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 1 of 6)

problem #109

Aug 032017


  • miles


I have had my used Chevy Cavalier 2004 car for almost a year. As I have been driving the engine has just stopped. This has happened 4 times in the time span of 5 months. No one ( auto shops) can find the issue. They have zero answers. This is dangerous and has caused accidents. I would be banned from the internet if I said what I really want to say to Chevy. The most recent time this happened was yesterday...Aug 3rd 2017.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #108

Sep 152016


  • 150,000 miles
Speedometer has stopped functioning. Safety issue because I can no longer tell how fast I am driving.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #107

Nov 152016

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 68,500 miles
Cluster panel temp gauge was fluctuating now the gauge is staying in one spot so have no idea if temp is good or not. What if something is wrong with the engine I will not know without this working. Have taken to two garages they both say its the cluster panel. Stationary and while driving, gage stays the same.this started about a month ago with only 68,500 miles on it.

- St Johnsville, NY, USA

problem #106

Sep 152016


  • 105,127 miles


My cluster stopped working a while ago. Since I didn't get a recall on it I was unaware of people did complain about it until my car caught on fire where the cluster is and all the wires are totally burned up. I am furious. I read other complaints and some people had the same problem. I could not read all of them so, I don't know how many caught on fire. Thank god I didn't get injured or death. Chevrolet should be held responsible for this. Please help.

- Dumont, NJ, USA

problem #105

Mar 192016


  • miles
Instrument panel does not work. Therefore do not know the speed in which is being traveled, temperature of engine, amount of fuel or anything. Check guages light comes on and goes off like every week. Have no clue why it stopped working and personal mechanic is appalled at the issue.

- Frazeysburg, OH, USA

problem #104

Feb 012016


  • 72,000 miles
2 issues. First, temperature gauge read higher and higher each time the car was started until the needle went all the way around to the speedometer and kept the speedometer from reading the speed. Entire gauge cluster was replaced. Second issue was passenger front seat belt would periodically lock, not allowing the passenger to use the seat belt.

- Somerset, KY, USA

problem #103

Apr 052016


  • 152,000 miles


My temperature gauge has malfunctioned and is stuck at 195 degrees when I turn my car on. It then rises just as normal but stops at 260 degrees which is in the red zone

- Ionia, MI, USA

problem #102

Nov 102015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that the instrument panel failed to function properly. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage and VIN were not available.

- Filburn, GA, USA

problem #101

Jul 152014


  • 140,000 miles
For several years now, the interior light has been coming on intermittently when I hit a bump in the road. Last year I went shopping, got back into my car & started it, or rather tried to start it, but it shut down quite quickly. Thinking it was a fluke, I tried to start it several more times with the same results. Not even pushing on the gas could keep it going. After towing the car & having it sit around for a while before someone could finally find the electrical issue, it was 'repaired'. the issue was the wiring for the ignition switch. The repair completed was a cheaper route than replacing the actual switch. What I didn't know until too late last year was the 'service w/wrench' and 'theft system' lights were the warning that the switch was about to go out. The interior light has been doing the same thing again & the theft & service lights came on again last Wednesday, 7/15/15, and now I know I have no choice but to replace the ignition seitch. Last year I contacted GM but they only wanted to make a note about it. I'm sure that as time goes on others will have issues too. How can wires come loose or break behind a steering wheel? plugs, hoses & things like that I can fully understand, but not something that is hidden & supposedly safe behind a steering wheel

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #100

Jun 012013


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. While driving approximately 30 mph over a bump in the road, the vehicle began to shake. The contact also noticed that the vehicle failed to start properly on multiple occasions. There were no warning lights illuminated; however, the interior lights would not illuminate. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the ignition switch needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Colorado Springs , CO, USA

problem #99

Mar 032015


  • 58,000 miles


While driving down the road my speedometer for stuck. I know I was going 60 when it happened because that's what it is stuck isn't the first time this has happened. My car has had multiple problems with the windshield wipers, windows, and engine light.

- Roscoe, IL, USA

problem #98

Jan 232015

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
The instrument cluster board has stopped, working and appears to be an ongoing issue with GM on several models (car and truck) between 1998-2009. Also the ABS, traction control, service engine lights will not go off. Window doors are not working and appears to all related to the cluster panel. I have replaced all ABS sensors, new brakes pads, rotors, and even front bearings. The engine itself works great and is fine and appears that GM has done a great job in this part. The cluster panel and wiring is a serious safety issue and needs to be reviewed in these models. Poor ground wiring an cluster panels can cause consumers to spend thousands of dollars in repairs and still resulting in the same problem. Cluster panel replacement can be from $300 to $800 depending on your local mechanic. This is a serious issue since ABS and traction control are not working due to the long list of issues. I recommend a recall on cluster panels for all Cavaliers and modules, wiring as well.

- Acworth, GA, USA

problem #97

Jul 102009

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
The problem originally started with the temperature gauge (showed that the car was always overheating) and then eventually stopped moving at all. Next, the rpms stopped moving and the speedometer began showing that we were going 100 when we couldn't have been going more than 35. Now the speedometer doesn't move at all. So, at this point is impossible to know how fast I am going, if the car is overheating, or what the rpms are. Currently the fuel gauge works most of the time, but occasionally after filling up the tank the gauge will move to the far right (as if it's telling us that the tank is overfilled), to where it would interfere with the other gauges (if they were working). I feel this is a big safety problem and at the very least is very annoying (already been pulled over twice for going 10 miles over, because I had no idea how fast I was going).

- Riverton, UT, USA

problem #96

Dec 302010


  • 125,000 miles
First of all my instrument cluster fails, sometimes you know how fast you are going, what your tack is and you fuel level, sometimes you don't. I have never really known my mileage since I have owned the car. I also have issues with the car occasionally not wanting to start or reving of the engine and all of my dummy lights coming on I was told that is my ignition switch, however when I contacted GM they informed me Cavaliers used a different switch than the ones in the recall. Ok. both of these are safety issues, I was going to give this car to my son for his first car, but no way! I can not teach him how to drive in it, because the cluster doesn't function and the ignition switch issues. GM will not issue a recall for this vehicle and knows there are issues, pretty sure last GM I will own.

- Poland, IN, USA

problem #95

Dec 162014

Cavalier 4WD 4-cyl

  • 151,925 miles
Low and high-beam headlights appear dim when turned on compared to other cars. May be due to corroded/defective wiring. Appears to be a very common problem with this Chevrolet model. Looking for recall information related to this issue.

- Hastings, MI, USA

problem #94

Aug 072006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Air bags did not come out car flipped over twice and there was 1 death and 1 injury.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #93

May 082008


  • 80,000 miles
My wife's instrument cluster on her 2004 Cavalier has not worked since about 80000 miles. The only gauge that works anymore is the tachometer. My research points to the steppers motors. This is not an isolated issue. There are numerous complaints concerning this exact issue, all over the internet. Is this not a safety issue, when the speedometer does not work ? G.M. should be held responsible. She has been estimating her speed by the tachometer for far too long. Please have G.M. fix this issue before someone dies ! thank you.

- Pink Hill , NC, USA

problem #92

Mar 152014

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
All of the trouble lights come on including the service light with a wrench. Then, all of the gauges drop to nothing; you don't know how fast you're traveling, what your fuel capacity is, the temperature gauge drops to nothing along with the tachometer dropping to nothing. In the odometer and "error" message replaces the odometer reading. The gauges will intermittently go off and on or all of them will drop of with no reading. The other evening, I was coming home on a winding back country road and all of my lights went out. I have to limit my driving to daytime driving and only use the running lights as it appears to only aggravate the problem when I use my headlights. Today, everything above happened along with some news things. The vehicle was shut off, the key was removed from the ignition and the running lights remained on as did the warning alarm as though the key were left in the ignition. I left the car only after I pulled the left and right fuse from the panel. When I returned to the car, I inserted the fuses and started the vehicle but was unable to shift the car into gear as the car would not let me depress the button on the shifter to do so. I have to now shut the car off and pull the ignition fuse and then reinsert it to get the car in gear. What the heck?

- Carnegie, PA, USA

problem #91

Jun 252014

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • miles
Car will not start consistently. Have to wait a couple of days, then it may start or not. But if it starts, it will not start again until days go by............ ignition shut off on one occasion when operating on a public road. Loss of power, engine and power brakes.steering wheel did not lock but coasted vehicle off the road.

- Brownsville, TX, USA

problem #90

Jun 202014


  • 54,100 miles
While driving at 35mph, the speedometer began to malfunction giving faulty readings. At times, it registers at 0mph - even when you're driving. The tachometer began to do the same thing (faulty readings) two days later. The speedometer now works but periodically gives faulty readings while driving. The tachometer no longer works at all and constantly shows a faulty reading (below zero). After a visit to three different local mechanics and a GM dealership - I'm told there's only one way to fix the problem. Replace the instrument cluster completely. This is a costly repair and quite common with these vehicles in their experience apparently. Not having an accurate and reliable display of your current speed is certainly a major safety issue. It's amazing to me that this has not yet been investigated with all the complaints regarding faulty gauges/instrument panels on this vehicle. This vehicle needs to be investigated and recalled.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

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