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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
66,244 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Chevrolet Cavalier electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #35

May 032011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 81,075 miles


I was driving and had been in my car for about five min and smoke started coming out of the bottom of where the radio and heater controls that time I pulled over and saw flames in the dash and it was growing and I called 911 fire and we closed the doors and waited til the fire truck got there and handled the fire. It completely destroyed my dash steering column front windshield and head liner...all my instrument panels and wiring are fried. I believe it was a faulty wiring system...if not would like to know how this could have been prevented and how do I fix my car..

- Mountainburg, AR, USA

problem #34

Jun 132009


  • 90,000 miles
I am the original owner of a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. It has 120000 miles on it. A couple of years ago I noticed my gas gage seemed to be stuck, the car had approx 90000 miles on it at the time. A couple of months later my RPM gauge started doing the same thing. About a year after that my speedometer started to also go haywire followed by my oil gauge. My whole instrument cluster no longer works. It has not been fixed because I can't afford it and it has not been recalled. But after looking at how many Cavalier have had this same problem I believe it should be recalled.

- Tecumseh, OK, USA

problem #33

Jan 102011


  • 68,244 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that the instrument cluster panel failed while driving 35 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the parts needed for repairs would take two weeks to become available. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 68,244.

- Akron, OH, USA

problem #32

Dec 162010


  • 63,000 miles


While in park my 2003 Cavalier tachometer reads at 5 RPM while driving at 30mph my tachometer reads over 7 rpms. The engine sounds normal contacted Chevy and was told they did not have enough complaints to do a recall when it is a safety issue it should not matter the number of complaints I can not afford to pay 500 to fix this with no guarantee it will work.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #31

Dec 112010


  • 88,478 miles
Driving at 60 mph just died on the interstate, pulled over started back up also at 60,000 miles fuel pump went out nothing but problems with this 2003 Cavalier they are a lemon, why isn't something done"???" before someone gets killed if they haven't already!!

- House Springs, MO, USA

problem #30

Nov 152009


  • 80,000 miles
About a year ago, my speedometer went crazy (~80,000 miles), and a few days ago my fuel gauge followed suit (117,000 miles). I saw the same problem widely mentioned on the internet, including an actual recall on the trucks which use the same instrument cluster. Dealer said repairs would be $300-$500 which I couldn't afford, so I just used the tachometer to gauge my roadspeed. Can't live without the fuel gauge though.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #29

Nov 012010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 82,100 miles


I have a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier that is on it's second instrument cluster and now it has gone bad, no speedometer, no fuel gauge and no temperature. I've researched this problem and there are hundreds of complaints like this. If GM is in such great shape as recently reported, then why can't your organization instruct them to make good on the safety of their vehicles? I can't sell the vehicle because no one wants to buy a vehicle that they have no idea of how fast they are going or how much fuel is in the tank.

- Burleson, TX, USA

problem #28

Jan 082010


  • miles
My entire instrument panel on my 2003 Chevy Cavalier has stopped working. First it was the gas gauge that stopped about 2 years ago. I just learned to live it. Then recently my speedometer and RPM meter stopped working as well. I have had multiple price estimates done and none have been under $500 and I just plain and simple can't afford to have it done while I'm currently unemployed. I have researched other cases of faulty instrument panel and there are literally thousands of complaints on GM models including the Cavalier. This is certainly not safe and I'm assuming it's illegal to drive without a speedometer but still after years of complaints to GM of faulty instrument panels there has been no recall.

- Sun Valley, CA, USA

problem #27

May 282003


  • 20,000 miles
I bought my 2003 Cavalier brand new. While it was still under warranty I took the car in because it was malfunctioning. The situation was I was driving on the highway and went to shift gears and when I held the clutch in the RPM's dropped all the way to 0 and the car stalled. When I took the car in I was told they could not duplicate the issue, so there was no problem. Since than this has only gotten worse. While driving it stalls on average of 5 times a week which is not safe especially on the free way. Also to add to everyone else's complaint my fuel pump went bad as well and had to have it replaced.

- Dixon, CA, USA

problem #26

Dec 252009


  • 108,000 miles
I own a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier ls and on Dec. 25 when I turned on the rear defrost button smoke started to come out from inside the steering wheel column. I could not get the rear defrost to turn off so I had to turn off the car and remove the fuse to it. Shortly after this incident the power windows have stopped working and the fuse to them is still good, I replaced it just in case but the windows still do not work. The odometer has also stopped working so I have had to guess my speed. I feel that this is a huge safety concern since the rear defrost does not work I cannot see out the rear window on cold days, I also cannot tell how fast I am driving which can cause an accident, and the power windows have stopped working. The car is due for inspection next month and I cannot afford to fix these problems, this is my only vehicle and rely on it to get to and from work everyday. I have also placed a complaint with General Motors concerning this issue as I feel that the problems that have occurred are a result of poor or hurried workmanship in that area of the vehicle's manufacture.

- Ephraim, UT, USA

problem #25

Sep 232009

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that within a few minutes after parking her vehicle, it caught fire. The fire department extinguished the fire. The vehicle was destroyed. The contact stated that the electrical system caused the fire. Prior to the failure, she noticed that the windows opened after the vehicle was turned off. When she turned the air conditioner off green smoke emitted into the vehicle and the fire started immediately after the green smoke was present. The dealer and manufacturer have not been notified. The vehicle identification number is unavailable. The current and failure mileages were approximately 75,000. Updated 10/21/09 the consumer stated when she turned the ac switch to off, smoke began to emit from the vehicle. The consumer stated even though the car was off, the ac was still on. Updated 10/20/09

- York, PA, USA

problem #24

Jan 142009


  • 10,000 miles
January 14,2009 my car almost caught on fire due to acid from my battery liking into the battery pan. I had to unhook the battery and take it out of the car. My step son was driving by my house when my cars lights were on andthe car had been sitting for about 3 hours. I went outside and the lights were very dim. I tried to start it up and the car started smoking and I immediately turned the car off. There were sparks so I had to put out the small flame and remove the battery. I had the car towed to parker Pontiac Buick GMC that same day. The small fire burned through my windshield washer fluid line the cost to me for repair of the small fire was about $487.

- Havelock, NC, USA

problem #23

Mar 232009


  • 50,251 miles
My speedometer is going crazy and is at the 6 O'clock position. Next the temperature gauge went all the up and both of these stayed after turning off the car. The car is also make a strange noise.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #22

Sep 132008


  • 92,000 miles
Purchased a 2003 Chevy Cavalier in Sept. 2008 for my daughter to go to college. Had a carfax report done and found nothing, clean report. 2 days after purchase, inst. Cluster went bad, not working at all. Dec. 08 the fuel pump went bad. After researching the internet, I have found thousands of the same complaints as mine. I have even found websites advertising to rebuild the cluster as so many are defective. Now if this isn't enough to see the major problem, I don't know what is. I feel that enough information is out on the internet to warrant a recall on both issues before the public has to spend all their money to fix GM's faulty parts that break down so quickly. Just these 2 repairs cost $500 each.

- Huntington, WV, USA

problem #21

Dec 072008


  • miles
The gauges in these cars go crazy I didn't spend money to fix it instead I went online and found a ton F people this happened to the gauge cluster in the cars go haywire and you can not tell. Some go in the speedometer mine went in the temp gauge and the fuel gauge now people have been to mechanics and they can not find what is wrong with them mine first went about 4 months ago and the only way for me to reset my gauges is to pull the fuse out and reset it otherwise it will not reset back to E or 0 and the thermo gauge has gone into my speedo needle so then I can not tell how fast I am going at first I thought it was just me and no big deal but then I went online and found so many people wit this problem why should we have to fix something that GM obviously didn't get right I don't think its right at all especially because its with alot of people now the gauges go crazy all the time not just when it rains or its cold but constantly I am pulling the fuses out.

- Jeannette, PA, USA

problem #20

Dec 222008


  • 89,000 miles
I was checking to see if there was a recall on a 2003 Chevy Cavalier fuel pump because I was traveling on the highway and the fuel pump went out costing me almost $800. Also the motor for two of my power windows have went out.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #19

Nov 162008


  • 80,100 miles
Fuel pump failure; car just died on the turnpike; had to be towed to mechanic. Car was under warranty; speedometer doesn't work; its moves all around and is not accurate; still not fixed never happens when the mechanic has it; car has trouble starting; have to crank it 2-5 times to turn on. Still not working mechanic cant find anything wrong with it.

- Ocoee, FL, USA

problem #18

Mar 012007


  • 75,000 miles
Cluster stops working. Read about this on several forums. Should be repaired by dealer for free if this is an ongoing complaint!

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #17

Jul 282008


  • 74,400 miles
This does not involve a crash related complaint, it may be considered a minor defect related issue. I am a repair facility, we have a transmission removed from a 2003 Chevy Cavalier for repair, the warranty company that I am working with needed to verify miles, so we hooked up the battery with the transmission out of the car, the odometer moved forward 17 miles. Every time I hook up the battery and disconnect it, the odometer moves forward 17 miles. I thought maybe it was an isolated issue to this car, so I disconnected the transmission wiring harness to a 2005 Chevy Cavalier, then connected and reconnected the battery, it also rolled the odometer forward with each connection at a rate of 8 miles. No one at GM has ever heard of this, I will continue to test other products to see what happens.

- Lufkin, TX, USA

problem #16

Jun 232008


  • 96,000 miles
Speedometer sticks, will not return to zero. As you increase speed it goes up from there, after a while it reads over 100 mph even if you are sitting at a stop sign. It is very intermittent. If you turn the ignition on and off a few times it may reset. Then it will be ok for a few days then do it again.

- Athol, NY, USA

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