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:
2 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 1
Average Mileage:
73,543 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments (Page 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #69

Dec 282012


  • 46,000 miles


Speedometer does not register mph, stays at 20 mph when at rest and goes up when car is driven but unknown speed person is driving at. Also the temp gauge needle is not even on the area to register the temp of the engine. This is a safety issue and should be recalled. I have heard from my local mechanic that this is a common thing & I have read several posts on line similar to my complaint. Please recall this part so that everyone driving this type of vehicle is safe by knowing the temp of their engine & knowing their driving speed.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #68

Nov 012010


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that the gauges on the instrument panel failed and were providing inaccurate or erratic readings. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer or an independent mechanic to determine the cause of failure. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 50,000. The current mileage was approximately 90,000.

- Beverly, OH, USA

problem #67

Nov 152011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The cluster on my 2004 Chevy Cavalier stopped working while I was on a road trip, I have done much research the past few days and came to the conclusion that the cluster in the 2004-05 Chevy Cavaliers are defective due to many other people having the same problem. This is a real safety issue because I don't know how much gas my car has, how fast im going and if my cars temperature is to high, if Y'all could get to the bottom of this issue it will be greatly appreciated.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #66

Dec 012010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles


All gauges on instrument panel quit working completely at first but now move around backwards or any direction they choose...never correct!!!!! this is very dangerous!!!!!!

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #65

Feb 022010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
Erratic speedometer reading and occasional incorrect fuel gauge reading, I have on many occasions had the speedometer rise to 110 mph while driving at approximate posted speeds, approximate because I have no way to actually tell how fast I'm driving. After researching I found this is a major issue with many year 2001 and up GM vehicles with only the higher end Cadillac type and larger SUV's being recalled ( which have the same exact stepper motors that are causing the problems ). I guess GM figures it's only necessary to repair the speedometers on the 5000 lb plus vehicles traveling at unknown speeds in hopes of saving the smaller vehicles from being hit by them. I did call the GM dealer I bought the car new from and they said there are no recalls on my Cavalier and it would cost approx. $300 not including labor for an exchange unit or send out and repair of my original.

- Douglas, MA, USA

problem #64

Jun 052012


  • miles
There is a well known problem with the horn after time/wear with the 2003-2005 Chevrolet Cavalier. There is a issue with the contact in the steering column to active the vehicles horn. The problem is caused by the rotating ribbon circuit contact under the steering wheel having a broken filament for the horn circuit, the part is known as a clock spring contact. The horn will not work by pressing either button on steering wheel, but will sound as part of vehicle security system by pressing key fob. This issue can lead to accidents, and injury. This is a know problem reported by many vehicle owners on different forums, databases, and searches. Please fix or recall this part Chevrolet, to prevent accident, injury, and death.

- Hamiltin, NJ, USA

problem #63

Mar 252012

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 96,000 miles


Speedometer is unreliable. Sometimes it shows faster, sometimes it shows slower. Sticks in place at times. Next, the temp gauge made me think my car was running very hot and I bought a $25 temperature sensor first, that didn't help, so I was going to replace thermostat. Then I learned about this being a problem with thousands of these cars, so I am not doing anything to it until there is a recall. I'll use a gps to tell my speed. I have had two speeding tickets over this because I had no idea the thing was not working right until it got really bad and started sticking in one place for days. Each ticket will give me two points on my license because of this. My insurance will go up. Also, I don't get paid for the time I take off to go to traffic court over these tickets. I am 65 years old and never had a ticket until these two. Thanks, Chevy.

- Chesterfield, SC, USA

problem #62

Mar 162005


  • miles
Instrument cluster fails to work properly on this model although I have taken it to the dealership 3 times before the warranty ran out. Has never been repaired although they claim they fixed it. The fuel gauge, speedometer, tachometer, and temperature gauge are all affected by this malfunction. When I am driving down the road, it is very common for it to read that I'm going 30 miles faster than I really am and the extreme opposite also happens where I am sitting at a red light but going 70 mph. I have researched online and haven't seen a recall but I really feel that one is necessary in this case. It is unsafe to never know how much gas is in the vehicle, the speed in which you are travelling, or any of the other essential things that should be known while you are operating a car.

- Maryville, TN, USA

problem #61

Dec 022011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 60,650 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. While examining the vehicle the contact noticed that the instrument panel gauges were not functioning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that the instrument panel would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The current mileage was 61,000 and the failure mileage was 60,650. Updated03/15/12 the consumer stated the problem started with the gas gauge. Which started off as an intermittent problem and became worse. The gas gauge needle then started blocking the temperature gauge, which caused that needle not to work properly. The gas gauge and temperature needle were facing the steering wheel. The consumer was informed the entire instrument cluster would have to be replaced at a cost of $650 plus labor. Updated 05/30/12

- Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #60

Feb 102010


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. While parked the contact noticed the fuel gauge displayed the incorrect reading. The reading would fluctuate from empty and full. In addition, the contact noticed the speedometer did not read the accurate speed while driving. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic. The mechanic stated the instrument cluster would have to be replaced but the part was not available for repair. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Springfield , MA, USA

problem #59

Dec 142011


  • 50,142 miles


My speedometer stopped working. Apparently I'm not the only one this has happened to. I've been reading a forum on and between the mileage range of 30,000 and 50,000 this has happened to signifigant amount of people by no fault of their own. This is extremely dangerous for people who have no way to afford getting it fixed and Chevrolet should be liable to fix this issue. They cannot expect to charge upwards of $500 to repair something that was poorly manufactured.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #58

Nov 012008


  • 80,000 miles
The power windows don't work. The gauges don't work only gauge that's works is the tachometer from my research these are two common problems with these Cavaliers the windows is more of a convenience problem but the gauges not working is a safety problem Chevrolet should have to make this right.

- Pink Hill , NC, USA

problem #57

May 032011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Speedometer first began to malfunction, followed by all other gauges. No gauges work properly now. Speed is unknown, rpms is unknown, amount of gas in tank is unknown, proper function of engine is unknown.

- Midwest City, OK, USA

problem #56

Oct 122011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
Speedometer stuck at 60mph. Its not that old of a car and only has 58 thousand miles on it this should be a recall with all the people complaining the same thing happened with the low miles ridiculous!

- Austintown , OH, USA

problem #55

May 162009


  • 70,000 miles
Well I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier and the speedometer doesn't work. I would get oil changes and tires rotated and notice small differences then out of no were it just would not work. It stuck on 110 and the temp is off too. Also it does not tell you how much gas you have. Over all the whole board seems to be not working. I have had this problem for at least two years people tell me they dont know what it is others tell me it cost 700- 900 dollars to fix.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #54

Feb 262006


  • miles
My 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier gauges quit working. I have been online and done some research and I am not the only one with this problem. They have many people that have complained about it. Please do a recall so we can get this problem fixed. Once my warranty of 30 days was up that's when everything quit working.

- Houma , LA, USA

problem #53

Mar 182006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
Own 2004 Chevy Cavalier with 62,000 miles on it. At 25,000 mi the instrument panel stopped working correctly I contacted GM and was told to take car to dealer and have it checked at a cost of $100 and if it was a cluster they might pay for repairs. The speedometer needle goes over past 110 mi when I am doing 20 mph, the gas gauge will sit on empty when there is a half tank, I did some research and found out that GM recalled trucks with this problem but did not include cars, this had to be done before 70,000 miles. I think they should recall cars and fix the problem at once.

- Metairie, LA, USA

problem #52

Jan 012009

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
My 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier has "squirrelly gauges". none of the gauges read correctly. However, once in a while one or more gauges do appear to be reading correctly. My gas gauge is never accurate. My speedometer is often pegged over to top speed or reads 45 mph when I'm doing 65. The only accurate gauge is the odometer. This problem has been going on for about 2-3 years. (no I do not have the money to repair it) researching this problem, I search google for the symptoms and this seems to be a common problem. I look on ebay and find vendors who repair "squirrelly gauges". my complaint is not unique.

- Oxnard, CA, USA

problem #51

Feb 192011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 162,000 miles
Dash cluster abnormal operation, in regards to fuel gauge and speedometer. Speedometer is inaccurate says I am currently traveling more the 110 mph when vehicle is at a state of rest. Fuel gauge also inaccurate sticks when engine is shut off, when restarted the fuel gauge moves in excess of its limits pinning against temperature gauge. During warmer weather the fuel gauge doesn't work and neither will the tachometer. Very disappointed. Contacted GM and was given the run around. Customer care noted that no one has complained about this defect on these vehicles. Very unsafe, don't know exactly how much fuel I have and have resorted in using a gps for speed reference. Recall needs to be issued!

- Sandusky, OH, USA

problem #50

Aug 222008

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
My car failed to start 8/21/08 so I took it to my mechanic. The car was only 4 years old at the time and was still under my extended warranty thank goodness. He determined it was my ignition switch. Since I am the original. Single owner of this vehicle, I knew this was the original ignition switch to the car when purchased new in 2004. My mechanic replaced the switch with a Napa oe part. Now, on 3/29/11, my car failed to start again and left me stranded. I had to have my car towed to my mechanic and then find a way home from work. I then had to borrow a friend's car just to get to work the next day. As discoverd by my mechanic, it was the ignition switch again. This repair completed on 3/30/11 was with an ignition switch that was purchased from a Chevy dealer hoping this will make a difference. I have had several cars and not one time have I ever had to replace an ignition switch in any of them much less twice in just 2 years 3 months like have had to with this car! this repair cost me $280 this time and the incovenience of finding an alternate way to and from work. I am disgusted at the faultiness of this car's electrical system. I have had other electrical issues including having to replace the entire instrument panel when the car was only 2 years old and replacing the electric window switch twice. I truly feel Chevy needs to address my issues.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

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