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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,286 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments

problem #7

Jan 012011


  • 60,000 miles


My wife's 2004 Chevy Cavalier has a wrong speedometer indication. It says the car is going 60 mph while not being moved at all. When the car reaches high speeds at the freeway it says the car is going at 120 mph and hits the top of the gauge. The oil temperature indication also shows 190 degrees with engine not running, and with engine running it goes to red band indication.

- Carolina, PR, USA

problem #6

Dec 102009


  • 51,000 miles
Idle miss while auto is in gear (automatic). Initial occurrence 15000-20000 miles. Started when at a stop light you could feel the miss it was every 30-45 seconds. No check engine light associated with problem. Has gotten worse, still no check engine light. Now it stalls and you can watch the tachometer drop 25-50 RPM. Took it to the dealership under extended warranty @ 512010 miles. Dealership said it was #2 cylinder misfire. Changed ignition module & coil pack. I picked it up and drive it 1.5 miles and it was the same. Took it back and they swapped injectors with another cylinder and spark plugs, changed fuel filter. Picked it up again. Same problem. Dealership said they cannot fix it until there is a check engine light, even though problem could be duplicated every time car was taken back to the dealership. I had the service writer and the actual mechanic in the car with me each time and they agreed there was a problem. As of this date 1-18-10 problem still exists.

- Faridale , KY, USA

problem #5

Sep 152006


  • 30,000 miles
The car has a major wiring or electrical problem, but its not detected by mechanics. I have a temp gauge that is all over the place, sometimes it even touches the far bottom right side of the control panel. The speedometer is no longer working, driving or parked I am going -3 miles an hour. The rpms work when they feel like it which is rarely. The only gauge working is the gas. In addition to this, the car cuts off while driving. All of this has been for the last year and a half and continues to date. I have been in mid-left turn on major intersections of los angeles and it just died. I commute on the 110 fwy and it has just died, always while I am accelerating never parked. Then in a few seconds you crank the key and your off and running again. It is so scary because it is so unpredictable. I have received speeding tickets not knowing my speed and mechanic cant find the problem. What do I do"?"

- Temple City, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 052006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 24,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. While driving 5 mph, the engine intermittently stalled. The failure occurred while making a turn in first gear. The RPM decreased to 400 RPM and there was a loss of power steering. When the vehicle stalled, the contact released his foot from the clutch and the motor increased the RPM's automatically. When the key was turned in the ignition, the vehicle failed to start intermittently until approximately ten attempts. While driving 55 mph, the speedometer displayed 30 mph. When the gas tank was full, the fuel gauge would display half a tank. The temperature gauge also malfunctioned. The vehicle would not overheat, but the gauge would read hot. The dealer was unable to diagnose or repair the failures. The failure mileage was 24,000 and current mileage was 37,500.

- Dupont, PA, USA

problem #3

Nov 012007


  • miles
2004 Chevy Cavalier with safety issues dealing with the engine. Customer states that there are some safety issues with their vehicle but the dealer needs a light to be on to find out. Dealer said it was the injectors and it was not the injectors. The consumer stated when she traveled on trips over 100 miles long, the trac off light illuminated., followed by the rpms going up, followed by the check engine light illuminating. The vehicle also burned a lot of oil, but only when the lights illuminated.

- Hagerstown, MD, USA

problem #2

Jun 112006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving my car, the engine would completely shut off. At first it would happen when I was at a complete stop. However it began to happen while the car was in movement. I tried to crank the car to take it to the shop and it wouldn't crank at all. The problem couldn't be identified on a diagnostic test and it wasn't the spark plugs. I was told to replace the computer to see if that was the problem. The auto shop was not even sure that it was the problem. This computer cost $650 not including labor. Now my engine light continually flashes and the car jerks. However when I take it to the auto shop they say that I have gotten bad gas. They can't find another problem. I've changed where I get my gas and it still happens daily. Out of 3 hours of driving it may run normally about 1- 1.5 hour.

- Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #1

Dec 202004

Cavalier 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
While driving 65 mph the engine stalled without warning. The driver was able to pull off the road and waited a while then started the vehicle again. The cause had not been determined. Please provide additional information.

- Twinsburg, OH, USA

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