I've noticed that majority of complaints are about the 1996 Saturn SC2, which has a DOHC engine, different than the SC1.
I, well my mother, bought a 96 SC1 in Feb of 03. It's consumed oil from day one... And delays switching into reverse from Park, but not from Neutral??? If you're not paying attention while switching and happen to give it gas, it will make this loud thump when it engages... It scares me every time.
I do see a little oil around the engine, but it does not make up for the amount of oil loss.. (about a quart a week)...
This car is horrible with brakes... And even more picky about spark plugs and wires.
Even with all the complaints, I often push this car like a $50,000 sports car. Topping 100mph probably once a week.
I think it's a trooper for having all factory parts except the alternator (I think my new stereo killed it)... even at 170k miles.
I don't know why, but I really don't think this car will make it to see its last payment. Only $3200 to go.
Oh, it really could use an alignment, it shakes and shimmies over 70mph... and I think one of the injectors is bad, $100 a piece (not replacing) signs of a bad injector is really, really bad. Engine idling and shaking, and the computer reports cylinder misfire. I just put in fuel injector cleaner, worked like a charm.
The car rattles everywhere inside, and due to my stereo, outside also.
One more thing, when I'm sad about my Saturn, I try fitting adults in the back seat, always a riot...