Alternator replaced 6 times. First one was in 1999, 2nd was in 2001. Had to replace 4 alternators in a week and found bad wiring to the alternator that caused them to go bad the next day or two. Replaced the wiring and replaced the alternator again for the last time.
Blown head gasket at 163,162 and cost $657.75. Again at 249,463 and would cost around $700 - that was the last time the car ran since we felt that it wasn't worth it to fix it since the transmission was STILL original with no problem, pretty much everything inside the hood was still original except alternator, battery, head gasket, fuel injector.
Fuel injector went bad at 167,000 shortly after the head gasket was fixed. That caused smelly gas in the air when you're around the car or inside the car. I can even smell it inside my apt from outside. It was awful.
Fuel pump went bad at 243,000.
The car was loaded with power features:
Driver's side window would stop about 4 inches for a while (for like a few minutes) then roll up another 4 inches, wait for a while, roll up another 4 inches. Rear driver's window, don't touch it or it'll be stuck. Passenger rear window shakes when going down and going up very slow. Passenger front window works when it wants to.
There was no lock/unlock for power windows in the main switch. On both doors in the rear, the power window switches do not work, have to open and close from the main switch.
When I want to lock or unlock the rear doors, I have to press the unlock switch in the front several times to be sure that the rear doors would unlock or lock.
4 doors Cavaliers don't come with bumper leveled trunk.
Hard to replace the rear light bulbs.
Radiator, struts, heater core, were in need of replacing, but since the 2nd head gasket blew up, so we never got those parts replaced.
Driver's side door handle came loose, but still operable.
Center horn pad comes off occasionally.
Quite uncomfortable front seats and rear seats. Cheap feeling.
Cup holders in the dash in front of passenger side and in hot weather when it's in direct contact with sun, it gets warm quickly and if the humidity is high, the water would drip straight to my legs!
Water leaks from somewhere behind the glove box.
No RPM on all RS models. Only on selected RS models with additional cost.
No 40/60 folding rear seats.
Cheap hubcaps - silver paint started to peel.
Emergency brake set at high level and feels loose.
No trip odometer.
No open/close ventilation.
Very dependable cheap transportation. Well, maybe not cheap, but "affordable" transportation.
Original transmission and starter. It never had one single problem with it. Oh yeah, replaced the transmission pan gasket when it first develop slow leaking.
Bright dome light with map lights.
Strong headlights and turn signal lights.
Accelerates pretty good.
Transmission responds quickly.
Excellent air and heat.
Excellent braking system with ABS.
This was actually my mother's car. She bought this Cavalier after my sister broke her 1990 Geo Prizm. Some people said the mileage was too high, but my mom got it anyway and sure enough it ran until almost 250,000 and it was a shock for lots of people especially it's a Cavalier with almost all original parts. My mom never take good care of it. She abuse her Cavalier just as bad as I abuse my Civic. She drive fast all the times. Change oil now and then - but not every 3,000 times unless I am around, I would chew her to do it. Had tune up once. And surprisingly the car survived until it gave up on a very cold morning (-10 degree Fahrenheit) in February, 2003.
The alternator is very, very easy to replace. I'm no mechanical, but it's very easy to replace and that was the only thing I would touch under the hood.
She then got a 1997 Toyota Corolla, but she still missed her Cavalier. She lost her job due to some health reason so I found another Cavalier on ebay for $575. Not as fancy as her old one, but still a Cavalier with 78,000 miles, super clean, and I drove it for 22 hours after meeting the car for 5 minutes and I just hop it in, drive off with no problem! Oh yeah, a steel line in the brake system broke, got that replaced. My mother loves her Cavalier.
I am not fond of Cavaliers, but if I am poor enough, I would get a Cavalier.