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mmosbey
mmosbey Reader
4/21/12 10:44 a.m.

So, I've come across a 98 Sunfire coupe with a manual via the internet. I haven't gone out to see it yet, but it's claimed to run well, and it doesn't look too beat up, though the 90's metallic green is starting to decompose. I think I can get it for $500-600.

I don't know if it's a GT or SE, or if it's the 2.2 or 2.4 as the ad and the photos are a little sparse. I'm looking for something that is cheap enough to be able to afford to damage in pursuit of Grassroots endeavors. My current DD is too dear, and too not paid for.

So, any things to watch out for, and how easy is something like this to work on?

SkinnyG
SkinnyG HalfDork
4/21/12 10:50 a.m.

My wife's '99 Sunfire 2.2L has been one of the most disgustingly reliable cars we've ever had the misfortune of owning. I loathe and detest everything about it, but it WILL NOT DIE and I cannot get rid of a car that still works fine.

There was a recent GM Recall regarding the "lots of cranking until it finally starts" issue, where some cars would just burn to the ground. The recall was adding a relay and some thicker wiring, not fixing the issue itself.

The next step will be leaving it unlocked with the keys in it, but likely someone will slip a $20 under the wiper blades for us.

rotard
rotard HalfDork
4/21/12 11:53 a.m.

It's probably a 2.2 OHV. It will run terribly for a long, long, long time.

patgizz
patgizz UltraDork
4/21/12 12:53 p.m.

they are simple to work on, cheap to fix, and run forever. "omg j bodies are horrible" is an internet myth

they are great for appliances and you can even fit a supercharged 3800 into one. the 2.2 is slowwwwww

racerfink
racerfink Dork
4/21/12 1:00 p.m.
There was a recent GM Recall regarding the "lots of cranking until it finally starts" issue, where some cars would just burn to the ground.

You should never EVER do that to ANY car anyways! Anybody who would do that would be lucky to just have a wire burn up.

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof UltraDork
4/21/12 1:05 p.m.
SkinnyG wrote: My wife's '99 Sunfire 2.2L has been one of the most disgustingly reliable cars we've ever had the misfortune of owning. I loathe and detest everything about it, but it WILL NOT DIE and I cannot get rid of a car that still works fine.

I bought a 99 Z24 for my wife around 2001. We had it for about 10 years and it was the most reliable car I've ever owned. I liked it so much, I built a 00 Z24 project car, and it was faster, more fun, and better on fuel than I would have ever imagined. I'd build another I liked it so much.

mtn
mtn PowerDork
4/21/12 1:48 p.m.

Friend of mine had a 97 Cavalier coupe automatic, I couldn't tell you what engine. His mom beat up on it for the first 5 years of its life, then he beat on it for the next 5 years of its life. He got rid of it with 150,000 miles on it. It had 2 oil changes in those last 5 years, but the thing would not die. Ever. He hated it, but it never ever let him down.

Knurled
Knurled Dork
4/21/12 1:54 p.m.

Decent cars. Better brakes than most cheap cars of the era, the handling isn't bad, and they're pretty tough.

They're bad to rust the subframes out (but then, so are Neons and people like those) and the vertical control arm bushings need replaced with some regularity. BFD.

I keep thinking thoughts revolving around the 3400/4T40 drivetrain and if it will fit acceptably well in the engine bay, and if the CAN communications are compatible enough that everything is happy talking to each other so it'd be smog legal. But it'd have to be a 4-door Cavalier. Oh yes, a little old lady Cavalier, preferably with the anonymous beige paint scheme.

ShadowSix
ShadowSix Reader
4/21/12 2:03 p.m.

Every J-body I have ever worked on has been beat on mercilessly by the dumbest, least mechanically sympathetic people I've ever met, yet they keep soldiering on.

I've never really noticed rust any worse than anything else of similar vintage.

Parts tend to be amazingly easily available and cheap. Something that'll take a day and cost $50 for a Civic will be on the shelf and cost $20 for a Cavalier, it's almost obnoxious.

mtn
mtn PowerDork
4/21/12 2:19 p.m.

What kind of gas mileage do they get? I seem to remember my friends getting horrible MPG for a car that size, but his driving style probably had a ton to do with that.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve PowerDork
4/21/12 2:25 p.m.

Why such a high price?

ShadowSix
ShadowSix Reader
4/21/12 2:29 p.m.
mtn wrote: What kind of gas mileage do they get? I seem to remember my friends getting horrible MPG for a car that size, but his driving style probably had a ton to do with that.

Come to think of it, I rented a Sunfire a few years ago, and it did get pretty bad mileage, noticeably worse than a Malibu we got on the same trip. I have no idea what motor that car had, or even what year it would have been... mid-00's probably?

Edit: Also the worst interior of any car made in the last 10 yrs. I think this is where the bad reputation come from, it doesn't take a mechanic to sit in one and notice that everything looks cheap, all the print is worn off the buttons, and a bunch of little switches, knobs, and trim pieces are broken.

akamcfly
akamcfly HalfDork
4/21/12 3:16 p.m.
patgizz wrote: they are simple to work on, cheap to fix, and run forever. "omg j bodies are horrible" is an internet myth they are great for appliances and you can even fit a supercharged 3800 into one. the 2.2 is slowwwwww

oh?

I have an 03 Cadaver what needs something like this.

patgizz
patgizz UltraDork
4/21/12 3:21 p.m.

my wife bought an 02 new. just gave it to my sister last year. now has 150k+ and my sister pounds cars.

it was a 2.2/auto and averaged 32mpg combined

patgizz
patgizz UltraDork
4/21/12 3:21 p.m.

http://www.3800tech.net/showthread.php?t=808&page=1

fasted58
fasted58 UltraDork
4/21/12 3:26 p.m.

omg

Knurled
Knurled Dork
4/21/12 3:45 p.m.

Wonder if the stock airbox can be used, maybe shut up the blower whine a little.

MA$$hole
MA$$hole Reader
4/21/12 4:32 p.m.

My roommate had an automatic 97 coupe, it was one of the worst cars I ever drove. Handled horribly, wasn't comfortable, & felt underpowered.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler HalfDork
4/21/12 5:53 p.m.
patgizz wrote: they are simple to work on, cheap to fix, and run forever. "omg j bodies are horrible" is an internet myth

No, it isn't. And running forever is not an asset when it comes to these cars, it's a liability.

corytate
corytate Dork
4/21/12 6:14 p.m.

my cavalier with the 2.2 ohv was ridiculously reliable too. It overheated to the point that it shut off, I hated the car so I passed it on to a friend for $150, and he threw a head gasket at it. He drove it for like 4 more years then sold it to his brother.
miserable little thing though.
Aren't the sunfires a bit lighter than cav's?
I can vouch that a stock automatic 2.2 ohv sunfire will go 11.0 in the 1/8th mile, if that helps you out any

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 Reader
4/21/12 6:53 p.m.

My Girlfriend had a 2000 Cavalier ("Little Red Rocket") when we started dating. Was reliable enough, 2.2l automatic. I did quite a bit of maintenance on it, she wasn't the best at keeping up with things when we first met. It got a water pump, valve cover gasket, both CV axle, and brakes while she had it, nothing major. I also replaced and/or epoxied back together practically the entire dash, which only developed more cracks.

Interior generally sucked, cheap as cheap gets, seats weren't uncomfortable, but I drive a Volvo, so seriously I'm spoiled. Here's was a 2 door, one grown normal sized person could fit in the back seat comfortably-ish if you sat kind of sideways.

We actually took a few road trips in that car, mileage wasn't great considering what it was, upper 20s were the normal average, if it was all highway you could expect to brake 30 but just.

Another peculiarity, she had an car audio shop put a CD player in it to replace the factory tape deck/radio, and they actually put the factory radio in the trunk, and ran a wiring harness from it back to the dash and aftermarket CD player. Apparently the door chime, and seems like something else (fuzzy memory) don't work without the factory radio, chime plays over the car speakers?

We sold the Cavalier a couple years after she finished grad school. I detailed it, touched up all the paint chips, put a good coat of wax on it, and sold it in '09 for $1700 with ~135K miles, decent rubber, a tear in the console lid, a softball dent in the hood, and a listed $2K OBO.

  • Lee
Wally
Wally UltimaDork
4/21/12 9:28 p.m.

It is frustratingly reliable, truly the cockroach of automobiles. My 99 is at 176,000. The only regular maintanace it sees are washes because my parking garage is also home for birds with intestinal issues. I add washer fluid, and oil when the light is on. It has run over a buck's carcus that was laying in the middle of the road and aside from smelling like a cookout for a week and an antler wedged infront of the gas tank there were no problems. It starts every time and passes inspection every year. The only parts I've changed in 5 years were a rusted through coolant pipe, a radiator and headlight someone killed at stop and shop, and some exhaust hangers, and a driver's seat the previous owner burned with one two many cigs. The interior sucks, it has some handling (quirks), ABS that lets you roll into oblivion if it gets confused, and awful mileage, but I will probably have it forever because the spots with no paint can't even figure out how to rust through properly.

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon HalfDork
4/21/12 9:44 p.m.

My in-laws bought my wife a 2000 or 2001 Sunfire GT convertible as her first car. Just before she got her permit, the transmission went out in her dad's truck, so he took over her car and never gave it back. About that time I showed up, so then I got to drive her around everywhere anyway. Oh well.

He doesn't take care of anything. The window switch corroded and one window was stuck up and the other stuck down, I bypassed the switch and rolled the one up, but the top still leaked. It now has all kinds of black silicone and other E36 M3 to try and seal that window up when it leaks. It's now got a dent in the quarter, passenger fender was pushed back when they hit a big dog, and the passenger door pops when it opens. It also shifts hard.

BUT IT WILL NOT DIE. They've put tires, changed the oil, and that's about it.

I think a J body with the 2.4 would do really well in the compact FWD circle track world.

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon HalfDork
4/21/12 9:47 p.m.
Wally wrote: It is frustratingly reliable, truly the cockroach of automobiles.

THAT IS MY NEW SIGNATURE!

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof UltraDork
4/21/12 9:48 p.m.

In reply to BoostedBrandon:

Put a 56 mm tb on it, and you won't believe the difference.

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