1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9


Love it, but try to predict the future


I love my 1996 SL2 that I bought new. I know little about cars which is why I had Saturn change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles and followed their scheduled maintenance plans. My 72,000 miles is the result of gigs, the bank, and the liquor store because I teach private students at home. Saturn isn't as friendly despite my recent visits concerning the "tapping" in my engine. After being told that my last oil change may fix the problem, I drove back and talked to the head mechanic who after listening explained that I need a new engine...$4,000. Now that I'm researching my options, I appreciate sites like this as I'm able to get a better understanding of the facts. I'm not sure if I will have Saturn replace my engine or find a re-built engine..etc. I really like my Saturn as it has lots of life left but after reviewing my recent visits, I understand Saturns reluctance to fix what is not mentioned. Those of you that suggest what I should have known outside of the manual are probably right and I will from now on.

General Comments:

I love the response and feel of the SL2 5-speed. Now that I've reviewed my paid efforts to avoid something as drastic as a new engine, I still love everything else as I haven't experienced some of the things mentioned (Transmission, etc.) but, a new car that's been well taken of with 72,000 miles shouldn't suddenly require a new engine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 26th July, 2008

1996 Saturn SL 1 4 cylinder


Not a Toyota, but a good small car


Headliner detached at 120000 miles.

Uses 1 qt oil every 2000 miles.

Dealer says a motor mount is broken, but it has been that way for 6 years and not been a problem. Rest of motor mounts must be holding.

Idler pulley began to squeal at 115000 and had to be replaced.

Needs freon charge every 6 months or so.

Replaced water pump 1 time.

General Comments:

I purchased this car used from the original owner as a starter car for my daughter who, at the time, was a junior in HS. She just received her 4 year degree in May 08, and the car is still running strong 6 years later at 128000 miles. The car is 12 years old.

When I drive it, I slide the seat all the way to the rear and I am comfortable enough. There would be little room in the back seat when I drive. My daughter is smaller, and she can get 3 of her girlfriends in with no problem.

The aluminum block uses oil and I constantly have to remind her to check the oil level. She carries a spare quart or two in the trunk, and adds oil from time to time. You can't just ignore the oil level once these engines get a little mileage on them.

I paid $3600 when I bought it used, and it is now worth about $2000. Gas mileage is about 25 in town with the automatic. Not a bad deal for the money spent.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th June, 2008

1996 Saturn SL SL1


This car can take a licking and keep on kicking


Replaced the head at 130,000 miles.

Replaced the tensioner and alternator twice.

General Comments:

I drive cars until they die. I am an office equipment technician and run 150 to 250 miles a day.

I have owned 2 Saturn SL1 models; a 96 and 97. My first was sold at 125000 miles, and my most recent was junked at 250,000. I could not ask for more from a car.

Yes, the alternator is hard to replace, but as far as reliability, this car was great. Up until it died I was still getting 30 mpg.

If I could find another low mileage Saturn of the same make, I would buy it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th June, 2008