This car’s been needing one repair after another to keep it roadworthy. A simple brake job turned into replacing hardlines and my shifter cable went the way of the dodo. Classic Cavalier charm i suppose.

I’ve had the rear drum and shoes on my to do list for awhile now. I cracked her open and saw the brake cylinder was leaking, not a big deal. I go to the store and get a fresh set of cylinders for $24. Fun fact, later J-body’s had a bigger drum and brake cylinder setup than my ‘97. Mine is 200mm and the later ones upgraded to 230mm.

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Looking sharp if it wasn’t for the fact that all my hardlines are mega rusty after 22 yrs of service. The brake fittings no longer spin freely, can’t take a flared wrench without crumbling and are fused to the hardline, so it’s a colossal pain if not impossible to remove them cleanly. Things tend to get broken at this point.

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Whatever, we have the technology...we can rebuild! I buy some new hard and softlines. I bend the hardlines to have some sort of semblance to the originals.

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I call that a success. Ironically I had to do the same thing to my ‘98 Cavalier Z24 when it had 70K on it. The rear brake lines and quarter rockers are a weak spot on J-body’s, they’re just moisture traps and tend to disintegrate very quickly.

[The Z24 in question, notice how the front bumper paint is stripping off, it’s a GM alright....]

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My ‘97 base wouldn’t shift into 2nd gear yesterday, concerning but something I’d look into this weekend, So I was shifting from 1st to 3rd everywhere I went... Then today, It decided to stop shifting period while I was out and about. My shifter’s articulation went off and floppy and the car was stuck in 3rd as I was driving . I was 8 miles from home and I got every red light imaginable.

Starting from 3rd gear without stalling the motor was rough. I had to rev up the motor and really slow down on the clutch engagement to make the magic happen...the whole trip smelled liked burning clutch from the standing starts, but I made it.

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So naturally, I went on to investigate. At this point it was clearly a shifter cable issue, so I took out its guts.

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And there you have it, one of the cables is bad. It’s an easy fix, I just have to buy new ones and cram them in there and I’ll have my gears back. Never a dull moment with the Savvy Cavvy. 

BONUS: Smart car took a punch to the face, but it’s safety cell did a jolly good job keeping the important bits intact. It doesn’t have vented discs and it’s suspension components are so tiny and toy-like. Neato!

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