1998 Saturn SL SL2 from North America - Comments

26th Mar 2004, 08:35

A little harsh, but I have had similar problems. The dome light works intermittently. Had a motor mount replaced under warranty. Exhaust system had to be repaired under warranty, starting to leak again. Battery leaked after 3 years. I have the manual transmission which has been OK, makes the car enjoyable to drive. Wind noise is still a problem after having almost all the weather stripping replaced. Overall a very average car, pretty typical of north American built cars. OK, but fit and finish really lacking. Affordable transportation, but lots of little problems can make it frustrating to own.

26th Nov 2004, 16:05

I bought a 1998 SL-1 as in early 99. Basically, its been an average car. The exhaust has always had a slight backfire, due to unburnt fuel in the converter, the door weatherstripping does not fit well, the throw-out bearing went out at 60,000 miles, requiring a whole new clutch job, and the instrument odometer light has burned out. It does get excellent mileage, very easy on tires and brakes (back brakes at 93,000 miles are still original) ; and the paint looks like new. However, its uncomfortable to drive for ling distances and hard to get into. For what I paid for the car, it was worth it. But the resale value is also very poor.

13th Feb 2006, 10:06

Never buying Saturn again. Will hopefully trade it in for something more reliable like Toyota when it's paid off in September.

(A) I'm honestly glad that my Saturn SC2 (1998) isn't the only one that slips when it goes into reverse. I've had many garages look at the car, but they can't find anything to fix. I thought as long as it worked, I would just keep driving it, expecting the transmission to go out at any time...

(B) But, most recently my moon roof/sun roof won't shut completely. The snow storm just leaked so much water into the ceiling of my car! I moved it in my garage and am afraid to drive in any weather that has precipitation. The fabric on the roof of the car is now discolored from the leak...

(C) And, the main interior light has never worked. If you smack that part of the roof, it flickers, but that's about it.

13th Feb 2006, 11:38

I had one mechanic tell me that Saturns are essentially disposable cars - they are built to "last" roughly until the warranty runs out and after that it is hit or miss whether they work or not.

The thing I find audacious is that Saturn now wants to go more upscale with more expensive models. This totally goes against its original philosophy (good bang for the buck and quality service/reliability) and will alienate its core market.

I'm guessing it is one of the divisions that will ultimately be eliminated like Oldsmobile and Geo.

30th Jun 2007, 20:58

Purchased a 1998 Saturn SL-1 12/12/97 -- been driving it for 9-and-a-half years. Total of 173,000 miles as of today.

All the problems I see listed here I have also experienced: the dome light went out some time in early 1998; the transmission has slammed into gear on a regular basis since around the 40,000-mile mark (summer 1999). I have not had this fixed since it's a MAJOR expense; Now the tranny is very sluggish from 1st to 2nd gear when I first drive it in the morning (it's summer, it's Louisiana, it's not cold!) ; Just spent $762 to "replace some wires and coils" after the engine would die while driving at full speed, then it wouldn't re-start.. left me stranded on a busy country highway with NO emergency lanes.

Oh yeah, I had to replace a tensioner for the drive belt after I got stranded 100 miles from home in late 2004.

So more than 9 years, 173,000-plus miles, and I'm ready to trade. I know I won't get ANYTHING for the car.

I just want to warn people that at least in my case, the car isn't going to last much past 150,000 miles. Even with regular maintenance. I've been gently babying the thing the last two years.

I'm considering a new VUE... but those Altimas I see at the dealership down the road sure look inviting...

14th Jul 2007, 08:06

I have a 98 SC2 that I bought a year ago. It's transmission has the problem described of the car slamming when going to reverse. I've found that if you put the car in park and step off of the brake it will change with no problem. You only need to be in park for a second.

12th Sep 2007, 19:49

I have a 95 Saturn SC2 with auto trans. Has a rebuilt engine with less than 40K.

Just like everyone else, I am having a hard shift problem. My girlfriends previous SL2 had the problem with it "slamming" into reverse. My car does this no matter what the gear.

I was told by one technician that if you can disconnect a wire going to the trans (torque converter?) that this might be a temporary fix. Haven't tried that because I really need this car to make it to work.

Still, if Saturn is going to compete in the auto market, I suggest finding a new transmission vendor. I actually love the car when it's working right, but it kicks like a mule now.

23rd Sep 2007, 14:31

You guys need to find a dealership that knows what they are doing. The harsh shift in all gears is a line pressure solenoid problem. This can be fixed in about 1.5hrs. The solenoid is about $65 new. The dome light "problems" the bulb is loose pull the light spread the prongs so it makes better contact. The harsh shift in reverse is a valve body issue due to lack of maintenance. Tranny fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles "read the manual". I have 97 SL1 that has 355,000 maintained correctly and has not had these problems.

It called "preventative maintenance". It is to "prevent" big problems.

2nd Oct 2007, 22:28

I own a 1998 Saturn SL2. It now has 129,000 miles and I'm not having any trouble with the tranny because I have religiously changed the fluid every 30,000 miles and made sure to use fluid and filter at the Saturn Dealer, around $40 for the products. I do the service myself, not hard with a good CHILTON Manual.

Problems I have had are the dome light lens has broken off, but the light still works.

Tensioner pully broken twice. Again fixed myself.

General maintenance after that, belt, hoses, radiator at 115,000 miles, front struts, nothing that can't be explained by mileage.

I really don't regret buying the car. A lot of problems can be avoided by simply following the maintenance schedule in the owners manual.

17th Oct 2007, 14:24

I have a 1994 Saturn SL2 which has a leak in the roof causing the whole area near the gear shift mechanism and carpet below on the driver's side to become wet. I took the car to several places, and then to a sunroof repair shop. The shop owner checked to see if the water vents in the sunroof were working. There are four vents under the sunroof, just little holes, which vent water down through the car and onto the street. These vents were put in by Saturn to deter water from building up under the sunroof.

The sunroof seems to fit fine, and I don't think the seal is the problem because the sunroof man stated that the two front water vents were blocked. The back water vents were fine, and when he poured a little water in each of them, the water came out in front of the back wheels on each side, thus those vents were clear.

The problem is that when you try to clear the front vents, they dogleg to the left and follow the contours of the car and I believe they vent the water just behind the backs of the front wheels. So the problem is, how to open the water vents.

I purchased the care in yr 2000 and have not used the sunroof at all. Recently the car started leaking water into the front driver's side seat and onto the floor, and the upholstery has now pulled from the top of the car and is falling down.

When I opened the sunroof to show the sunroof man what the area under the opened sunroof looked, we found a lot of rust debris near where the mechanism to lift the sunroof was. The iron work used to raise the sunroof has flaked off due to rusting from unvented water sitting under the sunroof.

I actually thought of getting a plumber to unplug the block, but because of the dogleg, this won't work. In the meantime, I am constantly looking at the sky. It has rained for three days here, and I haven't been able to use my car during that time... The car only has 139,000 miles on it and still has some life in it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.