Saturn – All Models

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.


Dear Consumer:

Thank you for contacting the Center
for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Saturn. Though Saturn is the newest division
of General Motors (GM), some of the car’s defects have been around other
GM models for a long time. CAS has received complaints on common Saturn
defects such as engine problems, transmission breakdowns, water
leaks, and other body defects.

GM tried to do everything right with the
Saturn but missed several major marks. Despite spending $3 billion and taking
8 years to bring out the Saturn, GM failed to offer the one feature consumers
most wanted — i.e., airbags. Instead GM equipped the Saturn with motorized
front shoulder belts and separate lap belts as its passive restraint system.
Even Saturns with air bags still have this motorized passive belt system
which induces 70% of occupants to forget to use the separate lap belt. The
1991-92 Saturns both had failing passenger crash test scores. Not until
Saturn came out with a standard dual airbags in 1995 did it pass all the
crash tests.

An example of problem avoidance came in
Saturn’s largest recall of 352,883 1991-93 models for underhood fires caused
by a short circuit in the generator which led to excess current and overheating
in the wiring harness as well as generator failure. Rather than replace
the defective and more expensive generators, Saturn opted to change the
wiring from the generator to tolerate the higher current from the short
circuit leaving the owner to pay for any generator that failed.

Service bulletins issued by Saturn document
dozens of problems, including engine, transaxle, and other components. Manual
transaxles may pop out of fifth gear, and automatics have a harsh or erratic
upshift. On SC models, using the horn can cause the headlights to pop up.
The engine can miss, surge, backfire, lack power on acceleration, or stall
after start-up. Saturn notified about 1,800 owners of 1991 models that their
engines had incorrect coolant supplied by Texaco and that they would get
new cars. Engine problems continue to plague Saturn with 1991-97 models
needing new cylinder heads due to coolant mixing with the oil. Saturn extended
the warranty to 6 years/100,000 miles in June 1999, only for 1994-96s with
1.9L SOHC engines.

You’ll find more information on Saturn problems below and what
you can do
about them plus a complaint box.
Your information will help us build a strong case against GM as we fight
for action on Saturn defects.

We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer
rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is
tax-deductible which entitles
you to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership
along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Technical Service Bulletin
(TSB) numbers in parentheses

Water drips w/door open 1991-95 All (93-T-21A); Front door rattle 1991-95
All (94-T-18); Knock/rattle at right front of floor 1996-97 All (97-T-39);
Bumps/rust colored spots in paint 1991-95 All (94-T-09A); Squeak/squawk
from rear 1991-95 All (95-T-26); Doors misaligned 1991-95 SL1/SL2 1993-95
SW1/SW2 (96-T-03); Water leaks past sealer 1992-93 All (93-T-16B); Water
drips from top of door frame 1991-95 All 1996 SC1/SC2 (94-T-52B); Tap
from dash at high speeds 1995-96 All (96-T-14); Scrape/clunk from front
1995-96 SC2 (96-T-18); Sunroof binds on opening, closing 1996 All (96-T-29),
1993-96 S-series (97-T-11); Corrosion on door/white deposits 1996-99 All
(97-T-23A); Clunk in front side door when windows operate 1996-99 SL1/SL2/SW1/SW2
(97-T-36A); Squeak, rattle from rear 1996-97 SW1/SW2 (97-T-27); Hoot/moan
@1800-1850rpm – install exhaust clamps 1991-97 All (97-T-46); Wind whistle,
groan at hwy speed 1991-97 All (94-T-25D); Door glass rattles or sticks
1996-98 All (98-T-12); Hood rattle 1997-99 SC1/SC2 (98-T-45); Water leaks
on headliner 1996-98 S-series (98-T-48), 1996-99 S-series (99-T-35); Window
regulator noise 1996-99 S-series (99-T-18).

Grind/growl in slow speed braking 1991-95 All (95-T-22); Pedal pulsation
1991-95 All (95-T-15); Front brake noise/pulsation 1991-97 All (96-T-40A);
ABS light on in cars with ABS or not 1995-96 All (96-T-49); Rear disc
noise/pulsation 1991-98 All (98-T-15).

P/door locks don’t work 1991-94 All (94-T-28); Sunroof switch fails 1996
All (95-T-55); Noise in instrument cluster 1995-96 All (95-T-27B), 1995-97
All (96-T-63); Ignition noise in radio speakers 1995-96 All (95-T-28A),
1996-98 All (98-T-19); Accessories inoperative, key binds in run position
1995-97 All (96-T-50A); Dome lamp malfunctions 1996-97 All (97-T-34),
1998-99 All (99-T-11); Air bag telltale light on 1996-97 All (97-T-03),
1995-97 All (96-T-57B); Rear defogger terminal detached 1996-00 S-series
(99-T-38); Body wiring harness causes various system malfunction 1996-99
S-series (99-T-43), 1996-98 w/manual trans (98-T-22).

Improper coolant, replace
1991 cars with VIN 104754 & below (91-C-02)
; Free
repair: cracked cylinder head, 6yr/100,000 1994-96 w/1.9L SOHC (99P01);
Misses/all driving conditions 1991-92 SL2/SC (91-T-42); Knock/rattle
at normal temp. 1994-95 All (94-T-48A); Stalls after start on coming to
stop, difficult to restart 1991-95 All w/DOHC (94-T-57); Oil consumption,
carbon buildup 1991-92 All (92-T-14B); Coolant weep/drip at radiator hose
1991-94 All (95-T-04); PCM cannot communicate with PDT 1991-95 All (92-T-47B);
Vibration at idle 1994-96 All (95-T-36); Intermittent squeal from engine
on cold start 1991-95 All (94-T-56A); Miss/lack power, popping through
exhaust manifold on deceleration &/or at idle 1991-97 w/SOHC (94-T-07E);
No start cranks, starts & stalls, surges & stalls on light throttle,
runs rough 1995-96 All (96-T-58); Runs hot/oil mixes with coolant in recovery
reservoir – replace cylinder head 1991-97 All (96-T-65B); Runs rough/surges
at idle/stalls after start 1995-96 All (96-T-32A); MIL on 1996-97 All
(97-T-20A, 97-T-29), 1996-97 w/DOHC (97-T-30A), 1996-97 w/SOHC (98-T-14A),
1996 All (96-T-21A, 96-T-09A, 96-T-60), 1995 All w/SOHC (96-T-59); Intermittent
lack of power 1996-97 w/DOHC (99-T-34).

MIL/harsh transaxle engagement/2nd gear start 1991-95 All (95-T-10); Sluggish
upshifts from 1st to 3rd, fails to shift into 4th in cold operating conditions
1991-94 w/MP6/MP7 automatic transaxles (94-I-05); Creeps forward in neutral
& binds in reverse, click & whine in all forward gears 1991-96
All (96-T-04); MIL on due to malfunctioning TCC actuator or damaged input
shaft converter O-ring seal 1996-97 All (96-T-61); Rattle when turning
left in 2nd 1991-96 All w/manual trans. (96-T-06); Transaxle ratchety
sound in 1st 1996-97 All w/manual trans. (97-T-05); Intermittent hop out
of 5th, no 5th, stuck in 5th 1996-97 All (97-T-06).

Musty odor from A/C 1991-94 All (92-T-40B), 1995 All (96-T-34), 1996-97
All (96-T-35); Dome lamp assembly comes loose 1991-96 All (96-T-28); Steering
wheel hub seizes on removing wheel 1992-96 All w/ SIR (96-T-36); No heat
after extended idle 1991-95 All (95-I-02); Loss of airflow from A/C outlets
1991-93 All (95-T-48); Fuel tank fill cap holder retainer installation
1991-96 All (96-T-05); Creak in rear window area 1996-97 SL1/SL2, 1997
SC1/SC2 (97-T-09); P/S pump leak 1991-99 All (98-T-32); Clunk, rattle
from front – adjust or replace steering components 1991-98 All (98-T-08);
Low fuel warning malfunctions 1997-99 All (99-T-15); Runs out of fuel
with 1/8 to 1/4 tank on fuel gauge 1991-97 All (96-T-44).

Copies of recalls may
be obtained by calling NHTSA’s Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.

3,661 1993 All – Improper booster assemblies (93V-034); 607 1997 EV1 –
Loss of front brake assist (98V-169); 5,373 ’00 S-series – Brake pipe
fluid leak (99V-231).

14,459 1993 SC2, SL2, SW2 – Positive battery cable terminal at starter
solenoid formed incorrectly (93V-094); 352,883 1991-93 All – Generator
short & underhood fire (93V-132); 26,135 1997 SC1/SC2 – Seat belt
lockup retractor malfunction (97V-161); 64,199 1996-97 S-series – Replace
horn (98V-307); 67 1991-92 SC – Side reflex reflector fails lighting standard
(92V-040); 37,970 1997 SC1/SC2 – Handbook deficient on headlamp horizontal
aim (97V-162); 1,437 ’00 L-series – T/signal malfunction (99V-199).

633 1992 SC, SL1, SL2 – Transaxle assemblies improperly machined (92V-098);
20,518 1995 All – Shifts from park w/o ignition key (94V-217).

3,472 1997
SC1, SC2 – Front seats do not lock (96V-153); 136,300 1994-95 Z – Front
seat back recliner mechanism (99V-045); 265,522 1999-2000 SC, SW, SL –
Shoulder belt guide bolt come out (99V-280).

931 1995 SL – Steering gear pinion shaft fracture (94V-170); 14,580 1996-97
SL – Pinion gear disengages & loss of steering (97V-138).

691 1996 SW1,SW2 – Roof welds do not meet GM specs. (96V-029); 319 1997
Z – Ignition key can be removed with engine on (97V-055); 1,310 ’00 LS,
36,848 ’00 L-series – Inoperative rollover spill valve in fuel tank (99V-197,
99V-340); 1,049 ’00 S-series – Rear bumper fastener loose (99V-232); 7,458
’00 S-series – Armrest console latch (99V-297).


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