NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

CarComplaints.com Notes: The Pontiac Vibe is the mechanical twin of the Toyota Matrix.

Both models were a joint GM-Toyota venture, manufactured together at a NUMMI production facility in Fremont, CA. Only the heating & A/C systems are different.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,064 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 Vibe electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Pontiac Vibe Owner Comments

problem #13

Nov 282015


  • 143,023 miles


On November 28, 2015 my car died on me while I was driving home from the store. After going through two mechanics, the GM dealer ended up replacing my entire fuse panel. The root cause of what happened was never determined.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #12

Sep 292014

Vibe 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I had been having problems with acceleration on my 2003 Pontiac Vibe and I was leaving my place of business a few days after the problem started and my rpms dropped to 0 while driving approximately 35mph and then it seemed to of "caught" and I drove to where I needed to go, I took my car to the shop and once it turned off it wouldn't restart. They seemed to think it was the fuel pump and recommended I take it back to where I originally got the vehicle 6 months ago since it was covered under warranty, so I did and they agreed it was the fuel pump they changed the fuel pump and was still having the same problem with not starting they took it to a dealer and after it sat there for 3 weeks leaving me without a car, I was then told it was the main computer for the car and will cost me $1100 to fix. However I still don't have my car back since I don't have the money to fix it. However I just received a recall notice for my car and one of the 3 recalls is for the ECM. Isn't that the same as the 'main computer' in the car and shouldn't the dealer fixed it at no charge and been made aware of this. So now I have been without a car for a month for what should of been fixed before I even bought the car.

- East Stroudsburg, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 292006

Vibe 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
My car currently has 225,000 miles on it. 3 times at approximately 70,000, 140,000, and 215,000 miles, my car stalled while driving. The first time was on a mountain road going downhill at 40mph. The second time I had just made a right hand turn at @ 20mph to get on the freeway, the third time I was going straight down a city street at 10mph. In each case, the car just stops while driving and I lose control of the car and steering wheel. The car can be started up after without a problem. My mechanic believes it is a computer issue, outside of that, he can't come up with anything else. No error gets logged on the computer system in the car. This car has a manual transmission and has been maintained over the years very well. I am concerned because I drive a lot of freeway miles and if this occurs while I am in traffic I am sure a traffic accident will occur.

- La Crescenta, CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 162009


  • 80,000 miles


Over the past couple years, my battery goes dead when the temperature approaches or goes below freezing. I replaced the battery about a year and half ago because I thought that was the problem. Unfortunately the incidents have continued. I used to keep my car in the garage and the incidents were more limited. I now keep my car outside and the frequency has increased to almost every time the temperature drops below freezing. Such an incident in January 2011 caused my cd player to stop working. December 2011 and January 2012 the incidents continued. I removed the stereo head unit in case that was the source of the problem. The incidents of the battery going dead have continued whenever the temperature is around or below freezing.

- Viola, AR, USA

problem #9

Aug 242011


  • 95,400 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Pontiac Vibe. While parked, the contact noticed that the instrument panel gauges failed and would not provide a reading. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostics. The mechanic stated the instrument panel would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact was unable to find the part needed for repair. The approximate failure mileage was 95,400. The VIN was not available.

- Corsica, PA, USA

problem #8

Jan 102004


  • 200 miles
An overly sensitive ambient light sensor turns on the headlights and dims the instrument cluster display on a bright sunshine day if the shadow from the A-pillar falls across the sensor. The dimming of the instrument cluster display leads to an inability to read the instruments on a bright sunshine day, thus creating a potential safety hazard. From my research on this problem, this seems to be a problem with both the 2003 Pontiac Vibe and its sister car, the 2003 Toyota matrix. Toyota has a tsb addressing the problem (EL007-02), GM does not have one for the Vibe.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #7

Jan 062006


  • 34,000 miles


Whenever the car is parked outside overnight, and the air temperature drops below about 30 degrees F, the headlights turn on with the headlight switch in the off position. This leads to a dead battery and an inability to start the car the following morning. From my research on this problem, this seems to be a problem with both the 2003 Pontiac Vibe and its sister car, the 2003 Toyota matrix. Toyota has a tsb on the problem for the matrix (EL003-03), GM does not have one for the Vibe.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #6

Aug 082008


  • miles
I came out one morning to start up my vehicle, which it did smoothly and without hesitation; I then noticed that my instrument panel was completely dead. The back lighting was out, the indicator needles on my speedometer, fuel meter, etc... are none responsive. At first I thought it may have just been a problem with the fuse...so looked up the fuse diagrams in my owners manual and switched out all the fuses which could possibly result in the issue but to no success. The car runs perfectly fine and is a problem with the electrical/computer system somewhere. However, it is extremely unsafe to drive without knowing how fast your going and how much fuel you have.

- Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #5

Mar 082006

Vibe 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,600 miles
The red interior dashboard lights turn on initially when the car is started but then turn off, occasionally turning back on for a few seconds. When the lights are off the odometer, gas gauge, and all other dashboard gauges cannot be seen in daylight or at night. I noticed that this started occurring after I had the car washed and the oil changed (had not previously used this garage). It appears to be possibly a sensor problem. The only problems that it has caused is not knowing the how fast I am driving and how much gas I have. The light works that shows that the gas is close to empty. Have not taken it in to the dealer yet.

- Morris, IL, USA

problem #4

Jun 062005

Vibe 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles
I have owned my vehicle 20 months, in that time, the headlights have failed 7 times at 3-4 month intervals beginning about 3 months after purchase, usually alternating between right and left. This was not life threatening but it could have been dangerous had it occurred while driving at night.

- Rochester Hills, MI, USA

problem #3

May 012003


  • miles


Odometer; speed;temp and other gauges cannot be seen in any daylight conditions with or without glasses.

- Ringwood, NJ, USA

problem #2

Mar 052004

Vibe 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When the engine is started under the following conditions, the interior gear lights do not come on. (1) headlight switch is in the off position. (2) engine is started in the dark (no daylight) when the enging is started, the dashboard lights illuminate but the gear lights (P, R, N, D.L) do not. When the parking brake is released, the headlights come on (even though the headlight switch remains in the off position...this is because of the automatic ligh sensor)but the gear lights do not come on right away. There is a 30-45 second delay for the gear lights to appear. This means I am sitting in the car with the option of putting the car in gear, but the gear indicator lights are not visible. When I purchased the car, the gear lights came on simultaneously with the dash lights. Now, there is an increasing delay. I believe eventually the gear lights will not come on at all. To me, this is a safety issue. I firmly believe that whenever the engine is running, the gear lights should be visible. My dealer and General Motors tell me that this is normal operation of the car and they refuse to repair it. My sister's 2004 Pontiac Vibe does not operate this way.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #1

Jun 192003

Vibe 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 613 miles
Car was purchased new 40 days ago. With only 613 miles driven, car failed to start. Driven during the day no signs of any problem. The car was parked for one hour and after that time could not start engine. Battery, shift inter-lock wiring looked fine, but starter motor had no power. Towed to dealer still awaiting service. Service department said "never had one not start!"

- Ashburn, VA, USA

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