I have a 96 SC1 with 297,000 km on it, & I am now facing issues with replacing timing belt. This car has paid for itself and then some. I will do it myself just for the enjoyment of keeping this car on the road.
Hi all, I own a 96 Saturn SC. It has a few issues:
Driver's side window won't go all the way down.
Sunroof doesn't work anymore.
Headliner all ripped out.
Front end vibrates, but smooths out at 60mph.
Service light stays on all the time.
Cooling fan doesn't work, but put a switch in on the ground side of the relay to make work when I need it.
But all in all, the car has made many trips back and forth to work. My round trip to work is around 110 miles each day.
I was told to replace the brain box; cost too much for that. I just live with the problems just as long as it stays running.
Thanks! Michael BeDell.
I have owned a few Saturns over the years, all with DOHC engines. I also worked at a Saturn dealership for 5 years from 95 to 2000. With some inside knowledge of these "quirky" engines, all I can say is do the maintenance, and they HAVE to be broken in hard when new. All of my early Saturns were bought new, and I drove them HARD from day one with no oil consumption problems. I still know the people that own my first 95 SL2; it has over 200k on it and uses very little oil.
These engines are not good for short commute use either, they need to get out on the road and run for long periods of time, or they will sludge up. Once these engines develop the oil use problem, there isn't much you can do about it except switch to 10W40, change the oil every 1500 miles (the bad blow by from the leaking rings will sludge the engine up at longer oil change intervals) and check often. If you stick to this routine, you can still get a lot of life from these engines.
I recently bought a 97 SW2 for my GF, and I too have a "back up car", and for her long commute of over 100 miles a day, it's much nicer at 33 miles per gallon. This car only had 67,000 miles on it in March 2010 when I bought it, and I knew with this low of mileage, it didn't get driven hard enough to escape the "Saturn oil consumption problem". I was right! It uses about a quart per 2 tanks of gas. It was worse when I bought it (about 1 qt per tank). After a lot of Seafoam in the tank, through the vacuum lines, and many engine flushes later to remove sludge, and switched to 10W40 and started to drive it harder than it was used to, I cut that consumption in half, and it runs a whole ton better. We have put over 20,000 miles on it since March 2010, and even drove it to CO for vacation.
All I can say on this, is yes these cars have some issues, but they can give you a lot miles of service if you have the patience to deal with them. If not, buy something else.
My head cracked also when my 1996 SC Saturn was about 10 years old. I have always taken excellent care of my Saturn, getting the oil changed every 3,000 miles and following every single maintenance service required. I was shocked this problem happened --- cost me $1,200, and that was 5 years ago! It is now 15 years old, and looks and runs super. Oh, rear spoiler clear coat bubbled up and peeled off last year, and it eats about a quart of oil every few months now too. I love this car, and will drive it until it dies on me.