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Saturn S-Series



  • pbagratpbagrat Posts: 25
    My wife's 1996 Sl-1 with 73000 miles died yesterday. Fortunately my 2001 Accord was in the shop for a tune up, so I was with her. The a/c quit working and the temp gauge maxed out. I shut it down, let it cool off and went to get some water & antifreeze. When I opened the reservoir it was gunked up with a mixture of antifreeze and oil. I drove it to a shop one block away and had them look at it. Oil quantity was good, but after he flushed the cooling system and the engine block the oil was bone dry! He said it looked like I blew a head gasket. Does this sound right?

    I called Saturn and the woman said there is a known problem with the 1995/96 S series and my vehicle was covered under a voluntary recall for 6 years or 100,000 miles. My problem is that I took delivery in November 1995, so technically the six years have passed. She suggested I call the manager on Monday and he may be able to work with me. Has anyone else gone through this?

  • claywaterfillclaywaterfill Posts: 534
    That's too bad--let us know how it works out for you. My 1999 SL2 only has about 49,000 miles, and it runs great--so I'm hoping not to have this problem myself!
  • pbagratpbagrat Posts: 25

    I just got the car back today. I had it towed Monday afternoon and got the car back at 3pm Tuesday. AT least they did it quickly. I had to pay a "deductible" of $500 since I was 6 months past the recall limit. I thought a recall was absolute, not subject to change by a manufacturer. Pretty sad the Saturn failed with a mere 73K miles on it! All of my Japanese cars have been driven over 150K with no problems at all (Owned a Mazda Protege, Toyota Tercel, and a Honda Civic). I could have pressed the issue with GM, but my wife needed the car and I didn't have time to fight a lost cause. She is going to buy a Honda Civic early next year and dump the SL1. BTW - The recall affects 1994-1996 models only from what I have read on the net. Saturn does not make this common knowledge to owners though.
  • claywaterfillclaywaterfill Posts: 534
    Glad to hear they fixed the problem in a timely manner. It is a shame you had such a problem at 73,000 miles--but you know any car can have problems at any time. You might want to reconsider the Civic purchase until you shop around a little more. From what I understand (and even Consumer Reports has downgraded their reliability ratings), current Civics are not the bulletproof wonders of the past. Apparently the 2001 models were so bad that Honda made engineering changes for the 2002 just to appease the critics--almost unheard of after only one year in a new design. Read the Civic thread as well--many unhappy campers from what I've read there as well. Maybe the new Corolla would be a good option? All new design, but they kept the bulletproof drive train from the previous model. Mazda is giving great deals on the Protege as well. Good luck to you!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    The Town Hall is about to take on a new look in an effort to make content more easily searchable and accessible.

    Have you seen the Letter from the Town Hall Manager on the Town Hall Welcome page? If not, you might want to follow that link to have a look.

    And hang on to your seats. Change is never easy - for any of us - but resolving the Search problems we've had will be worth the pain.

    Sedans Host
  • Hi,

    I just bought a 2002 SL2 5-speed and have noticed a rough idle in it from the day I bought it until now (approx. 3K mi.). I asked the dealer to look at the problem with about 150 mi. on the car, and he said to wait until the first oil change at 3K and the idle would smooth out. Well, I did, and it didn't, so I asked the dealer to look into the problem and fix the rough idle.

    According to the service tech at my dealership, and according to the Saturn helpline area manager, the rough idle is caused by sticky exhaust valves, but is completely normal and within specs for the SL2's engine. The official Saturn "fix" for the issue was for the tech to drive the car at 5K rpm for a few miles to reseat the valves. That didn't do a thing. When I called the customer care line, Saturn's response was that this is a totally normal feature of the 5-speed engine, and that there is nothing which they can do to fix it. I find this hard to believe, so I wanted to post here to see if anyone else who has an SL2 or SC2 (which have the same engine, as far as I can tell) has experienced this rough idle, too.

    Also, if anyone could point me to some other Saturn forums where I can do further research on this issue, I'd be grateful.

  • My SL2 does not have a rough idle. Mine is a 1999 model, but I believe they have the same engine--changed in 1998, I believe.

    You say it was like that the day you bought it? Was there any reason why you didn't test drive it before you bought it? It would seem strange that it drove smoothly on your test drive, then got rough after you signed the papers for it, IMO.
  • Well, at first we didn't notice the idle problem (guess we didn't stay in neutral at too many stoplights), but we noticed it the next day. We brought the car to the dealer to have some excess epoxy residue cleaned off the running board, and mentioned the idle then.

    Thanks for the input.
  • rhouserhouse Posts: 3
    bought a new sw2 in nov 97 (98 model)
    use mobile 1 always, changed every 3,000 mi.
    it now has 73,000 and has been very reliable. the motor mount (upper) does have a problem, and i think it's due to heat transfer from head. i am
    experimenting with fixits for this. there is no oil burning at all. i am getting a few rattles in the interior around dash. saturn has been great to me in san diego area, but saturn usa says there is no problem with motor mount. they should check & see how many people have to have them changed. i think most of the vibration is caused by this mount. mine typically last about 18,000 mi & then the vibration starts. oil breakdown is not a problem, its the acid that builds up in the oil that causes problems. i have installed pirelli touring tires in size 195 60 15. much more traction, but not the quietest or smoothest. this size has almost exactly the same circumference of 185 65 15. they dont rub & work well. i really like the car & have respect for the way saturn has treated me.
  • My 97' SW1 and 94' SL2 both needed new engine mounts. I think it is the engine is tuned for low end power. It pushes back on that mount at every input so it just wears out. Early models also went through altenators that had no air flow to them and would cook themselves to death. I just got rid of my 94' SL2 last week and it was really starting to use oil but ran quite well after a new water pump and belt tensioner last summer. It was just to cramped and low to sit in to keep. But the polymer body panels looked brand new.
  • rhouserhouse Posts: 3
    I got 2 springs from the hardware store, removed the mounts and cut a slight amount of the numbs
    where they start to touch the metal. (more clearance). I then placed the springs under the
    mount to raise it back to stock position. it works pretty well! not to brand new standards, but this eliminated most of the vibration! If you check the condition of the rubber of a new mount against a bad one, you will find that the rubber gets very soft. movement will breakdown rubber, but heat will do more damage. Torque is not the problem, it is in the design of the mount. Before I buy a new mount(3rd time), I am going to try to make an insulater to divert heat. I'll post how it works. Saturn is really letting us down by not doing something about this problem. They certainly have the resources to fix this weak spot, but continue to ignor it. A real shame!
  • wenbwenb Posts: 45
    I am considering the Ion. I know that the engine is new. my concern is with the frame. Have alot of you had problems with rusting frames. If so was Saturn able to help you. I noticed a couple of post regarding rusty frames. Why consider the Ion. Well, GM has had time to work on the 4cly ingine Quad 4, Saturn 4 ect. Hopefully the Ecotech will be good.Because of the amount of computer control and sensors in cars, all makers are going to have thier share of lemons. I am hoping that Saturn has improved the spaceframe in the second generation. My main reservation would be a rust problem with the frame that hasn't been adressed. Any reports good or bad would be nice.
  • Yes engine mounts are a common thing. But would you rather a unreliable car with good motor mounts. I will say I work far a saturn dealer. Out of all the dealers I have dealt with saturn is the best. So stop your complaining and start wishing that were more car companies like Saturn.
    I am pretty sure when it comes to service and warr. items Saturn exceeds the rest by a million miles. for picks of the new ion.
  • The 2003 Ion should be an excellent car, way beyond and above the 2002 S Series. I myself am on my second Saturn S Series, and haven't experienced any rusting or engine problems. The 2003 Ion is said to have a stronger frame for "better occupant protection" whether this means it is less likely to rust, I cannot say. The main engine in the Ion is the 140 hp ecotec engine, the same one now used in many GM cars, such as the Pontiac Grand Am, Saturn L Series, Saturn VUE, Olds Alero, Chevy Cavilier, Pontiac Sunfire, etc.

    I believe it is a good engine, and a bit more refined than previous GM four cylinders. The 2003 Ion features many innovations not found on other cars in its class such as head curtain airbags, electronic power steering for better road feel and control, Traction control, On star navigation systems, and a cvt transmission for better fuel economy. The sedan may look a bit conservative from some views, but it'll be a hoot to drive. Hope this helped
  • wwhite2wwhite2 Posts: 535
    Our 1999 SC2 5spd with 102500 mi has never had a rough idle but it has had many other problems . It uses a qt of Mobil 1 approx every 800-1000 mi .Car does a 140 mi highway commute. The transaxle is becoming increasingly louder (The ASE =read 4th grade reading skills with some auto jargon thrown on top ) mechanics guessed and changed the hub bearings and both half shafts to find that the problem is the transaxle.They even wanted to replace a steering knuckle thinking it was causing the noise I stopped the BS here . Have rusting on the trailing trim on the tront doors .Need to clean sticking throttle body every month. Have replaced the exhaust resonator and a few more minor problems. The oil usage and transaxle problem are major inexcusable problems . So much for the commercial I saw where the guy drove 300000 mi and only needed to replace the drivers seat. Positives - The firestone tires are still going strong ( I run separate snows 4 months per year ) Rotate as directed . The paint and alloy wheels have held up nicely. We do keep it clean. The interior is still in good condition even the seats . Oh well After we max out the mileage of this car We dont think we will be buying another new Saturn
  • We had a 1995 SL2 and currently have a 1999 SL2 and have experienced no rust with either. Have had no rough idle, either. Mine have been 5 speeds--are the rough idle problems associated with models with automatics? I also burn no oil. Commute 35 miles in city traffic (Atlanta) every day and run errands on weekends. I check the oil every other fill up and the dip stick always reads full.
  • Well, as for wwhite's Saturn story, after 102,000 miles, obviously there are going to be some problems, and no car is perfect, every car manufacturer makes some lemons.

    The new ION is completely new from the ground up, and to make blanket statements as to its possible frame rusting/ and engine, is completely lacking data and fact.

    Claywater, glad to hear you have had good luck with BOTH of your Saturns, as I have with mine.
  • O.K. folks I have two 97 saturns an SL2 with and auto tranny and a SC1 with a 5 speed the SL2 has 90000 miles uses no oil and has never had mount problems it did eat an alternator at 67000 miles but that is just GM bad alternators they are famous for them. It did have a no start problem from new that the dealer never could fix so I let the warranty run out and being an x-wrench went to work on it myself it was the EGR valve sticking but not shooting a code on the computer hay they are not fool proof. As for the dealers being so warm and fuzzy you folks have never delt with saturn of ST. Paul in Inver Grove, MN they are a joke it is no different than any other dealer you have to take care of your self or be ripped off by them I even had to sick the autorny general on them once of coures I won. As for the frames rusting it is no wores as other cars in the north country. Now the SC1 has 60000 miles on it to has good mounts but uses oil one quart every 1000 miles is the standard in the industry. Mine uses about one quart every 800 miles. I have found that if you keep the rpms up and do not lug the engine oil consumtion goes down but you do have to keep an eye on it. It does idle a little ruff but that is just the American four problem. I'd buy another one they are great little cars to go to work in and 37mpg in my SC1 is a lot better than 14.5mpg in my truck for running around town, but not on a trip for any time or miles spent in one and I can,t stand strait for a day and I,m short only 5.8 they do need to get better seats in them
  • wenbwenb Posts: 45
    about your oil consumption problem. I am curious what makes some engines eat oil.I was checking out the Honda 2002 SI hatch. Some of them and the acura rsx are having high oil consumption problems.High oil consumption is not easily resolved. It seems car makers set a genorous spec to limit liablity.
  • wwhite2wwhite2 Posts: 535
    I can only surmise. (Saturn techs are really clue less and upper level Saturn just blows it off) Our Saturn has a 140 mile per day commute. The commute is 95% highway 70/75 mph . Supposedly these 4 cylinder rev higher and run hotter to improve emissions. I can only guess that the engine wasn't designed to handle this high speed commute and the engine is just using oil. If cylinder head temps are to high the oil may be being vaporized . Other than that it would have to be that GM still has problems designing a solid 4 cyl....and to me that's hard to believe
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