12th Jul 2006, 06:48

We recently purchased a 1996 Saturn for our daughter. It was cheap and had 124K miles on the odometer.

She experienced the same problems, IE check engine light and putting in oil every other day. We couldn't figure out where the oil was going! (We didn't know that it was being burned off in the catalytic converter).

Three weeks after the purchase, the engine started knocking. After checking the oil, we found it was low again, but it was too late. We ended up flat-bedding it home with a rocker arm dangling out of the engine block. A mechanic told us that the engines tend to build up carbon and that we could have saved the engine by dropping 3 in 1 oil down the spark plug holes, running the car to clean out the carbon build-up, then changing the oil. We are replacing the engine and you had better believe that we will be following his advice in the future.

The car is in beautiful condition otherwise, and our daughter loves driving it.

28th Jul 2006, 08:09


You guys just don't understand. I have a 96 SL2 and just got a 98 SW2. My 96 SL2 has 264,000, and it'll go another hundred thousand or so.

I love the twin cam 1.9 liter they use to make. But yes, check the oil, that's all. Use some Lucas and you'll be fine.

3rd Aug 2006, 11:14

I bought my 1999 Satrun SC1 about 3 years ago. Before buying it I had it inspected by a private mechanic (other than the dealership). I was told it was a great car, although he said I should be checking my oil every time I fill my car, because it is older it will burn more cars…but not to worry about it. Other than noticing it burns oil it is a great car, it has over 200,000 KLM and no problems at all. I was hearing a high pitched squeak sounds shortly after I had bought it, I took it in and the mechanics took me for a ride. They did roughly $1200.00 worth of work it did not need, replaced all the bearings, ect, when all it was a noise coming from the hub cap.

It has been a great car, but I have faithfully maintained it taking it in every 3 months or 2,500 KLM. I would defiantly buy another one.

9th Aug 2006, 10:56

I bought a 96 Saturn SL2 almost 30 months ago w/90K miles on it since I started a job with a long commute. I hoped it would last me a few years and give me good gas mileage--it has. I get around 38+mpg(summer, less in winter) and average about 550 miles on it every week. I do add oil about 1-1.5 quarts every 1200 miles. Since I add oil so regularly---do I need to change it? The manual says that the Service Engine Light may come on during rain... it does. Also during rain I might get some water puddles in the car; but all in all I like the car and hope to get another 50K miles so I can reach the 200,000 mile mark. With all the dead engine comments; I will take better care of it and add oil more regularly.

10th Aug 2006, 07:36

To the above comment regarding oil usage--yes, you should continue to change your oil regularly in spite of your oil usage. The remaining motor oil will continue to break down over time and offer less engine protection, and will also tend to burn quicker than fresh oil. A quart of oil every 1000 or 1200 miles isn't too bad at all--even some NEW cars use that much. You are clearly taking good care of your car. Continue to do so, and you will get many more trouble free miles out of your Saturn. Other than the oil usage (which comes from degrading oil-control piston rings), the Saturn 1.9 motor is strong over the long haul. Good luck.

27th Sep 2006, 18:49

I am glad to have found this site. I have had a 2001 Saturn for 3 years. I have really abused the engine by not giving it regular oil changes. The last time I changed it I had to sign a waiver stating that NO OIL showed on the dipstick. I have recently begun to study engine mechanics and have a whole new attitude towards oil changes. I'm just glad my engine didn't blow. The mileage at the time was 87K.

1st Nov 2006, 11:12

I recently purchased a 1997 SL2 with the 1.9 DOHC 4 cyl, and am already experiencing problems.

When I go to start the car, sometimes it will chug until I tap the throttle. The other day it would not start at all until I put my foot all the way to the floor. It somehow flooded itself.

Also sometimes I have to tap the throttle before the engine will fire. Does anyone know what this could be. Fuel injection problem, bad sensor, computer?

I have worked on my own cars all my life, but when it comes to problems like this, I am kinda stumped and do not want to take it to a dealership only to have them fix 10 other things that were not the problem in the first place. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

28th Nov 2006, 23:12

I own a 99 SL2 with the same starting problem. Have you had any luck? I'm curious to know how you resolved the issue. My SL2 is currently dead in the driveway.

14th Jan 2007, 15:23

I purchased a 1997 Saturn SC2 and it has been using oil, but not leaking it. I removed the spark plugs and the #1 cylinder is full of oil, #2,3 and 4 are fine. The car has 36,000 miles on it. I will keep you posted.

1st Apr 2007, 03:02

Wow. My 97' saturn SL2 also had similar problems. I am now replacing the engine due to being unaware of the constant burning of oil. This being my first car I had no idea a vehicle could go through so much oil. I also had the problem of oil in the 1st spark plug basin.

7th Apr 2007, 10:59

I own 2 Saturn's, a 1993 sl-1, and a 2001 sc-1. Both are GREAT cars. The 93 has 235,000 and the 01 135,000, NO major trouble with either. I cannot put into words how pleased I am with these cars!

23rd Apr 2007, 21:24

I own a 2002 sl1 w/55,000 easy miles on it. I have taken excellent care of the vehicle and now the service engine light is constantly on. The only noticable difference a slight rough idling. I was told I need some type of sensor that is way too much for my pocketbook. Should I be concerned and will the vehicle pass smog w/the way it is currently.

29th Apr 2007, 18:41

I like the Saturn sw2 with manual transmission. At one time, I was considering buying one for myself. It behaves well on the road and is economical and fast. I bought it with 37000 miles on it (now it has about 105000) for my daughter as her first car. The car is strong, can survive a teenager's abuse, parts are not too expensive - but you have to know a little bit about cars if you want to keep it running. You must keep an eye on oil consumption and make sure that the temperature sensors function properly, even if the gauges show correct coolant temperature. If the engine "eats" too much oil - like 1qt per tank of gas - don't install "good low milege" used engine. If you can't get under the car and re-ring the engine - get rid of the car.