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Old 04-01-2012, 03:43 PM   #1
10Miler
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1996 SW2
Default L Series Reliability and DIY

I have an S Series and will be looking for a second car soon. I am very impressed with the reliability of it and a person can fix it in their driveway pretty easily with the help of this forum. Can the same be said of the L Series cars? I like the extra room that the L Series has, but if they are problematic and/or difficult to work on then I will look elsewhere.

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Old 04-02-2012, 12:45 PM   #2
Jonnyferrari
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

Totally varies. My LS2 (L300) has it's fair share of issues, but drives fine. The problems are just maintenance things that I want to get done. Most of the cars are fine, but like any car, will need things done over time. Some things are very easy to do, others are not. The 4 CYL is much easier to work on, the V6 does not have much space under the hood, and therefore I find tough at times. The suspension is a bit hard to work on, but that is because it has many components and my car is very rusted. Basic things like brakes and such has been easy, but I am not ready to swap out my steering rack which has a slow leak. I love my car, handles, drives and has great value for the price. I like the power of my V6 but would consider a 4 cyl if I found one with the same features.

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Old 04-02-2012, 12:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnyferrari View Post
Totally varies. My LS2 (L300) has it's fair share of issues, but drives fine. The problems are just maintenance things that I want to get done. Most of the cars are fine, but like any car, will need things done over time. Some things are very easy to do, others are not. The 4 CYL is much easier to work on, the V6 does not have much space under the hood, and therefore I find tough at times. The suspension is a bit hard to work on, but that is because it has many components and my car is very rusted. Basic things like brakes and such has been easy, but I am not ready to swap out my steering rack which has a slow leak. I love my car, handles, drives and has great value for the price. I like the power of my V6 but would consider a 4 cyl if I found one with the same features.
Thanks for the info! I just want to be sure that they are not problematic or that there are certain things I need to avoid. I would prefer a 4 cyl as I am sure they are more economical as well.

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Old 04-02-2012, 11:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

As far as the 4cyl goes, you want to check if the timing chain has been changed on a tsb I believe, but the car doesn't have many common issues across the board aside from the rear camber getting thrown out due to worn bushings, and occasionally people experience BCM and MAF problems. Those are less likely.

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Old 04-09-2012, 09:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

I have experience with a 2002 L200. With 170,000 miles.

Pro:
Yes a lot of room under the hood.
Yes more room inside.
Yes it gets low 30's gas mileage.
At 170,000 miles, doesn't burn oil, as opposed to most S-series cars.
Have done no engine repairs (water pump, alternator, A/C, starter) yet.
Brakes were easy to R&R.
Still running on original struts and wheel bearings.

Con:
You will probably have to change all 4 rear suspension bushings to cure the camber problem. A truly crappy suspension design. Will eat tires until you fix it.
Front anti-roll bar links are a pain.
Timing chain (4-cylinder) a sore point and changing it appears to be a moderately difficult task.
God forbid the water pump fails, it is buried in there somewhere.
Change the oil yourself, or else you risk unskilled grease monkeys breaking the oil filter housing by over-tightening it. (It is plastic).
The headliner fell down two years ago.
This is the creakiest car I have driven. Makes all kind of body noises. Especially the doors.

Seems to be a decent value for the $$$.

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Old 04-23-2012, 04:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

I have a 4 cylinder and I love it, one of the easiest cars to work on, much easier than the eclipse I used to have. I haven't had really any problems besides like 3 alternators and 1 fuel pump in about 120k. I'm at about 230k now and it runs like it did when it was new, Well with the exception of a turbo and cams. I do however recommend changing the timing chain if you do get a 4 cyl I haven't changed mine yet and I hate worrying about the thing breaking on me one day. Going through the service records the car has had a steering rack, power steering pump(the shaft broke) a bunch of oil changes, fuel pump and alt. Pretty good for its mileage. The thing about the tires is right but I run through tires about once a year anyways so I don't care something to think about though.

Last edited by gtsxtt; 04-23-2012 at 04:06 AM..

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

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Originally Posted by gtsxtt View Post
I have a 4 cylinder and I love it, one of the easiest cars to work on, much easier than the eclipse I used to have. I haven't had really any problems besides like 3 alternators and 1 fuel pump in about 120k. I'm at about 230k now and it runs like it did when it was new, Well with the exception of a turbo and cams. I do however recommend changing the timing chain if you do get a 4 cyl I haven't changed mine yet and I hate worrying about the thing breaking on me one day. Going through the service records the car has had a steering rack, power steering pump(the shaft broke) a bunch of oil changes, fuel pump and alt. Pretty good for its mileage. The thing about the tires is right but I run through tires about once a year anyways so I don't care something to think about though.
Is the timing chain something that can be done in the driveway? I'm not a mechanic but have gotten pretty comfortable turning a wrench on my S Series. And what is wrong with the OEM chain? Is it prone to failure?

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Old 04-24-2012, 07:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

I have a V6 and I agree, the 4cyclinder is much easier to work on. I'd say the #1 problematic feature on the L-Series is the transmission. You must change the trans fluid and transmission often. On the V6 when the transmission has a problem you might as well have a professional rebuild it. On the 4cyclinder, you can easily do the work yourself.

My Saturn LS2 was a POS, but this is mainly due to the previous owners.

Alternator had a missing bolt, which meant only 1 bolt held it on.
A used dodge fuel pump was installed in my Saturn, which I had to replace.
Lots of rust from driving in the snowy and salty area of Upstate NY.
Blown speakers from pumping it too loud.
The transmission has never been serviced, and had a bad CPS.
The rear breaks were frozen and needed the calipers to be replaced.
Just a whole lot of stuff that wasn't working in general.

I fixed just about everything, but nearly all the problems are related to just treating the car like crap. Generally speaking though, these cars run great except for the transmission. I don't think many owners changed the fluid and filter for these transmissions every 30k or 50k at least. If the previous owner did that, then the car is going to run great.

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Old 04-29-2012, 01:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

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Originally Posted by Dukenukemx View Post
I have a V6 and I agree, the 4cyclinder is much easier to work on. I'd say the #1 problematic feature on the L-Series is the transmission. You must change the trans fluid and transmission often. On the V6 when the transmission has a problem you might as well have a professional rebuild it. On the 4cyclinder, you can easily do the work yourself.

My Saturn LS2 was a POS, but this is mainly due to the previous owners.

Alternator had a missing bolt, which meant only 1 bolt held it on.
A used dodge fuel pump was installed in my Saturn, which I had to replace.
Lots of rust from driving in the snowy and salty area of Upstate NY.
Blown speakers from pumping it too loud.
The transmission has never been serviced, and had a bad CPS.
The rear breaks were frozen and needed the calipers to be replaced.
Just a whole lot of stuff that wasn't working in general.

I fixed just about everything, but nearly all the problems are related to just treating the car like crap. Generally speaking though, these cars run great except for the transmission. I don't think many owners changed the fluid and filter for these transmissions every 30k or 50k at least. If the previous owner did that, then the car is going to run great.
There was a recall on the transmission pressure solenoid, which should have been replaced within the first few years of the car's life. As for the fluid change, it isn't called for until 100k, and that is in both the user manual and Haynes from 2005. I would like to change my fluid and filter since my pan has the slightest leak, but I am afraid that since I don't have a lift, I will not be able to have the proper level of fluid. I have jacks which would put the car on an angle...also, do you recommend a rubber trans pan gasket, or a cork one like the one that comes with the auto-zone filter? Chicago has extreme temperature changes...oh, and what sealer did you use on the gasket?

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnyferrari View Post
There was a recall on the transmission pressure solenoid, which should have been replaced within the first few years of the car's life. As for the fluid change, it isn't called for until 100k, and that is in both the user manual and Haynes from 2005. I would like to change my fluid and filter since my pan has the slightest leak, but I am afraid that since I don't have a lift, I will not be able to have the proper level of fluid. I have jacks which would put the car on an angle...also, do you recommend a rubber trans pan gasket, or a cork one like the one that comes with the auto-zone filter? Chicago has extreme temperature changes...oh, and what sealer did you use on the gasket?
IMO the gaskets don't matter, but then again I change my trans fluid yearly. I would go for the WIX brand as I've always had good results with them. NAPA would have WIX. I actually don't use a sealer, but High Temp Red RTV Silicone is the best if you want it. Though I have to admit this year it leaked out badly for some strange reason, but I was able to correct the gasket without sealant. I must have not seated it right when I changed the fluid.

I have this thing against sealants as I see them as messy. If you clean the oil pan properly and seat it on right then you shouldn't have any leaks.

...
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

Do you change it on a lift, and how much fluid do you use? I was going to pick up a gallon of Dex 3 or 6, whichever is cheaper. But you tell me!

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Old 05-06-2012, 12:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

I lifed the front only. The trans call fors Dex 3, but newer models got Dex 6. Considering the condition the trans is in, I put in Dex 6. It's much cheaper to get the Walmart brand. Almost 50% compared to local auto shops.

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Old 05-07-2012, 12:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

But you got the right trans level on the jacks? I mean, you need to go under there WHILE it is running to check the fluid level, which is scary in itself, but I am worried about getting the correct fluid level while the car is on an angle.

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Old 05-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #14
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

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Originally Posted by Jonnyferrari View Post
But you got the right trans level on the jacks? I mean, you need to go under there WHILE it is running to check the fluid level, which is scary in itself, but I am worried about getting the correct fluid level while the car is on an angle.
Get 2 pairs of stands and put the whole car up.
You're right though, it does need to be level to ensure correct fill. Slight underfilling is safer than overfilling though.

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Old 05-08-2012, 03:27 PM   #15
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

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Get 2 pairs of stands and put the whole car up.
You're right though, it does need to be level to ensure correct fill. Slight underfilling is safer than overfilling though.
Thanks, I'll need to take a look at it this weekend or sometime before my NY trip this summer.

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Old 05-08-2012, 11:24 PM   #16
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Default Re: L Series Reliability and DIY

i got 163,000 on mine 4cyl and i have havent opened her up once, front speakers are gone, needs bushings, suprisingly no creaks, automatic, change the oil everytime the light comes on, change the trans fluid and filter every 30,000 and the antifreeze every 100,000(dex-cool)

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