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1994 Saturn SL1 reliability?


I’m looking for a used car and have been looking at Toyotas, Hondas and Mazdas because they are supposed to have good reliability and be long lived. I recently saw an ad for a 94 Saturn SL1 in my price range. How do they compare ? They probably aren’t as stellar, but are they decent ? If it turns out to have 150,000 miles on it already, can I expect to get 200,000-250,000 from it ?

You can expect any car today to make it to 250,000 miles IF it has received proper maintenance and if it has not been damaged, and if you have a little luck. Some makes may have a little better average, but not all that much better.

Chris; there are better cars on the market. Many owners have had engine problems with this model; the rest of the car is not too bad, except the body hardware is not too sturdy. On the other hand, the plastic body won’t rust.

The most common problem is head gaskets and overheating. A friend of my wife had this same model and ended up spending $1000 to fix the problem. That’s the cost if you catch the problem in time.

I think you could get 200,000 miles out of this car with very careful maintenance. If the previous owner cannot demonstrate that he did this, you are in for some expensive repairs.

The car is 15 years old and it will be impossible to judge reliability on an aged car with 150k miles on it.

It could very easily go 250k miles if the car has not been driven hard and has been maintained properly. That’s the big unknown you face; along with luck.
My sister in law bought a 96 Saturn and put about 160k trouble-free miles on that one but she also bought it new so there was no question of shaky history behind it.

I have a 140K mile SL1 that needs another engine right now. I have no idea what its maintenance history is like, but then neither do you on the one you’re looking at.

I don’t recommend that old of a Saturn. Check the radiator as well as everything else because that car needs a good one. If you see white or green from the rear of it, just change it without even looking for missing fins between the tubes. You can buy any car if it’s under $1,000.

Anything past 8yrs/150,000 brand is irrelevant to reliability IMHO. It depends on previous maintenance and driving habits of previous owner and another huge one LUCK. The only thing after 8yrs/150k is certain brands are less expensive than others not if they require repairs/maintenance but more like when.

I imagine the price is not much for this. I would pay a mechanic for checkover and cross your fingers for another 50k. Another 100k may happen too but again LUCK.