14th Jun 2002, 12:29

Oh I have much to say about MY Nova.

Mine was a 1988 Chevy Nova, 3 speed auto transmission, running the Toyota 4A-LC AT engine.

I bought this car at 102,000 miles three years ago off a friend for 500 bucks. It never ran particularly "well" but it got me around, including a round trip to Denver (1800 miles). Now for the fun parts, what went wrong?

The transmission had to be pulled and resealed at 120,000 miles. The pressure plate disintegrated taking the torque converter and pilot with it. Luckily (very luckily) the transmission wasn't destroyed. Also had to replace the cv boots as well. Total bill, 925 bucks.

The car started losing power in January of this year. Compression tests made it "appear" to be the head gasket. Also, the water pump seized. Time to learn about auto repair, did this myself.

When I pulled the head I discovered that the coolant passages in the head were disintegrating! WHAT? And the exhaust valves on cylinders 3 and 4 were badly burned.

Replaced head gasket.

Replaced water pump

Replaced timing belt.

Replaced defective valves.

Had head checked for straightness.

Put everything back together, car started right up no problems, compression rates changed:


Cylinder 1 - 105

Cylinder 2 - 105

Cylinder 3 - 90

Cylinder 4 - 20.


Cylinder 1 - 150

Cylinder 2 - 150

Cylinder 3 - 110

Cylinder 4 - 120.

Oh dear. Car failed emissions miserably three times. Squeezed another 1000 miles out of it. Came to a stop on my way home and the car just flat out died. Restarted briefly with extremely negligible power, gave me just enough boost to coast into my driveway. had to keep the accelerator floored just to make it at 5 MPH. Pulled air cleaner cover. "Chocolate Mousse" (oil and coolant) blown all over the inside. Car declared totaled at 141,256 miles.

I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong. What do you expect for a 500 dollar car?

30th Oct 2002, 14:45

I've had my 1988 Chevy Nova for 5 years now. I bought it for about $1000.00. It still runs great. The only maintenance I've had to do is standard oil changes, transmission change, and radiator flush. The car just keeps going and going. I'm at a little over 96,000 miles. It starts every single time. It is a very reliable vehicle!!!

30th Dec 2002, 14:21

I purchased my 88 Nova for $900 in October of 2001. At the time of purchase it had 136,000 miles. As of now it has 148,000 and going strong. Even though the car itself is not one that will get the ladies, it has much character and only needs a little bit of love to get it looking nice. As long as you wash it, oil it when needed, and give it regular maintenance this car will run forever.

24th Feb 2003, 12:30

I bought my 1986 Chevy Nova for $125.00 and the clutch was blown. The next day my dad and I spent $75.00 on a new one and installed it with the help of my 15 year old friends. The car is in great running condition and I use it daily.

I made $450.00 off of it when a motorcyclist ran into it's rear left door only causing a minor dent. My Chevy Nova was a great purchase!

14th Apr 2003, 03:58

I love my 1986 Chevy Nova. I bought it for 500 dollars from a Captain in the Navy who was the original owner. I live in Naples Italy which is the craziest driving environment in the world. The only repair I have made so far has been a new alternator. I drive my 5 speed harder than anyone in the states could probably imagine. It does it's best to keep up with the BMW's and Porsche's and rarely sees speeds below 80 on the highway.

30th May 2003, 10:02

My dad gave me my 1988 Nova about a year ago because my brother killed the transmission in my truck. When I got the car, it had a little over 200,000 miles on it. All I have paid for was new tires (about $160) an other repairs and maintenance costs that have totaled not more than $300. I use the car to deliver pizzas and it is more reliable that the newer cars people drive. The only major repair that has come up is that the wiper blades have stopped working.

1st Aug 2003, 04:27

Great car. I have two Twin Cam Novas. They were only made in 1988. They have the fuel injection system instead of the carb. Dubble overhead cams also. They fly. 157,000 on one and 86,000 on the other. Bought one new and one used. No major work has had to be performed. Greates cars I have ever owned. Thank you Toyota. A Nova is a Toyota and they were built at a joint GM/Toyota factory in California.

27th Aug 2003, 09:25

I purchased my Nova 88 from my sister's friend last year in May (2002). It had 13K miles on it when I bought it. An older lady had owned it previous to him, and he just wanted to get rid of it. I purchased it for 1K and really I have not had any trouble with the thing. It looks great. No real rust spots except where the previous owner had hit a deer (planning on getting that fixed) and it's a great little car. I had to change the tires on the car because they were original ones, flush the radiator, change the brakes, and the exhaust (Luckily, I know someone who will do this all for me for free!)...other than those things... I couldn't have asked for a better car for 1,000 bucks! I plan on keeping it for a long time to come.

29th Sep 2003, 19:01

I LOVE my 88 Chevy Nova. Carb, hatchback. 175,000 miles and going strong. Great gas mileage- 31/mpg approx. I bought her for $350 two years ago and I am so proud... I had to replace the starter ($200) and the air conditioning needs to be recharged, but that is minor. A few months ago the wipers stopped working- the motor runs great, but the plastic gear is shredded and since it is not sold separately, but as a whole unit I'd have to pay $200 for the repair. I'm not gonna, though, because I put Rain-X on the windshield and even in driving storms I can see just fine without the wipers. The exhaust has a hole in it, which will cost another $200 but I'm not gonna fix that either until the emission inspectors tell me I have to!

I love this little car, a true 80s classic. If I actually did all the needed repairs the car would still have only cost me $950 over the past two years and that rocks. I love my little 88 Nova hatchback... p.s.- also have a classic '86 Nissan Stanza Wagon... yep, wagon, and she is the best as well. I love her even more than my Nova... but don't tell the Chevy I said that!

5th Dec 2003, 00:26

I've had my 86 Nova CL (luxury package) auto transmission hatchback for almost 3 years now. Bought if off the original owner, a little old lady (a buyer's dream) in show room condition. I paid top dollar ($2300), but it only had 74,000 miles and was garaged its hole life. I absolutely love it. It has power door locks, cruise control, etc. I too keep it in the garage and I rub it down weekly with a diaper. The only money I've spent on repairs besides the usual gas, oil, & regular maintenance items is the CV boot got ripped so the passenger side CV driveaxle needed replacing as well as the alternator and battery both died together. I've got 123,000 miles now and get about 30 mpg. Everyone I know who knows anything about cars tells me to never sell this thing because it will last for another decade. My only complaint is that it's a little weak on power (0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds) at 4700 feet elevation where I live. When I take it down to sea level, acceleration isn't as bad. Great car!