Last post on Sep 11, 2012 at 4:19 PM
You are in the Saturn S-Series
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Saturn S-Series, Sedan
#909 of 1418 2002 SL Special Edition
Apr 10, 2002 (6:01 am)
Saturn has just released a tiny number (1,000 cars?) of SL Special Edition sedans, which are the base model 5-speed SL with air conditioning in a very pretty metallic blue. I stumbled onto one of these by accident at my local Saturn store, they state this is the only one they will receive from Spring Hill.
The clincher with the SL Special Edition is Saturn is selling these for a price $2000 below the standard price for the base SL (although you cannot get the 0% financing promotion). I made an offer to buy the one they have, and they will have it prepped up today. It will replace my 1995 white SL which has almost 180k on it.
Besides noticing that the newer SL has power steering and a drivers-side mirror, I notice the ride quality is smoother and the interior noise is substantially quieter than my 1995 which is still in good shape.
Is there any reason I should NOT buy the 2002 SL Special Edition as a reliable daily-driver commuting car?
#910 of 1418 High-odometer Saturn owners?
Apr 10, 2002 (6:05 am)
Are there other high-odometer Saturn owners in this group? I am the original owner of a 1995 SL 5-speed and have driven it almost 180,000 miles with relatively few problems. Although I may be buying a new Saturn, I may be keeping my 95 SL for a while longer as it still drives well although it's noticeably noisier than the newer SL sedans.
My 95 has had a few glitches (like the passenger-side seatback anchor failing, needing a $200 repair, and the oft-cited problem of leaking oil gasket seals) but this has been a very dependable, economical, safe and high quality vehicle overall. Any thoughts out here?
Apr 10, 2002 (6:31 am)
The Saturn SL/SL1 from the early-to-mid 1990s used a somewhat obscure tire size, 175/70 R14. The original tires were Firestone FR480s, which were basically competent and quiet, adequate but not fantastic in wet weather traction and snow/ice. I did drive them 84,000 miles and they still had adequate tread, so they were surprisingly durable.
The replacements I selected were Toyo 800 Ultras, and I heartily recommend them. These are not heavily advertised products, but on the small 1995 Saturn (with limited sound insulation) the Toyos provided about a 6-db reduction in road noise compared with the Firestones, generally better roadholding and cornering, noticeably improved braking, and dramatically improved driving in rainy conditions. I had some exceptionally positive experiences driving the Toyo 800 Ultras through snow and ice conditions, they are in my view a genuine "all season tire", not just "kinda-sorta all season".
One caution though: DO NOT substitute a different tire size for the 175/70 R14 on the mid-90s SLs. If you use a 185/70 R14, the front tires may produce a low-level audible scraping against one of the pieces of the tire wheel well when you execute sharp turns, and your tires will wear excessively. Insist on the exact 175/70 R14 tire size even if it means shopping around for a tire store that carries this size.
Fortunately my Toyo dealer (Les Schwab) was very cheerful about giving me full credit for the incorrect tire sizing and giving me the correct size. My present Toyo 800s have given me excellent performance for 90,000 miles and there's still enough tread for about 5,000 to 10,000 more good miles if I want.
Apr 10, 2002 (11:28 am)
It sounds like you answered your own question. I can't think of a reason NOT to buy this SL you are looking at. You are correct about the noise as it was 1998, I believe, when they changed the engine; and, they upgraded the sound insulation in 1999. The newer ones will be much better in this regard.
Apr 11, 2002 (6:55 am)
sounds like a very good deal.
My 94' SL2 auto has 119,000 miles on it. I bought it in 98' with 58,000 miles on it.
it has needed alot of work but runs well and handles great and the polymer body looks fantastic for a 8 year ols car.
Alot of the problems with my SL2 have been fixed since 94' by Saturn. After 12 years they should have the SL perfected by now.
I wan't to replace mine in the fall/winter. I wan't to wait for the ION to come out. But I am keeping my options open. I don't wan't another SL just because I wan't a change. I am just hoping my A/C last thru this summer!!
My saturn dealer already told me my lower front control arms are loose and it won't pass state inspection when due in Novemeber. Dealer cost to replace them is $600!
It's been a decent car but....has needed a ton of work to keep it going. Since I got it with 58k miles.
New altenator, top engine mount, engine temp sensor, struts (all four), muffler & hanger, water pump,serpetine belt & tensioner.
And it is starting to use more and more oil.
The repair cost have been off set by the low insurance cost though. we have the highest insurance rates in the country here in NJ. Proably due to the most people per square mile of any state in the union and the most lawyers per square mile!!
Apr 11, 2002 (7:28 am)
From what I have gathered from prior messages, the timing chains generally last as long as (or longer than) the engine, but there may be a timing chain control arm or tensioner that wears out and causes excessive noise.
My 95 SL (with almost 180,000 miles) tends to make a knocking-like sound under hard acceleration, and it doesn't seem to relate to gasoline at one time I tried using mainly premium gas in my car, it made a minor difference. A Saturn tech says it's the timing chain but his estimate for the repair work is around $700, mainly in terms of labor. I do have a reputable independent shop which could do the work, but want to know what others' experience has been related to Saturn timing chains.
Apr 11, 2002 (7:35 am)
I'm surprised your 94 SL2 has required as much servicing as it has. Maybe it was abused by the previous owner/drivers.
I've had slow oil consumption problems from the gasket seals ever since the car was new, and the Saturn facilities kept claiming that was a normal consumption level. It is my understanding that if I had been more assertive during the warranty period (i.e. gone through the complaint process) it might well have been remedied, and I understand newer Saturns have improved gasket sealants.
My car has the original struts, original alternator, original exhaust system including muffler and hanger. I've had to replace the water pump at 140,000 miles, the serpentine belt & tensioner at 170,000 miles, the battery at 120,000 miles, the clutch at 100,000 miles, the engine temp sensor at 155,000 miles.
It's been a VERY reliable car, overall. Maybe that's an advantage of having bought it brand-new, in that I wasn't inheriting a previous drivers' erratic or careless driving and usage style on the car.
#916 of 1418 Passenger Seat Recliner Assemblies - recall?
Apr 11, 2002 (7:39 am)
A few months ago, the latch assembly for the passenger-side front seat started failing, not properly locking into place and intermittently falling backwards when a passenger sat in it.
A Saturn facility replaced the ratchet assemblies for a cost of $197. I now have learned there may have been a recall (or a technical service bulletin) on certain 94 and 95 Saturn SLs for this issue. Is there any way to find out if my car's VIN is included in the recall series, and if so to obtain a refund if this was a repair included in the recall?
That was the only other really major complaint about my history with my 95 SL.
Apr 11, 2002 (5:53 pm)
Recalls are more important. They have to be fixed by Saturn, at no charge to the owner of that vehicle that is affected. TSB's are a big gray area. Some dealers may inform and have the work done for you, others not.
I was surprised at all the work my SL2 needed also. I have taken it back to my dealer every 3,000 miles for service letting them do pretty much whatever they thought was needed. i bought it as a used certified saturn from my dealer. it came with a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty from Saturn. The altenator went out during warranty but everything else went within the last year.
Luck of the draw I guess. It still has a fun to drive aspect to it though. Proably more than other compacts from 1994. With all the work it's had it is running smoother then ever before but having it since 98' I am ready for a change.
As for recalls check with the NHSTA. They have a website but I don't know the address.