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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 1
Average Mileage:
73,262 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.

2004 Chevrolet Cavalier electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments (Page 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #85

Oct 152011


  • 87,426 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that while driving 15 mph, the vehicle stalled as all of the warning lamps illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician was unable to duplicate the failure however, replaced the fuel pump as a precaution. The repair failed to remedy the failure. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer, where the technician determined that the ignition switch was defective and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 87,426 and the current mileage was 111,600. Updated 7/10/15

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #84

Feb 102014

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 61,953 miles
The gauge cluster on my 2004 Cavalier has suddenly started malfunctioning. This is a serious safety issue as I do not know how hot my engine is or how fast I am going. The tach and gas gauges seem to still work (don't know for how long though), but speedometer and temp gauge do not. My car has very low mileage and I will just have had it for 10 years as of this month. I am the only owner of this car and it has been well taken care of. I cannot believe that Chevy will not recall this faulty gauge panel. This is a safety issue and not a part that should just suddenly wear out on a car. With all of the issues that are suddenly surfacing with GM I am shocked that this has not been recalled before and I know I am not the only person to have this issue. God forbid someone not know this is an issue and they pull over because they think their car is overheating and get out to check only to get hit by another car. I will never buy another Chevy again unless they step up and take responsibility for this faulty gauge cluster.

- Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

problem #83

Feb 012010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 49,080 miles
The instrument panel cluster gauges (speedometer; gas gauge; tachometer) started acting crazy and the dials would jump all over the place. Finally, the dials just stopped working. At the same time my inside dome light stopped working. It would go on when the car was not running so it had to be disengaged completely so it would not run down my battery. Right after that my car turned off while being driven and the keys were still in the ignition. (this has happened three times).this vehicle does not appear under any recalls. I called GM directly but was not able to get any resolution due to language barriers (the reps did not speak english). This was reported to car and hundreds of reports and complaints have been reported for the same thing (especially the cluster and electrical problems) but no recalls have been issued. These are very expensive items to have fixed and pose serious safety issues. Many, many people need help and no where to turn and GM has ignored these problems with the 2004 Cavalier completely. All fuses have been checked and replaced as recommended as well as all other recommendations on how to fix. On behalf of all Cavalier owners who have been ignored please, please help!!!! this has also been reported to Thank you for any help you can offer!!!

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #82

Mar 172004


  • 0 miles


Bought this car new, every time we hit a bump with key ring and car driving the interior light would flash on and off like the key was just turned on, we complained and they could never find a thing, so now when you drive it and hit the key ring with all the other keys on it the light flashes on and off, Chevrolet could never find the problem and now there is a recall for the same thing that happens on a 2004 Cavalier as later models of Chevy.

- Fairfield, OH, USA

problem #81

Sep 102011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 72,004 miles
As I was driving down the road the vehicle stopped running and I had to pull over to the side of the road. I then tried to start the car again but it did not start. So I tried again a few more time. The vehicle did start so I took the car in for repairs the next week which was my first attempt. It took 2 more visits to get the car fixed correctly. It turned out to be the ignition switch sensor. Just like the recall by GM. But my model is not included, I hope it will be added in the future.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #80

Mar 212014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated the instrument panel failed to function properly. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was not available.

- Lebanon, ME, USA

problem #79

Feb 012012

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles


Suddenly without warning the whole instrument cluster panel (fuel gauge, speedometer, RPM gauge & temperature gauge all stopped working correctly and then suddenly stopped working at all! found out that this is a common complaint and very expensive to replace. It is very dangerous driving without knowledge of your speed! there should be a recall on this also as it is a very common problem and dangerous.

- Lebanon, ME, USA

problem #78

Dec 202011


  • 2,000,000 miles
When I turn on my car defroster, it starts popping very loud. At one time it started popping when I set the car at idle, and when I returned to the car, it was filled with smoke or dust. I had to air out the car for a while before I could drive it. The defroster doesn't pop every time, and it quits after about 30 minutes each time. Also, when I bought the car, it needed a new console, so I had it replaced. The day-time running lights go out and flash at people. When they go out, the service light comes on. I have to drive with my headlights on so the day-time running lights do not flash at people.

- Barboursville, WV, USA

problem #77

Jan 032011


  • miles
Horn won't blow, had it serviced and they said horn was good. They track the situation back to the air bag/horn connection. Never had an accident in this vehicle. So I don't understand why the horn won't blow. The guy that serviced it, said the connection for the horn is connected to the air bag and I would need a new air bag to possible fix this issue. What could I possible do to get this corrected? it's been like this for a couple of years, I've been worried about this issue and getting more worried about it lately.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #76

Feb 272014


  • miles
Recently General Motors issued a recall on the ignition switch for some of their cars, but it does not include all of the vehicles affected with the exact same problem. Here is a list of cars currently listed, but I want my 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier added to the recall too: Chevrolet cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn ion, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac solstice, and Saturn sky. Many years ago I tried to get a local Chevrolet service center to fix the problem in my 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. They could not fix it, so we just kept driving the car. Had I known it would affect the air bags getting deployed I would have written to you sooner. This problem needs to get fixed by GM as soon as possible on all models listed including my 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The defect allows the ignition switch to move from "run" to "accessory" if I hit a bump or I use a heavy key chain. That shuts off the engine and may disable the front air bags. The loss of the air bag crash protection is my biggest worry. Please help me get this fixed and warn other people who have 2004 Chevrolet Cavaliers with the same problem.

- Magna, UT, USA

problem #75

Jan 212014

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 109,000 miles


Car shut off no power steering gauges shut off everything turned off but lights stayed on and flashers worked.

- New Baltimore, MI, USA

problem #74

Dec 012012

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Speedometer quits working; today's example; we were entering an interstate and accelerating to the 65 mph posted speed limit, and the speedometer locked at 45 and stayed there. Did not change and remains there until we got the car home. The worst part is my son, a student driver was driving and had no way to know how fast he was going and had to remain there until we could get off the interstate and exchange places. This is dangerous and needs to be investigated. I researched the internet as well as this site, and see many more with the same complaint.

- Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #73

Nov 132013

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 42,300 miles
My instrument panel is not working properly. The speedometer was indicating incorrect speeds before it stopped working completely. The gas, RPM, and temperature gauges indicate incorrect information as well. This is a real safety issue.

- Crestview, FL, USA

problem #72

Oct 302007

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
2004 Chevrolet Cavalier instrument cluster; at first the temperature gauge showed hot causing us to pull over to the shoulder of the road and investigate, 27 years as an automotive technician kinda helped me come to the conclusion real quick it was not overheating, then the tachometer would go completely around and peg from the underside and that's where it is and has stayed, the speedometer ceased to work shortly after the tachometer went haywire and the fuel gauge also has its moments, sometimes it works and sometimes it don't and all of the check engine lights and service soon indicators have a mind of there own, the car has no trouble codes and there is no reason GM hasn't recalled these and other vehicles with the same instrument cluster problems, funny they sent me a letter on my 03 Silverado cluster and I haven't had any problems with it but I look at all the complaints on the Cavaliers and no such recalls, you might ask why I haven't fixed it myself with all my experience and I will tell you right now, why should I have too" GM should step up to the plate and fix its faulty clusters it is dangerous for any of these informational items of the cluster to be faulty or inaccurate it can cause a motorist to travel at an unsafe speed causing an accident or to pull over onto the shoulder of the road and be at risk of being struck by another motorist from behind these are very dangerous situations, ask yourself how many people have been hurt or fatally injured because of the faulty clusters, who knows; but one would be one too many don't you think"

- Chandler, IN, USA

problem #71

Oct 192011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
The speed cluster acts up from time to time. Sometimes the mph gauge doesn't read or is not accurate or sticks and sometimes the heat gauge doesn't work and sometimes the gas gauge doesn't work. Sometimes I get a brake light that lights up and sometimes the ABS light comes on. The entire cluster acts up from time to time with all different things wrong.

- Felton, PA, USA

problem #70

Dec 022010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 96,113 miles
While driving down a highway the speedometer stayed at 65 mph while he brakes were depressed and the car was slowing. When the car was parked 15 minutes later and shut off wit the key removed the speedometer still read 65 mph. This continued for some time before replacing the speedometer cluster.

- Rhinelander, WI, USA

problem #69

Dec 282012


  • 46,000 miles
Speedometer does not register mph, stays at 20 mph when at rest and goes up when car is driven but unknown speed person is driving at. Also the temp gauge needle is not even on the area to register the temp of the engine. This is a safety issue and should be recalled. I have heard from my local mechanic that this is a common thing & I have read several posts on line similar to my complaint. Please recall this part so that everyone driving this type of vehicle is safe by knowing the temp of their engine & knowing their driving speed.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #68

Nov 012010


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that the gauges on the instrument panel failed and were providing inaccurate or erratic readings. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer or an independent mechanic to determine the cause of failure. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 50,000. The current mileage was approximately 90,000.

- Beverly, OH, USA

problem #67

Nov 152011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The cluster on my 2004 Chevy Cavalier stopped working while I was on a road trip, I have done much research the past few days and came to the conclusion that the cluster in the 2004-05 Chevy Cavaliers are defective due to many other people having the same problem. This is a real safety issue because I don't know how much gas my car has, how fast im going and if my cars temperature is to high, if Y'all could get to the bottom of this issue it will be greatly appreciated.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #66

Dec 012010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
All gauges on instrument panel quit working completely at first but now move around backwards or any direction they choose...never correct!!!!! this is very dangerous!!!!!!

- Jackson, MI, USA

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