1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9L DOHC Gas


I love this car, and it is a blast too drive!


The few items that required repair/replacement are as follows:

Rear brake calipers, from sitting too much.

Valve cover gasket, which caused leaking of oil around the number four spark plug and resulting code errors and check engine light for "Cam Sensor", which does not exist in reality on this vehicle.

Given it's age, the only thing that is bothering me is the interior roof liner has begun to come loose and sags.

General Comments:

I have had nothing but an excellent experience with this car.

With a five speed manual transmission, it is a blast to drive, and if I control myself, fuel mileage is excellent at nearly 30 around town and 36 on the highway.

This car is equipped with ABS and traction control, along with four wheel disc brakes.

I replaced all four brake calipers, and then replaced all four brake discs with EBC Sport Slotted and Dimpled rotors, and installed Performance Friction brake pads.

The suspension now has H&R race springs with KYB GR2 gas shocks.

I replaced the stock exhaust manifold with one from a 1991 SL2, so I now have a 4-2-1 exhaust instead of a 4-1 (four into one).

The stock intake was replaced for a more aggressive aftermarket air cleaner, and the engine breathes much better between the two modifications.

There are a lot of other little modifications that can be done.

I am sorry to hear that others have had poor luck with their cars, which could be a result of poor care by the previous owners, and then inexperience to work on the vehicles by themselves instead of having to pay someone else.

They look and handle great, and have been reliable and inexpensive to maintain.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th March, 2010

1996 Saturn SL


Boring drive, superior dependability


Regular maintenance:




A couple of emissions sensors

Nothing major

General Comments:

I sold a Caddy and bought this car for a 30 mile commute to save on gas.

Although this car is not very exciting to drive, it has been very dependable and cheap to run.

Gas mileage is great.

Performance is boring even with the manual transmission.

I see lots of bad reviews on this car and I don't know if I got lucky or people just like to complain, but I had nothing major go wrong with this car and I have NEVER been stranded with it, and it starts in the coldest weather.

There was a bad run in some intake casting issues, but I guess I never got one of those or it just hasn't happened yet.

But with 265,000 Kms this car owes me nothing.

It is starting to show its age, but it always starts and runs great.

I would not be afraid to buy another one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th August, 2009

1996 Saturn SL


It's reliable, driveable, practical, and all around pleasure to own


The ceiling upholstery has started to rip a bit this year, previously had no issues with it.

I have had my brake pads wear out twice now, the first time one pad actually fell off completely.

Two years ago the exhaust system on the bottom started to rust through a bit, and the muffler almost fell off, but after $800 in repairs the issue has not resumed (and this is probably largely due to the over-salting of roads in Michigan during the winter).

Very recently during rush hour traffic on a Canadian highway the transmission refused to go past second gear, however upon parking the car and turning off the engine for a minute, the problem was resolved and has not happened again since.

That said, switching into reverse while the engine is warm can be sort of jumping, and often results in a loud thud noise as the transmission suddenly switches into reverse.

General Comments:

Overall a fantastic car. It has extraordinarily little acceleration, but can still get up to 95mph without any real difficulty and handles very well.

The seats are comfortable, and although leg room is somewhat limited, I'm still able to drive it comfortable despite being 6'4", and the vehicle has a surprisingly large trunk for its size.

The car does require a decent bit of oil, and I would recommend checking it before any trip lasting more than hour, or at least once every 2 weeks.

It also gets fantastic mileage, at roughly 30-40 mpg on average. Typically I find that I only need to refuel it once or twice a month at the most (and the tank is only 10 gallons!).

All in all, it's a pleasure to drive, and what difficulties it has given me have been very minimal. Take care of your SL1 and it'll last a loooong time it seems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2009