Bought the car off craigslist through a private party without even hearing it run. It had 45,000 miles on it. I rented a car trailer from uhaul and drove 2 hrs to pick the car up. It is a (Competition Yellow) 2003 Limited Edition SS w/ the High Sport appearance package, fully loaded. The car now has 138,000 miles on it and it runs like a champ. I haven't had to put any $$ into it besides regular maintenance and it gets excellent gas mileage for its size. It's big enough to fit 5 comfortably and the trunk is HUGE! The Monte Carlo is definitely sexy and demands attention on the roads, but it's not a "race" car... unless you want to spend the extra $$ for the modifications.
My car is a burgundy(berry red) 2003 3.8L Monte Carlo SS. First of all, I would like to say when I bought the car with sunroof, power everything, roomy with 39,000 mileage, I loved it. It had a comfortable ride and it looked awesome. That said, there are many irritating small things about this vehicle and the bigger ones you will run into at around 130,00 miles. First of all it does not play MP3's or have an auxiliary input jack, something that has been around since the 90's. Before you suggest changing the manufacturers radio, please consider that the radio controls many functions of the car: including resetting the tire pressure alarm, oil change alarm, fog lamps, car theft alarm, the chimes of the car, and the onstar system, among other things. Another minor irritation of this vehicle is that is looses engine oil every 2 months. So every 2 months your "Low Engine Oil" light will come on. The dealer mechanic explained that a memo sent from corporate, described this as normal. Later in 2016 I got a recall letter stating the lose of oil can cause a fire with the catalytic converter. I never had this problem with my Ford Mustang. Finally, this vehicle uses Dex-Cool coolant(orange coolant), which according to the manufacturer only needs to be changed every 5 yrs or 150,00 miles. This is primarily due to the high acid content in the coolant, as compared to the 2yr green coolant used in Fords. After about 130,000 miles the Dex-Cool will have eaten many of the engine gaskets, as well as some of the engine parts. The coolant will produce sludge inside the engine if the gaskets break, that will require a flushing of the coolant system and engine. Also, since GM in all there genius, decided to build the car with a plastic intake manifold, which will crack and warp over time, which again may cause motor oil and coolant to combine inside your engine. This is fatal for any vehicle, if not immediately corrected. GM is currently facing lawsuits regarding Dex-Cool. Other problems with this vehicle include a lack of a WEATHER COWL (A plastic trim under the wipers that guide rain water away from ac blower) on the front passenger side of the vehicle. Over time or if someone replaces the cabin filter, a weak rubber trim may slides off, not allowing rainwater to divert away from the inside of the car after hitting the windshield. Without this trim, every time it rains, the inside of the car will start to fill with water. To prevent this a $20 piece of plastic must be installed under the wipers, that which a GM dealer will charge you $80 for. Finally, the interior of the car does not stand up to the test of time, predominately all the control knobs will have writing fade away. Other more significant issues include ABS traction control never worked right, even after replacing both wheel hubs and ABS hardness. Power streering pumped leaked do to poor engineering when I first bought the car, I am now on my 5th Power Steering pump. Coolant Elbow Fittings are a few of the first failures this car will have. Again the geniuses made them plastic so the wouldn't last long against the hot block engine. I will never buy another GM vehicle since they seem designed to be trade ins, after 5yrs.
I bought my SS with 83,000. It has been a very reliable car. I now have 176,000 on my car. It still runs and rides smooth. I've replaced the thermostat, a/c condenser and resonator during that time. The condenser was the result of a stone or debri, which I was told was typical. I like the car, the interior has held up well, and the exterior is even better considering the miles. I average 23-24 mpg combined, 27 mpg on a trip.
I am obsessed with my '03 Monte Carlo SS. I bought it only a few months ago with 126,000 miles on it, and it's already my favorite car I've ever owned. I bought it from a new/used Chevy dealer, so there were no problems with the car at all. The interior and exterior were both in perfect condition. No mechanical problems at all. It drives smooth and it's fast!!! It's a very easy car to handle, and I love love love the style! I haven't had it for long enough to say it's reliable and things don't go bad on the car, but from what I see now, the car has been taken very good care off. I don't see myself having any problems with it down the road!
Really like the style of the car, though not very happy in the way it handles, sloppy but sort of controlled has the feeling of being very nose heavy up front in cornering manovers presently having steering shaft issues the dealer lubed and greased the steering shaft seems to be much better - great gas mileage and a real head tuner on the road.