PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- I bought my '97 Saturn SL1 in 2000 with about 36,000 miles on it from Saturn of Tempe, just outside of Phoenix. My aunt has owned a Saturn from the beginning. She had always been very happy with it, so I decided to check it out. My father owns an Engine shop in Central Virginia, and had always told me how he thought they were very good cars.
After doing a bit of research, I bought my car. From the moment I stepped foot on the property, I knew I would love my experience. The sales people walk up to you, introduce themselves, and walk away to allow you to check stuff out. They always watch from afar, no hassle. I've since paid the car off and drive it everyday.
Of course I have had a few problems. Had to replace the clutch. That's my fault though. I didn't really know what I was doing, and I made the mistake of teaching a few people how to drive a stick. I do have a couple of minor complaints. The windows have gone out, which is the only complaint my aunt had with the car too. The doors do rattle a little bit. I have since heard that Saturn has perfected these problems. Small price to pay for NEVER having been stranded.
Every time I rent a car when I'm out of town, which I do quite frequently, I realize how GREAT my car is. It gets about 28-30 MPG in the city and about 38-39 MPG on the highway. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best!! Driving through mountains is somewhat of a pain though. It has a 1.9 liter engine, so not too much power.
The SL2s have the dual overhead cam, which gives pretty much twice the power. I have to switch gears on large hills quite frequently. If looking for one of these cars, go for the DOHC. They still maintain the great gas mileage, but the power is great!! I have now owned the car for 8 years, it just rolled over 180,000 miles, and I plan on having the car many years to come. I've also been looking into the Saturn Greenline. I LOVE MY CAR!!!
COLUMBUS, OHIO -- I have a 50/50 opinion of the service I received from the Saturn Dealership located at 8600 N High St, Columbus, OH. My vehicle stopped running while on my way to the dealership for a service appointment. The service manager arranged for my car to be towed and a rental vehicle while it was being repaired. This service of convenience was much appreciated.
The technician analyzed my vehicle and came back with a laundry list of repairs that were needed (This was to be expected). I instructed the service manager that I only want to do the repairs necessary to get the car running. I am mechanically handy and have maintained the vehicle with the usual oil changes, air filter, pvc valve, plugs and other "break-fix" problems that arise from normal use.
This time the car had been steadily losing gas mileage and power while driving. The technician had concluded it was an intake manifold gasket that had deteriorated to the point of allowing too much air into the air/fuel mixture causing it to sputter. This made perfectly good sense to me based on the symptoms the car was exhibiting. So I was pleased with our agreement and told the service manager "While you're in there give it an Oil change and the needed transmission fluid replacement". Having been pleased in my own diagnosis and having it validated by an "Expert", I was satisfied. This sense of satisfaction was short lived.
The car was to be ready the next day and available for pickup. This started at 7:00AM on a Friday. I was ready to pick up the car Saturday morning at 10:00am when I received a call at 9:00am stating the repairs had been done but the car is still not running properly. All the symptoms still exist. The technician will have to look at it again.
The problem wasn't resolved Saturday, the technician was busy and the service department closed at Noon on Saturdays. It will have to wait until Monday. I got a call late Monday morning that the car needed a catalytic converter AND IT WILL COST $1190.00 for the part and $800.00 for the labor. If I owned a welder I would have done it myself for that price and any others they would like me to do for the dealership. Keep in mind the total bill with car rental and towing was $700.00.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked the service manager to repeat that. I couldn't believe the boldness of the Saturn family. The car wasn't drivable and I would not pay such an outrageous charge without seeking other alternatives. So I began to call around. Midas - 445.00, Mieneke - 465.00, my hometown local muffler shop 161.00 with tax, Autozone 57.00 (Do it myself). This is a Fitted vs. Universal comparison.
I had my local muffler shop do it. So the lesson here: Muffler $161.00, 150 mile tow $180.00, Saturn Service manager 1180% markup quote in writing and stating the bargain price of hostage repair attempt PRICELESS. The aggravated expense of refusing to be extorted 3 days car rental, towing and $1000.00 for my time. Attention Saturn, please mail me a check for my services.