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Saturn S-Series



  • 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 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 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 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 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 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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
  • 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 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 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 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..
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hi--
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • bhanabhana Posts: 1
    I had (until yesterday) a 93 SL, and have to say it is the most unreliable car we have ever had. We enjoyed the handling and feel of it, when it worked... and certainly the service people are good, and the cost of repair at the dealership is actually relatively reasonable. Which is a good thing, because we've spent a lot of time there.

    The air conditioning needed to be refilled every summer... they couldn't find out what was wrong with it, and refilled it for free the first three times (in two years), but after that it cost plenty. The driver's side window mechanism snapped, twice. The rotors needed replacing in 96, 98 and 99. The bucket seats began to break down after three years, the weatherstripping and interior molding started coming off after two... and were not covered by the warranties. The clutch had to be fixed, the exhaust system had several problems, the battery died after two years, the tires had to be replaced frequently, the problems just went on and on... we were in the garage every other month. Bad enough when the repairs were covered by the warranties, but afterwards it got very expensive. Finally the timing chain jumped and smashed the engine... a $4000 problem that is not worth bothering with for this particular black hole.

    The worst part was that in 96 I was rear ended in a very minor fender bender, and the seat adjustor gear stripped, snapping me backwards at high velocity and tearing several of the disks in my spine. The guy at the body shop said that he got this problem frequently with the older SLs, and he couldn't understand why the company never recalled them or offered to replace them, though they had eventually redesigned them to fix the problem.

    When we first got our SL I had loved the drive and comfort of the car, and recommended it to several family members and friends... I had read the consumer reports and believed that it was a reliable car. Unfortunately they have had much the same experience with theirs, saying that the car was decent for the first three years but that at that point they quickly fell apart. None of us will be buying Saturns again.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    That non-timing belt you had replaced was the serpentine belt. I think indie shops will do it for 40-50 bucks. Bhana: I am sorry you had so many problems with your car. I would guess your dealer gave poor service; it seems like there are often clusters of upset owners for particular brands. My saturn is fine at 80K miles, no repairs, and several friends who have them are similarly happy with relaibility. But this is with a few specific dealers, and with my self-servicing. Who knows, though.

  • I am not satisfied with the response from the Regional Service Rep. concerning my recently blown motor at 83k miles. Want to take it to a higher level, so I would like to go right to the top. Can any one give me the name of the C.E.O. or any other top level manager. Called there usless 1-800 No. best they would do is give me the usless Regional Service Rep.
  • Sorry spellcheck did not catch sp. of 'useless"
  • Many of the earlier Saturns had terrible poor fit and finish, such as weather stripping falling off, poor quality seats, misalined door trim, which is common on all american cars. As far as the majority of Saturn engines, more often then not, they will do the distance with little or no trouble. Brakes have been a problem also, but in many cases they will replace them even out of warranty because they know of this problem. Many will frequent this site to post gripes about their cars, but the majority of Satisfied Saturn owners, over 2 million to be exzact, will not come here, because they are happy with their cars and see no reason to speak about it.
  • vidividi Posts: 1
    We're looking for a used car and there's a 96 SL1
    with ABS brakes and traction control that looks
    good. However, I had a Subaru Legacy and did not
    like it's ABS brakes at all: it took much too long
    to stop the car on a slick road. I felt that on the Subaru, ABS brakes could get you into more trouble than they could keep you from.
    Anyone know how the ABS brakes and traction control on a Saturn are?
  • I have a 99 sl2 with them and this is the first car I've owned that had these options. My driving is in the northeast and I feel that they work very good. Might help in knowing what year subaru you had, a lot of improvements are made even in just one rear on abs and traction control.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Anyone out there bought or tried out a 2000 SL? They have apparently been upgraded this year, as well as being re-styled.
  • I have driven the 2000 Saturn SC2, it is just like the 99 model , except it has a restyled exterior, as well as a more user friendly interior. Also, more standard features, theft deterrent, bigger tires, more cup holders, mostly minor but good improvements. I heard a rumor, and saw in a magazine that Saturn is coming out with a completely new S series in 2001, new 2.0 liter engine, new body, new platform, anyone else heard of this ?? ?
  • timc1timc1 Posts: 2
    My understanding is that Saturn will use the new GM delta platform for the S series in 2002, but will retain the 1.9 liter engine. Has anyone else heard this?
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