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:
31,463 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Owner Comments

problem #9

Oct 122015


  • 100,000 miles


The speedometer and tachometer register below zero when stopped or in motion. No way to tell the speed or RPM. This is a safety issue to all on the road. If controlling speed is not a safety issue worth recalling why do we have speed limits? NHTSA needs to take this seriously and launch a recall as this is a major issue and not isolated its very widespread and the fact they have neglected it shows there real lack of concern for safety.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #8

Nov 052015


  • miles
The cluster is out and I can't tell how much fuel, the speedometer is out and also the temp gage as well.

- Marks, MS, USA

problem #7

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 #6

Nov 222012


  • 36,000 miles


Erratic and erroneous speed indicator. Speed indicator points to 55-60 mph while vehicle is at a stop and indicates 110+ mph while actual speed is 50-55 mph. Currently, problem occurs after vehicle is driven around 100 miles. A simple powering off the ignition does not clear problem. This problem is very upsetting and unsettling. General Motors current cost to it customers of $660 for correcting this problem is inexcusable. This is a defective material safety issue and as such should be subject to a safety recall !

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #5

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

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problem #4

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 #3

Sep 122011

Cavalier 4-cyl

  • 40,850 miles


Replaced defective shifter control cable. I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier, 4 cylinder engine, mileage: 40,850.I am the orignial owner, purchased it new from Chevrolet. I became aware of the defect when I came out of work and went to my parked car, started the car, and when I shifted my automatic transmission lever, the car would not move. None of the gears were working. I had to call a tow truck and wait over two hours and had it towed to a Chevrolet dealer 10 miles away for diagnosis and repair. It cost me over $400 to get it repaired by the Chevrolet dealer. I asked Chevrolet if there was a recall on the shifter control cable and he said there was none that he knew of. I searched the internet for some information on the shifter control cable and found numerous complaints on the same thing happening to them with the same type car. This car should be recalled by General Motors - Chevrolet division. This is a very dangerous thing to happen to anyone. I could have been on the road or parked on a hill which might have caused harm to me or any other driver of my car.

- Margate, FL, USA

problem #2

Nov 012009


  • 24,000 miles
In the winter of 2009, my speedometer began to malfunction. As I would decelerate, my speedometer would maintain position at the last highest speed and upon acceleration, the needle would incline again from that point. This pattern repeats itself until the needle completely circles around past 110 mph to get itself stuck on the plastic portion below the speedometer. Fortunately it didn't occur often that winter; however the next winter it was a constant occurrence, so much so that I begin to navigate speed based on RPM. This winter, that is of no use because both my speedometer and RPM gauges are malfunctioning as well as my gas gauge. It seems that once the vehicle is warm, they begin to function once again but it is necessary to turn off the ignition and continuously turn the key without igniting the starter for the gauges to return to normal position a few notches at a time. I have been told by dealerships to have the undercarriage washed at a car wash but was recently informed that I may have to replace my dashboard module/cluster by a gentleman who had experienced the same issues. I hope this corrects my issue but it would seem that, with so many Cavalier owners experiencing the same issues, a solution should have been reached by now. It takes considerable time, cost, and patience to handle these malfunctions when the dealerships themselves can not provide their customers insight on such a common issue.

- Milan, MI, USA

problem #1

Aug 012009


  • miles
Instrument cluster unreliable. Speedometer sticks/stops working/jumps. Gas gauge quit working. RPM gauge jumps or drops at random. There was a recall on the 2004 GM pickups/SUVS I do believe...why not the car? I've seen countless complaints online of others' Cavalier's with the exact same problems.

- Tangier, IN, USA

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