1996 Saturn SL from North America - Comments

20th Apr 2004, 15:11

This has got to be the funniest review... Are you still driving it?? I have a 96 Sc1, they kind of suck too... burns 1 quart every 400-500 miles..

29th Oct 2004, 07:35

NHTSA Recall History.

1996-97: Horn could become inoperable or activate without pressing button; heat could build up, leading to an underhood fire.

I found this on the web:

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/1996-to-2002-saturn-sedan-wagon.htm

Funny that no one knew of this recall...

I'm purchasing a '96 Saturn SL2 this morning for $1700. It's only had one owner, with no major problems as of yet. I have read your horror stories and hope that my car will fare better!!! I hope that it would burn up before costing me too much in repairs!! :)

2nd Jun 2006, 02:44

If I could only be so lucky that my Saturn would spontaneously combust! I also have a 1996 SL2. It was previously my mothers, I remember when we bought it new at the dealer with the "new" buying concept at Saturn in 1995.

By 2001 when she gave me the car I've repaired it every year since. Wheel bearing, starter, alternator, tires, transmission work twice (both for slam reverse), and finally it's in the shop with a leaking engine seal that wasn't replaced when the tranny was out, the engine just lets the oil flood out and I was lucky I didn't seize the engine. I think another wheel bearing is bad again. I'm in college, I need tuition money, not Saturn repair bills!

Consider yourself SO lucky that it burst in flames! Makes me think I should bump my insurance back up from liability... bursting into flames is an act of god right?

2nd Jun 2006, 13:14

So, seeing as how the body panels are made of plastic, were you left with nothing, but a pile of goo in the driveway?

2nd Jun 2006, 15:57

That sounds like proper justice. The car burned you for so long, now the circle is complete. Too bad they couldn't burn up before they got to the Dealer's lot. I almost bought one, but after seeing someone have to endure the silly good luck party at purchase, I felt the humiliation would be too much.

14th Aug 2008, 22:02

Just bought a 96 SL1 with 170000 miles for 1400. So far its in great condition. Very clean. Only the horn doesn't work. It came without a horn and I recently purchased a new one from Canadian Tire (big rig sound). I'm going to get it installed tomorrow, I'll post how it goes.

7th Dec 2008, 19:40

Pros: Reliable, good in snow, good fuel economy 38mpg highway, good AC, plastic body panels do not dent.

I bought my Red 1996 Saturn SL2 on Nov. 30, 1995. After two days the cruise control had to be repaired at Saturn of Southgate, Mi. Since then I have constant problems with the brake rotors always warping. Otherwise, it has been a very reliable, fun to drive and gas saving transportation. I have owned my Saturn SL2 now for 13 years and just had my first accident last week. An SUV turned left in front of me and I struck his right rear axle and wheel rim at 25mph. My car held up very well, I had cosmetic damage to the bumper cover and the right fender shattered. After purchasing a new right front headlight I am still able to drive this car to work everyday. The Saturn SL2 driver seat is not very comfortable, but the Air conditioning, transmission, engine and electrics all have worked perfect for me. Just keep up with checking your brakes and give your Saturn SL2 a half quart of oil every two weeks and it will last forever.

23rd Dec 2008, 19:29

I went on line to check for consumer reviews, and I found this website. I was considering purchasing a 96 Saturn for 1000 dollars just to use for a very short period (around 6 months). I read this review and the subsequent responses and I have never laughed so much. The screaming engine, the spontaneous combustion, act of God, the circle of fire being complete. These comments alone have helped me make a decision not to go toward the light. It apparently signifies a fire!

I just returned from having my mechanic check it out to see if it was worth the money. When he came in his response was.

"It sounds like the engine is bad. It's making the same sound a Saturn someone else bought in that's sitting in the back grave yard."

He did say however that it could be a gasket or spark plug he will run a compression check or something like that in the morning. I will keep you updated on the results.

Tune in tomorrow --As the Saturn Burns :)

14th Jan 2009, 14:17

Well, while we're sharing horror stories, I think it'd be fun to add mine. Most of the problems it had were my own fault, or some act of fate, not necessarily the fault of the car. But still...

I bought my '96 SL2 as my first car in 2001 with 75,000 miles. I immediately noticed a loud bang sometimes when shifting to reverse. Took it to the dealership who told me it was working "normally" and not to worry.

Had an accident 2 weeks after buying. I rear ended someone and buckled my hood.

I was living at my mom's with the car parked out back. The car was broken into 5 times, each time a different window smashed. Each time, my insurance covered repairs and I ended up buying a nicer stereo. Brilliant, since the thieves ended up with nicer stuff on every visit.

Once, driving down the road, my horn randomly started honking. I couldn't get it to stop, and felt bad for the innocent drivers on the road who were being honked at for no reason. I pulled into a parking lot and removed the horn fuse. Replaced it, and it seemed to be fine.

About a week later, my mother calls me from work and says "Um, you car horn is going off." She put the phone to the window and I clearly hear "Beeeeeeeeeeeeee--" Big brother came over and removed the fuse for good.

One day leaving for work, the car wouldn't start at all. Pushed it to a nearby garage where they told me the engine was shot because of the timing chain.

Waited a month to find a good used engine to replace it with. The second engine is still in the car, but has another hole and loses oil constantly. The underside of my hood is SATURATED with oil (which could have contributed to the Hollywood style fire we read about).

Eight years later, the car has given and taken quite a bit. It supported a very active social life, made several long distance trips over many states, helped me keep a job for 8 years and drove me to the place where I ended up meeting my husband. So, despite its curse, I'm grateful to have had it.

Right now, it's sitting in my carport with the sunroof duct taped shut, the ceiling liner falling off, no horn, no oil, and it won't start.

What to do, what to do? Sell? Or scrap...

24th Jan 2009, 16:59

I bought my 96 SL2 in November 95. Based on the post so far I would say that avoiding the auto-trans was the way to go. I have heard from others that the reverse gear on an auto is the Achilles heel.

My store is a positive one. Maintenance is the most important thing in making a car last. I regularly change my oil and do other minor things: spark plugs, air filter etc. I currently have 337,000 miles on mine and my current goal is 400,000. I work out of town and 45,000 miles a year is where I'm at. I do all of my own work. I've changed the rings and bearings, had the head worked on, changed the clutch, that about it. My A/C died a long time ago and I live in Georgia where it is HOT! Oh yeah the alternator kick the bucket back in the late 90's. But that's it.

For a person who can do their own work this is a great car; I plan to pass it down to my son.

In all my time with my Saturn, I have realized that the check engine light is on more than off. If you are getting 36 to 38 mpg, the engine temp is good, and you can pass slow people on the road, what does the check engine light mean anyway.

I want to know where I can get a bulb for my house that will run as long as that bulb has. Black electrical tape is how to clear a check engine light, clear it from your view that is.

I love my car. It's paid for. No one in their right mind will steal it. It gets GREAT gas mileage. It's paid for, I said that already.