Saturn S-Series

L8_ApexL8_Apex Member Posts: 187
Since the talk in the Saturn Stories topic has
been primarily about the Saturn SL, I'm creating
this topic as continuation.

Please continue to tell your Saturn stories in
either this topic or the Saturn LS topic.


Sedans Host


  • randrkrandrk Member Posts: 2
    Has any one tried using heavier weight oils in the oil consuming Saturns, such as 20-50, or straight weight oils? Has any one used synthetic oil from the beginning and still experienced excessive oil consumption.
  • viper118viper118 Member Posts: 2
    I have two Saturns with the twin cam engine. I started using synthetic and went to regular oil at about 30,000 miles. Ror awhile I was using 10w30 but now use 5w30. At about 60,000 miles that engine started issuing oil at about a quart per thousand miles. It is now at 108,000 miles and running fine, buat still issuing oil at the same rate. The other engine issues about one half quart per thousand miles. Both driven the same, I can not explain why one issues more than the other. I have tried 20w50 one time and it made no difference in the rate of oil useage.
  • sejdosejdo Member Posts: 1
    Looking for a 2000 model. Saturn is my firt choice but I'm looking for something relaible. Should I buy a nissan or mazda instead.
  • carl27carl27 Member Posts: 2
    Sejdo: I have a Saturn SL1. It is one year old. It was this, Corolla or Civic, because Consumer Reports gave them all the Highest reliability ratings. I chose Satrun because of the high theft rate on Toyota and Honda. WHAT A MISTAKE! My Saturn is a piece of junk. In the one year I have had it I have repaired three window regulators, the center console mount, the rack and pinion steering, the engine knocks and pings and the service department cannot tell me why, the doors rattle and the service department padded them to stop the rattleing, but it didn't work..... I could go on but you get the idea, BUY AN IMPORT!!
  • mvartanianmvartanian Member Posts: 1
    I have a 96 with 54k miles. It has been back 12 times for some sort of failure. It now breaks about once per month to the tune of $100-300. Suggest you get rid of a new one before warranty expires or buy extended warranty and just add it to price of car.
  • carl27carl27 Member Posts: 2
    Good Point! I purchased the extended warranty when I bought the car. After it expires (6 years or 75,000 miles) I will trade in the car. The car may be in the shop a lot, but at least I won't have to pay for all of the repairs. The one good thing is that for some strange reason, these things retain a high resale value, so hopefully I get a good trade in on a Honda or a Toyota.
  • pje65pje65 Member Posts: 2
    My mom is planning to buy a new car. She's had a Saturn (not sure which) since about 1991-2, and has been very happy with it. She's thinking of buying an SL2 now. However, she has a severely screwed up back, and needs really good lumbar support. She's been satisfied with the support in the Saturn she had. Can anyone comment on the back support in the new SL2s?
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    I have a 99 SL2 and find the back support very comfortable in it. I don't know if it is on the SL1 for 99 or 2000. For 99 it is only on the drivers seat so check out the 2000 to see if available for passenger seat in case she has to be a passenger instead of the driver. A note we test drove a 99 SL1 and found the seats not as comfortable as the SL2 but this is our opinion. You have to sit in them and drive them and form your own opinion.
  • carrie640carrie640 Member Posts: 1
    The very first car I bought brand new was my 1992 Toyota Tercel. I have a high emotional attachement to it as it is still with me 178K miles later. Now, however, it is starting to do the blue smoke thing...the starter is going, etc. Well, my mom has a 96 SL2 Black Hills Gold Saturn. They looked at a 93 SL2 tonight with only 63K miles on it. They told me it was squeaky clean...rode wonderfully, and since it was only $4400, they bought it for me. The other two cars we were looking at: 95 Saturn with 100K miles at $4500 and a 97 Cavalier with 57K miles at $8600. I guess I figured that The SL2 with 63K miles on it is really only 6,000 more miles than the Cavalier!!

    I was wondering if anyone can give me their own personal opinion on my decision based on your experience! (HONEST ONES, PLEASE!!!!!)
  • geojody1999geojody1999 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 93 SL2 with 63,000 miles on the car as well. I have it fully loaded; everything except leather, and have had zero problems with the car. It just keeps going, and going and going. Like the Energizer bunny. I previously owned a Nissan Sentra E and had zero problemas with that car as well (used to get 45 mpg WHOAH!)

    One of the MAJOR reasons I like Saturns is the service department. They don't try to **get** you or make you buy unnecessary parts. They are totally honest with me and treat me very well. I have heard many HORROR stories from Honda and Nissan service depts.

    When looking for new or used cars, be sure to take a peek at the service dept and how the sales people treat you, that is what really sells me on a car. (yes, the product as well counts for a %)

    Kudos to Saturn of Sterling!!!
  • chasmalachasmala Member Posts: 14
    Here is a question for anyone out there with a Saturn that has leather seats. I am planning on buying a Saturn SL2 in the spring. My wife has always wanted leather seats but people tell me that the are hot in the summer, cold in the winter and slippery to sit on year round. I understand Saturn does not offer heated seats so if I get leather will I be sorry??
  • pje65pje65 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the input!
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    As I stated in the other Saturn conference I will keep people posted regularly about my saturn. I have just turned 12.3K and have rotated the tires a second time. Tread wear is not excessive and brakes are fine. The drivers arm rest is starting to show wear from my elbow, probably not a good idea to have it fabric covered otherwise rest of interior is ok. Have noticed that the transmission case shows sign of a leak somewhere and will try to find the source. No oil leaks from the engine. The maintenace record form that came with the car is a nice guide to use when changing oil and filter. All other fluids are ok. I plan on driving this car for at least 150K miles and will keep you posted on its progress. Had a 94 Mazda protege and put 122K miles on it and only replaced pads, rotors, timing belt, tires. It didn,t cost me much for upkeep and if the saturn does the same for me, that will be good.
  • diverjonesdiverjones Member Posts: 1
    In response to leather seats. I had an SL2 for seven years 1992 model. Bear in mind this is with in one year of Saturns being made. My leather seats were HOT in the Alabama summer. My air conditioner was not strong enough to cool the interior down until after 20 or so mins. So, I ended up sweating it out. I do not know how the later models are, but I can tell you that my NEW LS2 also has leather seats (yes these are heated) and my air conditioner seems VERY powerful. I believe the seats may not be quite as hot in the summer, but I will not know that until next summer gets here.
  • chasmalachasmala Member Posts: 14
    Thank you, diverjones, for the information. I am still somewhat unsure at this time whether to go with leather or not. I guess I need more input. But thanks for your help.
  • j_colemanj_coleman Member Posts: 143
    Get 20% window tint all the way around, and use a sun reflector in the front window and you will not have to worry about the seats getting super hot. A/C also works a lot better.
  • normtnormt Member Posts: 1
    I have a 95 Saturn SL with the 1.9 liter, SOHC engine. Oil consumption has been about a half quart per thousand miles. Saturn claims this is within their specifications for the vehicle. It seems way high to me. I received a letter from Saturn indicating that these engines have experienced cracked cylinder heads and Saturn has extended the warranty to 100,000 miles. Anyone with any experience with replacing the cylinder head and improvements in oil consumption let me know.
  • danielletdaniellet Member Posts: 1
    Do you HAVE TO take your Saturn to the dealership for repair or can you take it to any old mechanic? Thanks.
  • kd5kd5 Member Posts: 1
    I have been driving a '97 Mazda 626LX and have been very pleased with this vehicle. My transmission is making some strange noises but all fluids are filled and "clear". I presently have 68,000 on this vehicle and was very interested in a 2000 Saturn LS1. Time is of an essence (7 days to 30 days for a new vehicle) and reading the past remarks I'm concern if I should pursue a Saturn. This Mazda has been my first foreign car and I'm very interested with staying with American. Any suggestions?
  • heart34heart34 Member Posts: 1
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    No, you do not have to always go to the Saturn dealer for maintenance, although they would like you to. If you already know of or have a good mechanic in mind go there. Also, depending on the type of shop, they can do any of the things the dealer shop can do. A good mechanic with the right equipment should be able to diagnose the majority of problems. Hardest for any mechanic, even factory trained ones, are the intermittent problems that crop up and don't have a specific trouble code to set in the onboard diagnostics computer. We had a real good non dealer mechanic but he suffered a stroke (age related) and miss his service.
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    It all depends which area of the engine leaks oil into the combustion chamber. If worn rings, then replacing the cylinder would not help at all. If it is in the head, it could be the valve stem seals or the cracked head. If its the valve stem seals, they have to be replaced but it requires the head to be removed. If it isn't bad seals a shop can remove the head and pressure test it and determine if it is cracked and if it is only cure is to replace it.
  • kstern0330kstern0330 Member Posts: 4
    I bought my '95 SL2 new with an extended warranty from the Englewood Saturn in NJ. The warranty was through Fidelity and the dealership said at the time that this was better then the Saturn warranty, yea right. When things started breaking I would bring it back to the same dealership, they would then tell me that the repair was not covered and that I should have bought the Saturn warranty. When I told them that they, the dealership, were the ones who recommended me the warranty all I got was a blank stare. So far this year alone I've had to put in $1600 dollars in repairs. New fuel pump, master/slave for the clutch, 3rd horn, some other work I don't recall right now and now I need a new starter. Total amount of repairs that I've put into this car since I bought is around $3400. I have 93000 miles, mostly highway. Extended warranty saved me $600 in repairs but cost me $1100, including interest. Left driver side mirror broke at 28000 miles, dealer said it was not covered under warranty and to replace is would be $230. Will I ever buy a Saturn again, NFW. Looking to buy wife a new car in December. It will be either a Avalon, Infiniti I30, Acura TL, Accord or Camry. I will never buy another American car again and I will take the money for an extended warranty and put in a Mutual Fund.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    So far at 74K miles all I've had fixed is a brake light, and that was under warranty. Considering how I abuse the car, that is really great. I plan to trade up to something else at about 130K miles, and anticipating similar repair costs, the car has been very cheap per mile. Also the sl is the top safety performer for compact cars, my sl2 has good power, and holds good amount of stuff. It the car were a bit quieter, I'd be 100% happy, but considering what I paid and continue to pay for it I have zero regrets.

  • j_colemanj_coleman Member Posts: 143
    My wife has a '96 SL with about 40,000 miles. It's been pretty reliable, but it just feels like it's falling apart and it's loud. It idles pretty rough too, and she uses 89 octane gas. The steering is very slow and unresponsive. This may be due to the lack of power steering. Guess I shouldn't expect too much for $12K, but we will not buy another one.
  • ncsugradsncsugrads Member Posts: 1
    I have a '96 SL1 with 60K miles. I am losing about 1" of coolant out of my reservoir each month. It has gotten progressively worse over the past 10 months. When I took it to the dealer they pressure tested it and told me there was nothing wrong. This is the second time it was pressure tested. Where is my coolant going? Is it the cracked cylinder head? Is anyone else having this problem? Otherwise, it is a good car (so far).
  • teoteo Member Posts: 2,508
    Check the following website...
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    Saturn exposed is run by a lawyer trying to win money from saturn. He doesn't tell you he had his car rewired for a funky sterio, he was in an accident and had to have his car repaired ( at a non-saturn facility ) and that saturn has even offerend to buy back his post-accident poorly wired car.

    gives saturn good scores for reliability.

  • akashinoakashino Member Posts: 36
    I have a 91 Saturn SL1 with oil leaking from the oilpan gasket. If you have any experience fixing this yourself, or know where I can get online info on repairs, please let me know.

    Thanks !
  • usmc3usmc3 Member Posts: 1
    Traveler, On your 29Oct99 posting you mentioned transmission oil leaking at about 12K miles. My 99SL2 did the same--dealer put in chemical that shows up with black light--determined that aluminum casting (housing) was porous. The dealership replaced the housing under warranty--no recurring problems now with 28K miles. At 27.5K miles, wheel bearing went out--fixed under warranty. Thinking of buying an extended warranty!!! My wife has a 99SL2 also. Overall, we love the cars--great mpg and handling. Great service! Twin Cam has enough power and handling to get out of the way of monster SUV's!
  • butrflybng1butrflybng1 Member Posts: 1
    I am buying my very first car and can only afford one in the Saturn Sl....Kia Sephia range.
    I am having a bit of trouble with deciding the type of car I want....
    Any and all with an educated opinion or helpful advie, Please Speak UP.....
    Must Buy Soon

  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    go for the Ford Focus, Toyota Echo, Chevy Prizm, Toyota Corolla, Neon, Hyundai Elantra, or even a Chevy Cavalier, Mazda Protege, Nissan Sentra. All of these cars have attributes that make them better buys IMHO.

    The Saturn would be a choice over the Kia only because the Kia is somewhat unproven.

    However, Saturn does run decent lease deals. Good luck.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    I think he's sore at getting blown away by a saturn at a drag race. :) The saturn is a great price in this range. Intellichoice rates it cheapest to own, as does several organizations. JD power gives it good reliability scores. I think if you compare it with these cars after real drives and consider long-term costs, it will do well. Also, consider which will sell it to you at a discount.

  • ken1776ken1776 Member Posts: 41
    If your thinking of buying a Saturn, buy it because you like it. Don't buy it because you think you are buying something better. After the warranties expire, Saturn is no different then any other car company. If you plan on racking up the miles, you might want to consider something other then the Saturn. After all, and this is a quote from Saturn corporation,"By industry standards 83,000 miles is high mileage, and you should not be surprised if you experience major engine problems". And before you jump all over me for this post "dhanley" I have had a bitter Saturn experience, but for the love of god, WHAT INDUSTRY STANDARDS ARE THEY USING?
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    right now the Focus is class leading.

    Unreal pricing.

    Excellent interior space (the Focus wagon is almost as large as the Taurus wagon)

    Contemporary powertrains and chassis.

    I think also, nice looks.

    A Focus with air can be had for less than 14 grand and at that price I just can't see taking the same money and buying a smaller less refined SL.

    Not that the Saturn is bad but I think right now the Focus will redefine compact offerings in the US.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    Looks nice, but I'd be scared to get a brand-new model line from a company such as ford. Now if you leased for a good value, that might be another story. I don't know about "class leading" though. To make such a statement, I'd have to have all the data in. Relaibility? Crash safety? These are still open questions.

  • andy_jordanandy_jordan Member Posts: 764
    I have a question for you guys - I am a truck guy and don't like the idea of having to buy a car at all, but.....

    I now have to drive 65km (40 miles) to work - one way. I don't really fancy the depreciation or gas on my new C$40K V8 truck and so I am looking for a small car to do the trip efficiently.

    I have considered new, but again am concerned that I am throwing money away on depreciaiton. I live in rural Ontario, but am not too worried about weather because the truck is 4x4 if things get bad.

    So..... I have seen a 94 SL1 standard advertised with 74000 km (46,000 miles) for C$7000. This seems like a good deal to me, especially as I like driving stick shifts. I only need it to last me 2 years or so when I can move nearer work.

    You guys know a lot more about these cars than I do so what do you think - is the car up to 400 highway miles a week, in rush hour so both stop start and faster driving. I know they tend to burn oil, butI'll do my own oil changes anyway so I certainly don't mind topping up.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    My '96 sl2 has 77K miles on it, and I now drive 600 miles a week and have no worries. Using a cheaper car for such a commute is smart. You will probably save money in gas and truck depreciation!

    If the car has been well maintained, then that sounds like an excellent price. Just the normal--get someone to look it over. Oil burning... Mine loses about 3/4 quart every 3K miles. Sometime requires top-off sometimes not.

  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    To usmc3, thanks for input on the trans case being porous. I checked further after my post and fluid came from the cooler line at the trans connection but it appears to have quit leaking as there is no fresh fluid on the case
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    Don't know if you already bought but the choice is really yours just make an educated choice by
    1 Drive both cars the same day, possibly twice to compare handling, ease of use of all controls radio wipers lights heater/ac controls etc
    2 Check with your insurance company, they can let you know before you buy which has lower insurance cost.
    3 Saturn is retail priced, the others may have rebate or low rate finance plus since you posted on edmunds, you can get the bottom line cost to dealer for the car and offer them 3 to 5 percent over that. One of the dealers will accept that offer.
  • mishmomishmo Member Posts: 1
    We have a 1996 Saturn SL2 (bought it used Feb 1999) and in the past week we have started hearing a tinny sounding noise (like water dripping in a tin can) that seems like it's coming through the front speakers or the air vents. Has anyone encountered a problem like this? The noise started right around the first major snowfall of the year. We have brought the car to Saturn for similar problems (drifting while wheels are perfectly straight and wind coming in through speakers) and they always tell us we're crazy or the problem is normal (and therefore they can't fix it). So I thought that maybe someone here has heard of the problem and how to fix it. Thanx!
  • jimontjimont Member Posts: 5
    I have a '95 SL with 89K miles. A couple weeks ago
    I saw what I thought was motor oil in the coolant
    when I checked the reservoir while doing a routine oil change. I thought nah, maybe its just water pump lubricant that I put in with the stop-leak
    when I last changed the coolant (though I don't remember using the stuff in this particular car.)
    I thought that if there was a head problem, the coolant would be in the oil.

    Well, anyway, I checked the oil today and was I suprised. The dipstick was dry and my coolant reservoir was overflowing with oil and oil sludge!
    The car never gave any indication that anything was amiss.

    Off to the dealer tomorrow. I hope they honor their warranty extension on the head and flush out my cooling system.

    I had hoped to get 200K out of this car (my 87 Dodge K car was still going strong @ 163K when I sold it and got this one.) Now I'm not so sure.

    I'm becoming more "sure" that my next car won't be a Saturn, though.
  • jimontjimont Member Posts: 5
    Yup, it was the cracked cylinder head, apparently a casting defect. Saturn sent me a letter in June '99 about the warranty extension and what to look for (okay so I skimmed the part about the "discoloration in the coolant reservoir.")

    Anyway, brought it to Saturn of Denville, NJ and Sean (or Shawn) the service advisor not only said
    that it probably "was" a cracked head (but they would have to look at it first) but also, with no prompting, offered me a FREE loaner if that was the case.

    Well, it was. He called me back and said he couldn't guarantee one of their cars but would set me up with a rental if no loaner was available.

    I'm slightly impressed. Their service department has always been pretty good to me for the few times I've used them (even gave me free stop-leak pellets when I stopped by to ask what kind of coolant to buy when I did my first drain-flush.)

    So now my impression of my Saturn SL is " a safe,fuel efficient, fairly reliable car with some annoying shortcomings (bad seats, bad oil filter location, and "ouch" my poor right knee from rubbing against the console.) But the service has always been great.

    Maybe I'll buy another one, but time will tell..
  • hurtn4certnhurtn4certn Member Posts: 9
    I have a friend who has 1994 saturn SL1. They are telling him the timing chain (belt??) need replacing. Does this car in fact have a timing chain and not a belt. If it does have a chain, does it have a tensioner?? A mechanic is charging for replacement of timing chain, tensioner, crank and cam gears. Car has 74,000 miles. Is this work necessary??
    Any advice appreciated.
  • saturnboysaturnboy Member Posts: 89
    As a true Saturn owner and Saturn believer, I was shocked to visit that childish site posted by a supposed lawyer out for money he doens't deserve nor did earn by any means other then being manipulative, childish, and making strong accusations against a company that could stomp on him like a bug. I emailed Saturn Corp and urged them to sue this individual and offered a donation to there lawyer fee's. For every 10 good Saturn Stories, there'e a bad one. Saturns are not perfect, but most are dependable, safer then 99.9 percent of cars in its class according to crash test ratings and the best value to own according to As a smart consumer , its up to you to decide.
  • geojody1999geojody1999 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 93 SL2 with 74K miles as well, and they told me the same thing, that I needed to change a particular belt in the engine. Yes, there is a timining chain, and I dont remember what the belt was for. I didn't do it at that time b/c I had to have carbon build-up removed from my engine, that was about $200 & the belt replacement would've cost me about $200 as well. I could only afford one thing at a time.

    Sorry I can't be too much help.
  • jjajgeorgiajjajgeorgia Member Posts: 3
    I have a 94 SL which just rolled over 230,000 miles. Only expenses: clutch at 135,000, alternator at 200,000, and many many tires.
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    I would go to another place for a check out of the car. Don't tell them what the other place wants to do, see if they sy the same thing. I always thought timing chain meant no replacement for at least 100k miles.
  • j_colemanj_coleman Member Posts: 143
    My wife has a '96 SL that needs new tires soon. Does anyone know if a larger tire will fit on the rim? The ones that came with the car are pretty small.
  • travelertraveler Member Posts: 67
    It is not a good idea to put larger tires on your saturn. ALL cars with computers are designed from the engine to the tire that is specified for the emissions, timing, fuel metering system etc to work properly. You have to keep the same overall tire diameter. If you want to, go to a recycling yard and purchase the fifteen inch wheels then put the 185-65R15 tires. These are wider than the 70 series but have the overall diameter as the 14" tires. No I am not a service advisor or mechanic but speak from experience with putting larger diameter tires the vehicle did not perform well.
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