1997 Saturn SL from North America


The worst car I've ever had in my life


It lasted 3 days after I got it off the lot before the starter started to go out on it. I spent $119 to get a new one installed.

The air conditioner was out, two leaks in the hoses, and that cost me another $200 to fix.

The battery has just recently started going out on it. When I took it to O'Reilly's, they said everything having to do with the battery was fine, but we ended up spending $80 to get a new one, and it still randomly dies on me.

I was told the fuel filter was bad, because the car won't go over 60 mph without the RPM sky rocketing, and I can't get the car up a hill without pressing the gas pedal to the floor. Even after changing the fuel filter, it still does it.

General Comments:

It's horrible. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody, because if it isn't one problem, it's another.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th September, 2011

15th Sep 2011, 06:42

You bought a 14 year old car with 165K miles on it, what did you expect - as new condition! Any production car of that age will be the same - worn out.

15th Sep 2011, 08:43

Don't be so harsh. This person does not know much about car mechanics, and was a bit naive on purchase.

That fuel filter story says it all. The problem is not the fuel filter, it is much worse: most likely the transmission is on the way out.

Always have a vehicle checked by a mechanic of your choice BEFORE buying. If the seller does not agree to that, walk away.

1997 Saturn SL 2 1.9L DOHC Inline-4 from North America


Very impressed with this plastic wondercar


Lower control arms need to be replaced.

Rear brake calipers, rotors and pads needed to be replaced.

Upstream O2 sensor failed.

Flexpipe broke and had to be welded.

General Comments:

I purchased this car for $200.00 with a blown engine. I then purchased a used engine with 81,000 miles on it and installed it myself. I replaced the clutch at the same time, and so far it has run flawlessly.

I purchased this vehicle to replace my other vehicle, a 1996 Toyota Corolla, which is being handed down to my younger brother in a few months when he gets his license, and to use for everyday driving to keep the miles down on my '99 Chrysler Cirrus (that car is my baby). I was originally looking to purchase a newer Saturn from a dealer, but when I found this one for only $200, I snapped it right up.

The body is in excellent shape. The body panels cannot rot, due to them all being made from plastic. It is dark blue in color. There is only one small spot of rot on the passenger's side rear door sill, and I will be repairing this soon. The rest of the body is pretty much flawless, minus a few scratches here and there.

The interior was extremely dirty when I purchased the car, but I cleaned it out and shampooed the seats and carpeting, and it now looks like new inside. I like the overall set up of the interior, everything is easy to reach, and simple to use and repair should anything fail. The seats are very comfortable for me, and I have plenty of headroom and legroom, and I'm 6 feet tall. I can even drive without having the seat all the way back, something I can't do comfortably in my Toyota.

This car rides surprisingly well. It really absorbs the bumps much better than I thought it would. The lower control arms are all one piece with the ball-joints and sway-bar, and the sway-bar end bushings are worn out, which causes the front end to produce a loud clunking over uneven surfaces. However, I will be replacing these control arms soon, and this should resolve the problem. I was also very surprised with the handling. This car doesn't seem to suffer from heavy understeer like most front-wheel drive cars. Body lean is minimal, and it will even lift a rear wheel on hard corners.

I LOVE that it has a manual transmission. This is the first car I've owned that has one, and I love it. Heel-toe downshifts are pretty easy to do, and it responds well to my double-declutching downshift technique. The little light on the instrument cluster that comes on when the car thinks you should shift? Ignore that thing. Tells you to shift at 2500 RPM. Too low for this engine, 3000 RPM is much better for normal driving.

The engine is great! It's 124 horses beat my Corolla's 105, however low-end torque is a bit lacking. Despite having 122 lb. ft. of torque, it makes it to high for it to be really useable in everyday driving. My Toyota's 117 lb. ft. is much better because it produces it at a much lower RPM. However, getting on the freeway is a lot easier than in my Toyota.

I will be heading off to college next year, and I intend to take this car with me. I will be commuting from home to college, and it is roughly 120 miles round trip, so the fact that this car's highway RPM's are low is great for me. I generally don't drive much faster than 60 MPH on the highway, and the RPM's hover at around 2300 at this speed, so highway gas mileage should be great. As for gas mileage overall, I cannot comment on that as of yet, because I have not yet gone through a tank of gas!

I'm very happy with my purchase, and thus far have no regrets. I love driving this little car, and I hope to keep driving it for another 10 years at least! I will continue to post updates on this vehicle as often as I can.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd May, 2011

10th Jul 2011, 10:27

Original Reviewer here with my first update.

My Saturn now has 186,000 miles on it. I ended up having to replace the entire exhaust system due to rot (thankfully I get huge discounts on parts through work!) Other than that, the car has been great.

The SERVICE (NOT the CHECK ENGINE) light comes on from time to time. Hooking it up to a scan tool while the light is on shows no codes or problems of any kind, and the light turns off after about 2 minutes. I just ignore it, hasn't harmed MPG or performance in any way.

Speaking of MPG, I'm very impressed. I've been averaging about 37 MPG in 90% city driving. This is roughly the same as my Corolla under the same conditions. However, the gas tank in this car is smaller, so fill-ups are WAY cheaper. It only cost me $22.00 to fill it up from almost empty yesterday. In comparison to my Toyota, an empty tank would cost me about $45.00 to fill (and my Chrysler would be about $60.00, ouch).

I also think the gas gauge may be a bit inaccurate, because despite calculating 37 MPG on each fill-up, the trip meter usually only reads about 230 miles to nearly a tank of gas. With an 11 gallon tank and 37 MPG average, it should be able to go about 400 miles to a tank. This may also explain the cheaper fill-ups.

One thing I really need to do, FIX THE A/C!! Boy it gets hot in there. So far, this car has only cost me about $1,300. Couldn't be happier.