1997 Saturn SW from North America
Let The Buyer Beware
I am now experiencing all the engine and transmission problems most Saturn owners talk about after 60,000 miles: mysteriously disappearing oil and transmission failure (the mysteriously missing 3rd gear). I wanted to give Saturn a chance because for the most part it has been a decent running vehicle, but I guess you can't expect miracles from an American-made automobile.
If you buy a Saturn, buy it new and sell it before it hits 60,000 or you will start to shell out some big bucks to keep it running well before the 100,000 mile mark.
Also, it's a good idea to get your oil changed regularly by a Quick Lube-type garage because they usually will let you come by for a free "top-off" before your next scheduled oil change.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 12th August, 2004
My wife has had the same problems with her 1998 Saturn SL2.
We have maintained the car religiously since it was purchased new, but we still have had serious problems with the car. After a quote from a dealership for about $1600 in repairs and diagnostics, I had the problems diagnostics done at an independent certified auto shop for $400. Another $200+ was proposed for diagnostics of a transmission problems. As it turned out, the car required a complete transmission overhaul. The cost was another $1800. This did, however, avoid the car transmission being torn down at the dealer and having to pay their diagnostic charge. I found that transmission failure was a common problem with the Saturn, but there has been no recall.
Your missing oil was probably caused by a faulty oil pressure sending unit. These things sometimes wear out, causing a high-pressure leak that often doesn't leave a trail of oil on the engine. The part costs under $20, and it's not usually difficult to change.
I wouldn't send people to a "Quick Lube" place. Too often, these places are responsible for your being low on oil to begin with...
I have 2 Saturns and will never purchase another one. One car 2001 sw2 has 40,000 miles and needed 1100.00 to "fix" the transmission. It's been 8 months and it now has the same symptoms. The other car 1998 wagon uses oil, we have to have the oil changed religiously and had to have a master cylinder replaced for the braking system. We had to fight with the dealer to get them to replace it under an extended warranty. Except for routine oil changes I find the Saturn repair team to be extremely expensive, unhelpful and not very knowledgeable about cars (Saturns). Once they charged me 80.00 to put the car on the computer and wanted to charge $300.00 to repair the car running funny. The local garage down the street put new spark plugs in into the 1998 and then it ran fine. Contrast all this fuss for 2 almost new cars with low mileage, to my old Mazda 626 which racked up 198,000 miles; had a few oil changes a fuel pump and a few maintenance things done like a timing belts at 60 and 120K and very little else, until my sister totalled it in an accident. Or my Mitsubishi Eclipse a great hassle free vehicle, which I end up driving much more than I want because I just can't trust the Saturns.