I have been watching this board for a few years now after buying my 2001 Saturn L200, and dreading the thought of my car being one of "the" cars that were affected.
So, I was religious about changing my oil every 3000 miles with Castrol Syntec blend, and also always adding a quart of Lucas Oil product to make the oil lubricate even better. Apparently, this only bought me some extra time, as my engine imploded on the way into work this morning.
I was driving down a busy road at morning rush hour when the engine just died, almost getting rear-ended by multiple cars as I tried to get off of the highway. I had the car towed to the Saturn dealer, who a few hours later told me that my timing chain had gone, and bent some valves along with it. They estimate it will cost $2,000 to fix the engine.
I said, but there is a recall. He stated my car is not one of the cars involved in the recall. I'm just sick over this. I don't have the $$$ to fix this thing, and am still paying on the car yet.
I truly believe that I went above what would be considered normal for oil changes, and still had the same end result.
I also have, as some of you Saturn L-series people know of, the problem with the rear wheels being badly out of alignment (another defect from the factory) that causes the tires to scalp and vibrate badly. I still love this car, but absolutely hate Saturn for sticking it to all of us that have this problem.
I gave up Ford's for Saturn thinking I would be much better off, I guess I was mistaken. While the Ford's had more problems, they were easier to deal with and fix than the catastrophic problems that Saturn has with their cars.
I will probably end up pulling the engine myself and fixing it after getting the cylinder head exchanged for another. If anyone has any documentation on doing this, I would appreciate it if they would post the URL here.
First off, I would like to say that this car WAS the best car I have ever had the pleasure of owning. It is a very comfortable, nice handling car.
Other that my 2 problems (which I'm convinced were factory defects that were just ignored by Saturn, because they are tight @$$) it has been the most reliable car I have ever owned, just changed the oil and tires, nothing else.
It also had some features that I really like, such as the vent controls have what seems like infinite adjustments between settings (not just 3 settings like most cars). I love the vent controls and the ability to shut the vent because I drive by a factory daily that has a horrible smell from the smokestack. The vent control shut off the outside air from coming in my car. I just hit the button before and after I'm past the factory, and never have to smell that nasty odor.