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Old 10-24-2006, 09:36 PM   #1
drominore
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Default 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

Gents:
I was recently asked about if I would recommend Saturn to a prospective buyer. My comment: ABSOLUTELY NOT! I have been VERY surprised at the support, both in repair costs and dealer help, for this vehicle...
First off, I bought the *extended* warranty taking it up to 50,000 miles.. THANK GOD for that! But, for the "top of the line" L series I was very put out to find out that all other car makers are playing around with 10/100k warranties... And here I had to spend extra for 50k!
Anyways, here goes the litany... Up until 49,999 the dealer was mostly helpful, covering alot of things directly.... The car now has 92,000 on it and is in need of struts (AGAIN) and a thermostat (P0128 AGAIN) in the 3.0L:

* Oil change light will not reset
* Main ECM found to be faulty
* Wiring harness replaced
* Rear tires being eaten: found out car needed a refit kit to allow rear alignment.
* dealer replaced all 4 tires at 28k
* Radio popping. Replaced
* Rear deck lid had a paint run in it. Repaired.
* Two aluminum rims replaced due to "bending"
* Tires replaced again at 60k
* Leaking deck lid.
* Misfire. Platinum plugs replaced at 70k
* Struts replaced at 40k
* Seat heater shorting out. Repaired
* Rack replaced at 48k
* Factory recall for taillights (after spending $7 per bulb for a few months at AZ!)
* Stabalizer links Binding: remove & replace both tortion links

And of course the obligatory 3k oil changes which I had to pay for (Saturn, notice how QUALITY CAR COMPANIES are giving FREE OIL CHANGES??). This last repair estimate for the struts again and thermostat just made me certain to not recommend it at all....

I will admit that while everything was under warranty, it was cool other than spending more time in their lot than mine some weeks... But you have to wonder when you go through three sets of tires in 90k, two bent aluminum rims without having hit any major potholes or debris, and two sets of struts??? Of course Saturn doesn't care about any complaints anymore; they have already got all my money for the car.....

Just a word of warning guys.... The parts were only the tip of the iceburg on this one.. The labor is what killed, and they were NOT very happy about me demanding a loaner... And now, believe it or not, they have apparently "redesigned" the thermostat to address the P0128 issues with some kind of checkball... and guess what?? Can ONLY get it from Saturn, no aftermarket yet...

I am beginning to think the Solara would have been a better buy!

Drom

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Old 10-25-2006, 12:06 PM   #2
marmaduke
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2001 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

I am curious about the strut situation. Mine is an 01 and ride is harsh (understatement). However the car pitches violently side to side even if it doesnt absorb any irregularities in the road. Was wondering about the struts (shocks in the rear) and if they'd help? My understanding is that spring rates are stiff for 01s and changing struts wont help the ride. Is this true? BTW, my suspension is still stock except for tierods, stabilizer links and one spring. At 110k miles, I am sure something is due for suspension.

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Old 10-25-2006, 12:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

I just found my service records for the struts issue.... I went in complaining of a "creaking" noise coming from the front. The tech (this is 40k miles) found the torsion bar stabalizer links to be binding, and removed and replaced both... Its possible what you have is a smiliar problem, or perhaps the units are just uber worn....

Drom

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Old 10-25-2006, 03:01 PM   #4
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2001 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

No creaking from struts yet (knocking fiercely on the fake wood).

I give up.. I will have to get a suspension check to see what the friggin deal is.. I still think its the sport suspension that they put on. They stopped it after 01 model year due to various complaints. 02 & 03 got different spring rates IMO.

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Old 10-27-2006, 03:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

thats to bad about all your problems with your car drominore, I guess it can go both ways though because my 02' L-200 with almost 90k has only had one problem and that was with the piece of crap ac-delco battery which I replaced with an Optima. Hopefully your next car will be better.

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Old 10-29-2006, 06:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

Quote:
Originally Posted by drominore
And of course the obligatory 3k oil changes which I had to pay for (Saturn, notice how QUALITY CAR COMPANIES are giving FREE OIL CHANGES??).
What? What are you talking about?
Don't spread BS. As of May 2006 as listed by ConsumerGuide Auto, the only car companies that give free oil changes are luxury brands. Free scheduled maintenance is provided by Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mini, Saab, Volkswagen, and Volvo, all for limited periods. However IIRC Audi is ending their free maintenance. All are brands that are typically more expensive than regular cars.
I figure since you mention the Toyota Solara you'd expect a free oil change program from them? In the Southeast region, Toyota offers a package that will pay for your first oil change free...along with a whole bunch of other useless stuff that is mostly just dealer profit. Oh, and it's about $699...but hey, you're getting a free oil change!
And just so you know...the same table with warranty info that showed the free scheduled maintenance providers also showed Toyota/Scion and Honda are the only makes that don't provide roadside assistance.

...
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

No, I did not in specific mention anything. My point was, and I am sorry if you don't get it, is that the L300 was touted as the saturn "Luxury car". Leather interior, heated seats, performance engine, the whole shooting match. Now maybe this midwest boy was wrong in my assumption, but almost all our LOCAL dealers of any line are offering free maintenance as part of the package for a year or more with purchase...

Yea, you can say that its all buried in the cost, and you are probably true.... but if I walk into a restaurant and get a Filet Mignon dinner, I somehow expect better service than someone getting a coffee & doughnut. Instead, Saturn doesn't seem to ever want to admit they may have made a mistake...

Finally, at 6'3", I was car shopping by trying them on.... Surprisingly the Saturn L300 & the Solara were one of the few that actually fit me, which is why I went with the Saturn... No, I did not expect free everything, but at least when I bought my pickup the dealer threw in a GM jacket for my wife! ;-)

Drom

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Old 10-30-2006, 08:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

Quote:
Originally Posted by drominore
No, I did not in specific mention anything. My point was, and I am sorry if you don't get it, is that the L300 was touted as the saturn "Luxury car". Leather interior, heated seats, performance engine, the whole shooting match.
The L300 isn't a luxury car though. There are a number of other midsize cars like the L that match/beat that description.

Quote:
Now maybe this midwest boy was wrong in my assumption, but almost all our LOCAL dealers of any line are offering free maintenance as part of the package for a year or more with purchase...
Um, then why are you complaining to Saturn if that's something the dealers are responsible for? If the dealer gives out free oil changes on its own accord that's their choice. I'm sure there are loopholes to the program overall--not many dealers are interested in giving free oil changes as that's many cars frequently going in and costing them money in labor, oil, filters, etc. And what's to say that they don't charge a lot for other maintenance? What's to say they'll be friendly about it?

Quote:
Yea, you can say that its all buried in the cost, and you are probably true.... but if I walk into a restaurant and get a Filet Mignon dinner, I somehow expect better service than someone getting a coffee & doughnut.
I think you left out part of your sentence--if you order a filet mignon and they bring you coffee and a doughnut, I think there are bigger problems there.

Quote:
Instead, Saturn doesn't seem to ever want to admit they may have made a mistake...
It seems that they're trying to hide the L-Series from their past. IIRC I heard they sent out a letter to owners of the 2000 L basically saying "We're sorry."

Quote:
Finally, at 6'3", I was car shopping by trying them on.... Surprisingly the Saturn L300 & the Solara were one of the few that actually fit me, which is why I went with the Saturn... No, I did not expect free everything, but at least when I bought my pickup the dealer threw in a GM jacket for my wife! ;-)

Drom
Who's to say the Toyota dealer would have thrown anything in free? You're expecting an awful lot even by expecting a jacket. A simple $20 jacket with every purchase adds up. When you buy a car the dealer isn't going to be your sugar daddy.
If your car wasn't having problems would you be complaining about them not throwing in free stuff? (I doubt it.)

Remember, not every car is perfect, and there will be bad eggs in there.

...
"It's a car. We've invented the Pontiac Aztek."

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Old 10-31-2006, 10:13 AM   #9
marmaduke
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2001 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

Even if dealers threw in free oil changes which they did not, I would not have cared or used them since I dont trust dino oils. I think conventional oil is inferior to full synthetic and mobil1 is considered as the benchmark in this section.

But I digress. I spent couple grand on repairs (not maintenance which I spent another couple grand on) before the car was paid off in full.

Bottom line.. reliability has not been a hallmark for 01 L300s. Sure the drivetrain is fine but the rest of the vehicle has been falling apart.

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Old 11-01-2006, 02:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

cdp, I fully respect your position. I need to clarify a few things, though.. My exact phrase was "... saturn's luxury car...". If you disagree with that statement, then fine, but the L300 was supposed to be their flagship at the time.

Also, I don't follow your counter that " if you order filet, and they bring you a coffee and doughnut you have bigger problems..." I think this is a simple comment on the L300 not being the luxury car I believed it to be. Your comment implies that you don't believe Saturn to have made anything classed as a luxury car...

Forget the freebies then... Although when a dealer will only trust its own service department (and I MUST point out, to keep the DEALER happy and keep myself fully and undisputedly in warranty, I went every 3k for the $40 oil change) you really have to decide if you wish to throw away the extended warranty or do what they say... I decided to do what the dealer requested...

Again, I fully believe I got the far side of the bell curve... I am surprised at the number of owners who contacted me with similar headaches though... And I must admit to being VERY INTERESTED in your comment of "...It seems that they're trying to hide the L-Series from their past. IIRC I heard they sent out a letter to owners of the 2000 L basically saying "We're sorry." Can you provide substantiation on this letter or a copy of it?

I came to Saturn in October of 2001 to support our country in a time of need. I respected Saturn for their "One price, no haggle" policy. I do not regret what I did at the time, its just that since then I discovered they do have some latitude on pricing, they are very pricey to get repaired, and durability just isn't there. I stand by my opinon: would I recommend this car to a new buyer? Probably not.
Drom

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Old 11-01-2006, 03:01 PM   #11
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2002 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

My dad had the 2000 ls2. Being the first year, they had major problems. After a problem with the coolent system happening 3 times, it now fell into the lemon law. Saturn offered my dad the extended warranty (since he didn't get it) for free if he would give them another chance. So he took them up on their offer. It turned out that on the coolant reservoir, it says cold fill line, with an arrow that points down to another line. Well, the arrow looks just like a seem in the plastic. and the actual line WAS a seam. Even Saturn was misled by this. So, the only problem with it was the coolant was getting over filled.

I think it all depends on the dealership. From my experience, and from what I hear, Saturn of Puyallup is the best dealership in the state, and one of the best in the country. I bought my sc2 used, and a few weeks later the cam cover gasket went. I had the 50% off labor, 25% off parts warranty (or whatever it was). So, I brought it in, and they decided that they should have noticed it when they did the inspection before selling it to me. They did it all for free, including new plugs and wires.

...
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Old 11-05-2006, 11:18 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

Quote:
Originally Posted by drominore
cdp, I fully respect your position. I need to clarify a few things, though.. My exact phrase was "... saturn's luxury car...". If you disagree with that statement, then fine, but the L300 was supposed to be their flagship at the time.

Also, I don't follow your counter that " if you order filet, and they bring you a coffee and doughnut you have bigger problems..." I think this is a simple comment on the L300 not being the luxury car I believed it to be. Your comment implies that you don't believe Saturn to have made anything classed as a luxury car...
Flagship, yes; luxury car, no. Flagship doesn't equate to luxury car. Pricing for your L was likely in line with the Solara, which also was not a luxury car, but the difference being that it wasn't the flagship.
I countered the analogy because it seemed like it was incomplete. Though I will say, there are different levels of "filet mignon" in this case. If you walk into a Mercedes dealer you'll get the expected filet mignon. If you walk into a Nissan dealer you'll get a filet mignon but it won't be what's expected because it's not on as high a standard. See what I mean? The L wasn't a luxury car and I'm sorry if you were misled into believing that it was. I don't believe Saturn is a luxury brand because it's not. It competes on the level of Ford and Toyota...where they aren't luxury cars even despite some luxurious features.

Quote:
Forget the freebies then... Although when a dealer will only trust its own service department (and I MUST point out, to keep the DEALER happy and keep myself fully and undisputedly in warranty, I went every 3k for the $40 oil change) you really have to decide if you wish to throw away the extended warranty or do what they say... I decided to do what the dealer requested...
Did the dealer require that you go back every 3k miles for the oil change? Cars don't require oil changes every 3k, and the only reason the dealer requested that is so they'd get more money. Surely you could have gone longer--5k, 6k--and made sure to save the receipts, and they'd still honor the warranty? If they disputed it you could argue that the vehicle was designed with the oil-life monitor.

Quote:
Again, I fully believe I got the far side of the bell curve... I am surprised at the number of owners who contacted me with similar headaches though... And I must admit to being VERY INTERESTED in your comment of "...It seems that they're trying to hide the L-Series from their past. IIRC I heard they sent out a letter to owners of the 2000 L basically saying "We're sorry." Can you provide substantiation on this letter or a copy of it?
No I can't, as it's only something I've heard from the forum, which may or may not be true. However, Saturn remembers the 2000 L, and the headache it was.

Quote:
I came to Saturn in October of 2001 to support our country in a time of need. I respected Saturn for their "One price, no haggle" policy. I do not regret what I did at the time, its just that since then I discovered they do have some latitude on pricing, they are very pricey to get repaired, and durability just isn't there. I stand by my opinon: would I recommend this car to a new buyer? Probably not.
Drom
I'll divide it by your discoveries:
Pricing: While Saturn wants its dealers to follow the no-haggle philosophy, they can't control what they sell it as. If a dealer is not following it, they aren't the typical Saturn dealer.
Repair costs: Being that the L was a sore spot for Saturn, it's more the L that is pricey to repair. It used things such as a European V6 that was more costly to fix and Saab brakes.
Durability: With the L, it wasn't.
The problem is the generalities you make of the Saturn brand based on one car that is discontinued now. It's discontinued for a reason, reasons that you've found out the hard way. Not every Saturn is unreliable and expensive to repair. This is since not every Saturn is related to eachother directly. Your L doesn't share anything with an ION, a VUE, or the L's (improved) replacement, the Aura. So should you not recommend the L to a new buyer, that's fine; however, you can't use it to judge the entire brand, as is the case with car companies nowadays.

...
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Old 11-07-2006, 02:21 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2002 L300 -- Definately not Saturn's best!

I stand corrected....

Also, an OT comment... I'm finding IE7 to be as slow and clumsy as some of the early netscapes..... I should never have accepted the update! ;-)

Drom

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