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Cavalier Starting in the 1980s. the Cavalier made a name for itself by offering an affordable 2 and 4 door compact.
Platform: J-body

2003 Cavalier died and won't start

Old July 2nd, 2011, 11:15 AM
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Default 2003 Cavalier died and won't start

My 2003 Chevy Cavalier has the 2.2L engine and an automatic transmission. This car has 161,000 miles on it. The fuel filter was changed 23,000 miles ago with the full service automatic transmission fluid/filter change at the local chevy dealership. Fuel in the gas tank is over half full.

I was driving at 30 miles an hour and the car just died. I coasted into a parking lot and tried starting the car, but it would not start. The car does turn over. All fluids under the hood are full. The car did not overheat.

I think the car is not getting gas, but this is my best guess at this point. What should I check?

Last edited by moab; July 2nd, 2011 at 3:37 PM.
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Old July 2nd, 2011, 11:19 AM
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I have owned two Cavaliers. I had a 1997 Cavalier which I drove to 227,000 miles and sold it still running great with everything working perfectly on it. My 2003 has never had a problem until last night.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 11:07 PM
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I checked all the fuses and they were good. I removed the radio fuse so the chime stayed off when you try to start the car and then I could hear if the fuel pump was on when turning on the key without starting the car. I could not hear it. I towed the car to auto zone and had them check to see if the car had any check engine codes and there was only one which was the car was running lean. I checked the fuel pressure at auto zone with their fuel pressure checker and it was zero.

I bought the AirTex fuel pump at auto zone for $250.00 and a new fuel filter(all the electrical connectors and fittings were the exact same on this new AirTex fuel pump just like the old original stock fuel pump on my car which was good news or I would have returned it) . Removing the fuel tank out of this Cavalier was incredibly hard. I had the repair manual for this Cavalier and the best advice I can give to anyone doing this job on a 2003 Cavalier is you have to drill out and remove the two rivets holding the heat shield in place toward the rear of the car(one is on one of the straps holding the fuel tank in place) , take off the two straps holding the gas tank in place, remove all hoses and electrical connections going to the fuel tank, take off the strap holding the muffler in place so it can move out of the way a little. Once this is all done the tank is still incredibly hard to get out still. You have to move the fuel tank strap on the passenger side completely out of the way and turn it so it is on the side of the fuel tank. Bending the heat shield out of the way helps. The fuel tank slid out once I could push the tank to the passengers side and toward the front of the car so the tank would clear the rear suspension bar (once it clears that bar you will be able to push the tank down towards the ground and it will slide out) that runs between both rear wheels.

My old fuel pump was bad. I tested the old one and the new one once I pulled the old one out of the fuel tank. I just plugged each pump into the connector under the car before installing the new pump back in to make sure it worked. The old one did not work, the new one turned on once the key was turned on. I installed everything back on the car and now it runs like new again.

This is a very hard repair. Best of luck to anyone doing this repair. I probably saved $400.00 doing it myself.

Last edited by moab; July 3rd, 2011 at 11:24 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 6:23 AM
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Default Replacing 2003 Cavalier Fuel Pump

I just finished replacing the fuel pump in my cavalier with approx 82,000 miles on the vehicle..in fact i had to do it Twice! Got an AC Delco #MU1374 from advance auto parts (around $265 with 15% disc). The pump had a strange harmonic whine..not a steady sound..The pump was putting out 60psi at the fuel rail, however i opted to exchange it for another pump which advance did w/o problem. Got a Delphi pump instead..has internal strainer-nice. Put it in yesterday, tested 60-65 psi at rail..good output. However it has a high pitched whine..but a steady pitch..i can live with that..Seems the newer pumps are just plain noisy- EVEN THE FACTORY DELCO Ones so don't be too surprised. This was quite a job..took 5+ hrs the first round but only 1 1/2 hrs on second change out. The information from poster above on removing the heat shield rivets was VERY HELPFUL- THANKS! 2 dealers i called said around 1.75-2.5 hrs labor..$200-$350 for labor alone..parts $399 so doing it yourself saves a bit..Cheers
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Old October 1st, 2011, 7:05 AM
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Smile Diagnosis of Fuel Pump Problem on Cavalier

Here is how i went about troubleshooting the problem. First;, the car died in the road and had to be Towed home..Cost $75..car would crank but wouldn't start. Also had check engine light on. Hooked up scanner and found MIL code P0171..fuel system too lean bank1. Checked various forums on this fault code: faulty sensor, faulty fuel pump/relay, clogged injectors, yada yada.

Step1: Check for fuel in tank...had just put $20 gas in before car died.

Step2: Check all fuses in drivers side fuse compartment.all ok

Step3: Check fuel pump relay under hood(in small black rectangular box); when key is in "on" position relay should "click". Checked ok

Step4: Get under car near tank; have someone turn key to "on" and listen for whirring sound of pump coming up and priming system..about 3-4 seconds...No sound observed.

Step5: Put fuel pressure test guage on schrader valve at fuel rail...turn key to "on" position..Zero Psi at rail observed..Should be between 50-65 psi.

Note: the relay could still have corroded contacts and sound ok..but isn't giving proper voltage to the pump..testing the relay is somewhat of a pain..a new one is $12...I changed it out anyway before getting a new pump. The pump still had Zero psi after replacing the relay.

Step6: With no fuel pressure at the rail, and all electrical paths to the pump in working order...AS Well as numerous posts about the 2001-2003 cavaliers having pump problems...We needa new pump!!

Always check the least expensive items First..Fuses,relays, ground wires, etc...Seldom is it that easy...but you never know.

Other Mention: I omitted the Fuel Filter check entirely-Why? If The pump is NOT Running period(no sound when key is "on") the filter is not an issue. IF However the pump was running and the pressure test at the rail was Lower than normal or zero then we would suspect a blocked/obstructed filter possibly. When you put a NEW PUMP IN, ALWAYS put a NEW Fuel Filter as well..most pump warranties will be void if you don't!!

Hope this information helps...Always do your homework..check forums,etc.
No need to reinvent the wheel..
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 4:21 PM
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Hi guys, newbie here.
Got a 02 2.2 ecotech with similar issues. Car died and won't start. Did all the fuel related stuff and they checked out fine. Getting great pressure at fuel rail. Repalced coil pack and still won't start. Checked timing chain to see if that was bad. It was in great shape. Have crank position sensor to put in but can't find the crazy thing. I know it's gotta be at or near crank (duh!!!). Any clues? Engine spins great just no attempt at starting at all. Thanks. Be blessed.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 5:23 PM
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Welcome to the forum. If it actually says "ECOTEC" on the ignition coil housing, the CKP sensor is located on the left rear of the engine (or driver side of the engine compartment), below and slightly ahead of the oil filter housing. You'll need to disconnect the battery and remove the starter, first.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 7:08 PM
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Thanks EinST!!!! Much props. I was afraid that was it I saw there, but I thought "there's no way they'd stick it behind the starter!?!?!?". Will give update tomorrow, hopefully good one.
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Old December 24th, 2011, 9:35 AM
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Hey EinST, Is there only 3 bolts from the bottom on the starter? I got the 2 vertical ones. Then got a 3rd one that runs horizontal right at the solenoid. But starter still not budging. Is there one on the top of starter? Thanks
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Old December 26th, 2011, 5:14 PM
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New update. Replaced Crank sensor. Still no start. At the end of rope. Ready to give in to pro. The only piece that I have not replaced is the coil pack ignition controller. The little square thing on top of coil pack. Any more ideas?
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