1996 Chevrolet Cavalier from North America - Comments

1st Sep 2009, 20:54

If you look down below the brake fluid reservoir, there is a plug that sometimes can work its way loose, if it comes unplugged, you lose the reverse lights. The plug is near a rod (part of the steering system, it's pretty far down...)

8th Sep 2009, 13:27

Well my 96 Cavalier doesn't like to start when it rains. So apparently I can't drive it in the rain. And I have to wait for it to dry out before driving it. Am I only one with that problem? I'd definitely get another car if I had money.

22nd Oct 2009, 21:35

I have a 1998 Cavalier, the water pump just went. Does anyone know if there is a timing chain in this year of car?

Thanks,

Lisa.

4th Feb 2010, 14:36

I've owned a '96 Cavalier automatic since I bought it new. I've had to replace the alternator, water pump and head gasket (recall from '95 Cavalier). It now has 132,000 miles on it. I've had the ABS light on forever, and the Check engine light finally went off a couple of weeks ago. The fan only works on high and the dash rattles. The lighter doesn't work because the interior housing (escutcheon) is loose. I have also recently had trouble starting it in the rain. Dry gas seemed to help. Anti-freeze seems to leak but there is never a sign of it on the ground. I just top it off every now & then. Today, however, after I gassed it up it seems like it won't shift thru the gears properly. Perhaps some fuel injector cleaner might help. Although, I did take it out on the highway & got it up to 72 mph. Overall, it's been a great little car, but maybe it's just dying a natural death.

21st Feb 2010, 20:35

My 1996 Cavalier.

My problem is the same as some I have read. The car starts and runs fine for weeks, a month or three months. Then when the weather changes, it may not start. You can crank it until the battery runs down. Then it may start 30 minutes later or maybe two days later. I have had this car to the dealer may times, and they cannot get an error code. I left it for two months and no problems. I have noticed that each time it fails, the anti theft system light is on.

22nd Mar 2010, 13:26

I have had my 96 Chevy Cavalier convertible for 9 years, bought it with 60k miles on it.

The only issues all these years have been the water pump, the alternator and the head gasket. The car took me home even after breaking, never got stranded.

ABS light comes on when I use the hazard. After I turn off the car and start it again, the light is gone so no biggie.

The car now has developed a wobble at low speeds, but it still runs well.

Mine is a convertible and has 175,000 miles, and still running fine. Decided to keep it despite getting a new BMW 328. There is just something about a convertible.

This car has owned my respect, and I hope it will stay in good shape now that I drive it only for fun.

26th May 2010, 15:37

I bought my '96 2.2L Four Door Chevy Cavalier as a senior in high school at about 53,000 miles. It has been an awesome little car, considering what I've put it through.

I've used it to move myself several times throughout college and the years after, surely exceeding its weight capacity, and it now gets beat up in traffic and by the pot holes of a major city. It has also been hit by a plow, hit a deer, hit by a co-worker, broken into twice and sideswiped, but it's still kicking. It has never left me stranded and has always given me warning via the dash lights before anything failed due to normal wear and tear. Alternators go, so do batteries, and so do brakes.

The only two serious issues I've had were the transmission and the head gasket. If you look at the manual, it specifies putting the parking brake on first, then putting the car in park on an incline and reversing the process to take off again. Apparently if you do this incorrectly, it puts undue stress on the bearings in the transmission so the weight of the car wears them through. Also, the cooling system/head gasket does indeed seem to be a flaw with the car, however, I'm sure all of the other models of cars out there have their own design flaws we'd all be complaining about.

My only regret is the snowy, salty winters that I didn't wash it quite enough underneath, so there's corrosion, which has contributed to exhaust problems. While I'm on the topic though, this car has been fantastic throughout those winters, especially with a set of snow tires. Those with ABS problems can pull a specific fuse, which allows you to pump the brake manually.

In short, I love this car and will be devastated when it comes time to get a different one, especially since I've never had a car payment in my life.

10th Jul 2010, 21:51

I bought my Cavalier last year with 52,000km on it at the age of 16. It's a 96 2.2L auto, it now has 85,000km on it, bought it off an old lady who only drove it to church.

All I have had to replace is the drive belt and the rear brake shoes. It's been an amazing little car, it does have a small rattle in the engine; my dad is a mechanic at the local Chevy dealership; all he has ever driven is Chev's, and he says it's normal.

They are a louder car, but they are durable as all get out. It's a fun car to drive, and a great first car. I've managed to put about 6 grand of parts into it for fun; new speakers, fresh tires and rims, plus new exhaust, not just the tip, the full system.

All around, love this little car.

11th Jul 2010, 16:01

Of all the Chevy's I've ever owned (only one. I learned my lesson after that) they never had any engine rattles. Of course the engine in that one Chevy I owned only lasted 40,000 miles before one of the connecting rods cracked in half and shot out the bottom of the engine, but for that entire 40,000 miles it ran... decent.

27th Mar 2011, 14:02

I had one, and if you drained the water out of water pump, you have to take off the top radiator hose from block and add coolant there till it opens when it gets to temp. What is happening is that the water pump has an air pocket. This will cause it to get hot, and it will never work till you do this. Hope it helps.

3rd Apr 2011, 21:47

I have owned my 96 Cav for two years and really the only problem was a replaced radiator and all A/C components. But now I think the timing chain is bad. It won't start, but it is a great running car and really cheap to maintain.

I bought it used and did not expect to last forever, but I change oil regularly. It has little noises, but I love it.

2nd May 2011, 00:02

The piston slap is normal. It's because they're aluminum and the block is cast iron. They have to be loose fitting or it'll seize the engine. It doesn't hurt anything.

You also have a 16 year old car: things are going to fail. It's a part of life. Mileage doesn't mean much, age does. My clutch lasted 208k miles, I just replaced it. It wasn't slipping, but it was worn. It's a damn good car.

The timing chain noise is because the tensioners are a poor design. You have to be good about oil changes. You could replace the timing set and 6 months later the noise is back, but it won't hurt nothing.

They aren't perfect and they are kind of crude but mine gets 32 MPG average, runs great and is faster than a Civic. They are good cars if taken care of, but most people neglect them.