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Old 09-12-2014, 02:02 PM   #1
Daox
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Default Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

I'm looking at a 1998 SL1, 5 speed manual, 120k miles tonight. What are some common issues these cars have that I should look at? I know they tend to burn oil, but other than that I'm not sure what to look for besides the regular stuff like rust, tire condition, etc. Thanks!

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Old 09-12-2014, 03:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
I'm looking at a 1998 SL1, 5 speed manual, 120k miles tonight. What are some common issues these cars have that I should look at? I know they tend to burn oil, but other than that I'm not sure what to look for besides the regular stuff like rust, tire condition, etc. Thanks!
I would include....

look for drivers side front subframe rust through, holes in the rear door sills, top motor mount condition (results in vibration/cabin noise), low operating temperature (gauge at 1/4 usually means stuck thermostat and/or faulty ECTS), front bearing play, condition of lower control arm bushings and ball joints and the state of the exhaust system (flexpipe and muffler seem to be first to go).

What part of the country are you located?

...
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Past Saturns
2001 SL1 MT (438,500 km 11y)
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Old 09-12-2014, 03:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

Thanks!

I'm in Wisconsin, so rust is definitely an issue to look for.

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Old 09-12-2014, 06:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

Just so you know, these cars have polymer body panels, so if the panels look great and rust free, that's because they always look that way. The hood, roof, and trunk lid are metal, and occasionally do show a bit of rust.

The rusty areas you need to worry about are first, the front subframe, and second, the rear door sills. Door sill repair is a DIY; front subframe is about $100 for the part, plus about a day of labor (less if a mechanic is doing it).

Car should run right about 1500 RPM in 4th @ 30 and 2000 RPM in 5th @ 55. If it's much higher than that, the clutch could be going.

If the headlights are cloudy, replacements are about $75. Can be a bargaining chip.

5 speed SL1s are the best in terms of fuel economy. Should get 30 MPG around town and 40 on the highway.

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Old 09-12-2014, 07:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

SL1s are also famous for cracked heads. Check for oil in coolant and coolant in oil, coolant additives, coolant leaks, and overheating

...
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Old 09-17-2014, 04:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Problem areas to look for when buying a 98 SL1

Thanks guys. I ended up passing on the one I saw. It just had too many issues. Still got my eye out for one though.

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