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Hello everyone!

After my old Protege5 got totaled, I began looking up cars to replace it. The Cruze appealed to me for the following reasons:
  • The 1.4L turbo engine is reported to be peppy
  • 6-speed manual option
  • Good looks
  • Within my budget of willingness to spend 9-10k
    • Very low miles for given budget
  • Surprising aftermarket support
  • Good MPG
First, I would like to know if you guys can qualify some points I've gathered about the 1st gen 1.4LT Cruze. After reading various articles and making a post on reddit's Cruze subreddit, it seems that...
  • 2014-2015 Cruzes are more reliable than 2011-2013 Cruzes (from cars.usnews)
  • The 1.4LT engine requires a very strict maintenance timeline
  • The 1.4LT engine is very leak-happy; PCV valve can blow the valve cover gasket easily
  • On the reddit Cruze thread I wrote, negative personal testimonies were in the majority (was warned about never-ending headaches, for example)
    • I was told that a 2nd Gen Cruze is a better prospective car, but second hand 2nd gens are a little out of my price range at the moment.
  • Overall ratings of the car are mostly 4 stars from places such as edmunds, usnews, cars.com, autotrader, motortrend (2 star review, no real word of reliability). Most website reviews seem to complain more about the passenger space in the rear.
  • Personal testimonies on these sites reflect both the reddit testimonials and the published website reviews
Ultimately, this car looks like a mixed bag. Some people get horrible experiences, others are completely fine. However, after browsing this forum and looking at the 1.4LT maintenance guide, I think it might be a fair guess that no one followed some maintenance paradigm.

As a car owner...:
  • I like doing my own maintenance and repairs if possible. Am also trying to avoid a moneypit of repairs.
  • I enjoy modifying vehicles, and even modified my old P5 to be mildly competitive in the local sanctioned time attack, but won't be racing the Cruze if I get one
  • I'm considering light modifications if I got a Cruze, such as sportier suspension, wheels and tires.
  • I play the upright bass! This affected my choice of vehicle greatly in the past, as I often opted for hatchbacks or cars with more spacious interiors (hence my P5 wagon, and the Suzuki Sidekick before it)
    • I know that the smallest car a roughly 6" upright bass can fit in is a Honda CRX. I have personally fit the bass inside a 2004 Toyota Corolla S.
With all this information I've given you, do you think a Cruze is a good fit for me? Should I keep saving and instead go for a second gen? I've been advised to look at Honda, Toyota, and Mazda alternatives, and will do so unless I can really ascertain that the vastly cheaper Cruze won't put me back in a moneypit. Tell me your experiences, successes, failures, anything that could help me make a decision.

Thanks a lot for your time!
 

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Welcome!!

I’d say you have enough research to make an educated decision.

both the 1.8 and the 1.4 have oil and coolant leaks. Stay on top of them. I believe the 1.8L is more reliable but it’s also the LS trim and you get no cruise control or Bluetooth plus there isn’t a turbo

do your research before starting a repair job. GM decided it would be funny to add TTY bolts into random locations like the caliper bracket and they are usually dealer only parts.

Maintenance is fairly straightforward and most of the bolts will require T-sockets as well as E-sockets on top of your standard sockets/wrenches.


for the average driver this car can be a headache always bringing it into the shop and paying month after month but if you can do the work yourself and order parts online you can save a lot of money and you get to know your car well over time.

all that being said I don’t mind the car. Always been reliable getting me to work and back. Obviously there will be issues with any car you buy.

also there are a lot of intelligent members here who have probably already gone thru what you might be having issues with and will most likely be happy to assist in helping you out.
 

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My first gen put me through hell and back. I feel bad for whoever bought the thing. After a 4th failed attempt to fix the knocking manual transmission, I gave up on the thing and started shopping around.

My second gen has been the best car I've owned and I'm reminded of that every time I road trip without worrying that the car will get me there.

Seems like you either get a good one or a bad one, and you only really hear about the bad ones on the Internet.

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My second gen has been the best car I've owned and I'm reminded of that every time I road trip without worrying that the car will get me there.
My thoughts exactly. I had a few problems with my 2012 Eco 6mt but was able to fix most by myself. My ‘17 Hatch has been completely different. Just changed oil at 83k mi. and was noticing how clean the motor was. Not a single leak anywhere. Has not needed anything more than routine maintenance.
 

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I dare to say that the second gen would be a better car. It don't run as hot as the first gen. It won't have the common problems. Other then piston which is hit or miss.
 

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My first gen has never run hot, but I would concede that the second gen should be better.

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My first gen has never run hot, but I would concede that the second gen should be better.

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I think he means "hot" as in the 220+ range where the 1st gens default to.

Hot cooling system temps = high cooling system pressure. That, coupled with junky plastic junction points, junky plastic hose connections, and a water pump design known for leaking = tons of cooling system issues with the Gen 1.

Gen 2 runs lower temps, a conventional thermostat rather than an electrically controlled one, and most junction/connections points on the motor are now metal. Water pump design was completely changed as well. Have not seen any cooling system issues with the Gen 2 around here yet.
 

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I think he means "hot" as in the 220+ range where the 1st gens default to.

Hot cooling system temps = high cooling system pressure. That, coupled with junky plastic junction points, junky plastic hose connections, and a water pump design known for leaking = tons of cooling system issues with the Gen 1.

Gen 2 runs lower temps, a conventional thermostat rather than an electrically controlled one, and most junction/connections points on the motor are now metal. Water pump design was completely changed as well. Have not seen any cooling system issues with the Gen 2 around here yet.
Even on 100deg days in dc traffic, the temp needle stays at its usual location. Just under halfway. It goes to that level even on 0 deg days. Just saying...

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Even on 100deg days in dc traffic, the temp needle stays at its usual location. Just under halfway. It goes to that level even on 0 deg days. Just saying...

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Yes, it's a 'dummy' gauge, as they have been for the past 30 years.

That position on the needle means anything from 185 to 230F on the Cruze.
 

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Yes, it's a 'dummy' gauge, as they have been for the past 30 years.

That position on the needle means anything from 185 to 230F on the Cruze.
Yep, I realize that. But the fact remains, in my experience, my car has always operated within operating norms.

Now in my Supra, I had to replace the factory gauges to give more info since the car has a long aluminum head. Can't afford the car to overheat even a little bit.

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If you must buy a 2nd gen. Avoid 2014. If you can find a diesel appears to be much better. The consumer ratings are over inflated. I will admit I usually do research heavily on cars I buy used. I didnt do it with my 2014. Liked they way it handles for a front wheel drive car so just blindly bought it. Will also admit since my Cruze has been in the dealer for almost 30 days " I won't accept the answer for loss of coolant just overnight" So they are still messing around with it. We just bought a Nissan for either the cruzes replacement or back up when it "the cruze" breaks again. Enjoy working on cars. But this hasnt been a fun one for me. If we keep the Cruze it will have some major modifications to it.
So lastly on my rant as some other member said. Make sure you have a good warranty bumper to bumper! Dont use GM oil! Mobil one is superior and doesnt sludge. Get the manual so when and or if you do have the cooling problems you save your transmission.
Good luck.
 

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First gen is from 2010 - 2016 1/2
Second gen started in the later half of 2016.

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you all for your responses! Always excellent to hear more personal testimonials from people that aren't anonymous folks on dealer pages.

I believe by now that I'm not going for a 1st gen. It's truly a coin toss to see if you got a good one or not, and even if you do get a good one, there are lots of low-quality parts that'll be problematic down the line. Seems like I would need to do a decent amount of work myself to "make" it reliable, which is not something I'm interested in, nor have the time to do, at the moment.

However, those 2nd gens do seem quite promising, especially for the hatchback model. I have a feeling that the hatchback models with the 6-speed manual are going to be really tough to find and much more expensive than my current budget, but if I manage to find a good deal, I'll have to check it out.

Thank you guys a lot for your time!
 

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The 1st gen will do good if you install a 176 thermostat that someone else on this forum did.
The heater won't be something to brag to momma about but it will make the car last longer.
 

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Yep, I realize that. But the fact remains, in my experience, my car has always operated within operating norms.

Now in my Supra, I had to replace the factory gauges to give more info since the car has a long aluminum head. Can't afford the car to overheat even a little bit.

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NONE of the gen 1's operate within the norm. They operate 30* hotter then the norm.

190* has been the standard for decades. What possessed gm to install a 220 is beyond any of us. And was totally an insane idea. Typical motors start cooking just above 230*. Even semi's shut down just above 220*.
 

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NONE of the gen 1's operate within the norm. They operate 30* hotter then the norm.

190* has been the standard for decades. What possessed gm to install a 220 is beyond any of us. And was totally an insane idea. Typical motors start cooking just above 230*. Even semi's shut down just above 220*.
Are you referring to the 1.4 ECO - Thermostat Swap - 221°F to 176°F! thread? I read through it, and I'm certainly no stranger to messing with cooling systems, but I don't like the idea of messing with an ECU-controlled thermostat. I know that engines usually operate around 195-220 degrees Fahrenheit, but there seems to be a lot of folks, including the original poster, posting operational temps below 195. It's bad running hot, but it's also no good running cold. It doesn't seem like anyone heeded XtremeRevolution's warnings either; he brings up serious points against doing this.

In general, I don't like the idea of buying a car, and then lining up further expenditures to "make it reliable". Plus, it might mess with the warranty/coverage, if I somehow end up with a gen 1 and it came with a warranty/some coverage. If it was on an older car, like on my old and inexpensive P5, I probably would try it, but new cars are very finicky with their sensors. Can't jury-rig fixes like you used to, it seems.
 

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Thank you all for your responses! Always excellent to hear more personal testimonials from people that aren't anonymous folks on dealer pages.

I believe by now that I'm not going for a 1st gen. It's truly a coin toss to see if you got a good one or not, and even if you do get a good one, there are lots of low-quality parts that'll be problematic down the line. Seems like I would need to do a decent amount of work myself to "make" it reliable, which is not something I'm interested in, nor have the time to do, at the moment.

However, those 2nd gens do seem quite promising, especially for the hatchback model. I have a feeling that the hatchback models with the 6-speed manual are going to be really tough to find and much more expensive than my current budget, but if I manage to find a good deal, I'll have to check it out.

Thank you guys a lot for your time!
I have 4 Cruzes, and one is a 2015, Gen 1. All are Diesel. The Gen 1 has been a good car. It had some repairs done during the warranty period, at no cost to me, but post warranty it's been mostly trouble free. I did do an intake cleaning because it can get gummed up (from the EGR and some oil that gets past the turbo, but nothing unique to Cruze, it's a modern Diesel emissions reality). If you can find a deal on a Gen 1 Diesel, that would be something to consider (especially if you do mostly highway miles, as the Diesel likes that much better than short city driving), and should be close to your price range, but it would be automatic, as no manual option was available in Gen 1 with Diesel. Now Gen 2 Diesel did have a manual option in 17-18 MYs only, and there have been issues with the Dual Mass flywheel, and clutch system, so there is that out there. Some Gasoline engines in Gen 2 have had premature burnt pistons, but I'm not sure how common that is.
 

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Are you referring to the 1.4 ECO - Thermostat Swap - 221°F to 176°F! thread? I read through it, and I'm certainly no stranger to messing with cooling systems, but I don't like the idea of messing with an ECU-controlled thermostat. I know that engines usually operate around 195-220 degrees Fahrenheit, but there seems to be a lot of folks, including the original poster, posting operational temps below 195. It's bad running hot, but it's also no good running cold. It doesn't seem like anyone heeded XtremeRevolution's warnings either; he brings up serious points against doing this.

In general, I don't like the idea of buying a car, and then lining up further expenditures to "make it reliable". Plus, it might mess with the warranty/coverage, if I somehow end up with a gen 1 and it came with a warranty/some coverage. If it was on an older car, like on my old and inexpensive P5, I probably would try it, but new cars are very finicky with their sensors. Can't jury-rig fixes like you used to, it seems.
You'll have to show me xtremes thread. I haven't seen it yet.
As a retired mechanic. I don't see anything wrong with going colder.
Imports comes with 180*

And the guy in the thread. He's had no issues yet and has already passed at least 1 emissions test.

As for warranty. I don't think there's any warranty to be had on the `1's anymore. Other then maybe the waterpump and negative battery cable. Which have special coverage.

My car is a 17. Owned it for 27 months. There's 9 months left. It'll be lucky if it hits 25k miles by then.
 

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Thank you all for your responses! Always excellent to hear more personal testimonials from people that aren't anonymous folks on dealer pages.

I believe by now that I'm not going for a 1st gen. It's truly a coin toss to see if you got a good one or not, and even if you do get a good one, there are lots of low-quality parts that'll be problematic down the line. Seems like I would need to do a decent amount of work myself to "make" it reliable, which is not something I'm interested in, nor have the time to do, at the moment.

However, those 2nd gens do seem quite promising, especially for the hatchback model. I have a feeling that the hatchback models with the 6-speed manual are going to be really tough to find and much more expensive than my current budget, but if I manage to find a good deal, I'll have to check it out.

Thank you guys a lot for your time!
The Gen 2's weak point seem to be the dual-mass flywheels and slave cylinders on the manual versions (slave cyl has been updated, but you'll have to deal with it failing in the first place, hopefully under powertrain warranty as most have). They've also got tall, stupid gearing not well suited to the powerband of the new motor, and are the numbest manual trans/clutch I have ever driven in anything.

I actually went manual -> auto. I couldn't stand the automatic programming in the Gen 1, but they've improved it greatly for the 2nd generation cars even though it's more or less the same transmission.

That is, other than cracking pistons on 16/17 - use a good synthetic oil and 91+ octane fuel because turbo and you'll probably avoid this one happening.
 
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