Should I buy '01 LW300 98Kmi?

Discussion in 'Saturn L-series' started by S., Oct 28, 2008.

  1. S.

    S. Guest

    Not sure if I am looking for someone to talk me out of ...or into...
    purchasing a used 2001 LW300 wagon with 98,000 miles.
    My '95 SW1 w/ nearly 180K is now burning about a qt of oil every 400
    miles. I did a top engine clean w/Seafoam when I disassembled the
    engine back at 152K and did head gasket and timing chain kit. I've
    done all the maintenance myself except for the tranny rebuild. With
    two small kids and reliability/safety being a factor, I guess I'm done
    w/ this car.
    The LW300 (6 Cyl) is at a local Saturn dealer. This is a really
    beautiful looking car. Like new, w/ new tires. It has never seen snow,
    has a clean one-owner, Carfax. The dealer showed me the service dept
    history. It has always been serviced there. Even on the lift the car
    looks great underneath with no leaks, or evidence thereof. (Having
    just done the Cat Conv on my SW1, I have been under a Saturn several
    times a year for about a decade now). I took the car home overnight
    and all looks and feels good.
    The service issues I have seen detailed on the web and various owner
    reviews (edmunds, epinions) with this series have me concerned. The
    tail light recall was done on this car along with a few BCM's at
    5,100 and 13,600 mi, engine oil coolers at 1,600 and 28K mi.; fuel
    pump/sender, rear crankshaft seal at 31K; MAF sensor at 53K, Water
    pump @ 56K. Rear wheel hub/bearing at 56K; front weatherstrips and
    dimmer switch at 57K; "Armrest/Console" @ 78K, Pwr steering pump/
    pulley and belt tensioner at 83K. The last major recommended service
    done was the 81K.

    This car was traded back in February. Has been driven by dealer for
    700 miles now. With the end of the month, an anemic car market, along
    with a pending timing chain service at 100K ($1,900 for the 100K
    service per another Saturn dealer. I can get the Rock Auto timing
    chain kit and do it myself for $325.00) I feel I can get a good deal
    for $3,500-4K.

    Am I being blinded by the $$$ and condition? My car's dying and my
    finances are meager. If I had several thousand more I would seriously
    think of a higher mileage Passat wagon, Malibu Maxx, Volvo 70 series
    wagon,and maybe, maybe, a Honda Odyessy van.

    L-Series owners, what say you?

    Also, what could a "Non-Saturn Accessory Installation" every oil
    change mean?
    S., Oct 28, 2008
  2. S.

    Steph Guest

    I will chime in.
    I had a 2001 Lw200 with a manual trans. There are some major differences
    between a LW200 and LW300 model, and of course between the 4 cylinder and
    V6 in the 300 series -- not to mention the automatic verus manual tranny.
    The main thing to note, regardless of the model - parts for this car are

    Most other Saturns models shared the body/chassis with another of GM's
    partners. This meant maybe you had Saturn Sky, but you could also shop
    for parts from a Solstice. Your SW shared with what... bonneville?
    Not so with the L-series. I found the price of brake rotors for example
    to be excessive. Or go price a front windshield.

    My particular lw200 was a great car; with a lot of problems.
    The clutch had a hydraulic leak that took the dealers months and tens of
    thousands of miles to "diagnose"... actually they finally got sick of me
    complaining and tore the tranny apart and found the problem.

    The final nail in our 2001's coffin was an issue with the fuel injection
    or timing or something that caused the car to buck and lose power until
    restarted. You can search this newsgroup for other posts about our
    experience. Now this was a lw200 with a different engine and different
    tranny -- so those problems are nto necessarily indicative of what the
    car you are looking at might have (btw, we logged 78,000 miles before
    trading it in).

    So to try and push you one way or the other, know that all cars have some
    baggage. But specifically the L series is more rare than you;d think and
    therefore as it ages the maintenance costs are higher than you'd expect.
    It is otherwise a fine automobile and you sound like a handy car person -
    so the added expense of parts is offset by your own labor.

    You could likely hold off on the timing chain (not familiar with the V6
    engine), but price-wsie it sounds good. Check for the recall or tsb about
    the cant of the tires. When our '01 had this done they ended up replacing
    all four tires due to uneven wear; again not sure how differnt the lw200
    vs lw300 suspension is.
    Steph, Oct 28, 2008
  3. S.

    Oppie Guest

    I've got a 2001 lw300 and love it. Got about 130K on it now. bought it with
    two years on it and 40K miles having just come off lease. Paid about $10K.
    Biggest single expense was the timing belt which should be done at 90K
    (iirc). I had mine done at an independent garage friend of mine and paid
    $400 for it. That included replacing the water pump which was the major
    reason for doing the timing belt at that point. Was going to do it myself
    but is not a job for the faint of heart and needs lots of special tools.
    Replaced MAF three times but am thinking that these were damaged by a
    backfire caused by a flaky crank angle sensor. Eventually, it got so bad
    that engine wouldn't start or stall out. Since I replace the crank angle
    sensor, no problems since.
    Blower motor is getting noisy and will have to be replaced soon.
    Roof rack is strange. no weight is supposed to be put on the roof and if you
    do, the paint scratches easily. I got some used Thule bars and made a wooden
    frame mounting to it to support the load. Got room for the kayak carrier and
    the rooftop soft carrier.
    Gets about 23mpg in town and up to 27mpg highway if I keep it to 55 and
    don't hotrod. Hotrodding is a temptation - I've had it up to 105 (don't do
    this with the kids in the car). Takes off like a rocket and sometimes the
    gas pedal is a bit touchy. It is drive by wire.

    Oppie, Oct 28, 2008
  4. S.

    marx404 Guest

    To add to Oppie's post: The L-series with V6 all have timing belts NOT
    chains, if your salesman told you this, tell him get lost and talk to
    someone in the service dept. who knows that the frell they are talking
    about. The average life of this belt is between 90 and 100K miles and the
    water pump will also need to be changed. This V6 is a cousin of the Caddilac
    Catera and puts out around
    180 hp.

    Do not be swayed by online reviews, this is a very good car and wagons are
    rare to find. I know someone who has over 300K miles on his because he
    religiously maintains it and has all service issues and recalls done
    immediately, which it sounds like this previous owner also did.
    marx404, Oct 29, 2008
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