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 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #45

Nov 232000


  • 107,200 miles


The trunk latch on my Cavalier won't latch. This is the second time it has broke with the same problem. I replaced the trunk latch about three years ago I rarely use my trunk. Also the defrost, vent knob quit working it turn but won't switch to defrost or the different vent settings. The cd player won't take, or play cd's. there was a fly on my windshield right around a year after I bought the car and I barely tapped the windshield and the windshield cracked all over.

- Arlington, OR, USA

problem #44

Jan 072010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 100,988 miles
All gauges in my Cavalier have stopped working (speedometer, temp gauge, RPM's..) the car dies randomly while driving, dies when stopping. I actually tried to pull my car over because it was acting like it was going to die and while I was pressing the brakes it was trying to go!! very scary!!! could have wrecked!

- Seymour, TX, USA

problem #43

Jun 212010


  • miles
In the winter my Chevy Cavalier's speedometer started to be disfunctional, it would read say 30mph while I was in park. Over the summer the problem got worse and I had to resort to using a gps to know my speed. The problem isn't limited to the speedo though, I have also experienced this with the temperature gauge.

- Radford, VA, USA

problem #42

Sep 012006


  • miles


My dashboard doesn't work properly. All of the gauges, with the exception of the odometer, does not work. This includes fuel, speedometer, RPM, and temperature gauges. It started with my temperature gauge. I thought the car was overheating when it really wasn't. then my fuel gauge went out. Then it was the speedometer and RPM gauge. All of the gauges, except for the RPM, move up and down, but none of them are accurate. The speedometer can get stuck at 0, 60 or move off of the gauge entirely. It is obviously not very safe not knowing how fast you are going, or if your car is overheating or not. It is my understanding the entire dashboard has to be replaced, but I am not 100% certain.

- Crystal Lake, IL, USA

problem #41

Aug 282010


  • 54,800 miles
The speedometer on my 2004 Chevy Cavalier started going wacky. At first it started racing as you were driving. Showing 65 or 70 when you were going maybe 40. Now it raced past 110 and dropped down between 0 and 110. Looking over the different websites, I see this is a common problem, yet it is not on a recall list. Why? this can be extremely dangerous, not to mention you are looking for a ticket by guessing how fast you are going. My car only has 54,000 miles on it, and I sure wasn't expecting any major repairs and that mileage.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #40

Jul 032007


  • 17,000 miles
Defective instrument panel the instrument panel operated correctly until 2007. The speedometer began to operate incorrectly at random times. The needle would indicate high speed when stopped or when moving at slow speeds. The needle would continue to indicate an incorrect speed until the vehicle had been turned off. This continued to happen more often from 2007 until 2009. In 2009, the speedometer needle no longer indicated a correct speed at any time. The temperature gauge then began to indicate engine temperature to be above 300 degrees while driving. The temperature gauge continued to operate incorrectly. As a consequence, the speed of the car cannot be properly estimated. Any problem with the radiator would not be easy to identify for lack of knowing engine temperature. Attempts to fix: The instrument panel has been electrically disconnected and checked for a faulty connection. No faulty wiring has been found.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #39

Dec 272009


  • 25,000 miles


Over the past 2 years the speedometer on my 2004 Chevy Cavalier has stopped working at different times. The speedometer will go up past 100 mph when it is parked and will take 2+ weeks to reset itself and start working again. This past month the gas gauge and tachometer have also stopped working, this in addition to my speedometer being out have left me without know how much gas I have left, how fast I am going and multiple other issues.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #38

Apr 062009


  • 100,120 miles
Gauges on front panel are not working. Gas, speed, temp. I have contact Chevy dealers and they said it is not recalled. Read on many sites on the internet that other people are having the same problem.

- Kenosha, WI, USA

problem #37

Jun 012009

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier and the speedometer failed on me. I replace the speed sensor but problem is not resolved. I fear this could be a dangerous situation on the road and should be recalled.

- Greenville, OH, USA

problem #36

Jun 172010


  • 31,000 miles
2004 Cavalier gauges go crazy. 110mph in the driveway, tachometer says 9000 RPM when I am idling. Gas gauge is no longer reliable.. particularly a problem in cold and damp weather, hot weather and on open highway. I never know how fast I am driving, whether I will run out of gas, or if the engine RPM's are so high the motor will explode.. 31,000 miles on the car so it is low mileage.

- Canton, NY, USA

problem #35

Aug 072009

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 41,625 miles


Defective instrument cluster/panel. Speedometer doesn't read the proper speed limit and the temperature gauge will not "reset" (?) it just keeps going clockwise around the dial.

- Augusta, ME, USA

problem #34

May 162010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
Car caught on fire in the wiring in the floor left of the brake pedal. Driver and passenger escaped the vehicle with just minor injuries. A passer by cut the battery cable and the fire/smoke stopped.

- Mckee, KY, USA

problem #33

Jun 132009


  • 51,000 miles
I have a 2004 Cavalier and all the gauges have stopped working. Once in a while the RPM gauge works. I investigated and have found various websites with lots of other people experiencing the same problem. The cost of repair is 500+ dollars with no simple do it yourself fix available.

- Lake Wales, FL, USA

problem #32

Jan 012008


  • miles
All the dials in the instrument panel go haywire. I have tried disconnecting the battery but it still happens. Don't know how fast I am going who how much gas is in the car. Or even if the temp is okay.

- West Mifflin , PA, USA

problem #31

Jul 302008

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
About a year and a half ago the speedometer on my 2004 Cavalier stopped working correctly, it will stick at random places on the dial, even when not driving. Sometimes the needle will point straight down at the odometer and stick there also. The problem seems to get better with warm weather, but is still not right. Now if that wasn't enough, the tachometer has started to stick and not register at all when it is very cold outside, like the speedometer though, the tachometer works better in warmer weather. Coolant temp. Gauge sticks also when it gets cold out. These problems are very repairable, I just can't believe by the number of complaints that a recall has not been issued for this problem yet! this is surely a safety issue. Please GM do a recall on these cars before you pull off a "Toyota."

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #30

Jan 122008


  • miles
I noticed in the cold my speedometer would show the incorrect speed or just stop. Over the course of about 6 months my temp gauge started to do the same thing. Followed by my RPM gauge, then the gas gauge. I did some online research and found out the only thing I could do was to get a whole new cluster which is a bit pricey.

- Bennett, CO, USA

problem #29

Jan 282010


  • 34,500 miles
Speedometer runs up to extreme limit at any speed and tachometer freezes up.

- Richland, MO, USA

problem #28

Jan 052010


  • 82,000 miles
Speedometer failure 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier gauge cluster failed at 82000 miles. Unsafe. Cannot determine mph.

- Streetsboro , OH, USA

problem #27

Dec 222008


  • 39,000 miles
Dash cluster failure. RPM gauge running backwards and sticking, fuel level indicator incorrect, speedometer sometimes incorrect. When this happened I looked it up online to see if I could diagnose the problem. It seems that this is an extremely common and potentially dangerous problem.

- Burns, TN, USA

problem #26

Aug 272007


  • miles
2004 Chevy Cavalier. When the car slows down to a red light or stop sign, or you just reduce your speed, it will cut off on you.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

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