1997 Saturn SW Reviews - Page 5 of 5

1997 Saturn SW SW2 1.7 from North America

Year of manufacture1997
Engine and transmission 1.7 Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Dealer Service marks 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.5 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Previous carAcura Integra

Summary:

Not bad, not great

Faults:

On third battery at 50,000 miles.

Front rotors failed at 50,000 miles.

Front bearings replaced at 45,000 miles.

General Comments:

This car was the top-of-the-line model in 1997, but never felt like much more than basic transportation. My wife's bottom-of-the-line '99 Volvo S70 wagon bought used for only a few thousand dollars more than the Saturn is far, far nicer in every department and about the same cost to operate and repair.

One thing in the Saturn's favor: the combined anti-lock brakes and traction control system DOES work well in our horrible upstate NY winter weather. I'd never, ever buy another car without this feature.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 13th September, 2003

1st Feb 2006, 12:07

Bought a 97 SW2 with 50000 miles.

Replaced the oxygen sensors which were expensive.

Since then have 115000 miles with excellent mileage on mixed highway/suburban driving; usually 33 mpg. Have only replaced the usual maintenance stuff- brakes, oil. I hate maintaining cars so I'd give this a "B" rating. The highway ride is better than the other cheap cars I've had, but I can't compare it to say, a Volvo, which I could never buy.

1997 Saturn SW SW2 1.9 from North America

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 1.9 Automatic
Performance marks 4 / 10
Reliability marks 5 / 10
Comfort marks 2 / 10
Dealer Service marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 2 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
3.6 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance94000 miles

Summary:

Very cheaply made car

Faults:

Had to put new Transmission in the car at 93,500 miles. $1300

New Steering Rack at 70,000 $2000+

New Timing Chain. 68,000. $600

Many new transmission valve bodies. Lot of money.

General Comments:

This car is a money pit. I have put at least $6,000 worth of parts that I should not have had to fix into this car.

Acceleration is quite slow and thus does not make for easy merging onto a highway.

Front seats are reasonably comfortable, but the rear seats are like siting on a park bench.

Interior looks and feels very cheap. The plastic pieces have huge spaces in them.

The only good thing I have to say about this car is that it has no rust and no dents due to its plastic body panels.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 31st May, 2003

1997 Saturn SW SW1 1.9L SOHC from North America

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 1.9L SOHC Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.3 / 10
Distance when acquired75000 kilometres
Most recent distance132000 kilometres
Previous carToyota Tercel

Summary:

A good car, but may be problematic

Faults:

Rear windshield wiper motor and arm.

Two outer tie rod ends.

Three sets of front brake rotors (so far).

Two sets of front brake pads.

Will stall at a stop sign out of the blue and then work good for a month before it happens again (not yet repaired).

Hesitates under acceleration (not yet repaired).

Front end rattling or knocking- no one can find the problem.

General Comments:

If the problems listed above were not as serious I would love this car, but there are too many things happening that no one can explain.

The nearest Saturn dealership is over an hour away so all repairs are being done by private garages.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 1st April, 2002

28th Nov 2009, 10:06

Try upgrading to high carbon premium brake rotors. My worst braking problem is due to lack of engine braking from the automatic transmission, which will not lock into first gear, driving down rough ungraded roads in national forest.

I have been told the SW2 has 4 wheel disc brakes, which should be much better than the small rear drum brakes.

My 97 SW1 also rattled and vibrated. Replacing the torn upper motor mount (ordered for about $20, and replaced in about a half hour, without getting hands dirty or scratched) stopped the rattles and vibrations.

The windshield wiper motor spindle to wiper linkage arm is very poorly designed and often fails. I cold welded (JB weld) the wiper motor spindle to the wiper linkage arm and substituted a smaller amperage wiper motor fuse.

The 30 amp wiper motor fuse is too large to protect the wiper motor from burning out. Substitute a 10 or 15 amp fuse, which will be more than adequate for heaviest downpour or light snowfall.

A parts supplier also told me the parking brake lever is weak and also frequently needs replacement, but I just pull mine gently, since learning about possible failure and have not had any problems, with it.

I suspect the fuel filter or fuel pump may need replacement, to stop slow starting problem. I read the fuel pump and wiper motor linkage were both subject to manufacturer recall.

Despite these problems, I have obtained 42 mpg sometimes, driving across mountains in Colorado and usually obtain 30 plus mpg, in city driving. In third gear the Saturn climbs and passes surprisingly well. Traction is very good on icy roads and I have passed stuck 4 wheel drives, on icy roads, with Green Diamond snow tires. Studded tires would be even better on ice.

The 97 fenders and doors look new, in 2009 and the engine main oil seals do not leak oil, with 120,000 miles on odometer.

Average review marks: 6.9 / 10, based on 15 reviews