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Old 08-04-2020, 09:20 PM   #1
Jim@HiTek
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2001 SL1
Default '93 Saturn SL2

Seriously considering this older Saturn SL2 4-door because it's an automatic and easily tow-able by my RV. AND it has all the goodies I longed for when I bought my '01 SL1. It's spent it's life in a relatively dry farm country area and according to the seller:

"Older vehicle but low miles for a 93. Just turned 154,000. Excellent condition. Inside is clean with no tears. Body is straight and in excellent condition. First owner had this car until 2016 and kept extremely thorough records of every tank of gas, fluid changes, and new parts. Second owner was a family member who only put 10,000 in the 4yrs they had it. They didn’t take as much care with the vehicle that the first owner had and it wasn’t running when we purchased it in May. We are 3rd owner.
Since then it has received new:

Plugs and wires
Radiator
Starter
Transmission range selector switch
Electric solenoid inside transmission
Transmission oil and filter
Engine oil and filter

It is now running reliably and would make a great daily driver."

What do you guys think as far as reliability for a car this old with 154K on it. I'm really looking for a car that is tow-able first, then has all the power options I want in my old age. Power windows, door locks, Cruise control, AC, AT, the standard stuff and this car has it all!

I only put 4K per year on a car but I'd like to know if you guys think it'll get me another 40K without becoming a throw away?

I did a lot of work on the SL1 and learned a great deal about the standard things going wrong with SL1's, and took care of all of them, including replacing a bad exhaust gasket, a bad tranni coil so I'm a decent wrench but what are the major issues with this year and model?

Thanks for any advice.
...
2001 Saturn SL1 SOHC
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Old 08-04-2020, 10:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Towing a car with auto trans for long distances is iffy. The trans pump is not turning, so there is no fluid pressure and lube of any of the bearings that rely on pressure is poor-to-none.
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Old 08-04-2020, 10:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Saturns are specifically designed to be towed. That's why us old folks that own Class A RV's are so hot to own them. I haven't checked this specific model and year, but I'm confident it's towable 4 down.

I've been towing my '01 SL1 for 4.5 years now with no problem.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Not sure if one of the "goodies" you think you want is leather seats...you only think you want those, you actually don't lol
When they're not burning or freezing you you're sliding all over the seat in corners.
Similar to the sunroof, only that loves to leak and destroy the soft bits of the headliner leaving the hard bits to still destroy your noggin' on bumps.

The S-Series automatic's have proven, to me, to be only slightly more reliable than the S-Series A/C (of the 10+ DD S-Series I had only 1 had working A/C, I paid $2000 for it and it still died ~6mo later; most of the DD's I paid under $500 for...).

Towing info specific to the S-Series though it doesn't appear to mention auto/manual transmission: http://www.wolfswords.com/motorhome/saturn.html
That said...to get the auto to roll you have to have it in "n" which generally requires the key to be in either ACC or RUN because GM was too stupid to put in a lockout bypass like they put in 2000ish & newer automatics and this will turn things "on" in the car that you can't turn off, running the battery down.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I think four wheel towing is limited to a maximum speed and included in owners manuals.

Ignition must be turned to ACC or On but the battery can be disconnected after this to prevent killing the battery during towing. Disconnect battery negative before and after towing. Maybe add a cutoff switch to the battery negative cable for frequent disconnects to prevent damage to the side terminal.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Is there anything from GM that states it is "specifically designed to be towed"? Regardless, I don't really doubt that; I would expect any car would be designed to tolerate such towing to some extent.

Here is the hooker, though... do you suppose the TAAT was "specifically designed" to have the ISN loosen or the VB wear? Designs intents are not always perfectly achieved!

I'm not saying the TAAT absolutely can not work in this application, or will quickly suffer failure; just that a manual could be put in N without any of these lube or electrical concerns. And have less drag on the towing vehicle.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:12 PM   #7
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2001 SL1
Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I would hope that people would get away from the towing issue. It's not my question and I'm sorry I made it appear that way in my original post. I'm well aware of the FACT that Saturns are easily towed four down, I checked the list last night and yes, the '93 SL2 is listed as being towable 4 down, and that's what I intend to do. After all, I've been towing my '01 SL1 for 4.5 YEARS now and have written a lengthy blog article about it. If you're interested in towing a Saturn, check it out. There's also an extensive article on repairing an SL1: Towing & Car Repairs.

So let's move on please.

I would like some advice as to the typical issues this year and model might have. For instance, the SL1 has the wrinkled gasket issue, does the SL2 have it too? In '93? That sort of thing is what I'm worried about. Don't want to buy it and have the tranni fall on the ground after all.

Thanks for any mechanical insight to this year and model!
...
2001 Saturn SL1 SOHC
1.9L, Basic Transport

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Old 08-05-2020, 01:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I don't think there is anything specific to the '93, here are problems that seem to be common to all years for the S-series:

1) burn oil due to rings
2) wheel bearings wear
3) radiator cracks
4) DOHC engine loses exhaust valve in the #3/4 area
5) original ECT sensor fails
6) TAAT trans VB wears
7) rust, if you are in salt area
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Old 08-05-2020, 01:34 PM   #9
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2001 SL1
Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Please, just clarify 1 thing.
Is the 2001 saturn you have been towing for years a MANUAL or AUTO trans?
If manual, then that's why we are being particular about anyone trying to tow their automatic saturn trans.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I own a '01 Saturn SL1. It's an automatic tranni. I changed one of the coils in the tranni a couple years ago and many of the standard things that go wrong with the S-series and it runs and drives like a new car. It still only has 77K miles on it and I bought it with 60K. Did have to replace the compressor last year. And it could use an exhaust repair as it has a leak. Oh, and it needs a set of shocks or struts?
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:11 PM   #11
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

For '93s, the ac system is r12. If converted to r134a, remove a service valve cap and check for either external threads indicating it was never converted to r134a or has quick connect fittings like those used in air tools. All r134a systems on vehicles use quick connect fittings, no external threads. Whether ac works is a whole 'nother topic as far as it not working, diagnosing, troubleshooting and repairs.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:36 PM   #12
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
I don't think there is anything specific to the '93, here are problems that seem to be common to all years for the S-series:

1) burn oil due to rings
2) wheel bearings wear
3) radiator cracks
4) DOHC engine loses exhaust valve in the #3/4 area
5) original ECT sensor fails
6) TAAT trans VB wears
7) rust, if you are in salt area
Thanks, Bill, that's what I was looking for.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

The one other obvious thing - Gen 1 body parts seem to be dwindling faster than 2 or 3.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:33 AM   #14
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I was curious about towing an automatic so I checked the section in my owner's manual about towing with an RV and the only warning is to ensure the fluid level is correct. I don't remember where I heard this but I think the pump is driven by the output shaft so fluid does circulate.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:58 AM   #15
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

If I understand correctly the grooves on the top part of the differential pump the oil.


This was the manual in my 5 speed. I believe the automatic has the same differential and means of pumping the oil. If the wheels are spinning, so is the differential, and oil pumps.

My parents used to tow their automatic SL2 behind their motorhome.
...
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:03 PM   #16
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

The diff gears/bearings are splash-lubed in both the manual and auto; it is pretty much the same unit. The diff is not my concern.

There is no rear pump, and auto trans clutches/bearings must be getting some lube from the fluid when under pressure. The only auto trans I am aware of with both front and rear pumps is the '39-56 GM Hydra-matic. You could push-start with that trans just like a manual.

Back to the TAAT: When the pump is running the fluid can circulate to the radiator/filter for keeping the fluid in the best operating condition. How important is that lube/filtering/temp control? I simply don't know. It sounds like it is "good enough" when the car is towed. I was just trying to point out, in the beginning, that conditions for an auto trans (with no rear pump) will never be as good when towing the car. I was simply offering that as a consideration when the OP posted asking for comments on the suitability of the specific '93 being contemplated.

PS: I think the most useful info, so far, is that the '93 had R12!
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Old 08-07-2020, 04:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

UNDERCARRIAGE!!


Rust is my enemy #1. Damned near anything else is easier to fix.

I use an inspection mirror and a flashlight.

1st place to look is the trailing arm mounts just forward of the rear wheels. Any rust through is a "NO THANKS" for me.

What kind of $$$ are they asking?
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Old 08-10-2020, 07:58 AM   #18
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

"What do you guys think as far as reliability for a car this old with 154K on it. I'm really looking for a car that is tow-able first, then has all the power options I want in my old age. Power windows, door locks, Cruise control, AC, AT, the standard stuff and this car has it all!

I only put 4K per year on a car but I'd like to know if you guys think it'll get me another 40K without becoming a throw away?"


I was able to get to 274k on the original engine before I swapped it out for a yard engine. The usual Saturn wear items, such as belts, hoses, motor mounts, exhaust, etc. It never left me stranded. Rust is the key, IMHO. As stated above, floor pan where rear trailing arms/radius rods mount, front sub frame, rear door sills are the big rust items. Transmission in my car is all original. Dex III is the key, with the TAAT, as you most likely know. I have used Amsoil Torque Drive for the past 150k, no issues with the trans.
I would be confident putting another 100k on the car. Easy and inexpensive to work on, is a big plus.
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Old 08-11-2020, 10:12 AM   #19
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

I'm over here in the west on the east side of the coast range mountains so there's little rust as this is high desert. I do always check underneath for it and for oil leaks when I'm searching for a car.

They were asking $1700 and the Kelly's BB showed $1100 and we weren't able to reach an agreement on it so I missed owning it.

There's others around so I'll keep searching.
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Old 08-12-2020, 04:58 PM   #20
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Default Re: '93 Saturn SL2

Good plan.

$1700 is pretty salty for a first gen SL.

For $1700 I would expect exceptionally clean (no rust) with low miles....

Don't worry about oil leaks.... Barring a cracked block - oil leaks are easy to fix...
...
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96 SC2
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