The doors were so rusted, I could see inside the car. Got some other doors from scrap yard for $100.
The water pump was worn out, so my car made a VERY LOUD rattling noise from the engine. It could literally be heard from 50 feet away. The water pump finally blew. When I fixed it, the rattling (thank God) went away.
Water pump blew and the car slowly came to a stop (thankfully I was driving 10KPH taking off from a stop sign). It torn the timing belt and shattered the timing belt protective cover. Cost: $225 parts & labor.
When it rains, my car gets a puddle about 6 inches deep in the driver side. The compartment under the grille where the windshield wipers are was rusted badly (that's where it's leaking). I patched it up 7 times and it still leaks badly.
Front struts and back shocks needed to be changed, cost $350 (just parts, I changed them myself).
Replaced top shocks in the front, cost: $160.
All dash lights were burnt out, changed them, 5 hour job.
A/C doesn't work.
Sunroof must have leaked, because when I got the car, it was siliconed shut from the outside... I never tried to fix it.
Changed left CV drive shaft, cost: $70 (parts & labor).
All 4 springs are worn out and need changing. The car is too low and rubs on some deep dips in the road.
Passenger side flip up light cover gets stuck once every couple of months. Turning them on/off a lot fixes that. I've so far seen 1 Sunbird with the passenger side flip up light cover ripped off, and another with both ripped off.
Fuel line developed a pin-hole leak, needs changing. (Whole car smelt badly of gasoline).
Very poor performance... unable to find the source of the problem. I have done everything except change the catalytic converter. It revs high when you floor it, but it doesn't accelerate very quickly.
Needs an alignment badly, I think that's why it shakes violently at 130+ KPH.
Brake drums in the back make loud crackling noise when pressure is applied.
Heater fan squeaks loudly, needs to be changed.
Changed muffler twice.
Driver seat bolts busted, seat almost fell off, I had to re-bolt it down.
Car used to stall when I started it. Had to gun it to get it started. Changed Oxygen and gas sensors, fixed the problem.
Valve cover leaked, changed it. (Very easy job, painted my valve cover orange while I was at it).
Fuel pump died. Changed it.
Heat gasket is leaking a little.
Paint job was finished when I got it, the hood was scratched up with a million little scratches. The paint is dull and cloudy. Polishing it helped a little.
Ashtray is pathetically small.
I've never heard of a car with incredibly so many problems.
There is always something that needs fixing.
As you can see, there was/is a lot wrong with this car. BUT, it IS actually very reliable. The only time I was really dead in the water was when my water pump blew.
The heater works exceptionally well. I often get TOO hot and have to turn it down! That's a good thing in -25ºC weather.
Great handling; very agile.
Good gas mileage.
All the other problems could be put off for at least a little while, so that I was never stranded.
The car starts up every time I turn the key.
I was once really tired and out of it, and I put in in neutral to cost down a hill. I was so in the moon, I put it in reverse (going 60KPH) instead of putting it back into drive, and the car stalled. Then I freaked out and put it into drive! It make some godly noises and when I rolled to a stop... I thought "That's it, it's finished". So I turned the key for the hell of it, and it started right back up! I was lucky. Yes, I am ashamed of that night...
It IS a sexy looking car, especially for its time. It's a mix of a sports car and a domestic. It's also pretty rare (the SE model anyways) so that's cool.
Once you get it all going, it's a great car. I would recommend this car to other people, but be sure you check it out thoroughly first. Check for rust that is bad or is just starting (it creeps up quickly) and a leaking heat gasket. I guess I got a "problem car" but there are some out there that rarely have any problems.
I do love this car and I am glad that I have it, I couldn't see myself in a different car.