1996 Saturn SL Reviews from North America - Page 5 of 24

1996 Saturn SL 2 1.9 DOCH

Model year1996
Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 1.9 DOCH Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.6 / 10
Distance when acquired128000 miles
Most recent distance196000 miles
Previous carPontiac Sunfire

Summary:

Good car if you don't mind working on it

Faults:

I like my car because it is paid off. Although I've had my moments of frustration. I've done all of the work on the car myself saving me about 1000 dollars. I highly recommend buying a Chilton repair manual if you plan on doing the work yourself and prepare to get dirty.

I first replaced the water pump at 175,000. The bearings on the pulley went out and leaked profusley. It cost me 70.00. I also replaced the drive belt at this time.

I then had to replace the radiator after it cracked at 192,000. It cost $115. This was due in part to the contents of my overfill cap deteriorating into the overfill tank. If your cap is rotting get a new one for about 13.00 at your Saturn dealer. It could save you a lot of trouble.

Most recently I replaced the spark plugs and the plug wires and have saved myself about 10.00 a week in gas and gained some horse power. One of the plug holes had oil in it so I replaced the valve cover gasket. In all this project cost me $80.00.

I replaced the upper and lower engine mounts at 196,000. My car used to vibrate and rattle and now it feels like a new car. Cost $80.00.

I replaced the belt tension-er at 194,000. It would make a loud rattling noise especially if the AC was on. Cost $70.00.

I have also had the headliner replaced.

I change the brakes and the oil myself.

General Comments:

Good car if you don't mind working on it.

Take good care of your transmission. My reverse takes a second to engage after I put it in gear.

Like I said before I like my car because it is paid off. But you will have problems.

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

Review Date: 4th June, 2008

1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9 DOHC

Model year1996
Year of manufacture1995
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 1.9 DOHC Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.5 / 10
Distance when acquired53000 miles
Most recent distance57000 miles
Previous carSaturn SL

Summary:

I'd buy another one

Faults:

Rear power windows - gas mileage not as good as expected.

General Comments:

I've had 3 of these... all 1996's... power windows always have problems, but if you are a "do-it-yourselfer", they are easily fixed.

They tend to have water pumps go, and alternators also... but again, they aren't to hard to repair.

My 1st one had 240000 miles when I sold it... it's still going strong. It had the 5 speed and it got very good mileage.

The 2nd one had 89000 miles when I bought it. I had to replace the 4 pieces around the roof, the trunk and hood (clear-coat was bad)... again these are easy fixes. I had to replace the A/C compressor... also an easy fix.

The 3rd SL had 54000 miles needed body pieces like the 2nd one - they all seem to have clear-coat trouble in the same areas.

I was disappointed it the gas mileage - this has an automatic trans. I replaced the MAP sensor and the O2 sensor. It seemed to help - I'm getting around 25 mpg city now.

I replaced the 4 roof edge pieces, the hood, and the driver's side fender.

All of the above repairs were done with junkyard parts, and they were relatively easy.

It seems the higher the mileage, the more oil they use. It was never so bad that I felt compelled to fix it... it usually the valve guides that wear. Changing the oil regularly and using a good additive helps. I've used the Teflon additives in all my cars, and it seems to help with longevity.

For a reliable work vehicle, I don't think you can beat a Saturn SL2 - I don't touch the SL1's... they had head gasket problems. In my opinion Saturn should have continued making the SL2 with the same style and engine... and just worked on getting it perfected... get the rattles out, beef up the paint and power windows. Interchangeable body parts was a great innovation... they should have marketed it better... with a little engineering effort, they could have really had a winner here.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st June, 2008

Average review marks: 6.5 / 10, based on 84 reviews