My 2002 Chevy Malibu will not start. After turning the key to "On", the car beeps 6 times. After the last beep, "cal err" appears on the clock/radio display, and the car beeps an additional 4 times (more quickly this time). Also, no lights appear on the dashboard (e.g. check engine light, lights behind speedometer, etc).

Turning the key to "Start" cause the car to try to start (turns over), but it will not. The battery is fine (clock/radio backlight does not dim).

The car worked fine last night.

It might also be worth noting that it rained all day yesterday, and I did have to roll down the window a couple times in the rain (rain got on the window switches).

What could be causing this, and how can I fix it?

2 Answers 2


I think you're getting the 'cal err' because your radio lost power. Hopefully you've just got some corroded/loose battery terminals. Try cleaning and tightening them and see if that gets you going. I've seen vehicles act this way due to a loose battery terminal. If that's not it, you've possibly got a problem somewhere in the wiring harness, possibly a bad ground.

  • Hmm, that very well could be the case. I've had an issue with corroded battery terminals pretty often (a retired Chevy mechanic told me it was common with side terminals). It threw me off when the radio was still bright and no engine lights came on at all. I'll try this out soon :) Thanks!
    – 0b10011
    Oct 10, 2012 at 23:16
  • Terminals didn't turn out to be the issue. I'll look into the wiring harness later.
    – 0b10011
    Oct 12, 2012 at 23:46
  • updating 1,000 views and 5 years later This was several years ago, but if I recall correctly, this pointed me in the right direction and I had to get the cables that connect to the battery replaced.
    – 0b10011
    Jun 27, 2017 at 19:55

The issue has nothing at all to do with the radio. The CAL ERR is sent to the radio via wire A1 via the connector on the back. It tall the radio that there is a key to anti theft error. The code CAL ERR is just short for Callabration Error from your Key. from off turn key to run without thurning the engine over and letting it sit for 15 minutes, then turn it to the off possion for a couple of seconds, and repete this 3 times. after the third time It will start. Do not take this for the Anti theft fix that when the anti theft light is on and it will not start and you turn the key to run for 10 minutes and turn it off and it runs this issue is an unseen connection and is not fixed by the 10 minute deal. Now.. If after spending 45 minutes doing the above it mightstart to give the anti theft error. in this case treat it linke a new key and cylinder and turn the key to star turning the motor over a second or two the release it let it sit at the run possion for 10 minute then turn it off for 5 second, repete this for a total of 3 times, and the car should learn the code from the cylinder/key when you try to start it on the 4th key turn. These are all proven/known repairs and when to use them and why. Another hint, Turn the key to on and let the theft and other lights go out that don't stay on if the engine is not running, then start the car. That's all I got hope it helps

  • I've never once seen "CAL ERR" show up for passkey issue's on this gen Malibu. The passkey has its own indicator in the dash it uses. More likely it literally means a calibration error for the radio. My guess do to the poor battery connection corrupting the eeprom.
    – narkeleptk
    Dec 4, 2019 at 0:30

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