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CarComplaints.com 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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 1
Average Mileage:
73,563 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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #26

Aug 272007

Cavalier

  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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

problem #25

Nov 222006

Cavalier

  • miles
The fuel gauge and speedometer failed for the past two years in cold weather. I now have 48,000 miles on the car. The car was diagnosed with a defected instrument cluster and GMC told me it was not their problem and the cost to fix it is $480.

- Westfield, MA, USA

problem #24

Mar 282008

Cavalier

  • 75,000 miles
Defective stepper motors on the cluster instrument panel. Now affecting fuel gauge, speedometer, and tachometer on about a year now. Just found out what is causing the problem. GM already recalled trucks and SUV's. no recall on cars yet.

- Nathalie, VA, USA

problem #23

Oct 142008

Cavalier

  • 52,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

2004 Chevy Cavalier, speedometer is crazy 1999 Chevy Cavalier, gas gague is busted both repairs are exceedingly expensive/dangerous, would like a recall.

- Solon , OH, USA

problem #22

Nov 012008

Cavalier

  • 74 miles
We have 2 2004 Chevy Cavaliers. On one of the Cavaliers not to long after we bought it, the speedometer went out on it and we couldn't read the mileage on the car. We have tried to buy used ones and put then in the car and that failed and you still can't read the mileage on the car. On the second Cavalier the speedometer is acting funny. When the car sets for overnight and the next morning you go and turn it on it says that you are going a high amount of speed, when it has been parked for a long time. It keeps occurring daily, and then sometimes when your driving it will say that your go 0 mph, when you are driving down the highway. We have looked to get these fixed, but the local Chevy dealer that we talked to has said that he has had several complaints of this going wrong in the Cavaliers and the Chevy trucks. Both of my cars have around 74,000 miles on it, and if other people are having the same problem, a recall needs to be issued, and we think the company should pay for it, since it has happened in both cars around the same mileage point.

- Park Hills, MO, USA

problem #21

Jul 132007

Cavalier

  • 42,000 miles
I started looking for a fix for my wife's car and I have found that across the nation there are people driving with no speedo, tach, dash lights, or horn. This is a different mix of prbs for each but they all come back to the dash of the Chevy Cavalier.

- Hanford, CA, USA

problem #20

Nov 162008

Cavalier

  • 35,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I started the car when the fuel gauge went above the full mark even though it was at a half tank, after shutting it off and restarting it a couple times it eventually corrected itself. A week later this happened again but it would not correct itself though. Then while driving the speedometer and tachometer started to give bad readings. The tachometer was reading at below zero rpms while at idle and it would go up to about 6,000 RPM while driving, the speedometer would read about 30-40 mph over the speed limit while I was driving and would sit at about 20 mph when I was at idle. The dealerships said that replacing the instrument cluster would correct the problem.

- Jasper, IN, USA

problem #19

Nov 012008

Cavalier

  • miles
So, the problem started about a month ago. I noticed that my speedometer in my Cavalier would randomly freeze and stop working. I noticed that once I would turn the car off and then turn it back on it would be fine, and it would work properly for the rest of the day. After about a week of it freezing up like this, I was really getting ticked off. One day it started working fine and for about a week or so it worked perfect with no issues at all. Then about a week ago it really started freaking out. It said I was going 110 when I was only going like 40, and turning the car on and off does nothing. It stays frozen no matter what it do. If I drive on the highway, it actually goes past the gauge limit and points straight down where my odometer is and stays there. It is so annoying! I decided over the weekend I would take it into a mechanic to have it looked at. Do you know what they told me? they told me it would cost $675 to fix it, B/C the whole speedometer needed to be replaced. I can't believe I am going to pay almost $700 to take care of a problem that Chevy created.

- Orem , UT, USA

problem #18

Oct 142008

Cavalier

  • 48,000 miles
My 2004 Chevy Cavalier's speedometer is not working and the local dealer says they would have to send the cluster to a larger shop. I cannot be without my vehicle and it will also cost from $300 to $600 at the local dealer and there will also be an additional charge at the larger shop.

- Marion, IN, USA

problem #17

Oct 222008

Cavalier

  • 82,000 miles
I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. Ls. sometimes the speedometer sticks, show the wrong speed, goes off the gauge past the highest speed on the gauge or a speed below the actual speed. The fuel gauge does the same thing. The fuel gauge sometimes goes past "full" with the needle going into the temperature gauge. There should be a recall for this car problem. Not knowing the correct speed poses a potential hazard, especially taking a curve too fast. This is a genuine safety issue. Additionally there is the legal aspect if you're ticketed for speeding when you don't know how fast your are going! this also poses a hazard to pedestrians as well as other drivers.

- Dumfries, VA, USA

problem #16

Jan 012008

Cavalier

  • 54,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. First the speedometer started sticking then it stopped working totally and is now stuck on 110 mph. Then my tach and temp gauges started sticking or not working at all. This is not a coincidence cause I just found out that they have a recall for 2004 trucks. There should be one for this car as well. I mean it is the same freaking problem as they had with the trucks. There is tons of complaints for this same problem. First and last time I ever buy a Chevrolet unless they show me they care about there customers.

- Fleetwood, PA, USA

problem #15

Jun 102008

Cavalier

  • miles
I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier 2-dr coupe. The instrument panel is not working correctly. The gas gauge pointer works only part of the time. It will show (0) zero gas, even after a fill-up. The temperature gauge works the same way, sometimes, the pointer will move and sometimes it stays at the (0) temperature position, even while being driven. The speedometer pointers turns counter-clockwise. The only gauge that seems to work properly so far is the tachometer gauge. The car was purchased new and has about 53,000 miles on it.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #14

Oct 012007

Cavalier

  • 75,000 miles
My temperature gauge fluctuated for about a month and then it just moved to the bottom and points to the bottom part of the instrument panel and I can not tell if my car is overheating.,and my speedometer likes to freeze every once in a while.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #13

May 202005

Cavalier

  • miles
Out of nowhere my temp. Gauge went out followed by the speedometer, RPM, fuel all my gauges have gone out. Can't find the problem without replacing the whole thing.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #12

Jul 102008

Cavalier

  • 84,100 miles
First, thank you for listening. I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier base model. 2.2 ecotec engine. The ABS, lowtrac, and service light comes on in the vehicle when placed in drive or reverse. Car hesitates and wants to shut down every time!! when it first started to happen, it could be shut off and re-started and the lights would go out. Now they are is on all the time! I have also noticed when on slippery roadways the ABS does not work in the vehicle> I have slid sideways and through intersections. A horrible noise comes from the car when the brakes are applied when the lights are off in the car if they do not come on right away. I apply the brakes, and the awful growling and noise that comes from the car is very scary. I am afraid to let my wife even drive sometimes. I have not reported this to the dealership yet as I am waiting to see if this is a recall. If it is, I can have the repair done for nothing. I feel it should be done for nothing as if this is a defect in the vehicle that could cause terrible harm or even death if this occurs while driving..

- Altoona, PA, USA

problem #11

Jan 012008

Cavalier

  • 45,000 miles
My complaint is a "domino effect" within the instrument cluster. Here is what happened, in order: 1) temperature gauge needle over extends itself clockwise past the maximum threshold, so that the needle is pointing to the right (passenger side). The needle will unpredictably reset itself to that position when the vehicle is powered off and turned back on, or it will just remain stuck in that position. 2) the temperature gauge needle, now stuck pointing to the right, physically interferes (a fight so to speak) with the speedometer needle which is frantically trying to push its way past a stubborn temp gauge needle. The speedometer cannot push itself past 10 miles per hour. 3) speedometer, despite being the bigger needle, loses and dies completely... sitting lifelessly at -1. ohhh the irony. 4) about 1 month later the fuel gauge over extends itself and commonly points to the right, or in any random direction. The fuel gauge sometimes sticks when the vehicle is powered off, or will reset and find another completely inaccurate position to remain in. I think it is just jealous of the other two. Conclusion: I am driving -1 mile per hour down the freeway with 147% fuel capacity in a vehicle whose engine is running at over 570 degrees F. but that is ok because Chevy told me it isn't a safety issue, so every thing must be perfectly fine!

- Surprise, AZ, USA

problem #10

Sep 152006

Cavalier

  • 30,000 miles
The car has a major wiring or electrical problem, but its not detected by mechanics. I have a temp gauge that is all over the place, sometimes it even touches the far bottom right side of the control panel. The speedometer is no longer working, driving or parked I am going -3 miles an hour. The rpms work when they feel like it which is rarely. The only gauge working is the gas. In addition to this, the car cuts off while driving. All of this has been for the last year and a half and continues to date. I have been in mid-left turn on major intersections of los angeles and it just died. I commute on the 110 fwy and it has just died, always while I am accelerating never parked. Then in a few seconds you crank the key and your off and running again. It is so scary because it is so unpredictable. I have received speeding tickets not knowing my speed and mechanic cant find the problem. What do I do"?"

- Temple City, CA, USA

problem #9

May 272008

Cavalier

  • 117,000 miles
The tachometer is failing to work, the speedometer is failing to work, the drivers side window went out, and the service engine light stays on with the ABS and track off lights stay on. This is constant. Now, I am worried that the speedometer will have a problem when I am driving my children. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut fix for this when talking to the Chevy dealer.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #8

Apr 142008

Cavalier

  • 77,000 miles
Some times the speedometer would change to 100 mph while driving at approximately 55 mph or would just drop to zeromph. The tachometer would not change. Had it into the dealer several times but it would work ok. The dealer said he could not do anything under warranty unless he could see the problem and analyze it because it could be the cluster, loose wire or another part. It happened at least 1 or 2 times a week on my way to work. I set up with dealer to have him come to my work to check it out if malfunctioned. Some times when I stopped the speedometer would read any where from 10 to 45 mph. Finally malfunctioned and dealer was able to check it out. Cluster was replaced on warranty.

- Addison, MI, USA

problem #7

Aug 202006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 5,000 miles
I bought my car, a 2004 Chevy Cavalier with 21 miles on it. Since then I have tried to return it and now the minor but frequent issues are much bigger and more frequently! first my trunk latch broke a week after purchase. The cd broke the next week, cigarette lighter broke, and passenger seat wouldn't move. This was the first two months of ownership. A few months ago the fuel gauge broke, temp gauge and ac. They couldn't verify it so couldn't repair, until it completely failed this month. Also, I was left stranded at 2:30 am with my 3 year old son when the clutch fell through the floor. It was repaired and now the rpms shoot up to 6000, is unresponsive to any pedals, and requires turning the engine off. This happened in san francisco on highway 101, I am truly afraid for the safety of myself. Son, and others driving this car or near one. There are many other unmentioned things that have occurred, too many to tell in this summary. They of course can't duplicate this major problem and therefore can't "correct." Also they state it doesn't fall under lemon, but what is at stake our lives.

- Paradise, CA, USA

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