When to change oil on new Saturn Ion.

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Mar 5, 2003
I have traded in my old Saturn SL2 and I bought a 2003 Saturn Ion. The engine is very different and I like that it is different. It has more horsepower, and it uses five quarts of oil instead of four. The cooling system also has more coolant. I always thought that an engine should have at least five quarts of oil and an adequate amount of coolant. The oil filter is strange-it is up front instead of underneath the car in an impossible place (YES!) but it is a cartridge type oil filter. You replace a filter element instead of an oil filter can. It makes me think of my Dad's old 1948 Chevy pick-up truck and his old 1952 Ford flathead sedan. My question is, when should I change the oil in this car? Should I do it at 500 miles, 1000 miles, or wait until I reach 3000 miles? At the dealership they said that they use 'Silkene' oil, whatever that is (this is the new Saturn dealerhip in Pueblo instead of Colorado Springs). I have never heard of 'Silkene' and I don't even know if I am spelling it correctly. And would it be better to use conventional oil (like Chevron Supreme) for the first 5000 miles or so? In the owner's manual, 5W30 oil is preferred and 10W30 can be used in warmer temperatures and if 5W30 is not available. In the wintertime in severe cold, 5W30 synthetic oil or 0W30 can be used. Also, can I use a maintenance dose of Auto-RX from the start in the engine?
Synthetic is used from the factory in many cars today, so feel free to dump at any time. Don't worry about AutoRx (no need at all!). Go over to Wal-Mart, pick up a 5 quart jug of Mobil1 5w-30, go get a good filter, and have fun!
I have always changed the oil at 500 miles on all our family's cars and trucks when new. I feel fresh oil is better then oil with 500 miles on it and little metal shavings in it.
Chris B., that is what I was thinking also. With my last new car I changed the oil at about 500 miles. It seems to me that there is bound to be a lot of tiny metal shavings in the oil. And perhaps change it again at 1000 miles to be safe. What about synthetic oil? I have heard two different things. One, that you can go to synthetic oil right away (the Corvette has synthetic put in at the factory). The other thing I have heard is to use conventional oil for 3000-5000 miles until the engine is broken in, and then you can use synthetic oil.
Mystic, Do what you want...you can run synthetic or mineral, but you should probably change out both pretty often as metal content in oil will be high from break-in. (Duh...you already know this) If you don't mind the higher price of synthetic, then stick with one oil from the start and run with it. Otherwise, run a mineral oil for about 5,000 or so until wear metals drop to a little lower rate to allow longer drain intervals. It's your choice [Big Grin] [ September 19, 2003, 12:27 AM: Message edited by: Jelly ]
That's an Ecotec engine. It seems that 5 quarts is too much for it. 5 quarts puts oil level about .5 quart above full mark (at least on 2002 model year). Synthetic works really nice for this engine. Drain interval: I would do first at 3k miles. Second change at 7-8k if synthetic, or at 6k if dino. After that just go by oil life monitor which comes standard on Saturns. [ September 19, 2003, 03:27 AM: Message edited by: Titanium_Alloy ]
Seeing that this is basically the same Ecotec engine GM uses in so many cars (Opels, SAABs, Chevrolets, Saturns, Pontiacs, etc., etc.) I would assume that the new GM-LL-A-025 specification would be most appropriate. The only motor oils currently available in the US that meet this specification are Mobil 1 0W-40 and SAAB 0W-30 (a.k.a. ELF Evolution SXR.) Using these oils it would be very safe to go 10K miles between changes, unless you do short trips or drive in dusty/salty/mountainous area or do a lot of towing. [ September 19, 2003, 10:50 AM: Message edited by: vvk ]
My girlfriend has the Ion 3 quadcoupe 2004, and i asked the mechanics on how much oil is needed for the engine. 5 Liters. As for how often to change it, if you're using a good synthetic oil, then you can follow the counter on the engine that measures your driving style and tells you when to change your oil. Anywhere from 5000-10000 Km. It's written somewhere in the user manual. Here in Canada, Saturn uses plain ol' Petro-Canada synthetic oils.
Originally posted by Mystic: I had to get a locking gas cap from Saturn because there is no longer an inside release for the gas door (go figure). The parts guys told me that Saturn of Pueblo uses Quaker State motor oil. As far as I can determine, all Saturn dealerships use Quaker State oil, and I have heard that it is installed in the cars at the factory. One guy showed me the oil filter element-that is all it is, a tiny paper element like you would find inside an oil filter can, but without the can. I forgot to ask how much it costs. .... snip
You may not want to know! Likely it the same expensive, hard to find AC 2244 G as my Ecotec Cavalier takes. Best I have done was $5 for a Purolator at Pep Boys. Wally's wants $8 for a Fram. AC Delco PF2244G Hastings LF548 Purflux L264A Purolator L 15436 Baldwin P1445 STP S9018R Fram PH9018 WIX 51365, 57082 MANN HU 69/2 These numbers fit the engines with the big yellow dot on the cap over the cartridge. They are not all the same. The AC, Hastings and earlier Frams were all selling the identical Perflux made in France filter. I have had a lot of trouble with nobody even having a listing for my engine. The same oil filter socket I used for a PF 47 filter fits the cap. A 5 quarter socket fits the hex on the cap. It really burns me to pay at least $5 for nothing except the filter media and plastic end caps. About twice as much for no metal endplate, no can, no valves, no nothing.
labman, I don't really have a problem with this new design-it seems like having just an oil filter element to throw away would reduce waste. However, that oil filter element I saw was way too small-it should be larger. And if it costs as much as an ordinary oil filter-well, that is nonsense. How hard is it to change the oil filter element? At least the cannister that holds it is near the front of the engine and seems easy to reach. According to the owner's manual, one of two special tools is required to unscrew the top and reach the tiny element. And does that cannister have the adbv and bypass valve built into it? One more question. You have the EcoTec engine. What oil do you use?
I don't have a problem with the design. Likely it is the future, using less resources and lower cost to manufacture. Don't worry about the size. The Purflux filter has 138 sq. in packed in it as compared to the 112 sq. in for a PF 47. I do have a problem with being ripped off paying more for it than regular filters. Actually it is as easy or easier to change than a conventional filter on my Cavalier. They may make a special tool to fit it, but the cheapy filter sockets fit it as well as a 5/4'' or 32 mm socket. That, an extension, and a ratchet is all I have needed. The element clips to the cap and comes out with it. The bypass and ADBV must be built in elsewhere. I am using Pennzoil 5W-30 dino which meets the any API certified for gasoline engines specified in the owners' Manual. There is strong support on the board for using it following the 3 month, 3K miles recommendation in the owners' manual. The owners manual says 5.8 quarts. My car came with the oil level above the top mark on the dipstick. Putting in more than 5 quarts brings the oil level above the mark again. I am going by the dip stick. There has been some discussion here on this point, but no good answers.
I had to get a locking gas cap from Saturn because there is no longer an inside release for the gas door (go figure). The parts guys told me that Saturn of Pueblo uses Quaker State motor oil. As far as I can determine, all Saturn dealerships use Quaker State oil, and I have heard that it is installed in the cars at the factory. One guy showed me the oil filter element-that is all it is, a tiny paper element like you would find inside an oil filter can, but without the can. I forgot to ask how much it costs. In the owner's manual there is no information about what motor oils to use beyond viscosity (5W30 preferred; 10W30 allowed in warmer weather; 5W30 synthetic and 0W30 allowed in extreme cold) and that the motor oil meet API requirements (have the starburst symbol). It does say in the owner's manual that the car takes 5 quarts of oil (or maybe 5 liters but basically the same thing). The engine runs much smoother than the old Saturn engine and has more power. It looks like a cleaner design, also. I am still trying to decide whether to use conventional oil (like Chevron Supreme) for a while until the engine gets broke in or start using synthetic right away. Plus, winter is coming and a synthetic would be better in the wintertime. Chevron Supreme Synthetic?
Thanks for all the information, labman. I have not changed the oil yet on my new car-it has only a little over 300 miles right now. I think I will change it at 500 miles to get rid of metal shavings. I am thinking about using Quaker State full synthetic oil which apparently now meets A3 requirments. And then change oil every 5000 miles or when the oil change indicator comes on. When you changed your oil filter element, was there oil in the cannister? That would indicate that oil stays in the cannister after engine shut down and there should be oil for the engine immediately. If there was oil in the cannister, just clean it out with a paper towel?
One more thing I noticed-the dipstick is kind of strange. It looks like a dipstick I saw being used in a European car. The oil level ideally should be in the center of these raised markings on the dipstick. There is a minimum and a maximum level. I think I will put in only 4.5 quarts to be safe, and see where the oil level is. The car is supposed to take 5 quarts. But some oil will stay in the engine, so I will not add that .5 quart unless it indicates low. I will try to have it close to the maximum level but below it.
Quite frankly I liked the older dipsticks where the metal had the cross hatched pattern on it and definite full and 1 quart down marks. Put in 4.5 quarts and check the dip stick sounds like a good plan. I never see much oil around the filter element. I guess I always remove the drain plug and then work on the filter while it is draining. People here have criticized the design for lack of oil on start up, but I have never noticed the oil light staying on or heard valves rattling on start up, so haven't worried about it. Synthetics should allow longer drain intervals, but the warranties don't. Read the manual carefully before going to a longer interval.
I think I like the old dipstick design myself. I have seen this dipstick design (used on the Saturn Ion) somewhere before (on a European car) but I can't remember where. I know it looks just like the European dipstick, however. To me, the crosshatching makes a lot more sense then these raised metal lines. And supposedly the ideal level is right in the middle of the raised metal lines, which to me seems strange. It seems like the oil level should be below the maximum level but close to that level. Apparently the maximum level on this dipstick is the absoluate maximum amount of oil you can have in the vehicle. When I change oil I will put in only 4 to 4.5 quarts and then go from there, because an engine always traps some oil.
Mystic, At last!!! Another Ion owner on this board. My Ion just flipped 15K today. It's definitely an interesting car. I don't have a comment on which oil you can use...too many choices. 5 quarts brings the oil right up to the full line on my Ion. DO NOT over-tighten the plastic housing to the oil filter. Quarter-turn after hand tight...just like ordinary filters. BTW, I bought my Ion in Colorado Springs.
ryansride2017, at last I hear from an Ion owner! I was beginning to think I was the only one! I liked the old Saturn SL2 but I think the Ion is an improvement, especially when it comes to the engine. You can feel and hear that the Ion engine is better. It looks mostly better, also-engine compartment less cramped and it looks like most stuff (not all) is easier to reach. I still kind of prefer the old Saturn SL2 body appearance but the Ion grows on you and the engine makes all the difference. Thanks for the advice on tightening the lid on the oil filter element cannister. I guess you can say that I have a little bit of experience in this area-I remember my Dad's old 1952 Ford car and his old 1948 Chevy pick-up truck. I actually like the concept-less waste, because there is only a oil filter element to throw away. And, you can see without cutting into an oil can what the condition of that oil filter element is. When it comes to motor oils, I have had my best experiences with Chevron Supreme conventional motor oil, Schaeffer's, and the mysterious German Castrol. Great motor oils-all three. I want to do the first oil change at 500 miles to get rid of any metal shavings, and then maybe do another fairly early oil change to make sure. So I think I will use Chevron Supreme conventional for the first oil change. And then I am seriously thinking of going with Schaeffer's, which is probably about as good as any other motor oil you could name, synthetic, blend, or conventional.
[Off Topic!] Overall I really like the Ion. IMO, its a decent quality car for the money ($13.8K for me). I only have a few complaints: 1. wind noise coming from the driver side pillar that the dealership cannot pinpoint and the "grade control" on the tranny. Grade control (transmission shifts to a lower gear when you touch the brake pedal) is a good idea but it seems to hang in too long after I pick up the throttle. I get 35-36 MPG on the highway using Pennzoil 10W30. I'm switching over to 5W30 for the winter and to see how much my mileage goes up over 10W30. I changed oil at 2K, then every 4k since. Oil life monitor is a joke...mine comes on about every 7500 miles but maximum saturn recommends is 6K (you think they would have incorporated the 6K max into the algorithm that turns the oil change indicator on).
I still do not trust stuff like these oil change monitors. The one they have on the Ion is more advanced than the one they had on the Saturn SL2, but they still have a long way to go. I think I will not reset my monitor when I change oil and see how far it goes before recommending an oil change. Pennzoil is supposed to be a really great oil. I used Pennzoil a long time ago and then switched when I heard some negative (and probably false) stuff about it. Chevron Supreme motor oil seemed to make my old Saturn SL2 run great. I got a UOA when I used Schaeffer's oil in my old Saturn and the UOA looked great. I think that Schaeffer's is a brand that is a great motor oil but a motor oil that is mostly unknown by the great majority of people. The German Castrol is great stuff also but try to find some!
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