Earlier someone mentioned a squeaky belt even after being replaced, I had the same problem and only when the tensioner spring busted I knew what the problem really was. My '94 SL1 seems to have the hesitation being mentioned as well; when cold, in a high gear and under and accelerating load, it will "miss" sporadically. I was figuring an issue with the ignition, but maybe the EGR valve is worth looking into? Also, the thermostat on mine keeps the temp dead-center, and if sitting in traffic it will float to about 3/4 before the fan kicks on. A/C runs the fan all the time, as it should. No door leaks here, but the driver side door is hard to close, almost like there's something wedged in there somewhere, strange.
If you buy a car with 100,000 miles, don't expect it to run like a new $100,000 sports car. All cars require maintenance and many people have an attitude that if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
I have a 95 Saturn SL1 with 115,000 miles. It doesn't burn oil or water, I got it from the original owner. I had some problems with it in the beginning and have had success now in pin pointing all of the issues.
If you have an older Saturn like me, it's likely you have some similar problems.
My car was shaking at idle. This was due to the torque axis mount on the top of the engine. This engine mount was crushed and the rubber was squeezing out of it. There's also a second mount on the bottom, but I did not touch it. After replacing this top mount in about 15 minutes, the car quit vibrating. You couldn't even tell the engine was running.
Second problem I had was when the car quit starting when the engine was hot. The car also began to sputter under load (usually uphill in second gear) at about 3000 RPMS. The gas mileage started getting worse as well.
Since I added fuel injection cleaner before this madness started, I figured something got loose in the fuel line and clogged up the fuel filter. I replaced the fuel filter and the car started much better, but the gas mileage and sputtering under load continued.
After extensive reading, I replaced the ECTS, engine coolant temperature sensor for about $10 plus 20 minutes of time. Now the car runs like a champ, idles right, and does not sputter under load. The gas mileage has almost doubled. The original sensor is made of plastic, and when the car overheats, it can damage the sensor very easily. I would advise all Saturn owners to replace this part if they are having issues with erratic idle, loss of power, hard starting, no starting, etc,. The difference is night and day.
Many people who buy this car are on a tight budget and cannot afford proper maintenance or weeks of professional troubleshooting. Many problems arise when sensors go bad because this car is computer controlled, like many. And more often then not, if you have a problem or intermittent problem, you may not get warning lights regarding the issue.
The secret to keeping a Saturn in good running shape is to not only due the regular maintenance on it, but when you do have a problem you need to figure it out quick. If you let things go too long, it can have a domino effect and cost you much more in the long run.
Saturn's run just fine. The level of quality at GM is no different than all other American made cars. They all have standards and improve on every model year after year. Lack of proper maintenance is what causes 99% of problems for this car.
GM sold an enormous number of Saturns, and most were not that expensive to begin with. If properly maintained, I would think a Saturn could last for 200,000 miles, maybe even 300,000 miles or more.
I purchased my 1995 Saturn SL1 in July 1995. It's been a great car for me, and it has 110K. The major problem I had with my car was the oil in the anti-freeze bottle (I read someone else had that same problem). However, Saturn fixed the problem without cost to me because this was a recall item (although not called recall). Periodically, Saturn sends out letters regarding problems that they suggest you have checked at the dealer. When I received my letter about this problem I took my car to Saturn to have an oil change and for them to check for the problem stated in the letter. The Saturn mechanic said I didn't have the problem. Later that year oil started flowing into my antifreeze bottle. This was caused by a pin hole in the engine. I never thought about the letter again because Saturn said my car did not have the problem. I took my car to Saturn, and after they reviewed my car maintenance records, verifying I had my car checked for the problem stated in the letter, they replaced my engine for free. Thank goodness I had the letter with me when I went for an oil change, and remembered to asked Saturn to check for the problem.
Other than the engine problem, I've only replaced the starter once since I owned the car (July 2007) and (2) alternators (October 2002 & July 2007). The car does use a bit of oil, but my dad always told me older cars will do so, so I changed the type of oil I use. Otherwise, I try to make sure I do basic maintenance regularly.
I'd purchase another Saturn.
My SL1 with 180k miles on it is great on gas and runs fairly smoothly, and has done so since I purchased it.
However, I too suffer from some of the same issues as so many others with this car. The driver side door leaks or leaked until I used clear silicone on the weather stripping lining the roof, it burns an ungodly amount of oil, and my motor mounts continually shear off.
I would like to know if anyone else has experienced motor mount shearing?
I just bought a 95 SL1, and had a few issues now. Something new for me on any car I ever had.
There is a black mark on the road where the tail pipe is after letting it warm up in the mornings. What could cause that?
Sorry about the rest of you that have had problems. I bought this '95 Saturn SL1 in 2000 for $9,500 ($6,000 + $3500 down in 1995), it's been the best purchase I've ever made. No mechanical defects, no mechanical problems, 100k trouble-free miles and 41 mpg on freeway, 37 city and hi-way. All I do is change oil, oil filter and air filter twice a year. I can't understand why new hybrids can't boast mpg like this. Great car!
I bought my 95' Saturn last Oct. 2007. It has been fine besides the check engine light came on when I got it up to 60 mph, and it has been fine for about 5 months, but it does use oil badly.
But now I have been having problems with it starting; sometimes it starts just fine, but sometimes it will just click at me like my battery is died. Well that's not a real bad problem; I just have to be jumped now and then.
OK, now the problem is my car is a manual and when I go to shift, it revs up very high and acts like it isn't in gear, but it has been doing it for about two to three months.
But today I was taking off and I tried to shift into first and it did the rev thing again, but acted like it was in the wrong gear, so I shifted into 2nd and the 3rd because it was revving and the shift light was telling me to shift. Then I tried to get on the highway in 3rd going to 4th, but it was just revving and wouldn't pick up that much speed, so I just shifted it into 5th gear and it acted fine.
But then I went to get off the highway, and so I was just coasting in neutral like always and stopped at the light, then the light changed and went to put the car into 1st gear and it wouldn't go, so tried to put it in any other gear; it wouldn't go, so I turned off my car and then tried to put it in gear; it went in gear so I started up the car, it died, then tried it again and it started.
I took off and I only could go about 30, and I can only use 1st gear to go anywhere and it smokes a lot, so I was just wanting to know if anyone knows what this problem is, or has had the same problem, or can tell me if it is the transmission or clutch? Please help.