Released in the fall of 1990, the Saturn SL instantly captured the interest of the American market with its unique Z-body platform and fuel-efficient engine. The Saturn SL is the sedan variant of the S-Series, which was the automobile company's first venture into the car manufacturing industry. Apart from the base model, which was only sold with a manual transmission, the SL Sedan spawned two successful trim levels-the SL1 and the SL2. Although the Saturn SL Series had a very successful run in the automobile market, present and future owners of the SL Series models should still be mindful of the following problems, which are very common in most SL, SL1, and SL2 models.
One of the SL Series' most common problems is its ignition system. Some of the parts of the SL's ignition system are prone to premature failure, and one good example of this is the SL's clutch interlock switch. This switch is responsible for allowing the driver to start the vehicle without stepping on the clutch pedal. When this fails, revving up the vehicle will be impossible. Numerous car owners had to replace their SLs' faulty clutch interlock switch just to solve this starting problem.
Another ignition dilemma involves the lock cylinder. Most SL vehicles suffered from faulty lock cylinders, which are the top reasons why car keys get stuck in the ignition. In addition to this, bad lock cylinders can also cause the engine to continuouSLy run even if the key was already removed from the ignition.
Several Saturn SL owners complained about their vehicles' intake manifold gaskets, which tend to develop cracks after some time. Apart from causing the check engine light to illuminate, these damage in the head gasket also caused the engine oil to leak into the radiator tank. Oil contamination in the Saturn SL's cooling system caused frequent overheating and failure to start the vehicle. To avoid further engine damage, most vehicle owners decided to replace the broken gaskets. They also reported the said incidents to the manufacturer, but no recalls issued involving this problem.
Several safety recalls were issued due to problems involving various Saturn SL Series parts. More than 6,000 SL vehicles were recalled in the year 2000 because they all failed to pass the requirements stated in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards item number 301 in terms of "FUEL SYSTEM INTEGRITY." According to the reports, the problem has something to do with the vent valve on top of the fuel tank. These vent valves were poorly welded onto the vehicles' fuel tank assemblies. Failure to fix this problem could result in gas spillage while refueling or gas leakages in cases of rear-end collisions.
In 1999, a safety recall was issued due to the faulty seatbelt anchorages of nearly 300,000 Saturn SL Series vehicles. Reports said that the seatbelt shoulder guide anchor bolts were loosely attached to the center pillar. This problem can cause the front seatbelt to fail in case the affected vehicle is involved in a road accident.