NHTSA — Exterior Lighting Problems


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
22,777 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.

2003 Pontiac Sunfire lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Pontiac Sunfire Owner Comments

problem #8

Jan 012010

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles


Failure to the headlight harness, with time, corrosion attack the headlight harness. Which will cause the headlight intensity to lower or worst, total headlight failure. That mean that you can be driving at night and totally lose your headlight. This defect has been repaired 4 times now, and I need to have it repaired a 5th time April 2004.

- Deschambault-Grondine, 00, USA

problem #7

Feb 282009


  • miles
2003 Pontiac Sunfire. Headlamps do not work. Found out thru internet search this is a common problem on this vehicle. There are multiple wiring problems with this vehicle that GM should fix (fog lamps as well). The lamps already went out a couple of times before. It is a safety hazard because if this happens at night you have no lights. GM keeps skirting around the issue until your warranty runs out then it costs you more money than you have to get it fixed. Very, very, very frustrating. Just do a internet search for Sunfire headlight problems/do not work/ etc. And you'll see.

- Anytown, MI, USA

problem #6

Feb 182009


  • 20,000 miles
Head lights fail for no reason and at any time. This can include both high and low beam and fog lights. Has been repaired now for the 5th time at a GM dealer ship.

- Sheboygan, WI, USA

problem #5

Feb 062009

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,700 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire. The contact stated that the driver's side headlight was not working on the vehicle. The forward electric harness allowed water to enter into the light and caused it to fail. Soon after purchasing the vehicle in 2003, the headlights failed. The dealer informed him that there was a recall (GM recall number 03029) on the lights. The vehicle was repaired because it affected the signal lights and driver's side headlight. The contact recently took the vehicle back to the dealer for repair, but they stated that it was previously repaired and would not be repaired a second time. The failure mileage was 8,700. Updated 03/23/09. Updated 03/24/09.

- Tallmadge, OH, USA

problem #4

Jan 182009


  • 30,918 miles
The front wiring harness on my 2003 Pontiac Sunfire 2 door has failed for the 4th time due to corrosion of the obviously-too-small gauge wiring and inappropriate placement and water-proofing of the wiring harness and connectors. Headlight(s) or foglight(s) typically either fail outright, or dim to about 10% intensity, caused by corrosion in the wires and connectors. Previous failures of this wiring harness affecting both headlights and/or foglights occurred in Jan 2005, Jan 2006, and Jan 2007, and were repaired by removal of corroded wire sections and re-splicing of wires. Discussions with both GM and independent mechanics confirm my suspicions of similar failures in many other Sunfires and cavaliers. I agree with a lifelong mechanic who says the only proper solution is a complete rewiring job. This is an extreme hazard as complete headlight failure or dimming can happen any time without warning. A dead of night failure anywhere, in the city, near a school, or on a country road as happened to my daughter's friend in her Sunfire, cannot be construed as anything other than life-threatening; fog light and headlight failure at any other time is dangerous. If the failure of Sunfire/cavalier rear brake and turn lights warranted a 2004 recall, then surely this equally or more threatening chronic problem deserves one. Why this has not been addressed already is beyond me. GM has acknowledged the problem by issuing a series of tsbs over the years on this problem: #03018, #0309, #030842002, #021903, and the NHTSA has been apprised of them. I am a hobby mechanic who has spent 45 years building and racing powerboats and working on and restoring cars. I know a design fault when I see one. This issue must be addressed before someone is killed or seriously injured. The suspect wiring harnesses should be recalled and replaced, rather than waiting for them to fail (time and time again) and then making splices to the wiring and cleaning up the connectors.

- Rockwood Ontario Canada, 00, USA

problem #3

May 102008

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • 24,600 miles
Referring to the passenger-side headlight: While driving my children home after it was already dark, I noticed that the passenger-side headlight seemed a little dimmer than the driver-side headlight. I also had on my driving lights that are below the headlights. We were on a particularly dark road where there is a tendency to be deer, so when it was clear of opposing traffic, I put the high-beam lights on. After putting the high-beams on, all the lights.....headlights, high-beams, and driving lights went out....while I was driving. A red "service" light came on the dashboard. I was very startled at this and had to pull over to the side of the road. I switched the lights off and then on again and nothing would work and the "service" light remained on. Fortunately, I was not in a high traffic area or this could have been a very serious accident waiting to happen, especially if I panicked. My children were very worried that we were pulled off in the dark. I decided to shut the car off, hoping to reset something, and turn it back on. When I did this, the "service" light was not on, and the headlights and driving lights came on. The passenger-side light was still dim when I looked at it, and I also noticed that the high beam lights were lit and dim, although the high beam switch inside the car was not on. I bought a new headlight and changed the bulb, but there was no change in the brightness of the headlight, it was still dim.

- Brookhaven, PA, USA

problem #2

Mar 012006

Sunfire 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
I purchased the car in October 2003 and the car was great. In March 2006 I started having problems where the car when attempted to start would take a few seconds extra and then start, then 6 months later I was driving down the street and the car just cut off in the middle of an intersection. The car restarted about 10 minutes later. Then in November this started happening more an more frequently. One night in December the car cut off and would not restart at all. I was able to pull of the road. I waited an hour and still the car would not start. I came back the next day and the car would not start. I got the car towed to a mechanic who said that he thought it was the fuel pump so I replaced that and the car worked for 2 days and then the same problem again. He then tested the car and saw there was no power going to the fuel pump. I had him do a temporary fix and run a line from the battery to the fuel pump so the car would still start. Then everything else slowly started to fail. The air bag light would come on intermittently and now stays on. One low beam headlight went out and then the other followed by my high beam totally. My front left turn signal went then the rear right followed by the front right. My horn no longer works. I don't know if my airbags would deploy if I was in an accident. The windshield wiper recently stopped working as well.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #1

Dec 012004


  • miles
Numerous of failures;air bag light came on and stayed on, clutch sticks to floor, car doesn't want to start. The turn signals and lights had gone out, it would take a couple of attempts to start the vehicle, there were times where the vehicle would start on it's own without the turn of the key, the vehicle used an extreme amount of gas, the dash would rattle, the engine would growl, the dash made a sound like the speaker was blown, there was a burning smell in the stereo and there was a thumping noise when turning the vehicle. (2003 Pontiac Sunfire)

- Washington, DC, USA

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