1986 Chevrolet Spectrum 1.5 from North America


The worst and first new car I owned


Worst engine ever made.

I have had 45 cars.

The timing belt broke. because the water pump pulley failed at 40,000 miles, destroying the engine.

Since it happened on vacation, it was towed to the nearest Chevy dealer.

1 month later, we picked it up to have the timing gear fall off, because of the shortcut the dealer admitted to in arbitration. Wow.

We ran to Toyota. (in fairness it was built by Isuzu, but the dealer was bad too.)

General Comments:

Stay far away from anything Isuzu, or timing belt driven cars.

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

Review Date: 5th January, 2010

6th Jan 2010, 16:19

If you don't wish to run a car with a timing belt, your choice of transportation would be restricted to older OHV motors, or more expensive European models that run chains.

A water pump failure can be detected by the needle on the temp gauge rising steadily as the car idles or moves.

7th Jan 2010, 15:14

Not true at all. Not only are OHV engines still made today, but many cars now use timing chains. The Honda Civic, for example, uses a timing chain. Finding an OHC engine with a chain is not that hard to do.

1986 Chevrolet Spectrum Hatchback 1.4L ? from North America


Typical 80's vintage GM garbage


Timing belt broke at 45,000 miles. Since this is an interference-type engine, it required a complete engine re-build. This was a $1200 repair bill (in 1989 $'s).

Fuel pump and hose failed at 50,000 miles. Gasoline poured out from under vehicle on the middle of a major interstate bridge, where the car died. Despite the fact that this problem was the source of a major factory recall, Chevrolet failed to inform me of this and I ended up paying $550 (in 1990 $'s) out of pocket for the repair.

Speedometer cable failure at 65,000 miles.

EVAP canister failure at 65,000 miles.

Clutch failure at 70,000 miles.

General Comments:

This was the worst car I have ever owned. The amount I spent in repairs in the first year of ownership could have afforded me a brand new Nissan Sentra. I bought the Spectrum when it was 3 years old with 45,000 miles on the ODO.

The good things about owning a Spectrum:

1. I'm actually a mechanic today thanks to all the work I was forced to do to keep this car running. I learned most of what I now know out of necessity due to this little beast.

2. It drove great in the snow. The thin tires and front wheel drive was great on ski trips. The only major winter problem I had was when the heater core broke in negative 10 degree F temps in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia.

That's about it. The Chevy Spectrum is a rolling deathtrap. I know this because I was making a lot of trips to the pick-a-part wrecking yards whenever something failed in my car, which was often. I can't remember a single wrecked Spectrum that looked like it didn't involve a fatality.

The next car I purchased was a Saturn, which turned out to be another piece of garbage. I'll never own another GM.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th November, 2009

14th Nov 2009, 22:14

Your "GM garbage" was actually built by Isuzu, who sold the same car as the I-mark before deserting the N American market altogether.

16th Nov 2009, 15:47

There's something tragi-comic about a company that built wondrous 5-8 liter Cadillacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles being pilloried over a 'Spectrum' - a cart for the less well off.

Folks, your driving experience is doomed, not by GM, but by what's been done to us all, GM included. Quite simply we're radically worse off than our progenitors.

1986 Chevrolet Spectrum from North America



General Comments:

Awesome little car, takes corners really tight too :) Only small bad quirk about the automatic is that they are only a 3 speed and a top speed of 140, but a 88 Spectrum 4 speed tranny will fit and give the car a little extra kick. I'm currently doing a Volkswagen Jetta front end conversion to mine, but I'm still proud she's a Spectrum.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st July, 2006

8th Nov 2007, 17:32

Are you JOKING??? Just because a speedometer says the number 140 on it does NOT mean the car is capable of making that kind of speed. If the speedometer said 200, would you be saying it's as fast as a Ferrari?? I bought a brand new 1986 Spectrum as a first car and never managed to get it to go over 100 and wouldn't have wanted to try to either. The thing is a rolling death trap. The only good thing about this car is its fuel economy. Had about a million things break on it and was stranded on a half dozen occasions. Once, my fuel pump literally fell apart on a major interstate bridge and the car dumped gasoline all over the road. I seriously thought about dropping a match on it.