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NHTSA — Electrical System Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,530 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.

2002 Pontiac Sunfire electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Pontiac Sunfire Owner Comments

problem #18

Jul 282015


  • 194,460 miles


Turned off the vehicle, got my fuses and relay's all checked and turned the car on the next morning, nothing on my dash panel is working. No mileage, none of the gauges work, fuses and relays are all good.

- Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #17

Nov 112011

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 92,488 miles
I have been the only owner of my 2002 Pontiac Sunfire; well back in 2011 it just would not start; took it to a trusty mechanic who told me I had to go to the dealership cause most likely I needed an ignition switch; so I took it to the dealer in town; being they are a GM dealer; I mentioned what it needed; they looked at it for several days and told me I needed a new computer system; and it was $703 for labor and everything; okay so we decide to fix it; get it back and guess what several weeks later it dies on the interstate while my husband was going 70mph; he had to throw it into neutral and pull over; cause it almost caused an accident!!! take it back to same dealership; they can't find anything wrong with it; they have me come pick it up and it wont even start!!! so I leave it there; then they call me that Monday; you need an ignition switch and we will replace this for free; did I even need a new computer"?? GM this car is dangerous and needs to be on that recall list; cause its next; also; I have had a broken trunk; a broken moon roof; and in the winter when its really cold out; good luck getting inside the car; these doors freeze like no other; its not meant to sit outside; I have had overheating issues; got that fixed finally; now the ac compressor is shot and the ac won't work; that is $800 to fix; but before with trying to run the ac the car would rev up really bad when sitting idle and sometimes it just shuts off; always starts back up; thank goodness; but the computer and compressor could not keep up with each other is what I was told; the body on this car is horrible; expect rust unless you keep it in a garage and the paint peels like no other; if there is an ignition switch problem; why is this car not on the recall??" this car almost caused an accident; my husband knew what to do; also sometimes the seat belts almost choke you, be careful!

- Platte City, MO, USA

problem #16

May 012014

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
When trying to put car into park, shift cable broke and it was very difficult to get into park. Had to use emergency brake to keep car from rolling. Then, because car wasn't fully in park, ignition wouldn't restart. Had to replace cable.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #15

Mar 152014


  • 151,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire. The contact stated that the ignition seized in the "on" position and the vehicle failed to turn off. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the ignition was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The failure and current mileage was 151,000.

- Colorado Spring, CO, USA

problem #14

Sep 202010

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Steering column began to smoke and car engine stopped. Dealership determined the cause to be a short in the ignition switch wiring harness due to rubbing on the steering column.

- Grand Blanc, MI, USA

problem #13

Oct 042012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire. The contact stated that whenever starting the ignition, the ABS and engine warning indicators illuminated continuously until the engine was turned off. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the canister vamp solenoid and evap canister were both replaced. The failure persisted after the repair was performed. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Cohoes, NY, USA

problem #12

Mar 012013

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 98,628 miles


This is not the first issue we have had with this vehicle and electrical issues. It spent 6 weeks in the shop the first time back in late 2011 because the wipers, lights, power anything in car went on the fritz and locks failed. Now the drl lights quit and the service engine light comes on when they fail when you put the car into gear, high beams quit, rear light connectors are rotted and shorted out and the ignition switch is screwed up and that is only the beginning. It has gone into week 7 now with no results. I feel General Motors owes us some solution to these problems especially since I am finding out I am not the only owner of this type of vehicle that has had the exact same electrical issues. These are safety issues not to mention very costly repairs and being without our vehicle to go back and forth to work. Out of the 70 complaints I read there are 20 plus issues with the same electrical issues I am having. Why has General Motors not done anything to address these issues or at least help with the repair costs?? in the last year and a half my car has been in the shop 13 weeks and counting for these electrical issues.

- Doylestown, OH, USA

problem #11

Jan 012010

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Fire hazard, rear light sockets melting and smoking.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #10

Jan 022009


  • miles
This car was bought brand new. Since it's purchase we have had many issues. We had to replace the transmission at less than 20,000 (it was still under warranty though). My power windows have all stopped working and have been replaced (I've had to buy 7 different ones), my cigarette lighter fuse has been replaced twice, I have also had the problems with my headlights and they have had shorts and the wiring has needed replaced on both sides, and last finally my switch on my driver door that turns the dome light on and the radio off has needed changed 3 times now! we have had many problems with this car and I would never recommend this car to anyone!!

- Fredericktown, OH, USA

problem #9

Nov 202008


  • 136,200 miles
The gauges stopped working when the lights and heater was turned on thus causing me to have the vehicle towed home where I was able to identify the problem as the wiring harness for the vehicle.

- Orwell, OH, USA

problem #8

Jan 122007

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I own a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire and I constantly have trouble starting it and there are no problems with the battery. After I play with the wiring for a bit it eventually starts yet when I'm driving it it stalls out and it seems like my car has a hard time shifting gears because it jolts as I speed up or slow down. And sometimes it jolts when I'm not accelerating nor decreasing speed. This has happened ever since I purchased the car in mid 2006. And after researching it I found that the same make and model of my car has been recalled for various reasons.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #7

Feb 052007

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Day time running lights flicker service engine light comes on some kind of headlight short and I see online this is a common problem I have it on my 2002 Sunfire and there are hundred of forums on this problem.

- Glassport, PA, USA

problem #6

Dec 152004

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles
When slowing down to a stop, or turning the car loses complete power. No dash signs are shown during this process. Starts up immediately if heat/defrost is not turned on or is turned off, let the car sit for a minute. This happens when defrost or heat is used or not used only happens in the winter when temp. Falls below 40 degrees. Every time I turn on the car. In the summer and spring if it rains the car loses power when there is any amount of water on the road, does not have to be standing water on the road new fuel pump, steering cylinder, clutch has been cleaned several times, battery and alternator have been replaced, hooked up to all electrical machines at several dealers and nothing shows a defect this has been happening for 2 years after the car hit 60,000 miles.

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #5

Oct 082004


  • Manual transmission
  • 33,817 miles
My 2002 Pontiac Sunfire stalls at random times, whether in motion or at a complete stop, when ever the clutch is put in. Issue began in the standard warranty with only 33,817 miles, but after multiple testdrives and just normal driving, this issue has carried over onto the extended warranty. The initial day I took my car in for this issue was 10/8/2004, last time it was in for this same issue was 3/4/2005 and still not resolved. The service advisors flat out say, "honestly, we have no idea what is causing this and have no idea on how to fix it." So, I continue driving this car that does and can stall out going 60-70 mph on the freeway. I am currently 7 months pregnant and have stressed and worried about this issue for majority of my pregnancy.

- Los Lunas, NM, USA

problem #4

May 222004

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Unsure of the day in April of 2002 the car was purchased. I don't know the exact date the problems began. The problems are with the heating/air conditioning system, brakes, all seat belts, windows, roof leaks, electrical system and radio. The electrical system shorted out, had to be repaired. Problems continued with the heating/air system so I took it in again. It still wasn't repaired properly. One vent over the radio does not blow the air out effectively like the vent next to it. When the heating/air conditioning system is turned off the air continues to blow air out the floor vents that increases with acceleration.the car doesn't cool properly unless the recirculating air is on. The window of the cd player/radio became too hot to touch.I was told this was normal and nothing was wrong with the radio. Since this time,1/2 of the window display is faded.the electrical windows do not work properly. The passenger has problems similar to the driver window but it doesn't occur continuously as in the driver's order to roll the window up, the operator has to wait for at least 5 minutes, depress the button, the window will roll up less than 1/2 an inch. This process continues until the window is up. It seems as though the motor is overheating, has to cool down in order to operate properly again. The seat belts have been fixed once but now the shoulder harness on all seat belts do not lock into place. The brakes grind and squeek at times. The roof leaks where the rear window meets the roof. When going up a hill the car has difficulty at 20 - 30 miles an hour. The dealership stated I should have spent more money for a car, and not bought a cheap one. I have been to two dealerships without any luck. I also have contacted the Pontiac customer assistance service center and they refuse to assist me in locating a dealership with the proper staffing, all they will provide is a list of dealerships. I feel as though this is a safety problem for investigation.

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #3

May 012003

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • miles
Vehicle has cut-off or couldn't be started 7 times. Also, the vehicle was towed 4 times due to its stalling problems. Pontiac had been given 4-5 chances to fix the problem since May 2003. The mechanics could not duplicate the problem. The power train module failed intermittently and the PCM assembly was replaced, the cd player did not function properly, and the engine would crank, but not start. The mechanic(s) found the fuel pump shorted.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #2

Oct 022003

(reported on)


  • 5,000 miles
When brake pedal was depressed brakes made a loud noise, and excessive force had to be applied to stop vehicle. This was caused by the rotors continuously cracking. Dealership resurfaced and replaced the rotors. Also when slowing down or at a complete stop, vehicle would stall without warning. Dealership reprogrammed the computer chip. In addition, power windows malfunctioned. They would engage by themselves and slide up/down, and stick in either position. Dealership replaced the motor, but the problem still exists.

- Pulaski, VA, USA

problem #1

Dec 162002

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,950 miles
I filed a complaint on a 2002 Grand Am GT VIN [xxx] concerning steering problems. I cannot find it in your consumer complaint data base, nor any other information related to this vehicle or recalls, safety issues, etc on 2002 Grand Am GT in general. Am I looking in the wrong place? please help. Also, I now own a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire VIN [xxx]. I took delivery on 10.31.02 as part of lemon law byback by GM on above discussed Grand Am. I am having several problems with this new car I consider safety hazards. GM so far has had the car more than I have. How can I file a complaint and find out more information on the areas of concern with this vehicle. So far, it went of park into reverse and hit me in the head causing injury my doc is looking into, the car on the same trip completely shut down, losing all power except radio, and the ABS off light went on. Yet two dealers, midway in phoenix on 12.16.02 and courtesy in las vegas say no problems exist. Courtesy sill has car because it was not fully repaired per work order. I feel like I am in the same black hole I was in with the Grand Am GT except no serious accidents to the vehicle like the one I had with the GT has occurred. Please guide me on what to do if you can. My wife and I are disabled and this is very trying on us. Also, I am waiting per my doctor for the first week in February to rview X-rays and cat scan F my neck. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

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