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Saturn S-Series



  • ken1776ken1776 Posts: 41
    Well I hope I never need 1.5 billion to stay afloat. I still don't see how Saturn is any different then any of GM's other satellite car brands. If they need money GM gives them money. If GM wants to give up on them, they go under. They are only an extension of the bigger picture that is called "GENERAL MOTORS". Saturn is no more a car company then Chevy, or Olds, or Buick.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Well, I don't agree that a rebuild at 126K is something to be expected. There are people who frequently post on the saturn newsgroup and site that have a lot more mileage than that. It's not shocking that it happens to a particular car, though, and it's also not reasonable to try to infer that it's an endemic problem. Has anyone noticed the "volvo engine burned up at 44K miles" on here? Does anyone think that all volvos will do that? I don't.

    As to saying that saturn=chevy because saturn got money from GM, well, that's just kind of silly. Saturn is more different than the other GM brands because:

    1) Saturn has it's own designs; most of the other GM brands have essentially the same cars differentiated by bodywork and details. cavalier/sunfire, alero/grand am, intrigue/grand prix/buick regal, etc.

    2) Saturn has negotiated a special contract with it's employees which had a high amount of incentives based on quality production, worker education, etc. Most union auto workers don't have this sort of contract.

    3) Saturn places a special focus on sales satisfaction and service, rather than deep discounts, which is typical for other GM brands.

    4) Unlike other GM brand which focus on a lot of doohickeys for not much money, the saturn focus on safety, economy after purchase, fuel economy, etc.

    That's just off the top of my head, and it think it shows how saturn is different than the other GM brands. Now, there are a few disturbing similarities, in my opinion. There is the typical GM-ism of saving a few bucks here or there in silly places:

    * Making all the rear brakes drums ( the used to be disk ). Drum brakes are inferior, and more costly to maintain.

    * Not having folding side mirrors. This greatly increases the chances to damage this part.

    * Taking away the performance switch on the automatic.

    * The contract with the workers in the LS plant is much more a standard union contract than for the spring hill plant ehcih makes the S series.

    Now, I have my own feelings about why some of this happened. I think saturn really did try to produce the car people needed ( economical, safe ) instead of what they wanted ( cheap, flashy ). Sales eventaully suffered as the industry moved on, So, they pinched pennies on some of the parts indicated above. This was a mistake, as the original point of saturn was to be an experiment to try things that might be carried over into the rest of GM. Instead I see the aforementioned cutting corners on the S series instead of upgrading it, and an L series, that, while quite nice, skimped on safety, had numerous rollout bugs, while having a lot of doohickeys per dollar. Then again, if this is what people want, are they foolish not to provide it? How many people look at safety, ownership costs, etc, before buying an economy car? Now they're going into the SUV and light "lifestyle" truck market, ie "vehicles for people with more money than sense."

    All that being said, I still feel that saturn is very competitive in it's class with both the S and L series, but I don't feel that it's clearly best in category ( for me, anyways ), which I felt when I bought my car in '96. I recently helped some friends carshop for $10-15K cars, and while we of course looked at saturns, we also looked at the golf, focus, subaru, etc.

    But it's not "just another GM division." :)

  • Actually, GM does owe Saturn that money. Saturn was a GM experiment to begin with. They were completely financed and supported by GM, who tried to keep their hands out of all important decisions. Saturn wanted a new car and an SUV a long time ago, but GM thought it would taint the vision and philosophy of the Saturn corporation. They owe them. Besides, its about time these cars were updated. Once they are, I'm sure they will be far superior to anything else on the road.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    by the time they update them, the next gen. Civic will be out and ahead of the curve again.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Yeah, reg, you already know what's going to happen, don't you? As someone who admits a bias against saturn, why do you even read these topics? Masochism?

    Actually, I never understood the love affair with civics, personally. Perfectly fine car, but nothing on them stands out to me and says "get me" to me.

  • rdeschenerdeschene Posts: 329
    I agree, 127K miles isn't "high mileage" anymore. In the 70's maybe, but not today. So this isn't an adequate explanation for what you are having to deal with. I did a valve and ring job on my VW years ago, and it's not that big a deal. Buy a book, study it, ask around, pay attention as you take things apart and you'll save a small fortune.

    RE: new Honda Civic. I hope they are putting the 127bhp engine as standard in everything, because the lower hp engine is just pathetic. BTW, have you seen the reliability info. for the 1999 Civics in Autopinion 2000 (a CAA publication)? Yikes!!!! A lot of disatisfied customers there boy.
  • rdeschenerdeschene Posts: 329
    And the 1999 Accord isn't a far sight better. But "only" in the engine, fuel system, ignition and electrical areas. The only expensive part excluded is the transmission. One is (predominantly) made in Alliston, Ontario and one in Ohio, so it can't just be the manufacturing facility.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    no bias

    Civic is just better.

    Besides, it looks like Honda will start making motors for GM soon, so then you may see Saturns with Honda motors in them.
  • saturnboysaturnboy Posts: 89
    In response to post 250, I strongly disagree with the opinion that 127,000 miles is too little for a burnt valve, in most cases this is extremely rare and I admit it shouldn't happen. However, as a ex Toyota Celica GT owner, my Celica leaked oil at around 57,000 miles. Was I pissed>? YES. Did I [non-permissible content removed] about it>? YES Did I go around complaining to all the faceless people on messege boards>? NO. I bought another car.

    Sometimes machines break down and they shouldn't , but thats exactly what Saturns and every car is, a MACHINE. After having a trouble prone Nissan, and a aggravating Toyota, I decided never to keep a car past 100k again. Wheather its good at the time or not, when it reads 100,000 miles its history.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Well, than why in the LS topic did you say "even though i'm biased against saturns..." Why do you constantly rag on saturn in the forums, though you don't seem to actually know anything about them?

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I pretty much agree with you from a pure financial perspective. We hade an old '90 passat, bought used, and it was always needing repairs. We figured it was a money pit and sold it. Later, we saw that it was basically the same cost as our saturn, which has needed no repairs and got better mileage. Part of that was that even though the car depreciated quite a bit, it didn't cost that much in the firs place, and we only had liability insurance, $15 a month or so. On the other hand, it did strand us more than once, which we considered a major problem. Still, if I had a car for 10 years and 120K miles, I think i'd want something different. But it is hard to save money by getting a NEW car.

  • travelertraveler Posts: 67
    We all need more info than what you gave us. What exactly isn't sound on the rest of the car?
    What did you decide about the valve job?
    Getting a used head from a recycler and putting it on yourslf? Lets hear from you!!!
  • travelertraveler Posts: 67
    My opinion, if you have the engine rebuilt or just the valve job and a timing chain. You'ld be further ahead to drive the car for as long as possible. I believe the rest of your car is sound, ie California with some salt being used on roads but not as heavily as in the northeast.You said you were rural area and it may include driving in the mountains were there is snow. The struts may or may not be ok, if your car bounces terribly over bumps then they need to be replaced. If it rides ok wait until they have to be replaced. One of the first cars I had, had original struts at 150k when I sold it and other owner drove another 20k with the same struts. He took out the clutch and sold it to a garage for a parts car.
  • tsagetsage Posts: 2
    Have you talked to consumer protection agency about whether or not you might have some protection available under the so called "LemonLaw"?
  • saturnboysaturnboy Posts: 89
    Tsage, assuming Ihcohen bought the Saturn new his legal rights have long expired with lemon law protection, at 7 years old, he has no rights unless he purchased an extended warranty which it clearly sounds like he did not.

    Ihcohen, I would reccomend that you go back to your local Saturn dealer and let them look at it again, get the scoop, then wine like crazy about how you were planning to buy a new Saturn and can't now because of all the unexpected repairs. I have every confidence in Saturn that they will at least cut your maintenance problems in half assuming you appear really pissed off and if they think they will get another sale out of it, its only good business. A little white lie never hurt anyone :) good luck
  • norbert444norbert444 Posts: 195
    Little white lie never hurt anyone???? I can't believe a guy with your integrity would espouse that?? Can you explain?
  • saturnboysaturnboy Posts: 89
    Its this simple, if someone comes in here constantly complaining that his car is horrible, and some of the things Ihcohen said should not have happened on his car, Then I simply offered a possible solution.

    Its no secret to anyone that Saturn is a Service oriented company most of the time, so why not get what you paid msrp for. That is the main reason for buying a Saturn = Service. In addition to the polimier panels, high resale, and low cost of ownership. I have a strong feeling that if Ihochen does what I suggested that his problems will get alot smaller. If you had a car that was going to cost you hundreds, or more wouldn't you try a couple different things to get the price down? OR do you have money to flush down the toiliet?
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    GM has released sales for all its divisions, including Saturn:

    Total Saturn sales are up about 25% YTD (Jan-April) versus 1999. SL sales are down a bit, but LS sales more than make up for the shortfall. Still, Saturn sold about 47000 SL sedans YTD, more than a lot of GM sedans. I assume LS sales are more profitable, so I guess Saturn dealers must be doing OK.

    To move those SLs, I hope GM will consider offering the GM Card discount to Saturn owners too. Right now, it applies to all GM divisions except Saturn and Saab. Just a thought.

    Go Saturn!
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    You shouldn't have problems with the timing chain until at least 100k miles. Timing belts you should change at 60k but chains should last much longer. Saturn service depts are like that in my experience. You really have to fight to get anything done and then only expect a half-[non-permissible content removed]ed job.
  • norbert444norbert444 Posts: 195
    fredfred3: I have a 5-year experience with my Saturn dealership service department up to this point. In my experience, I did not "have to fight to get anything done." However, I found that my service was sometimes dependent on whom I encountered at the coordinator's desk, whether the manager got involved, and who did the job itself. And my attitude was also important - it paid to be appreciative of the dealership's predicament at times.

    Overall, Saturn has the best service of the dealerships I have dealt with (others were Mitsubishi, Ford, GM, Nissan - I exclude my local garage). My big beef was that I had to see them a lot during my 3-year warranty period.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    In Canada, you can now use your GM card for Saturn, Saab and Isuzu models also. I would think they would eventually do the same in the U.S.
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    Thanks for the info that the GM card discount can be used to buy a Saturn in Canada! I wonder if I can cross the border to make the sale...just kidding. Seriously, I'll call the 800 # to see if just maybe the policy has changed in the US too.
  • lhcohenlhcohen Posts: 6
    In the past, when I've complained to the Saturn dealership and corporate, I didn't get any satisfaction. They weren't cooperative, because most of my repairs I had done at an independent garage and not by the dealership. In a way I can understand why they don't want to help me. But, Saturn is really big on the whole "Partnership" thing. Well, I did my part when I plunked down my money for my new car, and they haven't done a thing for me except charge $75 an hour for labor, and question the mechanics I use. If they want me to be a good partner to them, then they should be a good partner to me. And that will never happen.

    Regarding the timing chain: there wasn't a problem with the chain. But, there are two PLASTIC slides that hold the chain. One of them broke, and caused the chain to jump some teeth, and that's what caused my problems. I ended up having them replace anything, since it's a 5-6 hour job, and it just saves time in the future. And, this mechanic charges $48 an hour for labor. I saved $200-$250 by taking it there instead of the dealership. So please don't talk to me about "Partnerships," becuase that's give and take, and all Saturn has done is take.

    It seems like you either get a Saturn with no problems or you get one with lots of problems. I really didn't have any problems until it was about 4-1/2 years old.
  • saturnboysaturnboy Posts: 89
    I can speak for all Saturn owners who have had good luck to date with there cars by saying that I truly feel sorry for Ihcohen for all the problems she encountered. I was especially upset by the fact that lisa did as I suggested and offered or made it seem that she would buy a new Saturn if she could get a break on repairs and was dismissed as if her new business didn't matter. It is a true shame and this should never happen at Saturn.

    Just the other day I went to Saturn for a free car wash ,and let it slip that I thought my car was pulling a tad to the right and they immediatly took it for a road test, readjusted my tire pressure, re adjusted the clutch too, all with out an appointment. I am almost always blown away by the fantastic service my Saturn dealership gives me (Saturn of Albany) NY.

    I wish it could be the same for everyone, I wish everyone who buys a Saturn could receive the same wonderful treatment which I am now accustomed too. Don't give up Lisa, I know it may look dim but maybe there is still hope , good luck.
  • maalth1maalth1 Posts: 1
    About the over 100K thing. I had a 1985 Honda Accord (5 speed). When I sold the car, I had 414K miles on it. Yes I did a lot of travelling by car (fear of flying). I maintained the car so well, the dealer I traded it to was impressed. I believe they sold the car to young kid which happened to be a friend of mine, he drove the car for ANOTHER 200K with no problems. My Saturn now is very close to 150K miles. The only thing I had to change was the clutch (which a friend of mine burned out) and an alternator. Otherwise, I have absolutely no problems with my Saturn. I drive it daily; not as much as I used to, but often enough. The only drawback to the car is that I have to use a second battery because my system drains my battery (which I still have the original). That's my 59 cents.
  • saturnboysaturnboy Posts: 89
    Glad to hear it maalth1, stories like yours are not that uncommon with Saturn owners. I only have 17k on mine, but have had only one minor problem that was fixed promptly. Hope you continue to enjoy your car.
  • travelertraveler Posts: 67
    Seems to me you have a short in your wiring or some other electrical device is draining your battery so it won't start next morning on its own battery, since in your post, it read that you drive it daily. Or the alternator is not working properly and not fully charging the battery. Anyway seems to me you need to do some troubleshooting to find the source of your dead/weak battery.
  • mollyvanmollyvan Posts: 3
    We have a 2 year old Saturn SL2, 35,000 miles. It's been well maintained, lots of freeway miles. In December it started having problems, feeling like it suddenly cuts to half power and chug chugs along. It went to the dealership, nothing found and it stopped doing it. Didn't do it again until beginning of May. This time it was doing it when it arrived at dealership and they said they found a small amount of water in the fuel jet and also found a carbon build-up on the carb, which we paid to clean. Now it's doing it again, two weeks later, full time and is an undrivable, unsafe vehicle parked out front of our home. Called the dealership, they don't have time to see it for 3 working days. They don't seem concerned that this is the third time for same problem, the amount of inconvenience and time on our part to get it in to them, plus this is a safety issue. This is the Bellevue Washington dealership. We've always had such tremendous service from the local Toyota dealership who always calls to make sure we are satisfied with work done and fits us in immediately. Most postings seem to emphasize the great customer service. I'm feeling that this dealership does not provide that. Any suggestions?
  • fredfred3fredfred3 Posts: 73
    How can you say that a car cutting to half speed and "chug chugging" along is not a safety issue??? It's a good thing that Saturn recieved 5 stars for frontal crash safety (not that that has anything to do with Molly's problem) since she risks the chance of the car cutting out while pulling into traffic. To dismiss the problem by saying "mechanical things are not perfect, just like humans," is ludicrous, and exactly the kind of sensless argument that I would expect from my local Saturn dealers. If you are going to keep putting your foot in you mouth (remember the "high mileage" discussion) by mocking other people's problems and concerns, I suggest you develop a little bit of automotive knowledge first. And I mean real automotive knowledge, not just quoting meaningless statistics for nhtsa, etc.
  • mollyvanmollyvan Posts: 3
    Thanks for the responses. After I wrote this, I realized that the car was no longer starting; it just made a sad sound and died. This could have happened in heavy traffic. I called and had it towed to Saturn. I wish the weekend service manager had mentioned that since it wasn't driving dependably or fast enough to be safe that we could have it towed at no charge since it's still under warranty, (this is my husbands car so I was not aware of what was available). But no problem, we used our Allstate towing. When we arrived (on a Sunday) several sales people came over and spoke with us and they were incredibly helpful and felt very bad that we hadn't had a little more advice when we called the day before. One of the salespeople took us to the manager and he offered his car until ours was repaired. I had to write and let you know because I had been very disappointed, but am not very grateful for their assistance today. We have a nice LS to drive and they really were terrific. I work in customer service, so I have high expectations and they sure met them today. I do think it's a safety issue when a car looses power, I drive in heavy traffic; imagine merging onto a crowded freeway and having the engine shut down. When you have to go back in a third time it's upsetting. I also realize that cars break down, I just needed some help! I think that this was an isolated instance and it's my impression that they are there for their customers. I hope they will find the problem this time!
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