1997 Saturn SL SL2 1.4L? from North America


You get what you pay for


I bought this car new in '97 and drive it lightly (only 65k miles in 8 years). When I bought the car, the rear left automatic door lock didn't work, and there were some other issues which I don't recall. I got the issues cleared up (except the door lock!) at the dealer right away, but that was already a sign that perhaps the Saturn quality control was not up to par. Also the shifting was not all that smooth, I knew the transmission would be an issue from the get go.

Later (50k miles) I had a linkage break in the manual transmission, that was cheap to replace ($100-$200).

Recently (65k miles) the manual transmission was completely rebuilt ($2500), as all the gears have failed except first - at least I could drive it to the transmission shop!

Now (66k miles) I brought it into the shop and they said the water pump is leaking and needs replacement ($220) and the serpentine belt needs replacement ($38).

The car vibrates BADLY, I'm not sure why. Everything vibrates, it's worst at idle. It's not teeth rattling, but still.

I don't know about the oil issue, maybe I haven't been keeping track. I think it's a decent car, but not the best; my wife's Honda hasn't had any major trouble (it's 2 years younger though). But her dealer charges her an arm and a leg to fix minor problems. So I guess you get what you pay for??

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 9th October, 2006

10th Oct 2006, 09:08

Do not go to the dealer to get your car fixed. The labor alone can at least 40 dollars more/hour and sometimes they screw up the car too. An independent mechanic can do things for a cheaper price. When both of my Honda's needed a timing belt, the dealer wanted at least 1000 bucks/vechicle and an independent garage did them both for around 500 bucks each.

19th Dec 2006, 20:42

My daughter's 1997 Saturn SL is vibrating as well. Her mechanic told her it is an engine mount, which may mean the front transmission mount instead. I expect to replace one or both for her this Christmas when she visits. I would suspect your problem is the same.

8th May 2007, 16:48

I have had the problem with the vibration also. It was an engine mount, and was fixed at the dealership for about $120. On another note I got 132k miles out of my transmission, and just now I am looking for a boot to link the shifter to the transmission cable.

1997 Saturn SL from North America


I love my Saturn


My shift cable broke two times.

General Comments:

This vehicle is great on gas.

I have had only one problem and cant seem to find out what is wrong. It is sometimes hard to put into first gear, but not all the time. Having to put alot of pressure on the gear shift to get it in gear is causing the shift cable to break. I have fixed the cable two times, and it is getting expensive. Can any help and tell me what might be wrong?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th July, 2006

1997 Saturn SL SL1 1.9L from North America


I fell in love with it


I had a front left shock loose bearing at 144,000 miles on the highway - Fixed for 300 bucks.

Oil change every 2K miles, burns oil like nothing in the summer heat.

My left window fell out of the track around 135,000 miles, but was easy to repair.

The power steering wheel has become a little more tense, but still works.

The key got stuck for the first time around 130,000 miles - However was able to fix the problem. Got it out by lifting upward and slightly turning the key to the off position. Has only happened three or four times.

I have yet (Knock on wood) to put any serious work into the car, most if not all of my visits to the mechanic were due to the following:

- New breaks

- Wheel alignment

- Oil change / Coolant flush

- Starters.

General Comments:

Absolutely in love with it. I've taken that car all over the Eastern coast with no problems, car runs like a champ when doing 60MPH @ 2K RPM getting me almost 40 miles to the gallon.

NEVER put more than 9.5 gallons of gas in when stopping to refuel. Excellent gas mileage.

Car is comfy, but definitely not a speedster. Service Engine Soon light is always on (Oxygen sensor).

I've pushed it to 110MPH with no problem several times. Car idles nicely, I find it performs better during the winter however.

I recommend Saturn's and my next car will most likely be one as well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th July, 2006

17th Jul 2006, 19:47

My God son's first car was a Saturn SL-2 and it was a great car. We've had experience with both foreign and domestic cars, and the only cars we've ever had trouble with were the two Japanese cars and one German car we owned. We currently own two GM cars and one Ford, and none of them has ever seen the inside of a repair shop. GM did a great job of quality control on the Saturn. In my opinion it is a far better quality car and will last longer than the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.