Rattling behind instrument panel - 2001 Saturn SL2

Now, I know that Saturns, especially the SL series are extremely prone to buzzes and rattles, so I also realize that solving this issue is a tall order. On the up side, that means my expectations are especially low and I’ll be very hard to disappoint!

Anyhow, my wife’s 2001 Saturn SL2 has, among other buzzes and rattles, a particularly annoying random rattling noise right behind the instrument panel. It doesn’t happen at any particular RPM (we know because even though both our Saturns are automatics, they both have tachometers–as every car should!), and it’s worse on rough surface roads–of which we have many in the east Hillsborough County area of Florida. All the gauges work, and the “Check Engine” light is not on. The engine itself sounds as good as a 1.9L inline 4 is ever likely to, and the car does not make any other noises besides the general buzzing noises made by the slightly loose dash (which has been a problem since the car was new) and various other interior trim parts. This rattling/vibration noise is definitely different. Will we have to take the dashboard apart to get at it, and what is it?

I had a similar rattling noise with my SL1. It turned out to be a loose bearing in the belt torsioner assembly. My mechanic couldn’t diagnose it, my son in law said it was a mystery. So my daughter and I searched for the location of the noise ourselves with the hood up and engine running. We dragged my son-in-law out to look at it (since he is a race car builder/mechanic). We asked him what could be rattling in the area and he said - simple the belt torsioner might have a loose bearing. Long story short, we got him to fix it for us.

I will have our mechanics check this out. It’s quite possible that the belt torsioner assembly did not change between the SL1 and SL2, after all. I thought with all the various rattles the (otherwise not too bad) Saturns are famous for, I wouldn’t get any responses. Thank you for the info!