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Old 12-05-2009, 12:38 AM   #1
Saturninin
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2005 VUE 3.5L
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Default Things to avoid in a Saturn

I live around Chicago and we have all the auto auctions and i want something that I can learn to work on and fix her up

one of my buds goes often to the one close to us and has bought several saturns from there (last one paid 350 for and all it needed was a headlight) but he considers them a POS casue of the oil burning

But at the auction he says you can test the trans and rev the engine and thats it

so like i said im newer on working under the hood and woundering what should i avoid on saturns and key areas to look at since my dad does not help at all (should not have not boughten my 98 SL2, has problems, but he will not let me fix)

or links to helpful info?
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94 HCE ~180
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

ECTS and thermostat, for starters. They like to fail (ECTSes crack due to the plastic kind cracking, causing screwups, and thermostats stick open as well)

Water pumps and radiators tend to leak after 10-12 years..

Avoid using iridium/platinum/etc spark plugs, copper plugs are just fine.

Avoid bosch in general.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:47 AM   #3
Saturninin
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

but are not the ECTS and thermostat easy fixes?

im looking like for major do not buy this car even for like 300 if that makes sence
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

Ya, everything Link posted is easy fixes. If it's an auto make sure the tranny shifts alright when cold. No reverse slam. Make sure it doesn't burn too much oil (they are oil burners, but not to the point of being POSes). See if you can listen for the timing chain. It should be quiet, not rattling. Other than that, it's your usual car stuff.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

They are easy fixes, I'm just pointing out common issues. and thingd to avoid using in saturns...

Basically it depends on what you and your budget consider major. Like if the engine is knocking or transmissing knocking..
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

i was thinking about picking up something that did not need that much mechinical work and fixing her up and giving it 2 family and then maybe steping up like 2 engine replacement or such
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98 SL1 260~426
08 Outlook XE 20~160
95 SC2 ~128

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Old 12-05-2009, 01:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

Are you talking about City Auto Auctions in Harvey? I wonder if they let you bring a obd2 scan tool or compression tester in? probably not.

I'd look for cracked radiators, milkshake oil, etc. If you need any parts, the U Pull It in Blue Island has at least 25 S Series cars there, I was just there a week or so ago, half price parts on Mondays, but its crowded.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

oak im in the region so there are a few auctions over here and I've been to U Pull It in Hammond on wends and like you said half price days are hetic but hay pulled 2 nice SL2 seats out for like $30, they got a decent selection of S series there also, dont reamber many wagons though

and tx for the advice
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08 Outlook XE 20~160
95 SC2 ~128

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Old 12-05-2009, 01:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

We really should have a guide (*ahem* sticky perhaps) of common problems to look for when buying a used Saturn on this site so here it goes

(Please, consider for a minute that I am much more experienced with 1st gen Saturn's)

Stuff to look at......

  • First and foremost, Look the exterior of car over and check for any oddities or strange panel gaps or fit (could have been accident damage)
  • Check the tires; not a deal breaker but usually you can tell how much the PO looked after the car by checking if all tires match or are the correct size for the car. You wouldn't believe how many people apparently CAN'T read the door sticker for tire size, or are really cheap and buy the wrong size to save $$$
  • Now under the hood...
  • First off, is the engine bay clean or does it look like there are years and years of oil and sludge buildup? (GENERALLY NOT A GOOD SIGN)
  • ***Very Important, check all fluids and see if any appear to be burnt, smell strange or just generally don't look/feel right I.E. take the cap off the coolant reservoir, if you see a milkshake like sludge or lots of metal particles RUN AWAY this could indicate a cracked head or PO dumping in radiator stop leak (botched fix and will cause more problems)
  • The great thing with OHC engines is that the cam is right up top, take off the oil cap and peer in with a flashlight. Check for unusual cam wear or sludge buildup, the inside of the head where the cam is will probably be stained brown from years of being bathed in hot engine oil, that is OK but black tar like deposits are NOT.
  • See if anything like the ECTS and connector, top motor mount, or other common items like the cam cover gasket, air filter or spark plug wires have been replaced recently (Good sign potentially) this can mean either the previous owner knew about the issue and fixed it (usually good, although some owners can botch things up worse) or it could mean a dealership did it (good for the most part)
  • Check and see if the radiator is new (if not, it will fail at some point) and if you can see if any of the serp. belt acessory drive items have been replaced (water pump alternator etc.)
  • Under the car...
  • Biggest issue in the salt/rust belt and anywhere else that sees snow, RUST (yes even though the car is mainly PLASTIC and ALUMINUM the chassis and frame are still steel) Check for rust through on the drivers side subframe (near the trans. mount, usually blocked by a plastic shield). Also check for subframe/undercarriage damage in general (again, can be fixed but it really depends on your skill level, consider this a higher level repair)
  • Check the exhaust system for rattles(loose shields or dead catalytic converter) or holes
  • Biggie here, check all brake and fuel lines for rust. You wouldn't want to drive something and have a rusted line blow out on you when you tried to stop or be spraying/leaking gas next to potentially hot exhaust parts (fixable if you know what you are doing)
  • Starting/Driving the car...
  • Start the car, notice if the car takes a long time to start or there are any strange noises (usually fixable)
  • See what the car idles at, it should start at around 1200RPM and work its way down to about 800-900RPM when warmed.
  • While the car is idling, check and see if there are any misfires or hiccups. Listen for any noise on the passenger side of the engine that could be coming from the belt drive or the timing chain. If you hear a loud chattering or a tractor/diesel like sound the timing chain is most likely on its way out (pretty big fix)
  • Check for any warning lights and make sure all the lights actually WORK and are not removed or burned out
  • If it has more than 2 doors (SL, SW) check the rear door frame with the door open, they like to rust out in the lower corner.
  • If it's an automatic see if it goes into the gears without slamming or clunking
  • If its a manual, check the shifter for slop which could indicate a worn shifter bushing or non OEM shift cables
  • Give the engine a few good rev's, it should rev up pretty quickly without hesitating, bucking, or missing. Preferably have yourself or someone else stand by the exhaust and note the exhaust gasses, does it smell rich? is there black (excess fuel) or blue (burnt oil) smoke?
  • What does the temp gauge read after a drive or extended period idling (should be higher than 1/4, otherwise expect to change a thermostat)
  • If you can drive the car at all see if it tracks straight down the road and don't be afraid to hit a few bumps and listen for knocks or clunks in the suspension a few interior rattles will probably be present (let's face it, pretty much all Saturn's rattle to an extent )
  • ***Also check and see if the odometer actually works (some of the older ones break and if it is currently broken, who knows how long it's been like that!)

That is mostly all I can think of right now ...haha.

Remember when you go to buy the car (if you truly want it) start off with a lower price rather than a higher one. The worst that can happen is the owner says no and you can meet in the middle somewhere. If you offer too much and they accept then you will have less $$$ to fix potential issues. One more thing to keep in mind, it never hurts to consult KBB or NADA and use that when trying to talk to the seller (S-Series generally have a low resale value) .....

I am sure other owners will chime in if they think of something that I probably missed

Hope this helps you and anyone else looking to buy a used Satty.

PS. If you feel like it you can leave me a rep point on the bottom corner of my user name. It doesn't really do much other than give me the feeling that I at least helped someone else out

GOOD LUCK!
...
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Last edited by Col.FUBAR; 12-05-2009 at 01:44 AM.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

thanks Col yeah gota love all this rust, but that was my thought pick something up for like 300 and if im out 300 oh well can scrap it for that, better than being out likw 2000
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Wanted: Dealer items (frames/ key-chains)

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08 Outlook XE 20~160
95 SC2 ~128

Past
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:28 PM   #11
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

Col., you might as well apply that list to the 2nd gen S-series, and fwiw at least the fluids should apply to 3rd gen s-series.

I'd also be looking at a new battery, regardless.
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Old 12-05-2009, 03:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

Yep Col once again thank you, and like u said im suprised that there is not a stiky or something w/ all that info

and yeah breaklines are horiable when they leak, just about rearended a PT crusier in my F-150 when the break line rusted out, but got that fixed now

and thanks once again for the help
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Wanted: Dealer items (frames/ key-chains)

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95 SC2 ~128

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Old 12-06-2009, 12:52 AM   #13
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

Any other helpful tips out there?
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Wanted: Dealer items (frames/ key-chains)

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08 Outlook XE 20~160
95 SC2 ~128

Past
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:32 AM   #14
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

I think all the major points were covered. Other than major engine or transmission work, just about everything is cheaply and easily replaced.

Make sure you look at the car from a distance and low angle to see if it's sitting oddly or the tires aren't parallel

If it has a sunroof, check for operation and signs of previous leaks
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:41 PM   #15
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Default Re: Things to avoid in a Saturn

okay thanks
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