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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
55,907 miles
Total Complaints:
16 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (11 reports)
  2. abs harness shorted (2 reports)
  3. the dealer replaced the abs system (2 reports)
  4. replace brake pads (1 reports)
2004 Chevrolet Cavalier accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments

problem #16

Jun 302010

Cavalier LS 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles


Ok, so similar to what every other person has been saying, my "ABS, Trac Off, Service" lights were all coming on and off periodically for about a week. I got worried because I bought my car used about two years ago and never had any significant problems. I've kept up with routine maintenance (i.e. oil changes, tune ups). My brakes definitely felt worn, but not terrible. There was some minor squeaking, but no grinding or shaking.

The first place I took it to (AAMCO) tried to gouge me by saying my calipers, roaters and brake pads all needed to be changed. This would have cost me about $491 dollars. For any estimates over $200, I ALWAYS get a second opinion.

I took it to Walts next and was told my brake pads needed to be replaced and rotors needed to be resurfaced (about $260). This is pretty common and standard maintenance.

Since I had my pads replaced, my car runs like a champ and the lights haven't come on at all. My advice would be to get a routine brake change (if you haven't gotten one) and try it out for a few days. Chances are this is the only problem you have. Don't settle on the first price either. Shop around to two or more places for the best price.

- , Tacoma, WA, US

problem #15

Feb 242010

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

Bought this car in January 2004 brand new and never had a problem with it. But a couple of months ago the ABS, Service, low trac, and no trac lights came on. before they do go on the car shakes a little bit. this is ridiculous that this has happened to so many people but then again this is not my only problem with the car

- , Arvada, CO, USA

problem #14

Jul 252008

Cavalier LS 2.2L Ecotec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

As with everyone else, The ABS, Brake, and Trac off lights came on one day when starting the car, When I turned the car off the next time I started it they were off. It was Intermittent for a few days coming on and off, Took it to the dealer and they replaced the drivers side wheel speed sensor and Harness. 10,000 miles later it hasn't happened again.

- , Evansville, WI, USA

problem #13

Sep 302008

Cavalier LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


They stay on and i have not got it taken care of yet as it is intermittent problem.

Sometimes its Ok sometimes lights are on

- , Arlington Heights, IL, USA

problem #12

Jul 102008

Cavalier 2.2L Ecotec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,845 miles

We purchased our 2004 cavalier at a dealership.. We bought it with 19,959 miles. At 21,000 miles we had the control stabilizing arms replaced, strut mounts replaced {twice}!, struts replaced, CD player replaced, horn replaced, and many other front end components too numerous to mention!!!. Now the ABS, Low Trac, and Service light are all on at one time!!! Totally ridiculous!! The age has nothing to do with this, nor the mileage.. This should be a recall. Our lease is up in February.. I FEEL THAT THIS SHOULD BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DEALERSHIP AS THIS IS THIER VEHICLE TO BEGIN WITH!!

- , Altoona, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

This problem started around the first of the year with the ABS light coming on and then going off until one day it just stayed on. I called the dealer ship and was asked to bring the car in to have it checked. I was then notified that I no ABS brakes and that it was a safety issue. The warranty covered a rental thank goodness and the parts and labor to have the ABS system replaced. Well guess what??? I get in my car this morning and the ABS, brake and Low Trac lights are on. So now I get to go back to the dealer ship and have it checked again. What a pain. Has anyone had this happen after having the ABS system replaced?

- , Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #10

May 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


Having the same problem intermittently. I am going to have it looked at this weekend. So is there some kind of correlation with having that, the window problem (driver's side window will not go up), and the RPM meter gauge going haywire, ALL AT THE SAME TIME? Really annoying!

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #9

Feb 022004

Cavalier LS 2.2L Ecotec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

I discovered this before having a mechanic look at it. They would have replaced the wheel sensors. There is a bulletin on the web which describes this... the short occurs in the wiring harness section where it attaches to the suspension usually on the left side. It's not the sensor reporting incorrect speed; it is reporting a malfunction in the signal it receives; Chevrolet has a part number for a replacement-left-side-harness. It is:Part No. 12187091-- they call it a jumper harness.

Here is the article I found:

ABS and/or "Traction Off" warning light on, codes stored. The owner of a 2003-04 Chevy Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire may come into your shop complaining that the ABS and/or "Traction Off warning light on the dash is illuminated. When he does, grab your scanner and start checking for DTCs. If you pull codes C1223 and C1225, chances are good the front wheel speed sensor jumper harness has an intermittent connection. For some reason, the left-side harness seems to be affected much more so than the right, says GM. The car maker also warns that the connection may appear good in the shop when the harness is checked with a DVOM, because it's not subjected to the movement, vibration and flexing that occurs on the road. Visually inspecting the harness connector for wire pullout is a much more accurate diagnostic approach. If you find that the wires have indeed unseated from the connector, replace the jumper harness with a new, more durable design, Part No. 12187091. To install the new harness, get the car on a lift and remove the three forward harness routing clips. These will be reused. Now remove the remaining two clips at the control arm and toss them (new ones are provided with the new harness). Next, disconnect the wheel speed sensor connector, plug in the new harness, route it properly and install the five clips.

Continue the repair by cutting the tape and pulling back on the conduit of the old harness. Using the new harness as a guide, cut the wires, strip the ends and splice the wires together using the splice clips provided with the updated harness. Push the conduit back over the new harness, then seal up the repair with electrical tape. To complete the fix, lower the vehicle and take to the road to ensure that the warning light(s) stays off.

Use your best judgment or consult a mechanic before attempting this. Good luck and I hope it helps.

- , Varysburg, NY, USA

problem #8

Apr 082008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,923 miles

i just want to know why the abs,traction control and service lights are on on my car no mechanic i have been can tell me the problem has anyone else had he problem and how did they fix it

- , Ch'town, PEI, Canada

problem #7

Oct 112007

(reported on)

Cavalier LS 2.2L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,345 miles

My ABS and trac light are on all of the time

- , Allen Park, MI, US

problem #6

Sep 242007

(reported on)

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles


abs, trac, and service lights were coming on. Dealer said the abs harness shorted. They replaced the abs harness

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #5

Jun 082007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

ABS, Trac Off, and Service engine soon lights are on all the time in my car. Taken it to local car stores and nothing is stored in the computer to show the problems.

- , Wellsville, OH, USA

problem #4

Aug 132007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

My ABS light and all the other lights stay on in the car and I don't know why. Need to have it repaired.

- , Pennsauken, NJ, USA

problem #3

Mar 302007

(reported on)

Cavalier LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

These lights are driving me crazy!!! No one can tell me why it happens, or what might be wrong. I back up, start forward and the trac off light, the abs light and the service light all come on. I have to stop and start the car again to get the lights to go off. I've noticed a bit of hesitation at times, the lights come on when this happens too. Any suggestions????

- , Bodcaw, AR, USA

problem #2

Feb 242007

(reported on)

Cavalier Z24 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles

Went for an oil change, and shortly there after, had to stop at a light at normal speeds and the "Check Engine," "ABS," and "ETS OFF" lights all showed up. Each time I turn off the ignition the lights come on as they would normally, they turn off shortly there after - that is until I drive... Putting the car in Reverse to back out of the garage gives me "TRAC LOW", followed by the inevitable all three lights as soon as the gear is shifted into drive and I press the gas. IF ANYONE has ANY idea what needs to be done please let me know! They replaced the oil and air filters with my oil change but I doubt that would have something to do with it. I've seen messages about washing out the sensors contained in the wheel wells by getting an underside wash on my car, I will say that I just got back from Mike's Car Wash yesterday - still have those pesky lights!

- , Westfield, IN, USA

problem #1

Dec 282006

(reported on)

Cavalier LS 2.2L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,401 miles

After putting the car in reverse and putting it into drive and start moving three light indicators including "ABS" "Trac OFF" and "Service" appear and stay on. The car appears to be running okay but after stopping, turning the car off and then back on the lights go away. Something tells me that when the Chevy dealer got their hands on it they cleared out all of the codes so that the next guy doing a diagnostic would not find anything wrong. I think those problems were hidden and should be reported to Chevy. Anyone else having the same problems.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

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