They are all pretty reliable, its a 20 year old design.
both the 2.2 and the 2.4 motor are solid, 2.4's seem to have more problems,
but I think thats because the people who owned the Z24's mistook their car
as a sports car and beat the motor.
In a way though, GM promoting the "Z24" designation and corresponding
emplambs kind of is like them implying it is a sporty car.
In short I agree with your sentimets, but it's like GM feeds into some
peoples false perceptions. Marketing caries a lot of weight it seems
these days. Fortunately, most people know the difference between a
Z28 and a Z24.
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| Which years should one avoid?
| Thanks in advance
| Denny B
I've know several people that own or have owned Cavaliers and were/are happy
with them. I had then as company cars back in the 80's and the ones I had
(Wagon models) were very reliable...no problems.
Mind you, they are still a budget vehicle. I recently saw
a mint condition 1997 Buick Century Custom with every option on
it but leather for $4500 - and that was the dealer's asking
The smart money would be on one of the midsize cars a model
up. Bit better engine, bit tighter tolerances. Nicer interior
and exterior. Heavier door panels and maybe things like leather
or a good sound system.
Just remember these little cars are basic to & from car's. Its no
Cadillac. You get what you pay for. My 89 Cavalier Z-24 I bought used
with very low miles, but loved having repairs done to itself in the
1991 Pontiac Bonneville LE, 3800 V6
_~_~_~_~275,982 miles_~_~_ ~_~_
New Cavaliers and Sunfires are going here for less than any other new car
including the korean imports and the tiny new Echo clones (Sprint, Aveo). I
can only assume this is because they are unpopular cars right now. Maybe it
has something to do with the car magazine reviews which condemn them as
"unpleasant" and "outdated". I've been in a Cavalier and it didn't feel all
that horrible. I really wonder what the reviewers meant, or maybe they are
just comparing them to luxury cars? I don't know. Anyway, that is not
important and shouldn't be for someone who simply wants a point a to be car.
I was wondering if getting a new car, even a poorly reviewed one, and
breaking it in carefully myself, giving it frequent oil changes and all the
proper maintenance, would ensure a longer lasting car than buying a used
higher end car such as a Buick, for the same price. The used car may or may
not have treated or maintained properly - and could break down sooner, yet I
know with a better engine and better safety ratings it might actually be the
Nope. Take a Dodge Neon. It's made with the same philosophy. Cheap
and functional transportation. The engineers who designed it actually
would be told by management to redesign parts as they were lasting longer
than the warranty - to save costs. Now, GM isn't quite that bad, but
they aren't close to the quality that goes into a good Grand Prix or Regal,
let alone have the quality of ride and fit/finish. Heavier construction on
every single part - from the doors to the alternator to the radiator all
the way down to the quality of the switches on the power windows.
My Buick LeSabre is finally dying at 17 years old. I had a Neon while
it was in the shop for three months(trans and other work done at cost
at the local college auto shop) and it was 7 years old and just in as
bad shape. I put $1100 into the Buick as that would keep it on the road
for another two years and sold the Neon for what I paid.
Advantage? Bigger, safer, nicer ride.
The smart money is on a used Buick Century or simmilar. Good cars
with zero resale appeal due to their stodgy old-man image. If you
treat one of these well, they will last a decade or more easily.
Don't forget the goodies like a sunroof, ABS, traction control,
leather, power everything, and the like that a Cavalier doesn't
usually come with.
I recently saw a 1997 Century in mint condition with everything on
it but leather for $4500 on the dealer's lot(trade-in). They had 2-3
year old Regals and Centurys and the like for ~10K. You can get a
superb car for $10K used if you shop around.
If reliability is a concern, get one that is 3-5 years old and
coming off a first lease. They can extend the factory warranty
out to 8-10 years if you want. While this is expensive, a used
Regal with a 5 year warranty for what a base Cavalier is new isn't
such a bad deal.
I have recently bought a 2001 Century for $8000. It has 15k on it The lady
had to sell it for a loss. She had to put her father in a nursling home.
She had to buy the lease out for $9600. He lawyer told her to sell the car
under $9000 so the nursling home doesn't find out. Its the car greatest I
ever had. I was mostly a Chevy person. No wonder I see a lot of older folks
driving Buicks. They certainly know a good thing. I being under 50 probably
the youngest in the area driving a Buick.
Doesn't anyone realize that a Buick and Chevy are
identical, other then trims items, body parts...etc?
There is nothing "better" about a Buick Century, when
comparing it to the Grand Prix, Intrigue, or Lumina.
It's all the same basic shit, just different piles. In fact,
the Buick in that year only comes with the 3.1 which
is probably the worst of the GM v-6's. Still a good
little motor, but the worst of a bad lot.
The 3000 series engines are great other than the crummy
timing gear. That's a simple change, though - maybe $400
for all metal and bearing parts and then a chain every 100K
They are pretty much the same, but honestly, the advantage
is that the Buick depreciates faster due to the image. Yet
it has better amenities and is more luxurious in the base
trim. You pay the same as a Grand Prix, or Lumina, but
because of the depreciation, you can get the top trim model
Buick for the same price - a win-win situation if you plan
to keep the car as a driver until it dies.
What engine are you referring to? There hasn't
been a "3000" engine for quite a while. Perhaps
you are lumping the 3800/3300 engines into one
The late model 3800's don't use the plastic
timing gears anymore.
Yes. :) 3100/3400/3800. The 3400 is neat - it appears to be
a slick engine - basically simmilar to Toyota's 3.8 but a
bit smaller displacement and more efficient.
GM may make less than optimal cars as far as ergonomics and
handling go, but their engines are very very good.
Nice to know. When did they change? Also - I noticed they
are making a 3800 III engine now - when did they change over?
My timing gear ate itself and the engine survived with one slightly
tweaked lifter(cam button went south at the same time - cam was
flopping around a bit much) - barely noticeable noise. Not bad
considering a broken timing belt on my old Volvo would mean a
new top end.
I was looking at the latest version of the "lowly" 3100 engine
and darn if it doesn't put out 10HP less HP and about 5ft-lbs
less torque than my 3800 series I engine at the same RPMS.
(rated almost exactly the same on paper, but 5200rpm isn't as
good as 3800rpm, IMO) But - the graphs are shockingly close.
Less weight, bit quicker to rev up, and much better gas mileage.
Definately not junk as that one previous person suggested.
That you can get 30pmg highway out of a 3.1L engine and 3342lbs
dry weight(figure 3600 with fuel and fluids and a driver) is
well - it's about the most fuel efficient midsize car out there.
My Volvo 240 gets about 30mpg with stickshift and a LOT less
weight and a much smaller engine.
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