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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
68,290 miles
Total Complaints:
57 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (24 reports)
  2. chevy should issue a recall (20 reports)
  3. new instrument cluster (13 reports)
2004 Chevrolet Cavalier accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #17

Feb 012009

Cavalier ES 2.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 50,000 miles


I have already posted a problem with my speedometer going out. Seriously, Chevy needs to work on their gauges..all of them..hasn't this always been a problem with Chevy vehicles?

- , Unionville, MO, USA

problem #16

Mar 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

The speedometer on this 04 Chevy Cavalier (65,000 miles) stopped working about 2 weeks ago, and then the rest of the electrical readouts on the dashboard took a crap too. All of the needles (gas, rpm, temp, speed) flash on and off (or surge up and down) about once a second, and the mileage readout on the car flashes once a second (while reading out the mileage and then flashing "error". I have to have these gauges to operate the car, and I'm double scared that this electrical junk could mess with something mechanical .... like not regulating the cooling system or something.

- , Reno, NV, USA

problem #15

Mar 262008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 30,000 miles

First it was just my fuel level indicator then my rpm gauge went south and finally my speedometer.... this is just ridiculous. i took it in to a chevy dealer and they said it would cost 480 to change the whole cluster?? i only have 36k miles on it after 5 years of owning the car! this should have been caught a long time ago..

- , Wichita, KS, USA

problem #14

Oct 142008

Cavalier 2.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


Speedometer on my 2004 cavalier is busted, i find it is a common occurrence because of the process by which there made: cold welded. the gas gague on my 99 is also busted.

this is extremely inconvenient and horrendously expensive to repair. DO A RECALL!!!!!

- , Solon, OH, USA

problem #13

Aug 242007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

I've own Cavalier's before but this time the car is junk. The instrument cluster has decided like all the other complaints to stop working. Some days it kinda of works and some days it doesn't. Sounds to me like this should be a recall. Since the operator/owner could not possibly of done any damage to the stupid thing. I just left the mechanic and he too was puzzled by the whole thing. I know it will cost a leg and arm to get fixed. Not to mention all the other things I've already replaced on this low mileage car. Maybe if Chevy would put some money into quality equipment instead of CEO's salaries, they would sell more cars.

- , Council Bluffs, IA, US

problem #12

Jan 252009


  • Manual transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I think its crazy the only way I know that I'm low on gas is that the speedometer reads 100 mph,then my tact starts goofing up...I don't even know if my car is running hot cause that has stopped working all together now....I think there should be a recall on this instrument cluster it is going to cost me dearly to replace this....

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #11

Dec 012008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


Speedometer has intermittently not worked for a while, sometimes shows correct speed, sometimes less than real speed, sometimes doesn't show speed at all. Now the problem is with temperature gage. With cooler weather this fall, gage started showing fluctuating temp. Got worried and decided to replace thermostat. Bought thermostat but couldn't find it on the car. Found out that it was on ths back side of engine and that exhaust manifold had to be removed to replace thermostat- Yuck. Anyway, I did that and still have gage reading all over the place. Finally, it pegged all the way over to where pointer almost interferes with speedo. Have read many other complaints, but I don't feel good without a good indication of engine temp, since I know that the 2.2s also have an issue with overheat. Guess I have to fix, but am not happy.

- , Savannah, MO, USA

problem #10

Oct 072006

Cavalier LS 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,408 miles

I have had a problem with the fuel gauge since I have owned my 2004 Chevy Cavalier and nobody has been able to fix it. Now my speedometer doe snot work either. So I can't tell how much gas I have, or how fast I am going. I have been told that it is the instrument cluster and there has been a recall on the GM truck for the same thing, but not the Cavalier.

- , Wisconsin Rapids, WI, USA

problem #9

Nov 212008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Rpm and Speedometer gauge went all the way around, what could that be and is it danger driving it like that

- , Marcus Hook, PA, USA

problem #8

Feb 022007

Cavalier 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I had the same problem. Still do. My speedometer cranks way up...the fuel guage does the same thing. As far as I can tell this problem is related to heat--either running the heater or really hot days. My guess is that something cracked or melted behind the gauges and now the heat pours through and messes things up. If you have this problem you might notice a similar pattern.

SEMI-SOLUTION: I bought a little doohickey called a Scangauge II. It plugs right into the OBDII port under the steering wheel. With a strip of Velcro it can sit right on top of the steering column. It gives me all sorts of info including my speed, my water temperature, my battery power and more. It gets its info straight from the computer. It also scans the computer and will store problem "check engine" diagnostic codes. It's a great little device and a good way to get around the mysterious gauges problem that we all have.

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #7

Jan 012008

Cavalier LS Sport 2.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 56,806 miles


My temperature gauge overextended clockwise past the maximum temp thresh hold until the needle was pointing directly right (toward psgr).

The tip of the needle, being stuck in that position, physically blocked the speedometer needle from going any higher than 10 mph. Eventually the speedometer just failed, the temperature gauge still continued to not work, and approximately 1 month after that the gas gauge failed as well (that needle is all over the place). The only gauge in the cluster that is working is the tachometer.

I am forced to estimate my speed by tachometer, which is not only inaccurate and dangerous, but is only mildly effective in 5th gear assuming you have another vehicle to pace your speed at certain RPMs. Fortunately I am extremely adept at visually pacing speed.

In addition, I am forced to judge my fuel level by using the trip meter. If I do not reset the trip on a full tank, I am unable to judge the level of fuel in the vehicle. Fortunately, the "check gauges" light still comes on when I am very low on fuel.

As a police officer, I can definitely say that this issue falls under the statute criteria in my state of operating an unsafe vehicle. Would I cite it? I'm not a hypocrite.

Up until a few months ago I was very eager to get rid of this car. However, with the gas prices at $4.00+ a gallon, I decided it would be worth hanging on to. Mechanically speaking, the vehicle has been doing well. Electrically, I have a few other complaints.

- , Surprise, AZ, USA

problem #6

Jun 162008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

The RPM went haywire about 3 weeks ago. Was showing RPM's at 5000 when I was sitting at a stop. So we knew from this website what was coming. It slowly corrected itself.

My speedometer has now started registering about 20 MPH over what I was really doing.

I sent an email to the Recall Website. This is not only dangerous, but apparently more common than even this website is showing.

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #5

Nov 152006

Cavalier 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

I cant express how relieved I was to see that I wasnt having this problem alone. I also had a mechanic look at it and he couldn't find a problem. It started with the speedometer, I was going 110 miles an hour and holding up traffic. Then came the temp gauge, I found myself pulling over to let it cool off cause it was in the red. After twice stopping to let it cool at 45 mins a pop, I discovered that it wasn't gonna change. Silly me to expect it to work. Now I have no way of knowing how fast I am going or if my engine might blow in traffic cause I ignore the gauges. Only thing I got going for me is my gas with the gas prices these days I really need to know how fast its guzzling Well hopefully somebody from Chevy is smart enough to read the complaints and make an attempt to correct it. This is my first car and will be my last Chevy.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #4

Aug 012007

Cavalier L4 2.2L

  • CVT transmission
  • 32,900 miles

This is ridiculous.... There should be a recall. It is really upsetting when you are driving the interstates doing "185" and every one is passing you in a 65 mph zone!!! I even caught myself pegged on winding back country roads. The Dukes of Hazard guys would be proud of me!!! Imagine telling the cops that you were only doing 35 when you were really doing 50? You never know what the speed is because the tach doesn't always work either. I am pretty sure the gas gauge and temp guages are still o.k. Who the heck knows?????

- , Ambridge, PA, USA

problem #3

Mar 012008

Cavalier 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Started with the tach going out, then all the gages started going crazy! I have found that if you start the car then turn if off quickly a few times the gages will start going back to normal. The instrument panel should not go out on a 3 year old car! I will never buy another GM vehicle!!

- , North Port, FL, USA

problem #2

Feb 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

no gauges have worked in vehicle for about a month (temperature, gas, speedometer, etc). 3 different mechanics cannot find a thing wrong with vehicle)

- , Morristown, NJ, USA

problem #1

Jan 172007

Cavalier 2.2L Ecotech

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,496 miles

Ok first to let you know how much I hate this car (And it is important to mention this is not only my first GM vehicle but the first vehicle I ever owned and although I like the looks of the GM vehicles I will never buy another one) 6 months ago my car would stall for no reason while I was stopped at a stop sign or set of lights.They said it was an electrical problem and changed some wires.

My fuel gauge failed to return empty when the engine was turned off then when it was restarted the needle moved another 90 degrees so that it was pointing to the temperature gauge. Then my temperature gauge was getting affected and soon the temperature gauge was affecting my speedometer and then my tachometer was acting up registering 5000 RPM. Its one thing after another. The dealership took the needles and put them back to their initial position (Where they're suppose to be when you turn off your car) and said they were working fine. It wasn't! Not even a week after they started acting up again but I was in the middle of exams and not only could I not afford to hand over another $500 but I lived 45mins away from my school and needed my car!

- , Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

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