I have had to do a lot of repairs on my Cavvy, but I do like the engine and transmission used in these cars. The few common flaws they do have are usually easily fixed..
Just to clarify, all the parts I've had to replace were either far beyond due a replacement, or were not properly maintained by the previous owners.
Since I've owned it, I've taken very good care of it, and through personal experience, I discovered these quirks about the vehicle..
Biggest one: The torque converter lockup clutch tends to go faulty, making the car jerk and buck like it's misfiring when you're cruising with a steady foot down the road. The fix is to unplug the light blue plug on the top of the tranny's bell housing, reachable from the front of the car. You'll get worse gas mileage, but the jerking will stop.
Next: ABS light is often on because the tire speed sensor in one or more tires is faulty, or the wiring to the sensors is shorted... to replace the sensor, you must replace the entire hub assembly.. If your dash lights or other lights tend to flicker when you press the brake pedal, there's a good chance you have a short somewhere in your brake wiring..
Then: tippity tapping noises like crazy! Solutions; Use only recommended 5w30 conventional motor oil in the engine, and stick with what the car likes. If the tapping is coming from the left/pulley end of the engine, it's time to replace your timing components.. I suggest replacing all possible components (about $50-100 for parts), because if you just replace the tensioner or chain, a small unrecognizable flaw in the sprockets could quickly cause new parts to wear down.
Overheating: First thing to check is to get all the air out of the system... GM built a special bolt in the cooling system to purge the air... if you don't, the air bubble will settle against the thermostat, and since the air doesn't transfer the heat to the thermostat as well as coolant, the thermo opens late, allowing the engine to overheat..
Beyond that, it's a regular cooling system.. flush it, refill it, purge the air, check for leaks or bad hoses... if it's none of those things, you've probably got a clog.
Bottom line: The 96 Cavvy has a simple, straightforward design that is very reliable if maintained, but destroyed quickly if not tended to.