More ride for the dollar than any car I have owned, by far!
The cruise control failed around 90000 miles.
Replaced radiator and heater core to combat poor cooling problem at 125000 miles.
The water pump went out at 155000 miles.
Brakes dissolve like sugar in water. Even the carbon metal type.
Engine rear main seal is now leaking at 170000 miles.
Front end components (ball joints and tie rod ends) need replacing at 170000 miles.
I bought this car from a local dealership, which had acquired it from an elderly woman whose husband had just passed away. The recently deceased must have had young blood in him, as the car was very fun to drive. The car had the original documentation, including window sticker in the glove box. The car was equipped with the police package, but had never been used as a police car. It was in fantastic shape.
I immediately lusted to have this car. I didn't even haggle with the dealer. It had 75000 miles and an $8000 price tag. I dropped the cash and said goodbye. I have never had to take it back to a dealer in the 95000 miles since. I knew what I had, they didn't.
There have been a few mechanical problems with the car since I bought it. However, considering how much punishment I deliver to my vehicles, the caprice has the fewest problems of any car I have owned. I've burned up engines in my 3/4 ton pickup, my 73 Mustang, blown motors in my Dodge Monaco and Chevy Cavalier, and utterly evaporated a couple transmissions in my Ford Escort. I have pounded mercilessly on my Caprice and it absolutely will not submit to the pain.
I'm not sure what this car is made of, but it is good stuff.
For me, all the problems really seem to be pretty minor. For example:
This car uses up some serious brake material. It's heavy. That happens. Fortunately, these brakes are a snap to work on. I like using the extra wide carbon metal pads. Ceramics last a bit longer, but I don't like the feel. The extra wides like to get your speed down without bringing in the anti-lock braking system all the time. The anti-lock braking system likes to kick in on wet or sandy pavement very often. The car is just heavy. The bearings are also easy to replace. I can do an entire brake/bearing job in one afternoon, with no extra-special tools, for about $100. Try that at your local shop.
I also had to replace the water pump after a camping trip to Montana. The water pump is ultra easy to replace. The fan is removed and 4 bolts come out. The pump falls away. You slap on a new one and go. Total repair time was 20 minutes (and I'm no mechanic). At 150000 miles, I still used this car to tow a camper up and down the massive Rocky mountain passages in Montana and Wyoming. It pulled like a champ, though I did spend a lot of time out of top gear, causing mileage to dip down to about 14-15 MPG.
Despite the high mileage, the car will still do mythological burnouts. It probably has to do with the relatively small traction area versus the massive weight of the car, but the effect is pretty fun.
I have topped the car out at 130 MPH and it still had pedal travel, although the car would no longer stay in top gear. It was still below orange line. That's pretty cool.
I will be replacing the engine in the near future as I seem to have blown the rear main oil gasket, and the cost of that repair isn't that much less that I would justify doing it and waiting another year to spend the money on the engine replacement anyway. I would love to do the work myself, but I think that project might be too much for a non-mechanic. It's where my heart is as far as the car is concerned.
Generally, I use only 87 octane, no additives unless it is time to tend the fuel injection system. I have used Shell Rotella T synthetic, every 6000 miles, since I got the car and I have had good results. It turns over nicely in all temperatures (midwest). I have never replaced the starter or alternator, which is good since it has a seemingly rare 140 amp power substation for an alternator. I'ts expensive, since I have to go to GM for it. Belt replacement is cheap and easy, so I do that every 24,000 miles. Oil changes can be done without lifting the vehicle at all, so I do my own. Lube points are easy to reach. It's a really good car to maintain.
Front engine, rear drive V8 cars are almost history. Embrace yours.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th December, 2003