This car was owned by my parents before I had it, and I have been living with them so I know what's been fixed and what hasn't.
The air conditioner failed around 190,000 miles and the evaporator had been leaking for some time before that, repair cost was under $500.
The heater core failed at the same time as the evaporator probably due to the excess moisture on it since it is right next to the evaporator. $200 repair.
The belt tensioner for the serpentine-style drive belt failed a number of times before the 100,000 mile mark. It has not failed since the last replacement (winter 1999 about 100,000 miles). The first repair was about $400 and subsequent repairs were covered under warranty.
The original Michelin tires lasted forever so my parents bought another set of Michelin tires and then another, and now the car has cheap tires on it which are much noisier.
The transmission has finally developed some issues and if the car is driven hard it will slip between gears, in normal driving this never occurs. I expect many more miles out of this transmission with the way I drive.
The muffler was replaced at about 160,000 miles not because it failed, but because the outer casing was eaten by rust.
The brakes were a problem in the 100-160,000 mile range because of a stuck caliper. Once the failed caliper was replaced, the front brake pads have only been changed once since then, and have plenty of life left. The rear brakes have only been replaced one time since the car was new.
Many of these 1990's GM products have a cup holder mounted in the armrest that breaks off easily because it is made of thin plastic. It *just* broke. I'm looking for a replacement.
If you're into speed, don't buy a 4-cylinder Century. The car drives fine to me, in fact of the 46 cars I've owned in the last ten years, it's probably the nicest, even though it has an abnormally high mileage.
The car drives very smoothly and does not exhibit typical GM car problems like slow power steering or rough running.
The 2.2L engine is the same engine used in the Chevy Cavalier, Chevy S-10 pickup, and Olds Cutlass Ciera.
With over 200,000 miles, car still gets mid-20s in town and I averaged 32.4 mpg on a recent trip from Ohio to Texas.
The body is in terrific shape, but that is from being kept in the garage and from being washed weekly or more often. The car has rarely been waxed and still shines as new. A small amount of rust has formed on the lower edge of the trunk lid below the spot where a dealer emblem was screwed on.
The front seats have power recliners and manual fore/aft adjustments. As mentioned before, the cup holder in the armrest just broke, and I wish I could get a heavier-duty one.
The trunk has exposed metal surfaces everywhere and they scratch easily. My Dad used more of his touch-up paint on the inside of the trunk than anywhere else on the car.
My Dad bought a new 2003 Century to replace this one. This car was purchased by them new to replace a 1986 Chevy Celebrity. Their other car during these years is a 1992 Buick Century, identical to this one except for the hubcaps, lack of power windows, and the engine in the 1992 is the 2.5L version. My sister has been driving the 1992, and just sold it to buy a new Taurus.