If your engine is over heating that's not good!! By driving it you can blow the head gasket and/or crack the cylinder head. Of course you probably have already done this and that's part of the oil problem.
The thing with these junk cars is the motors were designed to run hot. The fan will not kick in until you are in the red zone. But if you run your air conditioner the fan will come on.
I have a 1995 SL2 WITH 80,000 MILES. Periodically I spend a lot of money getting parts replaced. I'm on my 3 motor mount. Saturn said it was a design flaw, but they do not replace for free. I understand the replacement of parts is normal as the car ages. The one good thing is that mileage is still like a new car and the engine runs perfect. Its just that replacing parts, its the labor that gouges you. I always have my work done by Saturn. With a Saturn you must get the car serviced and oil changed every 3 months. The customer service is excellent. But I would not buy another, reason is the reliability issue. Also the 1995 SL2 has transmission flaws, of which I still pay for. Back to the reliability issue.
My Saturn performed great until about 90000 miles. Then everything started falling apart. The oil pan was cracked at around 70000 by some idiot kid at jiffy lube. They never were able to properly fix it as the leak kept recuring. So I have to constantly put fresh oil in one end as it slowly leaks out another. Then came the transmission. It also cracked. We couldn't afford to replace the transmission so we had that patched. That leak keeps reoccuring so I had to put transmission fluid in regularly. The car blew a rod at around 95000 miles and the engine was replaced. That's when all kinds of problems started to occur. The car would shake at idle so we brought it back to adjust. They couldn't do that and claimed that there was nothing wrong with car. So the problem continued. A couple thousand miles later the fuel pump fails and needs replacing. Does that fix the problem. Nope. Still shaky at idle. Eventually the car stopped doing that. I don't know why. Overheating started. They said we were out of radiator fluid, but the car kept overheating at idle especially, even after we replaced the fluid. A traffic jam is my worst nightmare because stopped for ten minutes and my car overheats. After 45 minutes of driving on the highway I have to stop because the engine is overheating. I could go on and on, but its depressing trying to think of all of the problems that occurred after 90000 miles. At 108000 miles I thank god that I had that accident. How often do you hear people say that? That car was sucking away at my income. I should have bought a new car the second the engine died.
I own a 1993 Saturn and it now has 120,000 miles and every single problem listed above and in the other comments I have had with this car. I feel your pain about the traffic jam/worst nightmare scenario. Unless I can go fast the engine overheats. The fan doesn't kick on. But when I take it in to have it serviced and hooked up to all their computers they say there is nothing wrong with it. Yeah can I have a guarantee on that so that when my engine explodes, I can bring it to you?
But this car is going bye bye in 2 weeks and I get my new Infiniti G20- yeah me!
My 1994 Saturn's radiator cracked so I replaced it with a new one. OK. Now a day later I am having severe overheating problems now worse than before. My mechanic said it can be the thermostat or I need to flush the radiator. I just don't understand how it can run worse than before. I am fed up with it. I am going to sell it fast.
I bought a Saturn SL2 (1992) and found it to be a total piece of crap. After 5 years, the engine totally blew while I was driving on the highway. Apparently, it burned the motor oil way too fast, the warning indicator turned on for a millisecond before the engine blew and caught the engine on fire! I saw the warning light flash for just a second. The engine temp. gauge didn't warn me either. I tried to have the Saturn dealership replace it, since I've heard stories about this happening to other people. They were total jerks and gave me some bull about it not being under warranty and that it was MY POOR MAINTENANCE! I've changed the oil regularly, but at other places and sometimes by myself. What a bunch of garbage. They couldn't even replace the engine with a new one. Apparently, I had to get a USED engine installed. This cost a ton of $, I should have just cut my loses and junked that piece of crap. I was very disappointed with their poor customer service and total lack of caring. What a major let down from a company reportedly to have "great customer service".
I recommend that if you are thinking of getting any Saturn,
DON'T DO IT!!!
My 1993 Saturn SL2 runs strong, but goes through a quart of oil every 1500-2000 miles. It has 189000 plus on it and just recently made two 15 hour non-stop cross country trips. Love the mileage and am getting ready to start modifying it. Planning on rebuilding the engine. I would recommend buying a Saturn with careful shopping.
Last year I bought my daughter a 93 SL2. Engine was a bit noisy, but other wise ran good. Until I got a desperate phone call at work; "my car just died in the middle of the highway" Anyway I pick her up and after checking the car over (oil) I started and made it back home. I took it to the local shop for an engine analysis. The shop said because of the engine noise they were not able to pinpoint the problem and recommended I took it to the dealer. And I thought...Cha-ching! So I decided to replace the timing chain myself following a Haynes manual (great book). Spent about a Saturday afternoon and about $230.00 in parts. Local shop had given me a quote of $800.00.
I have a saturn 98 sl2.The engine continues to overheat if left running for more than ten minutes.I have put a new thermostat on it, a new water pump and a new fan that will not even come on! Currently I am still trying to fix it. Any ideas?
Reading all your comments about overheating...well, if you share a little of your heat with me, I'll share you the woes of my engine not heating up! My temperature gauge rarely goes above the lowest line and I don't get much heat :) I guess I won't try to change the Thermostat or it might overheat. I bought my 93 SL1 used and have since put about 20,000 KM on it in 1 year for a total of 260,000KM I drove it across the US last year. The only problems I've encountered are the stupid little water leaks around the windows and doors... and my poor mother sat in the back seat the other day and apparently there's a leak back there too.
Other than that, problems I've had?...I replaced 8 light bulbs in the dash and radio... cleaned out the EGR valve... new brake pads... And let's just say, I'm not easy on my car... did you know they can squawk in 2nd gear? :)
I guess it's a great car... if you buy the right one.