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Chevrolet Cavalier



  • i have a 92 cavalier we just replaced with a venture (for more room) as we have two kids now. wife's previous car was a accord which i made her get rid of before i would marry her(had to work on that car 1 too many times). the cav is bad on brakes(2 replacements on rear and 5 on front, all lifetime pads) and heater works when it wants too(can't locate problem for 3 years)other than oil changes every 3 to 4K. no problems at 97000 miles. its not perfect,(which no car every will be)i am hard to please and basicly a ford person but know value when i see it. i would recommend the car to anyone who needs a car of that size.
  • ssharsshar Posts: 1
    I have a 1989 Cavalier that I bought new, I have finally come to the decision that I will buy a new car. I was all set on buying a new Cavalier since I have really had no major trouble with the one that I now own. I have been checking out the new Cavaliers and am a little concerned about the info on the crash percentage not being very good. Has anyone bought a 2000 Cavalier recently and if so how do you like it?
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    My mother in-law just bought a 2000 Cavalier with 0.9% financing. So far she seems very pleased. She is a heavy driver so we should find out soon how it holds up. We have a 99 Cavalier (as a second car) with 18K on it and it's been perfect. Cavalier isn't the best car in the world, but for the money and features, it's hard to beat.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    My fiance bought a 2000 Cavalier. We are very pleased with the car. It gets us where we want to go and it is very economical. WE got the LS model. It's a fun little car to drive and a very cute looking one too. Good luck! :-)
  • I have a 1996 Chev Cavalier 2.2L. I get a really bad smell especially when I drive fast and the rpm goes high. Well the smell is coming from the engine I think and it might be a leak. Well I hope I am not the only person with this problem and I doubt I am since Chevys all share the same problems. Well I took it to the dealership and they said the head cylinder gasket was not leaking nor was the coolant b/c it smelt like coolant. If anyone can help me plz mail at
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    I would take it to a different dealership. It's a bit of a pain, but sometimes one guy can't find the problem and another can. I regularly take our Cavalier over 130km/h and its fine.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    beeslappa, what does it smell like? The oil filter for the Cavalier 2.2 engine is mounted at the back of the engine above the exhaust pipe. Every time I change my oil and filter I'll get a hot oil smell from the engine for about a week. No matter how hard I try, I cannot avoid spilling oil when I take the filter off. Also, if the oil filter is leaking it will drip onto the hot exhaust pipe. Check that out.
  • 89er189er1 Posts: 1
    i'm not pretending to know much about cars, however, i am honestly surprised by all the problems people have reported! I have been upset all week b/c i had to put an alternator, fan belt, and a catalytic converter on my car in one week (almost 600 bucks total!!)
    but, unlike all of you--my cavalier is an '89 sedan- which i have had since '96, and never done a thing to besides new tires until this week! it has 135K and runs great (with all it's new parts!)
    perhaps they used to make cavaliers better than they do now!? is that possible?
    everyone else i know w/older cavaliers say they've been great too!!
    i am however selling it now! just graduated from college, got a job--thinking a used honda???
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Keep in mind the Cavalier is pretty basic transport and most people don't come here to rave about their car. People come here for solutions to their problems. Cavaliers are basically good cars, especially since 96. Used Hondas are pricey. If you go Japanese, I would suggest a Mazda or a Nissan.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    89er1, if you read the comments about other makes of motorcars you'll see that they have just as many problems. I don't think however that the 96 onwards Cavaliers have any glaring defects. Head gaskets were a problem that seems to be fixed up from 98 to now. It's surprising how more supposedly reliable and expensive motorcars seem to give more trouble than the Cavaliers.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    For more info on the head gasket blowing thing (which is provoked by the coolant smell) go to and click on "secret warranties watch" to the left of the screen.
  • matty99matty99 Posts: 7
    I am 17 year old high school student. Recently in my little town i was looking at used cars because soon i would like to buy one. At one of the dealerships i went to ask the salesperson if they still had the Subaru Impreza that i saw there last week... the salesperson told me that they did not, then he asked me to look at a car he had out on the lot. The car was a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier 2 dr. base, the paint was in nice shape, it was built decently and i even test drove it, i thought that the steering was really nicely weighted, and overall drove very good... the car only has 33,000 miles on it so it does have a lot of life left, the price was $8,500 w/taxes, tags, etc. i thought it was an ok deal but i just cant get a car yet because my mother will not co-sign for me (even though i have a well paying job) anyways what i want to say is when you go out looking for a used car, dont forget the Cavalier, it is worth the look, PLEASE NOTE : The Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire are built off of the same platform and share many parts, but in my opinion in the vehicles i have seen the Chevrolet Cavalier appears to be MUCH BETTER BUILT, the reason for this is quite simple... in the Sunfire, GM has made the interior trim pieces to where after a few years they will start to loosen, in the Cavaliers' interior everything is kept simple helping it's build quality... While these cars are not built to the strict standards of some Japanese or asian makes, they make up for that in price and insurance premiums... my first car WILL be a Chevrolet Cavalier!
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    You are going to be sorry. Back in July 1999, I found a nice, low-mileage white 1996 Cavalier base with automatic and only 31,051 miles for $7995. I bought it, because I thought it was an excellent deal. What a mistake! Within the next 3 months and 9265 that I had it, the brakes had to be serviced 3 times, the parking brake 5 times, the P/S pump leaked, the muffler had to be replaced, the front strut, cigarette lighter, and trunk lock also had to be replaced. And it squeaked and rattled like it was 10 years old! What a mess! Also, trade-in value sucks on them. I think you should check out a more reliable used car like a Honda, Toyota, or even a Mazda. Cavaliers are cheap to begin with (just like when they are new), but from experience of myself and about a dozen friends, they are not worth the risk when they get a little older.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    In my opinion you will be very pleased with the Cavalier. Basic transportation, cheap price for a young person who doesn't want to pay for the over priced competitors. The Cavalier is just a basic car to get from A to B, built solid, overall reliable. Take it from a person who has owned Chevy all his life. My fiance just bought a 2000 about 4 months ago and we could not be any happier with this car it's quite fun to drive. Compare the number of happy Cavalier owners vs the unhappy ones and the numbers will tell you more people love their Cavaliers than those who don't. Just make sure you have a Mechanic check the car out and you will not go wrong. Good Luck!
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Don't think your experience is typical of most. The Cavalier is no super car, but it's got average reliability and presents great value. We are on our second Cavalier ( a '99 used as my wifes commuter car), and we have never had a problem.
  • I think you should read the 2000 Economy Sedan Review. Although the particular Cavalier you looked at didn't have looks trim pieces, look at the car that Edmunds got - brand new and the power window switches fell off. What are your main concerns when buying a car? If you want a safe car, don't look at the Cavalier, take a look at the poor offset crast tests done by the IIHS ( and the poor side impact tests done by the NHTSA (
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    The Edmunds review did not say that the power window switches fell off, they got PULLED off by the person reviewing the car just because they wanted to be stupid about the review. Remember this is a 17 year old who needs a basic car and the Cavalier will deliver with no problems. Good luck!
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Well, new drivers tend to be real hard on cars, and especially teenagers. Believe me, I am only 22 and remember being hard as hell on my first car. Everyone I know (around my age-- about 5 different people) all bought Cavaliers (1996-97) and they all blew head gaskets and fell apart within the past 3-4 years. A shame, because they are a nice car. And also, crash ratings and all are pretty bad too.
  • sunfgtsunfgt Posts: 40
    The 2.2 engine on the base Cavalier definitely has had a checkered past with head gasket failures. However, you can get GM to fix the problem for free, if you know how to present the case to them. They often try to push aside people with newer models, but as far as I know, the head gaskets still haven't gotten any better.

    Try to get the 2.4 if you can. It's pricier and probably more difficult for you to get, but I've never heard people complain about that one.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    I know but do you really sit there and pull things off your car? B pillars, headliners? I know about being hard on a car but picking it apart seems a bit too much. Head gaskets were a problem with the 2.2 engine ( not sure if I got the 2.2 right) but anyways as good and valid as your opinion is I have had totally the opposite experience with family and friends who bought Cavaliers and tehy are still going. What do you mean by "falling apart". Sorry but I do not consider a switch that is yanked out of place on purpose or a squeak when going over bumps a "falling appart " issue. Now the rust and the deterioration on early Honda Accords ( you still see them rusting away nowadays) is in MY opinion falling apart. Either way the Cavalier will be a good choice for a first car no doubt abaout it. Withthe money you save you will be able to get a nicer and more expensive car years down the road. In the end it's Matty's choice and so far I think he's made a great one. good LucK!
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