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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,355 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments

problem #7

Jul 102008


  • 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 #6

Aug 272008


  • 50,386 miles
Back right rear spring broke on the brake, according to dealership this was the 3rd one they had seen on this model. The tire locked up completely and this has now caused problems with the idling of the vehicle.

- Wathena, KS, USA

problem #5

Jul 012003

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,500 miles
: the contact stated that there were three problems with the vehicle. The automatic windows failed to roll either up or down. The second problem occurred with the trunk; water continually leaked into the trunk. The third problem was related to the brakes; they were no longer working at only 25000 miles. The brake light illuminated and made a squealing noise as soon as brake pressure was applied. The dealer determined the trunk was not installed properly. Although the dealer fixed the trunk, the problem persists. When it rain, water still leaks in the trunk. The water leak has been an ongoing problem since July 2003.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #4

Jan 102006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


I have had problems with brake grinding since I bought my 04 Cavalier. It has been into the dealership 3 times and each time I was told there was only rust build up and it was sanded off only to reccur. The last time in the dealership, I was told my car was no longer under warranty and if I wanted a brake job done it would be in excess of $140...this...was for the same problem the car was in for the previous 2 times and no new brakes installed..only the rust ground off. My check engine light periodically goes off and on and the dealership cannot determine why. I no longer have any lights on my radio/cd player..I can play cd's and use the radio but have no idea what station etc I am on. Shortly after this occurred in like 2 weeks, I lost my works briefly and then sticks at 90 mph ( the odometer works however) the dealership checked fuses and said all was fine. They said it appeared to be a cluster module and even though the part was not that expensive, the labor would be the most because it entailed them removing the dash board. The cost factor of over $400 was verbally given to me. I live on a fixed income and cannot afford this. They said there were no recalls and given my car is off warranty, I would need to absorb this cost myself. I bought this car brand new and feel that after less than 2 years of owning it, these problems should not have happened. I gave an estimated account of dates of incident been they have been on going and can be verified through the dealership I bought it from as I have taken it no where else for service. I am registered with carstats and there have been several complaints of the same things I am experiencing.

- Breckenridge, MI, USA

problem #3

May 042006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,500 miles
: the contact stated while traveling 45 mph, the brakes failed. There was significant extended stopping distance while depressing the brake pedal. The vehicle was stopped when hit by another vehicle. There was a police report taken at the scene and the contact received minor injures although the seat belt was worn. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic that determined the brakes failed. The insurance company determined the vehicle totaled.

- Little Egg Habor, NJ, USA

problem #2

Feb 102006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When having my brakes changed it was noticed that on the rear brakes only half the pad touches the drum, the lower half does not touch it only the top.

- Ironton, OH, USA

problem #1

Aug 102004

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
Bought a brand new 2004 Cavalier approximately April 2004. Since purchase date, car has been into dealership due to loud grinding noises in brakes 3 times. First time to best of my knowledge within 6 months of ownership. Every time I have been the noises are rust buildup on shoes and pads. The remedy was to sand the rust, it worked but temporarily. I had the car in again November 2005 for this same thing & my check engine light stayed on. My car was still under warranty. The tech told me I had rust & the rotors were " a little out of round". he told me the car had 30,000 miles on & they couldn't do new brakes as warranty it would cost me about $140. The check engine light was attributed it to having some floats in tank from gas that affected a sensor. Wouldn't cause problems they said & it still happens. The 2nd visit to the dealer they fix a side mirror & defroster..didn't work. 1 week ago, I have use of radio & cd player only no lights/radio now. The next day I started car up my & speedometer says 35 mph idling. Going with traffic flow it registered 105 & is now stopped there. Mileage gauge, gas and other lights still work as does gas gauge. I called a local Chevy dealership near me & inquired as to an aprox. Cost to have radio & speedometer fixed/looked at. Warranty now is off. I was told labor be the expensive part..looking at $400 or more. I live on a fixed income & can't afford this. Brakes/radio/speedometer are nothing I caused. I was never offered to have brakes replaced. Speedometer issue is very dangerous. I have checked websites to see if there were complaints like mine& there are. I have guessed the incident date I cannot recall exact date I took car in for the 1st brake issue.

- Breckenridge, MI, USA

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