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Old 11-19-2018, 01:15 PM   #1
ob1coby
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Default L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Default L300 by mistake
I'm in the market for a reliable, low mileage car had three ebay auctions open on my dashboard last night that all ended at exactly the same time down to the second. I decided on, and bid on a Nissan Maxima. This morning I found out that I actually bid and won a 04'Saturn L300 wagon with really low miles. Now I need to know what I have.

My family has been Saturn fans for years. My mom had a Saturn for years that had a Toyota corolla engine in it. My dad is driving a Vue that has an Accord engine in it. They have both been awesome cars.

But I don't know anything about the L300 wagon. Not the best looking machine in the world but is it at least very dependable? Is the 3.0 made by Saturn or someone else. Any input on this car would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Was considering it for Uber...

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Old 11-19-2018, 02:57 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Being familiar with two vehicles made in the USA with transplanted engines from outside the borders, you're L300 is another. The 3.0L V6 engine originated in the Saab 9-5 and GM Vectra for the European market. It came here and used in the Cadillac Catera before Cadillac abandoned the model during downsizing. I think the L300 body was an abomination effort by american car designers. Maybe they tried to transform the Vectra into the ugly american in America?

The heritage of the L-series is a European suspension stiffer than American suspensions for sedan and wagons. I was always impressed with my four door having a stiffer suspension against the standard boat ride of domestic mid size cars. The tradeoff of a stiffer suspension is feeling all the potholes. Ride quality is felt on highways as sure footedness without the car body leaning in sudden moves. The combination of front/rear sway bars and Euro struts/shocks is appreciated by those not wanting a boat ride.

As you search thru threads here, you'll become familiar with the pros and cons of L300's. As always, it's your choice to keep or replace it.

I saw a Cadillac CTS dressed with gold accents being used for Ubering.....

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Old 11-19-2018, 03:44 PM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

As you will find out as you read through the posts on the L300 V6, it is not without it's faults, but no car is perfect.

As Fryer pointed out the L series uses the Opel Vectra B as the basis for the vehicle. It was also used by Saab for the 9-5. Saturn then 'saturnized' for the US. This involved softening the handling a little but more importantly adding the trademark composite body panel (doors, fenders) to the L series. The Vectra B was all steel.

Because of this underpinning, you can still get many suspension, etc parts from Europe if you struggle here. Just use Vectra B in any online searches.

My son has had an L300 for coming up for 3 years. Maintenance has been higher than with his brother S series, but that has more to do with it having to go into the shop rather than me doing the repairs. That said, 100,000 miles is a maintenance important point. At that mileage the timing belt must be replaced. Most folks also replace the water pump at the same time as these components are all in the same place.

The engine uses 2 cartridges instead of individual coils and plug leads. That was pioneered by Saab. They are about $120 each, but installing is very easy.

The oil filter is a bit of an oddball as it uses a drop in filter cartridge instead of the usual spin on cartridge. You are just buying the paper filter, so they are cheaper. Toyota, BMW and Mercedes all use the same type of system.

One other odd ball on the car is that it does NOT have a dipstick for the transmission fluid. So to an extent level is guesswork. There is a procedure for getting accurate fluid level, but the vehicle has to be raised on all 4's and you have to release a check bolt under the car, while the engine is running. GM in their wisdom placed this bolt alongside the exhaust! But essentially it is like checking fluid level on a diff. You remove the bolt and if fluid comes out it's overfilled. Filling is as easy as pouring the fluid in at the tranny top and ensuring that there is no overflow down below.

I am a little confused about you other vehicles. The S series never had a Toyota engine in it. it was pure Saturn. The Vue did had a Saturn 4 pot motor and also the V^ found in the L series BUT then the Vue was updated and the V6 gave way for a Honda V6, which has closest links to the Odyssey minivan than the Accord. Brakes are easy to maintain and have decent stopping power.

As a wagon you have great carrying capacity and if the overall car is in good condition you should be OK.

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Old 11-19-2018, 05:36 PM   #4
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2004 L-Series 2.2L Wagon
2004 L-Series 3.0L Wagon
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Is this the 2004 Saturn L Series wagon you bid on?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg L series Wagon.jpg (74.6 KB, 20 views)

...
2004 L-Series Wagon 2.2
2004 L-Series Wagon 2.2
2004 L-Series Wagon 3.0

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Old 11-19-2018, 08:40 PM   #5
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

That is a good looking wagon!

...
2002 L200/5 loaded, loving my stick shift car now with KYB struts and adjustable rear control arms.

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Old 11-20-2018, 01:45 AM   #6
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

I'm very jealous of what you have, for some odd reason I absolutely love the styling of the L wagons. It's plain jane but you don't see them that often nowadays.

Do keep an eye on the timing belt on that v6, as the engine is interference and a failure of the timing belt could cause catastrophic damage to the pistons and valves. Also keep an eye on the underbody, namely the front subframe. The plastic body panels don't rust but parts of the frame absolutely will. Also, be careful with any sort of trim pieces and plastic molding. A lot of the parts will break easily and are near impossible to source unless you want to pay through the nose for new old stock.

Also, be careful with the seat cushions on the seats. They can be prone to blowing out (although that might be changed with newer models) and again, replacements can be hard to source.

Other than those issues, I would say the cars are pretty decent. I got an L sedan with the 4 popper, and other than a coil pack she hasn't needed engine work. Give it gas and oil every 5k and it will last.

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridasl22002 View Post
One other odd ball on the car is that it does NOT have a dipstick for the transmission fluid. So to an extent level is guesswork. There is a procedure for getting accurate fluid level, but the vehicle has to be raised on all 4's and you have to release a check bolt under the car, while the engine is running. GM in their wisdom placed this bolt alongside the exhaust! But essentially it is like checking fluid level on a diff. You remove the bolt and if fluid comes out it's overfilled. Filling is as easy as pouring the fluid in at the tranny top and ensuring that there is no overflow down below.
I recently did a trans fluid job on my car at about 145k miles. To be honest, it was hard to tell the difference between the fluid coming out and the fluid going in. While it would be great to have a proper dipstick, I think its possible to get by without it. As long as you feel like you have enough in there, don't lose any sleep.

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Old 11-20-2018, 03:52 AM   #7
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Welcome to SaturnFans, ob1coby! You've been given really useful comments by serious members who know their vehicles.

Food for thought...my wife has an Acura MDX with a 3.5L engine identical to the one used in the VUEs. With regard to their timing belt replacement is scheduled for 7 years or 105K miles, whichever comes first. To the best of my knowledge Saturn never made a recommendation for timing belt replacement based upon time for their 3.0L V6s, but it actually makes sense. While a belt may show itself to be wearing well it also dries out over time and this is why Honda/Acura proposed a timing belt replacement at seven years.

The plastic appliques at the front and rear door window openings - six altogether - are not easy to get a hold of any more and are relegated to searches at wrecking yards. Rear appliques on the rear doors tend to go bad first. They separate from the door surface towards their upper end. This part differs between the wagons and sedans. The other appliques are shared between the two cars types.

Since the wagon generally did not sell very well there are fewer body parts to be found for the rear area of the vehicle should they need replacing. If there's a way to avoid being hit by a driver from behind by all means do so. Finding replacement parts even at a wrecking yard can be problematic. Relative to safety, I find the braking system to be very good on these cars. If your car doesn't have rear disc brakes (although I think this wagon should have them) it is possible to make a conversion from rear drum to rear disc. The work has been described here in the L-Series Forums.

With regard to checking the transmission level, it should be done whenever you have the oil changed. When adding fluid the confirmation that you're done is when you see ATF draining from the inspection plug's threaded hole. And just like checking transmission fluid where a dipstick is present, the car must be at normal operating temperature for it to be read accurately on our L-Series cars. Saturn's/GM's operating theory here was that unless a leak was present there was no need to check the transmission fluid between oil changes. In my experience this has proved to be true.

All the best to you with the LW300!

...
298,000 miles-it keeps on rolling!
The blessings of liberty erode in my country.
Gov't's grown bigger, but a chance exists that it will be reduced. I'm cautiously hopeful.

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Old 11-21-2018, 10:02 AM   #8
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Default Thank you all Very much.

A lot of great info here. You are all obviously Fans of Saturns.

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Old 11-21-2018, 10:04 AM   #9
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rb6667 View Post
Is this the 2004 Saturn L Series wagon you bid on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rb6667 View Post
Is this the 2004 Saturn L Series wagon you bid on?
Yes, that is the one. Are familiar with it? If anyone knows more about this car PLEASE DO TELL.

I tried posting a link to the competed auction but the forum here wouldn't let me.

Anyone in the Pennsylvania area that can take a look at it?

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Old 11-21-2018, 10:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

I'm a Tdi hobbyist so I understand the importance of keeping the timing belt changed and how catastrophic it can be if it goes bad.

So, I'm not sure how this is going to work out. The Maxima I thought I was bidding on was in Las Vegas and I can get reasonable rates to Vegas.

I think the price was right at 3355 but I estimate around 1k to get it to me and 1k for a new belt. Now I'm at nearly 5500. I think it would have been a great deal if I didn't live in Montana.

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Old 11-21-2018, 11:57 AM   #11
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2004 L-Series 2.2L Wagon
2004 L-Series 3.0L Wagon
Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Looks to be a very nice wagon. Only negative I see is that it is a northern car that likely has been driven on salted roads. These cars are prone to rust on the front and rear sub frames.

Looking at the engine pictures, it appears that the engine has never been into so the timing belt is probably original. Those German hose clamps on the upper intake manifold are difficult to reuse. Not to say they can not be reused...but most shops give up on them and replace with those ugly worm clamps when a timing belt change takes place.

When you replace the timing belt and related components, be sure to replace the water pump and the thermostat as well. If it were me, I'd go for new spark plugs too.

Let us know when you get this car home. Lots of good information on this forum. We'll be glad to help.

Congrats on your new car and welcome to the forum!

...
2004 L-Series Wagon 2.2
2004 L-Series Wagon 2.2
2004 L-Series Wagon 3.0

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Old 11-21-2018, 01:33 PM   #12
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ob1coby View Post
Yes, that is the one. Are familiar with it? If anyone knows more about this car PLEASE DO TELL.

I tried posting a link to the competed auction but the forum here wouldn't let me.

Anyone in the Pennsylvania area that can take a look at it?
Type the url address as plain text. New members are prevented from adding links as a side consequence of spammers awhile ago when they invaded this site. They too added their url addresses along with phone numbers but members used the reporting tab to send a message to Charlie the admin. Once informed, he simply deleted them with a likely warning. Spelling out url addresses is temporary until you've passed 15 posts then pasting a link works.

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Old 11-22-2018, 10:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

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Old 11-22-2018, 10:42 PM   #14
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

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Old 11-22-2018, 10:44 PM   #15
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Default Re: L300 by mistake. What do I have?

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Old 11-22-2018, 10:57 PM   #16
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Old 11-22-2018, 10:58 PM   #17
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:00 PM   #18
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:11 PM   #19
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:12 PM   #20
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