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Saturn S-Series



  • There’s a great site with service info., but you better not say anything bad about a Saturn. I was at this site looking for a little help with the service codes, when I noticed there was a lot problems related to the cooling system. I made the statement that the electronics that control the cooling fan was a poor design. Well I’ve been pretty much expelled from the site. I ‘m an electronic tech and I reworked its fan circuit the day I got the car. Many people are having problems with cracked heads, split radiators and cooling fans not coming on. People having problems with their cars is nothing new and can be expected. What floored me were the statements from the Saturn professionals (service managers, service tech, etc) that crack heads and multiple radiator replacement was normal “ wear and tear”. Plugs, belts, bearings, and bushings are normal wear and tear, not cracked heads. I pointed out that my 95 SL1 had 210,000 miles on it and I haven’t replaced any of the laundry list of things, which they deem as normal wear and tear. Their response to my trouble free mileage was that it’s a pure coincidence. The same techs that are saying there’s nothing wrong with it are saying it’s a good idea to put the manual fan switch in. I posted my adjustable temp. electronic switch as an alternative to their manual switch and that was the end of me.
    The old pull the neg. battery cable test only work on cars without electronic controllers. (pre-80’s). If you want to check an alternator on a new car, you need a multi-meter (VOM). You can pick-up a cheap one all most anywhere. Put in meter on the volt scale and read the battery with the engine off. It should read around 12 volts (11v-12.5v) When the engine is running and your charging system is working properly, it will read around 14 volts (13.5v-14.5v). Note; new cars with alarms, remote starters, etc., will drain down a battery if the car is not started on a regular basis. If the car battery looses it charge, you got other problems to deal with. Your anti-theft radio will need to be reset with the factory codes and the car’s CPU may need a code reset. Good luck!
  • lorelore Posts: 17
    I was stuck with my wife's 2000 SL2, pretty much broke down. Whenever it would rain, the car would do a "chitty chitty bang bang" thing and idle roughly. It still worked, just took longer to warm up and all. We had it in the shop last year and the mechanics fixed it up pretty well. One of the cylinders wasn't firing, and got it fixed.

    Well it was a year and a half later and we run into similar problems. Took it in to another mechanic and there was a hole in the muffler. That and there were 10 errors that showed up on the computer, the engine was mis-firing again it seemed. Well instead of trying to look for what was wrong, and/or it being a possible electrical problem we decided to trade the car in.

    I used to car to get to work for about 4 months, the 4th one having the most problems. I could barely make it up a hill some mornings, it would stall and I would have to restart. The whole transmission was outta wack and I had zero pickup. Sometimes in rush hour the engine would get hot, prob due to the coolent system everyone is talking about. It was just the strangest simptoms, was a TSB out about the computer timing. Basically it would have cost us money to have the dealership or mechanic try to find the problem, let alone how much it wouldve cost to fix it. It was time to let it go.
  • My trans just went out on my '94 SL2. 165,000 miles and this is the first major mechanical breakdown. Is this a great car or what? Maybe I'm just lucky. A transmisson shop had to take a guess at $1700-$2000 for an overhaul because they said they never see any Saturns, "They just don't break." They estimated $500-$650 for a used trany. If they "just don't break" then I'm thinking of throwing a used on it and waiting till the Aura comes out.
  • I have a 2001 SC1 and it's been giving me the same problem. It's been idling for 3yrs and each time I take it to the dealer, no can find anything wrong with it. Like you, I can be at a stop light and the idling will start. On October 4, 2005, the gas peddle became stuck! I called :mad: :mad: :mad: the Saturn hot line and was basically told there was nothing they could do since the warranty just went out. I don't know what to do. No seems to have any answers for me.
  • Hello everyone. I just bought a single owner used 5-speed 97 SC2 w/78000 mi. in CA for $2500 to replace a 94 Altima which seems to enjoy being in the shop every other month (not the greatest commuter car.) Unfortunately it needs: new serpentine belt, battery, valve cover gasket, and an engine mount. Basically I'm just hoping I got an ok deal as the Altima actually seems a bit more solidly built (especially the shifter which feels a bit like a stick in a bucket of marbles.) Just a bit nervous. Any thoughts? I realize this isn't really the greatest question to post...
  • Tiny plastic retainer broke holding shift cable to gear selector on my 5 speed SC1. Part looks like maybe $.05, but Saturn wants $205.00 for a set of shift cables (they only come in pairs) that contain that retainer. Instead, I purchased a set of Toyota windshield wiper linkage bushings ($10.68 at Advance) and pressed one through cable and over shifter attachment point. The cable is held on very securely with no trouble shifting.
  • My 95 SL2, with 96,000 plus miles on it has been trouble free up until recently with two minor problems (I think). The light sensor that indicates the car is hot goes on. Changed the sensor, so don't guess that's the problem. Checked the water in radiator and it is full. Engine does not reheat, although it does require the fan assistance to cool in idling traffic, as it always did. Also, when I shift into reverse, the engine revs before it slows, causing the car to jolt into reverse. If I shift into neutral first, then wait until the engine slows, I can go to reverse without problems.

    Anyone have any ideas?
  • yeah as this reply isn't to the timing belt your friend is having problems with it's indeed about the Acura Integra Electrical problem. I am having the EXACT same problems that you described in your post that i can't seem to E-mail you or reply to on the Acura Forum. I went through the exact same steps and met with the same issues/lack of spark/getting power to the Distributor housing etc... Were you able to get it running and if so PLEASE tell me how so i can do the same. I dont use this car often it's a secondary Vehicle but i'd like to know what you did to get yours fixed, Any Info would be greatly apriciated!
  • OK - First time in the Saturn forum - No time to review 1200-odd messages, so I started another thread that will hopefully help others.

    I find myself in dire financial straits and had to give back a beautiful (& FUN!) Subaru Forester XT.

    I am strongly considering buying a 1995 SW2 (5-spd) from a private party, and need some expert opinions & feedback before I make the final decision.
    The sellers are asking $1800-, but I have negotiated to a tentative $1400- due to a few minor problems, the worst of which is a cracked windshield and some interior trim/cosmetic things.

    It has 249,000 miles, and was last purchased by a mechanic (I'm told) as a gift to his parents-in-law.

    It has recently had a "full tuneup", a new clutch, a new battery, and wears nearly new tires.
    It drives quite nicely, brakes strong & firm (with a slight pulse in the pedal), steers & rides solid with decent suspension damping, and the clutch does feel like new (they say "about 100 miles" - seems accurate).
    I've noticed some sort of liquid adhesive/sealant around the valve cover gasket area, and the coolant is nearly black, and the brake fluid is dark.
    The oil is beautiful and looks & smells new.
    It started up excellent from dead cold (hadn't been started for several weeks) on a 45-degree day.
    I noticed no smoke whatsoever from the tailpipe, and in fact the exhaust smells perfect (not rich, no oil odor), although it does give a noticeable strumming/throbbing harmonic in the cabin at idle.
    From what I could see, everything on the undercarriage looks very good, but I could'nt really get a good look at the front/middle of the exhaust system.
    I'm told the A/C & Cruise work, although I didn't actually test those things (yet).
    There is no stereo whatsoever, and the driver's door speaker is nonexistant.
    There is no sunroof, and no ABS.

    For good measure, I decided to check CarFax ("1 free check"); Well the Free findings were just enough to show that there are 18 reports on this vehicle.

    I had noticed a couple dents/wrinkles at the very front of the hood, and it doesn't close snugly - a slight rattling when closed.
    So, I'm a little concerned that it may have had a fairly significant front end impact, although I checked the innner panels of the engine bay and the strut towers and found nothing at all.

    My questions:
    Could I get any & all experienced (similar vintage SW2 / S Series) feedback about this car from all of you?
    Any areas of concern?
    Does it sound like $1400- is a fair & appropriate price?
    My gut instinct and test drive tell me it's not a :lemon: , but I really have no experience with Saturns, so I'm turning to the experts.

    Does anyone have any clues as to what CarFax's 18 Reports could be?

    Would someone be able to run a complete CarFax (or similar VIN check) for me?
    My budget is very strained, and I could use a bit of help here.
    I'd be very grateful for the favor.
    The VIN is:

    Thanks in advance for all of your help! :confuse:
    ps - I'm set to buy it tomorrow, late morning.
  • i think you're in the clear...
    5 owner car. possible mileage record screwup on paperwork but mileage should be correct.
    i have a 97 saturn sc-2 that i got w/ 78000 mi. for $2500 but had to pay another $500 in repairs, etc. I'm not sure what to tell you re: Saturns as this is my first but i guess it's ok. i must admit it does feel cheap...but i guess it was! hope it lasts like some of the ones people post about here. good luck!
  • Thanks oneduckstwo!! :)
    Sorry to take so long to reply; I've had a very hectic week.
    I really appreciate the favor!

    Well, I went ahead and bought the car; $1400 as promised.
    I probably could have gotten it for a bit less, but the seller is a retired Veteran with a disability, and really needs the money (I'm also a disabled Vet).

    I gave the car a more thorough going-over just before writing the check, and I'm convinced it's never had a significant impact, and the paint is all original (looks surprisingly fresh BTW!).
    In addition to everything to everything I mentioned above, it also has all new hoses (at least everything I could find and feel) - radiator, power steering, power brakes, vacuum lines - EVERYTHING!
    Also new ignition wires, coils, and presumably spark plugs as well.
    It feels very much like it has at least new brake pads/shoes - The brakes are excellent; they stop hard with a firm pedal and minimal pedal travel.
    The air filter is clearly brand new (white as snow!).
    I also measured the tires' tread depth - 9/32's - basically brand new as the seller promised (Yokohama AVID Touring - Perfect for this car).
    It really does appear to have had a recent & complete tune-up, although the serpentine accessory belt appears to be reaching the end of it's life (that's a fairly easy fix that I can do in my parking lot).

    ** Does the 1.9 DOHC have a timing chain? Or belt? :confuse:

    I'm also planning a complete back-flush of the coolant, along with a coolant system cleaning chemical beforehand (another simple, if tedious, task).

    ** Can anyone tell me where the engine block coolant drain is? :confuse:
    I can't afford a shop manual / Chilton's etc. right now.

    I've now driven it about 150 miles, of all sorts of mixed urban & freeway (up to 85mph).
    It really runs and drives very well, although the brake pedal pulsing seems more apparent after a few hard stops - Clear the rotors need to be turned, or possibly the rotors & drums need to be replaced.
    As far as I can tell right now, it seems to be getting about 30mpg, in mixed, moderately aggressive driving.
    MUCH better than the Forester XT's 17-19!
    I'll have an accurate figure when I refill the tank again.

    ** Anyone know of a decent Saturn warehouse or some-such, with good prices?:confuse:
    When it comes to brakes I'd really prefer the best quality replacement parts I can get at a low price (I generally don't trust used brake parts).

    I'm really impressed with the engine. As stated above, it has 250,000 miles.
    It runs very, very well!
    Starts pefectly/instantly from dead cold, with no use of the throttle and minimal cranking (3-4 revolutions as far as I can tell; 1-2 revs when warm).
    Plenty of power at all RPM; Enough to spin the front tires unintentionally on a wet road with a moderate take-off; Also chirped several times accidently on drive pavement (I know, the AVID Touring's are hardly the grippiest tire...).
    I run it up close to redline (out of respect for a 250k engine, I stopped at about 5700rpm) and it is very smooth and sounds like it's happy at higher revs - No apparent strain; The higher it revs the smoother and sweeter-sounding it gets!
    (Reminds me of the engine in a Fiat X1/9 I had a few years back - It thought it was a Ferrari and would happily rev almost a thousand rpm past redline! - Except the Saturn has a lot more power!).
    While it's certainly not even close to my modified Forester XT's 250-260 or so HP, this little wagon can definitely get out of it's own way! (& achieve 30-odd mpg doing it!).

    Well, that's pretty much my update.
    It'll need the brakes dialed-in, and a complete flush and refill, as well as the coolant system cleaning/flush/refill, and the serpentine belt.
    Otherwise, just some interior cosmetics & a few missing small panels.

    All in all, I'm satisfied with the purchase and price; It's evident that a lot of money was recently put into the car in all the important places.

    Maybe I will be able to boast about 350,000 miles! (500k? ;) )

    ps - Thanks in advance for anyone's help with my new questions! :shades:
  • We bought my wife an 02' SL1 w/17k for $6000 in March 04'(great price at time) The car has been great until recently. We took it in a bit late for the 30k service (38k) because it was over due, and because there was a slightly rough idle. After the service the car still had the rough idle and Saturn said that the Intake Man. gaskett was leaking! My wife drives like a grandma and the car never overheated. Has anyone else had this problem? When saturn informed me I was upset that a car with 38k miles needed $400 in repiars. Especialy since the warranty had just lapsed. After going back and fourth with the dealer they agreed to fix it under the same coverage the warranty offered. (They were actualy very nice about the process) I'm trying to determine if this was a fluke or if its an indication of issues to come. Our value on the car is still strong so if we plan to get rid of it now is the time to get our money out of it. My wife likes the car and it seems to be fine now. Are the high reliability ratings just media fluff, or should it continue to be a great easy driving car? What should i expect?
  • The chime used to indicate that the lights were on or keys left in. Now, however, Chime operates continuously when door is open (regardless of lights or keys). So the chime doesn't provide any useful info anymore! Fuse is OK but I can't locate the chime (behind the fuse board??) Any ideas on how I should approach this problem?
  • My '97 s-series saturn's wiper fluid won't spray. I checked the sprayers and they don't seem blocked. it also looks like the fluid housing is leaking. Related issues? What should i look for?
  • I should read this before. 180's part and 100 labor for my 98 SW2
  • I have a saturn SW2 1997 (twin cam) when the outside temp is bellow 0 deg celsius my tachometer is nor working at all and when the engine is heating up it's start working again but sometimes it's just show a low RPM and is stuck there. is it the computer, I checked the plugs on the distributor and they are fine. what is it ? :lemon:
  • I had this problem on a previous car and it was the needle (pointer) had come loose from the pin it is connected to. Not an easy fix and great chance of damaging needle. I say if you can just put up with it to do nothing at all.
  • Hi Saturn owners. My husband and I have a Saturn SL1 from 1997 and we have started our own business. For Christmas, I want to surprise him with a business sticker for his front exterior doors and I don't know the measurements. Can someone tell me the measurements of the front doors so that I can get the right size sticker for his car?

    Thank you,
  • I cannot find it. Thanks
  • im wanting to turbo my sc2 and have already got a used turbo off of a friend that just wrecked his 92 dodge daytona. i found an intercooler off of a 92 toyota supra. and can't afford not to put it on too. im trying to figure out where and what needs to be done im firmiluar with turbos i have replaced the turbo on my 99 eclipse with no problem but it was just a bolt on thing. i have been told that i won't have to worry about the fuel part of it. my fuel injectors should be good up to 15 lbs. the only thing that i have done to the engine so far is intake and full exhaust minus replacing the stock manifold. i was also told that the dohc will be able to handle about 9-13 psi without any mods to the valve train or pistons.
    any and all help would be appreciated.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You might also want to check out our Speed Shop: Tuning & Modification board.
  • Just bought a 98 Saturn SL1 with 99k, clean inside and out. after 1 month I smell coolent inside the car with no leaks showing inside the engine compartment or outside the car. Any suggestions? All fluids are level. Is this a sign of a small leak? Also, if so, where the heck could it be? and why does'nt it show?
  • I have a 1995 Saturn, DOHC, 5 speed with 125k miles. The vehicle overheated near the end of a 1,000 mile trip. Found a water leak from the water pump---Replaced It! Great Fun!!! Still...the vehicle overheats...Replaced engine thermostat.
    Still...the vehicle overheats.
    Marked and observed the radiator cooling fan function (or not) in a controlled "overheating" condition. THE FAN NEVER CAME ON.
    Then...I replaced the coolant fan swith/sensor on the side of the engine block under the plug wires. Still....the vehicle overheats. ONLY THIS TIME...the temp gauge indicator on the dash shows no active registration of the thermal state of the cooling fan ON and the vehicle overheats.


    an "overheated" Saturn owner
  • after my dismal and very mediocre experience of driving my new "1 previous owner 80k mi." 97 SC-2 i suppose it shouldn't surprise me that this board seems to be the online equivalent...but seriously, this forum should just be deleted if there's no one here to help with ANYONE's questions (at least not anymore.) i know, i know, why aren't I helping...quite simply, i've never even owned an american car and my Haynes manual is still on order. i hate to say it but after riding in my dad's little 98 accord coupe (that's 1 year difference) and even my old 97 civic, it hardly surprises me that GM is doing so poorly. yes, i'm whining but it's not like i'm getting in the way of some answers for all these questions being posted...
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    We're not going to delete this discussion. :)

    You might have a look at our Maintenance & Repair board - there may be a discussion there which will help you. I hope so and do keep us posted here. That will help others.
  • My daughter has a 99 SC 2 and it just started making a loud noise when she puts it in reverse and I haven't been able to find out what it could be. if it was rear wheel drive I would suspect bad u-joints, but have no idea on front wheel drive... could cv joints cause it? any help would be appreciated..
  • if it's a manual, it could be because she didn't fully engage reverse. cv joints would be the problem only if they made a clicking noise when she was turning. i would think the problem to be brakes or bearings.
  • i have a 2001 sc2 three door coupe. I bought it off a friend a year ago. I drove this car quite a bit before i bought it and loved it. 40 miles/gal and fun to drive Since I have owned it the air conditioner, key assem, sun roof broke and it has started eating passenger side wheel bearings to the tune of one a month or so. I have had new bearings and used hubs put in. My next step is a new hub also although I can't beleive that three hubs had something wrong with them Have a good mechanic and i watched him put the last set in. Does things right so i am not concerned with him, i.e. pressing on the bearing and not the race. Any suggestions? Saturn dealer has no info, mechanic is at a loss as am I.
  • :confuse: Hey, i have a 01 SL2 and i have had for two years now, wondeful car no complaints until now. My rear end of my car is making tons of noise, like creaking sound, its loud to, can't really ignore this sound. It isn't a banging but its more noticable in stop start situations. I was wondering if anyone has had this problem and if they have any ideas on what i can do to fix it.
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