Unfortunately, when I suggested that adorable little Saturn SL2 to her, I should have had a better thoughts. There is a purpose why this company went tummy up. I have proved helpful on my own vehicles for many decades, so I didn't consider myself an inefficient auto mechanic i just bought some Saturn parts
I too am the proud owner of a Saturn (2003 Saturn Vue). I took two trips from Phoenix to Denver and depended on it for local travel around town. I still own the beast. I no longer attempt to drive any distance (more than 100 miles). My most recent trip to Florida from MO was accomplished with a Hertz rental. It was quickly determined that the Saturn was not reliable for trips or even use around town.
After three transmissions, replacement of front end hardware, dash light problems, exhaust manifold problems, etc. I do not consider this vehicle a very good investment. Since the car was purchased for retirement there is no incentive to buy another car for now. The next car if there is a next car will be a "made not in America" model. (I found out the Saturn transmission came from a former Soviet block country. Hence "made in America has lost meaning.").
One thing I hear over and over again from these Monkey postings is that "I went on the Internet and found dozens and dozens of complaints about the same problem I was facing." So, it wouldn't be hard for brand owners to seek solutions to their SNAFUs by looking through customer complaints. I had a problem adding a memory chip to a Toshiba laptop. I went online and found tons of complaints. Nobody has been able to add a certain amount of memory without causing crashes. Funny, the company still recommends and sells that memory upgrade.
This saves you from buying the whole cable assembly. Shame to see a perfectly good car go to the scrapyard for lack of a $17 part and and some RTV. The DOHC valve covers do have leak issues, but the RTV works (the design of the cover could be better). The SOHC engines don't have this issue. Saturns are about as easy to work on as your lawnmower. My 96 SL still runs sweet and gets over 40 mpg:
That's what gets me to work every day. I've never been stranded or disappointed by it.
At one time it was a standard service alternative to entirely replace the valve cover with oil-proof silicone sealer, which I have done many times. Chrysler has had problems with stampings creeping since the 1960s, and the reason that fixes did not appear is that nobody wanted to tell the upper managers about it, since it was a career-killing move. Perhaps they have got it togather a bit more by now, but it certainly did take them a whole lot of years. I can relate this fact now because the person who explained it to me is deceased, and beyond retributions
My guess is that other car companies also had a few similar problems, but not on all of their stampings.
Rob, I can tell you that where I work (recreational products industry), we take Internet user forums very seriously. It's a great way to see how our products are doing in the field, as well as how our competitors' products are doing. It's a good complement to our dealer network and our aftersales department.
I'm not sure whether companies in other industries do this, but for recreational products, whether the product is a bicycle or an outboard engine, user experience is everything. After all, these are products which people buy for no other reason than to have a good experience.
I agree, Charles. They had a good idea, and I would guess the brand could have been buffed back to a good sheen. But I think GM got overwhelmed in 2008 and threw away Saturn because it was too much to deal with.
It's sad that it came down to this with Saturn. When this brand came out in 1990, it was all about feel-good relations, serving the customer, and building better-quality vehicles. In the beginning, Saturns really were good vehicles with high reliability ratings. But that changed. The fact that Saturn dealerships were unable to deal with this problem is appalling. No wonder Saturn is gone.
Given the number of frustrated consumers writing to our Made by Monkeys column regarding their cars, trucks, refrigerators, dishwashers, ect., I'd say I highly doubt brand owners are paying much attention to these forums. The general thought, in my opinion, is that they believe most people will just go out and replace the broken down auto/appliance rather than try to figure out what's wrong with the current one. Of course, they didn't count on the likes of the Design News audience!
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