Fun Facts about the Saturn SW2
- In the early 1990s, the station wagon was the preferred vehicle of many growing families. As such, Saturn came up with the Saturn SW2, a sedan wagon that features a double overhead cam engine and a sturdily built wagon. One of the many reasons behind this vehicle's popularity is that it handles just like a sedan, looks like a modern Saturn vehicle, and can comfortably sit a huge family.
- Although Saturn is now a discontinued brand under General Motors, it was able to gain success especially in the station wagon market with the release of its Saturn SW2. Many SW2s can still be seen today, proving the model's reliability and popularity.
- Because the SW2's body panels, roof, liftgate, and hood are built with Saturn's trademark rust- and dent-resistant polymer components, it became a popular mode of transportation among buyers looking for a safe ride for their families. As a matter of fact, the SW2, along with the other vehicles under the Saturn S-series, gained high ratings from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
- Compared to competitor vehicles such as Escort and Corolla, the SW2 has more hip room in the back and front seats, providing a more spacious cabin that's perfect for a large family. It also has a longer wheelbase compared to its competitors. This means better handling when driving over road bumps.
- From 1999 to 2001, special-edition Saturn SWPs (known as postal station wagons) were produced to serve as route mail carriers in rural areas. These wagons featured a right-hand drive system. Right-hand drive Saturn SW vehicles were also sold in Japan, but they weren't as successful as their American counterparts.
- The Saturn SW2 was featured in a scene in the 2004 film made for TV Gone, But Not Forgotten, the 2007 TV series Carpoolers, and the 2006 film The Sasquatch Gang. This car was also featured in the 2008 comedy flick Baby Mama that starred Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. In the movie, Tina Fey's character, Kate Holbrook, drove a Saturn SW2. The car can be seen in several scenes as Kate tries to balance her career and motherhood.
Common Issues with the Saturn SW2
When it comes to eco-friendly cars, the Saturn SW2 is definitely a top contender. As a matter of fact, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) tests showed that this car can reach 40 miles per US gallon. Partner this with a reliable engine and dent-resistant polymer panels, and buyers have another good option when looking for a ride that's fuel efficient, dependable, and sturdy. However, just like all other cars, the SW2 is prone to certain problems and has been involved in several recall issues. So for those thinking of buying this car, here are the most common problems associated with an SW2:
Thousands of units were recalled by Saturn when it was discovered that certain vehicles were equipped with a faulty vent valve, a component that's welded on top of the fuel tank. If left unchecked, this could lead to fuel leaks during refueling. This can also create a fire hazard if, for some reason, the car rolls over during a crash and a fire source is present.
Certain Saturn SW2 units were recalled due to a malfunctioning automatic transaxle park lock cable assembly. This situation can cause a parked vehicle to move involuntarily once the ignition key is removed, increasing the risk of a crash.
Some SW2s were equipped with front seats that have faulty back recliner gear teeth, causing the recliner mechanism to malfunction after repeated use. This could then make the seat suddenly slip backward, increasing the driver's risk of getting into an accident.
Recalls were also made for certain units that were equipped with a poorly insulated generator wiring harness. Under extreme conditions, this wiring harness will easily buckle under excessive current flow, creating a fire hazard under the hood.
A faulty positive battery cable terminal located at the starter solenoid has led Saturn to recall thousands of units that were possibly affected by this issue. A malfunctioning terminal can cause an electric short circuit and, in a worst-case scenario, lead to a fire under the hood.
Another common problem encountered by many SW2 owners is a pulsating brake pedal. The usual cause of this is a worn-out front brake rotor. Although this problem didn't lead to a recall, a lot of SW2 owners have reported this issue. The solution is to replace the brake pads and rotors as soon as possible.
The car temperature gauge of my Saturn SW2 is fluctuating. Whenever I stop at a red light, the gauge goes up but my car is not overheating. What's going on and how do I fix it?
If your Saturn SW2's car temperature gauge is reading erratically, it could be due to three things. First, it could be because of loose or dirty connections. Simply clean or tighten these affected wiring to solve the issue. If that doesn't work, then the problem might lie in the sending unit. Remove the wire from the sending unit and ground it for an instant. If the gauge registers, then the sending unit is defective and must be replaced. Lastly, it could be the gauge itself that is faulty. Keeping the same wire disconnected, turn on the ignition and check the gauge—it should register cold. Then, ground the wire and look at the gauge again—it should read hot. If both readings are incorrect, then you must replace the temperature gauge.
My Saturn SW2 won't crank or start even though everything lights up as normal. What could be causing this?
If nothing happens when you turn the ignition key, then the starter motor is not turning over the engine. A dead battery usually causes this. However, if your Saturn SW2's battery checks out but the engine still won't crank, then you must check other components. Your problem could be due to a bad ignition switch, an improperly connected starter solenoid control wire, or a faulty starter motor.
My Saturn SW2 used to run smooth even from cold start. Now, before the engine warms up, it starts running rough and idles fast. What do I have to do fix it?
Try replacing the engine coolant temperature sensor. It plays a key role in the performance of your engine by sending air/fuel ratio data to the power-train control module. When the sensor goes bad, it can cause your Saturn SW2 to have poor idle, stalling, and high rpms even after starting the engine at a normal operating temperature.
How long will it take me to replace the front wiper motor of my Saturn SW2?
If your Saturn SW2's wipers turn on at random or stop in the middle of the windshield, or if the washer works intermittently, then your car's front wiper motor might be faulty and needs to be replaced. Doing this by yourself will only need two hours of your time, so you can do this in the morning before you have breakfast or at any time of the day.
The windshield wipers of my Saturn SW2 do not work when I turn them on. How can I fix them?
The first thing you must do is to check for any blown fuse. This is the most common issue for the wiper assembly. However, this is not the root cause of your problem. If a fuse is blown, then there must be something else that's wrong, like a shorted component or faulty wiring. If you tried to start the wiper after replacing the blown fuse but it's still not working, whack the motor with the handle of a screwdriver or a rubber mallet. If this gets the wipers to work, then your car has a faulty commutator or an open winding of the armature.
Saturn SW2: The DOHC-equipped Sedan Wagon of the S-Series
The SW2 was part of Saturn’s first ever series of vehicles and first line of compact cars—the S-series. This series debuted in the market in 1990 with the SL (sedan level) model. Two years after, the lineup expanded with the introduction of the SC, a 2-door sports coupe. It was in 1993 when the SW became part of the S-Series. The SW designation stands for “sedan wagon.”
1993: The SW2 joined Saturn’s S-Series lineup
By the time it was introduced, the Saturn SW2 was mechanically identical to its SL2 counterpart. Power was delivered by a DOHC 1.9L I4 LL0 engine producing 85 horsepower. This powertrain was offered with either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission. The automatic transmission came with a kind of performance setting that delivered crisper shifts at a higher RPM. There was also a setting for traction which ensured more controlled take-offs. With such setting, the transmission stayed in 2nd gear from a stop.
In 1995, the interior of the Saturn SW2 was redesigned to make way for dual airbags and a new dashboard. The transmissions for DOHC-equipped models were also modified to improve acceleration, while models with SOHC engine were enhanced to achieve better fuel economy.
1996: The redesigned Saturn SW2
For the 1996 model year, the SW2 was redesigned, making it sport a more curvaceous body. This redesign also resulted in a more spacious interior and bigger doorway size. The biggest modification done to the 1996 S-series was the OBDII PCM, modern sequential fuel injection setup that made use of the first ever “compress sense” cam sensor set up.
In mid-1998 model year, only minor changes were given to the S-series, which included a new cluster featuring a digital odometer. The transmission also received a new ECU software and a new larger muffler was installed to minimize the NVH levels in the engine exhaust. Models produced in late 1999 got engine improvements. Both SOHC and DOHC engines were improved to reduce the harshness without affecting the drivetrain’s power output.
2000: The face-lifted and final Saturn SW2
The final SW2 that was made for the 2000 model year was facelifted. It got a lot of style changes both in the exterior and interior; it received mechanical and electronic modifications as well. The cabin was given a new dashboard and a new stereo, making the third-generation the first and only S-series to be fitted with a standard sized Double DIN stereo. The interior also got a redesigned set of seats.
The third-generation S-Series also took pride in being the first Saturn to be fitted with a Body Control Module or BCM that worked hand in hand with a Powertrain Control Module (PCM). The BCM was in charge of the interior functions while the PCM was strictly designed for controlling the engine and the transmission.