Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

Print this page Notes: Widespread instrument panel failure is a common and frustrating reality for many 2004-2005 Chevy Cavalier owners. They're often left in the dark when it comes to knowing how fast they're going, what their engine temperature is, or even how much fuel they have left in the tank.

The likely culprit is a series of bad "stepper motors" which control the gauges and are no longer covered under warranty. Think not being able to see your speed is a safety issue and should be recalled for all owners? We'd agree. Trouble is, apparently the NHTSA does not.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
68,290 miles
Total Complaints:
57 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (24 reports)
  2. chevy should issue a recall (20 reports)
  3. new instrument cluster (13 reports)
2004 Chevrolet Cavalier accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Jun 132010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


On our way home from our vacation we were driving what we thought was 65mph in a 60mph but it just felt like we were maybe doing 40mph my husband pulled over and stopped and the speedometer went down to 20mph....we weren't sure if it was just having a glitch and would be fine after we started driving again...well we realized when it was close to 120mph and we were going maybe 65-70mph there was a problem so we pulled over to a gas station and when my husband turned the car off and back on I noticed the gauge dropped so after about 6 times of turning the car off and on the gauge went back to 0 and we continued on our way and haven't had any problems since...but after seeing all these other post I have a feeling that won't be the last time it gives us problems.

- , Whitmore Lake, MI, USA

problem #36

Jan 012010

Cavalier LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

temp gauge goes over into the speedometer causing speedometer to not work... my mechanic cant find a problem.. and all the idiot lights are on the speed sensor needed replaced but now it is not reading any why are the damn lights still on.. and the horn dont work..this car is a pain in my ass

- , Sunbury, PA, USA

problem #35

May 202010

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

My temperature gauge overextended clockwise past the maximum temp thresh hold until the needle was pointing directly right (toward psgr).

The tip of the needle, being stuck in that position, physically blocked the speedometer needle from going any higher than 10 mph. Eventually the speedometer just failed, the temperature gauge still continued to not work, and approximately 1 month after that the gas gauge failed as well (that needle is all over the place). The only gauge in the cluster that is working is the tachometer. My car has low mileage and has been taken excellent care of- this defect that occurred and as I have read, has occurred with many 2004 Chevy Cavaliers, should be a priority and good customer service, for GM to do a recall for this problem-it is also now a danger for me to drive any distance. Very upset and I will be contacting GM about a recall.

Update from Mar 3, 2011: Temperature gauge, speedometer stuck and windshield wiper on passenger side quit working and then the drivers side quit working. My car has less than 20,000 miles and been very well taken care of. I have never owned a vehicle that has had these problems and with the low mileage, this should not even be a issue. GM is in neglect by not issuing a recall on these problems. I have read countless complaints of the same problems with 2004 Chevy Cavaliers.

- , Peru, IN, USA

problem #34

Nov 012009

Cavalier Coupe 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier and the Tachometer, Speedometer and Temperature Gauges all have gone haywire. I bought an extended warranty with the vehicle, but of course the dealer told me that the problem is not covered under warranty. What is the sense in buying a warranty if you can't use it. $2000 down the drain! Now I have to spend another 400-500 dollars on a gauge cluster. How many middle class working americans have that kind of money to pull out of their pocket? I am so sick of GM vehicles and will not buy another one. I will buy a Honda or Ford before I buy another GM product. I agree with everyone else here that GM needs to recall these vehicles and fix the problem for us. Sincerely,

One less GM customer in this world!

- , Mansfield, OH, USA

problem #33

Feb 032010

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

My girlfriend and I have the same year 2004 cavalier. Mine is a 4 door, hers is a 2. I was actually leaving of friend of mines home when the gas, odometer, every gauge wnet hay- wire. I treid doing different things like turning the engine off and letting it sit.Well that worked for about 15 minutes or so. When i finally had enough and called my dealership and was innfromed there was not a recall. Shortly after that my girlfriend mentioned that she was having the same problem Now I never turn my heater, aircondtioner on as that seems to start it. Plus I try not to go so far at night as when I have my night lights on they are very dim and the panel lights up again. And i also got pulled over by a state trooper telling me my license plate light was out.. So the next MORNING I started the car and the light was working. I am really shocked that Chevy has not done anything about this.

- , Byron, NY, USA

problem #32

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

Well, least I'm not alone on this car. This will be the last time I buy a Chevy, which is pretty sad considering it's the first. At about 52k miles, my tac went out... soon to follow would be the rest of my instruments. I've looked to see if there's a manufacture recall on it but I guess not on this car... just others. I'll run this car into the ground before getting another one, not worth spending the money on something that shouldn't break.

- , Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #31

Jan 232008

Cavalier LS

  • Manual transmission
  • 42,039 miles


Driving home in rush hour, I had no idea how fast I was going.

- , Charleston, WV, USA

problem #30

Jan 282010

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles

I have nothing good to say about Chevy Cavalier. This is my third and last. My wife insisted on Chevy. I prefer Japanese built Honda. (But it is her money.) I say Japanese built as they do a better job. The instruments on every Cavalier I have owned malfunctioned in some way within the first 50000 miles.

- , Richland, MO, USA

problem #29

Oct 152008


  • Manual transmission
  • 70,538 miles

This is extremely frustrating, and the cost of repairing is unbelievable, not to mention that there is a minimum of 2 days down time with no car. Just exactly how is the average person supposed to manage for two days with no car? Financially, rentals are out of the question and what if no one you know has a spare vehicle lying around for you to borrow and you have no one to ride to work with?

- , Florence, MS, USA

problem #28

Nov 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Adding another complaint about the 2004 Cavalier. I've had the car for approximately a year and a half, and about 2 months ago the speedometer began to stick. First the math was easy to do, but now it usually lies at 6 PM and stays there for the most part. Every once in a while it will begin to work backwards back to 0 MPH, but it very rarely gets back there, and if it does -- it will just stick again the next time the car is driven. Please, Chevy, do something about this!

- , Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #27

Jan 052010

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


I have three of these cars - and now see that others have had this experience with GM only saying PAY UP.

I'll drive this POS into the ground before I pour 500 bucks into it. This company deserves to fail. Not only for their crappy products, but their arrogance.

- , Streetsboro, OH, USA

problem #26

Nov 172009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

The Tachometer went out on my Wife's 04 cavalier a year ago and I never bothered with it because she never used the gauge. However this week the speedometer went out and now we have a real problem. I took it to a shop and they said the entire instrument cluster is bad. After resetting the thing the Tachometer is still broken the Speedometer works half the time and now the gas gauge registers 1/4 over full. Called the Chevy dealership and its gonna cost $550 to replace the instrument cluster. This is unbelievable they already have recalls on most of their other instrument panels for the trucks and SUV's.

- , Wylie, TX, USA

problem #25

Aug 012006

Cavalier LS 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles

why my next car will not be a GM....the fuel and temp gauge quit working.

- , Rocklin, CA, USA

problem #24

Jun 152009

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

My gas gauge hasn't worked properly for a year. Now the temperature gauge in my car is going crazy. The dial started going past the normal mark. But it did not overheat and there was no steam coming from the engine. I took it to the shop ready to have the radiator replaced. I was lucky I had an honest mechanic. He told me he pressure tested it and drove it but could not find any leaks. He also said, "I don't see any reason for me to take your money today. Keep an eye on it for a couple of weeks, if theres any more problems bring it back."

- , Lake Station, IN, USA

problem #23

Apr 012008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I have more than one problem but it started with the gas gauge. One day I filled up my tank and I noticed that the indicator pointer went way past the full mark. It interfered with the temperature gauge working properly. Very infrequently it would seem to work correctly at all. I know about how many miles I can go on a tank of gas, so every time I fill up I set the trip mileage dial back to zero. That lets me know when I need to put in gas. I've read a lot of complaints about the gauges on this model. Chevy needs to do a recall. I want to buy American, but I may re-think that on my next vehicle.

- , Lake Station, IN, USA

problem #22

Oct 142008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

I see from the other complaints that I am not alone. At first my speedometer started acting funny. saying i was going 20 when i ws going 40 or read 110 when iwas going 60. And if is cold outside it just froze altogether. Then my temperature gauge went out the needle just sits straight down. Now yesterday my gas gauge reads I have an extemely full tank.The needle is so far to the right that it is in the temperature gauge. Why would this not be a recall?? Is there some way to make chevy fix this problem? I am a single mom and can not afford a $700 car repair.

- , Okeechobee, FL, USA

problem #21

Jan 012007

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

My wife reported this issue to me after she had been driving the car for a while with no speedometer. The Odometer seems to work just fine. I took the entire dash apart in about 15 minutes and pulled the original cluster. As it turns out it is connected to vehicle by a single wiring harness and functions only as a readout device. If you go to a dealer the service department will tell you they have to replace it because of the odometer. The truth is that the repair it is no different than changing a broken radio. The vehicle mileage is stored in the cars computer and reported through the gauge cluster. You could plug 50 different gauge clusters in and the mileage would read exactly the same, the only difference between them would be whether or not the needles actually work. GM needs to recall these gauge clusters or make them more available. It is illegal to drive without a speedometer, there are ways to work around the fuel gauge. Let's face it these cars aren't Cadillac but you would expect something as basic as the speedometer to work properly. My suggestion is to find one on ebay or at a junk yard and replace it yourself, it is really not that difficult it is like changing a light bulb.

- , Tonganoxie, KS, USA

problem #20

May 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Chevy definitely needs to so some research to fix their electrical problems. And I believe they should own up and fix their cars for their customers. I bought me car at Courtesy Chevrolet. How about extending some courtesy.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #19

Mar 252009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,500 miles

The gauges on my dashboard don't work about 50% of the time, particularly the odometer. The temperature gauge shoots up sometimes or doesn't work at all.

Any ideas?

- , North Miami Beach, FL, USA

problem #18

Apr 132009

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

PLEASE!!!!! Call Chevy and turn in a complaint. They told me they would investigate. They issued a recall on Silverado, Escalade and other suv & trucks. CALL 1-800-630-2438

- , Youngwood, PA, USA

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