In our first weekend of
ownership, the Saturn sprang a coolant leak that left the car smelling
vaguely of antifreeze for the rest of our time together. After the leak
and a near-overheat situation, there emerged a curious squawk from the
engine that sounded like a leaky hose or a bad seal. The shop, of
course, couldn't find a problem.
there were no cupholders, we used to rest our drinks in a convenient
divot in the center console; unfortunately, the collected condensation
from our drinks worked its way down through the plastic and shorted out
the whole electrical system. The clutch had to be replaced and the
gearbox rebuilt. There were also random but seemingly
impossible-to-find oil leaks that left the underside of the hood soaked
suppose I can't blame this on the car, but two tires (both with good
tread life, at good pressures) blew up massively on the freeway, one
cutting the wires to the fuel pump and leaving my wife and I stranded
on the freeway on our way to a vacation for our first wedding
anniversary. I still have a photo of my wife sitting despondently on
the hood of the Saturn that day, grim and depressed. Happy Anniversary,
Saturn was supposed to be our nice newer car; it was pampered by the
first owners, was only six years old, and only had about 70,000 miles
on it. Instead, it was thoroughly outclassed in every way by our much
older 250,000-mile Volvo 240. When I subsequently bought my beater 1983
Chevy Malibu Wagon, I was struck by how markedly superior the
decade-older Malibu was in every respect.
the Saturn's real crime against humanity was sucking out part of my
enjoyment of driving. Before the Saturn, I trusted and enjoyed my cars,
pushing them to their limits, confident that the machinery would do its
part. But the Saturn destroyed my psyche; the effect is
not unlike that of a betrayal by a loved one--regaining the ability to
trust takes time, and I am only slowly recovering from that damage.
when I'm driving any car, even a nice new one, I'm always on edge
waiting for impending cataclysmic failure. I find myself wondering:
Does the idle seem a bit uneven?
That subtle feeling in the steering wheel--is that a change in the pavement, or is a tire about to go?
Does the engine sound a little rougher than usual at higher revs? I hope the engine's not being starved for oil!
The brakes feel a little spongy--I hope I'm not causing rotor damage!
These thoughts now torment me, and for that reason I will hate our old Saturn forever.
an addendum, the Saturn-loving friends from whom we bought the car were
horrified at our problems. They loved it when they owned it, and have
owned several more Saturns and couldn't be happier. I suppose that just
goes to show you that Car Disgust is a highly personal thing.
These photos are not of our Saturn, but by the end, this is what I would have done to it.