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Old 09-21-2019, 11:33 PM   #1
gill_mn
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Default My 2008 XR (V6-AWD) Story...

Hello all... My name is Gill and last May (2019) I bought my second Saturn - an '08 Vue XR. Started its journey as a rental in AZ (about 30K miles), Owner #2 put another 50K or so in MN, owner #3 added another 60K in MN - and sold to me last May with 139.5K miles. It was a bit of a "rushed" decision, that said, we needed something to haul kayaks around the state our 10000 lakes. I loved the idea of another Saturn as I got 240K (truly enjoyable) miles out of my SL2.

After we drove the Vue home, the first thing we did was put some (needed) real tires on it... Michelin Defender LTX M/S - an $1150 endeavor. No issue with the cost - I needed to have the "faith" that my wife or daughter could take the car - wherever - confidently and without issue.

Picked up a 60" universal roof rack that "worked" for getting the kayaks about town. The challenge was (and continues) that my wife's 5'3" frame has difficulty lifting and securing the kayaks on the rack - especially when she wanted to go at it alone. We bought Hullavators to solve that problem; but I have yet to install them. Basically - completing that job depends on the prospects of keeping the vehicle...

Not even 500 miles into our ownership, the transmission decided to give us some feedback. It had an occasional "hesitation" or "shudder" at high speeds (over 55) that we (basically) ignored - especially knowing the reliability history of this transmission (3-5-Reverse waveplate). I wanted to believe that the prior owner knew nothing of these behaviors and sold the vehicle to me in good faith - but I think I give people too much credit. Regardless - the tranny symptoms graduated into the ABS/Drivetrain lights coming on - along with the CEL. After seeing multiple transmission related codes, my mechanic referred me to a transmission shop near my home. In the end, another $1250 bill to replace and reprogram the TCUM (transmission computer). I have driven about 300 miles since that repair... While the CEL and drivetrain related dash lights are no longer on, I still have that intermittent high gear shudder/slip. The transmission shop pretty much confirmed that this symptom is indicative of the 3-5-R waveplate forthcoming failure. The estimate for the complete replacement using a rebuild is $3500 (2 yr/24K mile warranty).

Among the outstanding list of maintenance required, the vehicle needs a heater core. The unmistakable sweet acrid smell of interior anti-freeze is pretty easy to diagnose. The shock for me was the estimate from the dealership... "Out the door" cost was estimated at $1750 to complete all the tasks. If you get a moment, search YouTube where they do the job (2008 Vue/Torrent/Captiva/Equinox) - absolutely terrifying... I consider myself pretty handy with car basics (filters/brakes/fluids/belts/and the like) - but after watching those videos and getting the estimate - I feel required to go through a dealership; if for nothing else - the warranty. Even my mechanic stated "I have done that job before and frankly, I'd rather not do that again. There are so many other components that have to be touched (evacuate and recharge the HVAC, steering column removal, complete dash and dash sub-frame removal, amongst other things) that the likelihood of getting it all back together without creating more issues is almost not possible". That statement did not add to my confidence factor of this vehicle.

Finally... The past two days I have started to experience the HVAC blowing nothing but cold air. I am trying to blame this on a "lower" coolant level because of the heater core leak, regardless, the other POSTs outlining dealership's inabilities to really RESOLVE this issue is disheartening. Not to mention terrible mileage and other idiosyncrasies like the interior harmonic at 60MPH - I *think* coming from the front right of the the vehicle - that is really is L O U D). After all that...

I really would like to get it all fixed (I know, right?). I already have $2400 into it. Probably need to spend another $5000 to make right what is already not working (on top of the purchase price). BUT - my lack of confidence that the ROOT CAUSE of all these issues being FIXED seems warranted. I would love some of your input/feedback/recommendations... Peace to all!

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Old 10-12-2019, 01:51 PM   #2
gill_mn
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Default UPDATE: My 2008 XR (V6-AWD) Story...

UPDATE... I have used the Vue as my daily driver for a few weeks now - including a 75 mile round trip for work.

I thought I had been feeling some little "fish nibbles" of delay in acceleration here and there. Last Friday, coming back from work, confirmed - having inconsistent and slight "hesitations"... At time of acceleration - even with the cruise control on. Then - a sputter or two resulted in the CEL. So...

Drove directly to the transmission shop that replaced the TCUM. There were three P0300 [Random - Multiple Misfire]. Cleared those out - on to this week... Miscellaneous feeling the "fish nibbles"on various driving trips. Then - coming home from work (Friday again) felt the "hesitation" again - with a little more aggression. On this occasion: the CEL light and the ABS/TCS lights came on (exactly what it looked like before the TCUM was replaced - when there were multiple transmission related codes: P0872, P0877, P0989). Drove directly to trans shop again and got the codes - same P0300 as last week and an added C0561 (ABS system disabled). I am pretty certain that the ABS code is a symptom and not related to the root cause.

So. The transmission shop is pretty sure this is not an issue with the tranny (I know - shocking )... I just don't know what to think. What is it going to take to SOLVE this issue?!?!?!

I would love to hear the opinions and/or experiences... What would cause multiple P0300 codes by themselves? The last time I saw a P0300, I also had a P0301 - pointing at Cylinder #1 (which got resolved with a new plug and coil). Looking forward to hearing form the crowd source!

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Old 10-12-2019, 07:59 PM   #3
gm7
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2009 VUE Red Line
Default Re: My 2008 XR (V6-AWD) Story...

People have different views on how to proceed. I am retired and own a pristine 2009 Vue Redline with 44k miles. Sits polished in the garage most of the time. I am a cyclist and ride my bikes a lot more. I have always loved this car and have owned a fair amount of high end cars. I worked at the tech center as an engineer where the Saturn was designed.

I probably would have cut your car loose. Just me. Tires + wave plate out of extended warranty + trans module + heater core which requires as you say to pull the IP and seats and center console....too high a cost on a higher mileage car of less aggregate value than you are consider spending. The jobs you mention really aren't for the home mechanic unless they are highly skilled. I could do all of it with a lift, but real question is...would I want to.

I personally would buy a lower mileage example of something else.

FWIW Toyota and Honda make the most reliable cars in the world.

It is possible I could have my car for at least another 10 years because I don't drive it much. All about maintenance, treatment and mileage.

The 3.6L motor in these cars needs frequent oil changes. Without knowing the service history...most don't change the oil enough on this engine...run them low on oil which is common if they burn a little with computer generated oil change intervals is a recipe for rapid internal wear aka time chain stretch and misfire. Same with the trans. Also good to change the coolant to mitigate heater core failures.

Fluid changes...and more fluid changes....DOT 4 in the braking system...even the power steering fluid. I change fluids a lot and have owned everything and never had many problems.

Best of luck.

Pic when I first picked it up...still looks the same ten years later. I have had virtually no issues with the car:
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Last edited by gm7; 10-12-2019 at 08:07 PM..

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Old 11-03-2019, 12:27 PM   #4
gill_mn
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Happy Re: My 2008 XR (V6-AWD) Story...

GM7 - Thanks for your feedback! Yea - I am struggling a bit here. It is back at transmission shop due to leak from TCUM replacement.

Primary purpose of the car is for hauling Kayaks and not feeling bad about scratching it up. Frankly the car fits the bill... If I can live with the unknown cause of the [hesitations] and the heater core smell inside :-) Big plus is the 200 pound roof rating - it enables me to put two kayaks with a pair of Hullavators. The risk is my wife/daughter driving and getting stranded.

Yes - I am leaning toward a replacement, that said, Kayak season is about over in the upper midwest - I have time. I may try to sell (and swap) the tires/rims to another Vue owner - just to try and get some of that investment back.

The joys of ownership - Peace!

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