Chevy cavelier electrical problems or power?

Driving on road

  1. ABS light on dash turns on, then air bag light, then brake light, then speedometer stops working, horn and turn signals stop working. AC fine, fuel gauge fine, temp guage fine. Lights in back of car don’t work when this happens.

  2. More lights like check guages etc comes on

  3. When I turn car off it won’t even rev when I try to turn it back on

4.battery holds an 87 percent charge, we scraped corrosion off of grounding beneath battery and the corrosion off the leads.
Alternator and sparkplug are new, and after charging battery we used voltmeter on alternator and it gives off 14V

  1. After 30min+ tar can turn back on but goes through this again, totally drivable if I don’t stall.

  2. When I drive at night the dash lights seem to be very dim on speedometer. I checked and it also turns out my speedometer is probably 15mph lower than my actual mph

Just bought this car 2 days ago for 1250, and besides all of this I really liked it.

I also drove 100+ miles from guy I bought it from without seeing these problems.

I’ll take a wild stab. It could be the BCM (body control module).

I really hope this is not one of those Craigslists ripoff’s. As for the dash lights there is a brightness control so check that. You may have to bite the bullet and pay about $100.00 for a mechanic to look at this car.

Funny thing, I bought it from a mechanic- nice guy but all of this has been wow.

Is it possible this car was in a flood? It sort of sounds like an assortment of electrical connector corrosion problems. Being underwater, that would be the result. I’m not saying that’s the case, but something to consider. Maybe visually check some of the electrical connectors that sit lower on the car, closer to the ground, see if you notice any unusual corrosion on those connectors.

Cleaning the connections you did, that was a good idea. Since it didn’t fix it, and the battery and alternator seem to be ok, suggest to get your shop to read out the computer’s diagnostic trouble codes, that’s probably the next step. If you are feeling lucky, you could pull and replace all the fuses. Sometimes a problematic connection will occur in the fuse panel, and removing and replacing it will scuff the connector surface enough to fix it.

So this is your first car? Welcome aboard! Here’s the thing about cars: They break. And when you think you’ve seen every problem possible, they break again. That’s just the way it is with complicated mechanical contraptions. Since you like your car otherwise, and while this problem might be frustrating, it can probably be fixed without too much expense – in parts anyway, I’d recommend you get a copy of the car’s Factory Service Manual. It will have all the electrical schematics and stuff you need to know to keep it maintained and working.

Use Google, see if you can find a used copy of a paper version, or sometimes you can find a copy for older cars on CD-ROM or even internet based ones are sometimes available.

It would be worth it to put a new battery in it and go from there.

If you have not already done so and your post seems to infer that you may have done it, try cleaning the lugs and related contact surfaces for the two ground leads attached to the bell housing. My long gone 90s Cavalier was acting strange at the dashboard and cleaning the two lugs solved the problem. I used a little grease on the lugs to prevent a recurrance. The grease will not prevent electrical contact at the lugs when you tighten the hexnuts.

Have you called the person you purchased it from? If he’s a mechanic and it was his car, maybe he’s had this happen before and can help you. Worst senecio is they’d hang up. At least you’d know.

I’d want to find a schematic and see if all of these systems have one thing in common

A few months ago, I had a truck in the shop that was doing all sorts of weird things, but it was intermittent. It turned out the ignition switch was failing. But “only” a portion of it was failing. After replacing it, all of the weird problems were permanently resolved

I’m not really suggesting the ignition switch is the problem

What I am suggesting is that there may be one single problem, that is affecting all of these seemingly unrelated systems

I have my electrical diagnostic test tomorrow so I will let you all know how it turns out (or doesn’t) and thank you all for your advice :smile: the mechanic I got it from has been super helpful over the phone, he said the car never acted wonky like this before though :cold_sweat: you guys have helped me so much more though! He was just wondering about the grounding beneath motor and the positive lead maybe not transferring power- I have been looking all over the internet and nothing seems to perfectly match- my welcome to the world of cars! Haha

From what you stated about the problems I have to wonder if the battery is getting the full charge from the alternator. You had to charge the battery to get the car running again and you saw 14 volts at the alternator after it was running. It seems you checked the alternator output at the alternator but did you check the voltage across the battery also? There could be a wire connection problem or blown fuse for the connection between the two points. If there isn’t a problem there then check for bad power connections in the fuse panel under the hood and clean the main grounds.

So they replaced the alternator because it malfunctioned when it gets hot. Car hasn’t presented any of its problems recently, but I’ve noticed my speedometer goes past 0mph and touches the bottom of the dash when I turn the car off sometimes. There is no plexiglass and it looks like people have painted the needles, but when I click the needle (carefully) to the proper speed, it works. Then I turn car off and it goes past 0.

Also air conditioning wasn’t working so we charged it , it worked for a little bit and now it is back to hot air coming out. Friend says there might be a leak, but not sure.

More than likely the ac is leaking out the compressor shaft seal. You say there is nothing covering the instruments? Pull off the needle and put it back at 0.

+1 for @knfenimore The compressor shaft seal is the most common place for these to leak.