My 1996 Cavalier has been a very reliable car, besides that it is a poorly made car. This car is a basic ecnomy car, it will never be anything but an ecnomy car not even the z24 will be more. The horsepower to weight ratio is pretty bad(130HP to 2617lbs) , the Torque (120 ft-lbs) is also pretty bad. The interior of the car is very cheaply made, from the seats to the steering wheel down to the side door panels which always seemed to be crack on every Cavalier. If anyone is thinking of upgrading a Cavalier i would highly disapprove, go out and get a sports car and don't make the same mistake that i did.
I, like so many other Cavalier owners, have had too many problems with the car to find it enjoyable. To start with: the muffler rattles, the a/c only works on high, the glove box has traped my cd's inside of it, the driver's side mirror refuses to stay upright, it will not start if there is less than 1/4 tank of gas, the thing just eats oil like there is no tomorrow, and sometimes the car will turn off as I am backing up.
This was my first car that I actually owned, a 5-speed Z24. What a great fun little car. I got it with over 130k kms, and am now over 170k after a little over a year. The jump for a car in this class is great, much more $ is usually needed to get anything worthwhile the torque department. Very few minor repairs, and regular maintenance keep things going smoothly. I've also drive a 1990 Corsica with over 500,000kms on it driving in northern Ontario for 9+ years and it still runs fine...whats that about North American cars again? I've got nothing bad to say about it.
I special ordered this car and have been the only owner for seven years and 61000 miles of trouble free ownership. Had it for five years before I had to do anything to it other than oil changes because the battery started leaking.It is almost 8 years old now and the only major repair has been to replace the water pump for a heafty 800 dollar bill last year.It still has the origional rear brakes and all 4 struts.I got 50000 miles out of the origional tires. No rattles,leaks or anything that does not work. Overall a great car!
I bought this car with 68,000 miles on it, and it was in OK condition. 4 years later I'm at 92,000 miles and I can't wait to get rid of it. I have massive oil leaks from several spots on the engine, my radiator hoses blew a few months ago and I too have headlight issues due to faulty wiring. Road/wind noise is unbearable, more so then the constant chatter of the plastic interior and rattling of the suspension. On cold and rainy days the engine tends to flood itself. ALL the seals leak in this car leading the interior and trunk to get wet. The entire electrical system in this car is horrible. Apart from the headlight problems, the electrical system tends to give out at high speeds.