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Old 06-08-2010, 06:32 PM   #1
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I need expert advise

So me and my wife bought a 2004 Camry Solara last year. I gets good mpg for a V6. But we are tired of the car payment and we going to sale it and look for something else. Else I'm looking into getting to car repair classes to do my own stuff. I'm asking for advise of those who do work on their own cars. What would be a good car for us to can thats easy to repair, if and when something goes wrong? We do a want list. 1. a 4 banger. 2. 4 doors, 3. I need an automatic trans do to a leg problem. Thanks in advance
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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I recently acquired a 1994 Chevy S10 pickup (to use as a donor for a project) and it looks ridiculously easy to repair. Everything is very simple and parts are all easy to reach. Perhaps a 4 cylinder S10 Blazer would be similar. I'm not sure how efficient it would be with an automatic, though...
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:30 PM   #3
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cavalier all the way.

actually isn't that far off of what the cow is saying. the cavaliers have the same engine (obviously a different trans due to front wheel drive)

I have had to do very little to mine (other than body work).

most of doing it yourself is just doing it. the first time you do something, it is awkward and strange but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

also, there are cavaliers everywhere. they made them up to 2005. after that came the cobalt. you can get them with 4 doors and an auto. they also come standard with the 2.2 liter and though the displacement is larger than most gas sippers, it will do mid to high 30s (I can't crack 40 on a tank to save my life).

good luck on your search.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:05 PM   #4
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I vote American as well. Replacement parts are generally plentiful and cheap, especially on a Cavalier.
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Old 06-09-2010, 04:31 AM   #5
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you sound like a good candidate for my old Saturn Sl2! Too bad I just got rid of it. But if you can find a Saturn in good shape, they are pretty good "learner" cars.

-Bob C.
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Old 06-09-2010, 04:44 AM   #6
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Yeah, I'd say the same as above. Cavalier or Saturn.

Parts are very plentiful at junkyards or parts stores. Cheap prices on most all replacement parts if bought new. Most any routine maintenance job can be done on a Saturn/Cavalier in 3 hours or less if you're focusing, even for a beginner.

That includes water pumps, tune ups, brake rotors and/or pads, suspension parts like endlinks or control arms or tie rods, etc. Very basic cars.

You don't need any classes. You need a good set of tools and a Hayne's manual $15.

I can't speak for Cavaliers much but I've heard they're known for cooling issues/water pump failures. Saturns are known for oil consumption and "reverse slam" issues with the auto transmissions which can usually be fixed for $50 and a Saturday afternoon.

If you're intersted in a Saturn, I'd suggest registering at saturnfans.com where you'll find an abundance of DIY'ers in your shoes who now have a lot of skills because of the community over there. Lots of video's can be found and lots of write ups and How-To's.
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:20 AM   #7
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I somewhat agree with what has been said, but at the same time do not... lol

So let me start out with, the Cavalier is a pretty easy to work on, cheap to repair car. I bought one (2.2L) with a blown motor and rebuilt the entire engine and still had under $1,000 in the car. That said, it was a 4 door, but the back seat was virtually worthless IMO. It was horribly small. They have common problems with the timing chain at/after 100,000 miles in the 2.2L (why I got mine so cheap).

I have also had 2 Saturn SL (4 doors). The back seat was slightly larger and more comfortable (IMO) and thus if you want a 4 door to actually haul people, this would be better. They are pretty easy to work on, and fairly cheap overall, but not as cheap as a Cavalier. They are also known to develop an oil burning problem from both stuck rings and valve seals.

Where I disagree... I personally would recommend looking at a Honda Civic. I would say the back seat in my '95 Civic Sedan is not as small as the Cavalier, but not as big as the Saturn, somewhere in between. Parts are cheap, the car is easy to work on and they seem to last forever even without the best maintenance record. The main problems with these are (especially an older one) the rust. It is sometimes hard to find a clean, rustfree Civic.
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Old 06-09-2010, 09:21 AM   #8
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cavaliers and the saturn sl series are pretty much the same. I think they have smaller engines but very similar cars.

I haven't heard anything about bad timing chains. I am currenty at 199,800 miles on mine on the original: starter, water pump, fuel pump, timing chain, alternator, axles, transmission, etc... I have also never opened the motor up. I will say that I don't think mine is typical since most of the used ones with over 150K on the clock seem to have new motors or transmissions or what not. I can only go by what I know about mine.

I have had mine since 95k and have had it 6+ years now. the guy I bought it from wasn't very mechanically inclined (maybe just lazy) though he ran a body shop. if something needed to be done to it, it would sit in the parking lot until someone made him an offer on it.

I haven't even done a trans fluid flush on it.
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Old 06-09-2010, 09:33 AM   #9
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I can't do a S10. Most aren't 4 door. And I hate to say but we've had bad luck with GM's 2.2L. LOL then again it could be good practice.LOL. I've always heard that American Car parts are cheap, but the cars are harder to work on. And that imported cars are easier to work on but the parts cost alittle more money.
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Old 06-09-2010, 01:33 PM   #10
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"I need expert advice."

well, don't ask here then!
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