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Chevy Cavalier a reliable car?

1235412354 Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
Thinking of buying a 1997 Chevy Cavalier. Is this make/model a good reliable car? Has anyone had any especially positive or negative experiences with one?


  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    and manual transmission. Personally I think its a reliable car. He has had two problems an AC electrical problem and an other electrical problem. A 5 year old car is most likely no jem anymore and you will need to start putting $$$ into it.
  • wonderwallwonderwall Posts: 126
    i've known several people with cavaliers of that vintage and they were headaches. the head gasket is a big problem and that is $$$. you'd be better off to find a similar vintage Mazda Protege or Toyota Corolla or something like that. japanese compacts tend to hold up infinitely better than domestics.
  • hoyahenryhoyahenry Posts: 399
    Very reliable. Our 92 Cavalier with the same engine went 10 years and 125K miles before going to charity. It got a new clutch at 77K, quite normal I think, and a new alternator at 90k. I've read the 96 has some issues.

    Our 97 has 42K miles and is running quite well. I just replaced the valve cover gasket ($9). It needs its 5 year service now, though. That's basically plugs and coolant. I'll do the o2 sensor and fuel filter, too. The rear end has developed a rattle that I've now attributed to the struts. I am going to look at replacing those. It also needs new front rotors; conventional wisdom is that the brakes are under-sized and prone to warping. Your mileage may vary.

    The BF G tires are good. The 2.2 engine droans on, but goes. The oil filter is a pain to get at and replace.

    Otherwise, it's simple, starts every morning, get out and go, cheap to maintain transportation.
  • graphicguygraphicguy Edmunds Poster EmeritusPosts: 12,489
    I know of two people that have '97 cavs, both automatics. They both bought them for their teens.

    In general, they have loud engines, don't ride very well and have decent handling and brakes. GM automatics are world renowned.

    From what the folks told me, the only thing they've done to them is put gas in and change the oil. I think one of them has over 100,000 mi. They changed out the tires at 70,000 mi.

    Seem to be very reliable, if not very exciting, "low tech" (probably a good thing as less can go wrong) cars.
    2019 Kia Stinger GT2
  • tomkisttomkist Posts: 6
    My 97 manual coupe has performed pretty well for me over 65k miles. A few rattles inside, and now the clutch for the A/C rattles too. Tires are ready to be changed but I've not had to repair anything else.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Just an FYI if you replace the rear struts and you still have a clunking sound, it's 99% of the time from the front strut mounting plates. I have a friend that insisted the rear struts were shot, so I replaced them, she drove it for about 4 hours and brought it back saying it rides better, but the clunk is still there. I then took out the front struts, to see if it was the mounting plates, and he fact that the struts had 98,000 miles on them meant they could use replacements any ways. Upon removal the mount actually fell apart in my hands. I replaced the struts and both mounting plates and sent her on her way to the alignment shop, now with almost 20,000 miles on the new struts and mounts no clunking noises anymore. The guys at the alignment shop said that strut mount failure on the Cavs and Sunfires are fairly common at between 75k and 100k miles, they recommend replacing them if the car has over 70k on I when you replace the struts.
    The only real thing to worry about is the oil change, a lot of places only change the oil and not the filter on these cars because of the position on the filter and how difficult it is to get at it. From the bottom where the guys actually change the oil the exhaust pipe is right there where the filter has to come out of, and most of the time the car is really hot so they don't bother with it. So keep your eye on those places, and in general if you don't smell oil burning after an oil change they didn't change the filter. I can get the filter out from under the car or if I remove the passenger side front tire. Others on the boards here say they can get the filter out from on top.

    I would recommend a Cavalier as a good get around town dependable car, with a little TLC the car should last for a good long time. My friend has over 140k on hers and not one problem other than the strut mounts.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    if it doesn't stink when they're done they didn't touch the filter. Oil will burn off the pipe in a day or two.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    No problems with my 99 4sp auto 2.2L Cavalier. Everything works fine and it starts and runs every morning. Just oil and filter changes which I do myself. I can get the filter out from the top. Seems as if the intake manifold on the 99 model allows it to be done easier.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    They must have re routed or reduced the amount of stuff blocking the path on my friends '97, I just did the oil change on it last week, and it was not coming out from the top no matter what I did. Maybe if I stuck my hand under the intake from the drivers side... I ended up removing it from the wheel well,but it's a pain to have to take the tire off to get at the filter, but it's already in the air so it's not that bad I guess. It beats getting dribbled on when I took it out from under the car!
  • arkainzeyearkainzeye pittsburgh paPosts: 473
    look at what consumer reports gave it.. as far as reliability it got the Worst rating.
This discussion has been closed.