1998 Saturn SW Reviews

1998 Saturn SW 2 twin cam from North America

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1998
First year of ownership2013
Most recent year of ownership2014
Engine and transmission twin cam Automatic
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.0 / 10
Distance when acquired167000 miles
Most recent distance181000 miles
Previous carSaturn SC

Summary:

A frugal person whose looking for a cheap car to purchase and maintain, should check out the Saturn

Faults:

The transmission failed at the same time as the alternator.

The power windows were fickle, but never got stuck until the driver's window regulator stopped while the window was up.

The rear wiper motor was bad.

The cruise control didn't work.

General Comments:

I deliver food, and purchased a second Saturn after my first one was wrecked.

Despite the tranny failure at 181,000 miles, I still think these are great little cars!

I have driven this car for evening shifts, not shutting it off for 5-6 hours.

My Saturn NEVER got stuck in the Ohio snow, and handles well in ice and rain.

It's a quick little get around car, and corners surprisingly well.

The gas mileage is good, even running the A/C full time while working.

These late 90's SC body styles don't rust, so it still looked decent for its age.

Prior to the tranny going out, the repairs were minimal; serpentine belt, tires, brakes, rear wheel drums, and they were inexpensive.

I recommend this vehicle as it's inexpensive to drive and maintain.

These models are known to have tranny issues, and mine leaked a half quart of oil every 3000 miles, but if you can find one that's been decently maintained, with lower miles, and you treat her nice, it's worth it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th July, 2014

1998 Saturn SW SW2 1.9 DOHC from North America

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1998
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 1.9 DOHC Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.3 / 10
Distance when acquired145000 miles
Most recent distance170000 miles
Previous carNissan 240SX

Summary:

Dull but efficient commuter; not too reliable as a race car

Faults:

Leaking weatherstripping on driver side. Replaced it but a year later I think it started dripping again.

Replaced front wheel bearings, twice in one year.

Radiator cracked and had to be replaced.

Oil leak, supposedly from valve cover gasket. Replaced the gasket but the leak persisted.

Flex pipe gained a hole during one race, muffler gained a hole during another race and eventually even fell off its steel hanger/mount.

Windshield fell victim to flying rocks.

Transmission blew up after roughly 10 ice races over two seasons.

General Comments:

This wagon was my daily driver/ice racer combo. In its daily driver capacity it raked in about 25,000 miles over the 15 months that I've owned it. In its ice racer capacity it has seen maybe 10 race events over two winters, a few of them being 3 hour endurance races.

Performance is acceptable for an econobox. Use of plastic reduces weight of the car - the wagon is only about 100 to 150 lbs heavier than my Miata. Being relatively light also helps with fuel mileage, I figure consistent 30+ mpg even with a lead foot. SW2 is not at all fast in absolute terms but it's just fast enough that I don't get frustrated. Manual transmission is very easy to drive. There is plenty of interior room, especially with the rear seats folded.

Overall the car is a great commuting/transporting vehicle. What SW2 does not have much of is excitement. It will get you and your belongings from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss and pretty cheaply.

I have my doubts about quality of some of the repairs done, particularly the first wheel bearing repair and the valve cover gasket repair. Both were done by the same shop, and in both cases the symptom that prompted the repair have not disappeared after the repair was done.

Transmission was a weak point in my car. During an endurance race in early 2008 shifting from 3rd to 2nd started taking several seconds. Despite me releasing the clutch quickly engine RPMs would take a while to come up to where they should be given the car's speed. I thought the clutch overheated, but since the car drove fine didn't replace anything. A year later after unloading the car after a race the transmission exploded just as I started driving home. Now when I race, and sometimes when I drive, I drive the car hard, but I think I'm reasonable and I wouldn't call my driving stupid or unnecessarily abusive. My Miata certainly gets abused more during drifting and summer track days.

Mostly due to transmission failure and dullness of the car I'm looking to get something else for commuting. But cargo space, fuel mileage and performance per dollar of an SW2 are hard to beat.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd March, 2009

Average review marks: 7.2 / 10, based on 6 reviews