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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,456 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 #20

May 172015


  • miles


The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. While driving approximately 25 mph, the vehicle experienced unintended acceleration even though the brake pedal was engaged. The contact mentioned that the turn signal lights also failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Clifford , VA, USA

problem #19

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 #18

Oct 152014

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 187,000 miles
As in the past few years this has happened a few time. As noted here already. I was driving about 40 miles per hour when my car accelerated all by it self to the point I had to shut the car off in traffic. Then restarted and it was driving on its own at 40 miles an hour like cruise was on, I do not use cruise then when I played with the cruise button it went back to normal can't take it in costs to much to look at but it has been a problem since I bought this car just never can have it do it when I take it in and they can't help me if it is not doing it at that time. I want this on record so if something happens to me there is a record of this happening, again since I bought the car it happens whenever it wants to...

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #17

Jul 142009


  • 65,000 miles


Several times since purchasing this car in 2009, the cruise control would shut off without warning at highway speeds from 55 to 70. Still does this on occasion.

- Marshall, MI, USA

problem #16

Jan 102007


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact stated that while depressing the brake pedal and starting the vehicle, the rpms increased excessively. The contact also stated that while driving 25 mph, the vehicle erroneously accelerated and independently shifted into neutral. The vehicle was taken to the dealer several times where the contact was informed that the speed control may have failed. The vehicle had not been diagnosed and was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 40,000 and the current mileage was 156,000.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #15

Jun 032011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 82,321 miles
I have had multiple problems with the speed odometer in this car. I can see by several complaints on I am only 1 out of several hundred. It will sometimes say I am going 100 when I am going 25. It will sometimes stay stuck on 55 when I am at a complete stop. I never know how fast I am going. This is very dangerous and could result in an accident or even death of me or someone else. This is very expensive to have replaced and by other peoples complaints to me it sounds like a dad part produced by GM. I feel that GM should recall these and have them replaced before it results in a death of someone. I will never buy another GM vehicle if they don't recall these parts and replace them since there are so many people out there with the same problem.

- Clarksburg, WV, USA

problem #14

Oct 222011


  • 117,379 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. The contact was entering an on-ramp and slightly applied the brakes when the vehicle abnormally accelerated. The contact pulled over onto the shoulder and was forced to shift the vehicle into park while the vehicle was still moving in order to stop the vehicle completely. The manufacturer was not contacted. The dealer was making an attempt to assist the contact with diagnosing and repairing the defect. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 117,379 and the current mileage was 117,460.

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

problem #13

Aug 012005


  • 8,000 miles
Car will accelerate on it's own usually occurs while slowing down or while making a turn pressing the brake hard slows the car but it continues to apply power what stops the engine from continuing to accelerate is to push the clutch in, at the moment the engine will accelerate to 6500 RPM then return to normal like it is completing some cycle. It is very dangerous in the winter. We have expected a recall but nothing. I can guarantee a lawsuit if my wife and kids are injured. This is a true case of sudden acceleration that the feds can investigate.

- Lawrenceville, PA, USA

problem #12

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 #11

Dec 262010

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
When driving my car at times, it will accelerate on it's own, causing it to run rpms into the red, need to shut car off so it does not excel on it's own. This has only happened a few times.. very dangerous, the 1st time was in Dec, 2010 in an ice storm, so I thought it was just a fluke and it was frozen now it is in the 80S and it did it yesterday Sept 6th 2011 what is causing this"?? is it a defect??? anyone else have this??"

- Virginia Beach , VA, USA

problem #10

Aug 092011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


Gas pedal assembly coming loose from 2004 Chevy Cavalier with 70K miles. No part available in the us. GM stopped making this assembly. This happened at freeway speeds. GM will not help me.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #9

Jul 232011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 56,148 miles
I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier and the speedometer sticks. It say"S I am doing 80mph when I am actually doing 40mph. And when I am parked it say"S I am doing 50mph.

- Warren, OH, USA

problem #8

Jun 232011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 136,058 miles
Accelerator stuck on 2004 Chevy Cavalier. Engine was wide open and gas pedal was down to floor. Got car off road with no incident. Cable was found to be frayed from corrosion and stuck inside housing. Called GM and received no assistance. They said vehicle was out of warranty. Replace with new cable at repair shop. This should never happen on a modern era vehicle.

- Philipsburg, PA, USA

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

Nov 012008


  • 51,862 miles
I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier ls sport. Well lets first start off with my drivers side window motor. It went out about a year and half ago and we fixed it this summer. Apparently it is a huge problem but of course no recall on it so paid almost 300 dollars myself to fix it. Then after that when I would start my car and put it into drive, the car would sputter and the ABS and trac off lights would come on. Next about 5 months ago I noticed that my gas gauge was fluctuating a little. Didn't give it much thought but then 2 months ago my temp gauge was going haywire. Called the dealer and they said that there was no recall and we would have to pay to have it fixed. Well we all know money is tight so I have left it. Low and behold late last week, the mph gauge said I was going 100 mph in a 35 zone. I had to take a double look. Dealer again says no recalls. After speaking to a friend, he said that his truck did the same thing along with another co-workers truck (GM trucks) and that they took it in because it had a recall on the "instrument cluster" and there was no charge. How come Cavaliers are having the problem and nothing, but there trucks have it and there is a recall. I cant tell how fast I am going. Now I am probably going to have to just go with the flow of traffic since I cant afford to fix it. Come on GM own up to all of your mistakes please..........there are tons of logged complaints on here about it, obviously it is a real problem GM. This is why we are going foreign with our cars now.

- Germantown, OH, USA

problem #5

Jan 222008

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
In January 08 vehicle tach went reverse direction, then jumped erratically. In March 08 started showing 65 mph when vehicle doing 35. In May 08 speedometer started stopping at 20 mph when moving or when car shut off. In June 08 speedometer and tach have both started going in reverse direction. This is a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier with 28000 miles, 2.2 L with automatic transmission. I do not like the idea that while driving the car on a two lane road by the speedometer that we might be rear ended while driving to slow.

- Oak Ridge, TN, USA

problem #4

Sep 132006

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 25,250 miles
Vehicle's idle stuck at 2500 RPM's, making it difficult to brake. Other times vehicle's RPM's are so low the vehicle stalls. When they are too high the only correction is to engage the clutch and turn the vehicle off. Chevy dealers can't duplicate the problem, so they do nothing. The problem is intermittent.

- North Beach, MD, USA

problem #3

Apr 142005

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 34,000 miles
While shifting out of gear and stopping, the car on its own it revved up to 5000 rpms. At first I thought the acclerator was stuck and attempted to lift it up with my foot, and found out that was not it. About 15 seconds later it stopped on its own.

- Twentynine Palms, CA, USA

problem #2

Mar 042004


  • Manual transmission
  • 2,000 miles
Intermittently while consumer's foot was on the brake pedal vehicle experienced sudden acceleration. When this occurred the vehicle was put in neutral. Engine continued to rev for 5 minutes, then it suddenly died down. This failure almost caused two rear end collisions. Vehicle was taken to dealership 8 times, but they only worked on it 5 times. They also test drove the vehicle for 44 miles, no problem was found.

- Leon, WV, USA

problem #1

Jan 302004

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 100 miles
With less than 100 miles on the car it began to rev up on its own. It has been to the dealer on 9 different occasions. They even installed an on board computer and were able to see the problem that occurs. The mechanic says he believes it is a glitch in the computer and is unable to fix it. It has now begun to accelerate on its own while driving, and the only thing you can do is push in the clutch and hope the engine blows up. This is now a real safety issue. GM refuses to do anything to correct this problem. We filed a lemon law case with them and they said they are unable to do anything.

- Polk City, FL, USA

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