18th Feb 2005, 17:35

Just wanted to post a revision to my initial review. The original 8 valve pushrod in the Cavaliers were good engines, and I did not mean to imply otherwise by saying they were kept around too long. I have seen several of them go more than 200K miles without skipping a beat. They are just not as "refined" as most newer engines. But, I will take something that is built solidly and has been proven to last any day, over something that might be silky smooth for a few years, but self destructs within a short period of time time. For some reason, a lot of people seem to perceive Cavaliers as being bad cars, but this is not the case at all. They are just about bullet proof with proper care. I have seen them hold up when subjected to merciless abuse too.

25th May 2005, 12:58

Just returned from a round trip from New Jersey to South Carolina and back, 700 miles each way. The car never missed a beat, I actually achieved 36.5 MPG on this trip, with myself and quite a bit of luggage in the car. This is 2.5 MPG above the cars highway rating of 34. I had given it a fresh oil change of Mobil 1 and a new air filter before my departure. The car now has just under 30,000 miles and I have not had a single problem with anything on it. I remain highly pleased with this car.

14th Jun 2006, 22:36

I am a female graduate student and a green hand driver. Just wanna say thank you to all of you who post your comments here. Like most of the women, I am totally lost when the sales people brag their used cars to me. Thanks to your words that I can keep some self-conscious. You guys are my teachers on line! Your opinions are greatly appreciated. Please keep updating!

24th Sep 2006, 16:58

Original poster again. Car just turned 45,000 miles. The engine and driveline have still given me absolutely no trouble, and perform just like the day I drove the car off the lot.

I inspected the front brakes this weekend, and the original pads still have just a little bit of life left in them, so I am going to let them go a bit longer. The rotors really are shot though (to be expected at this point), so will be replaced when I change the pads. I am pleased with the longevity I got out of them.

One thing I am not pleased about, is one of the front wheel bearings is making a little bit of noise. You have to be listening for it to it to hear it. I will replace that during the brake job as well. It is an easy and inexpensive fix, but still something I could do without.

Keeping things in perspective, if that is all that goes wrong with my car, and the engine and transmission keep going the way they are, I have got it made. But, I will have to get the alignment checked after I make this repair, since it will involve loosening the strut. That is the thing I dislike about this little repair more than anything, because I do not like anybody else touching and/or working on my car (especially the dealership).

Assuming everything goes routinely with the brake/bearing job, I will report back after another chunk of miles.

2nd Oct 2006, 01:28

You only rotate your tires ever 24,000 miles... wow.

30th Aug 2007, 19:19

Original poster here again. Just turned 60,000 miles, and not so much of a hint of trouble with the engine or transmission. The car drives just as well as when I drove it off the lot, if not better. The only thing that may need attention in the near future is the struts, as the roads are very bad near where I live, and they have taken a beating.

I also had to recharge the AC this past spring, which is not at all uncommon for an R-134A system. It was a $7.00, five minute fix, which I did without even getting my hands dirty. The molecules of R-134A are much smaller than the old R-12, and it is very common for R-134A to leak as mine did over four years or so, regardless of what type of car it is. The replacement refrigerant has sealant in it, which may prevent that from happening again. I do not believe there is a problem with the system, but will post an update if anything changes. The AC went back to blowing ice cubes immediately after the recharge, and has been working fine all summer.

I have to disagree with 8:52, about the assertion that GM North America did not play a role in the design of the ECOTEC. All of my research indicates that GM North America played a very prominent, if not leading role in designing the ECOTEC, with the assistance of its European subsidiaries, which the way, you forgot to mention SAAB in there.

As far as Lotus is concerned, they were not involved in the most recent ECOTEC development effort, but they did design the cylinder heads for the earlier X20XEV engine used by Opel (not something I knew off the top of my head, but your comment prompted me to do a little research to double check myself), and I suppose it is reasonable to assume probably provided some inspiration for the ECOTEC.

But, the current ECOTEC that I own is a vastly new design, which GM Powertrain of North America had a significant role in, and I am proud to say it was built right in Tonawanda NY, with the window sticker of my car indicating that the engine was 100% USA content. I do not regret my purchase for one minute.

I'll post back in 20,000 miles or so, unless something noteworthy happens in the interim.

2nd Oct 2007, 12:39

I have to second the original poster's commentary on the '03 Chevy Cavalier. I also have an '03, and it has proven to be a trooper after 50k of mostly city driving. I had one solitary fuel-pump failure at 35k, which I believe was the result of a drastic and sudden temperature dip (I live in Chicago). Aside from that fluke and a very minor issue with the rear turn signal lamps, the car's been flawless, and highly economical. I intend to keep it until it falls apart. I only wish I could have had the 5-speed Getrag though, mine is an A/T since my wife can't drive stick.

In a couple of years, I may pick up a used 5-speed Sunfire as a 'toy.' :)