Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Cavalier/Possible ABS problems

I have a 2002 Cavalier 2D LS Sport Edition with 116,000 miles. Recently, the engine light has been coming on along with the “Trac Off” light. When this happens, the car shifts very hard into each gear. It’s an automatic. The engine and “Trac Off” lights were only coming on when I was stopping and going throughout town. When I’d leave in the morning for work and go straight to the turnpike which is only about 2 miles away with only 2 stops it wouldn’t happen. But now, both lights come on as soon as I turn the car on and the “hard shifting” begins. Occasionally, the battery light will also come on with these two lights and the car will die. We recently changed both front hub assemblies, thinking that could be the issue but that did nothing. Tonight, we took the ABS fuse out and drove across town. The lights came on, but it drove just fine. Also, when I’m on the turnpike going about 70, the car has been having issues with getting into overdrive. When this happens, I pull over and restart it and then it’s fine. I really want to get this fixed, but I’m completely stumped. Any suggestions?

Seeing as how your dash board is lighting up like a christmas tree there isn’t much need to just keep guessing.

Take the car to an auto parts chain store and have them scan it for error codes associated with the check engine light. They do this for free. Write down the exact codes - format
"P1234" and post the codes.

That said, you may have codes relating to transmission operation and TCS that won’t show up with a regular OBDII scanner. If I were you I’d be thinking about stopping at your best local transmission shop. They should be able to pull all of the codes & diagnose the problem. But you might be able to get a start at an auto parts store.

I bet that the code will show up with a generic OBD2 scanner and that it will be something to do with the VSS.

My girlfriend’s 2001 cavalier had a very similar sounding issue. I pulled the OBDII code and it was a “P0742 Torque converter clutch circuit stuck on” which disables ABS/traction control when active. With her car, it seems to be a transmission issue and nothing to do with the ABS.

The ‘hard shifting’ issue has only occurred for her on one trip and hasn’t occurred in the week or so since it first happened even with an additional few hundred highway miles. Some internet research on that error code indicates that it could be caused by a starting-to-fail solenoid that locks up the torque converter during highway cruising, and causes the jumping harsh shifting by locking/unlocking inappropriately or staying locked during shifting.

Yeah, sometimes if there is a problem with a check engine light, depending on if it’s related to the abs light it can for sure turn the abs light on. You have to get the codes scanned first to start narrowing it down.