Comments on '97 through '02 SL1 & SL2?

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by Bob Shuman, May 20, 2006.

  1. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    My 19+ year old son has driven a '96 SL1 for the last 3 years. It had 112K
    miles on it when he got it and we did all preventive maintenance at that
    time. It now has 140K miles and has been good to him. It was a good car to
    travel to/from college since it had adequate space, got very good gas
    mileage, and was easy to maintain.

    Unfortunately, he was involved earlier tonight in a minor fender bender
    (thankfully everyone is OK), but the car suffered passenger side headlight,
    superficial bumper, hood, a leaking radiator and A/C condenser damage.
    Since we dropped collision on it, I am thinking it could be time to let go
    and just replace it with a newer vehicle.

    My question is are the newer SL1's and SL2's as reliable as the old '96 he
    had? What known problems are there to be on the lookout for in say, a 2000
    or newer SL2?

    Feedback is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Bob Shuman, May 20, 2006
  2. Bob Shuman

    Private Guest

    IMHO you should try to find a 96 and up S1 (not S2) series close to the year
    you have and preferably the same color. (I am really a fan of the SW1 as it
    has GREAT utility.) If you have another the same as what you have
    everything on the second car will be safe except the RF headlight / hood
    area. If you do damage another part of the car or the doors, the older
    paint will match. The older car will be cheaper to purchase, I have heard
    of them selling for a song. You can probably find one selling for not much
    more than the wheels / tires and battery are worth.
    Private, May 20, 2006
  3. Bob Shuman

    Roy Guest

    My 98 has been very good to me. The only major problem I've had so far is
    that the teansmission developed a leak and I replaced it rather than having
    someone try to fix it (they etimated anywhere from $800 to 2000 for rebuild,
    I got a used one out of a 2002 for $675)
    Mine is manual and I saw someone on here say that the gears "float" and can
    sometimes wear a hole in the casing. That seems to fit with what happened to
    If you have the space and like to fix em yourself I would agree with Private
    and say buy another in the same range and keep that one for parts. I think
    the body style was the same from 95 to 99 (the range the junkyards refer to
    when getting parts) and possibly up to 2002.
    Roy, May 21, 2006
  4. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Out of curiosity, was the transmission that developed the leak automatic or
    manual? I'm guessing auto, but just wanted to verify.

    Looks like we will be trying to save the old '96. had it towed to our house
    and looks like I need a radiator, passenger headlamp assembly and new hood.
    The rest looks like it can be salvaged. Will know more when we get it

    Thanks for the comments.

    Bob Shuman, May 22, 2006
  5. Bob Shuman

    Private Guest

    Glad to hear that your car is repairable. You can probably find a hood from
    a wrecking yard and if you look hard may even find one the right color.
    When you find the hood you may have also found the headlight and a rad.

    Since you indicate that the right fender is still usable I am guessing that
    the steering and suspension were not involved. I would caution you to be
    sure that the steering was not involved as it does not take much of a hit
    (or hard curb or pothole) to bend something and result in a car that will
    skin off a few tires and a lot of work and money to get straight.

    Good luck, YMMV
    Private, May 22, 2006
  6. Bob Shuman

    Roy Guest

    Manual thankfully. Had it changed in January and didn't have a garage I
    could use so I had to pay someone else to do it. When I called for an
    estimate they hummed and hawwed and didn't seem too eager to tell me, then I
    told them it was manual and they said "Oh, seven hour then" They told me
    their manual that estimates repair time said 14 to 18 hours to swap an
    automatic in the S series.
    Wondering if anybody here knows why swapping the auto takes twice as long?
    Roy, May 22, 2006
  7. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Started taking the old SL apart. Passenger headlamp assembly cracked at the
    top alignment screw. Radiator is leaking at the seams. Front bumper and
    cover is still in pretty good shape. Hood definitely needs replacing. Still
    locks closed on the latch, but started to crumple in the center on one side.
    yes, if we are lucky we will find the parts locally. No structural damage
    although there is a minor indent in the welded front support near the hood
    latch. Total deformation is about 1/4". Not worth replacing. No steering,
    engine, or wheel issues. Wish us luck.

    The auto transmission cooling lines going into the radiator are a Pain in
    the rear to get off. I am soaking tonight in penetrating oil hoping that
    will help when I try again tomorrow. I am using a 1/2" flare wrench, but am
    afraid to pull too hard since I do not want to round off the compression nut
    on the feed tubes.

    Bob Shuman, May 23, 2006
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