I own a 97 Pontiac Sunfire and bought it brand new in 97. It will be 10 years in August and I can't say really anything bad about the car. It currently has 150,000 miles on it.
Conditions in which it has been driven: stop and go California traffic (daily for me) and several long distance trips including 3x from California to the Midwest.
After having the car for 150,000 miles you can expect form problems over the years. The following is what I've experienced:
1. About a month after I bought the car the ETS light came on. I brought it in and was informed it was a sensory problem, and would be difficult to fix. I got a second opinion from a co-worker who happens to be an auto shop teacher in which he confirmed it was just a simple sensory problem and it wasn't worth it to get it fixed. It was probably covered by the warranty, bu for some reason I didn't even look at the warranty.
Over the years I has the remaider fixed:
2. Fuel filter- partially my fault because my air filter was never changed. It was extremely dirty and I don't know why it was never looked at. It completely ruined my fuel filter system. Luckily the school's auto teacher replaced it with an older fuel filter system his students located off of an older pontiac found in a car junk yard. The auto shop teacher has taught mechanic class for 20 something years and seemed to know a lot. He decided to replace the filter with an older type of filter because the newer one was more difficult to change. He mentioned that the filters on the older pontiacs were designed much better. Easier to change the older ones.
3. Gasket replacement. (after about 8years)
4. air compressor replacement. (after about 4-5 yrs)
5. water pump. (after 9 years)
My ABS light came on last year when I had to get my brakes changed. I was concerned about that and an auto shop said it was again, a minor senory problem- but nothing to worry about. It only comes on when I make sharp turns or run over a bump in the road.
Just recently noticed the paint is coming off a little on the roof of the car. I'm sure if the car was in a rainy/snowy state I probably would have saw some signs of peeling after 5 or 6 years. I guess I'm lucky to live in a warm dry state, although the carpet in the back window is now yellow due to the stong sun's rays. Need darker tinted windows all over the car. My front dash is a little discolored due to the intense direct sunlight as well. Although not too noticeable.
Good notes about the vehicle:
Great gas mileage and that's for a 97 car.
It has get up and go for a 4 cylinder.
Modern interior for a 97. I think it looks even more modern than many of the new cars out there today.
I love the folding back seat, it's amazing the stuff you can fit in this little car.
Very areodynamic, I don't experience much windshear.
If I see a symbol pop up on my drivers information panel, it's been right everytime. For example I've never had a complete flat on the road. The "low trac" symbol pops up on the panel when I have a flat and it's been 100% accurate each time. I've had 2 flats while driving and have never had to be towed into to the shop.
If something is wrong with the battery the symbol will pop up. Again accurate every time.