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Old 01-30-2004, 10:23 AM   #1
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Default Polymer in the wintertime

Since it is the dead of winter, and several of you have mentioned temps as low as -31F, I have this question:

"Has anyone experienced their polymer panels cracking the the cold?"

...or did Saturn engineers actually get something right?

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Old 01-30-2004, 10:44 AM   #2
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no cracking here.

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Old 01-30-2004, 10:55 AM   #3
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In the past 12 years, I've owned six polymer GM cars (three Saturns, three Fieros) and driven them in temps as low as -21F. No polymer panel has ever cracked on its own. The panels stay resilient even in really cold weather, which I think is amazing.

Now, if you get T-boned by a K-car going 35 mph, yeah, you'll get some cracking. Don't ask how I know this.

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Old 01-30-2004, 11:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by irish56
.

Now, if you get T-boned by a K-car going 35 mph, yeah, you'll get some cracking. Don't ask how I know this.
OK, you opened this can of worms. How do you know this?

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Old 01-30-2004, 12:23 PM   #5
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He got t-boned by a K-car?

...
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Old 01-30-2004, 12:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by irish56
Now, if you get T-boned by a K-car going 35 mph, yeah, you'll get some cracking. Don't ask how I know this.
Or hitting a Buick going 40.

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Old 01-30-2004, 01:34 PM   #7
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Its been pretty cold here in PA this winter, and I have not had any problems with cracking of the panels. I even pound the sides and the bumpers a bit to loosen all the packed snow up underneath the car. They mught be doing something right with the undercarriage as well. With the snow I drove in last winter, I had Saturn check underneath for any damage. They didn't find any.

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Old 01-30-2004, 01:45 PM   #8
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I used to sell saturns in Minnesota (-20 F and lower), and I've never seen one crack unless you hit something, or something hits you. We used to see people bring in their saturns after hitting deer, but never t-boned by k-cars.

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Old 01-30-2004, 01:52 PM   #9
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my old 92 sc got "run over" by a semi once. it was using the front of my car as an apex cone. the tire went over the fender and left a mark that rubbed off. no damage was done other than a scuff mark.

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Old 01-30-2004, 08:53 PM   #10
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We get temps around -40C (which is equal to -40F) and lower, and I have never had any problems with any of the three Saturns I have owned (still own two). Even kicking at chunks of snow and ice in the fenders and underneath the car, the polymer holds up well.

That is just another reason I like the polymer, I can use the side of my leg to hit the fender or bumper to make the snow fall out of the wheel wells... try doing that with metal fenders

Tom

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Old 01-31-2004, 01:31 AM   #11
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OK...this was by far the dumbest thing I've ever done in a car, and the only accident I've ever caused (frantically knocking wood).

About 10 years ago, I had a Fiero, and I stopped at a local Pontiac dealer to pick up a part. The dealer had some cars parked in the lawn right by the street with the hoods up and some stupid cardboard teeth under the hood as a marketing gimmick. When you're in the driver's seat of a Fiero, your eyes are only about 3 feet off the ground, and when I left the dealership, I couldn't see past this row of cars, so I backed up until I could see behind them. I waited until it was clear (or so I thought), then gunned it, and pulled out right in front of a Reliant that was hidden behind the cars. I'd guess he was going about 45 and barely had time to hit the brakes, so he was probably going about 35 when he hit me in the left front fender.

It spun the Fiero a little more than 90 degrees to the right, shattered the left front fender into about four pieces, bent the upper control arm, and bent the frame forward of the firewall (well, it would be a firewall if there were an engine up there) about an inch to the right. But the front end of that K-car was absolutely torn to hell with extensive frame and suspension damage and it would obviously never run again. The guy actually thanked me for wrecking his car - the Reliant had no third gear and he had wanted to get rid of it for a year, but couldn't afford anything better. My insurance company gave him $1600 for it...about $1350 more than it was worth.

I paid $300 to have the Fiero's frame straightened, installed a new upper control arm and upper ball joint, found a fender at a junkyard, and was back on the road. That sold me on the polymer/spaceframe concept, and polymer GM cars are all I've driven ever since, with the exception of a '96 Miata I had until our baby boy came along and a '71 Charger that I got in trade for $200 and a Honda CB350.

If you read this whole thing, you must be an insomniac too.

Last edited by irish56; 01-31-2004 at 01:43 AM..

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Old 01-31-2004, 02:32 AM   #12
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irish56,

sleep is over-rated... haha maybe I SHOULD go to bed now! Hey, how did you like the Miata? My buddy had a 90' 5-speed, what a great little car to tear around in... fixing it though, that was a different story... I couldn't believe the prices he was paying for parts!

Tom

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Old 01-31-2004, 04:29 AM   #13
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I'm a native Minnesotan and own a 2001 SL2 and a 1995 Chevy Lumina APV. My polymer panels never cracked in the cold, and they've allowed me to run my vehicles throught the car wash throughout most of the winter! The only real problem with cold weather car washes: the parking brake cable.

Of course I exercise normal, winter car wash caution (towel drying the door sills!!!), but I'd have to say GM did a wonderful job engineering the polymer panels.

I'll miss them (the polymer panels AND GM) when they go.

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Old 01-31-2004, 07:10 AM   #14
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I've never seen the polymer crack due to cold weather. And in some form or another, I've been around polymer cars for 13 years. My parents had a 1991 Pontiac Trans Sport that they bought brand new - never a problem, then they got a 1996 SL1, again, no problems, I've personally driven Saturns since 1999 and have never seen any cracking...

GM did one hell of a job engineering those panels, not to mention that when they do crack (due to deer, K-Cars, or whatever else), they're easy to replace.

Kevin

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Old 01-31-2004, 02:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by eRic 96sc2
my old 92 sc got "run over" by a semi once. it was using the front of my car as an apex cone. the tire went over the fender and left a mark that rubbed off. no damage was done other than a scuff mark.
Was the trailer empty?

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Old 01-31-2004, 04:35 PM   #16
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None here. About two weeks ago, I was rushing to get to school and I was driving the '97 SC2 because my SL1 hasn't been fixed yet and my Acura was clean (didn't want to get slush and stuff on it just after I washed it). So, I had to stop to get gas. I pulled the gas door lever and it wouldn't open. After pulling it like five times, thought it was frozen so I beat the panel around the door, and it popped open! I didn't crack, and this was in 15 degree weather. The only problem is that it wouldn't close again. Needless to say I was highly upset because I knew Saturn would rape me on repair charges. After my drive filled with profanities to school, I popped the trunk to get my books and Backpack. I just happened to try and shut it and it did! Apparently the needle that locks the door did not pop back out until warming up? Was this just a freak thing?

Anyway, I've beat the car in the cold (not too hard) and haven't experienced any cracking. I've only seen cracking and shattering in collisions.

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Old 01-31-2004, 07:29 PM   #17
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Tom, I had a love/hate relationship with the Miata. It was the best-handling, most maneuverable car I've ever driven. There's the convertible fun factor, too. It was very reliable, and for maintenance parts, I got good prices on authentic Mazda parts from a dealership in Atlanta that the guys on miataforum.com hooked me up with.

But as a daily driver, the Miata was pretty bad. It's so small inside, it makes a Fiero or an MR2 feel like a Town Car. It was undrivable in snow (my Miata didn't have the Torsen diff, which might have helped). It was starting to rust already. It was quick, but not as quick as I thought 2100lbs/133hp should be. And I don't think it would hold up in a collision like my Fiero did.

The kicker: it wasn't American.

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Old 01-31-2004, 10:41 PM   #18
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No cracking but lots of "creaking" especially in the S-series.

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Old 02-01-2004, 01:58 AM   #19
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when my doors freeze in the winter due to me going throught the car wash on days that are to clod I just whack them realy hard and it breaks them open and have never had any problem or worry that I would crack them.

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