2003 Saturn VUE 2.2L from North America
Don't buy the 2002-2004 Vti transmission Saturn Vue!!!
My Saturn was purchased in May 2003, and as soon as Dec. 29th 2004, (actually even before this date) the car was having problems with the transmission - making sounds, slipping, disengaging, loss of power numerous times while exiting parking lots into traffic, and even sometimes when accelerating from a dead stop, like from a stop sign. Sometimes it would shutdown for 3-5 seconds (the car would coast, and then if you took your foot off the gas, the car would accelerate again)
At 108,000 miles the transmission totally failed.
Went into a Saturn dealer several times and complained about it; each time got "blown off", was told that the sounds were normal, common to all Vti's, and was told the slipping was traction control.
Several times I ended up purchasing transmission fluid to put into my car; this would seem to improve things with the transmission for about 6 months or so. Then it would get worse again, and I would go back in talk to them. At one point when I dropped by, they test drove the car and claimed that they could not reproduce the problem. Conveniently, they did not note any of my complaints into their computer system.
I had gone in one time when I had a cracked windshield to see if it could be replaced under warranty. I stopped by and they fixed my hood release lever cable. I purchased a mini-model of my car, and went several times to purchase transmission fluid. Each time I talked with them about the "quirks/problems" of the transmission. They did not mention any of these visits in to Saturn, or enter them into their "system" either.
When I talked to them, no one mentioned or notified me of any known problems with the Vti transmission, nor did they notify me that the transmission warranty for the Saturn Vue had been increased from 3 years/36,000 miles to 5 years/75,000 miles. Believe me, if I had known I would have brought the car in "officially" for transmission service!
We also recently found out about several service bulletins that were released in 2004. I was not notified of any of the service bulletins by Saturn, either by mail, phone or in person at their dealership. Someone mentioned recently to me something about Saturn changing their transmission fluid or some kind of additive to be used. I was told they have the sole patent on it and it is very expensive; they did not tell me about this at any time either.
Each time I went in, and talked to them about my concerns, never did they mention anything that would have helped me. I thought my transmission warranty had expired long before, as I am a copier service technician, and so I put miles on my car at a faster rate than some other Saturn owners. Even so, in April of 2005 I have records that my mileage was at 51,000 miles on my Saturn, so I was still under the extended warranty at that time; I just didn't know. If I had been notified that Saturn had increased their transmission warranty coverage, I would have taken my car under warranty to have the transmission looked at. However, I did not know about the increased warranty coverage, and since I could not afford the costs for transmission replacement/repair, I "limped" along with my Saturn Vue, for as long as I could, sometimes in rather dangerous situations, until the transmission failed.
First I tried to purchase transmission fluid again to see if that would help the problem, as it seemed to improve it in the past. On 12/7/2007, after barely making it home from a trip on Friday, I did not drive the car over the weekend and put the fluid it in Sunday night. The next morning I barely made it into our main office at work. So I took my car in after the meeting on 12/10/2007. I first had them purge/flush and replace the transmission fluid; this cost me nearly $400.00. They also told me they were going to reprogram the computer system.
Since my car was now out of warranty... (even the extended one) -- for the first time they admitted to me the known problems with the Saturn transmission, and NOW (after the fact) they told me (too late) about how Saturn had increased the warranty. After getting the work done (note - they did not reprogram the computer like they said they would) the service adviser at the dealer told me that after doing the work, that they could not reproduce the problem during the test drive, but that he was sure it would happen again soon.
Well it did, the problem started up again on the way home from picking up my car from Saturn, that very night!
The next day I contacted Saturn, and then later also, Saturn Corporate. Neither one would help me out in any way. They basically told me tough"!!!
I found out it would be nearly $5000.00 to replace the transmission. I got on the Internet on web sites like -- (Please look these up!!! http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/saturn/vue/ and http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109944&highlight=transmission) and read description after description from one Saturn Vue "Vti" transmission owner after another, describing the exact problems I had, the same stories over and over.
This is not just my problem, this is an epidemic, and Saturn and our Saturn dealer have known about it for a long time, and they are not doing anything help the Vti transmission Saturn Vue owners. After calling around town to several other transmission shops, they told me that they have had several Saturn customers in with Vti transmission problems, and they have heard lots of bad things about how the local dealer has treated their customers.
Here is a list of some of my most important complaints -
- Our local dealer never "registered" us or our purchase with Saturn Corporate.
When I called Saturn Corporate and registered my "concerns" on 12/17/2007, I ended up being on hold for over 20 minutes while she tried to locate our car and owner information; it turns out Saturn dealer had never registered us or our car (owner purchase/registration/vin# etc) with Saturn corporate. She finally called our Saturn dealer and confirmed our purchase of our Saturn Vue in May 2003, and then we gave her all of our and our car's info, so that she could enter us in to their system. She said we were not listed in either of their computer systems, and she could find no record of us or our car.
- I was never notified via mail/phone or in person at the dealer of any recalls, service bulletins or known problems with my 2003 (Vti) Saturn Vue. Note - I took my car in to have the rear stabilizer struts for rear suspension and front wheel bearings replaced, but the only way I knew about that was that my in-laws heard about it on the news and told me).
- I went in to Saturn dealer several times in the last 4 years and talked with them numerous times about transmission noises and problems, they always said "normal" etc (as described above) - never did they admit known problems or about the increased transmission warranty.
- Our local Saturn dealer conveniently did not register any of my complaints into their system, even when I was there to get other smaller issues worked on, and I mentioned it to them then too (windshield crack, hood release cable, etc. as listed above).
- Thousands of people have complained about transmission problems, all over the Internet. Some of them have nearly gotten killed (including me, as power was lost as I was exiting parking lots into traffic). Saturn knows they have a transmission problem and have not done anything to rectify the situation.
- Not until Dec 2007 did they admit to me any known problems with their Vti transmission. The mechanics, now that my car is outside of warranty, told me about known problems with Vti transmission; in their words, they told me it was defective from the manufacturer.
I paid $380.97 (as described above), was told that problem would come back very soon, problem showed back up on the way home (note - I never got any portion of my money back for that failed service). The service adviser actually told me before they even looked at the car, that I needed a new transmission. (He and the service technician were actually chuckling about how I got 108,000 miles out of it, and that I was luckier than other people!)
At the time I thought this was suspicious, as it was before I got on the Internet and found out about the epidemic of Saturn Vue Vti transmission problems.) Note - Now they are claiming we never complained about our transmission, just because they did not take the time to note any of my complaints into their service computer. (So they say, how did we know they didn't delete it?)
In summary - The transmission problem is an epidemic. When I went in for service the week surrounding my service date of 12/10/2007, I saw four to five 2003 Saturn Vues (Vti's) all in lined up in a row for service. I was about to take a picture with my cell phone when the service adviser came out. I asked him if all of those Saturn Vues were in for transmission problems and he said yes (I found out on the Internet that some people have put up to four transmission replacements in their 2002-2004 (Vti transmission) Saturn Vues. Before I could have a chance to take a picture, they started moving the Saturn Vues. I explained my situation to both the Saturn dealer and Saturn Corporate, and was met with snobbery and a refusal to help me out. The customer service was so bad I chose not to have them service my car, and went to a different transmission shop, where I had to spend nearly $5000.00 to get my transmission replaced.
Now that it is replaced, I have tried to trade it in at Ford dealer, but was only offered 2,400.00 for it! It has been in the local paper and on Cars.com for 2 weeks, and I have not gotten any calls! Even though there are photos showing that my Saturn is in such good condition on the outside, and inside it looks like it just came off the showroom floor!!! It's looking right now like my depreciation for this car is about 89% after only approx 4 1/2 years!!! Incidentally, I had just paid off the car about three weeks before the transmission went out. I had planned to have this car in use several more years before going out and buying a new one, however on the Internet, person after person recommended getting rid of the car as soon as possible, even after just replacing the transmission. In fact the service adviser from Saturn himself recommended it!!!
I won't trade it in for another Saturn. After the really bad service and customer service that I have gotten from them, it would be like dealing with the devil!!! What I would like is my money back for the Vue! I loved everything about the car, but this! If they had only fixed the problem or figured out a way to replace the Vti transmission with a regular one!!!
Apparently because it is being replaced with the same transmission, you never know how long it will last, and some people have had theirs only last 7000.00 miles or so before they have to get it replaced again. Why has there been no safety recalls!!! You know Saturn makes even more money every time these transmissions are replaced outside of warranty!!! So not only does Saturn have a known epidemic, but they have done nothing about it. Not even corrected their Vti part problems, from my understanding, resulting in repeat failures!!! Help!!!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 26th January, 2008
Well, I would suggest keeping it as long as it lasts. If you can't get anything for it, why give it away when it is still moving under its own power?
If you've just replaced the transmission for $5,000 then you should at least get another year out of it, even if the worst stories are true, and on the bright side, it might last you another few years.
In the meantime, you can be saving up money for another car. Remember, every month you drive the Saturn that is already paid for means one more month that you don't have a car payment. You can always wait to just junk it the next time it needs a multiple-thousand dollar repair. Hopefully, it will be a few years until that happens.