23rd Feb 2005, 15:20

I have a 2003 that now has 80000 klm, the noise inside the car is considerable on gravel roads, but handles well in the snow. I agree the tires are not the greatest and I should have replaced them at around 45K, but am still running them. Has been a very good commuter.

3rd Mar 2005, 19:19

Original poster of the review here. I agree, I am hard on cars. But I do maintain them. I don't drive like granny or speed freak. Just in between.

I had a problem (20,000KM) with my left rear lamp, it had melted in the turn signal housing. GM sent me a letter (wow), and I got it fixed at no charge.

I next noticed the exhaust note would get quite loud after the engine warmed up. It wasn't too bad, but other drivers started to notice when I would throttle up and the roar would get their attention. I took it to the shop again, but this time the mechanic could not find the problem, there is no exhaust leak.

It's running good. Thinking about switching to semi-synthetic oil though.

19th Mar 2005, 07:31

I am the original poster. I should not comment on how you drive your car; what you do with your own vehicle is your business. There are ways to drive a car hard, but not be too torturous to it, which I am sure you are aware of.

I personally recommend a full synthetic oil, as opposed to a blend. With a fully synthetic oil, all of the shortcomings inherant with their petroleum counterparts can be engineered out (cold weather pump-ability, viscosity breakdown, sludge resistance, etc...). You will either have the 100% advantage with the full synthetic, or a partial advantage with the blend.

Not all synthetics are created equal though, by a long shot. In my experience, you can't go wrong with Mobil 1. In many circles, Mobil 1 is considered to be the industry standard. I run it in all my cars with extreme success. The ECOTEC loves it. I experienced a notable difference in performance, smoothness, fuel economy, and how fast my temperature guage gets up to normal temperature in the morning. I run 10W30 in the summer and 5W30 in the winter.

If you go with synthetic though, it is best to stick with it, and not switch back and forth. The seals in the engine react differently with synthetic and petroleum, and switching back and forth can cause leaks. That is the only possible problem you might experience switching to synthetic if you have been using petroleum for a long time. Disregard any of the other myths you might hear. Synthetic is better than conventional oil in every respect.

Good luck.

25th Mar 2006, 11:13

When you "rice" a car, does that me you get beat by some Asian rice burner?

23rd Apr 2006, 12:18

If you can wait a little longer (like until summer) you can also look at the MazdaSpeed 3.

Same engine as the 6, but detuned since the car will still be front wheel drive (Mazda claims torque steer won't be as big an issue as it would seem). Plus upgraded suspension.

It may be my next car, but it truly has to offer significantly more of an experience than the regular Mazda 3 since that car is so brilliant to begin with.

4th Jun 2006, 20:52

OK, I'm back again. I am the original writer of this review.

Anyway, my damn horn stopped working last month. I think it's the relay ($40). I gotta get that fixed ASAP. Also the front-left wheel bearing is starting to make a really annoying squeak. I have to take time soon and fix that.


14th Jul 2006, 09:00

Hi, I have had an 03 Cavalier since the day they first came out, and I have to say it really disappointed my expectations.

First, as to smoking a Civic Si, I would have to disagree. I have tried with some friends and even with a t4 turbo, it just barly matches. The new Ecotec engines are not meant to be performance ready like the 2200 or 2400.

Second, I have about 110K and don't really race the engine or do any major harshness on it, and it just does not want to last like the older Chevy engines. Already I have had to have 4 sensors replaced, the front driver strut wore out at 75k and again with the tail light recalls... three times and it's still not working right.

I have been using a full sythetic oil since day one, and it's getting so bad due to lag either from the ECU or transmission.

Overall, I would award the new Cavaliers a grade of 6 out of 10. Sorry guys, but it's just not working like I thought it would.

BTW, 1999 z24's rock, and last 295k and are still going.

20th Jan 2007, 16:24

Stoneman here again, the original (first) review-writer.

I found the source of my front wheel squeaks: The cheap plastic wheel covers are the source. Thank God it's not the wheel bearings.

A spring in the driver seat has started to poke through my back. The horn still doesn't work, but, I found a possible source for the relay. The ignition key will sometimes not engage the auxiliary power items when I start the car (this doesn't happen often).

This is probably going to be the last addition to my review as my car is due back to the dealer this March. So I'll summarize.

It's been fairly cheap to own, but overall I would not buy this vehicle again. I can't handle the bad seats and poor component reliability. I mean, if a horn doesn't work after 3.5 years, what does that say about the manufacturer? I know these may sound minor, but believe me, I truly hate the car now.

I test drove a Mazda 3 Sport Sedan and a Subaru Impreza the other day. Wow. The Mazda 3 is a bargain and so is the Impreza. The AWD is just awesome. Who knows what I'll get.


6th Mar 2007, 16:39

Stoneman here again. I just wanted to update this final review with some last thoughts.

I fixed my front bumper that was damaged in a previous car accident for under $600 bucks - cheap by any standard. The car held up well in a low speed accident (and the air bag never went off, thankfully).

While I liked to whine about quality and such, the car isn't that bad. It's not great, but for the price I paid - what can you expect? It does the job.

I bought a 2007 Subaru Impreza Sedan (base) with a 5-speed manual. I'm pretty excited.


28th Sep 2007, 11:32

Ditto the previous comment... I own an '03 Cavi, and the fuel pump went out at about 35500k miles, 500 short of the warranty expiration, thank God. Besides that and the short circuit on the right blinker earlier on, the car's been excellent 'A-to-B' transportation - no real complaints. I like the simplicity of it so much that I'm pondering buying an '04-'05 Sunfire 5-speed in addition to the Cavi, as a 'toy' to customize.

13th Oct 2007, 22:47

I'm always amazed at people who buy the cheapest car GM produces and then complains about the quality of the seat support, road noise, wheel cover squeaks. Weren't the value package cars in the $12K range? I know with the incentives at the end of 2004 Cavaliers were selling for $10k.

Right now a Honda Civic DX with an automatic is over $16K and they don't laugh when you throw low offers at them. I just priced a Cobalt LT1 with an automatic at the end of September and it was $12.7K with all the incentives and benefits. By the time you add air conditioning, cruise control, remote door locks, power windows, and the rest of the options to match the Cobalt that Honda is in the $18K range. Who would even consider them to be similar cars?

Just because they are both the low end cars of their manufacturer, that are not anywhere near the same price. The Honda is 50% more. Why don't we just take the $18K Honda price tag and add 50% and then go look at an Impala SS. Is that a fair comparison? I'd much rather have 300+HP than a 140HP VTEC

And don't forget GM owns Isuzu Heavy Industries. Or commonly known as Subaru. So your Subaru Impreza is a GM built car also.

16th Oct 2007, 20:18

In some parts of the world (Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, in particular) these were known as the Toyota Cavalier. Exact same car, except for the Toyota badges, nameplate, etc. and manufactured in the exact same plant.

The only other noticeable difference would be the right-hand drive for the Pacific-country models, and the left-hand drive for the North American models.

The ironic thing, to me, is: People tended to complain about the Chevrolet "version," while they praised the Toyota "version!" Of course, I'm sure that lemon Cavaliers did occur, just like lemons of every other model, but could it be that the brand name makes so much difference to peoples' perceptions?

15th Mar 2008, 18:55

This is the original writer of the review. To the person who said GM builds the Subaru Impreza - sorry lad, but this car is built by Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan. Indeed, my Subaru has the letter "J" in the VIN, which does mean it's built in Japan.

I still stand behind my review, the old Cavalier was decent enough for A-to-B transportation... the insurance was dirt cheap... and parts - lots of parts. If you're into the J-body, you can visit j-body.org and get some really good advice.


18th Aug 2008, 10:39

I find the 2004 cavalier road noise to be unacceptable. I'm going to fill mine full of noise dampening mat before I go deaf.

5th Nov 2008, 14:42

I have a Cavalier 2003, original owner and I have changed the fuel pump, battery after three years, front struts, muffler... Cheap car built with parts from the lowest bidder.