9th May 2009, 08:27

I have a 1996 SL1 which has been very good to me. I have replaced the alternator once, and every other problem I have had with it, I can trace back to one accident. Too bad the Insurance company won't fix it!

I get 35-40 mpg consistently and track every tank. I do all the maintenance myself (except major engine work).

The headliner fabric did fall down about 130,000 miles, but after all the years I spent in AZ, it is no wonder. Cosmetically, it is showing its age, but people still cannot believe it is a 13 year old car.

My car has overall been VERY reliable, and I will hope that they don't go under in this economic meltdown.

23rd Feb 2010, 20:06

I just purchased a 96 Saturn SL. It has 97,000 miles, the light works when it wants to, and the accelerator is starting to stick and the transmission is starting to slip. I have had it for a total of 10 days. What can I do about the accelerator?

9th Mar 2010, 22:58

I have had my SL2 for 5 years. I bought from a friend of mine for 100.00 with a bad motor. I put a motor in the car. It has been the best car I have ever owned. It is a stick, which means a lot; no tranny problems, but other than that it's been a good car, 197000 miles. Most of the car is shot, but no rust, no motor problems, struts are shot as are the rest of the suspension, but other than that, it's been the best car I've ever owned.

10th Mar 2010, 09:33

I own a 96 SL1... it is my second car... my first was an Audi A4 Quattro, which at the age of 16 was the hottest car in the student parking lot... sadly it was totaled by my boyfriend's sister...

My dad bought both me and my two brothers our first vehicle, so I was responsible for purchasing my next vehicle... I went a few months without one till I could save up... one day, one of my friends said she would sell me the Saturn... I was a little hesitant because it had been sitting in her driveway for almost a year, but despite that I brought it to the mechanic shop and all I needed to do was put new tires on it... she sold it to me for 400.00, since I did need to purchase new tires...

The only problem was the horn didn't work... I had the interior customized and put a body kit on it... I must say I completely lucked out on buying this vehicle... it currently has 200,000 miles on it and has a slight problem with leaking oil, but I get great gas mileage and could not be happier with my purchase...

I would recommend this car to anyone... every vehicle that you buy second hand will have its problems, and you will have to put money into them, but if you get back more than you put in, then that's what matters!!!

13th Jun 2010, 15:07

I own a 1996 Saturn SL1, and yes I've put in sooo much work. New radiator, brakes, you name it. But at 260,000KMS and still going strong, I will not be trading it in for the world. It's a fantastic little car! However, it eats mufflers like no tomorrow.

30th Aug 2010, 08:50

Picked up a 96 Saturn SL1 from a friend for $500 (it was his mothers, who bought it new). When my buddy worked at Saturn, he had a lot replaced on this car (head gasket, oil pan, battery, exhaust, brakes/rotors, and radiator). It's got 177000km on it, but runs smooth and seems quite reliable - apart from noise from the front wheel bearings and the passengers rear brake cylinder, which are being repaired this week. As a second car, this car excites me how well maintained this car is, how clean it is under the hood, and how cheap I paid for it (even if I have to spend a little to get it running properly).

I replaced the defective wiper motor for $100, and have had to replace an EGR valve to get it to pass the e-test. So far, I have paid an additional $520 (EGR valve, wiper-motor, e-test, Safety, taxes/licensing/registration, & of course a Haynes car repair manual).

Another $3-400, and this car will be good to go. And then I'm going to swap that junkie ACDelco radio and speakers for something with a little more oomph...yeehaa. Then maybe I'll look at cutting out the rust from the rear door sills.

29th Oct 2010, 13:36

Hi there. I'm actually not at all surprised about the way people complain about these cars. All in all, I would take an older Chevy or even a Lincoln (sadly) over my 96 SL Saturn 5 spd any day. Don't get me wrong, I love my car. My dad bought it back in 2004 sometime around Sept. It was white and had 120,000 miles on it. He realized right away that the car was losing oil, but not leaking anywhere. Apparently these cars have faulty head gaskets. If that solves anyone's problems with the oil burning issue...

He had the car up until about 2008, when he then gave the car to me (finally I was able to work on the car). Since then I have undergone a series of little projects with the car up to current. I have completely sanded and primed the whole car. (still waiting on the right color to come my way). I have done all the work on my car myself since the day I got the keys.

The first thing I did was set up a relay switch for my coolant fan motor, because it wouldn't turn on unless the AC was blowing (I do believe it is my PCM due to testing the electricals myself). So I pretty much bypassed the PCM, and installed a relay switch that would turn on for about 3 minutes at a time every 2 minutes (wears out fan motors more, but is way better than burning above normal burning temp for your engine).

I also had to replace my horn, although for me I had to install a button switch, which I put right next to my shifter. Works great for me. LOL.

I have a wiring problem in my column. Somebody tore the wire strip off the steering wheel before my dad got the car.

I have replaced my head gasket, and ran oil burning treatment through my engine to seal up any other small little cracks.

The car does not burn oil anymore, but is leaking out of the passenger side of the engine towards the top now. I would much rather put a nice V6 in this car to give it that ummmph everybody would want. I also have an 89 Ford Probe that I've been working on for about 7 years, slowly but surely. It's a really good car considering it's a Probe LMAO.

I hear bad things about those cars as well, but maybe I'm blessed with no fires or major problems LOL. I can say one thing through all the issues with these cars. They always have those few really really good ones off the line out of the millions they make. My mother bought a 96 Chevy cavalier brand spanking new. Never once to this day has she ever been stranded. I guess you can say it all depends on the quality of the work and the way the first owner treated it. I guess my Saturn was taken care of to a certain extent.

I'm sorry to hear about your fire by the way. Man, I would cry if that happened to me. (2 15" subs custom wave box, 2 12" subs, also custom wave box, 6000W amp into 4 channels. Panasonic cdmp3 player type deck). Nothing too fancy, but does the job well :P) Would burn with my car if that ever happened. It's really loud and I have no trunk LOL.

26th Apr 2011, 08:52

I had a car fire in my 97 SL2 driving down the road; lost all fuel pressure, and next thing I know, it was on fire. It was the worst thing to watch.

19th Sep 2015, 03:46

Clean the throttle body butterfly valve; it gets gunked with oil and starts to stick. Take off your air cleaner duct, hold open the throttle and wire all the grease and oil away from where the blade meets the throttle body. Do this once every month or so. HTH