My Neighbor's 320,000 Mile Saturn

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177
Location
Alabama
Thread starter
I posted recently about wishing I could get a car or truck to last more than 200,000 miles with just careful maintenance. That discussion went all over the place, of course, but what became obvious is that precious few of us will ever find a shop that's good at rebuilding front suspension components so that a vehicle will be like new in tire wear and handling. Front end work appears to be just like engine rebuilds or transmission rebuilds: it's very hit and miss. One of our neighbors has a 2004 Saturn Ion QuadCoupe with a staggering 320,000+ miles. This car has ORIGINAL everything: engine, trans, suspension components, ac/heat, etc. Chris, the owner, tells me the sunroof has never leaked a drop of water. He does report that the car is beginning to wear the front tires a little more on the inside edge, but not radically so. Were most Saturns that well made? I've never owned one, but I surely didn't think Saturns were built to this standard.
 
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Messages
37
Location
NJ
We had a 2008 Saturn Outlook. I don't miss it one bit. The only nice thing I can say about is that it had great headlights. My wife was the primary driver and I think she's a little hard on cars since she's late all the time so she accelerates hard and brakes even harder. In 2016 with 109,500 miles on the ODO, it developed a connecting rod knock that would have required an engine replacement for about $7000 according to our mechanic whom I feel is very honest. The car was well maintained and had regular oil changes by me with quality oil and filters so it's not like it was neglected. The vehicle was trouble almost from day 1 of ownership so I didn't feel like putting one cent into that car at that point so we unloaded it to PEDDLE.com for $2450. Good riddance.
 
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4,623
Location
Suburban Washington DC
Originally Posted by CrackyWainwright
Were most Saturns that well made? I've never owned one, but I surely didn't think Saturns were built to this standard.
Most cars develop terminal cancer before a major mechanical problem and Saturns have rustproof body panels so that's an advantage. Some of the Vues have Honda drivetrains so 300K is no problem. The others are pretty simple mechanically so even a major repair isn't too expensive.
 
Messages
162
Location
New England
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.
 
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9,986
Location
Waco, TX
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.
Oddly enough, I've noticed a similar trend.
 
Messages
598
Location
TEXAS
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!
 
Messages
506
Location
Martinsburg West Virginia
I had an 02 SL2 5 speed which I bought with just under 50k on it and never did more than brake pads once, tires and oil changes. Traded it at 150k and never had a single issue out of it. I think it may have still had the original battery in it. It did use a bit of oil, but I would just change it every 5k when it was about a quart low. Never bothered topping it off. That got traded on an 07 Saturn Ion which had 28k on it. Sold that at 140k and had no issue with that one either. I know that one still had the OEM battery in it when I sold it. If they still made Saturns of that type, that weren't necessarily other cars rebadged, I would have bought another. I am now depending on that kind of reliability from my 98 LeSabre which has been flawless the past 50k, only paid $700 for it 3 years ago with 80k on it. Just flipped 130k this past weekend.
 
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1,077
Location
Wisconsin
A 2009+ Chevy Cobalt 5mt 2door zero options is reliable through about 250k so long as you replace the timing chains and keep an eye on gaskets and water pump. Don't skimp on oil changes either
 
Messages
744
Location
New Hampshire
Origanal suspension after 300,000 miles? One of two things is happening here...you're friend is a liar...or you're friend drove on a cloud for 300,000 miles. Oh, there's one more possibility...you're friend is driving around in a car in which the wheels are literally about to fall off and kill everyone on the highway. It's tough to get a car/truck to make it to 300,000 miles or above. 200,000 miles? A lot easier - it's that extra 100,000 miles that's the killer. The tough part is the suspension...it's just so hard to keep up with it. There's rubber components everywhere and they all wear out. To keep up with it is both expensive and difficult. And usually people normally go with aftermarket parts - rightly so - because OE suspension parts are ridiculously priced. To replace everything with OE parts every 100,000 miles or so would cost more than the car is worth once you get over 150,000 miles. And let's say you do that? Well, then your transmission blows and now that's not looking like such a great idea. But I do love the high mileage success stories. Usually it takes a little luck, careful/responsible driving...and living in a salt free state. Brand I think does matter (unfortunately). A Toyota Camry is going to be a lot easier to get there then say...a Chevy Cobalt...or a Chrysler 200. Sad but true.
 
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Messages
544
Location
SE Alabama
It's not all that unusual, and if you look at the numbers you'll see that the vehicle in question very like has a lot of highway miles. Alabama and surrounding areas have decent roads, and most of the grades are pretty gentle. Any winters in northern Alabama are fairly minor, here in southern Alabama they're non-existent so there are no sub-zero starts and getting up to temperature isn't an issue. No body rust to worry about on the Saturn, and undercarriage rust isn't an issue in these parts. So keeping pretty much any vehicle for a very long time is easy, especially one that spends a lot of time on the highway. I've had pretty much every pickup I own go well over 200,000 and I've never had an engine or transmission failure. I've replaced a couple tie rod ends, but that's about it for front end or suspension work. Never replaced an AC compressor (had a couple pickups without AC), I've only replaced brakes once on most of them (maybe twice on a couple). Until we moved closer to town I averaged about 500-600 miles/week and upgraded them every 8-10 years and always bought used with around 30,000 miles already on them.
 

Astro14

Staff member
Messages
11,332
Location
Virginia Beach
I promise you that this particular Saturn has terrible, worn-out, suspension. Bushings, balljoints, tie-rods, none of it last that long. Finding a shop that can replace those parts, and rebuild a front suspension, isn't hard. The work is straightforward. I've done them myself. Just two weeks ago on my s600, in fact. Lower control arms, lower torque arms, balljoints, upper control arms, inner and outer tie rods and new boots. With alignment, and my labor, it was still very expensive. But the car is back to feeling tight and responsive. A clunk is gone, too. Your friend has an amazing capacity to ignore looseness, noise, abnormal tire wear and a poor ride... Oh, wait, it's a Saturn, it was that way when it was new! LOL
 
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3,983
Location
No Tyson in Tonganoxie KS!
Originally Posted by CrackyWainwright
I posted recently about wishing I could get a car or truck to last more than 200,000 miles with just careful maintenance. That discussion went all over the place, of course, but what became obvious is that precious few of us will ever find a shop that's good at rebuilding front suspension components so that a vehicle will be like new in tire wear and handling. Front end work appears to be just like engine rebuilds or transmission rebuilds: it's very hit and miss. One of our neighbors has a 2004 Saturn Ion QuadCoupe with a staggering 320,000+ miles. This car has ORIGINAL everything: engine, trans, suspension components, ac/heat, etc. Chris, the owner, tells me the sunroof has never leaked a drop of water. He does report that the car is beginning to wear the front tires a little more on the inside edge, but not radically so. Were most Saturns that well made? I've never owned one, but I surely didn't think Saturns were built to this standard.
They were a neat little car company with promise and hope. Then GM turned them into union garbage. Wish they were still around and I think they probably would have made it. It's too bad too because they were more sporty looking than the other domestic four cylinder engines. Glad to see a 300,000 K car.
 
Messages
582
Location
florida
had a 95 sw2. execellent car. as good as most [censored] cars we owned. only trouble in 165k were 2 altenators. the dealer changed the trans fluid filter and didn't tighten the filter right. car leaked trans fluid and wife was oblivious and the trans was damaged. about 20k later the trans went out. it was her car and I seldom drove it or I would have noticed the trans acting up. only reason I let the dealer service the trans is it had a service plan as part of the deal. as usual GM screwed up Saturn and they became just another clone of other gm models
 
Messages
1,154
Location
USA
Originally Posted by Marco620
They were a neat little car company with promise and hope. Then GM turned them into union garbage. Wish they were still around and I think they probably would have made it. It's too bad too because they were more sporty looking than the other domestic four cylinder engines. Glad to see a 300,000 K car.
One small issue, it was GM management that chose to use highly modified Opel chassis as the successors to the excellent first cars Saturn made, that is what ruined Saturn's reputation, not the workers, not the Union....it was GM Management that destroyed the company.
 
Messages
242
Location
Kern Co. California
I had at '95 Saturn wagon that went 300k before I sold it... great little car... Had a Geo Prizm ('94) go 300k as well with only general maintenance. The best was a Mazda 323 that I got and only drove for a short while, but when I sold it, the odometer had 502k on it.
 
Messages
2,677
Location
Chicagoland
Originally Posted by AC1DD
...it was GM Management that destroyed the company.
You'd think they'd learn from their mistakes. My earliest car memories were in some Saturns, so they'll always hold a special spot in my heart. I was bummed when GM shut them down. Buick, Cadillac, and one could argue GMC (they're just gussied up Chevies) should have gone instead.
 
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