1996 Saturn SL 1.6L from North America
You get what you pay for, but park far away from your house just in case..
We had numerous visits to Saturn for repairs over the years. At first they were fairly minimal and covered by the warranty.
Had it in 7 or 8 times for check engine light, faulty brakes (manufacturer issue, replaced for free) cooling system issues.
Car began seriously going through oil right about the time it hit 50,000 miles. I have always changed my oil religiously every 3 months, so I know this was not due to driver negligence. Gas mileage also began dropping at this point. I was getting about 40 mpg highway and ended up at about 29mpg.
April of 2003, the car would not shift into first gear. Cost 1,200 to REPAIR transmission synchronizer plate. Still did not shift right.
Continual electrical problems with inside lighting and car lighter. Dome light worked when it felt like it (not very often) and lighter stopped working altogether.
October 2003: Woke at 2:30 am to the sound of my car horn blaring. Ran out to find my car in flames. Poor thing was screaming and trying to blow itself out with the cooling fan :). It melted and flamed right before my eyes before the fire department could arrive to put it out. This was not a smoldering burn it was a "movie" type car fire and if it had been parked in my driveway it would have set the house on fire. Cause of fire is, as of yet, unknown. I will post if they figure it out.
I loved my car despite its many faults.
It had a lot of road noise and the seals around the windows let in a lot of air even when rolled up.
The seats were very basic and not comfortable on long drives.
The engine tended to overheat quickly in warmer weather if you got stuck in any kind of traffic.
Mine did not have power steering and was akin to driving a go cart...very tough on the arms when parking.
The 4 cylinder engine had no gumption and would bog down considerably going up hills. Forget running the air if the hill was very steep.
Overall, the car was reliable... in that it RAN. The frequent trips to the very expensive service department were irritating and the rapid decline of mileage and increase in oil usage were worrisome. After the $2,000 I have put into it in repairs and maintenance in the past 6 months, I would still love to look out and see it parked there on the curb instead of the blackened char mark that is the remains of the car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 16th October, 2003
Your story was interesting. I got a chuckle out of how you described the fire. I have a 1996 Saturn SL, for the most part it has not been terribly bad, after having it for 7 years, most of the defects are beginning to show, sunroof leakage, Ignition - No Start, or Stall Then Long Crank/DTCs P0300..etc.
Jennifer in NC