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Chevrolet Cavalier

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  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    For more info on the head gasket blowing thing (which is provoked by the coolant smell) go to http://www.lemonaidcars.com 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 Edmunds.com 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 (www.iihs.org) and the poor side impact tests done by the NHTSA (www.nhtsa.dot.gov).
  • 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!
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    If you consider rusting a valid falling apart issue, than what do you have to say about Chevy's well known rusting problem on their 80s-early 90s cars and trucks? Everyone knows, even Chevy lovers, that Chevy is a rust bucket. Their rust protection flat out sucks and the use of inferior steel shows itself. My Dad's 84 Chevy S-10 has been repainted many times and yet it still continues to have rust showing up around the windshield, doors, hood, and the bed (the bed support rods have almost completely deteriorated). Not to mention the gas tank rusted a hole right at the bottom 5 years ago. Just for comparison, my same year VW Rabbit has never rusted a hole through its gas tank to this day (and shows no sign of rust for that matter) and only has some minor rust on the inside rear quarter panel due to a sunroof leak that went on for many years.
    Trim and other problems plague my dad's S-10. The window keeps popping off its track, requiring him to leave the door panel off in order to roll up and down the window. The famous cheap, loose Chevy door handles that continue to be used in some cars to this day. The driver's door has problems staying shut. The AC expansion valve, located deep inside the instrument panel, has blown 3 times, 2 of which happened a few days apart. The radio won't work due to some wiring problem. The exhaust manifold gasket is a known design flaw that requires replacement every year or it produces a bad exhaust leak. The brakes require a few inches of travel before they start to work, and than when they do, they bite very hard all of a sudden, causing more frequent unneeded lockup (a well known GM brake problem that they are only now beginning to get right). The only thing the damn truck has going for it is a reliable engine (though the carbureator is messed up, causing the idle to stick too high and requiring 4 tries to get it started when cold).
    Anyway, I have to disagree with you about squeaks being a problem. If a car is not built solid enough to keep from sqeaking on a bump, than that lack of build quality will only continue to get worse wth age, leading to loose or broken trim pieces and other annoyances. GM needs to address their build quality issues. The whole reason my brother chose a Nissan Maxima over the Olds Intrigue was because he was concerned with the shoddy bild quality of the Intrigues he sat in. Examples: bare wires were showing as they went into the map lights at the rear seats, the front map light fell out as he went to turn it on, and the headliner was pulled loose where it connected to the side trim panels. These are minor problems but just imagine what happens as the car get older.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    The rust protection was not used in the 80s models, that started recently with the Lumina being one of the first ones I believe way back when. Yes I know I see Celebrities rusting away so your point?
    A squeak has absolutely nothing to do with build quality. It hasnothing to do with things being bolted on correctly or whatever you call it. Get out of that 80s shell you are talking about a 1984 S-10 for crying out loud. Is squeaks are bad quality issues then I guess the following vehicles have quality issues:

    1) Fathers Nissan maxima ( squeaks when going over the bump, the glove box actually)

    2) My co worker's Civic ( squeaks when the passenger door is opened)

    3)Mitsubishi Mirage I rented while on vacation ( rattles from under the dash)

    They were good cars but they had little squeaks here and there so by your theory they are lousy quality cars.

    Besides we are talking a basic transportation car here which has proven to be a great little car even with the aging design. So the Chevy being a rust bucket comment, really stick your head out the window and look at the cars made NOW not the ones from 1984. Hey did you know that break dancing is no longer in style?
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I don't know if the 99 Cavalier can be called a rust bucket. I don't know about the models prior to that though. The sticker that was on my Cav. states, and I quote, "2 Sided galvanized steel on all body panels except roof." I know that is so because where a stone dinged the wheel arch I could see the galvanizing. I have since resealed the ding. And as far as the head gaskets go, I believe that most car makers had trouble with them in the beginning because they started using aluminum heads. The expansion of the aluminum head and the steel block takes place at different rates. I would say that by now GM would have been able to sort that out. Well, so far I'm very happy with my 2.2 liter Cavalier and have no problems what-so-ever to report.
  • matty99matty99 Posts: 7
    I appreciate all of your help, when a i get a couple hundred dollars more i plan on getting the 1997 2 dr base Cavalier 2.2L I already am making upgrade plans for the car! fist off i will get the black bumpers painted white (cars bodycolor), i also want to get the door handles and side mirrors painted white, i think that will make it look more unique, by the way i am a 17 year old yes, but i normally do not drive a car any rougher than an ordinary person, and i am so cautious when i drive, i also have some advice for teens w/driver licenses DONT DRIVE WITH OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR CAR! if you can help it, i have been driving over a year now, and when i am alone in the car i have so much more focus on what i am doing!
    anyways thanks everyone for helping me out!
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Forgot to add that the 99 Cavalier came out with a stainless steel exhaust system. That should last for many years. I don't know if previous models had it though.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    The biggest rust buckets of the 80's were Hondas lngtonge. Most older Chevy Cavaliers I see these days have less rust then comparable Civics.

    As for squeaks, I have 0 in my 99 Cavalier. The only thing that rattles is the tape when it's not in the tape player. Easily removed.

    Boy, this Cavalier forum is busy all of a sudden. Must be the higher gas prices. ;-)
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    7937, your Cavalier 2.2 has an iron block and head, so the aluminum head problem would not pertain to GM's head gasket failures on this engine. Head gasket failures are more common though with all aluminum engines from the 80s because that metal is more sensitive to temperature extremes.
    Malibu99, you obviously failed to read my entire message. I was simply stating that Chevys of the 80s had a rusting problem in response to your comment of 80s Accords having rust issues that you deemed falling apart. You acted as if Honda is the only car that had rusting problems in the 80s. I was merely showing that Chevy had just as many problems. I am fully aware that just about every car made today is very rust-proof. So why not drop the "holier-than-thou because I drive Chevy's only" attitude and make proper comparisons? Secondly, when I mention squeaks, I tend to include rattles in that classification. Rattles are signs of things not being properly bolted together (this makes since because how can something rattle if its securely bolted in place). I NEVER once said that because a Cavalier squeaks, it is a lousy quality car. It is good basic transportation. I simply stated that squeaks and rattles are signs of poorer build quality when they occur at an early age. I am talking of serious squeaks and rattles of the structure and dashboard, not petty squeaky doors that simply need some lubricant sprayed on them or a rental car that I would expect to squeak based on how poorly they are taken care of. Next time, I suggest actually reading a post before you reply with words I never spoke.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Intonge 18, I disagree, my 99 Cavalier has an aluminum head. I also have the service manual for the 95 to 00 Cavalier/Sunfire and they talk only of an aluminum head. The manual covers both the 2.2 and 2.4 liter engines. In fact, a lot of space in the service manual is devoted to the head gasket and the precautions one must take in fitting a new gasket to an aluminum head. Another point with aluminum heads is the spark plugs. Never try and remove the spark plugs when the engine is hot. You might strip the threads in the head. Let the engine cool off first. And just because an engine with an aluminum head is fitted with platinum tipped spark plugs which last 100,000 miles doesn't mean you must leave them in for that mileage. At least every 15,000 miles, remove them and, smear some anti-seize compound on the threads and screw them back. If you don't you might have the plugs freeze to the aluminum and you'll damage the head when you try to take them out. This applies to all makes of cars with aluminum heads.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    I have a web link to a page thathas some pics of a Cavalier with the bumpers and door handles painted. I'm not at my own computer today so I can give you the bookmark but I'll get it for you next week. I agree with you, if Chevy made the doorhandles in body color it would look great.
    lngtongue18- Never in my post did I imply that Hondas were the only cars with rust problems back then that brnad poped in to my head because it's the only car I can clearly remember seeing on the road with fenders hanging by a string. I lived in the Carribbean for a while and people there would tie the fenders on with wire because they rusted away. So it was the example that came to mind first. Your post did insinuate that the car was of lousy quality but since now I know what you mean and you know what I meant we can get along and move on. :-).

    Good luck Matty, enjoy the car!
  • My wife's 1999 Cavalier started giving a very musty spell when the air conditioner is run for the fist few minutes. Any ideas on what could be causing this?
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    this is nascar, I had the same problem for a while but it seems to have passed. I checked if the drain which is located between the firewall and the engine wasn't blocked. If you stand on the passenger side of the car and reach down there, it's an L shaped rubber pipe coming out of the firewall which should be pointing downwards. If it's not pointing down just turn until it is and check for blockage. Mine was ok so what I do now is turn the air-con off and the blower on high a few minutes before I stop. Seems to work.
  • Matty, please listen to my warning before buying that Cavalier.
    Nearly three years ago, I celebrated my 16th birthday and used my life savings (at the time) to buy my first car, a brand new 1998 cavalier. That may very well have been the worst decision I ever made.
    Within the car's first 4,000 miles, it contracted a very annoying and rather dangerous stalling problem, and just to clarify it's an automatic. Though GM claimed to have fixed the problem, it continued on and off for the next two years. Finally, the whole thing culminated when I was driving home from my college orientation last June. The car not only stalled but died on me in Columbus, OH (about an hour and half drive from my house in Dayton). After having to drive home in a rental car, yet again, and then having to drive an hour and a half back, I was informed the car's entire computer was replaced, in addition to a plethora of other things.
    The stalling problem was not, however, an isolated thing. Other repairs included the muffler, the gaskets, the seatbelts, two recalls, and the radio (twice). I don't believe I'm leaving anything out, but it's difficult to keep track of them all.
    While my Cavalier was a particularly bad one (I can't imagine you'd have that kind of trouble), it's indicative of the type of car the Cavalier is. Every friend I have who owns the 1995- redesigned Cavalier has had some sort of serious problem with their car. The car, for the most part, just isn't reliable. Granted, the car is cute, it lacks substance and build quality. And it doesn't drive badly, but other cars in its class drive much better. If you want to stick with Chevy, check out the Prism, it's not as cute, but a much better driving and more reliable car.
    As for my Cavalier, I traded it in after the last incident, I had had enough and GM was unwilling to even acknowledge the problems. So towards the end of June, I traded in the Cavalier and bought a 2000 Mazda Protege. I couldn't be happier. The car drives very very well and has a nice solid feel to it, as well. I couldn't believe the difference between it and my Cavalier.
    Take it from someone who was your age not too long ago, spend your last few years in high school having fun, not in the repair shop.

    -Matt
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    I think you are more the exception than the norm. Like I've said before, Cavalier has average reliability and is generally a good car. It's too bad you had a lemon. My neighbor has a 99 Accord and he will tell you over and over how bad Accords are. He got a lemon, cause the Accord is a good car. Just bad luck.
  • sassy10sassy10 Posts: 1
    In 1998, I had a base model Toyota Tercel that was totaled in an accident. It was reliable but had no "extra" features so I used the insurance money to buy a 1998 Cavalier Coupe. BIG MISTAKE!!! The car now has all of 27,000 miles on it and it has been to the dealer 3 times in the last 3 months for repairs! The first time, there was a defect in the gas tank so my dash reported over 1/4 a tank of gas but the tank was actually empty. Then at 20,000 miles, the radiator hose sprung a leak, and today, my alternator died! Minor repairs you might say, but lots of aggravation and haggling with GM who did not want to pay for a rental car unless the car actually died and was towed to a dealership. I found this sight today because I am looking at unloading my American lemon and buying Japanese again!
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    I agree the alternator should not have gone, but the other two things are pretty minor problems. My neighbor's 99 Accord lost the transmission after 4000 kms. It was in the shop for 2 weeks. Sounds like you have a poor dealership also as most will give you a loaner. If you can, try getting it serviced at a different dealer.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    yea, yea here comes this song again. Hope your new "japanese" car proves to be a good choice because I have heard just as many complaints about the japanese cars, yea yea.
    MAtty, regardless of what people say buy what YOU like, what YOU feel is a good choice. Then again you can go ahead and follow the whiners who complain but keep in mind that the Cavalier is a great car, sells like hotcakes even in it's old age, and most buyers buy another one when they are done with theirs. Either way do what YOU want not what the lemmings do. Good Luck! :-)
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    There are a lot of repeat buyers to the Cavalier. I cannot argue with that statement. But, it would be an all-around better car if Chevrolet would improve the workmanship of the vehicle. Also, the Cavalier sells in large numbers because of all the ones sold in fleet sales. Rental car companies buy them. I also know that BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric) and Baltimore City use them for company cars too. That's why they sell so many.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Taking away those sales it still sells a hell of a lot. The redesign on the Cavalier is coming in 2 years so hopefully it will improve a lot. The sales figures from autosite.com do not include fleet sales so really that argument doesn't hold, it's just an excuse that import buyers come out with to justify their purchase. But yes I agree the workmanship of the car can improve and I'm sure it will with the re design however Chevy does not pride itself on small cars, it makes excellent full size and midsize cars and trucks. With the average income in the US growing and the economy booming who needs a small car.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    A twenty-something single person with no kids who doesn't want a big behemoth SUV that gets 8 mpg and takes 3 football fields to park. At this time in my life, I see no use for a larger car. I want something better when I get older (I am 22 now), but have no kids and no one to carry around except friends. So why waste money on a larger car for nothing?
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    With spiraling gas prices and no need for anything other than a way to get to work and back, I wanted nothing but a small reliable second car. Why waste money on something bigger?
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