6 months ownership update - General Forum

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6 months ownership update
Saturday, January 09, 2016 10:34 PM
Bought my 2003 Cavalier base model 5 speed in July for only $1400. It had a broken coil spring and worn out struts, brakes worked fine but rotors were warped, and the shifter had tons of play/looseness in it. 158,000Km on the odo (100,000 miles). Other than that, it was in great mechanical shape and has NO RUST anywhere! I found a complete 4 corners strut assembly made by Unity (who are they? lol) for $225, got brand new rotors, pads, shoes and drums on sale for $160, new spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter, did a DIY repair on the shifter with a plumbing washer/replaced o-rings for maybe 2 bucks. First time I've really gotten my hands dirty doing bigger repairs myself, so it feels good! I've also switched to synthetic motor oil, changed the tranny fluid to GM synchromesh, and added a wired FM modulator to the plain AM/FM radio for an AUX input. Car drives smooth and starts on the first crank or two everyday! The to-do list is short, just have to: bleed the brakes and clutch, and flush the coolant.

I'm happy that this inexpensive car has worked out so well. I'm about 500 bucks into parts and upgrades on a $1400 car that drives better than the $2500-$3000 mazda protege's I first looked at. Being a base model, it has crank windows, manual locks, manual transmission, AM/FM radio (without CD or cassette), and no ABS. It does have a tach and rear defroster though! This does not bother me, I like that there is very little to fail and few electronics to go wonky in the future. I'm impressed that there are no fluid leaks, my driveway is oil free The previous owner obviously kept the car clean inside, it looks mint. No scratches or stains anywhere. Being on the south west coat (north west coast for Americans) means there is little UV damage to plastics, so the window trim and dash are in nice condition.

So far, this is the best older used car I've owned, and by far the least expensive. I'm liking the Ecotec engine, I'm getting 30mpg in mostly steady flowing, around town commuting, and it pulls nicely above 3500 rpm. Since buying the car, I figured out how to drive a stick and now get around just fine haha

Re: 6 months ownership update
Sunday, January 10, 2016 6:27 PM
Glad to hear someone new liking the J-body, seems like most the newer guys just hate on them and it's pretty unfair to the car.

I miss my Cavalier, even if it made 100 hp on a cold day and had more suspension then it deserved.
Re: 6 months ownership update
Sunday, January 10, 2016 7:21 PM
Why I like em...simple and easy to work on.

Can't go wrong there....

Re: 6 months ownership update
Friday, January 22, 2016 6:23 PM
drain the synchromesh out immediately. f23 transmissions require ATF not synchromesh!

01' Z24 5 speed
T4 Turbocharged
Built LD9
HP Tuners
Re: 6 months ownership update
Saturday, January 23, 2016 10:35 AM
I bought my 2001 5 speed cavalier z24 in october so I'm a little newer to the Jbody game as well. I bought it with 103,000 and am at about 106,000 now. Ive been devoted to my 86 Trans am so buying my first 4 cylinder commuter car has been new to me. So far I've replaced the fuel filter, ignition coils, ignition coil housing, oil sending unit, plugs, and corks. after having a couple ignition issues I am definitely not a fan of the 2.4ls ignition system but other than that the car has been good to me. driving a 30 minute round trip commute to work 5 days a week and letting the car warm up in the morning for 15 minutes only used up a little over a quarter of tank which was incredible to me. I'm used to a 5 liter v8 sucking down gas. the car gets blown around on the highway a little but it is a fun little car to put around town in with the 5 speed. not fast by any means but it is a fun drive.
Re: 6 months ownership update
Monday, March 07, 2016 9:26 AM
Publikdstrbnce wrote:

drain the synchromesh out immediately. f23 transmissions require ATF not synchromesh!

Exactly!!! You have the wrong fluid in your tranny currently.

FU Tuning

Re: 6 months ownership update
Tuesday, March 29, 2016 10:11 PM
I know that Dex 3 is the specified fluid, but cannot find any "real" Dex 3. Everything is aftermarket Dex3/Mercon compatible stuff now. I've read about people trying just about anything in there all over the internet. Hard to find the right info. My brother's 2010 Cobalt has Dex 6 in it's transmission, is that compatible with the older getrags too, since both are F23's?

Had my first issue crop up the other day. The gauge cluster went out and the odometer displayed "error" for a short time. Had no effect on the rest of the car, it all came back after a few seconds. I wonder if water is getting on the ECU or I have a short/bad ground in the dash. Only reason I think water under the hood is that the cowl or windshield drain may be blocked with pine needles, causing water to slosh when I make my first turn after the car has sit in the rain for a long time.
Re: 6 months ownership update
Thursday, December 29, 2016 5:33 AM
I figured I'd revive this with thoughts on Dex 6. Dex 6 replaces Dex 3. It is a semi synthetic replacement for the old fluid. Dex 3 is no longer available. You can use Dex 6 to flush out Dex 3 or add to Dex 3, but not vice versa.
Re: 6 months ownership update
Saturday, March 25, 2017 10:04 AM
I'm over a year and 8 months driving this car now, all is well. I kept the sychromesh oil in the transmission, it still shifts better and doesn't grind like it did with ATF in it. I'll stubbornly be a guinea pig for this one Over the christmas holidays a rodent made my washer fluid reservoir look like a block of swiss cheese. I've seen them chew wires but never other parts, first time for everything! I'm replacing it today with a generic reservoir and will be drilling the hood to install washer nozzles on the hood to replace the mediocre wiper arm mounted ones. I got to change all 4 engine/tanny mounts while I had the front bumper and fender wells out to remove the old washer reservoir. That made the car smoother in 1st/2nd gear in slow traffic, doesn't rock back and forth anymore. The rear trans mount looked more difficult than it was once I got into it. The car continues to be trouble free, reliable daily transportation.

Now that I've taught myself to drive stick with this car, it's got the hamster wheel turning and thinking about small sports cars like the Toyota 86 in the future. That's a few years off, at least till the kids are out of their car seats and the van is payed off!
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