Today, I have a special treat for you!
A review, AND a story, about the stealership that I got the car from, the first and only time I've ever been truly taken by a dealer, lots of red flags, and a lot of stupidity on my part that could have easily been avoided had I been more careful.
So, my '98 Millenia had blown up in the past couple months, and my fiancee and I each working a job in different areas, at different hours, we needed a second vehicle in addition to my 1992 Ford Explorer. So, with a $1,000 down payment in hand, we went to a Buy Here Pay Here dealership, which, I have no shame in giving the name of, D&D Motors, located here in Maryland. So, my choice for this $1,000 down, poor credit, and no cosigners, was this Cavalier. This was at the tail-end of 2011, so the car was just about to be 11 years old. It had 146k on the clock, and was white, just like the one in the picture below. (Not mine pictured) It had some dents in the body, the odometer backlight was mostly burnt out, and there were other issues as well, which we would come to find out.
So, I take the vehicle on a test drive, and it gets scarily close to overheating, just within a 5 mile drive. This is on a Saturday morning. So, they agree to look at it, and I'll have it Monday. Being desperate, I stupidly agree. So, Monday, I have the car, and it's running fine now, but I never learned what the issue was. So, for $1,000 down, I have this crappy Cavalier, which for the next three years, I will be paying $289 per month for, at 23% interest, including 24 month/24k mile Bumper-to-Bumper warranty, with $100 deductible. All figured out, I'll have paid nearly $13,000, not including repairs, for this clunker! Not to mention, there's a "PassTime" system in the car, which means I have to wait for a beep to start it up, and enter a code after I make my payment. If I'm late, I can get a 24hr emergency code, otherwise it won't start. Close to payment time, it starts beeping for 10-15 seconds before I can start it at all. I ran into a myriad of issues with the car. Within a week, the window motors went out. They were replaced. Three months after I buy the car, the water pump goes out. It won't start, nothing at all. I get it towed, pay $100 deductible, get it fixed, and I'm on my way. The window motors had also failed again at this point, so they were fixed, free of charge. Then, three months later, again, the alternator craps out on me. Repeat process above. I get an oil change done at the same time, which is not under warranty, and sets me back a glorious $50. Woo-freakin'-hoo!
So, for awhile, the car runs fine. It looks rough, and it's a wheezy 4-pot, but it does ok. I did have a tire blowout, but my stepdad had an '02 Cavalier to use as a derby car, and he just gave me a tire from it, as it didn't even have a spare. So, the tire gets put on. It does what it needs to do. At this point, I've had the car for about a year and four months. I start it up, leave for work, and not two minutes later, I hear a god-awful racket, and the car just dies. I threw a rod! Now, you may be thinking, "but you have a warranty, replace the engine for only $100!" Not so lucky, my friends. Remember that warranty? 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first? At this point, I had just put right at 26,000 on the clock. TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND. TWO THOUSAND MILES OVER THE MAX! So, I call the dealership, tell them I'm done, tell them to keep the car, and I take a hit on my credit for voluntary repo. I was going to file a claim to MD's Lemon Law equivalent, with all the service records and "clean" CarFax, but get this, the service department won't give me the records! They said it's because it's organized by date, and not customer name, or car make and model. I fight with them, and they still won't give me the records. Eventually, I grow frustrated, and give up with them. Some time before this, the Explorer had given up its transmission, so this was our only vehicle. We drive my mom's '99 Durango for awhile, until that breaks down, and then we go and get another car from another dealership, which served us much better for some time. Now, onto the review proper!
As I said, this is not my car pictured, but it is identical in style and color.
(Full disclosure: Chevrolet wanted me to drive this car so badly, they sold it to several people, and then the dealership acquired it, probably for $200 at an auction, gave it a quick once over, inspected it, got it ready for sale, and sold it to me for a paltry sum of nearly $13,000)
These cars, as you can see above, are dreadfully bland, ugly appliances. Mine was decorated with various dents, dings, and scratches, with only one dent being caused by me. It was white, four doors, four wheels, a hood, and a trunk, the most basic form of transportation. It looked like crap.
Again, very basic. Cramped on the inside. Manual everything except windows and windows. The dash was cracked. The seat recline lever, and driver's door handle both broke off, so the recline lever was rigged into a makeshift door handle to open the door. The rear passenger door's child lock was permanently stuck, so it would only open from the outside. Unlike the one pictured, my radio was CD and Cassette. The gauge cluster didn't even have a tach. Just speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, and temp gauge. No cruise control at all. Cloth seats, with the metal bars starting to poke through the backs of the seat. Absolutely no seat bolsters or support, and just very uncomfortable, especially for long journeys.
What acceleration? This car had a 2.2l 4 cylinder, which took literally forever to hit 60mph. It was awful, especially paired with the crappy four-speed auto. The engine wheezed and buzzed anytime you would step on the gas, and it just sounded so sick. So bad, so so bad.
It broke. Plenty. Oh, you mean stopping? It stopped running a lot. Seriously though, the brakes were crappy. It didn't take a lot to stop it considering how small this car was, but pedal feel was poor and mushy, and braking even at 25mph felt unsafe.
Supremely subpar ride quality. It was rough, you felt every bump. Traveling at highway speeds felt unsafe. Anything over 50mph, the car shook bad, and taking it to 70-80? You don't even want to find out. What a piece of junk. And, it's inherent in Cavs and Sunfires, as I've been in several of this generation, and they all ride and drive the same.
It didn't. I would not take this thing on twisty, curvy roads, or any sort of track. It had a terrible, rough suspension, and just handled poorly overall.
A horrible four-speed autotragic, which often hunted for gears, jumped gears, and was barely adequate. Just terrible. Worst automatic I've had the displeasure of driving. It only gets one point simply because it HAS a gearbox.
Well, not really anything in those regards. The radio display did show the song name and artist name sometimes, but it would get stuck, and not update. It had a working CD player and cassette player. Power windows and lock, and power steering. That's about it. It was the size of a toy if that counts.
The radio sounded okay enough. It was typical for an econobox. I could listen to music at least. Engine audio from 2.2l engine sounded terrible. It really did. Not a pleasant engine noise. I hated it. Remember Brainy from Hey! Arnold? His wheezing? Yeah, that's what it sounds like.
As I said, this vehicle was GROSSLY overpriced, and I really got taken by the dealership, and I learned a lot, and that's the only value here. The price of this car, without interest, was somewhere around $7,000, I think. WAY TOO MUCH MONEY! This car was just the worst car ever, in so many ways, it really was. 26,000 miles of nothing but headaches, and the gas mileage wasn't even that great!
Look at how low that score is! I don't know why people bought these penalty boxes! Why would anyone spend their hard-earned money on this junk? Really!
Engine: 2.2L I4
Output: 115hp @ 5000 rpm/135 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
0-60 time: 9.2s
Top speed: Around 105mph
Curb weight: 2,700-ish lbs
MPG: 20 city/27 hwy
Price when new: $15k tops?
Price as tested: ~$13,000
Have a bonus pic of mine on a rollback.