Mods on Chevy Cavalier? Need Advice!

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So im soon to purchase a chevy cavalier coupe, and was wondering about how i can make it more sporty without too high of cost.

Some things im going to put on are cold air intake, exhaust headers.... anything else that would help me out for not too much $$ ???


posted by  Bo Jangles

no offense but ur best bet would be to buy somethin else

posted by  V-Tec

Its also my first car, so its not like i have that many options man.. Of course i would choose something different if i could, but i gotta take what i can get and do the best with it, hence im asking for the advice :)

posted by  Bo Jangles

I always hear that short shift kits are good for making the car feel sportier. I've never tried or had one though, but I think they aren't too expensive. Look into that....if its a manual.

posted by  Mathew

ya i understand but u see that car in my sig thats my first car too which i bough... Cavaliers arent that reliable so i wouldn;t recommend modding it cause u will prolly need money to fix it up.

posted by  V-Tec

You should get past the fact that he has a Cavalier, and accept that thats the car he's going to have. He wants advice on how to modify it, so offer him some advice. If everyone had your ideal car, there would only be a few car manufacturers out there. And I'm not trying to start an argument, just see things from his point of view. Thats the car he wants.

posted by  Mathew

Here's the one thing that the peanut gallery never bothers to find out when they're pretending to answer. You need to define what you mean when you say "sporty" and "too high of cost". Without knowing that, anyone who answers you is just jerking off.

posted by  vwhobo

I have 4 friends that Have different year Cavaliers. None of them have had problems (besides your average repair wrok like brakes, etc.). Not trying to start an arguement, just letting you know my experiences with Cavies...

posted by  Satty101

By 'sporty' i mean a nice fast car. Not talking bout nascar quick, street quick. and the price i have is around like 1500, possibly more with time. Thanks

posted by  Bo Jangles

Newsflash. Cavalier + $1500 does not = a nice fast car. It sounds to me as though you need to readjust or at least redefine your goal.

posted by  vwhobo

ok, well its a light car, and 1500 should give enough upgrades to make it street quick, so please just list some stuff that will help :) thanks

posted by  Bo Jangles

Okay, have it your way. But until you take the time to tell us what year, engine and transmission you have, everything else is pissing in the wind. Unless you just want to put some neons, a wing and some NOS stickers on it. Those three things make ALL cars faster.

posted by  vwhobo

its like a 97-02 not sure yet, seeing as i havent purchased yet.. but engine is a 4 cylinder, 5 speed manual and neons..wing...and nos stickers dont really help on speed...

posted by  Bo Jangles

It was a joke peanut, get a header and a full cat-back exhaust, short shifters are always nice, CAI, MSD, maybe a chip if they have one

posted by  99integra

possibly a 75-100 shot of Nitrous if you plan on racing at the track once and a while. Just remember, short bursts...not hold down the button!!!!!!

posted by  Satty101

he wants to go fast, not have to rebuild the motor

posted by  dsmracersv98

I4=not fast *but i myself actually did price some things on building a 92 cavalier once and i do know that your average parts store...autozone ect. does carry a larger cam and different pistons for that engine. I forget all of my numbers but i had it at like $550 with me doing all of the work and that included head milling ect. but then i thought..why bother when it may add 30-40 horsepower maximum. i also have a friend that put a turbo on a 98 cavalier turboed and it probably doesn't make 220 hp. my advice is to not worry about how fast your cavalier is and use it as a daily driver and save your 1500 for something else. I would also like to declare that vw bugs are not fast.

posted by  bigfrye

Why throw that one in there? after a flame war? (unless I'm missing something)....and I think you'll find most cars can be made fast!

posted by  Cliffy

No Cliffy, he's simply throwing that in there to publically display his complete and total stupidity. But you see, the good thing is that he's not alone. And the best thing is that as long as the world his idiots like him around, it makes it easier for me to roll in on a T&T night and empty out their pockets. Hey bigfrye, douche bags like you rule.

On a lighter note, has anyone ever wondered why someone would use a name like bigfrye? Probably doing his best to compensate virtually for his real world small fry. If his screen name truly described him, he'd call himself itsybitsyteenyweeny.

posted by  vwhobo

the guy just asked for advice...i dont care what u guys r arguing about ive read it all and it seems doesnt matter if he asked how to get better gas milage out of a hybrid...he was probly just looking for help just like anybody else that submits to a car forum...not everybody has an unlimited bank account and can go dump a shitload into a car and maybe u should realize (for those of u who like to critisize)...and not everybody is a top of the line mechanic either...take a break on the critisizm..

posted by  19ChevyBlazer87

I agree. Isn't he an asshole? :laughing: :mrgreen:

posted by  narcisis

just because i saw it earlier on cardomain

heres a really nice cavalier
he says he has a turbo and nitrous, but he probably doesnt care about performance quite so much as looks:2cents:

posted by  nighthawk

listen, im not wanting to drop in a turbo or even nitrous on a first car... im also not taking it the the tracks and racing or any of that shit, im looking for fast acceleration, mostly city and a lil highway driving, i also have rebuilt a car almost inside and out, so im not worried about mechanic work or getting dirty. so please, just list me somet stuff u think will help. thank u :)

posted by  Bo Jangles

no turbo, no nitrous, fast acceleration ?

wait, money?

posted by  nighthawk

no nitrous, or turbo... i only got like 1500 and i wouldnt be using that shit anyways with my car. so please just list some aftermarket stuff that will help jesus, such as.... headers, cold air intake, short shifter,better shocks... ect.

posted by  Bo Jangles

ummmm, headers, cold air intake, short shifter, better shocks,
really thats about it, and it should all come to less than 1500 or around there

posted by  nighthawk

Well if you're so fully knowledgable and competent, why are you here asking us? You've done it before, just jump in and do it again. Until you figure out exactly what kind of car you're going to do this work on, you're wasting both our time and your own.

Hey, here's an idea then newb. Why don't you help him? All I've seen from you is bitching about other people. How exactly does that help the guy with his car? Answer? It f*cking doesn't. Go crawl back under your rock.

posted by  vwhobo

ok, just because i have rebuilt a car, it doesnt mean that i have modded shit like adding on new stuff, so chill out. and again, i never said those parts would add up to 1500, im looking FOR ADDITIONAL IDEAS.... so PLEASE stop critizing me or anyone else and start listing stuff for just stfu thank u

posted by  Bo Jangles


That's a good way to get help. Ask the right questions the right way and you might just get the help you're looking for.

posted by  thefonz

ya dumbass... i have like 5 times and all i get is shit back... im really starting to think yall are just avoiding what id like to know just because u dont know what to say.... i CALL that someone will quote this and be like " oh what a noob" damn

posted by  Bo Jangles

Maybe because it's better to save your money and just get a better car? Just because you can afford to cover your car with neons doesn't mean you have to...

posted by  chris_knows

Okay, you keep saying the same damn things over and over. You want it to be sporty and fast, you want it to have quick acceleration. What exactly do you mean. Do you want it to be lowered for a more agressive stance and rougher ride, with a lower center of gravity and improved handling? Do you want it to have a higher top speed? Do you want a six second 0-60 time? This is one of the biggest reasons why nobody has given you a concrete answer, beyond the fact that you haven't narrowed down to exactly which one you will be getting. There are a couple engines that were used in that 5-year span of Cavv's, and the performance parts differ with the engines.

posted by  dodgerforlife

top speed isnt as important, its a 5 speed manual and im looking for fast acceleration, im already getting sports suspension to keep it low to the ground

posted by  Bo Jangles

It's a pitty you're dead set on starting a flame war in this thread, even though some CFers have taken the time to 'help' you out, in your own thread...even after, I'm guessing, viewing your input in here!

posted by  Cliffy

wow cliffy, i didnt say that shit... this is my thread and u are just adding on to what i said earlier, yall just talk shit not advice... IF YOU DONT HAVE ADVICE ON WHAT TO BUY DONT really losing faith in this forum fast...

posted by  Bo Jangles

Did you miss the part where he asked what ENGINE you had in it, or did you avoid it just because you don't know?:thumbs:

posted by  Pythias

He doesn't even know what year it is, how is he supposed to know the engine size? What did I say earlier in the thread about jerking off?

posted by  vwhobo

Well, once you know what year/engine your getting, start looking for the bolt-ons. CAI, headers, cat-back with a high flow, port and polish, UDP. That's about all you can do, if your lucky, on that budget.

posted by  dodgerforlife

That's probably why I wasn't quoting you....I suggest you read my post (and the contained quote) again! :banghead:

posted by  Cliffy

his engine is ethier the 2.2l ecotec or the 2.4 (if its z24 trim)
both are not majorly(word?) different

but if its before 96 or 95 cant remember exactly, theres a chance it has a 2.8l v6:2cents:

posted by  nighthawk

wow, do your homework before you open your mouth for crying out loud. 2003 was the first year of the ecotec. before that it was either a 2.2 or a 2.3 (1995 only) or a 2.4 (1996-2002) DOHC. they stoped using the 2.8 in the cavalier in 1989. from 1990-1994 the used either a 3.1 or a 2.2. now was it really that hard?????

posted by  glagon1979

You forgot the 1.8 and the 2.0 from the earlier models :wink2:, I got the damn 2.2 in the 91 cavalier wagon thats just rotting in the side of my house :laughing:

posted by  99integra

holy crap was I way off :tomato:

i had no clue there were so many engines lol

posted by  nighthawk

Which is why you've been told over and over, ad infinitum, to shut up unless you know what you're talking about. Maybe you'll reemember this time, but I'm not holding my breath.

posted by  vwhobo

I don't know what "street fast" for you is, but if you want to get any real improvements in performance I'm thinking you'll need nitrous, a turbo, or an engine swap. Once again, "street fast" is different for everyone. I say 14 seconds or quicker is a quick car. Others will say anything slower than 11 seconds is slow. You're going to have to be more specific than "street fast".

posted by  giant016

Hey The Z24 is supposedly faster but with a few mods to the 2.2 it isnt.
There are quite a few things you can do especially with 1500. DOnt listen to ANYone with an import. unless its Euro. Intake and headers are your first ++
X3 racing makes headers custom from cali and it comes with a downpipe and is a great fit!! although you might need some welding and fitting after the downpipe. GUT THE CAT. there are ways around the sensor the easiest way, readin is just space it out as much as possible w/ washers. then a flowmaster or dynomax is a must. WWW. ThePartsBin.Com has tons of stuff. a throttle body spacer adds a coupls hps in the mix. run a 160 degree thermostat so you dont have an overheating prolem b/c the headers are 4-1 and a 3 inch down pipe that wrap right around the oil pan so the oil tend to get a little hotter. i rum a 10w-40 for more detergent and 40 weight b/c of the heating. just doing that gets you bolt on turbo ready by Garrett and Venom makes High flow fuel pump. fuel Rail, and intake Makifold. i have gone all that far except the turbo. but get the same gas mileage. i had my ecu adjusted but not tuned up as much as i could have. i can give you as much advice as you need but the one thing i will say is take 5 over off the head,and i leave hondas and acuras as though they arent even moving. all i hear is their motor sounding like its gonna through a rod or something at 7 grand or whatever while i'm crusing at 2 and half. My best friend just bouhgt a Mazdaspeed 6,off the line i coulnd even see him in the rear view. but b/c it is only a cav he started to catch me when i hit 80. same happend with a dodge carger r/t. the problem w/ all the new cars is you have to pay 40,000 or 50,000 for 400 or so hp for a car that wieghs 4,000 lbs or more. in retrospect i tought i was racing an orange del sol but he seemed to be having some troulbe keeping up. it took it that when he took his hat off at me and slowed down he was done looking dumb. i'm having the exhast work finalized befor i put the turbo in, even in which case im still only pushing about 8 lbs. and maybe i'll be looking for vipers to race after the turbo is all said and done. ps a good upgrade are brakes. Brembo makes drilled rotors i got online for about 146.00
and the 4 piston calipers from Brembo where kinda pricey but you can use the stock ones and use EBC pads. Use The RED stuff ones i think i paid about 71$$. the brakes where probably the best thing i did to the car. other than bridgestone potenzas. Eibach also makes Sway bars and some strut bars are pretty cheap. its more expensive to have them adjusted. i dont know where you live or if you are concerned with handling. Talk about a sleeeper. hit me back. The DoC

posted by  mDoC2200

Oh my. I think we have a new winner in the "post containing the most bullsh*t" sweepstakes. Oh my, oh my. :banghead:

posted by  vwhobo

i have a 99 cav, 5 speed, its very reliable, i have yet to have any problems. mine is loweed an inch and a half with 18" wheels. i have a full cat exhaust and a short shifter. its definitely not the fastest car out there, but it works for now as money is tight. i am working on a cold air intake and some other stuff for it next. i'd go with your cav and make it work for you, at least its a start until you can get something better bro!

posted by  dmanz

He gets credit for saying wheels instead of rims, I'll give you that.

posted by  Pythias

He helped out more than you did...

posted by  Stem

thank you. i realize its not the greatest car but when cash is tight, what other choice do you have

posted by  dmanz

Im sure that exhaust sytem you put on it and your throtle body spacer gave alot of power
And who exactly tuned your ecu?
my 98 hp comet would smote you
wait Let me put it in video games terms becasue i realized you don't own a cavy in real life you actualy just have one on Need for speed for underground.
And charecter in video games don't count as friends.
I would Pwn you in real life

posted by  Aondor

First things first. What year is the Cavalier?

There's a difference since you either get a shitty engine or a really good one. If it's a regular SOHC 2.2L engine then you have a lot of work and maybe worth it to save the money and get something else.

Two engines to look for is either the Quad 4 or Ecotec. The Quad 4's are "REALY" powerful but have crap for reliability. The Quad4's came in many flavors. Some with ranging from 150 hp to 190hp stock. You'll never find the 190hp since those were extremely rare and labled W41 on top. These engines were superior to all Imports since 1988.

Then you have the Ecotecs. Produce crap for power stock but GM does offer many bolt on upgrades for the Ecotec. Unlike the Quad 4 the Ecotec's are much easier to deal with and are far more reliable. Reliable enough to push some Ecotec's to as much as 1400 hp.

Though if you want power from you Cavalier and you don't have either one of those engines in it then you need to do an engine swap first. Problem is if the Cavalier is old the Quad 4's don't swap easily. You'll need a sub frame from the doner car which means you pratically need the doner car right next to you to do the swap. If the Cavalier is newer then you could deal with the Ecotec's which usually means easy swap or just bolt ons.

Note that most GM FWD engines can usually mount to any GM FWD transmission.

If you're asking to beef up a 2.2L SOHC engine without any extreme work or cost then you're just asking how can I rice it up.

posted by  DukenukemX

ok don't listen to this @$$ hat a cavalier has just as much potential as any imported rice rocket, my cavalier takes bigger $hits than his integra, but lets just say

but anyway about your question, if your getting a cavalier Z/24 or ECOtec, it's going to put more torque to the ground than an import just because of the displacement, but I would go with a aftermarket intake they are generally inexpensive and give you a nice power gain and adds a meaner engine sound, but the short shifter is a great idea also, I've got one and i love it.. if you any more help just hit me up

posted by  z24cavy99

Actually the Ecotec is one of the most reliable engines you'll ever find. In fact it made it into the top 10 best engines where Honda and Toyota didn't even make it into the top ten.

Just to give an idea on how warped everyone's vision on imports and performance. Take Honda's C32B 3.2L V6 found in the Honda NSX. A lot of import fans like to compare HP per liter which really doesn't mean anything. Hp per MPG on the other hand does tell us how efficient the car was built.

2005 Acura NSX 17-24 MPG. Produces 290 hp.

2005 Chevy Corvette 16-26 MPG. Produces 500 hp.

Historically when ever imports produce racing horsepower they end up getting crap for MPG and we all know know how important gas prices are today.

A 1990 Beretta GTZ with a Quad 4 could produce 180 hp with 160 tq and still got 32 MPG highway. Don't ever tell import owners that i4 performance engines have been in domestic cars since 1988 that produced more power stock then they could ever dream. Ohh and don't tell them it's N/A because they can't use their HP per Liter crap.

posted by  DukenukemX

i am selling a port and polished aluminum head for a 2200 2.2L chevy cavalier with ss valve springs. i baught it from rsm racing about a year ago. it was 2000 when i baught it and i have never used it i just recenty baught a cobalt ss sc so i have no need for it im asking 1000 but we can talk about the price... it is set up for direct port nos system or a great head for a turbo or supercharged system my email is email me if any one is interested...

posted by  etmoff02

i have a a 97-99 cavaliers never had an issue till i started moding, the only thin i did was blow trans you couldent ask for a tougher car, i had stage three clutch, cold air intake, 17`s lowerd 2 inch duel exhaust everything

posted by  bigmeat

Hey guys i'm pretty sure he is asking WHAT HE CAN GET FOR CHEAP TO MOD HIS CAVALIER!
not that he shouldnt buy it etc, just answer the questions guys unless your suggestion is not too far off topic

i can add that nothing is more annoying than having to listen to people NOT answering what i ask.

your best bet Bo Jangles is to go into your part store (partsource, napa, performance shops) and talk to them about your budget, how and where you drive your car, and your driving style, if they know their stuff they should be able to just give you a list of options and you can pick from there.

good luck with the building!

posted by  cowman85

For the past 3 years this forum has apparently been a favorite place for everybody to ask about cavalier's.

Too bad car-forums is so easy to find, :laughing:

posted by  nighthawk

2000 model year + the ecotech is bulletproof... earlier models had head gasket problems

posted by  PotGod

since when is the ECOTEC bulletproof. I blew up the one in my 00 Saturn L series.

posted by  glagon1979

I have a 91 cavalier 2.2 that i made look like a z24 model. It isnt bad for a daily driver but it isnt fast at all. I ported the upper intake and made a cold air intake (tpi so there arent aftermarket ones) and i put a cherrybomb on it. I gained the most power from modding the intake, i raced my buddies 01 sonoma 2.2 with a header and was keeping up side by side. The older cavaliers arent that great for speed, but i turn the key and start it up every day. It is good for a reliable car but not for a race car unless you spend a lot of money. The newer 2.2 engines are a lot faster than my 91 2.2 with a whopping 95 horsepower from the factory. Cavaliers overall are pretty good cars and parts are everywhere. Intake is the first mod i would do though.

91cavi   27 Feb 2012 05:56

To start out I own a 2000 cavalier I was in the same boat u was wanting it to look good and all u have the 2.4 dohc in ur cavy correct? I would start out as putting an intake possibly a chip....I swapped my motor with a ecotec its alittle work but nothing to break the bank...with the peopl that are saying all this stuff. Ignore it cavys are good cars check mine out on cardomain user name is wolf8987 and good luck with the cavy

wolf8987   10 Jan 2013 20:50

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