1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9 DOHC from North America


I'd buy another one


Rear power windows - gas mileage not as good as expected.

General Comments:

I've had 3 of these... all 1996's... power windows always have problems, but if you are a "do-it-yourselfer", they are easily fixed.

They tend to have water pumps go, and alternators also... but again, they aren't to hard to repair.

My 1st one had 240000 miles when I sold it... it's still going strong. It had the 5 speed and it got very good mileage.

The 2nd one had 89000 miles when I bought it. I had to replace the 4 pieces around the roof, the trunk and hood (clear-coat was bad)... again these are easy fixes. I had to replace the A/C compressor... also an easy fix.

The 3rd SL had 54000 miles needed body pieces like the 2nd one - they all seem to have clear-coat trouble in the same areas.

I was disappointed it the gas mileage - this has an automatic trans. I replaced the MAP sensor and the O2 sensor. It seemed to help - I'm getting around 25 mpg city now.

I replaced the 4 roof edge pieces, the hood, and the driver's side fender.

All of the above repairs were done with junkyard parts, and they were relatively easy.

It seems the higher the mileage, the more oil they use. It was never so bad that I felt compelled to fix it... it usually the valve guides that wear. Changing the oil regularly and using a good additive helps. I've used the Teflon additives in all my cars, and it seems to help with longevity.

For a reliable work vehicle, I don't think you can beat a Saturn SL2 - I don't touch the SL1's... they had head gasket problems. In my opinion Saturn should have continued making the SL2 with the same style and engine... and just worked on getting it perfected... get the rattles out, beef up the paint and power windows. Interchangeable body parts was a great innovation... they should have marketed it better... with a little engineering effort, they could have really had a winner here.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st June, 2008

1996 Saturn SL SL1 1.8 petrol from North America


Very reliable, but I hate it


- Muffler replaced at 158 000 km.

- Rear brake pads replaced at 160 000km.

General Comments:

All in all, this is a very reliable car, and it's cheap on gas.

But there are some things I can't stand about this car.

It handles so terribly on the highways.

The engine very underpowered.

I have heard before that Saturn's were known for bad build quality, but man I never knew it was this bad. The interior is crap, everything squeaks around you, my seat squeaks every time when accelerating or braking.

If you take a look at some of the parts in the engine compartment, it looks like they were molded out of Styrofoam some how.

But I don't know how I can hate this car so much, since it hasn't given any trouble. It starts every time, even in -40 c without plugging the block heater in.

I drive this little car hard to make up for the lack of engine power, and still no mechanical problems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 23rd May, 2008

1996 Saturn SL SL1 1.9 from North America




Engine cradle rusted alternator and avoid the sunroofs; a lot of leaks.

General Comments:

Economical good commuter and that's about it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th April, 2008

1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9L DOHC from North America


Good, serviceable, reliable car.


I have had no major troubles in the year I have had this car. Based on the service history I got from the previous owners, it hasn't had many problems over its lifetime. The only part I have had to replace is the O2 sensor, probably the original at about 115000 miles. The only other defect is slight rust on the bottom of the doors.

General Comments:

Overall, I really like this car. It handles well, has enough power for its size, and gets good gas mileage (30-32mpg). Its only short coming is the lack of overdrive, (4 speed automatic), causing the engine to run about 3000 rpm at 70 mph. Noise is not so great that it is annoying, there are no serious rattles or obnoxious noises.

It does use some oil, not much though for a car its age. I usually have to add a quart halfway between changes (every 5000 miles). It has served me well without being costly to run or maintain.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 15th April, 2008