Question about 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier

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Revers Lights wont come on when car is in reverse

I'm having problems with my reverse lights I have a 2004 chevy cavalier ls sport 5spd manual and when I put the car in reverse the reverse lights don't come on I'm not an expert but i do know a little about cars so I checked fuses first and wasnt it I have changed the bulbs and connectors and that didnt work so I took a voltage meter and tested the connectors and its getting power just seems like a ground wire might be loose some were and I thought it might be some were around the shift linkage but i just can't seem to find it so I would really appreciate it If any one could shed some light on this subject I would very much appreciate it

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  • kyo0141
    kyo0141 Dec 28, 2008

    Ok i looked around by the shifter and there is no ground in that area Were in the trunk is the wire located if its there

  • kyo0141
    kyo0141 Dec 30, 2008

    look all over the trunk area and there is no ground but what i did find was the ground wires for the lamps seem to run into the harness that runs to the front of the car but its to hard to trace the wires

  • kyo0141
    kyo0141 Dec 30, 2008

    Thanks i just mad my own ground and it worked but its only a temporary fix untell i can figure out where the other grounds were

  • kyo0141
    kyo0141 Dec 30, 2008

    There is no switch around the Manual shift is ive taken it off and the only thing located in that area it the plug for the emergency break light to come on thats all ive even removed the shifter and there are no grounds or wires on that area except the emergency break light plug trust me ive looked a dozen times I even went as far as removing the driver side seat and pulling up the carpet

  • cmwarner Feb 26, 2009

    reverse lights won't come on when backing up. They quit working for awhile then started again now quit again.

  • ryanlphipps Mar 08, 2009

    I have a 2003 chevy cavalier ls sport coupe 2.2L ecotec and my reverse lights arent working. I have read other issues that people are having with the ground. I dont think it is the ground wire. Reason being is because before when it was having issues I would have to slam the reverse back really hard for the them to come on. If I just put it in reverse gently they wouuldnt come on. Now they dont work at all. I think it has to do something with the switch belowe if there is one. I cant seem to see any up by the links to the trans. Help me out please.

  • J-bonez Mar 15, 2009

    i had the same problemon my 04 cavalier and the licence plate light was burnt out and when it was replaced the problem went away.

  • Anonymous Apr 28, 2009

    i have the same problem with my 05 cavilier and they told me it's a bad switch in the transmission


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Back up light switch is located on the rear of the transmission, easier to find if the LF is jacked up and wheel is removed. My switch was working fine out of the transmission, but was about a !/32nd of an inch short of closing when in reverse.

The way I determined that was by using a depth gauge between neutral and reverse, is a pawl inside of the transmission that goes rearward, and by comparing the decreased depth with the contact closure of the switch, was about 0.30" too short of closing, used an ohmmeter to determine when the switch was closing.

Now maybe by finding a switch at the dealers that closes with 0.030" less movement would solve that problem or trying to get more backward movement on that pawl. Now that would be a job to disassemble the transmission and bending that pawl backwards a tad. So I just put that switch in my machine lath and took off about 0.060" off the shoulder so it could be screwed in further. It's been working fine every since. I could barely get my baby finger in that switch hole to check for free play, was pretty tight. Just an engineering goof in my opinion, not allowing enough tolerance for switch closure variations. The plunger of the switch still had a good 1/8th " of movement after the contacts closed.

Posted on May 02, 2009

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Hi there
if you can take off the center console where the manual shift is you will see a little button that in gauges the reverse light
these can stop working very easy
sometimes it can be just a bit of sand sometimes it can be something like it has popped out of place
have a look thee and let me know what you find

Posted on Dec 28, 2008

  • jay pogi Apr 16, 2015

    Where exactly would that button be? I have the same problem on my 01 z24 cavalier

  • jay pogi Apr 16, 2015

    I have an 01 z24 cavalier. Would it have the same button? If so where exactly would it be. Thanks


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  • 81 Answers

Could very well be a ground wire issue. The wire is located in the trunk.

Posted on Dec 28, 2008

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  • Peter Fadoulakis
    Peter Fadoulakis Dec 29, 2008

    You have to pull back the trunk liner or carpeting to expose the ground lug. You should see it on the right or left side. Look for a wire or a few wires that are grounded in place via a bolt.

  • Peter Fadoulakis
    Peter Fadoulakis Dec 30, 2008

    Have you confirmed 12 volts to the bulb sockets? As a test (to confirm it is a ground issue) run new and separate ground wires to each socket. If the lights start to work then it is a ground issue.

  • Peter Fadoulakis
    Peter Fadoulakis Dec 30, 2008



    I hate to be the one to tell you this but it looks like you missed something. As a result you could be spinning your wheels and taking apart half your car for nothing.

    I've read over all your answers up to this point. There is no mention of you confirming an operational backup light switch. The switch located behind the shifter handle. The action of putting the car in reverse engages the switch. You have to remove the trim plastic around the shifter handle to access the switch. Do that and jump out the switch. If the backup lights come on you found the problem. Its a bad switch.


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