1997 Saturn SL SL1 1.9L from North America


This is not a high performance car, but it is very economical, and reliable!


Nothing much has gone wrong with this car.

One time my battery went dead and the theft deterrent system was incidentally activated. Since I never used it I didn't know what was going on. This system is useless and user-unfriendly. Don't get it unless you need it.

I needed a tune up at about 70000mi. Which included, but didn't necessarily need O2 sensors, they were corroded and since I was working on the car I decided to replace them. My tune up involved the following: New Spark plugs and wires, removed and cleaned fuel injectors, new fuel filter, new oxygen sensors (front and back), replaced all worn and weathered hoses, and cleaned throttle body.

I also needed to renew the brake pads at about 50k. I've never messed with the rear breaks.

General Comments:

My advice is to buy a new Saturn. Keep it maintained, and my guess is that it will last you well over 150k to 200k miles easy.

Stuff happens; from what I've heard gaskets may crack, and cylinders may leak at around 100k miles. If you can work on cars it is extremely easy access to replace head gasket and renew piston rings. Even if you have to remove the engine for something such as trans-axle problems; it's easy to do.

Buy this car new, or used and well maintained. Keep it maintained well while you own it and it will be well worth the investment.

PS MAKE SURE ALL BOOTS ARE KEPT IN GOOD CONDITION. DIRT DESTROYS BEARINGS CV JOINTS, CLUTCHES, AND MUCH MORE. It is much cheaper, and easier to renew a dust boot than replace CV joints and such.

This car will never be a hot rod. It will never run a 14 second quarter. It has enough pick up for in town driving, and is extremely reliable and economical. My car has well over 70k miles and gets over 30mi/gal in town and over 40mi/gal highway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th May, 2004

1997 Saturn SL from North America


It absorbes so much oil. I have to change the oil exactly every 1700 miles otherwise I will be enjoying a noisey drive. I work as a transportation engineer which requires me to drive all the time around the state and that coast me about $40 a month only for oil change done in my garage.

Interior Parts for some odd reasons like to make lots of noise.

Radio buttons are weird.

Gas pedal is very stiff. You can't hit the gas gradually. have to hit it hard which is annoying especially if you are drinking coffee.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th April, 2004

1997 Saturn SL Base 1.8 SOHC from North America


100% Economy Car


1. Crunchy sound from left front wheel (possible dirt in the CV boot?). Currently trying to ignore until Springtime.

2. Rusted gas tank retainer belt replaced @ 20K miles.

3. Numerous, free, recall-related, work done over the past seven years by local Saturn dealerships.

General Comments:


* Very economical (36-40 highway mpg).

* Room for four average-sized adults.

* Great city car, but lack of power steering make parallel parking a moderate challenge.

* A/C blows cold and the heat can't be beat.

* Dent resistant body-panels are a bonus.

* Ample storage (with rear seats folded) for groceries and IKEA furniture!


* Armrests are solid, hard plastic. A little padding would have been nice.

* Engine is wimpy, but performance isn't the aim of the base SL.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th February, 2004

1997 Saturn SL SL2 1.9 from North America


A waste of my money


Serpentine belt replace twice due to squealing, and finally replaced tensioner to solve the problem (covered under warranty)

Fuel pump went out around 50000 miles. Had car towed to dealer and replaced under warranty.

Have had the car to the dealer multiple times complaining of bad idling. The RPM'do not fluctute, but the car has a bad miss somewhere. I can feel it when sitting still. Hooked up three times to computer and was told nothing is wrong. I am still not happy... out of warranty now!

70000 miles the water pump goes. My coolant/hot engine light came on and stayed on. Replaced to the tune of $232.00 at the dealer.

Burning oil to the amount of 2 quarts per 1000 miles. Called Saturn Corp and they contacted the dealer to do an oil consumption test. Wish me luck!

Got in the car today, 2-6-04, and found water dripping onto my stick shift! Water had leaked from the sunroof button to the passenger door in the front of the roof. I started looking around for other leaks and water was in the wheel well of the passenger side in the back. I called the dealer and was told the sunroof drain may be clogged up. How would that drain onto the floorboard in the back?

General Comments:

I would NEVER buy another Saturn. I had a Nissan Sentra for 16 years (until it rusted out!) My Sentra had engine work and only burnt 1 quart every 1000 miles. I never had a water leak, never had rough idling, and never replaced the fuel pump. I had 160000 plus miles on it when it died. I would definitely buy another NISSAN!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th February, 2004

8th Jul 2004, 18:04

I purchased a used 1997 Saturn in 2001. It only had 24000 miles on it and was as cute as can be. However almost immediately I realized it was going to a problem. The "Service Engine Soon" light was always coming on and going off. Since that purchase I have replaced the starter twice, the solenoid once. I have a new ignition switch, serpintine belt that won't quit squealing and one new water pump. I also had the engine head develope a small leak which resulted in needing a new head. Each item leaving me stranded and in need of a tow. (expensive tows)

The head that came off looks as if it is made of styrofoam. Unbeleivable. I always feel like the car is missing, and has no power. I continue to have the "Service Engine Light" come on and off, but no one seems to find a problem when I take it in. For such a "modern" car it burns oil like a 62 Rambler.

It is now July 2004 and I have 99000 miles on the car. I wish I could get a new car, but I am stuck with this.

This car also has seat belts that strangle a person at the oddest times. Many little inside problems that include the interior dome light going out, the lighter breaking. (and no one uses it) There is no adaquate cup holders in the front seat. The paint looks dull and dingy, and scratches very easily. No the paint won't come off and there are no dings in the doors, but it is so scratched up it's embarrassing.

For what it's worth I am so glad to have found this website. I thought I was the worst possible car owner to have all these problems. I am glad to know I am not the only one. I also am glad to know there are sites like this. I will be looking up any future car buys for potential problems. My daughter is still driving my 1997 Mazda Protege that is now at 185000 miles and we have only replaced the tires, and a few belts. I should have kept that car instead of going for an unknown with less miles.