2004 Chevy Cavalier will not turn over!

Asked by Jan 23, 2014 at 10:37 PM about the 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan FWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I drove my 2004 Chevy Cavalier to work with no issues and parked. When I tried to leave
to go home at the end of the day, the car would not start. There was gas in the tank, the
car had oil, and all lights and the radio turned on. (The battery is also pretty new so I
didn't think it would be a battery issue. The car will turn on, then when you actually crank
the key it sounds like it's trying to crank up but is just not getting there. The suggestion
was that it seemed like for some reason, the engine was not getting enough fuel. The
spark plugs were ok, the was fuel in the line, but it didn't seem to be reaching the engine
to make that final combustion to actually get the car running. My Cavalier is the base
model 2.2L engine, automatic, and has about 175,000 miles on it. I have been it's only
owner since 2005. I would love to get an idea of what the issue could possibly be seeing
as how it's a little difficult to move the car to get it "checked out" by multiple
mechanics.The only thing I've been hearing from other mechanics and people more
experienced with cars than me is that it seems like a fuel issue. Could having a bad or
clogged fuel filter cause this? Thanks!

20 Answers


I think there is a fuse to the electric fuel pump. Check that. A computer module may have gone out and it affects if there is spark at the plugs. When you turn on the car, do you hear the electric fuel pump engage? Since your in a parking lot, it may be best to have it towed to a reliable garage that works on your model of car. They can pull the plugs and check if there is a current going to the spark plugs, also check if there is fuel in the rails or injectors. Since your turning over the car motor without starting, check if there is raw fuel smell in the tail pipe as it may be pumping the fuel/fumes out if there is gas getting into the cylinders. This works on pre-catalytic cars.

4 people found this helpful.

I am having the same problem, but I can jump the car and it runs fine for a day or two then I have to jump it again. I did notice today when I had to jump it, it had a fuel smell coming from the tail pipe.

2 people found this helpful.

The fuel smell from the tail pipe may be fuel being shot into the cylinders before you have ignition and lift off. The raw gas will be sent into the exhaust and when you finally get it running, the fumes will be pushed out of the tail pipe. I had a Toyota diesel truck that I had developed a problem starting. The gaskets in the injection system deteriorated and started letting air into the sealed system when California changed the formula for diesel fuel. I had to spend big bucks to change out all the gaskets. This may not be a problem since you smell gas from the tail pipe. Check to see if your getting spark at the plugs when it will not start. It just may be a circuit board or4 the electronic device that distributes the spark to the plugs.

3 people found this helpful.

Thanks, I will try that. It may be a day or two since it usually last a few days before it wont start. I did notice that my XM radio stops working a day before the car wont start. but it comes back once I jump the car.


If your battery is not strong enough it will not start the car. Check the battery connections, not only at the battery, (clean them good) but at the starter also. Sounds maybe like a lose or corroded connection issue. That is the cheapest trouble shoot. Make sure the alternator is working and that connections are secure and clean. Also, if new fuel filter were put in, they are directional and an arrow points to the direction the fuel is to run. Stranger things have occurred. I'd almost bet on a starter connection needing cleaned and or tightened. Oil or other road junk mayt be on the connections causing a re-rout of the power.

2 people found this helpful.

Roll the windows up so it's quiet inside the car. Fasten your seatbelt so it won't beep at you when you turn the key on. Turn the key to the "on" position and listen for the fuel pump. It should come on immediately when the key is turned on and turn back off after about 2 or 3 seconds. If you don't hear that, it's your fuel pump, providing the relay or fuse is good.

2 people found this helpful.

Had the same issue. Was told today the timing chain skipped and damaged the engine and I'd need a whole new one for like $1300. It's 10 years old. =(

Best Answer Mark helpful

That ended up being my issue. Timing belt slipped and wrecked my engine. After 10 years, my cavi is dead. Thank you all for your responses!


i have w this car I did all fuse n relay in box was good but one is crank fuse not light on .... so I go look in fuel pump and check wired it no power on .....

7 people found this helpful.

Just bought one 2001 car starts fine runs fine checked the battery and alternator its good. Turn off the car some it won't start, the first time it made a click click click noise now nothing????

8 people found this helpful.

You overlooked the obvious, this is a battery issue! You can have enough power to turn on the radio, but not enough to crank over the engine. Clean the terminals and test the battery. I had a 7 year warrantied AcDelco battery go bad in less than one year, the first day it hit 100 degrees.

2 people found this helpful.

I have a 2004 Chevy cavalier and when I backed up and started to drive it hesitated. I checked the spark plugs. It sounds like it wants to crank over but it won't. Any ideas?

5 people found this helpful.

Let me ask you a few questions on the statement you posted to clarify what you are asking or looking for. You started your Cavalier no problems correct? You then backed out of your parking space and put it into drive. Is that correct? When you put the Cavalier in drive, it "hesitated"? What do you mean by "hesitated"? Did the engine miss fire, transmission not engage? or was the engine sputtering then took off? Why did you check the spark plugs? Have you had this issue before? How old are the pugs and did you clean them and re-gap them? Then you said it sound like it wants to crank over but won't? Does that mean your car now will not start? I'd first have the battery checked. If you have a dead battery, and it will not accept a charge, the computer will shut down as it does not have enough amperage to run the electronic ignition. If that is the case, you can not start the car because your battery is dead. Start there. See the answers above about checking the battery. Clean and solid connections. Belt on and tight to the alternator? Alternator working? These parts can be taken off and to a shop for testing. That will save you $50 and hour labor. Most auto parts stores or good auto repair garages can test the equipment for you. Next if they all check out is to have codes read if possible. Then if that is clear, start testing the ECM and computer modules. Or take it to a garage and leave your check book and tell them to fix the car and keep the check book/

2 people found this helpful.

I have a 2004 cavalier it wouldnt start the first time so i would take the key out and try again and it would start right up so i am thinking my ignition switch is going bad because it has nothing to with my fuel pump or fuel pump relay so any help i would appreciate it

1 people found this helpful.

Oh and forget to say we by passed the anti theft too ..so

1 people found this helpful.

Cheryl, your problem soundalike you have a little hole in the fuel line or something. It sounds like the first attempt you are out of fuel, and by turning the engine over you are pumping fuel into the system. The second time is working due to the fuel in the system dude to the first attempt to start it. Something sounds like the fuel is draining out of the IFI system. Have it pressure tested.

2 people found this helpful.

I have an 03 Cavalier and i'l having the same issue. The battery died so i replaced it and it wouldn't start. The engine would crank and want to start. I know the fuel pump is working. I have not check for spark just yet, but I wanted to know if anyone had any other ideas what it could be...

1 people found this helpful.

I'm going through the same thing with my Chevy cavalier too an my last resort is the fuel pump have you changed your as well? I'm going to try it and see if that helps.

I have a 2001 cavalier it starts runs fine and then sometimes when i turn it off and try to start it it will not start but you let it sit for like 4 hours then go back out and starts fine anyone know what might be the problem


I have a 04 cavalier. 2.2l vin f. Just replaced fuel pump , filter. I bought it neglected and replaced coils ,plugs and starter. I replaced the fuel system and drove the car the next day and it drove fine no noises. Got off work drove fine again. Didnt drive the car the whole next day because i was off work. Went back the following morming and the car womt turn over and i cant hear the fuel pump engaging. I replaced the relay and fuse but still nothing. Any suggestions?

1 people found this helpful.

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