Interior and exteriors

My previous truck was a 1998 Chevy s10 pick up and that truck was horribly designed and the engine failed all the time. I replaced the transmission twice before my dad decided it was time to get another car. I bought a 2004 Chevy cavalier but the body has scratches dents and a few places has a scratch that turned into holes. The inside is also damaged from the sun eating it away. My question is how much would it be to replace the whole dashboard and even fill in the outer piece and get a new paintjob. I have never done this before and want to see if it’s cheaper to do it on my own or should I just take it to a shop?

Nobody restores Cavaliers.

They’re considered disposable vehicles.


It is usually less expensive to any job yourself unless you don’t know what you are doing and cause more damage to things. From the way you describe the condition of the vehicle I think you would be better off saving the cost of the repairs and just sell the vehicle. Then use that money to help purchase a newer car that isn’t damaged.

First of all your statement that S10 was a bad design is wrong. You had a vehicle that had problems or was worn out before you got it Now you have a Cavalier that is 11 years old an basically worth very little. Just drive it till it dies and don’t waste your money on it.

Any decent paint job, without body work will run you $3000, especially red paint. Red pigments are expensive. Body work, especially to fix rust holes, can easily double that. You could bondo up the holes, slap some paint on it IF you can get access to a big air compressor, a paint gun and a clean space big enough to paint the car but you’ll spend at least $500 on materials and weeks sanding, taping, masking, practicing your spraying skills and finally painting. For a paint job that might be a 30/30 job for a first timer. I.e. looks good 30 feet away at 30 mph.

Interiors can be replaced by a reasonable DIY-er IF you can find one in better condition than your own, in the right color, at a decent price. Any professional work can run another $3000 and up. All for a car that is barely worth $3000, right now, in any condition.

Give it up. Save you money for a nicer car, don’t dump cash into this one.

I am intrigued by the OP’s statement about the S10, namely…“the engine failed all the time”.
What exactly does that mean?


“First of all your statement that S10 was a bad design is wrong.”

I agree. The S-10 was very well designed and the only engine problem they had was the 2.8 V6. It just wasn’t strong enough to put up with a firm right foot. The 4.3 V6 was nearly bullet-proof. The truck sold for over 20 years with great success and they are still being made in Brazil as far as I know. I also agree that the Cavalier is basically a disposable vehicle.

I agree, don’t waste a dime on this vehicle, it will become a money pit. My recommendation is to look for a vehicle that belonged to an elderly person that is for sale due to death or inability to drive. Many times the heirs do not want the vehicle as it will probably be 10 years old or so but have low miles. Older people take good car of their vehicles though.

Don’t buy any vehicle that has a worn out interior or exterior damage. Those are red flags that the vehicle was abused and not maintained properly. If they don’t take care of the things you can see, they certainly won’t take care of the things you can’t see.

Everything is relative to the era. Older vehicles like the s10 were comparable to Rangers and Dakotas…and then, toyota trucks started to make head way at least with me and others I knew, because people appreciated motors they didn’t have to replace and trucks tha could take more abuse. The 4.3 I knew in several trucks, boats and busses I drove was a tough, torquey motor but not really fast. But, it liked gas. . Now, rust is another matter and all these freak’n small trucks liked to rust of you spilled the salt off your French Fries onto a fender. So, just from a body point of view, Wther a truck or your project compact car, I wouldn’t rebuild anything that old unless the body was pristine…and it isn’t.

Older people take good care of their vehicles thoughMi am not being judgmental but just observant. Though older people may take better care…be careful of the stains. ;-(

I doubt the problems with the S-10 had anything to with design. What should be looked at is how it was driven and (if at all) maintained.

Having this work done at a shop will cost you far more than the Cavalier would ever be worth.

Even doing a paintjob yourself can cost a small fortune. You have no idea how fast the cost of paint, thinner, sandpaper, various items such as hardener, Fish-Eye eliminator, and so on can add up.

The cheapest way out on paint is to do as much bodywork prep yourself and then have MAACO shoot it. I’m no fan of MAACO at all but that would be your cheapest option.
If the car has rust in the quarters I wouldn’t even bother.

If the reason for dashboard replacement is sun cracking then just throw a dash cover on it.

I would still like to know what “the engine failed all the time” actually means.

Did the OP mean that the engine frequently stalled?
Or, does it mean that the engine self-destructed on a regular basis, and that the owner then paid for a new engine after each incident?

If the latter, I think that we have gotten some insight into the approach to car maintenance in the OP’s family.

It’s always cheaper to do it on your own. And it’s way more fun and yields far greater pride.
There’s no way I’d spend money having pros restore this vehicle, but if it were mine I wouldn’t hesitate to do some fixup myself.

One point on the paintjob: MAACO has occasional promotions offering an overspray for I think about $399 or thereabouts. I’ve seen these paintjobs, and they’re actually pretty darned good. You have to do your own body repair up front, they just mask over the trim rather than remove it, and they don’t do the doorjams etc. (so you should stick with the original color), and they don’t prime the car, but they (at least the one in my area) do a heck o f a good job. They simply mask, prep the surface, and overspray. But it can really make an old S10 look as good as an old S10 possibly can. Unless you already have the equipment and a good place to do the work, you probably couldn’t do it yourself better or cheaper.

You can paint a trash can and make it look pretty… but in the end you still have a trash can.

The main part of the dash is easy to remove:

I once pulled the sun-blackened dash out of a Ford Fairmont and sprayed it with a Krylon rattle can of a remarkably close maroon color. It looked great.