30th Jun 2007, 19:50
I've joined the club, and you all have my empathy. Timing chain failed at 80k two days ago. 2001 L200, which I bought used from Saturn almost three years ago with 39k on it. I tried to start it the other day and the chain beat the heck out of the top of the engine. Total repair cost: $2,900. Because it's a holiday week/weekend, I'm waiting for my return call. PLEASE--EVERYONE--make a complaint with NHTSA. I just got back last week from a trip to KY for a funeral and thank God this didn't happen on I-75 in the hills! After reading all these experiences, it is a miracle that no one has died.
4th Jul 2007, 19:49
Here we go again... I will not burden everyone with a long story... just read the past entries...It's the same story over and over again... This is almost criminal...2002 Saturn L200 broken timing chain while my 18 Year old daughter was driving through an interstate interchange. Same story as many others... Saturn and dealer denying any responsibility... are you kidding me... we all need to contact our State Attorney Generals and have something done about this... In the meantime NEVER buy a Saturn... especially from Saturn of Medford Massachusetts...
6th Jul 2007, 15:39
Just want to add to all the other posts. Saturn 2001 L200 Wagon 88k miles. Timing chain broke while I was traveling around 30 MPH. Lost power steering and brakes, but got it safely parked. Had chain replaced, but now told I have engine damage... extent being determined. Already posted an incident report on the NHTSA site. Never had a single problem other than battery replacement until today.
13th Aug 2007, 22:42
I just heard back from my Saturn dealer today, having had my 2000 LS (with 80k miles) towed to them over the weekend. My parents were visiting for the weekend and backing out of the driveway with my 5 and 2 yr old when they thought the engine sounded off. Sure enough, they're claiming a bad timing belt (although it doesn't sound broken yet), and while they say that all the cylinders have good compression, they're recommending that we replace the head assembly as well, as when the timing belt goes you usually end up with bent valves. They said that they could just replace the timing belt for $900, or replace the head assembly for $2500 (+ tax). The thing that's really bothering me is that we have no way of knowing that the valves are damaged, but if we do the $900 chain replacement and then find that it's not running right, I'd still be hit with the full $2500 after that.
I'm off to register my complain with the NTSA and since it seems like North Carolina was one of the states raising the claims, to see what I can do in my home state, as well.
15th Aug 2007, 07:55
A competent mechanic should be able to test your engine for compression, and determine if the valves are indeed bent. Yes, this is an interference engine with a timing CHAIN (not a belt, as there seems to be some confusion), so valve bending is a possibility. Still, this isn't difficult to check, so I would find a new mechanic before replacing the entire thing.
15th Aug 2007, 17:27
My Saturn 2001 L200 has only 24,600 miles on it - yes folks it's the ultimate little old lady mileage - only driven on a Sunday, but it too has suffered the 'timing chain from hell' scenario.
Shortly after it's last NY state inspection, complete with oil change, oil filter change, air filter, etc. The car started to perform slightly sluggishly in low revs, after being driven about 5 miles with no problem and then parked overnight, it refused to start the next morning. I had some amateur mechanic friends look at it - hmmm, ah... some type of fuel problem they all cried out in pride - but nothing - no STP, no battery, no banging, no pumping of the gas... NOTHING would get it going.
I took it to a real mechanic, who hooked it to his computer reader, and he found that the manifold pressure sensor needed replacing, OK let's put in a new one... no good - it runs very roughly - so he looked at plugs... Ugh... well there's the problem - new plugs. Nope, the thing will start, but it has no power at all, and and throttle makes it die away. OK, let's try banging things with a hammer... uh-oh, here we go again...
Onward to mechanic number two, who checks all the same things, except the hammering, but he is an expert mechanic, and does one extra expert thing.
Yes, he does a google search! This is one clever mechanic. He finds this forum, and others listing the timing chain problems many people have had with this vehicle, and I am pretty sure he is on the right track - but his solution is a whole new engine. I personally think that the chain has somehow slipped, not broken. Is that possible? I don't know.
But why a whole new engine? Aren't engines built to be pulled apart and have parts replaced?
Maybe his concern is the cost, maybe it IS cheaper to put in a reconditioned engine than to replace the valves and timing chain assembly - but I don't think that any reconditioned engine is ever going to have as low miles on it as my current engine does. It does actually start now, and idles with no knocking or unusual sounds, but any throttle will make it die and it sure sounds funny then, like it's gasping for air or something. Like, er... well, like it's not properly timed.
27th Aug 2007, 12:22
Yesterday I bought a 2002 Saturn L200 with 52K on it, and it runs great!
But I wish I saw this blog first. I bought it from a private party - so I can't return it.
I called Saturn dealers in Massachusetts (Worcester, Lowell, and Norwood). The service managers all said they had never heard of the problem (today is Aug 27, 2007). I told them I wanted to change it, to be on the safe side - but they were not sure of the cost - they had never changed any before? After some calculating - they came up with an $1100 estimate. I asked them all how they could have 412,000 failures and not hear about the issue?
I asked to speak with Saturn support management and was told to have car inspected to see if Timing chain needed to be repaired - and perhaps they could work with me? It cost 400 - 500 for an estimate and none of the dealers have ever seen (or heard) of a broken one - how are they suppose to tell if its worn?
Does anyone know if the 412,000 figure is accurate? And can provide a link to the gov't source?
30th Aug 2007, 10:49
Before I spent $813 dollars on a timing chain replacement - I wanted to know how many L200's were built (Saturn would not tell me) and I wanted to know how many had broken chains (again - according to Saturn, no one knows - and they say they have no way of finding out).
Their responses to the two NHSTA investigations, their redesign of the components, and their inability to discuss this subject in an honest way... scared me.
I spent the money to fix the car. GM may be willing to play the odds with my family's safety - but I'm not.