2003 Chevrolet Cavalier LS 2.2L Ecotec from North America


Reliable like a Toyota or Honda


I have owned a 1997 and a 2003 Cavalier, so I know this car extremely well. Nothing has gone wrong on my 2003 Chevy Cavalier that I currently own. I bought this car used with 35,000 miles on it from a dealer, and this car currently has 147,000 miles on it. I baby this car with oil changes at Jiffy Lube every 3,000 miles, and any basic maintenance it needs. That is all the 2003 Cavalier has ever needed was basic maintenance. This car runs like new still, and the engine sounds like new when it is running.

I also owned a 1997 Cavalier with a manual transmission that I bought with 150,000 miles on it. I drove the 1997 Cavalier until it had 225,000 miles on it. The 1997 Cavalier needed the water pump replaced at 175,000 miles. The key switch went out at 225,000 miles and I replaced that. I sold the car still running and everything working (A/C was ice cold, stock CD player worked and cruise control worked) in it with 225,000 miles on it. The 1997 ran great, but did sound slightly rough when you listened to the engine idle outside of the car for the last 30,000 miles I drove it. The 1997 Cavalier received the same 3,000 mile oil changes and basic maintenance that I currently do to the 2003 Cavalier that I currently own.

General Comments:

Since I have owned a 1997 and a 2003 Cavalier, I do know this car model very well. I have read a Consumer Reports review of this car that stated the interior components rattled. This is true on both Cavaliers I have owned, the interior components do rattle and make noise. Both Cavaliers I owned had the stock CD factory sound system, which sounds good, and I would just turn the sound system up to drown out any annoying rattling noises inside of the car. Both Cavaliers I owned had the factory cruise control and A/C in them, which are must have features in any Cavalier you are considering buying.

I have owned two Cavaliers, and I know this car model is far better than the Consumer Reports rating it has received. The Cavalier is very reliable as long as it is not abused and receives the basic maintenance the car requires. Chevy built a great cheap car with the Cavalier. The seats are comfortable, The CD sound system sounds good (not aftermarket fantastic, but you can upgrade), the front ends in both Cavaliers I had stay in alignment and are rock solid. I never needed to align the front end on the 1997 Cavalier or the 2003 Cavalier. Both cars stayed in perfect alignment and did not wear tires at all. Both cars got 30 miles per gallon the whole time I owned them, and my 2003 is still getting slightly over 30 miles per gallon with 147,000 miles on it.

All in all, the Cavalier is a fantastic cheap car for the prices you can buy them used at. This car was extremely popular, Chevy sold these like crazy and they are easy to find used. This car was made to go 200,000 miles plus without much problem if you get one with the manual transmission. My 2003 has the automatic transmission in it, due to I could only find Cavaliers for sale with automatics in them around the time that I bought that car. The automatic transmission in my 2003 still works like new with 147,000 miles on it, and I have had the transmission fluid and filter changed by the local Chevy dealer twice (once every 50,000 miles).

The last thing I would like to say about the Cavalier, is this car is fun to drive as long as you buy one that was taken care of, and has the stock CD sound system, A/C and cruise control in it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2010

7th Sep 2010, 17:53

I have to agree with the reviewer. The Cavalier, when well taken care of is reliable car. Do not drive this car like a sports sedan or coupe, because it is not. I have seen Cavaliers and Sunfires with exaggerated larger tires, bee sounding exhausts tinted windows and people driving think they can do 0-60 MPH in 6 seconds. Believe me, these cars will do the 0-60 in about 10 seconds. Hardly fast at all. If you floor these cars every time, that is how you kill the engines.

11th Apr 2012, 07:24

I have an '03, which now has 104k miles. It's been a good car. I can't say I really like the car, but I will admit to it being reliable. Bought it new. It's been run rather hard at times (when I drove it everyday, I ran it hard, PLUS it's made numerous trips from Pa to Md at highway speeds), but the motor runs like new.

Front coil spring broke a few months ago. Replaced the struts and thought it was OK. However it threw the alignment off badly and trashed the front tires over the winter. My fault and not the cars.

Too small for me, but like I said, it was a good purchase anyway.

17th Jan 2013, 16:24

Yes, that was a problem when I was working at Chevy. A lot of young guys would try to turn their Cavaliers into performance sports cars... which they are not. A lot of them had to be told why their engines and transmissions were dead or going bad.

The Cavalier was a great model, but it was never designed to be or promoted as a race car... It's not.

18th Jan 2013, 16:04

The Cavalier is an awesome car. I test drove several, several years ago, just before they were discontinued. My favorite was a bright yellow RS coupe with the 5-speed manual transmission. It was smooth, solid and surprisingly fast. I've driven Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas, and I'd take a Cavalier with 100,000 miles on, over a new one of either of those cars, any day.

30th May 2013, 22:47

I agree, the 2.2 Ecotec Cavalier is a reliable car. There are so many of them around where I live.

One my coworkers has an 03 Cavalier 2.2 Ecotec 4-speed automatic with 304,000 km. It still runs and shifts smooth; original engine and transmission.

2003 Chevrolet Cavalier Base 2.2 ecotec from North America


It would be great if it would run like it should


The car started out great, but a month later it would not start, and I had to spend 400 dollars to remove the remote starter.

Then they also replaced the ignition switch. This fixed the problem for about a month. The problem is that the theft system light and service engine light keep coming on.

I just picked it up again today from the dealer, and 5 minutes later the lights were on again, so I took it back. This is the third time they are trying to fix it. If it happens again, I'm going to investigate the lemon law.

But when the car runs, it runs good but like I said, I was stranded in town the other night at 11pm due to the fact that the car would not start. I'm hoping to get it back this weekend, and hopefully will have it fixed finally!

General Comments:

It is a great little car when it runs, although there is some noise while going over bumps, and the A/C can be be noisy when first turned on. Although for a little 4 cylinder engine, this car is quick.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 15th June, 2010

18th Jun 2010, 15:20

The Lemon Law will not apply to a 7 year old car with over 80,000 miles.