1996 Saturn SL SL2 from North America - Comments

24th Feb 2006, 16:46

Hmm... intermittently doesn't start and the radiator light comes on even though you have plenty of radiator fluid and the coolant gauge on your dash shows no sign of overheating, right?

My car did those things when the coolant sensor went bad. I don't know how you've lived with this problem. I couldn't even get my car to start at all about 2 days after it started happening. Maybe yours is just faulty, not outright bad, so the problem is intermittent. Either way, maybe since the mechanic didn't know what to look for, he never found it. It cost me about $150 to replace 2 years ago. A lot, I know, but the problem went away.

Frankly, I've had a few things go wrong with my car, but I still love it to death. 2 weeks after I bought it used, a starter went. 2 months later the alternator died. At about 50,000 the entire serpentine belt assembly needed to be replaced. The thing with the coolant sensor was about 60,000 miles. Just today (84,000 miles) I had the wheel cylinders in the back brakes replaced bcs. they were leaking. The interior ceiling got crumbly, but that only cost me $8 in fabric and 4 hours of my time to remove it, re-upholster it, and put it back in. So, 5 problems in 5 years. Not too shabby, compared with some of the cars that have come through my family. I love my little plastic car with its fabulous gas mileage because it's reliable and it gets me from point A to point B without guzzling gas!

4th Mar 2006, 01:09

I'm also having the same problems with my SL2 starting whenever it wants. I have to play with it for a while, sometimes waiting for 10 minutes before it will want to start. Did you ever find out what the cause of this problem is? I would appreciate any insight.

4th Mar 2006, 18:32

I just noticed the comment from December 25th (helluva way to spend Christmas writing about a broken car!). Okay, when somebody refuses to provide a warranty on their work, that is the point when you walk out the door and go somewhere else. These guys were ripping you off, and you need to stop being a sucker. When a junkyard transmission works better than one that somebody rebuilt, that is a clue to the quality of their work.

22nd Apr 2006, 10:37

Saturn -Sl 1996. The best car ever.

I strongly recommend this car to anybody who is looking for something reliable.

To drive a Ferrari you need to buy one first.

All comments on this page look like they were made by people who don't know anything about cars.

Buy yourself a Saturn, take the odds.

You won't regret it.

5th May 2006, 06:52

I think by "hit" the previous commenter meant "fill." You should see that not only the radiator has water, but that the overflow reservoir is up to the mark on its side. The cooling system is pressurized and relies on coolant in the reservoir being at a certain level to work properly. Low reservoir level may cause a signal in the gauge or in a malfunction of the cooling system, possibly even overheating and damage to the engine.

5th May 2006, 08:52

My 1996 Saturn SL is a good car, gets me where I need to go, but it is quirky. My check engine light comes on, and then goes away. My biggest problem is blue grey smoke coming from the engine. It goes away with ATP reseal. Although mechanics tell me it is a temporary fix, it works like a charm and I will still use it. Thank you for your advice re bringing car to dealer- paying for a "diagnostic check-up" is just not right.

I have found that when my car does not start up quickly, I step on the gas (with the brake up - in park) and it turns over.

Does anyone have any advice, other than using the ATP reseal for fixing the smoke?

Thank you for this informative and intelligent site.

23rd Feb 2007, 17:03

I own a 96 Saturn SL2 5 speed, and today it stalled out going 40, and the check engine light came on, and it was hesitant to start again, but when I got it started, it was running fine. It has 97,000mi on it, has upgraded headers, full exhaust and cold air intake. Any ideas on what could cause that?

31st Mar 2007, 14:55

I have a Saturn SC2 and as much as I love the car I'm working through electrical issues with it. I have replaced the battery and the alternator checks good. I can drive it for 4-5 days with no issues. If I let it set for a couple days strait when I try to start it again it will be dead. Everything in the car is stock. For the last couple of weeks I've been unplugging my positive battery connection before I go to bed and night and while I'm at work with no issues. I'll just have to go through one thing at a time till I find the issue. As far as the "check engine" light being on, I've read that the indicator light is tied to the emissions of the vehicle. and the "service engine" (little wrench symbol) is for engine issues. by the way my Saturn has 224,000 miles and counting.

1st May 2007, 03:48

Hi! My father recently bought me a 1996 Saturn. He ran it around town for a few weeks to make sure things were working well with it, had an oil change done, replaced the brakes, miscl. stuff like that.

About a week after I got it, the temp & water level light came on and started blinking... The temp gauge never got passed the middle (straight up). So I go to check the water level and was very taken a back that I could not find an actual radiator cap. So I checked the coolant tank, it looked like it could have been a bit low, so I added some to it.

At that point the light would come on once every few days, and I'd repeat the process. Now, 2 weeks later, I will put the coolant in and 5 minutes later the light is coming on again. Can anyone help me out by letting me know if in fact there is a radiator cap??? I even have a Chilton book on the car, and it didn't say anything about it.

Thanks for any help!

19th Jul 2007, 20:27

To the comment made on May 1st 2007.

I have a 1996 Saturn SL2, and it is doing the same thing. I saw a few weeks ago that I had a cracked radiator, so I got that fixed, but the light still comes on and it's really annoying. Someone said to hit the reservoir, so I'm going to try that. but I have my doubts of it actually working.

If it does, I'll let you know.

21st Jul 2007, 01:05

I tried the hitting the radiator reservoir thing and it worked.

So now that light doesn't come on anymore.

19th Aug 2007, 19:58

1996 Saturn SL1 with 111000 miles on it. It hesitates when you drive normal. If you floor it all the time When shifting up it does not hesitate. New battery, alt plugs, wire, ac, oil, new coolant stat, and air fuel filter injectors cleaned. What else could it be?

Regards, Leon (please reply)