1996 Saturn SW SW2 ? from North America


A dependable vehicle I would buy all over again


I must say that my car--Sidney Saturn-- has been a joy. Anything that went wrong with it was my fault.

The only thing that I wish were better is the sound of rushing air on a very windy day. I imagine better windows would fix that.

General Comments:

This car has needed ordinary things like new tires, brake shoes etc. After 10 years it still is a sleek design.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2006

1996 Saturn SW SW2 1.9L from North America


It's economical if it doesn't break


Brake light wiring blowing fuses within 2 months of purchase.

Driver seat lumbar adjustment handle fell off.

Door seals have shrunken, causing more wind noise.

At 77,000 miles, wipers started running on their own.

On the next morning, engine seized (we thought).

General Comments:

We can drive this car like it's a go-cart! When it's running well, with good tires, it's outstanding.

The extended warranty we purchased came in pretty handy, including once when the keys were locked in the car. They came out and made a key from the data in their records.

The lumbar adjustment handle came off withing several days of delivery, replacement was promised, but never delivered. (Dealership problem, not Saturn's)

We took the car back to the dealer where we bought it several times to get the brake light problem fixed. We replaced fuses, just like they did, but each fuse lasted only five or six applications of the brakes before the fuse blew. Finally, my wife called the dealer about it from her work. They had it towed, at our expense, to back to the dealership to have a mechanic look at it. Two days later, when we went to get it, we learned from the paperwork received, that they changed the fuse again. I doubt that it was that simple, because the problem hasn't recurred.

I've grown to distrust this car and won't let my wife drive it. After then engine seized, I did some research and found that the starter may be seized and stuck in the flywheel. We towed it to a mechanic, who put a battery charger that was strong enough to power the biggest starter. The starter started smoking because it had seized, as I had suspected. According to the car parts places, starters for this car range from $300 to $680 (I think this was in 2001). I nearly fainted with that news, considering the size of this electric motor, I really doubt it cost more than $25 to make. After changing the starter, the engine had a knock.

I thought it might be the wrong oil in it, from getting it changed at an oil change place, or something like that. After about 700 miles, we took the car back to the Saturn dealer (not the same as where we purchased the car) for another oil change and asked to have a mechanic diagnose the knocking sound. We paid over $70 to have someone tell us "There's a knock in your engine." An engine cleaning for $300 was recommended, but wouldn't help diagnose the problem according to the "highly trained" mechanic. At a non-Saturn local mechanic's shop, we learned that we probably got a lemon of a car. We paid him $1600 to get a used engine from a 1998 SL2 and replace ours. It's worked fine ever since then, except for the O2 sensor that was not replaced with the engine.

During this ordeal, we were still paying for the car and needed to rent a car for several months to keep my job, while attempting to save up the price of the repair. Asking for help from GMAC, initially, got what we thought was help, but another person took over the case. Then, we couldn't even get them to return our calls. We found out later, from a credit report, that the approved, interest only payment was reported to credit agencies as no payment. Messed up our credit rating.

Overall, I'd say we got a pretty good car that has served us fairly well, although it has been the most expensive to keep going of all the car's I've ever owned. Yes, there are quirks, but the car has put up with some pretty long expeditions, without much complaint, and it does drive like a go-cart, with the right tires on it and still gets over 34 miles to the gallon.

We've now dealt with three different Saturn dealerships and found all three wanting. We will continue taking our car to Firestone, where the mechanics are ASE certified and know what they're doing.

No, I won't buy another Saturn, and it's unlikely I'll buy another GM product. Definitely not using GMAC.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th May, 2005

4th Sep 2006, 18:58

I also own a 96 SW2 that has been a pretty decent car up till this year (2006). This year we have had it at several different mechanics and after hundreds of dollars worth of work are still having problems. I think 10 years is a fair life for a small car, but would not recommend Saturn because I also found the service department to be very time intensive and costly. This is my second Saturn, my other being a 2001 L300. I found them to be safe (the L300 saved my life in a 65 mile per hour front impact crash) and fun to drive. It's a shame the service was not as good as the car.