Chevrolet Cavalier Starting/Stalling Problems

beehivebeehive Member Posts: 7
edited July 2015 in Chevrolet
Please help. I have a 2004 cavalier and when I am stopped at a stop sign the car acts like it wants to die, I have to put it in park and push in on the gas so it dosen't die. I changed out the fuel filter and air filter. anyone have any ideas on what it can be? I am would like to fix it myself, but I am new to all of this.

See also: (Video, 14:58) How to test & troubleshoot starter problems


  • bunt21_gbunt21_g Member Posts: 8
    i'm not sure have you checked the plugs. if it's been a while it would be a good idea. also the plug wires might be arking out. you can fix that with a set of new ones. good luck. :confuse:
  • beehivebeehive Member Posts: 7
    thanks, I will look into it. :blush:
  • arousiagarousiag Member Posts: 1
    my car will not go over 15mph even with the pedal to the floor please help.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Check for plugged catalytic converter.
  • kylerousseaukylerousseau Member Posts: 1
    I forgot it running, it ran out of gas and sat until the battery went dead with the key in the "on" position. Now it won't start. Security light, check gauges and service lights all stay on. Gas gauge doesn't register any gas (I put 4 gallons in). Very little gas pressure. Has power to the ICM. No power to fuel pump. Any ideas? Thanks.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Never heard of that before. Try this, disconnect both battery terminals and touch them together, then hook up positive first then negative. No sure if it will work, but worth a try.
  • mesteedmesteed Member Posts: 2
    My daughter's 96 cavalier shuts off sometimes while she is driving. It starts right back up but is very dangerous. Any ideas on what would cause this? Please help!
  • mdmckeemdmckee Member Posts: 1
    i think i may have had the same problem i live outside of pittsburgh and while driving on I-376 in rush hour traffic it shut off. it ended up being a bad connection from the battery to the fuse box under the hood. of course i have an 02 not a 96. but check that out. bad wires or just a connection?
  • mesteedmesteed Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for information. We are going to check the fuel filter and those wires and connection tomorrow. I appreciate your help!
  • k_erink_erin Member Posts: 5
    I have a 91 Chevy Cavalier RS, 2.2 L. Recently, I've noticed an intermittent problem when starting the car (both cold start and warm start). I thought at first it might have been the key, because the keys we had were cheap, badly made Wal-Mart copies so we had a locksmith make an exact replica from the manufacturer's guide he had.

    What happens, is when the key is put in the ignition and I go to start the car, it clicks but that's it. I do that twice, and the third time it starts.

    I'm thinking it might be the ignition switch. The starter was replaced with a brand new AC Delco one a little over 2 years ago, and as far as I know, it came with a new solenoid tube.

    So, if it's not the ignition switch, then I am at a loss.

    Also, on a slightly different note, does anyone know of a store or a warehouse or website where we can purchase these "discontinued" parts so we can stop getting pillaged by the dealerships selling the parts from their vintage line? We just bought new weather stripping for the front windows of the car and they were "discontinued" so we had to pay $75 for 2 pieces of rubber.
  • official22yrsofficial22yrs Member Posts: 2
    my 1998 2.2L with 79,000 cut out when you smash the gas,
    but it starts great,new fuel filter, platium plugs 10,000 miles old, hook it up to a machine and is said air fuel mixture is at 14.6 when at idull, but get on the gas it's drop to 12.2. When under a load it's try to die,backfires, stalls. Ican slowly give it gas it's okay up to a
    certain spot then stall time. Thanks
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Check for cat converter failure, vacuum gauge is the easiest test. Also if you have a scanner check your map pressure. If I scan both my vehicles it will show cat temp, another good indicator. Another is unbolt the exhaust just before the cat.
  • lilbrimlilbrim Member Posts: 1
    im not a mechanic first of all lol but let me try and explain what i gathered overtime about my car problem. my brother has been doing mos of the mechanical work on this car and the check engine light is on all the time. he bought a diagnostic tool which told him after running for awhile that there is a fault with the MAP senson however it only showed up that once he cheked the voltages and the pressure and thy seemed to be consistent with what the book says it should be. however i want to know if despite this the sensor cud still b the problem. My symptoms are : when i slow down sometime like to turn corners it cuts off and if im reving it up in park it goes up so far and then like it makes a sound like it lost some pressure. Plz help i have changed sprak plug and wires, control module, the computer, fuel pump plus i have carried it to a couple mechancis who all gave different and even put it on diagnostics and still none that helped. when the car has cut off by itself i usually have to hold the gas pedal to the floor and try a few times b4 i can try it again. can some1 please give me an idea of my problem.
  • garye3garye3 Member Posts: 1
    I have the same problem with my 95 cavalier. It will drive perfectly for about 15-20 minutes and then just quit. Wait 10 minutes and it will start again and run for about 10 minutes and quit like it's not getting gas. I change fuel filter and pump with no success. My usual mechanic says he's stumped. I need help as well with this issue.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Have you scanned for codes. Ignition modules have been known to do that, when it quits is there any spark. Someone needs to check when it is broke.
  • crapface12crapface12 Member Posts: 1
    i dont know if my two problems are related, but i would appreciate any help. my first problem is my car always smells like gas, and it gets worse when i drive. the other problem i have is while im driving my engine turns off. the radio and lights always stay on though. any advice?
  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    You might want to read the Cavalier Gas Smell thread about the first problem.

    I don't think the second is related to it but I have no idea what it could be. Are you saying it shuts off as you're driving down the road or sitting at idle?

    Does it run rough and seem to have a loss of power?
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
    my 2000 cavalier was having a "crank no start" issue about 2 months ago. I had fuel pump replaced; 24 hours later i had to get car towed back to repair shop. this happened 3 times. each time, the mechanic said there was a short in the fuel pump connection. at this time i noticed my idle changed from a smooth idle to a semi-rough idle. about 5 weeks went by without the car having the "crank no start" syndrome. then, the car started to stall while driving. i had the plugs replaced and the ignition wires replace. also, the ignition switched was replaced. i believe the crank no start and the intermittent stalling are connected because at times the stalling will turn to a crank no start, then 20 mins. later start-up. i took the car to the dealer, he said there was a wiring problem in the main harness plug - he said he repaired the problem. however, as i'm leaving the dealer, the car stalls. can anyone please, please, help!!!
  • am6585am6585 Member Posts: 1
    I've been having the same problem with my 2000 Cavalier. A friend who's a commercial driver told me to have them check out the sending unit in the gas tank. What's probably happening is its not working properly and the gas isn't continually being sent to the engine, and once the gas is used in the engine, it'll stall out, and it takes a while for the gas to get to the engine fast enough which is why if it won't start, it'll start again if you wait long enough. I'm having mine looked at today. Let's keep each other posted!
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
    they have dropped the gas tank a couple of times and analyzed the fuel pump, so i don't think it's the sending unit. they say its a wiring problem in the fuel pump wiring harness located under the front hood on the driver's side. two days ago they re-wired something there and so far it's ok and i have my fingers crossed. however, they did basically the same thing 6 weeks ago and it rode fine until last week when the stall while driving came back again - unbelievable!. i'm wondering if there's something in the fuel line? lets continue to keep each other posted.
  • mcalig8mcalig8 Member Posts: 1
    Have a 97 Z24. Came out to the car after work, wouldn't start. Good battery, had headlights, windows, no radio, no signal lights. My brother is a mechanic. He met me at work and traced the wires. There is a gray wiring harness / connector on the driver side under the air intake tube.It must have 16-24 wires going in and out of it. He shook it and it started. Then while running he shook it, car would not die. I took it home, took the battery out, air box out, took the harness/connector apart. No corrosion, filled it with diletric grease and put back together. I drove it for about 4 months, no problems. This week on I-84 at 70 mph, car dies. Was able to coast of an exit ramp. Pulled over, opened the hood, shook the connector, it started right up. Drove it the rest of the week with no issue. Can't figure out what the deal is, but it is either a connection in the harness, or one of the wires is loose, but it is near impossible to tell. Will be ordering a new Pontiac G8 when available.
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
    thank sfor the reply. it's funny you mention the gray wires in the harness located under the hood on driver's side - my mechanic said, the gray wires were the problem ( a loose connection). however, it's been an ongoing problem and they keep telling me they found the loose wire - but the car would continue to stall while driving. i finally brought it to the dealer and,he,too said the gray wires were the problem. what he did was, he grounded one gray wire to another so they couldn't come loose again. in addition, he did a recall on the cavalier and i got a free ignition switch installed. so far, no problems, but it is a cavalier, so i have my fingers crossed. i don't know if the problem has been finally fixed. if it is fixed, i don't know if it was the new ignition switch that did the trick or if it was the grounding of those gray wires. however, i still have a slight "put-put" when idling and that is symptomatic of the car stalling while idling. take care.
  • jimmyb2jimmyb2 Member Posts: 1
    My Cav is a 2000 2.2 and I've been having some similar problems. I was driving home about a year ago and my gas gauge suddenly went 1/4 tank to zilch and I knew that was probably the sending unit. I read about the high sulfur content in the fuel that could be eating the windings so I just kept the fuel level up above 1/4 and all would be fine. It's a year later and the other day it just stalled out after I made a right turn off the freeway. It wouldn't start with the contents of 5 gallon of gas but after I put a total of 10 it started right up. I filled it to the top and made it home.
    After I located a reasonable fuel pump/sending unit. (had a little confusion regarding the colored plugs that were put on the lines after manufactured-once I figured out they could be removed) I installed the tank unit assembly and the fuel filter. Did the turn on test-Listened for the 'wheering' pump noise, checked for leaks. Car ran fine for almost a full tank. But I pulled off the freeway today made a left turn and it stalled out again. At exactly 300 miles and 1/4 tank of fuel. I still have the same problem evidently.
    I think I will check the fuel supply pressure next which may reveal either the pump will not run off the low fuel pressure signal that the fuel pressure regulator should be sending or something else.
    I found a good price for the fuel pump at
    I wish I would have replaced the harness while I was replacing the pump also.
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
    my mechanic charged me $400 just for the fuel pump (not including labor). how much was the fuel pump u found online? anyway, i know nothing about cars but your problem sounds a lot like mine. perhaps, yours too, is the wiring located under the hood on driver's side. have your mechanic ground the wires. also,have your dealer do a recall - you will get a free ignition switch installed like i did. please, e-mail me about the fuel pump [email protected]
  • cav4cav4 Member Posts: 3
    Has about 100,000 miles and for about 3 weeks stalls out after running about 10 miles Let set will run some more than stall out etc, etc.

    Catalytic convertor replaced the mass air (MAP) replaced (and oil sending unit for oil leak) ONE of the repair places writes on bill in ( ) Aternator v or a running low. (I dont think this is the problem)

    Cranks fine but will not fire till let set. Runs fine when running. Then after so many miles just dies out.

    Parked it just before it cut out , popped open hood and just listened to it slowly die out.

    Have forced the issue with it by stomping on the gas just before it died out when parked and there was some coughing / sputtering noises. ( one time the catylytic convertor turned super red glowing , then replaced)

    In checking the vin with dealer found all the possible maker defects for repair or recalls were done by previous owner,

  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    I had an Impala many years ago that would run for 10-15 minutes and then stall. After much frustration a mechanic discovered a clogged fuel filter as well as debris in the fuel tank clogging the fuel intake sock.

    The debris would build up as I drove to the point where hardly any fuel could get through. After it stalled and sat everything would settle back down and I could drive it again.

    Not sure if this is the problem with your Cavalier but it might be worth a look.
  • eyeamred2ueyeamred2u Member Posts: 1
    Car was running great. Cranks, but no start. I did start to notice that when I had about 1/4 tank of fuel left the car had a hard time starting, but eventually started. Could the theft deterrent system be an issue or should I assume the fuel pump as a possibility as well?

  • ceilidthbearceilidthbear Member Posts: 3
  • ceilidthbearceilidthbear Member Posts: 3
    Hi, I've been having some problems with my 2005 Chevy Cavalier 2.2L automatic. It's at about 95,000 km. I was driving it down the 401 highway and I could feel it hesitate slightly occassionally. Then I hit a patch of really bad stop-and-go traffic and as I was idling in drive, the car stalled out on me twice. I had no trouble restarting it and then if I idled in neutral it did not stall again. After that incident I drove it again without any similar problems for about 3 months.
    Recently, however, I was driving to work along a two lane highway (about 100km/h...(55mph?)) and it started doing the hesitation thing again...this time it was very pronounced, even bucking occassionally. I got to work and when I went out to my car after work and started it (cold engine), the tachometer was going up and down like crazy and when I started to drive it was hesitating and bucking again. So I took it to a garage when I got home and they checked it out. They told me that when they test drove it, they couldn't find anything wrong but it "has a history code for random misfire and front O2 sensor. Spark plugs look good". They replaced the fuel filter which was very "gunky" (their word, not mine...) and added gas line antifreeze. Of course, driving home from the garage my car acted up for me...just slight hesitation and very intermittent.
    Soooo, wondering if this could be a problem with the O2 sensor after all? I've read that they can malfunction in such a way that they do function intermittently and don't cause any engine codes. And by the way, no warning lights ever came on at any time during these check engine light or any such thing. Thanks for your input! Cheers!
  • lnrebarlnrebar Member Posts: 1
    ok, I have been having the exact same problem with my 2005 auto cavalier. Its still under warranty and I took it back to my dealer and they replaced the same sensor as yours. They also could not find anything wrong with the car on test drive. But conveniently two days later it stalled on me. This has been happening for a year. It goes through periods of stalling everyday to periods when it stalls once every three weeks. I am at my wits end. The sensor has been replaced already once and reset twice.

    The first thing to go wrong was my timing chain... ya thats right, no lying... about 1 year after I had the car. Then the stalling began. This car has been nothing but a never ending hospital stay. Its like caring for a sick relative :sick:

    I do believe the 2005 cavalier is officially a :lemon:

    Please let me know i you have any other ideas... this seems to be a common problem with this model
  • artco96artco96 Member Posts: 7
    Friend of mine has a cav that does the same thing to him about 1 time each year . His has problems with the ignition coil system . The location they are in allow water and dirt to get onto them and corrode them until they get hot and begin to short out.
    Let it sit a few minutes and would fire back up and run poorly for maybe 10 minutes and die again..
    Does yours have a ignition coil pack assy ? If so the coils will be mounted on a metal plate which is actually a module plate for the coils to fire. I would check here first if you are losing spark. Have your mechanic check it or Try to find a used coil pack assy to test it with
    Good Luck..
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
  • dbz1fandbz1fan Member Posts: 1
    I have a '97 Cav with the 2.2 OHV. I have an engine code of #1 cylinder misfire I have replaced the plugs, wires, injectors, and fuel filter. The condition still exists and I am running out of options. The vehicles does run, but consumes a great deal of fuel because of it. At idle and while driving the misfire is present. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
  • ricanparicanpa Member Posts: 1
    I had this problem for over a year. Every once in a while when I stopped at a red light or just have my car in park my engine would shut off. I have done everything to it from changing spark plugs, coil pack, CAT, sensor, Cleaning injectors and replacing fuel filter. It got to the point where it would start turning off at every single stop light. I was finally able to find the problem. I had a bad fuel pressure regulator. Since then my car doesn't have the rough idle and it stays on.
  • bcar03bcar03 Member Posts: 5
    Most likely a clugged up Catalic converter, I had the same problem with an old van with 350 engine.
  • corvettefan427corvettefan427 Member Posts: 92
    Hi, I have a 2001 Cavalier with the 2.2L and 5 spd. Every so often when I go to start the car it won't want to start, and I'll have to hold the key for longer then normal as the car barely sputters to life. Today it did something similar, except that even holding the key for a while wouldn't start it, so I gave it some gas and it started, just like you might have to do with a carburated car. So, idk if it's the fuel injectors or what. And idk if it's even really a big problem if it only does it occasionally.
  • kumodckumodc Member Posts: 1
    i'm a car idiot, but I am an observant driver. my piece of junk cavalier recently starting bucking while driving. no specific speed, weather condition or road conditions. 1st noticed it about 3wks ago. bucked on highway driving at 60 MPH. RMP dial jerked w/ each buck. thought it may have been due to windy conditions- but there was no wind. did it a few more times. my husband filled the tank w/ premium fuel, put in dry gas and it appeared to run smoothly for a few days then the problem started again. I have taken in into the mechanic 2 times. the car does not buck when they test it and nothing turns up on the scanner. check engine light never came on. car continues to buck . before taking it back to the dealer i'd like to get some suggestions on things to try or recommend to the mechanic. Dealer repairs are too costly would like to avoid taking it to them. besides for every other issue I had it took the dealer ( the experts) 2-3 times to diagnose and or repair. I even left her one day w/ a broken sideview mirror! would appreciate any help given!
  • tommy24tommy24 Member Posts: 6
    like you, i don't know much about cars. my situation was a little different than yours. i was dealing with a "crank-no-start." as it turned out, my problem was fuel pump wiring problem. perhaps, you can try changing the fuel pump (should be changed every 15K miles). or perhaps, try getting the fuel injectors cleaned. good luck, wish i could have been more help.
  • innortalinnortal Member Posts: 2
    My car was running fine, but on my way home from work I lost power and couldn't keep it going. At first I thought it might have been bad gas. The last fill-up had been five days prior and only 4 gallons from a station I work at. I've added two bottles of gas treatment including one HEET, but no change. When it is warmer, it will start and idle before eventually puttering out. When it is cold, it won't even idle for a few seconds before the sputtering starts. When it started, I had no power to pull a hill, and the "Check Engine" light came on with what I think is the gas light (little handle with something on top and a nozzle) which is above it. I got it towed home, but we are still at a loss

    The fuel tank was changed a month ago, the fuel filter soon afterwards. From the idle, I think all sparkplugs are firing. I've been told everything from perhaps the fuel filter became wrecked from the possible water, I need to change the coil pack, Catalytic converter, put it on a scanner, to draining the tank and refilling with new gas, and a host of other ideas.

    I'm hoping someone here can help me, or eliminate more of what it isn't. Oil levels are fine and I checked all of the fluids the day before.
  • thepeoplesdoorthepeoplesdoor Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Z24 the other day I was driving on the highway my car suddenly died out. I could not apply any gas as the car would no longer drive; fortunately I was able to steer to the side of the highway.

    I took the car to my mechanic hooked it up to the diagnostic machine and zero codes came up, He drove it all day (highway)ect and it didn’t die. Today the car did the same thing; He thinks it could be the fuel pump. Any suggestions??
  • kerri42kerri42 Member Posts: 2
    My car is great for about 15 miles or so. When I go to stop the car bucks then the engine shuts off. I'll let cool down then it's fine. I was told by a mechanic that it had something to do with the cylinoid in the transmission was too hot, so the safety sensor would shut the engine off. Is this mechanic right? And how do I resolve this issue?

    Thank you,

  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Common problem, you need the TCC solenoid replaced, it is sticking. The good part is you just need to take the side cover off.

    It is caused by not replacing the transmission fluid every 30K, it gums up the valves.
  • kerri42kerri42 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you gonogo ! When I have this repaired I'll let you know how it rides.

    Thank you again!

  • lvd77lvd77 Member Posts: 1
    I just picked up a 98 convertable Z24 and on the hour drive home it did the same thing...just quit. My dad was driving it home for me thank god!! On the way from his house to mine, it did it again for me, just quit, no warning, no nothing. Started right back up, no engine light nothing!
    If someone knows why this happens i would really appreciate a heads up before i dump a load of cash into it trying to find the problem!! I cant put 2 kids in a car that decides it wants to stop going 60 on the highway!!
  • innortalinnortal Member Posts: 2
    Here's how I got it confirmed.

    A friend who had a similar car had the same problem: ran fine then lost power and eventually couldn't keep running. He took a jack bad and knocked the base of the fuel tank a bit (7 times were the fuel pump would be) and it started fine and ran fine.

    Does the fuel pump make more noise than it used to? If it does, and what I described above fixes it, then it is the fuel pump, and it should be changed as soon as possible. The intake filter itself sounds like it may be clogged. Even when driving, a sudden jolt might shake some of the gunk loose, but it will be sucked back up and kill the engine, which it sounds like what is happening to you.

    If not the fuel pump, then sorry, no clue.
  • neenersneeners Member Posts: 2
    i've googled this so many times and can't find anyone with this problem....

    i have an 04 manual cavalier that stalls out in low speeds only if my AC is on. If the AC is off, i'm fine even though it appears the engine revs a bit on it's own.... but if the AC is on, i have to keep giving it gas to prevent it from stalling out.

    The first time it happened was about a year ago, in rush hour traffic, then didn't do it again for about 3 months. happened again twice in a week then nothing for about a month, now it's consistent; AC on = car stalling out.

    I got a diagnostics check that came back saying I have a fuel pressure regulator leak and a recommendation of cleaning my fuel injectors. I replaced the pressure regulator, ran with AC on for about 3 minutes, then stalled out.

    I'm going friggen NUTS over here!!!!!!!
  • samsung3samsung3 Member Posts: 2
    Hi everyone I got a 96 cav with 2.4l engine and auto trans. At a cold start the car starts fine. However after the car is warmed/hot and shut off for around 15 mins and restarted it stalls, and misfires/backfires. Sometimes after stalling it won't even restart until the engine has cooled down a bit. Then runs ok but once in while sputters while sitting in traffic. I've gotten all kinds of answers from mechanics from fuel pumps, crank sensors, etc. I don't wanna throw parts at the car so your help is appreciated. I've recently cleaned the throttle body and plugs were changed 20k ago. I've had the problem for about 3 months and its getting worse with the warmer weather!! Thanks for any help/advice!!!
  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    I've recently cleaned the throttle body and plugs were changed 20k ago. I've had the problem for about 3 months and its getting worse with the warmer weather!!

    How about the plug wires? Heat increases the resistance and the problem will be magnified with plug wires that are going bad. The fact that it acts up in warmer weather or after the engine has warmed up has me focused on this possible cause.
  • chevy_man76chevy_man76 Member Posts: 9
    I have a 1994 Cavalier VL 2.2 L that's got all kinds of issues and all kinds of different parts replaced on it. Recently, it started sputtering like it wants to die when you are sitting at a stop light or sign. I just recently installed new plugs and wires, new fuel filter, air filter, pcv valve, oil, oil filter, installed new head gasket due to leaks, etc, etc.
    The only way I've keeping it running is to shift to neutral or park. I'm beginning to think this problem is transmission related because I went through a similar issue with another 94 Cavalier I had and it turned out to be the shift solenoid on the side of the transmission. I had no more problems with that car when I replaced the solenoid. The problem could also be fuel pressure related. Any suggestions would be helpful as this problem is getting annoying. Thank you. :confuse: :sick:
  • corvettefan427corvettefan427 Member Posts: 92
    I bought my car with 40,000 miles, it now has 45,000 miles, and then I realized it still has the stock fuel filter. After having a mechanic, and a haynes service manual tell me the fuel filter should be changed at 30,000 miles, I checked the owners manual, and noticed that it didn't mention it. So I was wondering how many of you guys have changed your fuel filters? If you have a higher mileage car and haven't changed it, maybe that's what's causing some of these problems?
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