I bought a 1999 Saturn SL1 for my wife in 2006. Aside from the thunking into reverse when we bought it with 108k on it (which I fixed with a $400 rebuilt upper valve body, a 1 hour job which I did myself), we had no problems with this vehicle. The brakes did squeak, but once I put new pads and rotors on, it went away. I replaced the exhaust and an engine mount, changed the drive belt, and it was a great car.
We sold the car to my wife's sister to use for college and it was still running fine up until last week when she was broadsided by a 64-year old man who admitted to not paying attention and running a red light.
The car is totalled but we never had any of the supposed kickplate problems, etc., while we had it. It has 130k miles on it as it sits now awaiting the insurance settlement.
I do not own a Saturn, but my boyfriend does, and I tend to do the driving a lot.
I am 6.4 and agree with the legroom. I have to really work to get in the front seat, and trips longer than a hour or 2 make me very cramped up.
Other than that, my only complaint is about how this car drives is at highway speeds; when you need to get going, it just does not. I am used to Audi's where if I am at 65 and need to get up to 5 quick, it just does, but with the Saturn you need to really mash the gas to get it going.
I have a 2000 SL2 with 192,000 miles. The vehicle has had minimal repairs, with the most major being front wheel bearings. The engine has needed only spark plugs and a couple sensors replaced - no big deal. I just replaced stabilizer bar links myself recently. My kick plates have been intact. All electrical components have operated flawlessly. The car has some comfort issues, but look at the price point it was sold at. Overall, it was a good deal. My wife's '97 Toyota Corolla at the same mileage needed more repairs than my Saturn.
I have a 1999 Saturn SL1, which now has 220,000 miles on it. I have had almost no problems with it.
I replaced the alternator and water pump 1 time. I used it as a commuter car and then my daughter and son used it at college for 2 years, then my other son drove it on a farm for a year, and I then re-inherited it and have driven it since.
I have done absolutely nothing to it except replace brakes once, changed oil and just last week in the ice and snow, the windshield wiper transmission burnt up. I was told it was from using it with ice on the blades.
It just recently started using oil, so I have to check it every few days as I drive it a lot.
I absolutely hate the seats, as I have a long commute and I do not like how hard it is to get the oil filler cap off.
This is my 3rd Saturn and the newest year I've had, and I have pretty much the same success with the others as well.
I also own a 2000 Saturn LS2 and have had my fair share of problems: water pump, oil pan, front wheel bearings, repaired transmission, ignition switch, etc.
As of right now it revs fine, but does not respond to the revs, moving very slowly. When I called for quotes on the repairs, the mechanic only said "ooh, bring it in." That can't be good...
I have just put a rebuilt motor in a 2000 SL1. I have done a few engine swaps in my day, however I find that the Saturns are well built. About a 8 hour job to change out motors (the old one had a rod peaking out of the block). The owner that I had bought the car from did not check the oil, and oops there went the motor. The valve guides seem to be worn on the old motor. But at 189k that could be a issue.
I love the little car. Seems to run out fine. By no means is it a 427 Corvette, and you may find your own shadow passing you on the interstate, but for the mileage that they get, you take it in stride.
Overall the car is just a subcompact and is priced right for the money. Also living in Wisconsin, there are no rusted out doors or fenders to worry about, like so many of the other compacts that are on the market.
I have a 2000 Saturn SL1 which has about 112,000 miles on. It is at my mechanic's shop right now because the idler pulley bearing failed. This will hopefully be one of my less expensive repairs.
I bought it from a used car dealer a couple about 5 years ago. It has been an expensive car to maintain. Not long after I bought it, the automatic transmission failed. I started out with a slamming problem when shifted into reverse and grew worse until it total failed. The valve body in the transmission was defective. It was an $800 repair. I found out that Saturn issued a service document for that very problem which is caused by bad engineering, but Saturn never issued a recall for this because it was an expensive repair. They should have replaced it for free.
My Saturn has had lots of other little problems to fix. I just nurse it along to keep it running. This car was poorly designed and I wouldn't have bought it had I known how much the upkeep costs. Next, I am going to have to deal with rattles under the dash. That should be interesting.
My husband and I bought 2 Saturn SL2. One a 2000, and the other a 2001. We had a 1999 one a few years back.
So far I am very disappointed with the purchase. I knew some problems were inevitable with the age of the vehicles, but one was at about 63,000 miles when we purchased it. So far we have had idle issues on both. We fixed it on one, and it ran over $1000 after the dealer started discounting his time, because each part seemed to be the wrong thing that needed to be replaced.
The shocks are shot on the lower mileage one.
They both clunk into reverse.
The back seat has no room for a baby seat. Especially if you are tall. Our poor 3 year-old has no leg room, and that is bad considering she is not even an adult.
The engines both burn oil like crazy. Not sure where it is burning off, but we are up to 1-2 quarts a week in one of them.
The cruise control went out.
There is this cracking by the windshield. Just on passenger side. It started on the higher mileage one, and I thought maybe just weather. But now the other one is developing the same problem. I just hope there is no real structural issue there.
The sunroof is no longer operating.
The car has real issues with hills unless you are on cruise. We live in semi-mountain area, and it just cannot maintain speed unless in cruise. Of course if there is more than 1.5 people or the AC on, then you are really out of luck.
At this point we are switching parts between the two to make hopefully one operating vehicle out of 2. Just didn't think in less than 2 years of purchase we would be having to replace them. Plus it didn't help when GM killed Saturn and our low mileage one went from 6800 to 3400 over night. Ugggg...
Don't think I could do another GM vehicle after these. Just don't trust them.