SaturnFans.com
what's new (beta) - classifieds - forums - photos


Go Back   SaturnFans.com Forums > Models > Saturn S-Series > S-Series Tech
Register FAQ Members List Groups Calendar Chat Room Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-14-2009, 12:51 AM   #1
andyrew
Junior Member
andyrew is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Default Common issues, buyers guide

After searching through a lot of these threads and looking for sticky's I cant seem to find any good information in regards to a buyers guide or common issues and problems.

My Girlfriend will be buying her first car (actually i'll buy it) and I'd like to know what I should look for.

Were looking at SL2 automatic's and will be looking at cars in the 125k and under (prefer as low as we can find within our 2k budget) mile range.

I have many years of automotive experience as does my father so we can diagnose the basics, but I'd like to know the common issues on what to look for. Maybe a buyers guide?

Such as
CV joints, wheel bearings, I cant figure out if its an interference engine (timing belt) but I assume so (how often do they need to be replaced?), ect. I saw all the maintenence videos and watched about half of them. Seems like an incredibly easy car to work on (Coming from Porsche's and Audi's.. which is what I drive).


Also any specific questions I should ask the seller?


Anyways I appreciate all your help and if there are any threads like this one just point me to them.

Thanks!
Andrew

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to andyrew's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help andyrew reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
andyrew is offline   Reply With Quote
SaturnFans.com Sponsored Links
Old 04-14-2009, 02:01 AM   #2
hholbein
Senior Member
hholbein will become famous soon enoughhholbein will become famous soon enough
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,347
 

1997 SW2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Unless she drives heavy stop & go traffic every day, consider getting a manual transmission car. Simpler, more reliable, and should give little or no fuss for the duration of the car, unless a prior owner was a dork with the clutch. People all over the world with grade school educations manage to learn to shift a manual, and I'm confident she'll pick up the skill in an afternoon. Pretty soon, she'll be putting your Carrera through its paces with ease while you scan your Crackberry for important messages!

I'd look for a car that had clear records/evidence of being well-maintained over pure mileage. From hear tell from folks here, the drivetrain on these cars is good for 200K+ miles easy, so with just $2K to spend, you might consider well maintained cars with 140K+ miles.

The DOHC is quite a bit peppier than the SOHC, in my opinion, and at the age of the cars you're looking at, shouldn't command much of a premium.

In addition to a thorough road test, I'd make sure the car is straight/no big accident history, and get it up on a lift so someone can check the chassis components/tie rods/ball joints/struts, clapped-out brakes, bad CV joints/boots and signs of fluid leaks.

Saturns have a timing chain vs. a belt, so that's one item you shouldn't have to worry about, although it is an interference engine.

What are some of the drivetrain things you may well have to repair/replace on a car with 100K to 150K miles?

-- Valve cover gasket if it's starting to leak (EZ)
-- Throttle body & EGR valve cleaning (EZ)
-- Plugs & wires (EZ)
-- ECTS/temp sensor on head (EZ)
-- Top motor mount (EZ/Moderate)
-- Serpentine belt, tensioner & idler (Moderate)
-- Radiator/plastic expansion tank crack (Moderate)

If the car has electric windows, make sure they all go up & down smoothly. They're fixable (Moderate), but it costs you time & $. The same with a sunroof.

I'm sure others will weigh in with different stuff.....

Best of luck!

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to hholbein's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help hholbein reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
hholbein is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 02:22 AM   #3
andyrew
Junior Member
andyrew is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Thank you for your response!

She will not learn a stick, and I would rather have another auto in the family.

I've tried to teach her stick on my cars but I have racing clutches in everything so it makes it difficult.. She tried it on my dads porsche and fried the clutch, thats a 2 day job and 700 in parts,( My porsche is a pure race car, and my Audi's clutch is almost impossible for a newbe)!! She was holding it on the engagement point for (I counted) 45 seconds trying to pull out..

I've taught 5 other women to drive a stick perfectly in 30 minutes... this one? no go..


We have a lift in our garage so we'll be able to check the chassis, Is there any common area where cracks will form? Or is this not an issue? (On audi's if there are upgraded sway bars in the rear the sub frame cracks if not properly reinforced)

Really nothing major in the maintenence eh? I dont see more than $250 total in maintenence that you listed.. Nothing in there seems like a failure item asside from the radiator issue and valve cover gaskets, and those should be easy enough to spot (10 minute drive through the powerband and recheck for leaks).

Keep it coming and thanks for the insight!

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to andyrew's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help andyrew reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
andyrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 08:15 AM   #4
OnDaGround
Master Member
OnDaGround has a spectacular aura aboutOnDaGround has a spectacular aura about
 
OnDaGround's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Get off my lawn!!
Posts: 4,823
 

1993 SC2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

You won't find a common issues list. There really aren't any. Here I'll make one.

-ECT
-Intake manifold gasket on SOHC
-Sticky IAC
-Sway bar bushings

and that's about it. I wouldn't even call sway bar bushings a common issue. They are cheap and very easy to fix. Maybe max like 10 bucks. Everything listed their can be purchased for under 30 or less.

...
Saturnless...

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to OnDaGround's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help OnDaGround reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
OnDaGround is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 08:19 AM   #5
alordofchaos
Super Member
alordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to behold
 
alordofchaos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Central MI
Posts: 11,125
 

1998 SL2
1997 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

You'll have to keep a very close eye oil usage, as I'm guessing she won't

Check the engine cradle for rust if you're in a winter salt area.

Check the differential pin - there's a possible catastrophic failure point there. Some people here weld it as a preventative measure.

These cars are ridiculously easy and inexpensive to drive and maintain. My whole car was $100 more than the clutch she burned and I drove it home 60 miles with no problems.

Also, you won't have to look for ridiculous tools (cheeseheads? 9201? )

...
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!

Add to alordofchaos's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help alordofchaos reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
alordofchaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 08:24 AM   #6
OnDaGround
Master Member
OnDaGround has a spectacular aura aboutOnDaGround has a spectacular aura about
 
OnDaGround's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Get off my lawn!!
Posts: 4,823
 

1993 SC2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by andyrew View Post
I've taught 5 other women to drive a stick perfectly in 30 minutes... this one? no go..
One of the many reasons I have found the right one for me. She likes fast cars, likes to go to the drag strip, and learned how to drive stick as her first car. So I didn't have to go through the trouble of teaching her.

...
Saturnless...

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to OnDaGround's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help OnDaGround reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
OnDaGround is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 08:44 AM   #7
rc1488
Master Member
rc1488 has a spectacular aura aboutrc1488 has a spectacular aura about
 
rc1488's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Carmel, NY
Posts: 5,658
 

1997 SL2
1995 SC2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Check my profile for a thread call "New car Checklist". Or use the search button for it.

125k...geesh thats a teenager for the s-series. That would go for 3K here in NY if it looks good.

Oh and as you can see from my signature I like the s-series

...
Current: 95 SC2 Man 97 SL2 Auto 98 SL1 Auto 01 SL1 Man 02 SL1 Man
Past: 94 SL2 Man 95 SL2 Man 95 SL2 Man 96 SL2 Auto 97 SL2 Man 98 SL2 Auto 99 SL2 Auto
2010 SCCA Mohud Street Championship-2nd Place

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to rc1488's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help rc1488 reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
rc1488 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 12:43 PM   #8
andyrew
Junior Member
andyrew is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by rc1488 View Post
Check my profile for a thread call "New car Checklist". Or use the search button for it.

125k...geesh thats a teenager for the s-series. That would go for 3K here in NY if it looks good.

Oh and as you can see from my signature I like the s-series
Were in central california. I dont think rust will be an issue but I will certainly check for it.

I saw the procedure for checking the diff pin but I dont think its something I can really go into when purchasing a $1500 car... I'll just have to listen for issues and if a problem is present then I'll just get a replacement trani. Can the automatic diff pin be welded (I dont know the mechanics of a diff pin, but I am an excellent welder with 2 mig welders and an arch welder at home)

Ondaground, I taught my GF to drive (We've been dating 4 years) just havent had the car to teach her stick (Maybe i'll pick up a manual SC2 for myself for a beater). She wants to go to the dragstrip with me and my dad and drive our big block el camino. She loves cruising around in it (its an auto).

Tell me a little about the radiator top leaking, Is this really common? Does it crack or does it separate?

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to andyrew's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help andyrew reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
andyrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 01:11 PM   #9
DonP
Master Member
DonP will become famous soon enoughDonP will become famous soon enough
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: VA
Posts: 3,582
 

1995 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Tell me a little about the radiator top leaking, Is this really common? Does it crack or does it separate?
At around the 12 year point, give or take a couple years, the driver side end tank develops a hairline crack and starts to leak coolant, usually when under pressure. It is between the inlet and the upper A/T fluid connection point location (but it happens to both manual and A/T radiators). You can search to find some pictures of it. Repair is a new radiator.

A negotiating point to look for is a stuck open t-stat, meaning the car never gets above 1/4 scale on the temp gauge when on the road. A simple fix once you have the car.

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to DonP's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help DonP reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
DonP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 03:20 PM   #10
adventureoflink
Master Member
adventureoflink has a spectacular aura aboutadventureoflink has a spectacular aura aboutadventureoflink has a spectacular aura about
 
adventureoflink's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 255.255.255.255
Posts: 6,853

1997 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by rc1488 View Post
125k...geesh thats a teenager for the s-series. That would go for 3K here in NY if it looks good.
Dude I bought my car back in 2007 with 100,069 miles on it and I got it for $3k easy. It now has almost 131k miles on it.

That being said, here's what I would do:

1) if you have an ODB-II scanner (or take it to Auto Zone), scan it for codes.
2) be aware that Saturns (and most 4cyl engines in general) drink oil. it'll depend on the engine and how well you treat it.
3) Check the air conditioner (if it has one) and recharge the refrigerant if needed.
4) pretty much everyone else has stated what I was gonna say. Pressure test it to make sure everything is good to go (and replace radiater/water pump), check tires (for pressure, tread depth, for corrosion), change out ECTS, check fluid levels and replace as needed, change out spark plugs (STAY AWAY FROM BOSCH AND PLATINUM), etc etc etc.

Also, I'd check the whole radiater. when mine bit the dust, the passenger side blew up on me.

And andyrew, the only rust my Saturn had was on the whole exhaust. Remember, these things are made out of plastic and fiberglass, sadly.

...
97 SL2
DOB: 3/19/97
Date Obtained: 5/30/07
Status: Alive, 1/2 exhaust

2004 Merc G.Marquis GS
DOB: 2/4/04
Date Obtained: 7/6/12
Status: Alive, no heat

Last edited by adventureoflink; 04-14-2009 at 03:25 PM..

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to adventureoflink's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help adventureoflink reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
adventureoflink is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 04:16 PM   #11
madpogue
Super Member
madpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud ofmadpogue has much to be proud of
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Madison, WI USA
Posts: 25,713
 

1996 SW2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

"These things" are NOT "made out of plastic and fiberglass". The steel spaceframe construction is stronger than the unibody construction of its competitors. The vertical panels are polymer plastic. The tailgates of the wagons, and the roofs of the gen-1 wagons, are fiberglass. All hoods, deck lid tops, and the roofs of coupes, sedans and later wagons are steel. None of this is true "sadly"; this construction makes them stronger and safer than just about anything else its size; certainly moreso than its contemporary competition. The other advantage is that, unlike a unibody car with welded-on steel body panels, there aren't cosmetic panels which can rust, and subsequently spread that rust to the structure.

That said, our cars aren't rustproof. Two common places are (see above) the engine cradle and (on wagons/sedans) the rear door sills. You have to remove the plastic "threshold" to see if there's any rust underneath. The door sill rust can be stopped if caught in time, and the cradle is actually a bolt-on part.

A/C is standard on the SL2. There was an "A/C delete" option, but its application is exceedingly rare.

One of the best places to look for any used car's quality is the glove box. Good service record-keeping is worth real money. In the case of an automatic, make SURE there's evidence that the fluid/filter have been changed EVERY 30,000 or more often. If not, assume that you will need to change it immediately, and be prepared for a valve body replacement.

One of our veterans, rc1488, created a checklist for those shopping for an S-Series car. http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=114726

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to madpogue's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help madpogue reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
madpogue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 04:24 PM   #12
andyrew
Junior Member
andyrew is on a distinguished road
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonP View Post
At around the 12 year point, give or take a couple years, the driver side end tank develops a hairline crack and starts to leak coolant, usually when under pressure. It is between the inlet and the upper A/T fluid connection point location (but it happens to both manual and A/T radiators). You can search to find some pictures of it. Repair is a new radiator.

A negotiating point to look for is a stuck open t-stat, meaning the car never gets above 1/4 scale on the temp gauge when on the road. A simple fix once you have the car.
Good point on the T-stat.


I have an OBD2 code reader I always keep in my car (I'll probably buy a cheap one for my GF to keep in her car).

How much is a new radiator? 100 bucks?

Im used to drinking oil cars. My DD is a turbo Audi.. Dads porsche is a Turbo 944.. I'll have her check the oil every 2 weeks.

Im not worried about rust really.

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to andyrew's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help andyrew reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
andyrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 07:15 PM   #13
Mr Toad
Member
Mr Toad has a spectacular aura aboutMr Toad has a spectacular aura about
 
Mr Toad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Posts: 179
 

2005 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Sunroofs can be a trouble area (cables sticking, broken plastic parts, drains hoses coming loose). The best and easiest solution is, close it, check for leaks and leave it alone. You can still use the moon roof feature.

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to Mr Toad's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help Mr Toad reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
Mr Toad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2009, 08:55 PM   #14
DonP
Master Member
DonP will become famous soon enoughDonP will become famous soon enough
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: VA
Posts: 3,582
 

1995 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
How much is a new radiator? 100 bucks?
Depends where you shop. Folks have reported prices ranging between $70 and $170 and higher.

Oil use depends on how the car was treated in its younger days. Running while low on oil and using extended oil change intervals generally lead to higher oil consumption when the car gets over 100K miles.

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to DonP's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help DonP reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
DonP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2009, 09:03 AM   #15
alordofchaos
Super Member
alordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to beholdalordofchaos is a splendid one to behold
 
alordofchaos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Central MI
Posts: 11,125
 

1998 SL2
1997 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by andyrew View Post
Dads porsche is a Turbo 944
Ahh, so he knows about the cheeseheads. The 9201 tool would cost about the same as my Saturn cost me

...
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!

Add to alordofchaos's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help alordofchaos reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
alordofchaos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2009, 09:08 AM   #16
Drakon
Junior Member
Drakon is on a distinguished road
 
Drakon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 25

1997 SW2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

[QUOTE=madpogue;1434129]"These things" are NOT "
That said, our cars aren't rustproof. Two common places are (see above) the engine cradle and (on wagons/sedans) the rear door sills. You have to remove the plastic "threshold" to see if there's any rust underneath. The door sill rust can be stopped if caught in time, and the cradle is actually a bolt-on part.


Hi there Just picked up a 1997 sw2 with a manual trans. to replace my firefly which lost the fight to winter salt here in Ontario. The wagons body is great except for the rear door sills which have rust beyond the plastic threshold. Does anyone know if after market sills are available (from who?) . Is there a secondary panel under the outer and would this most likely be rusted aswell. Finally I'm think of getting it oiled to protect what metal there is any issues on a car with plastic body panels?

Thanks

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to Drakon's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help Drakon reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
Drakon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2009, 12:44 PM   #17
adventureoflink
Master Member
adventureoflink has a spectacular aura aboutadventureoflink has a spectacular aura aboutadventureoflink has a spectacular aura about
 
adventureoflink's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 255.255.255.255
Posts: 6,853

1997 SL2
Default Re: Common issues, buyers guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
"These things" are NOT "made out of plastic and fiberglass". The steel spaceframe construction is stronger than the unibody construction of its competitors. The vertical panels are polymer plastic. The tailgates of the wagons, and the roofs of the gen-1 wagons, are fiberglass. All hoods, deck lid tops, and the roofs of coupes, sedans and later wagons are steel. None of this is true "sadly"; this construction makes them stronger and safer than just about anything else its size; certainly moreso than its contemporary competition. The other advantage is that, unlike a unibody car with welded-on steel body panels, there aren't cosmetic panels which can rust, and subsequently spread that rust to the structure.
Okay, sorry I mentioned anything before. And thanks for the insight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
That said, our cars aren't rustproof. Two common places are (see above) the engine cradle and (on wagons/sedans) the rear door sills. You have to remove the plastic "threshold" to see if there's any rust underneath. The door sill rust can be stopped if caught in time, and the cradle is actually a bolt-on part.
I'll be sure to check those areas later for rust.

...
97 SL2
DOB: 3/19/97
Date Obtained: 5/30/07
Status: Alive, 1/2 exhaust

2004 Merc G.Marquis GS
DOB: 2/4/04
Date Obtained: 7/6/12
Status: Alive, no heat

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

Add to adventureoflink's Reputation
Rate the quality of this post and help adventureoflink reputation points. Click the reputation button near the bottom left corner of this message box. Thank you!
adventureoflink is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
2010 Buyer Charlie General Saturn Discussion 4 09-29-2009 10:43 PM
What are common endurace issues? andyshoun S-Series Tech 8 07-06-2009 06:39 PM
common maintenance issues saturn4shane S-Series General 25 01-04-2008 07:28 PM
S series buyers guide phool S-Series General 3 04-07-2007 10:29 AM
Common Issues with the S-Series Chris101 S-Series General 13 12-30-2004 01:41 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:58 PM.

Advanced Forum Search | Advanced Photo Search


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SaturnFans.com. The Saturn Enthusiasts Site.