2004 Chevy Cavalier Jump/Surge While idling or stopped

Tiny
SANGUINEPROMISES
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 84,500 MILES
My car is a 2004 Chevy Cavalier with about 84,500 miles on it. I recently purchased it used and know little about it so far. Only a day or so ago, while the car was in drive but stopped at a traffic light, I felt a very, very subtle 'jump/surge' that started to continually occur. When driving, I notice no difference than when I purchased it, however when stopped at traffic lights, in traffic, etc, it does this subtle 'jump/surge' with something of a rough idle. I had just filled the tank with gas that same day, so I am also taking into consideration that 'bad' gas might be the culprit. I've put a fuel treatment in the tank to test that theory. The check engine light is not coming on. I plan on taking the car to my mechanic as soon as possible, as my family has plans to drive the car on vacation next month. Any suggestions would be well appreciated. Thank you!
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Saturday, March 27th, 2010 AT 11:44 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
Get a can of choke cleaner and take the air duct off and clean the throttle plate on both sides. Also spray into the oblong hole that cleans the iac. Then start it up after hooking up the air duct and try that. Alot of times the plate gets gunked up and causes what you are experiencing.
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Sunday, March 28th, 2010 AT 8:54 AM
Tiny
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Tried putting in a gas treatment. No improvement. Tried spraying the choke cleaner as recommended. Still no improvement. I took the car to my mechanic and their diagnostic read 'Cylinder 4 Misfire'. They suggested I have the plugs/boots replaced. Well, they replaced those today. Car is still doing the same thing. When in park, diagnostic reads that two cylinders are misfiring. When in gear, it still reads the Cyl. 4 misfire. They suggested replacing the coil module. After trying another one on it, still no improvement.

They are going to look more in depth to it in the morning. Any ideas what the culprit may be? The only thing that worries me is not that things cannot be fixed, but that they are going to be insanely expensive. I already have my other car in the same shop and am awaiting a new (used) engine (busted crankshaft, cracked head, and warped valves on the old one) for it. Of course, it's a 96 Neon with over 400K miles on it. Any peace of mind in knowing what may be wrong with the Cavalier would be appreciated.
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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 AT 4:38 PM
Tiny
HMAC300
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I'm surprised these mechanics tried all the electrical stuff, but not much else. A cylinder misfire can be caused by Injectors as well as compression and electrical stuff. I would have them put your old coils/back on and try them running injector cleaner through the injectors to see if that cleans it up. If not it could be the injectors. They should have the professional strength injector cleaner that you can't get at anauto parts store. It could be the injectors are bad as well, which by now I think there may be reconditioned ones at a cheaper price. They should check compression as well.
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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 AT 5:54 PM
Tiny
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They are going to start checking it again first thing in the morning. I am to call them at noon and I will ask about the injectors. Stills has me believing that some poor fuel may be the trouble, or some of it.

Thank you so much for your responses!
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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 AT 6:01 PM
Tiny
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I went to get my car from the shop today, but still nothing was fixed and now the idle is much worse. It's no longer a subtle annoyance but seems like it's about to stall out when I come to a stop. The mechanic said he believes the timing chain may be stretched, however it will require opening it up a little to check that out.

Regardless, with how it's acting after getting it back and getting to drive it for a little, accelleration is much better than before, however the idling is a lot worse, I am going to take it back to the shop tomorrow and, albeit having to pay a high labor fee, have it checked to see if it's the timing. I'm able to borrow another car, so I hope within the next week (will be a week before my next payday to pay for repairs) they can pinpoint the trouble. I will ask to see if they have checked compression and fuel filter/injectors as well. I am hoping it is not going to be the chain, which is quoted as a $600 repair, but at this point, I just want to know what it is!
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Thursday, April 1st, 2010 AT 7:07 PM
Tiny
HMAC300
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A compression check should tel whether a timing chain is bad or not. Ifind it hard to beleive that eh mechanic when it had a #4 misfire didn't check the compression on that cylinder right away. A timing chain usually doesn't cause one cylinder to misfire, the wholle engine runs poorly if at all. But there are cam fazers on that engine for the camshafts and they can screw up. But that should test out being scanned. I think I would take it to another mechanic as this one may not be familiar with this type of vehicle.
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 8:25 AM
Tiny
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I asked today as you suggested. They said the compression was reading 200 across the board, which. Well I suppose that's normal. All injectors are working like new as well. While I was there, the mechanic had me listen to something. You can hear a very, very distinct metallic sound it begins it's rough idle. He said he's about certain it's the timing chain with some slack in it. Think the way a bicycle chain sounds when it's changing gears on a multi-speed bike. It sounded very similar, but at a higher speed of course. Really from all the tests that have been done, there is not a whole lot else that it could be. I'll keep my fingers crossed a loose timing chain is the trouble, but yeah, I definitely heard the sound today when he pointed it out, and my grandfather noted yesterday when he drove it that if you got between 50 and 55, the car drove rough like it had a bad wheel vibration. I asked another former Army mechanic (one I work with) about it, and he said it was possible that chain was the trouble too. If they say it is not the chain after all the work and money I've put in already, I AM seeing about another mechanic if not just biting the bullet and taking it to a dealer.
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 10:44 AM
Tiny
HMAC300
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I'm sure that the cam fazer can cause the same problem. Especially if it's only one cam. If the chain were loose/worn or slipped your compression wouldn't be 200# accross the board.
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Friday, April 2nd, 2010 AT 11:16 AM
Tiny
DARRYLTHENEWF
  • MEMBER
I would suggest checking out the catalytic converter. My car started acting the same way today. My guess is the dam thing is plugged.
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Thursday, April 29th, 2010 AT 3:40 PM
Tiny
DARRYLTHENEWF
  • MEMBER
NEWS FLASH. My 99 Cavi was acting the same way. I have changed plugs and wires, fuel filter and cut out converter and put on new muffler. But she still sputters and spits. LOL Must head to insurance company and add fire and theft:)
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Friday, April 30th, 2010 AT 5:34 PM
Tiny
JHERB
  • MEMBER
Did you ever figure out what this was as my cavalier is doing the exact same thing.
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Friday, May 9th, 2014 AT 12:40 PM

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