I've had this car for five months and needed to replace the head gasket and coolant system. The car has run warmer than it should since I got it, and just recently finally decided to overheat. This car is only at 51,000 miles. Keep searching for other cars!
I purchased the car used in 2010 with 104K miles for $1300. It was in great shape, no mechanical issues. I kept really good care of the car. Interior Issues: Dash is made of cheap plastic. It started cracking and falling apart. right now its barely hanging on. i'm thinking of just taking it off and buying one of those carpet covers that they sell to cover it. Its very ugly and embarrassing to have friends see it. Mechanical Issues: none, thats why i put up with the crappy interior. The car is sluggish, it won't burn rubber so don't try. Not for those who have the need for speed. I drive slow so i don't care about that stuff. I do not recommend this car.
Bought this car as my first car, with 130,000 miles on it. Drove it until 150,000. Didn't put a penny into the car other than: gas- obviously, oil changes, and a new set of tires. For being 16-19, the fact no money needed to spent on car repairs was very nice. The fact I got 30 miles to the gallon easily was nice too. I had friends who had the exact same year as mine with well over 200,000. I would be driving this car still, except a driver pulled out in front of me, and sadly totaled my Cavy. 5000 dollars in damage was too much for the insurance company. This car started up every time, warmed up quickly, and never left me stranded. For a 2200 engine, it had plenty of pep.
I have owned my LS sedan for going on 5 years now and it's been a pleasure to own and very fun to drive! I replaced the stock air filter with a K&N system, upgraded the stock exhaust to a racing exhaust, and use synthetic oil and the 140hp engine (about 150hp+ with the mods) and I have the 4-speed automatic with overdrive and the car literally can outrun most 4-cylinders and even some V-6's Not only is it quick, but I like the exterior and interior styling and the car has been exceptionally reliable. I've got over 135,000 miles on it and have only needed basic repairs like a water pump, radiator hoses, thermostat, and rear tail light socket replaced.
Got this car with around 30k miles on. Everything has been fine with the car up until about 165k miles where some interior and exterior cosmetic issues began to happen. The paint on the hood, roof, and front bumper began to either fall off or fade. Not sure if this is due to sun damage, bird poop, or factory quality but I have seen many other Cavaliers with the same issue. Also, the dashboard piece near the window has cracked horribly and the faux leather cover around the stick shift has ripped. Although these things come with age, the dash should not crack like it did. Overall good features are that the car is amazingly comfy, fun to drive, and offers good mileage. The downsides are the cosmetic issues, horrible placement of temperature and directional AC knobs, and headlights.