Saturn Complaint - Never Ending Repairs
LANGLEY -- We have a 2002 Saturn Vue with 77,000 km on it. In December last year we started having electrical troubles with it. While driving all electrical assisted functions shut down - we had no power steering or power brakes. We drove it to the shop and left it. We were told it was the battery and paid $150 for a top line battery. We drove it home and it was fine. The very next time I drove it, we again lost all the electrical systems.
Back to the shop. It took a week to diagnose. We were told it was the BCM module which never breaks down. The bill was $1400.
The fix lasted 2 months. Upon starting the vehicle, we received a "reduced power" warning light. The car would only go 5 km/hr. Turning it off and restarting would usually clear the problem. This happened 3 or 4 times. We made an appointment for service the second day this happened. When we took it back in February, I received a phone call an hour after dropping the vehicle off. 'We don't know what's wrong with it. What do you want us to do?' I said unless they wanted it as a trade in they should find and fix the problem. No they weren't interested in it if it wasn't running. An hour later they said it was the ECM - the part would take 4 days to come in from back east - $1300. The day they were to replace it, I got another phone call. 'terribly sorry, but when they replaced the ECM they discovered the Throttle Body Module was fried (apparently couldn't diagnose that with the bad ECM) that'll be $2200 more. (We were told THESE parts also never break down.) Total bill with taxes etc. $4,200 which they graciously dropped 20%.
That repair lasted 28 days, one tank of gas, less than 1,000 km. Suddenly the vehicle was refusing to start. We called the dealership and the service person told us over the phone that he thought it sounded like the passlock system. The security system was not recognizing the key and not letting any fuel through to the engine. Bring it in.
When I took it in, they told me this part never breaks down (so how could he recognize and diagnose it on the phone?) About 2 hours later I was told that it was indeed the passlock system and for only $500 my problems would be solved. I refused and went and picked up the vehicle. The work order recommendation said 'intermittent problem - recommend starting with replacement of the passlock system and retesting.'
As we pondered what to do with our lemon, a friend said to see if we could order the part as he had a friend that might be able to fix it. My wife called the dealer and was told it needed a passlock system AND a water pump which would be another $800. When I called back and asked about the water pump, the service manager couldn't explain why it didn't appear on our work order, why we'd never had a puddle on our driveway, or had to replace fluids. He insisted that he was there when the VUE came in and he remembered there was water spraying all over in the service bay.
At this point, I called Saturn Canada. The operator I talked to, listened to me vent for an hour and promised to get back to me in 2 days. Four days later she called back. She had talked to the dealership, and Saturn Canada was confident that everything was being handled properly. I had to realize that my vehicle was getting older and I should expect a few repair costs. The dealer was sure that if I just got the passlock system done everything would be fine. But they realized I was unhappy with the vehicle; so if I wanted to trade it in AFTER paying for the repairs, they would give me a very good deal. She couldn't explain the water pump situation but was sure it was an honest recommendation.
So we called Springmans back and made an appointment to take the vehicle back in. We were told it would take 10 days to get the passlock system part from the US (as this part never breaks down and is rare in Canada.) Would we like to make an appointment in 3 days? When I asked what the point of making an appointment a week before the part came in would be I just got silence until I said to call me when the part came in.
Five days later we got a call that the part was in. My wife took the vehicle in and was met by the service manager. He asked what the problem was. She told him she had an appointment to replace the part they had brought in for us and he replied with 'but what's the problem?' When she described it to him; his response was 'Well I can tell you right now, it's not your passlock system. You've bought a cheap key somewhere, it's broken down and you have metal filings in your ignition.' My wife told him we have never bought a key from anywhere but that dealership, so if we got a cheap key, it was from them. He told her she was a liar, that the ignition was the problem and we had gotten a cheap key somewhere else. Saturn keys are good quality and never break down. She left the key and walked out. (We did have one key that was worn. It was original with the car and was the one we had replaced about 1 1/2 years earlier with a key we bought at Springmans.)
About three hours later, she phoned me. The dealership had called and said the vehicle was ready, she was going to pick it up. They said the first part they put in was faulty and they had to replace it a second time. They just wanted her to know that they had done that free of charge. I immediately told her there was something wrong here. They waited for the part to come from the US, they shouldn't have had a second part to replace it with. Sure enough, they replace the ignition housing, not the passlock system.
Now my wife was faced with a tough decision. The car is working. They hadn't replaced the part they were supposed to replace, but the car is working. Does she make them replace the other part, too? Does she complain about them replacing the ignition housing? But the car is working. So she took it. $492. No mention was made of the faulty water pump.
The wonderful trade in we were offered was a $500 cash back bonus advertised in the front window of the dealership. We really don't think we want to sign up for another 5 year term of Saturn ownership, especially after reading all the posts on sites like this one. We decide to keep the Saturn and only use it for emergencies.
We have now put another 400 km on the vehicle. It's outside in the driveway and won't start. It seems that the battery is not charging....