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Old 04-12-2009, 10:43 PM   #1
j894
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Wrench '98 - SL1 any specific issues?

I was searching through the forums for S-series specific problems and have come across a few: ECTS, plastic rad. cracking, trans issues, oil consumption, etc.

I just have a few questions about these problems, one being with the oil consumption... do these saturns go through a lot of oil from normal use? I under stand the high reving engines might do this but how much oil consumption is normal for these engines?

Also, regarding the auto transmissions, how long can they last IF the fluid was changed when it was supposed to? (I haven't found out whats actually in the car) or, how well do these cars tolerate not having the fluid changed? I have always been paranoid of automatics going bad due to neglecting fluid changes, a tranny has cooked itself for this reason from the first vehicle I bought (few months after I bought it) as well as some of the other vehicles in my family; so I dont trust them much especially at high mileage when I don't know where they've been.

I ask the same about the manual transmissions... aside from clutches wearing out, do they have anything that is common to fail/ or are they known to fail for no particular reason? do the synchros go bad easily making it hard to shift??

Is there any other common problems or things to look for on saturns like on other GM vehicles like bad intake gaskets or cracking intake manifolds, etc etc? Anything engine/transmission/suspension related?

Reason I as is I was looking at a '98 SL1 with a little over 150k miles on it locally, very cheap. I believe it has a salvage title but the owner claims it drives fine. I have to go look at it and see if it needs any major work so I just wanna know what to look out for.

Any help would be greatly appreciated,
Thanks

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Old 04-13-2009, 10:46 AM   #2
alordofchaos
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: '98 - SL1 any specific issues?

Quote:
Originally Posted by j894 View Post
... do these saturns go through a lot of oil from normal use? I under stand the high reving engines might do this but how much oil consumption is normal for these engines?
A lot
The problem is that the oil control rings didn't have drain wholes (in the lands, as I've been corrected) until one of the later model years. some people have had good results from cleaning, using products like Marvel Mystery Oil (search "MO soak"), AutoRx, and some types of synthetics with extra cleanser. this is one of those YMMV things.
Quote:
Also, regarding the auto transmissions, how long can they last
In theory, the life of the car if well maintained.
Quote:
how well do these cars tolerate not having the fluid changed?
search "reverse slam" - the bright side is that some of the issues are easily resolved with a new valve body. Also, search "differential pin" and "diff pin" for more scary things
Quote:
I ask the same about the manual transmissions... aside from clutches wearing out, do they have anything that is common to fail/ or are they known to fail for no particular reason?
search "shifter bushing" - a Delrin ($20) or stainless steel ($30) replacemenet part is available.
Quote:
Reason I as is I was looking at a '98 SL1 with a little over 150k miles on it locally, very cheap. I believe it has a salvage title
How cheap? My $800 SL2 (see sig) has a clean title, 2/3 of the mileage.. Lowsaturn manages to find them for free! So if it's not really cheap, you may want to keep looking.

These are very reliable (when not abused), easy to work on, economical cars.

Welcome aboard!

...
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11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 04-13-2009, 11:04 AM   #3
Mezmiro
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Default Re: '98 - SL1 any specific issues?

I used to drive an older manual SL1 and the only real issue I had was with the clutch sticking every now and then. There was also an issue with engine timing, but once I fixed that it ran perfectly.

Other than that, with proper maintenance I never had any issues with it. I did however notice a heavy consumption of oil. But personally I don't mind. My old SC2 was pretty heavy on oil too, but thenagain I ran it pretty hard.

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Old 04-13-2009, 12:01 PM   #4
j894
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Default Re: '98 - SL1 any specific issues?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
how cheap? My $800 sl2 (see sig) has a clean title, 2/3 of the mileage.. Lowsaturn manages to find them for free! So if it's not really cheap, you may want to keep looking.
Cheap is around $500-600, I haven't seen any other Saturn or economy car in this price range in my area. Most people when they sell their cars privately want ridiculous prices at first til they realize they cant sell them.

Anyway, so no other common problems with intake gaskets, etc or balljoints/ other suspension or engine parts?

Thanks for the help guys Im going to take a good look at it this week.

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Old 04-13-2009, 03:01 PM   #5
alordofchaos
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: '98 - SL1 any specific issues?

Quote:
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Anyway, so no other common problems with intake gaskets, etc or balljoints/ other suspension or engine parts?
If you're in an area where they salt in winter (or if your car is from there), check the engine cradle for rust.

the top engine mount tends to weaken - leading to vibration and rattles. It's easily replaced (under $70 for DIY). Worst case scenario, it can take off a chunk of the timing cover when it goes.

I think I got lucky on mine... people here also want ridiculous amounts of money for junk cars. It was kind of an accident... took a quick look at ebay auctions before I left for a meeting, threw out a low bid, and no one bid higher... which was kind of unexpected, as similar cars within 100 miles or so had been going around $1,500 or more.

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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