My Neighbor's 320,000 Mile Saturn

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I had good luck with my '92 Saturn, drove it to 170k before trading it in. Only thing I can remember replacing was an alternator and one front wheel bearing. Those cars got FANTASTIC gas mileage, I averaged low 30's mpg (DOHC engine, 5-speed manual) in mixed driving, it was not unusual to see 35mpg on the highway. VERY inexpensive car to own, looked great for the time, rode reasonably well, had more giddyup than one would expect for an economy car . It was also extremely easy to work on and parts were dirt cheap. I also bought a '94 SC2 that I picked up from a guy with a supposed blown head gasket for $400 with the intention of fixing it and driving it. After getting it home I discovered the oil was about 4 quarts overfilled. Drained the extra oil and the smoking went away-- the head gasket was just fine. I turned around and sold the car for $2400, easiest $2k I ever made.
 
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I have worked both sides of the fence, management and Union. Felt management was more to fault than labor. I do think that at the bargaining table labor should have taken less pay and demanded that management should reciprocate, and the money should go into new infrastructure. One of the reasons the Japs and Germans were killing our auto industry was that we flattened their manufacturing during WWII. The had to rebuild so they started with the new technology, and we kept plugging along with the old infrastructure.
 
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My DD is a '92 Saturn. Unknown miles - the Odo/Speedo died years ago. I drive by the Tach. On it's 3rd alternator and 2nd AC compressor and 2nd belt tensioner. Those are the only things I have replaced, other than stereo upgrades. Still gets 34 mpg town and country, 38 mpg Hwy. A/C is ICE cold (R12). It does have a noticeable front seal leak that I'll probably never fix. I'm just going to drive it until it dies.
 

CrackyWainwright

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Originally Posted by bullwinkle
320K, no more than 16 years old, means 20K per year minimum. Likely a LOT of highway miles, if it was maintained-I believe it would be possible.
You are correct. Chris drives over into Mississippi from our town in Alabama every day for work. That's a 90 mile round trip at 70 mph on Interstate-22 which is better than average road quality.
 
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Originally Posted by IronMaidenRules
GM should have kept Saturn and Pontiac and folded Buick instead, IMO.
They would have folded all three of those duds but Buick China is a massive seller where GM China does incredibly well. I think better then GM USA. Saturn would have been a good brand to try electric cars in if still kicking about.
 
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PEARL River la
I had 06 Saturn Vue. AC was weak at idle (compressor) and only repairs were front brake pads, plugs, as well as 02 sensor. I bought it with 80k and got rid of it at 135 cause body computer went out. Small oil leak and carboned up. I know transmission failure as well as timing chain failure usually happens around 150k so I traded it in before it cost me an arm and leg. 8 enjoyable years with little money into it.
 
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Originally Posted by Silver
Maybe he always drives downhill.
and the wind to his back.
 
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Originally Posted by IronMaidenRules
I've seen that there are two, and only two, types of Saturn ownership: 1. Worst POS I've ever owned, was in the shop all the time, was a huge mistake 2. Drove to 400k without a single repair, sold it to nephew when starting using 1/2 qt. of oil in between changes Literally nothing in between. Weird.
My 2001 SL was in camp #1.
 
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Can't imagine driving the same car that long day in and day out even if it does run fine. Maybe if you view cars as appliances, ok, but I'd be bored after a month.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Can't imagine driving the same car that long day in and day out even if it does run fine. Maybe if you view cars as appliances, ok, but I'd be bored after a month.
shrug I drive a fair amount (32k/year) but I spend more time in my office at work per day than I do in my car. I spend more time in my bed per day than in my car, let alone what I spend at home. Different strokes for different folks I guess--after going through a few cars I find myself willing to drive a toaster to work if it'd get the job done. A car might not be as bad as a boat but in the end it's just a hole that you toss money at.
 
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Originally Posted by IronMaidenRules
I've seen that there are two, and only two, types of Saturn ownership: 1. Worst POS I've ever owned, was in the shop all the time, was a huge mistake 2. Drove to 400k without a single repair, sold it to nephew when starting using 1/2 qt. of oil in between changes Literally nothing in between. Weird.
Not sure where I land. I had a base model 2000 SL for nearly 5 years. I think I had the a/c fixed once, and I did a few sets of brakes (it always had warped rotors); I had one of the SOHC's with a bad head which luckily got fixed while under warranty. I traded after 116k. I suspect at the end it probably needed struts, and it was using oil, like a quart every 1,500 miles. And the wife didn't like anymore, and I was starting to think it was a bit loud on the highway. shrug
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Originally Posted by atikovi
Can't imagine driving the same car that long day in and day out even if it does run fine. Maybe if you view cars as appliances, ok, but I'd be bored after a month.
shrug I drive a fair amount (32k/year) but I spend more time in my office at work per day than I do in my car. I spend more time in my bed per day than in my car, let alone what I spend at home. Different strokes for different folks I guess--after going through a few cars I find myself willing to drive a toaster to work if it'd get the job done. A car might not be as bad as a boat but in the end it's just a hole that you toss money at.
Camry and Tundra? I see what you mean. Maybe if you drove something more exciting than a toaster? At least you wouldn't mind tossing money into it as much.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Camry and Tundra? I see what you mean. Maybe if you drove something more exciting than a toaster? At least you wouldn't mind tossing money into it as much.
I had a fun car, a Jetta with TDi and 5 speed manual. I liked that car. 11 years and 314k later, I gave up, driver's door was sagging / bent, kept having to bend it into shape, otherwise it was bear to open. Rear axle was toe-ed in, would feather the rear tires in no time flat, I think that is going to be the last twist axle I'll put up with. Needed fenders and hatch due to rust perforation, I had patched them (and the rockers) once already. Had taken to oil coating the topside of the car to slow down rust from rock chips; painted the hood once. Was being told by people that it was shocking that I still had the original PD injectors and cam in it, and that I should get prepared for replacing those. Had already done clutch and turbo. AC compressor clutch went out, but after reading up on how much of a bear it was to work on the heater core (and how it was a matter of time) I gave up. I was tired of driving out of state for a TDi guru; at the time I didn't have a garage of my own. Hindsight says it was the same cost per mile as a cheapo econobox, once all the repairs were factored in. shrug What is one to do? Commuting is like one of the most boring things in life I do. Having a nice car just encourages me to turn the radio up too loud and/or to drive too fast.
 
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Originally Posted by InhalingBullets
We mistakenly purchased a 1997 Saturn SL2, that replaced a 1994 Pontiac Grand AM which was a mistake itself. For some reason our Saturn ate alternators which for most cars wouldn't be huge ordeal. However, Saturn said "hold my beer" and these geniuses mounted the alternator between the firewall and the engine above the front R driveshaft and under the power steering pump. You also had to remove tire and all of the inner fender lining to get the dang thing out!
Is this the Saturn where they put the AC compressor where they should have put the alternator?
 
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Originally Posted by supton
What is one to do? Commuting is like one of the most boring things in life I do. Having a nice car just encourages me to turn the radio up too loud and/or to drive too fast.
This. I LOVE the "Beats by Dre" stereo in my 300, and it's usually turned up. I also love my 300 in general, but I'm not looking for an excuse to drive it. But 300hp, contrary to what the internet will have you believe, is still quite a bit of power and it easily gets into "we're going to jail" territory.
 
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Originally Posted by supton
Having a nice car just encourages me to turn the radio up too loud and/or to drive too fast.
If you have a really fun car, the only music you want to hear is the sound coming out of the tail pipes.
 
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I don't remember the alternator being that bad to replace on my Saturn. I replaced it at least once and I was a pretty novice wrench turner back then. I distinctly remember it being buried under the power steering pump in the back, but not unreachable. I just helped a buddy change out his alternator on a '94 Explorer 4.0L. Took a half hour, placed right up on top where you can get to it. Hardest part was getting to the belt tensioner as the fan blades are a bit in the way-- if only all alternators were that easy to replace.
 
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Originally Posted by atikovi
Originally Posted by supton
Having a nice car just encourages me to turn the radio up too loud and/or to drive too fast.
If you have a really fun car, the only music you want to hear is the sound coming out of the tail pipes.
Nah, I usually prefer to ride in silence, left alone to my thoughts. It's fun to make some noise once in a while, but not on a regular basis.
 
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