going to deliver any driving thrills, you’d also like to think you weren’t going to get any unexpected excitement in the form of ghosts. For one Chevy Cobalt owner, the airbag indicator seemed to say that there was an invisible passenger along for the ride.

The Chevy Cobalt poltergeist

According to, one Chevy Cobalt owner from Ontario had quite a unique experience. He doesn’t mention the year of his Cobalt, but he says he purchased it used in 2012 with 26,000 miles. Right away, the visitations started. First, the Driver Information Center had a mystery message: the door was ajar. The problem was, the vehicle was cruising at 100 kilometers per hour down the roadway and the door was clearly and firmly closed. 

Next, an invisible guest showed up in his passenger seat. Even when there was no one there, the airbag indicator would engage as if someone was sitting in the seat. He would be innocently driving along, and the passenger seat airbag sensor would engage and disengage randomly. Did this mean his ghost was coming and going while he was on a drive? The new Chevy Cobalt owner was baffled as to what was causing this bizarre problem.

Who exactly is riding shotgun?

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The driver went ahead and gave his phantom passenger a name, Richard. When the problem persisted and Richard seemed to want to ride shotgun for every trip, the Ontario driver decided to take the vehicle to the dealership. They were just as baffled as he was by the airbag problem. He took it to a second dealership, and they had no idea either and were unable to fix it.

He decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. Through experimentation, he found that punching the seat with a hard downward motion would stop the problem for a few days, however, Richard always came back, and seem to enjoy his shotgun jaunts more than ever. 

Next, he tried to have the seat belt replaced. That didn’t work. He tried the seat sensors, the wiring, and also checked the whole SRS system to no avail. He theorized that perhaps it was the ghost of the former owner, making sure his precious Chevy Cobalt was well taken care of.  Whoever or whatever was causing the problem, this driver was ready to pull his hair out trying to determine what was going wrong. 

The phantom moved on

According to an update by this Chevy Cobalt’s owner, Richard has apparently moved on to another plane of existence. When the car hit 95,000 miles, all paranormal activities ceased. Perhaps ghosts have a limit of 100,000 miles on riding shotgun, or maybe it had something to do with the owner doing a full aftermarket ECU flash. Or perhaps it was him replacing 95 percent of the factory turbocharger system. 

What finally got rid of the problem was actually a pretty simple fix, even though two Chevy dealerships couldn’t figure it out. The owner decided enough was enough and removed the front seats completely. He then backtracked the entire wiring harness. At that point, he found the culprit – a few loose connections under the passenger seat. He taped the wires tight, zip-tied a few things together, and all the issues disappeared. 

It is very unlikely that another Cobalt owner will have to deal with a phantom presence in the passenger seat, but if they do, it’s good to know that apparently the spirit finally went on to a better place.