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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
62,222 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (10 reports)
  2. use needle-nosed pliers to force cable back into housing (1 reports)
2003 Chevrolet Cavalier AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments

problem #11

Jun 012011

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


When the control knob is in the Defrost or Defrost/floor selection the air only blows out the front vents not up top where it needs to or at your feet.

Chevrolet CAC told me the car was 8 years old and they wouldn't help defray any of the cost. I told GM they used cheap parts and know about the issue and are putting peoples safety at risk.

- , Commerce, MI, USA

problem #10

Jan 092008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

The control knob was hard to turn and then it made a hellish snapping noise. After that turning the know does nothing. My floor vents and front defrost are useless. Kind of crappy in an Ohio winter.

- , New Carlisle, OH, USA

problem #9

Sep 152009

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

temp control just snaps back from mid point, can't make warmer, and getting cold here in western NY.....

- , Rochester, NY, USA

problem #8

Sep 092008

Cavalier LS 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


Not only did the cable kink but it snapped. I can't get my windshield defrosted so it makes it extremely hard to see. I can't warm up the floor either. This is obviously poor construction and should be recalled and fixed at no charge to car owners!

- , Fridley, MN, USA

problem #7

Feb 042008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

The switch that controls my def/vent/floor was stuck on vents only. It was dangerous because my windshield would not defrost, as it happened in the winter. I brought it in to a Chevy dealer, paid out $120 to have it fixed just to have it happen again a few months later. I brought it in to an independent mechanic to have it fixed, once again, paying out another $130, as the part was more expensive this time. This fix lasted for about a week. Luckily the independent mechanic gave me a 12 month warranty on the fix and fixed it once again for free. Apparently if the switch is turned to the recirculation level, it fails as there is a problem with the vents. We will see how long it works this time.

- , Grand Rapids, MN, USA

problem #6

Jan 182006

Cavalier 2.2 Ls

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,318 miles

This problem annoyed me for years but I couldn't bear to pay some dealership to take my dashboard off to correct such an insignificant problem. I just decided to bear with the heat selector control not working...and just wait until my car heated up and defrosted the window. Or I rolled the windows down sometimes in the rain.

Well, after many years, and during an unemployed stint, I decided I was going to figure this thing out. I found a solution online and 3 years after the problem started, I fixed it enough that it is no longer annoying and I can select between the floor/defrost setting or the floor/dash setting.

What I did was, using needle-nosed pliers, I forced that kinked cable (which is what causes this problem, guaranteed) to straighten out and slide up the cylindrical housing. Once you force it through there, it toggles the heat selector. As long as you don't turn your selector knob too much to the right or left (ie DONT go all the way either way) it will stay straight enough to work. Took me about 30 minutes to get it right the first time. Now if it happens accidentally (dumb passenger) I can do it in 5-10 easy.

- , Haslett, MI, USA

problem #5

Oct 152008

Cavalier 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,129 miles


I use my car for work and put on about 50,000 km every year so just about every complaint listed here, I've had! I bought the car brand new. GM service sucks. Needless to say, the new car I just bought is NOT a GM. I'm still using the cavalier for work and will continue to do so until the next large repair bill when it'll just be parked for good. I'm listing my complaints here because they all seem to be so common and the more complaints filed here, the more power.

My cavalier is now 5 years old, fully paid for and has about 250,000 kms on it. Other than these annoying problems that seem to occur for everyone, it doesn't drive too badly for an old lady of 250,000 kms. (My fingers are crossed as I say that.)

When the temperature started getting very cool and it was time to switch from a/c to heat, I tried to switch the temperature dial into the red zone but it would only go about 3/4 of the way and then just kind of zinged back into the cold when you let go. My mechanic, who knows me on a first name basis, told me it was the cable. After looking it up on the schematics on his computer, he explained how they would need to remove the entire dash to replace the cable. Yikes! He fiddled around with it and said it felt like something was inside blocking it but he managed to turn it into the red zone completely for me. I was satisfied with that and will just go back and see him in the late spring if I'm still driving it. (So he can switch it back to the blue zone.) I was satisfied with that - only paying 1/2 hour labour instead of having the dash removed.

But I did discover that you cannot defrost your windshield on a cold morning with the car on a/c! Or in the rain on a cold day. And that can be dangerous.

I read a few other complaints about the cable breaking in the same way for the switch that changes the vents from floor to defrost, etc. Mine isn't broken there, amazingly enough, but a long time ago, it did become screwed up. Like as in if you have it set to floor, you might be getting heat or a/c from a totally different place. You couldn't trust it. Lately, the defrost setting seems okay so that's okay with me.

- , Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

problem #4

May 112006

Cavalier 2.2L Ecotec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

My girlfriend purchased the car used from Enterprise, which was her first mistake since it was a former rental car. Not long after she bought the car, she noticed when trying to use her defrosters that the selector was stuck in the vent position and she could not use the floor vents or defrosters. It's pretty scary driving around when her windows fog up, since she can barely see anything in front of her. I work in a body shop and have contacted a local GM dealership with do business with, and they tell me there are no TSB's or recalls for the problem. Another quality GM product. Guess that's why they say Get a Mechanic Coming!(GMC)

- , Granite City, IL, USA

problem #3

Jan 012008

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Just bought the car, only 64000 miles on it,and the controls are stuck. Everything works fine but when you goto turn it to defrost,it snaps back to floor flow. So you have to manually hold it!!! Seems like this is becoming an issue for alot of people...RECALL TIME!!!!

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #2

Nov 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I also had the same exact problem. The control button got stuck twice in one year!!! The first time it was under warranty and this last time I had to pay. I only hope it doesn't happen again!

- , New Haven, CT, USA

problem #1

Apr 112007

(reported on)

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles

Ok, I can understand it happening once, but twice within ten thousand miles is wrong! The first time the control stuck, it was snowing and the windshield fogged up so I went to put it on defrost, and surprise, it wouldn't budge from the floor vents!! Huge problem-couldn't see to drive! At least it was still under warranty, so it was fixed. (The "cable" broke.) However, the same problem occurred right after the warranty expired. I can't remember if this was a recall, but I know I was not the only one experiencing the same problem.

- , Kingsville, MO, USA

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