My SL2 5-speed manual was given to me "as is" by a friend after I'd burned up the tranny in my Hyundai. It was covered in bird doo and spider webs. It didn't have a battery, so I bought a brand new battery to get it started. The tires were first class 'may-pops', so I went out and bought brand new touring tires, hubcaps, matching seat covers and windshield wipers. The day I bought my tires, while exiting the freeway a guy clipped me from behind on the left rear bumper trying to outrun another car. It only pushed the bumper in a couple inches, 'barely' noticeable, while he had a basketball sized dent in his lower right bumper on his 2005 Cutlass.
The car has a great paint job, shiny gold/blk highlights, but because of a previous accident, the previous owner put a black hood on the front and the front head lamps are askew, but seem to light the road in front of me just fine. I got #33 touch up paint for the scratches etc that I get around the bumper areas.
The head liner, like all the other Saturns I've read about was gone when they gave it to me and I was a little more than concerned when the occasion particles start floating around the cabin. The interior is looks very clean, except for a panel on the passenger side of the console that I plan to replace, and the console itself has issues with the non operable ashtray/cover that occasionally falls into the gear cable compartment. And the air-conditioner doesn't work. The previous owner said she tried several times to get it fixed, but to no avail. The heater works almost too good though.
The non-working odometer read 270,025 when I got it, and I was always aware that the car could go at any moment and it finally blew a valve a couple months ago near my house, but I was able to drive it nearly ten miles on the fwy to my mechanic (and back) to find out what was wrong. As he was offering me the $1700 bargain to do a valve job, It had become clear to me that I didn't want to junk the car. It was already 'salvaged' due to the previous owner's accident and I'd gotten $900 from my insurance for the 'clipped' bumper, but I'd also put a lot more into the car over the 17 months I'd had it. And is was still a very attractive car, inside and out. I began to think, along with the tires/battery/wipers, since I've had it, I've also had to replace -
The entire coolant system, including: water pump, radiator, reservoir, fan and serpentine belt.
Then the front brakes began to squeal, so I had them replaced.
A few hours later the clutch cable when out on a hill in the burbs while at work and I had to get it towed back to the shop. In one day, I spent nearly $500 in sudden repairs. It was then I became 'paranoid' about it breaking down, especially with the high mileage and broken odometer.
It ran fine for about six months then it began to overheat again, luckily I'd never removed the gallon of water from the trunk so it came in handy that night, but I had to re-replace the fan sensor, $200+ and this was right after paying $50 for a tune-up special w/Bosh spark-plugs and 20/50 oil change.
That was last April. I felt by then I should be able to drive the car up to L.A. (about 125 miles+ each way) But was scared to death. Finally, in Sept, I got the nerve to make the trip. The car drove great with the cruise control set at 70mph all the way I passed some but most passed me, but the ride was smooth and the car handled great. When I got back to my neighborhood, however, I head a 'knocking' and a brief loss of power, but she got me home without any further issues.
About a week later, the same thing began to happen more often and when I took her to the shop, they said there was a leak in the valve cover gasket. That was quickly fixed - $159 and she ran good for exactly two weeks before she blew the valve. I found a guy through a friend who replace the engine with a salvaged engine for only $800, and replaced the clutch that several mechanics had warned me was about to go out for $400. All total, $1200.
I really like this car as it's very attractive when cleaned and waxed! The tires shine and the sun glistens off the gold exterior, black hood and all.
Since I can't afford a new car in this economy (the Cash-4-Clunkers folk told me the gas mileage was too good for a trade-in) I figured all the money I've spent, is the equivalent to monthly car payments.
As far as mileage goes, I was guesstimating 32mpg hwy with the old engine. With the 'new' engine I think I'm getting less, but I just gotten the odometer fixed, so I haven't' had the chance to take it on a road trip yet.
The previous owner was in town recently and told me that the odometer had gone out about a year before they'd given it to me and they were putting mega miles ie: 200+ every other weeknd to visit family. So the car had close to 350k's miles when the valve blew.
The new salvaged engine, which the mechanic says had 120ks on it runs great, much more power, especially on the freeway. Nice and smooth, but has some minor quirks ie: it makes a 'whistling' sound between gears. The mechanic rigged the fan to come on as soon as the electrical comes on and it's very loud, adding to the engine noise. Also, the mechanic didn't replace one of the bolts/screws that goes on the manifold and a motor mount is missing.
With the new clutch, it has refused to go into reverse twice now, and to prevent the uneven sound of the new engine (sans the missing motor mount) he idled it too high, so it tends to jerk forward from a dead stop (which could be me) and the RPMs are too high between gear shifts. Also, the gear shift STILL has resists going from neutral to first gear at times. All these things I thought would be 'fixed' with a new engine/clutch. Also, the brakes suddenly seem sluggish. Hopefully it's just a fluid problem.
One last interesting point: when time to shift gears, an arrow light on the dash would come on. Now, with the 'new' clutch, a light that says "Traction Active" comes on when time to shift. Does anyone know what this is about??? And for that matter: Does anyone know where I can get a 1994 Owner's Manual? Thanks.