11th Mar 2004, 08:36

I also have a 2001 Saturn L200. At 27,000 miles, it just wouldn't start one day. It got towed to the Saturn dealer, who said that the timing chain had broken and damaged the upper half of the engine. How a timing chain can break and damage an engine while it's parked is beyond me. Other mechanics I've consulted say that there's no way that can happen.

I've seen many complaints around the Internet of similar problems. So, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and I'm looking at taking legal action. I would love to be able to use some of the experiences of those on this site, especially those with timing chain related problems. My email address is jay0452@yahoo.com.

As several of you have mentioned, Saturn is certainly not all it pretends to be.

6th Aug 2004, 13:56

Same problem here. 58K miles; not quite 3 years old; about 3/4 of the miles are highway miles.

Oil changes all done within 5000 miles; mechanic I had it towed to said the engine was completely clean and it could not be a problem with maintenance.

The dealer is hemming and hawing now, but I'm not encouraged -- although my mechanic told me that Saturn should definitely take care of it.

I'm thinking about showing up at the next Owner's picnic -- with a big sign and a bullhorn!

3rd Jan 2005, 12:26

Were any of you told, as a key selling point for your Saturn L-Series, that replacement parts were less expensive than competing models? That's exactly what I was told.

In my experience, that has definitely not been the case. When I had my windshield replaced, I was told that it was the most expensive windshield in their inventory.

Also, my power steering pump developed a leak at 50,000 miles. The new part cost was on the order of $350. Including labor, replacing the pump would cost me approx. $460. I fought with the dealer about this failure being unreasonable, especially since I had maintained the car so well, always going to the dealer for scheduled maintenance. I called the Saturn Customer Care number to complain. They said that they would initiate a dialog with the dealer and get back to me. In this case, things worked out well. They treated the situation as though I had bought the extended warranty, and charged me only the $100 deductible. Guess what? My power steering pump started leaking again at about 95,000 miles.

Further anecdotal info: I have a sister-in-law who works for an insurance company, and she is very experienced in the world of auto replacement part costs. She has told me on more than one occasion that when she sees a claim involving a Saturn L-Series (or perhaps even ANY Saturn, not sure which), she knows that the bill is going to be a BIG one. That doesn't sound to me like their parts are less expensive.

All of this strengthens my resolve to never buy another American car, especially not from GM. (Don't let anyone at Saturn tell you that they aren't a GM product.) My next car will be a Honda, Toyota, or a Nissan.

28th Aug 2005, 17:49

Our timing chain just broke on our 2002 Saturn L100 at 45,000 miles. I too was told that this should not happen and that we (my wife and I) were just unlucky. It cost about $2700 to repair all the damage caused by the timing chain problem and of course we were beyond our warranty. After searching the Internet concerning this situation, I'm now thinking it was less about bad luck and more about a bad car. Is there anything we can do?

10th Mar 2006, 00:02

Any US resident who has experienced a Saturn L Series timing chain failure should definitely file a complaint with the NHTSA at the following link. They are investigating the scope of this problem now.


30th Mar 2006, 14:07

My 2001 Saturn L2 just died on me - timing chain ripped through my engine, looking at a couple grand to repair which I definitely DO NOT have. Has anyone had any luck getting Saturn/GM to reimburse them or repair? I am a sitting duck here. Ironically first car I bought and paid more than a couple grand for is the one that has caused most problems. I am in Southern California by the way, if anyone around here has had any luck. baronvondeathray@yahoo.com

11th Apr 2006, 17:09


I am in Canada, Saturn 2001 L100 sedan timing chain broke at about 80,000 km. Dealer and GM (General Motors) contending lack proper oil change.. I just had the car for a year in January. Now this and Saturn of Mississauga and GM. will give no compensation. I read on a website about a fellow who filed a complaint with the US government department on his Saturn LW 2003 same timing chain problem. The dealer also told me that at first these L series had some engines replaced at his dealearship by GM.

27th Apr 2006, 22:05

I just turned in my lease on a 2003 Saturn L200, which the timing chain broke at 38,000 (four days after I made the last payment)! Luckily it broke while starting it up, so it didn't destroy everything like I've heard from others. My local Saturn dealer paid for parts, I paid labor ($250). This is crazy though and shouldn't happen. I hope for everyone that still owns one of these cars, that they go through with a recall.

8th Feb 2007, 14:03

My girlfriend has a 2000 Saturn Station Wagon that just had the timing chain break. Thank god she was not driving it!

The result is that she has to replace the engine. $2500!!!

And yes she maintained the oil changes.

3rd Mar 2007, 19:11

The timing chain on my 2002 Saturn L100 just snapped in 1/2 while I was driving home from work last night. The car has less than 49,000 miles on it. According to the auto repair shop I'm looking at more than $5,000 for an engine now. I just paid this car off and got the title in the mail today. When I called the dealership this morning they said this is almost unheard of. I feel like I should email the link to this site to them...

23rd Mar 2007, 13:49

Hello, I live in Canada and recently had the timing chain break, on my 2000 L series Saturn Wagon, while driving on the highway at approximately 60 miles per hour. I was fortunate that I was able to coast to the side of the highway. The repair bill was $5,300. The car had 127,000km and had all the regular maintenance performed. What I am most upset about is that when I went to the dealer, I was told the timing chains required no maintenance and NEVER break. The sales manager assured me that I was just unlucky and he was very surprised to hear about this problem. Later, I checked the Internet and found out that Saturn changed the design of the timing chain and added or changed the oil nozzle. This was done, I believe in the 2004 model. The Saturn dealer must have been aware of the problems and were less than honest when asked about the problem.

13th Apr 2007, 17:34

I am very concerned after reading these comments. My 2002 Saturn L100 has about 67,000 miles, we just had a baby, it's our only car at the moment, and we have a big puddle of what looks like transmission fluid or antifreeze on the passenger's side floor. The carpets completely ruined and I cannot figure out what to do. No fluids are very low except when I put more antifreeze in about 2 months ago. Also, it seems the bottom of the oil pan has a tan sludge. When I pull the oil dipstick out, it has a bulb of this tan sludge. I service my car regularly and always going to the Saturn dealer to make sure they do it right. Well I have a feeling there is serious foul play here and you can add my name to the disgruntled list!