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Old 03-20-2001, 10:28 AM   #1
Yankeez01L30094SL2
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Default Crashing In Saturns

I am alarmed about the number of fatal (multiple fatal) crashes in central NJ recently. Our population is to much for the roads and will only get worse so the only thing I can do is have a car that provides the best crash protection. My question is. How well do Saturns really protect the occupants? Wearing seat belts of course. Please tell any expierences or someone you know who was in a crash in a Saturn. Or any ratings from any source. Or just your plain two cents please. Do I need to get a Volvo? Are volvos really the best in crash protection? How well do Saturns compare to what is out there? It may be to soon to tell how well the side air bags do. Do Saturns live up to their reputation that Saturn advertises?
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Old 03-20-2001, 10:47 AM   #2
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Yes

Saturns are excellent in crash safety. Check out the NHTSA (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/)and HDLI (http://www.carsafety.org/)

You'll see
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Old 03-20-2001, 12:32 PM   #3
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Short version of a longer story. Many know it already as the "HumpMan's Midnight Easter Bunny Hop."

I flipped my first '97 SC1 on it's roof from about 60mph. Wound up totalling the vehicle and breaking lots of glass, but I was totally uninjured (except for my ego, perhaps). And the sunroof survived as well.

My Saturn was crashworthy, at least in my unfortunate incident.

the HumpMan

P.S. A couple of years ago, at our local auto show, there was a Toyota Product Specialist who came running up to the Saturn display and had a story to tell. Seems he used to be a paramedic in PA or NJ, and he once came up on a wreck in which a Saturn got rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. Apparently the rear of the car had been pushed all the way to the back of the front seats. Inside were two bodies with sheets over them. He started to begin cutting the roof off the car, and one of the bodies started asking him stuff! The driver, apparently, was largely uninjured, and his wife, the passenger, had some minor injuries. At least I think that is how the story went. I was quite impressed that a Toyota employee loved telling this story.
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Old 03-20-2001, 12:34 PM   #4
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I crashed my 93sl2 in 1995 in Cowtown New Jersey. RT. 40, a 2 lane highway going 55mph. My cigarette blew behind me under my seat. My co-pilot held the wheel as I searched over my left side for cigarette. I looked up to check the road and said s#!T I can't find it and went back down to look for it again. My co-pilot thought I had the wheel so she let go and searched behind my seat. Witness behind me told cops 55mph into pole, no brake lights, back end came around and car vaulted then flipped 2.5 times. While we were both looking for the cigarette she finally looked up at the last second and let out a shreik. I only had time to turn and put hands on steering wheel and hold on; I didn't have my seat belt on. Lucky for me the car had a driver side air bag and I was able to hold on to wheel. At impact I saw a white flash and heard a loud noise. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes and seeing the ground passing by , near my head, as the car skidded on its roof. We stopped and I looked over at my girlfriend, still hugging the steering wheel, and she wasn't as lucky as me. I saw like 6 streams of blood from her face to the ceiling. She was only wearing her lap belt and she hit her chin on the dashboard. Chipped 6 teeth, the 4 bottom ones were horizontal and pushed toward the back of her mouth. Two cuts on her chin that needed plastic surgery. One cut under her chin that went through to her mouth. And when we flipped, her hand got caught outside the window and dragged for a moment. Big heloid scar on the back of her hand, no surgery or skin grafts there. Also the $400 bracelet I bought her on that wrist was never recovered. I'd say the car is safe: I just got lucky to escape with a small cut on my knee and airbag burns on my forearms. She may have been fine had she worn the annoying mechanical shoulder strap. While the car was totalled the passenger compartment was still mostly intact. Good safe car. She cost 20k to repair and she then got a check from my insurance company for 90k. The B!#ch deserved it... The check that is. Also, I bought the car in 93 for $14,800, put 65k miles on it, drove for 2.5years, totaled it, and my check for totaled car was $12,484. Not a bad deal.
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Old 03-20-2001, 01:23 PM   #5
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I got hit by a car on the side at 70mph when I didn't know where I was and crossed a highway unknowingly. The sent the guy in the Civic to the hospital while my friend and I in a '95 SL2 were picked up by our parents uninjured and just a little dazed. The car was totaled, but we were great. Can't say that much for the poor guy in the Civic who suffered a broken leg and some cuts and bruises.
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Old 03-20-2001, 01:31 PM   #6
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Saturns have always had a high crash worthiness rating (4 or 5 stars I think). And I'm quite sure the '96 Saturns were designed to meet the Side Impact crash worthiness BEFORE it was mandated by the feds.

You may also want to check out the Owner's Stories link on the web homepage -- there are some stories there involving Saturns in crashes!
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Old 03-20-2001, 02:20 PM   #7
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When the S series was introduced, I believed it was the BEST in its class. Five star government (NHTSA) crash ratings, but unfortuneately, as I keep saying, the competition has caught up while Saturn has been sitting. I don't see any crash test data that makes Saturn stand out anymore. The main competition for Saturn in both small and midsize markets are marginally better, if not exceedingly better. The L series is quite a disappointment in the NHTSA crash tests. I don't think 4 stars frontal is all that high or exceptional when the Taurus and Impala got 5 star frontal. Even the Chrysler Sebring sedan got five star. What's more embaressing, although incomplete, the Korean <!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1664.html" target="_blank">Daewoo Laganza</a><!--url--> (without side air) received a better side crash result than the Saturn L series. <b>2</b> Stars front side crash result? Com'on...! What kind of crap is that. Even in the S series, its NHTSA side crash test was quite poor. Even considering that these side crash results were without side airbags, some of the competition has been quite better than the S series or the L series, without side airbags. I'm quite disappointed now that I'm reviewing these data. Here's what I have to share (all linked):

<u>Government NHTSA (<a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov)</u>" target="_blank"><!--autohttp-->http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov)</u></a><!--autohttp-->
<font face="Courier New">
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/2001Cmpt.html" target="_blank">2001 Compact Passenger Cars </a><!--url-->
(Note, somehow the S series is in the wrong category. It's placed with other '<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/2001Subc.html" target="_blank">SubCompacts</a><!--url-->')
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/testing/NCAP/cars/1568.html" target="_blank">2001 4dr Saturn SL</a><!--url-->
Frontal Impact Driver Side: 5
Frontal Impact Passenger Side: 5
Side Impact Front Occupant: 3
Side Impact Rear Occupant: <b>2</b>

<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1690.html" target="_blank">2001 4dr Civic (with or w/o side air)</a><!--url-->
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1689.html" target="_blank">2001 2dr Civic (with side air)</a><!--url-->&lt;--<b>5 Stars</b> all around
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1592.html" target="_blank">2001 4dr Corolla (without side Air)</a><!--url-->

<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/2001MidS.html" target="_blank"><u>--2001 Medium Passenger Cars </u></a><!--url-->
(Note, somehow the L series is in the wrong category too. It's placed with other '<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/2001Cmpt.html" target="_blank">Compacts</a><!--url-->')
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1567.html" target="_blank">2001 Saturn L 4dr</a><!--url-->
Frontal Impact Driver Side: 4
Frontal Impact Passenger Side: 5
Side Impact Front Occupant: <b>2</b>
Side Impact Rear Occupant: 4

<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1585.html" target="_blank">2001 Camry (w/o Side Air)</a><!--url-->
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1586.html" target="_blank">2001 Camry (with Side Air)</a><!--url-->
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1623.html" target="_blank">2001 Accord (with Side Air)</a><!--url-->
<!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/cars/1636.html" target="_blank">2001 Accord (w/o Side Air)</a><!--url-->
</font><!--fixed-->

<u>Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (<a href="http://www.hwysafety.org)</u>" target="_blank"><!--autohttp-->http://www.hwysafety.org)</u></a><!--autohttp-->
Rating Scale: <font color="green">Good</font><!--color-->/<font color="orange">Acceptable</font><!--color-->/<font color="yellow">Marginal</font><!--color-->/<font color="red">Poor</font><!--color-->
<font face="Courier New">
<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/97015.htm" target="_blank">1995-2001 Saturn SL</a><!--url-->
Overall A
Structure/safety cage A
-Injury measures:
--Head/neck G
--Chest A
--Leg/foot, left A
--Leg/foot, right G
Restraints/dummy kinematics M

<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/97009.htm" target="_blank">1996-2000 Civic </a><!--url-->
Overall A
<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/97022.htm" target="_blank">1998-2001 Corolla</a><!--url-->
Overall A

<u>--Midsize class</u>
<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/99022.htm" target="_blank">2000-2001 Saturn LS</a><!--url-->
Overall A
Structure/safety cage A
-Injury measures:
--Head/neck G
--Chest G
--Leg/foot, left G
--Leg/foot, right P
Restraints/dummy kinematics A

<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/98001.htm" target="_blank">1998-2001 Accord</a><!--url-->
Overall A
<!--http--><a href="http://www.hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/96028.htm" target="_blank">1997-2001 Camry </a><!--url-->&lt;--<b>BEST</b> in its class
Overall <font color="green">*G*</font><!--color-->
</font><!--fixed-->
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Old 03-20-2001, 05:36 PM   #8
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I was hit in my 99 SL six months after I bought it. A woman was pulling onto the roadway and nailed the passenger-side rear of my car. I spun around two complete times and slammed into a tall curb. It felt like nothing, although the car had to be towed and sustained $6000 in damage. The car was solid - still is - and I'm convinced they're every bit as safe as a Volvo, if not better.
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Old 03-20-2001, 08:58 PM   #9
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I have not wadded up a Saturn, but my wife did (after an OE Firehawk let go) with lots of damage to the car thanks to curbing and pole. She was little shook up from the event, but otherwise unscathed. The car was repaired, but had the supplement required been known about up front, the car would have been a total loss.

Then there was the wreck on snow she avoided thanks to her ABS allowing her to steer around some idiot while still slowing enough to delicately place the car into the small escape opening that was left to her, but then I guess having ABS makes her speed demon and this should be on the other thread. Damned hot rodders......
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Old 03-20-2001, 09:40 PM   #10
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I've not crashed, nor do I know anyone who has. However, there's much to make of the crash statistics out there at the NHTSA and IIHS. What's interesting is how the L-series gets it's lower rating. Much of the concern was with respect to the intrusion of the powertrain into the footwell, causing severe damage to the driver's right foot. The car tested was a V-6. I suspect that the I-4 engine would not have produced this type of injury because the engine is that much further away from the firewall.

Regardless, the law of physics has much to do with auto safety. If you talk to police officers assigned to investigating crashes, you'll all hear the same thing: "mass matters". Whichever vehicle has the most mass wins. You'll also find out that most of them drive pickup trucks. There's a reason for that.

I had the unfortunate opportunity to see what happens when a Ford F-150 pickup truck turns left in front of a Honda Civic travelling at about 30 mph. The driver of the pickup truck had his coffee spilled over the dash of his truck. The driver of the Civic had his brains spilled over the dash of his car.

Yes, the S-series and L-series do rather well in crash tests. They are designed to pass those tests. It's a totally different thing when another vehicle impacts your Saturn. Impact angles matter. The crush zone of the car impacting your Saturn matters. The road surface matters. Your Saturn's velocity matters.

I have a video tape from Mercedes Benz that shows crash tests performed by Mercedes on Volvos, BMWs, Audis and Mercerdes at the speed mandated by the government (30 mph?) and at 5 miles above the speed at which the government mandates crash tests. It's interesting to see how poorly the cars fare at these higher speeds. It's also another lesson in the law of physics.

Drive defensively and always keep your guard up!
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Old 03-20-2001, 10:02 PM   #11
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There's "crash test" data, then there is real world crashes. Crash tests are performed under specific, controlled conditions, real world crashes are not. There isn't any "rollover" crash test, for example; how do you think some of those cars showing terrific "star ratings" would fare in a rollover? I'd put the Saturn spaceframe or "modified spaceframe" ahead of any Honda, Toyaota, or whatever in REAL WORLD crashworthiness. You ever see stories about how "My Honda/Toyota rolled over 3 times and I emerged without a scratch"? I haven't. Seen plenty of such stories, on this board and elsewhere, about Saturns.

My sister witnessed the aftermath of a severe accident in upstate NY involving an SL; 4 kids were driving down a pretty steep hill on a narrow, winding 2-lane road in an agricultural area. They came around a bend too fast, swinging wide, and a car was coming the other way. They swerved to avoid the oncoming car, went off the road, came back onto it hitting the pavement edge so hard that the tires exploded (and NO TRACE of them was found!), rolled the car over a few times, and all 4, wearing seatbelts, emerged with just some scratches and bruises. Think that would have been the result in a Civic or Corolla?

One thing to bear in mind: auto manufacturers today largely use the "crash tests" as a marketing tool, and just because their cars do well in tests that they know the cars will be put through in advance, doesn't mean they are great at safety engineering, just that they're good at preparing for those specific tests. The Saturn S-series cars have changed little since 1991, but when new crash tests were introduced, they performed well in those tests anyway, and that speaks loudly for Saturn's "real world" safety engineering. (In other words, they didn't need to have deficiencies in their cars' safety revealed by a new "test" in order to have engineered the car well enough to do well in that "test".) A lot of cars did very poorly in the offset frontal crash tests when they were introduced, including some of those made by the likes of Toyota (Previa) and Volkswagon (Passat), among others. The new examples (or replacements) of those models that did poorly then did swell in the "tests", but then you did well on tests in school, too when you knew what to prepare for, didn't you? Just some food for thought. Not to suggest there is not any value in crash test results, but they are certainly not the last word on safety.

A while back, someone had a photo on these boards of an L-Series sedan that had been broadsided by an Aerostar at high speed; it came out of that collision pretty damn good. I certainly don't feel unsafe in my LW2, nor did I in my SC's. Happy to say I have not been in any serious accidents in any of my Saturns, and at the end of the day, THAT is the safest car - one that isn't in an accident!
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Old 03-20-2001, 11:18 PM   #12
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Default Crashing In Saturns

I was involved in a head-on @ 50+ mph in my 93 SL2 last August. Myself and both passengers were unharmed.
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Old 03-20-2001, 11:57 PM   #13
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I haven't crashed a Saturn, but this week a lady managed to total out a Humvee. She apparently had a medical problem, ran through a chainlink fence, sheared of an 8 inch tree, knocked a deck off some footings and stopped wedged between the deck, a tree and a house. Police said there's no way she could have survived in anything less.
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Old 03-21-2001, 12:09 AM   #14
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Thanks for the input. I thought the spaceframe construction was similar enough to Volvo's design of a passenger cabin cage design. Accidents are a science unto themselves. As a part time volunteer firefighter I have been to some, usually the bad ones as the cops don't need us there making the scene and traffic worse unless we are really needed. I can't remember seeing a Saturn though. I have helped cut open a few cars though basically peeling away the car body to get to the people inside and sometimes they are fine, just trapped. There was just a really bad accident this week where a cop in the middle of the night swerved to avoid a car that cut him off and slammed head on into a accord. (not my town) Him and the two people in the accord died. I guess head ons are the worse because there is now where for the energy to go. Bouncing of curbs poles ect at least deflects some. The only thing I can see lacking in saturns that should be changed are the seat design. They need better head/neck whiplash protection. Especially the back seats. I have the side air bags in our L so maybe that would help against the low score it got. That does concern me. Since they aren't a standard feature maybe they aren't included in the test?? And yep I am always "reading traffic" and watching my back. I like performance but I know when to just be defensive.
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Old 03-21-2001, 12:18 AM   #15
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meister, you can't imply that the others are that much worse than the Saturns. Just saying that you've never heard a rollover case from a Honda/Toyota owner does not mean that the Saturn's are all that exceptionally better. Maybe one of the reason why you hear such rollover stories of Saturns much more is because you primarily focus on Saturns. Although I can't say I heard any cases (good or bad) of Honda rollovers, I do visit the Honda boards quite often and heard some spectacular accident survival cases. As impressive as most of the Saturn cases.

Again, you can't imply that a Civic or Corolla can't result the same just because your sister witnessed a impressive survival story like that only on a SL, without any case studies on the Civic or Corolla. What's the logic in that?

True that crash test data is used as a marketing tool, but is this wrong for a company to exploit this? Saturn did it a few years back with the only 5 star frontal crash result in the compact class. These crash tests results are independant of any of the company's marketing. As for preparations for crash testing, the IIHS picks its cars off dealer's lot. So any prep for crash test is pretty slim.

I agree that these crash test data are not the final word on safety, but should be considered factor in safety, as with real world case studies (and not the lack of). But real world case studies are pretty difficult do decipher with the various variables in each accident to the cause and reaction of impact and the very little possiblity, if at all, that two accident cases are the same.

I'm not saying the Saturn's are unsafe vehicles. I do believe Saturn's are fairly safe, but there's nothing in controlled test crashes that gives it evidence anymore that it's above it's competition. The L series is quite disappointing when compared to its competitors, but I still believe it's fairly safe with defensive driving skills (thank goodness we got a 4banger instead of the speed-tempting 6, then again....maybe not).
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Old 03-21-2001, 07:48 AM   #16
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I broadsided a dump truck with our 95 SL2. I had the seatbelt on and was fine. I kissed the airbag. I was fine. I was going 45mph when I hit it. The dump truck pulled out right in front of me when I had a green light. (sometimes I forget people are stupid)

I walked away. Actually, I drove the car away and to a body shop soon thereafter. They had to tow the dump truck away. I bent the front suspension up pretty bad. I swared it right in the front wheel.

The Saturn was fine for a couple of years since and then we traded it for a Saturn wagon.

Note: Even though the car was very sturdy and I really wasn't hurt at all, you are more often better off in a heavier car for accidents with other cars.
Volvos and Saabs are heavy which is good. They have the same crumple zone technology that the Saturns have. They're probably a bit safer than the Saturn. (I was hit in my Saab).
Another note; If you collide with an SUV, your bumpers won't match up. That's never good. My friend just rear ended an SUV in his BMW 328 at 5mph and it was so bad it crushed the radiator on his 'beamer'. (bumpers didn't meet).

Hope this helps,
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Old 03-21-2001, 09:42 AM   #17
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The SC2 that I just bought replaces a Civic wagon that my daughter was in when she was rearended. It was hit and run. She was stoped at a light and the other driver hit her at 35 mph. The crumple effect and the welds caused the insurance co. to total it. The same type of ripple effect (impact absorbing) welds used for front and rear of Saturns.
I will say this..A friend is fire and rescue worker locally and arrived at an accident involving a Saturn. The doors were jammed closed and they could not break the windows. The car was clawed apart to get the driver out. He was later told that the windows would not break normally because they were made from a tough plastic. I forget the name but the same material is used by aftermarket companies to build windows for VW Things (type 181 shipped to US in 73 & 74). Can anyone here confirm that material is used in Saturns? I've seen it used in VW Things and it looks and feels like glass.
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Old 03-21-2001, 10:07 AM   #18
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yup, saturns are safe, i see more wrecked ones than anyone, but...safe as a volvo??? c'mon! whole different class of car! a volvo is designed to run through a brick wall with the wall getting the ####ty end of the deal!
anyone remember the volvo commercial where they piled like 5-10 volvos on top of ONE? ive yet to see a saturn that survives a roll over well never mind have that kind of wieght on it! yes, you might survive a roll over but a volvos heavy ass box frame is twice the wieght and strengh of a saturns, can we at least compare apples to apples?
car eceice starts in crash ratings in their class, thats why the l does ####ty, for a larger car its not that great compared to other like simialar cars.
for a small car the s does wonderful in its class, but, if i had to choose between a s and a volvo to smack a wall with ill take the volvo with its 6 airbags thank you!
 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:13 AM   #19
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ps, yankeez, yes, the volvo is the best, flat out, and no one trying to compare one car to another is going to change that, they weigh upwards of 4k pounds and have been desinged for saftey for DECADES! before saturn was even a thought in someones mind. thats why before the suv craze soccer moms used to use volvo wagons so much.
my particular volvo is so safe the airbags are in the seats! why? cuase when different size occupants move the seats it detracts from exaclt where the bag will hit you on usual side impact bags, with the volvos design, as you move the seat the bags move with you for optimum protection for whatever size passenger, has saturn thought of that??
also, volovs have had rear disc on even their cheapest models since the EARLY 70's! way before most other manufacturers, why? cuase rear disc stops shorter, better in wet and safer, meantime, saturn pulls the rear disc out from under you.
like i said, saturns a great little car but you cant compare the two
 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:25 AM   #20
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well... my old 92 sc was rearend (#######' tailgators) twice within 6 months at the same intersection and i was unhurt. the rear bumper bits were replaced though. later on it rolled, which broke the windsheild, popped of a mirror, dented the hood, and crunched the a-pillars, but i was unharmed and the sunroof still worked! after that i got another saturn (a 96 sc2) to replace it.
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