Cavalier Meltdown

My daughter bought a 2000 Chevy Cavalier LS. This car was in a fender bender and then proceeded to set in a field for almost a year. The mechanic who looked at the car after the accident said it checked out fine only cosmetic repairs were needed. And then we brought it home…

The guages quit working, the warning lights (all of them) came on for a while and now are all off except for check engine, the car appears to eat brakes and rotors like candy and occationally the anti-theft light will come on and the car won’t start. We took it to a local trusted mechanic who hooked it up to their reader and the machine couldn’t find the car…Any ideas? I read only good reviews about this vehicle before purchase but not giving any now.

Who knows what could have happened while sitting in a field for a year. Critters could have chewed wires. One or more of the brakes could be dragging. This car has been abused and neglected, it’s no wonder things are going wrong with it. Plus it’s 11 years old now. The reviews were probably written about new Cavaliers that weren’t crashed, abused, and abandoned in a field.

It would appear that you have (1) wiring harness problems, and (2) corroded calipers causing the brake pads to drag.

The wiring harness problem couls easily be critter-induced, as Goldwing suggested. Critters’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and they chew constantly in order to keep the teeth from overgrowing. Insulated wires seem to be just about right for their needs.

The brake problem can be corrected with new calipers and perhaps flex lines, and a fluid flush would be a good idea too, but wiring harnesss problems can be a huge challange to correct.

I hope your daughter didn;t pay too much for the vehicle. Perhaps a lesson could be taken away from this about the risks of buying a car without being ebl to test it out and get it checked out.

If mountainbike’s theory about the brake calipers is correct, then the gas mileage must be very, very low. Is this the case?

I hope this car was no more than maybe $200 to purchase?

I don’t think it is the calipers, just for the fact she is still getting 25+ mpg and there is no dragging sound. I have not been able to find anythin in the wiring (or else where in the car) that would have indicated an attack from the rodent population either. Guess I will leave this one for the garage. Thanks all

read only good reviews about this vehicle before purchase but not giving any now.

I don’t really think you can fairly blame the car for having been in a wreck and then abandoned in a field for a year. Fields are full of rodents, and rodents love to chew wires. That’s probably why your gauges don’t work and the code reader couldn’t read the ECU.

Further, you didn’t define “eat brakes and rotors like candy.” How many miles does your daughter drive between brake jobs?

Or did she, perhaps, only have the front brakes done and then had to go back to get the rear brakes changed as well?

I second the rodent theory

Vacuum lines wires they love em all

Since looking into the problems we have been facing I have found many bad reviews with this same senario. Unfortunately at this current time my kiddo gets to find out whether or not she can trust the mechanic at a local dealership who has set themselves up to be the only one in the area who can reset the computer for the car to dealer specs, replace a couple of sensors (one for the abs on the wheel) and add in a relay that was a recall notice that was not taken care of by the previous owner. All in all I am thinking hosed is the word for this cute little car, but time will tell. A mechanic or exorsist maybe?

Thanks all for the ideas and things to check. I can say I mostly trust the mechanic at the dealership because it was a reference from the mechanic I trust most. Hopefully, he knows what he is talking about, lol.

“the only one in the area who can reset the computer for the car to dealer specs”

If this hokum is what you were really told, then I would be VERY skeptical of this guy.
You can’t “reset” the computer to dealer specs. You can clear the OBD system (temporarily) of stored trouble codes, but you can’t reset the car’s computer. And, even if you could, you would want things set up to manufacturer’s specs, not “dealer specs”.

The only one who can replace sensors (such as ABS wheel sensors), and the only one who can replace a relay? The other mechanics in your area must be truly impaired if this guy is the only one who can replace sensors and relays!

The Cavalier was a mediocre car in terms of reliability to begin with. Then, factor in 10 years of unknown maintenance, 10 years of wear and tear, a collision, and almost a year of sitting in a field with exposure to the elements and to rodents, and I don’t think that the current problems are at all surprising.

You need a very good mechanic, but whether this “miracle worker” is that mechanic remains to be seen.

My mechanic does not have a system which will “flash” the car, which is what he said hopes will work since his diagnostic computer hooked up to the car does not recognize it. There is definately something very wierd with the computer at this time. The relay and such can be replaced by my local mechanic but he is hesitant to just start replacing anything since his computer will not analyze the car. I believe it is a sensor because of articles I have found on the internet from people who have questioned the same issues. There are dozens of people who have reported extreme repetitiveness replacement of brakes, one said it was this senor, two more reported it worked for them so if we can get the computer to report anything then we will move on. It is the dealer mechanic when we called told us there was some recall work that should have been done also. It is related to the wiring so to the shop we go, if the recall work which they will do first fixes the problem, then all the better. Other than the brakes and the guages, the car runs really good.