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Saturn S-Series

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  • ewessonewesson Posts: 24
    I visited the www.saturnexposed.com web site and have to say that the collection of Saturn horror stories is impressive. Compared to the number of Saturns sold it's not many, but then again I am sure there are many who have similar horror stories and have not shared their stories with anyone.

    Posters on this board attempted to discredit the originator of this web site because he is an attorney and because he is trying to get money out of Saturn. I am no fan of attorneys in general, but how does the fellow's choice of profession discredit him? He *is* trying to get money out of Saturn corporation, just like I tried like hell to get Saturn to pay the full cost of replacing my engine. If he was trying to use his professional status as an attorney to get money out of Saturn, he would be suing, not publishing a web site.

    Which brings me to the title of this post. I believe that the reason Saturn is as high as it is in customer satisfaction is because everyone smiles and is so nice at the dealerships. The customers are brainwashed into thinking everything is terrific and wonderful, so they overlook reliability issues. When JD Powers contacts them, they forget about the repair issues and continue to say everything is wonderful. I fell victim to that brainwashing and just ignored all the little stuff that went wrong. When they sent me surveys I felt obligated to fill out "Excellent!" because I didn't want to criticize my Saturn family.

    Now that I own a Subaru, I know what ownership of good cars is supposed to feel like. I can't believe how many times I brought my Saturn into the dealer for repairs, and I can't believe I blissfully ignored those repairs when people asked me how I liked my car.

    This brainwashing reminds me of the brand loyalty my family had for Volvos. We suffered through a simply astonishing number of repairs, yet continued to say how we liked the car. I dealt with water pump issues in the 1971 we had; I later owned a 1980 and was shocked to find out the leaking water pump was still of the same flawed design. But still I Loved My Volvo. Another family member owned a much newer Volvo. The automatic transmission failed at 40K miles. Volvo said he was out of luck. So the guy bought a new Volvo on the spot! Glassy-eyed brand loyalty.
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    Nobody here is bashing anything. People are sharing their experiences that they have had with their cars--both good and bad. If there seem to be more negative posts than positive, that does not mean the person is "bashing" Saturn, but it is a relflection on the problems they have had.
  • claryclary Posts: 18
    Brainwashed? Gimme a break.
  • macarthur2macarthur2 Posts: 135
    It would be so nice to be able to talk about a car without the defensive people getting so hot under the collar. If you comment negatively it is Bashing - Saturnboy loved that term. And it sets them off on a tiraid that is tiring to say the least. Just talk about your experience with the car and have the decency to let other people discuss theirs. Stop defending the marque, if it is any good it will stand very well by itself. If it is not it will be gone in a couple of years.
  • ewessonewesson Posts: 24
    Just don't drink the kool aid they serve at the Saturn dealerships!

    I should append to my comments: I feel that I was brainwashed, and I have observed brainwashing in my family regarding their undying and irrational love for Volvos.

    I don't know that other people have been brainwashed into loving their Saturns, but I am speculating that the "different kind of car" etc. stuff contributes to it. My speculation may be completely wrong, for you and for other people. It's just speculation on my part, and that's that.

    If you love your Saturn and are happy owning it, all the more power to you.

    If you hate your Saturn, I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, you have company.

    If you are shopping for an car, I urge you to consider all available options, at actual selling price (expect about 3-4% above invoice), before joining the Saturn family, or any other family for that matter. You will, I feel, be happier in the long run.

    One comment regarding resale value: a key mistake I made was to compare resale prices to original MSRP. On this point Saturn compared favorably to other cars. However, it's misleading, because almost all other cars sold for less than the MSRP. When you discount the original MSRP, the advantage disappears. Case in point: I paid $17.5K before TTL for my Saturn SC2 in mid '94. Just over three years and about 50K miles later, I sold the thing for under half that, and the car was in excellent shape. Not terrible depreciation, but not outstanding by any means.

    Good luck and happy motoring to all!
  • travelertraveler Posts: 67
    I can understand your enthusiasm about a car that has not caused you any trouble. But I would not go so far as to call them perfect. If there ever was a perfect car, there would not be any negative posts about them. A review of the posts proves no manufacturer has a corner on a perfect car. I like my saturn and I hope that it lasts me for 150,000 miles with only replacement of worn out parts ie tires, struts, plugs and plugwires oil and filters etc. If it starts going into major problems, will cross that bridge then.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I think that's an exageration. Furthermore, people have not just discredited the purveyor of the saturnexposed site due to his being a lwayer trying to get money out of saturn, but because of his service history(not serviced well), the fact that his car had been in an accident, and the fact that his car had heavy mods to the electrical system for a custom sterio, and when THAT was unhooked, the car worked OK. I don't think a friendly dealer is going to make most people accept an inferior car, either--most people get small services done elsewhere anyways.

    I don't know if some of you people are counting me as a saturn brainwashee, but I am planning to upgrade my ride to a grand prix GTP sometime soon. Looked at the new saturn LS, thought it was ok, but thought the GTP was more of my kid of car. Although my sl2 has been very good until now, and amazingly economical, I just want something bigger, faster, quiter, with more "stuff." I did not even consider another sl2--been there, done that. Beleive me, if my saturn had been an unreliable car, it would have been gone long ago, i've been fiending for a faster car for quite some time. Now, my saturn does go through a quart of oil every 1500 miles or so nowadays(90K miles), and I did have to replace warped brake rotors at 75K miles ( maybe i could have turned them.. ) BUT, it's never left me stranded or had to go back to the dealer for an unscheduled trip. My major issue with the car is wind and road noise, which i find to be excessive; otherwise i knew very well what i was getting.

    dave
  • ewessonewesson Posts: 24
    I don't think you're a brainwashee by any means. Warping brake rotors at 75k miles would be nothing to complain about in my book.

    Perhaps the folks that have Saturn lemons feel betrayed because they thought it was a different kind of car and so violently turn against the marque, so thus you see such vehement posts.

    There is no objective data about cars' repair histories, as far as I know. Perhaps someday we will have car repair tracking by VIN, so we can view really good data about repair histories.

    My biggest beef is that Saturn knew about the engines' oil consumption and did nothing about it besides hide behind their recommendation that the oil be checked at every fill-up. If the company was indeed a different kind of company, why wouldn't they offer free oil changes every 3K miles with the best synthetic oils known to reduce oil consumption? At the very least, warn people that it happens so they know to check the oil at least every 1000 miles. Or change the oil pressure sensors so they are sensitive enough to warn about pressures low enough to cause engine destruction. Or fix the problem: Someone told me it was the valve seals and guides; someone else told me it was the rings. There are a lot of things they could have done, but they just hid their heads in the sand. Maybe they were too afraid of how they would look after their massive early life recalls.

    The evasiveness is what bothers me the most. For example, I never did an oil change interval longer than the recommended 7.5K miles; most were around 3-4K miles. Yet Saturn told me the intervals should be no more than 3K miles. The reason they cited was that most vehicles are driven in "extreme driving conditions". First of all, I used mine for totally vanilla daily commutes of ~10 miles. No dust, no one-block driving, no towing. Second, if most vehicles are driven in "extreme driving conditions" why not make that the default oil change interval?!?

    Had I been warned about it, I probably would be ambivalent about the car. I would have thought it was an okay car except it drinks oil. As it was, I assumed a brand new car wouldn't have excessive oil consumption. When I noted lower oil levels, I shrugged it off as a quirk and was surprised when the engine went ratatatatatabang. So now I think the marque is evil.

    Evil. Saturn: an evil kind of car company.
  • Those are the three models I'm looking at now, and the rap from the Saturn sales rep is that the 4-door Saturn SL2 is roomier, a bit cheaper, and as dependable. She dismissed the Civic as smaller and the Corolla as less dependable.

    Your thoughts, Saturn fans (and critics)?
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    I just wanted to let you know my small encounters with the 97-99 Grand Prixs. I am quite unimpressed with this car. My sister's mother-in-law bought a 97 Grand Prix new and loved it (as she should, seeing as she came from a 93 Tempo). However, within a few months, she asked me if it was normal for the car to stall after starting it in the mornings. Sometimes it took 3 tries and her foot on the gas before the car would stay running (she had the base 3.1 liter V-6). Next, I noticed a misaligned sticking rear door and told her to take it in and get it adjusted. She constantly has flat tires and yet the tire inflation warning system either never warned her or warned her after the tire was completely flat. What good is that? Just another pointless gimmick that doesn't work if you ask me. Her cloth split bench seats are some of the most uncomfortable seats I have ever sat in. It felt like a bunch of logs underneath me with little to no padding whatsoever. In this same time frame, my sister's 97 Maxima never had any problems, other then what she considered to be poor fuel economy (she left it idling for up to 30 minutes at a time).
    I also took a ride in a 99 Grand Prix GT coupe. I was curious so I asked my friend if it had been reliable. He said, "Oh yeah its been great, although I did blow the water pump already". That is pathetic! A water pump should not fail within a year. But what disturbed me the most was how poorly put together it felt. Driving on a relatively smooth sand road, the chassis flexed noticeably and the dashboard shook, squeaked, popped, and rattled something terrible! The doors felt heavy yet closed with a tinny clunk. The leather was some of the poorest quality I have ever seen. It looked and felt more like vinyl than leather. I think GM still has some serious build quality issues and I would think twice before looking into one of their products.
  • One more question: The sales rep looked at our Toyota Tercel 1993 4-door, 135,000 miles, said they would give us so little for it she wouldn't even put it in the numbers she was working up as a trade-in. But doing the calculations on edmunds.com and the kelley's blue book (kbb.com) the trade-in values were calculated as $1,600 and $2,250.

    That's so little it doesn't count? Or is Saturn being tough on trade-ins?
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    Well, the saleswoman's comparisons are a bit off. I would never believe what a car salesman has to say, especially when it is of a car that he is not selling. First, the Corolla is a very dependable car that constantly ranks highly on quality surveys, even higher then Saturn. However, the Corolla is noticeably cramped in the rear seat compared to the Saturn. So if you plan on hauling normal sized people in the back seat often, I would mark off the Corolla or else you will hear some loud complaints regarding lack of leg room and shoulder space. The Civic has about the same amount of space as the Saturn, but has a much more comfortable rear seat. The seat back angle and shape on the Saturn makes it very uncomfortable. As far as price, the Saturn is FAR from cheaper once you option it up to the same equipment levels as the Civic and Corolla. Further more, you can dicker the price down on the other two, especially the Civic since an all new model is coming out in the fall. The Saturn does have more power compared to the Civic. I guess it all boils down to what you like, not what a salesperson tries to tell you is better.
  • norbert444norbert444 Posts: 195
    ... is back! Maybe it never went away except I did not notice it since my wife drives it during the week.

    The techron equivalent has now been almost consumed (the tank is down to less than a 1/4), so that was not the solution. [Sorry, Dave] I have added oil on the advice of my mechanic(the car has only about 48K miles on it, low for a 95 SL2 but it is beginning to drink oil, it seems), and that was not the right anti-pinging solution either.

    I will see my mechanic again and ask him to check it out some more. Maybe he will tell me to go to the higher octane gas.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    ewesson: Yeah, if my engine had burned up from lack of oil, i'd be really pissed off too. On one hand, i wish they'd be more open about it, on the other hand, I don't forsee any salesman really saying "be careful, there's a good chance it may drink oil." Even my use of mobil one hasn't helped.

    sacre bleu: Well, I did like my car more than civic and corolla when i got mine in '96, and though i do still think the saturn drives better and is safer, the civic has gotten bigger since then, and the corolla is still probably tops in real reliability. Toyota always dominates that category, but I think they are dull to drive.

    lngtongue:
    Thanks, maybe a bit off topic though. I wonder if your grand prix opinion is as based in reality as your saab opinions? :)

    dave
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    Maybe you should try having a mechanic powerflush the carbon from you car like I had done with my Olds. It made a terrific difference
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    LOL. I know you are joking, but my remarks regarding the Grand Prix are from my real life encounters with it. I don't have an opinion on Saab as I have no real experience with them :)
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    I've seen a number of references to a "carbon powerflush" in this & other forums. About how much does this cost? Does it improve MPG? HP?

    My 1985 truck has 96K on it and runs well. I'm thinking of having a powerflush. But it doesn't "ping", even with 87 octane gas, so maybe it doesn't need it.

    Thanks.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Yeah, i think you are spot on one some of those things after driving a GP quite a bit yesterday and crawling through it a lot. Lot of power, lot of features, but i thought the build quality was spotty(loose bits and some silly design) and the car handles a bit sloppy. I think the engine and trans are wonderful, and for an extra $50 on the part of GM per car, it could be great!

    dave
  • sloan2sloan2 Posts: 8
    While it is definitely useful for everyone to share their Saturn experiences, good and bad, it seems that I've recently read more negative than positive remarks. And that is understandable since we voice our complaints more than we relay our satisifaction.

    So, I wanted write about my Saturn experience. My wife and I bought a brand new 1993 SL1 in May of that year, just 10 days before our wedding. It was to be her car, I drove an IROC at the time. She was so proud of the Blue/Green Saturn, too (A big improvement over an '84 Omega). She drove it for the first 3-4 trouble-free years of its life and then we bought a '96 Grand AM GT for her which was a beautiful, but cheaply made car. However, it caused us absolutely no problems in 66,000 miles.

    Anyway, I began driving the Saturn in '96 because I commute 30 miles to work and it is gets great mileage (as long as the A/C is off!). Now the car is seven years old and has 151,000 miles and is running great. I have never taken it to the dealership for their recommended maintenance. I think that it is too expensive. I've done most of the maintenance myself, or had it done at Firestone. The car has had a few items replaced, including a timing chain (done by the Saturn dealership), but most of the repairs were made at over 100,000 miles and we've had no problems in the last 30,000 miles. It does drink a little oil now, but even that has slowed since I bought an additive at Wal-Mart to slow oil consumption. I am planning to drive the car another 60,000 with God's help.

    I suspect there are others who read this site routinely who keep quiet because they have nothing to complain about. If so, lets here some of your stories. Hopefully, I am not the only satisfied customer. I know Saturnboy is satisfied, even if he is a little balistic.
  • goldstromgoldstrom Posts: 4
    I have a suggestion for you. Why don't you open the hood and use the little yellow stick, called an oil dip stick. This would have prevented you from running out of oil.
    I think its great that Saturn split the difference with you on the replacement cost. Just make sure you check the oil at least once a week and you shouldn't have any problems.
    My 2000 Saturn as well as the 94 never use any oil.
    Good Luck
  • norbert444norbert444 Posts: 195
    Thanks! I'll talk to my mechanic this weekend. Will let you know the results.

    It is nice to know that there are people for whom Saturn has been a completely or nearly flawless car. I think my string of bad luck started with the fact that I had to go to the dealership early on for warranty repairs. First repairs were done in such a sloppy way that I had consequential problems and it snowballed. I have gone to the dealership a lot during the first 3 warranty years.

    Now after 5 years, the car seems to be generally OK but I do not feel that it is a reliable car any more. Although I have been doing all my maintenance when called for and I know I have been doing it right.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    I agree with goldstrom there. I have checked the oil in my new Hyundai 2 or 3 times and it only has 2500 miles. It is always a good idea with a brand new car to check the oil once a week because they tend to use a little oil when breaking in. Mine has used only a miniscule amount of oil, so I haven't added any yet. I am still keeping an eye on it though. Once the break-in period is over, there is no reason why you shouldn't check the oil at least once a month. I shudder to think what would happen if ewesson ever bought a Mazda RX7. That car burns oil by design and REQUIRES an oil level check every 2 weeks. I usually have to add a half quart once a month. I guess some people feel they should never have to look under the hood, but it is just common sense. I do it just for peace of mind. I hope you have learned a valuable lesson ewesson!
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    I think the entire service cost about $60. It cleaned the fuel injectors and the carbon from the motor. Actually it wasn't called a "powerflush," I just have been using that term because I can't remember the name of the service. I only had about 40,000 miles on the car at the time. I was having the injectors cleaned just as routine maintenence and they suggested I have the complete service done. The car wasn't pinging or anything but I did notice an increase in power. I was very satisfied with the service and plan to do it at routine intervals from now on.

    Ingtonge: About cars using a lot of oil during break in, yes I have noticed that too. My new Ford Ranger also has about 2500 miles on it and has used maybe a 1/2 quart so far. Don't they usually use thinner oil during the break in period? I know when you have an engine rebuilt they do. I have also had two new Hyndai's in the past and never had to add any oil to either.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    How were those 2 Hyundais you owned? Which models were they and were they a nightmare or a reliable car? Just curious if you ran into any major problems with them. So far I have had no problems with mine and it seems to be built very solidly, so I think it should be a reliable car for a long time.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    What was the additive you used to reduce oil consumpotion? Must it be used in every change, or is it something you use once then consumption is reduced? I would love this because with my very high mileage, I dump in a quart every 2 weeks or so.

    dave
  • sloan2sloan2 Posts: 8
    Dave,

    I don't remember the name of the additive. I first read about a similar product in Car and Driver, then I looked for it and found this at Wal-Mart. Next time I'm there, I'll look for it and let you know. It was only about $4.50, but it does recommend repeating at each oil change. I'm hoping it will last longer. My car has now gone 3,000 miles without adding any oil. But it didn't use as much as yours to begin with. I've only been adding about a quart every 3,000 miles.

    I almost killed my engine too when I first realized it was consuming oil. It had been 6-7k miles since an oil change and it started losing power on a trip. I continued to drive another 50 miles before I thought to check the oil. It only had about a quart left in it! I think the reason it didn't burn up is because I use slick 50 at recommended intervals. Supposedly, a car can run with no oil for a while if you use it.

    To the ewesson: No one should have to worry about their engine using 4 quarts of oil in 4,500 miles. That is outrageous for a low mileage car. At the same time, I understand that it was your responsibility to make sure your car is full of oil. If you'd noticed the oil consumption before 36K, the warranty would have covered any cost to repair the oil consumption (one would hope).
  • ewessonewesson Posts: 24
    Goldstrom et al: Fortunately for me I don't have to check the oil every time I fill up with gas, as I sold my Saturn a long time ago. I still do occasionally check the oil in my vehicles, but definitely not at every fillup. So far not a drop drank.

    I am perfectly aware where the oil dipstick is, and even commented in one earlier posts that I changed the oil myself. I do care about my cars. So no need for your sarcastic tone. In fact, you would realize your sarcasm was misplaced had you read the earlier posts.

    I repeat one of my earlier points: the problem is not so much that Saturn makes an engine that drinks oil; it's that they don't take any responsibility for it. I would be a lot less irate if Saturn had informed me that it was important to check the oil frequently. How about putting "Check oil" as a 500 mile service interval? Or, for that matter, putting in an oil pressure sensor that actually warns of oil pressure low enough to result in engine damage?

    If I had bought a RX7, I hope I would have been made aware of its oil consumption tendencies. I might anticipate oil consumption with the rotary engine, but Mazda shouldn't expect I would become aware of it by osmosis. As it was, the first I heard of these tendencies was after the engine blew.

    For perspective: I owned, drove, and raced a Datsun 510. It had in it a used, lightly modified motor, and I put additional miles on it to bring the total to around 80K. I drove this car very hard, frequently running the 1.8 liter motor to 7K rpm. The car was totaled (not by me, another story there), and I sold the engine for several hundred bucks. The guy checked the compression on my garage floor and it was still quite strong. And the motor still didn't drink any oil.

    So you can perhaps understand that I was surprised to find that my Saturn motor had an appetite for oil. It's just not something you expect in a new car.
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    Both Hyundai's were the Excel model, which they don't make anymore, and were bought brand-new. The first one one was a 1990 and never gave me any problems. I put 130,000 miles on it in 4 years and the car ran great, but I was hit at a stop sign one day and, although it was a very minor accident it totaled the car.

    The second, a 1994, wasan't as good. I had to have the transaxle rebuilt at 40,000 miles and by 80,000 miles it needed a valve job and a whole new wire harness. THe dealer told me it would cost more to fix it than the car was worth. Both car were very well maintained. The 1990 I believe had a Mitsubishi built motor and the 1994 had a Hyundai built motor. But at that time they only came with a 36,000 mile warranty, not the 100k one like now.
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    I have to agree with you about the sarcastic tone of goldstrom's post. Saturnboy used to do the same exact thing which is what I found so offputting about him. And, as you observed with goldstrom, he also had a knack for putting his foot in his mouth. Somehow, I just can't shake the feeling that goldstrom IS Saturnboy, since I know he can't really bear to stay away.
  • norbert444norbert444 Posts: 195
    welcome back! I admire your bravery and the zeal for Saturn. You will be subjected to personal attacks because of it, but rest assured that there are some people who will still like your contributions to this forum - because your convictions are important. And make this forum an interesting reading.
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