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Saturn S-Series



  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    The L100 is the cheap model, no cup holders or console, missing lots of other stuff. It will go away in 2003, leaving just the 200 and 300 level trim. The L200 isn't much more than the L100 special edition but I think it is a much better car. I wouldn't do without heated power mirrors and the height-adjustable driver's seat, for instance, plus the rear cupholders, illuminated visor mirrors, stuff you can live without but which I sort of expect in a vehicle this price.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    Sorry you are so thin skinned, but you are being totally unrealistic. You have no case. You are out of warranty. What is so hard to understand about that? You may berate ME all you want,but you will STILL have no case and your dealer STILL has no obligation to you to do anything. Not even as a "goodwill" gesture.
    Perhaps I was a little blunt.Were you expecting everyone to hop on the band wagon and say "Call Ralph Nader"??? Complex matter? There's nothing complex here. There is nothing I posted that was not true.Get your transmission fixed, no one else is responsible for picking up the cost except you.
  • Of the messages posted here. Sounds like these cars have a tendency to leak oil and have alternator problems. Anyone out there reccomend these cars?
  • afk_xafk_x Posts: 393
    Until the 1998 model year when Saturn redesigned their altenator you could pretty much count on neededing a new one every 60K miles. This is no longer a problem.

    As for leaking oil - that has never been a problem. Before the 1999 model year "some" Saturns would burn oil. For the vast majority of Saturn owners this oil burning was so slight it didn't affect anything. 1 quart every 3,000 miles or so. Not a big deal.

    Personally I think with .9% on new ones - its a great time to buy an S.

    Also with .9% you can get a GREAT price on a 2000 or 2001 used SL2.

    I would be careful when purchasing anything older than a 1998 - have it checked out by a third party
  • I bought a used SL1 in 98. It was pretty high miles (50k) for a 2year old car but my regular mechanic checked it out and pronounced it in excellent shape. It had new Firestone FT70's. I just traded it in on 2/9. My wife drove the car to work and back every day in Seattle traffic, plus it got 80% of our weekend use. That includes a 2000 mile round trip to Reno for Super Bowl Sunday 2001. It averaged over 40mpg on that trip, 34 in regular usage. It had 113k miles at trade in, FT70's still had plenty left. It had the cracked head at 79k, fully repaired at absolutely no charge (including a timing belt which was thrown in for nothing since they had the engine apart. The service manager told me he threw it in because he couldn't raise me on my cel phone and it "needed it anyway") I never replaced the brake pads, they were at 30% at trade in time. It did burn oil, about 1.5-2 quarts per 3000 miles. A/C was nice and cold from the get go. I put in one set of plugs and wires myself at 90k. To wrap it up, if you can't afford a Civic, Altima or whatever the Toyota equivalent is, BUY A SATURN!! They are great for their intended purpose: cheap, basic transportation with a little more safety than average for that type of car. The only reason I got rid of mine ( for $2300 trade in ) is because my dog grew up and wouldn't fit in the back seat anymore. I picked up a CR-V instead. I hope Honda makes me as happy as Saturn. By the way, I sent that Saturn of Bellevue Service Manager and his boys 2 extra large pizzas with drinks from the Pizzaria Pagliacci in Bellevue the next Monday. I have never seen service like that in any business.
  • Well despite Dweezils assessment of your situation, I can understand what you’re going through. I had a similar Saturn experience with our 95 SL II, “blown engine”. Saturn’s main gripe was I didn’t have regular oil changes at the dealership, and 83 K is considered high mileage by industry standards for an engine. Now, had I bought this car from any other car manufacturer, this would be the response I would expect. I thought, much like you probably did, that Saturn was different. Well to be just as harsh as Dweezil, and it was a tough pill for me to swallow, Saturn really is no different then any other car company. All the fluff at the dealership is all fine and dandy, BUT when I buy a new car, I don’t expect to have to go back to the dealer. And when the warranty expires, well you’re on your own. Fix the transmission, enjoy the car, and when it’s time to get another, remember your Saturn experience.
  • Found a 1999 SL2 with 46,000 miles, manual transmission and CD player at a local Saturn store for $6982. Sound good?
  • I just picked up my Siilver Blue 2002 Saturn SL1 from the dealership last night! And I'm on cloud nine! I am very pleased with my "Saturn Expereince", but reading this post board didn't help much. I believe that now Saturn comes with a powertrain warranty to cover any engine/transmission problems. I am leasing so I don't anticpate having any "major" problems within the 3 years. If so, it'll be covered under the warranty. Well, now I just have to find some places to go and a name for my vehicle! Happy Driving all!
  • That sounds great on your new car. What made you get the SL1 in place of the Golf? We bought a new SL2 in 1995 and the new body style came out in 1996--we were mad about that. I knew the change was coming, but the salesman said it would be very minor "Just rounding the roof a little." I see a new SL comes out next year. I wonder what it will look like? Looking for a new (to me) commuter vehicle, I have my eye on a 1999 SL2 at my local Saturn store. My 1995 was a good car, so I may get this one. Congratulations, again--and happy driving to you!
  • The Saturn was much more affordable to me for right now. Maybe a little down the line I can upgrade. Plus I got sick of dealing with all the bull crap so many dealerships give you...I mean within the last month I had been through some VERY unpleasant experiences!!!!!!!!! I'm a much happier camper now and even had the heart to send a card to the finance manager who helped me AND my salesperson! Thanks for asking! ;)
  • From what I've been reading on this message board, Saturns all seem to have the same problems at about the same mileage. I have a 93 SL2 with 115K miles. I've replaced the alternator twice (50K and 100K), engine mount twice (45K and 90K), water leaks (60K), and routine stuff like brakes and tires. Nothing, but routine maintenance since the alternator a year ago; knock on wood. For those of you with slightly more mileage, what can I expect to need replacement in the coming year? I want to try and reach 150K miles before buying the new Infiniti G35 or Mazda 6. Is this wishful thinking?
  • You are right about the BS other dealers put you through. I forgot how easy it was to buy a Saturn. We bought the 1999 SL2 last night. I think between seeing it monday night and buying it tuesday night, I interacted with my salesman less than an hour. The finance guy asked me one time about this extended service plan, I said no, and that was it. On to the signing, and we were gone.

    When I test drove it monday, I found the receipts from the oil changes the woman who owned it first did--every 3000 miles like clokwork. I did not, however, find a receipt from getting new spark plugs at 30,000 miles or a new air filter--so I made an appointment with the service department to get these things done. If it didn't need them, then new ones won't hurt. If she didn't get them done, then I need them. I will also get them to check the brakes. I think it's like $149 to change the front brakes. They gave me more for my trade than I knew it was worth, so I may just get them done, too, while it's there if it's anywhere close to needing them. The car was originally sold at the dealer I bought it from--so I figure if she liked the car so much that she traded it for another Saturn, then she probably liked and took care of it. We shall see; but, I feel good about it being a good commuter for 3 or 4 years at least.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Posts: 172
    my fiancee owns a 1999 sl1 and is wondering if this car has a timing BELT or timing CHAIN, so we know whether to have it changed now that we are up to 60k miles. also, is this an engine that would be damaged if the belt/chain broke?
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    It has a timing chain. You have no need to worry about changing it until about 100k. Most chains never need to be replaced but Saturn's seems to need changing around the 100k mark to avoid failure. If it does break, your engine would be damaged severely.
  • As seen from my above post, my 93 has 115K miles. I haven't changed the timing chain. My understanding is that as long as the tensioner is in good shape, the chain never has to be replaced. I got a new tensioner around 90K miles. According to the Saturn service schedule, there's no mention of replacing the timing chain. I've been doing most of the maintenance myself, but the few times I've had it to the dealer, they've never mentioned replacing the chain. Considering the severe consequences of the chain breaking, I want to ensure that doesn't happen. Can anyone shed any more light on this?
  • afk_xafk_x Posts: 393
    Saturn timing chains have no scheduled maintinence.

    To say they have a life expectancy of 100K is incorrect.

    When in doubt check the owners manual - or ask a friendly Saturn service tech.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    I should have been a bit more clear. The timing chain itself isn't a problem, but the tensioners do tend to go around 100k based on some failure stories in here. If it freezes up, you can kiss your chain and engine goodbye. But since there is hardly anymore work involved in replacing the chain while replacing the tensioner, then it's usually done at the same time as a safeguard measure. Since you already replaced your tensioner, I wouldn't worry about it.
  • wwhite2wwhite2 Posts: 535
    My 99 blackberry 5spd sc2 is losing its reliability . Now with 86K mi the drivetrain is falling apart . Car cant seem to handle Easy highway miles ?(rt 290 and the mass pike are great highways). Both front hub bearings have failed and now steering knuckle has failed ....maybe due to improper bearing install before. Had to replace the exhaust resonator and it burns a qt of mobil 1 evert 1k mi......have done oil changed every 3 to 4k . will need a new car soon and will not consider a Saturn
  • but 42,000 miles a year is pretty darn hard on any car. What kind of car do you think will hold up better under that stress? Especially one that cost as (comparatively) little as yours did? What did you pay, around $15k or so? Good luck on your next car. maybe a new Corolla would be worth a look for that many miles driven per year. An Elantra's drivetrain will still be under warranty at 86,000 miles, give it a look. I hope it's paid for. I can't imagine what a (barely) 3 yr old car with 86,000 miles is worth on a trade.
  • wwhite2wwhite2 Posts: 535
    the car will be 3 yrs old this april so the car averages about 30K per yr. Do I think i am asking to much from this car its prettty easy to build a bearing that would last a million miles of stress free highway driving and its also pretty easy to spec a bearing that will last less than 100K mi. i have been around long enough to remember the junk that was sold to consumers in the 70's ....thirty years later its not looking much better PS the car was $17400
  • afk_xafk_x Posts: 393
    Why don't you get in touch with Saturn corp. Although you vehicle is WELL out of warrenty if you can document the correct maintinence Saturn may kick in a little to help with the repairs.

    I would be pissed too if I were you - but have you taken the car to a Saturn retailer and gotten an estimate? I would also suggest you go to an independant with a good reputation and get an estimate.

    Sounds like you just got a rotten car. Recognizing that it is YOUR car that is bad while many other people are very happy and have never had a problem doesn't make YOU feel any better - what does going to another manufacturer going to do? Just make you feel better. Imgaine if you had bought a Camry in 99 and needed a new engine at 30K but it wasn't covered under warrenty because you didn't service at the dealership?

    No car is perfect - how is the engine and tranny doing on yours? We have a car in our showroom with 292,000 miles on it. Original engine and transmission.

    Again I would contact Saturn corp - it doesn't cost anything but time -

    Hope things work out for you...
  • meuumeuu Posts: 2
    I have just purchased a 2002 Saturn SL with the manual 5 speed. My question is does anyone else have one that shifts a bit clunky? I have drove manuals all my life and this one seems to click or clunk into gears most the time. I was hopeing it was just a breakin thing but it has gotten no better. Before the dealer gives me some B.S. I just wanted to know if anyone else thinks their car shifts this way? Thanks for any help....

  • My 1999 SL2 also shifts a little "clunky." But, I don't really consider it a fault. I think that once you get used to it, the "clunkiness" actually helps you make sure the shifter is going where you want it to go. Of course, yours may be doing something different than mine--so, by all means, have the service department look at it. You say you just bought it--did you not raise a concern during your test drive?
  • meuumeuu Posts: 2
    Yes I did kind of notice it during the test drive, but hoped it was a breakin thing. I will bring it to the dealers attention. Other than the shifting thing I really like the car so far. I hope some of the stories I have read hear are not very common. I hope to run 150,000 to 200,000 miles without major problems. I ran 203,000 miles on a plymouth horizon without one major problem. Just an alternator and tires/brakes, very depenable car....
  • birdman579birdman579 Posts: 151
    I'm now at 117.5K miles (Feb 19, I was only at 115K; damn I drive a lot) and just took my car to the dealer for some service. They told me $1600 of work should be done! Is this a load a crap? Here are the major issues: new front brake pads and rotors ($350), fog light replacement ($140), replace spark plugs and wires, clean throttle body, to correct and prevent carbon buildup ($300), flush automatic transmission fluid ($350), replace upper engine mount ($250), and some other minor issues.

    I had the brakes done, which I now feel was a mistake. According to dealer, the front pads were at 5/32, according to my Haynes repair manual, 1/16 is the minimum thickness. They feel better, but could have gone longer. I love the fog lights so I replaced it. The housing was completely rusted and stopped working even after replacing the bulb. What's the story with spark plug wires arcing? I can't figure out how to diagnosis this. I declined this and figure I'll take care of when I do the 120K mile service myself. Flushing the automatic transmission fluid? I've been changing it as scheduled so I declined this as well. Replace upper engine mount? I did this 18 months/25K miles ago. It looks fine to me and I remember what a collapsed mount looks like. My car is running fine so I'm not terribly concerned about any of the issues, but would appreciate some feedback.
  • wwhite2wwhite2 Posts: 535
    most of those repairs can be done with basic auto tools . And an average comsumer can do a better job performing that work .
  • birdman579birdman579 Posts: 151
    wwhite2: what repairs specifically are you calling expensive? The brakes were $250 in parts so $100 doesn't seem outrageous for installation. The fog light replacement was $70 in parts, but it was all rusted and a pain to get to (I have changed the bulbs on several occasions) so I decided to have the dealer do the dirty work. Replacing the spark plugs and wires seemed really high to me so I'll do it myself. The auto transmission flush also seems pricey. Can a mechanic do that for less? The engine mount replacement is also too much. I did this myself as well. The part was $70 and only took about 30 minutes to replace. Very fun and easy to do. What's the going rate for a 120K mile service? I'm going to do it myself, but am curious. The dealers in my area (Balt/Wash) want $325-350. That seems expensive. I will say, the dealers all seem to know what they're doing. Any problems I've had, all have been fixed the first time. Never a repeat trip to the dealer.
  • afk_xafk_x Posts: 393
    You said..

    "I'm now at 117.5K miles (Feb 19, I was only at 115K; damn I drive a lot) and just took my car to the dealer for some service. They told me $1600 of work should be done! Is this a load a crap? Here are the major issues: new front brake pads and rotors ($350), fog light replacement ($140), replace spark plugs and wires, clean throttle body, to correct and prevent carbon buildup ($300), flush automatic transmission fluid ($350), replace upper engine mount ($250), and some other minor issues."

    I'm not an expert on service issues. The prices you mentioned are about right for a Saturn dealer to charge - except they are on the very HIGH side of what I have seen. In particular $350 to flush the tranny fluid and (I assume) replace the filter. Thats about a 70 dollar internal job.

    My advice would be when it comes to big repair issues or when your car is still low in miles and worth more its not a bad idea to pay the extra money for actual Saturn dealer work.

    When your car has that many miles I would suggest you find a local reputable mechanic who can proably do the same work for

    New front brakes and rotors (200)
    Fog light replacement (80)
    Spark plugs and wires - clean throttle body (100)
    Transmission flush and new filter (100)
    Replace top motor mount (80)

    Also if you are handy at all you could do the majority of the above work at home. The most difficult part would be new front brakes and rotors - and thats not too hard.
  • Hey Saturn owners. I just bought a Saturn SL2 about 3 weeks ago. While I have no complaints with my OEM Affinity tires, I am thinking about replacing them. I think it is just the lack of goodwill associated with the Firestone name. I know the problems were with the truck tires; and, that there have been no problems with the Affinity passenger tire. How have you liked your Affinity tires? Have you replaced them--and if so, with what? Have you not even thought about it? I went to and read some posts from people about a couple of tires. Generally all bad reviews of the Affinity. The most popular tire Saturn SL2 owners bought to replace the Affinity tires was the Dunlop SP Sport A2. The reviews on that tire are great. I may go with them. sells them for $55 each, but you have to get a shop to install them at about $20 each--plus shipping. Sears sells them for $80 each, so I may just go there. It may all be in my head, though. Any thoughts?
  • I can't believe how little interest there is in Saturn around here!

    I guess I will keep the tires. I went out over the weekend and tried to make them squeal or slide in turns (not in heavy traffic), and they would not. Maybe the Affinity is a good tire for the size and weight of the Saturn SL class.
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