1997 Saturn SL SL2 4 cylinder from North America


The car is good


I bought a 97 Saturn SL2 from a Ford dealership October 2007. I had a 97 Ford Escort, but it died on me, so I bought the Saturn; it only had 59,400 miles on it.

I had to replace my front brakes at 70,000, and my back brakes at 110,000.

I had to replace the water pump at 112,400. My mechanic told me they had to take half of the engine out to get to the water pump. I took the car in at AM, and they didn't get it done until 2:30pm. It wasn't a Saturn dealer, it was a Ford dealer. I don't have a Saturn dealer near me.

Every time I start the car when it is cold, it squeals. My mechanic told me that air gets underneath the hood, and the belt gets cold and it squeals until the belt gets warm. When you close the hood, there is a crack under the hood where cold air gets under the hood, and also when it is really hot outside, the belt sweats and it will squeal until the belt dries out. Sometimes when it rains, the belt squeals.

I also had to replace a sensor.

General Comments:

So far it has been a decent car. I had a job in Urbana Ohio, which was 57 miles away from where I live. So I drove 57 miles to the store, and 57 miles home, and it got me there and back for a year and 7 months.

This is the first Saturn I ever owned.

Will I buy another one? I don't know.

The squealing drives me nuts. It doesn't eat up oil. I change the oil every 3,000 miles.

I have driven it on the highway for 3 years; it never broke down on me.

I have seen worse cars than mine. The body is in excellent shape; someone even thought it was a new car when I bought it in 2007.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th January, 2011

5th Dec 2011, 20:11

Your mechanic must not be too "bright". The entire underside of the engine/transmission is exposed to the cold air. There will be cold air on the belt regardless of whether the hood is on. More likely the belt tensioner is weak. A serpentine belt should never squeal.

5th Mar 2013, 08:40

Or you should just replace the belt...

1997 Saturn SL 1.9 from North America


Well worth the money


The only things that have gone wrong with the car are the usual brakes, exhaust and tires.

At 165000 km I had to have the heating core flushed, because of the coolant that GM uses.

I also notice that it burns a little oil from the time I bought it.

General Comments:

The car is extremely reliable.

It is very cheap to operate, very good fuel economy.

It is definitely not a high performance car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th February, 2010

1997 Saturn SL SL2 Saturn i4 1.9L DOHC from North America


Safe, efficient, and comfortable -- the Saturn SL2 is a great buy!


Due to some sort of welding issue from the factory, the engine fell out twice in the time we owned the vehicle; once at 40,000 and another at 75,000. The straightened the frame slightly, and it never so much as vibrated again.

At around 50,000 miles, the car decided that it was going to burn about a quart of oil to every 1,500 miles, and it continued to do this for the rest of its life, with no adverse effects on the exhaust or any signs it was burning oil at all. Apparently, this is a common problem with these vehicles.

At 75,000 there was some problem with the fuel pump or fuel injection (which, I can't quite remember), which resulted in poor acceleration and horrific shaking while accelerating.

At around 100,000, the headliner started sagging. It was replaced and we never saw another problem with it.

General Comments:

Despite the above, this vehicle would never leave me stranded. It was a joy to drive, it was comfortable, the dealer was a bit iffy, but all in all, it was our 7th Saturn, and another great experience from a company which has met an unfortunate demise.

From a comfort level, it was just so-so. Saturn's trademark of putting window controls in the center console is a little inconvenient, the cup holders were shallow, large sockets in the console making for easy spills. Also, the windows didn't even have a slight factory tint on them, and while driving this car (as with our other Saturns), you felt a little like you were on display.

Mechanically, besides the issues listed, it was great. The Saturn i4 engine is a mechanical work of art, some seeing 300k+ miles, and the transmission shifted smoothly all the time.

Unfortunately, this car was involved in a terrible accident, and it again proves that Saturn's safety space cage design (designed in partnership with Volvo and NASA), does its job in such an affordable car. After getting hit by 8-cars in oncoming traffic, a semi-truck, bouncing ping-pong ball style off guard rails, and rolling twice -- I GOT OUT AND WALKED AWAY, without so much as a scratch, and the air-bags didn't even deploy. The polymer panels popped back out, and besides the obvious damage, you wouldn't even have known it was in an accident.

Overall, the Saturn SL2 (any of them, actually), are safe and fuel efficient vehicles with all the amenities that you could ask for in a first vehicle, a daily driver, or a second car. I have purchased, and will continue to purchase these cars, even if Government Motors doesn't agree with the Saturn fans out there.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th January, 2010