definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,281 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

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problem #14

May 212002


  • 10,000 miles
I have had trouble with this car since new delay and hard shifts into reverse always, and forward gears quite frequently had Saturn service dept check and they show no codes.

- Brookville, OH, USA

problem #13

Jul 102005


  • 55 miles
Transmission failure on 2002 Saturn Sl mileage: 50+K only 2nd owner bought from used auto dealer. Covered on dealer warranty and fixed in 2005. Transmission failure again after warranty expiration- 2008.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #12

Oct 162008


  • 86,500 miles
One evening last week I noticed that when I would shift gears after being parked, it felt like something dropped under my car. The same night, I would be driving about 35-40 miles and hour in the 1-2 RPM range, all of a sudden the gauge would quickly jump to 3 rpms and then drop back down. It did this consistently every 2-3 minutes. I took my car to a local transmission shop the next morning because I felt that it was a serious problem. The body valve was damaged which was the main problem. That was replaced along with a few other parts. When I was paying ($2895) the man that had been helping me informed me that his shop had encountered many transmission problems with my model car (2002 Saturn SL1) and that they checked in to any kind of recall or bulletins. He said that he felt that GM would be issuing a bulletin relatively soon. I did my own research and found multiple complaints about Saturn transmission problems, in particular the body valve. When my father originally purchased the new vehicle, he had complained about the shifting of the car and gone to the Saturn dealership to complain a few times, and he was told, "oh, that's just the way car is." I feel that this car had a transmission problem in the beginning that was brushed under the rug, and has created a almost $3000 problem.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #11

Apr 012008


  • 150,000 miles
I have a 2002 SL1 (auto transmission)with over 150,000 miles on it. The transmission had started clunking when engaged in reverse and also when shifting between other gears. I decided to have my transmission rebuilt. I have had my car at a transmission shop for over a month now. The mechanics replaced my valve box and still am having the same issues. My mechanics is at a loss right now. I have read alot of blogs on the internet about the Saturn transmissions and believe I am not going to get my car fixed by my current mechanic nor anyone else.

- Traverse City, MI, USA

problem #10

Feb 202008

SL 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,175 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Saturn SL2. While driving between 20 and 40 mph mph, the vehicle became sluggish while the contact attempted to accelerate. He had to slow the vehicle down and gradually accelerate in order to switch gears. The contact spoke with the dealer and they accused him of not following the maintenance schedule. The current mileage was 33,323 and failure mileage was 33,175. Updated 04/04/08.

- Toledo, OH, USA

problem #9

May 222006

SL 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles
I have a 2002 Saturn SL2 and I've had to replace my transmission twice now. I believe that the dealership in manchester, nh knowingly sold it to me like this since I had brought up a very slight speed up effect the car had to the car sales woman, and she had told me that it was because the car had a slightly more powerful engine than the 4.0 I was used to (it had a 4.6) and the jump was just the "extra power". I haven't even owned the car for 18 months yet. It's a piece of crap and I have a pretty bitter taste in my mouth from dealing with the car dealerships in nh and in md. The dealership in salisbury, md wanted to charge me $3100 for a new transmission. I noticed (after the fact) that there was some technical problems with the transmission from the beginning in all '02 S-series, but I really think that if there's so many people having issues that there should be some sort of recall on the product. It has already cost me about $5000 on top of the 9,000 that I have already spent to purchase it (cost of car plus bank interest for loan). The car is hardly worth $14,000 but I'm still upside-down on my loan so I can't get rid of the thing. I've looked into the research on the NHTSA website in hopes that it will give some insight on how to fix the problem permanently (more money down the drain) but Saturn should really be reprimanded or made to reimburse the customers somehow. Cars are really too big of a purchase for things to go this wrong.

- Scarborough, ME, USA

problem #8

Dec 072006

SL 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving 25 mph, a noise was heard and the vehicle stalled without warning. It was maneuvered off the road, and towed to the dealer. The dealership determined the transmission needed to be replaced. The gear went through the bottom of the transmission. Updated 01/10/07.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

problem #7

Jul 202005

SL 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,800 miles
At approx. 71,000 miles, automatic transmission began exhibiting shifting difficulties between 2nd & 3rd gears. Reputable transmission shop diagnosed problem as hydraulic leaks within transmission. Replaced seals with trans. Rebuild, replaced mlps, total repair cost over $3650. Trans. Was not abused, this was a premature trans. Failure.

- Fallbrook, CA, USA

problem #6

Apr 222003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Transmission was defective, when shifting it down shifted and changed gears on its own. Manufacturer to date has offered no assistance.

- Weston, WV, USA

problem #5

Nov 052004

SL 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,400 miles
Automatic transmission. Driving on straightaway ~ 20-30 mph. Banging into gear as shifts. Harder bang when going into "R". brought to dealership immediately. Problem: Faulty solenoid. Replaced valve body. Expensive repair! this is a very premature, failure. Car only 3 years with ~50K.

- Stamford, CT, USA

problem #4

Oct 132004

SL 16-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
This is regarded to the valve body issue that is common in Saturn. I have a 2002 SL1 with 50,000 miles on it and must need to be replaced after doing research online I have found that there is hundreds of people with the same problem. Why has Saturn not done anything to fix this problem, or offer to help pay for the cost of repairs?

- Juneau, AK, USA

problem #3

Jun 092002

SL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles
While driving at any speed vehicle jerk and vibrated uncontrollably. Consumer was able to maintain control of the vehicle, and drove it to dealer for inspection numerous times. However, mechanic could not duplicate the problem.

- Exeland, WI, USA

problem #2

Apr 222004


  • miles
When putting the gear shift in reverse vehicle would not move. Consumer had the vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection.

- Denville, NJ, USA

problem #1

May 172002

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Automatic transmission not able to shift into low gear while descending steep grade/mountain roads. Brakes are scorched due to excessive pedal application, and controlling vehicle is with difficulty.

- Cullowhee, NC, USA