My 1996 Saturn SL 1 with 52K miles is a salvage. I bought it in 1997 with about 25,000 miles on it and it ran great for years. And then disaster. In the past two to three years, the car has a newly replaced alternator, radiator, brakes and rebuilt engine. It ran again well for a short time but the service engine light wouldn't go off with the rebuilt engine and as soon its the warranty ended, the car stopped working. It turns out, 1996 Saturns have lemon engines. There was even a limited recall on the engines because of leaky head gaskets; I was notified of this by the manufacturer but I missed the recall in a series of wrong turns. Saturn would only service the car within 6 years or 100K miles (which ever came first) it if it had certain symptoms. I drove the car so little, the problems only showed up after I put more miles on it. And by that time six years had passed and the recall offer ended. Despite my requests, I couldn't get Saturn to fix it or the mechanic who sold me the second 1996 bum engine to fix the rebuilt engine. So. At this point the car isn't running. I've managed to get by without a car for a year or so. The car's Blue Book value is $2450 in excellent condition and $1750 in poor condition -- but only if I get it running again. I've been offered $500 by a dismantler. At this point, my plan is to sell, cut my losses and move on but before I do, I wanted to toss this question out at the 11th hour: is there any sense at all in fixing it? Or is time to shalom this baby?
You might consider donating it to a community college with an Automotive program. You might also consider letting them do the engine work. They will only take the work in that fits what they're currently teaching, and you'll have to wait a few weeks to get it back, but we only charged for parts and a very small labor charge of ten bucks per hour for what the job was supposed to take. When you do your taxes you can deduct the value of the car. The way taxes are going, you would likely save more in income taxes than what you could get for selling the car.
I haven't heard of the problems or warranty issues but there's a lot of such engines out there today. While it doesn't bother me to see a GM product go to the junkyard, I'd sure rather see an older one get fixed vs. You buying a newer one with way too many unnecessary, unreliable computers.
July, 26, 2011 AT 1:56 PM
Thanks for the answer, doc. Having a college do the job is an interesting option. How many hours should a job like this take?
July, 26, 2011 AT 4:46 PM
Just to add to this when did this limted 1996 sL1 limted head gasket reacll come out?I have never heard of one I worked for saturn from april of 1993-may of 2009.I have seen a campaign for the 1991-1997 SL1 cylinder heads cracking and leaking oil in the coolant. So what are the symptoms besides the car stopped working?
July, 26, 2011 AT 7:23 PM
Apparently, I mis-spoke I received the campaign you mentioned. However, my mechanic told me it was a head gasket. Symptoms of first engine were leaking oil and oil in coolant and it was so bad, the car needed a new radiator. It also needed a new alternator and I was told a new head gasket or rebuild. With the second engine, the car started knocking on the freeway and then stopped running. Again, would you suggest cutting my losses and selling or trying to make this car still work? I looked into finding a college to repair -- no luck yet.
July, 26, 2011 AT 11:28 PM
I have done a lot of those milk shakes as we used to call them and I have done some so bad when you open the coolant drain on the radiator nothing comes out.I have never replaced a radiator because of the oil in the coolant that was over kill and good multi flush was just needed. There is a list of parts to be replaced in the saturn campiagn and the radiator isnt one of them. You just flush the radiator and heater core out and they are fine of course your always going to have a few floatys when your done. As far as the knocking on the freeway did you run it low on oil to cause that?Because those engine may burn oil but as long as you keep the oil full they run a long time. Yes I have replaced a lot of those heads but there are still a lot of those single cam engines that the heads never cracked on. My sister has a 1993 SL 1 with well over 200,000 miles and the head has never cracked. As far as cutting your loses your best bet would be to find a used engine and put it in if you could do it yourself it would be reasonable to fix if not you would probably be better off cuttig your losses.I really like those single cam saturn engines good little engine except the few that the head cracks on.