1994 Saturn.......Good Beater?

I am interested in buying a 1994 Saturn for $500. It has, so the owner says, approx 127,000 miles and is a manual transmission. However, it needs to be inspected right away as the inspection sticker on the car is fast expiring. I live in New Jersey where car inspection for exhaust is Very stringent. Should I take a chance and get the car anyway?..What else should I look out for on the car. A friend of mine has a '94 Saturn, manual and his car runs Excellent.

The best thing about the older saturns is the plastic body panels, so you will have less rust. On the other hand, many Saturns are plagued by head gasket failures. Even if the car checks out OK, you may have a head gasket falure later. Minimum cost to fix it is about $900.

If the car isn’t blowing white or blue smoke out the tailpipe, and the coolant looks nice and green in the radiator, yeah sure what the heck- give it a try. I mean you can’t be too bummed if something happens for only $500. Besides, if you only get a year out of it it was still a reasonable investment. If you want to pass emissions put some fresh spark plugs in it, change the oil, get the engine real hot with a long highway drive and lots of accelerating, and then swing by for your test.

Make the owner have the inspection done. If it passes, THEN you buy it. You can’t afford to do it any other way.

Should be red/pink in the radiator. Like coolaid. Remember GMs mainly use dex-cool.

Split the cost with current owner to see if it passes inspection. If no run!


GM didn’t start using Dex-cool until 1996, so the Saturn in question should be Dex free.

Do not buy this car unless you know it will pass inspection. Tell the owner you will reimburse him for the inspection if it passes. If he balks, that’s really all you need to know.

I think at this point they still used the green stuff.

Want to know if the anti-freeze solution is any good? Go to the parts store and purchase an anti-freeze tester. They’re usually a glass or plastic tube with a flexible bulb on top and a rubber or plastic draw tube on the bottom. They have five little balls in the glass tube. They’re about $4. The number of floating balls tells you what the temparature protection presently is. If you do get the vehicle, unless you’re absolutely sure that the present anti-freeze is less than 2 years old, change the anti-freeze. It’s cheap insurance and will also tell you the general condition of the cooling system. I agree with everyone else. Get an inspection done by the present owner. That’ll tell you what the vehicle needs for safety stuff. Then make up your mind whether or not any needed repairs are worth it to YOU.

My mistake. I’m not a big fan of the red stuff anyways.