2000 Sunfire SE 2.2L OHV and 4 Spd Auto.
9 year and 180,000 mi on SuperTech Synthetic 5W-30 and SuperTech Filter with 10,000 mi OCI (Sold to New Owner)
2009 Solistice 2.4L Ecotec and 5 Spd Auto.
11 years and 160,000 mi on SuperTech Synthetic 5W-30 with Delco Filter and 10,000 mi OCI.
That covers my sister's 20 years of cars. Neither used any oil in her history of ownership.
Likely could come up with a worse plan for a 2.2L OHV.
I've driven lots of those Cavaliers from that era, always liked them for what they were- cheap vehicles to get from A to B. The 2200 engine was smooth with good torque and tough as nails. I liked the power of the Ecotec that replaced it (first Ecotec I drove was a rented Cavlier and I tested it out thoroughly :), but it didn't seem as refined or torquey as the 2200 OHV.
If I was looking for a beater car to commute with that had the cheapest cost of ownership, that'd be somewhere near the top of the list. Good score.
HDEO 10w30 in the summer, but, realistically, whatever you can get cheap. If I had it I'd run a frankenbrew of the odd leftovers from my garage.
See what rockauto has for PF47 type filters. Champs for $1.37 are probably better than the $1.22 pro-tecs. Maybe order when you order something else and save on shipping.
The valve cover gasket is silly easy to do on these cars, and cheap.
I'd pay attention to the coolant-- maybe swap out with some AMAM. The long coolant pipe that goes around the top of the engine has been known to rot out.
Dated a girl back in the day who bought a 98 Cavalier 5 speed brand new with the 2.2L engine. That little car got great gas mileage and the AC was cold as ever. Agreed -- cheap oil paired with a cheap Super Tech oil filter -- good score!!!
I feel pretty qualified to comment on this. I owned a 1998 Cavalier from 1998 up til late 2013 that had the same engine and it still ran great when I sold it. It had 359,833 miles and still ran GREAT!!!
As for oil, I went back and forth with Exxon Superflo Synthetic 5w-30 and M1 5w-30 in it for the first 10 years or so then I changed over to PP 5w-30 for the remaining time until I sold it. As for filters, I used Pure One filters by Purolator for the majority of the time I had it and eventually moved over to Wix after joining BITOG.
As for suggestions, you can easily run a synthetic up to 6,000 to 7,500 miles. Just make sure your oil filter game is strong. Also, make sure you cover up the exhaust pipe with aluminum foil or a homemade metal shield or something that won't melt when you change the oil so that the oil from the filter doesn't run out on it and get caught up in the braided flexpipe, which would give you that burning oil odor for awhile.
Had mine not been just a basic car with no options other than A/C, I would have kept it. As I got older, having no power windows, no power locks, no cruise control, no nothing started to wear on me. Would love to come across one at some point fully equipped so that I actually have an incentive to do repairs on it.
As 92saturnsl2 mentioned. Engine is extremely smooth. I miss that (my '03 Focus is no ways as smooth as the '98 Cav).
Lastly, at the risk of sounding "crazy" I could tell when the car needed an oil change (if I got lazy). I would feel a little bit of vibration in the steering wheel. Lots of good memories with my ol '98.
Anyway, that's my .02 on the matter.
Thanks to all for the tips and suggestions.
Eljefino - I'll keep an eye on that coolant hose. Didn't think about 10w30 HDEO, but why not. Thanks!
qdeezie - good to know. This one doesn't have any options either, so I can relate.
I would absolutely love to find one of these for my next winter beater. Unfortunately, up here they're all rotten by the time they get that cheap. That, and finding a manual is neigh impossible, which is what I would want. No options, too, just like yours. Honestly, I'd rather have the Ecotec in mine, though. Nothing against the 2200, but I would rather have a high-revving DOHC engine than a stump-pulling OHV in that type of car. I'm also surprised at all the comments about the 2200 being "smooth". I've heard it called many things, but smooth has never been one of them. Is it an Iron Duke? Certainly not. But the Ecotec is a much smoother engine IMO.
Anyways, great purchase! And just to keep it on topic, I would run whatever is on sale for oil. Weight isn't going to matter much in that engine, it just doesn't care. I will say, keep an eye on the subframe especially where the rack mounts are welded on and the passenger side rear control arm mount. They love to rot out at those locations for some reason. However, it's super easy to replace and cheap to get a clean one from the south.
Been running some sort of J body in my fleet for the last 24 years...
Those 2.2s will run of ANYTHING you run in there...they are not picky!
I just had to retire a 2003 Cavalier with the Ecotec 2.2.... 160k trouble free miles living in any synthetic and a Delco filter. Did just fine...
Sadly, down to just the 2004 Cav now.....