Saturn Vue years to avoid — most common problems
As a sub-brand of General Motors, Saturn had a tricky task of coping with the imported cars on the US soil and this mostly reflected Japanese manufacturers and their compact cars. Over the years, the brand lost its reputation and slowly went into oblivion, but not before establishing a few high-quality models we can still see on the streets today.
One of these models is Saturn Vue, also known as the Antara with the Opel badge in the second generation. The compact SUV still makes one of the best deals on the used car market, so we wanted to check if there are any Saturn Vue years to avoid to aid you in the mission of purchasing the most reliable model.
Most common Saturn Vue problems
For various reasons, Saturn cars aren’t exactly considered the most reliable options out there. There are many theories as to why the brand was discontinued in 2010, and one of the first things that come to mind is a financial crisis. This was the time when General Motors simply had to make a few cuts, so some drivers think that it was the reason behind the company’s demise.
On the other hand, some drivers believe that Saturn simply didn’t offer enough quality in their vehicles, and the Vue is a great car to use while putting this claim to a test. By looking at the numbers, we can see that the Vue was one of, if not the best-selling car ever made by Saturn. We’ll help you decide on the value of the brand based on the common problems that Vue had throughout the model years.
One of the worst issues that Saturn Vue drivers had to face over the years is faulty transmission, especially on models equipped with a CVT transmission. Besides transmission-related problems, there are also reports on power steering fluid leaks and problems with the power steering pump.
Along with these issues, some specific Saturn Vue engines proved to be less reliable than the others, and there were some issues with the steering knuckles. All things considered, the Vue only had six recalls based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, which makes a pretty good reliability score.
Problems with the automatic transmission
For a car that started production in 2002, it’s no wonder that some drivers reported issues with slipping transmission or harsh shifting. After all, modern-age automatic gearboxes are much more durable and precise than the earlier versions.
Still, one of the most problematic versions of an automatic transmission installed in a Saturn Vue is the CVT transmission. There have been numerous reported CVT transmission problems and it’s once again an issue that can perhaps be prescribed to the moment in the automotive industry when CVT was introduced.
While even some newer CVT transmission systems have a few issues, it was a bold move to put this sort of transmission into a budget-friendly compact SUV like Saturn Vue. Sadly, drivers weren’t as eager to get such models due to the high costs of repairing the CVT transmission.
Power steering fluid leaks
While discussing the most common issues of Saturn Vue as a model, we can’t overlook the power steering fluid leaks that plenty of drivers have complained about. Even GM acknowledged this issue and scheduled an official recall in 2008.
The good thing is – it was mostly in the nut that connected the power steering line with the power steering pump. In most cases, simply tightening the nut solved the issue and you can entrust your mechanic to do this as well in case the model you are considering buying hasn’t gone through a recall.
The engine is the heart of every car and it’s no wonder that some drivers tend to skip buying a used Vue equipped with a particular engine. We’ve seen numerous reports on different engine-related problems like rough idling and misfires, or even harsh rattling noises coming from the engine bay.
These were mostly centered on a few engines such as the 2.4-liter hybrid engine or the 3.0-liter V6 engine. On the other hand, the 2.2-liter EcoTec engine made by GM and the 3.5-liter V6 engine made by Honda were quite reliable options with little to no reports of engine troubles. So, it also depends on the engine option of your choice.
Problems with the steering knuckles
Finally, we come to the matter of the steering knuckle that was prone to separating from the control arm and triggering steering issues. The vehicle could drag to the side and even tie rod fractures were commonly caused by the steering knuckle issue.
Luckily, GM noticed this issue and there was a recall that mostly included solving the issue on older first-gen Saturn. Steering issues can be quite serious and this type of problem makes it difficult to control the car properly on a straight road, so make sure that you check the steering system before the purchase.
Which Saturn Vue years to avoid?
Now that we went through the toughest part with the common Saturn Vue problems, it’s time to get straight to the point regarding the buying advice. There are some years to avoid and while it also depends on the overall condition of a specific unit, we have to admit that some Saturn Vue models are made worse than others.
So, let’s take a look at it based on Saturn Vue generations to help you decide on the most reliable model year.
First-generation Saturn Vue (2003-2004 and 2006 model years)
The first-gen Saturn Vue had quite a few issues more than the second generation which was a more reliable one overall. There are several model years to avoid here, and the worst-rated Saturn Vue from the first generation is the 2003 model.
It received the most complaints and these were mostly revolving around harsh shifting of the automatic transmission, equipment labels, and the check engine light coming up on the dashboard. The 2006 model comes right after in terms of reliability issues, so it’s best to avoid these models.
Second-generation Saturn Vue (2008 model year)
The 2008 model was the first one in the second generation of the Saturn Vue, and it was sadly the worst-rated second-gen model. The good news is – it was the only Saturn Vue with such a bad reliability rating and the following models were quite better.
This model was based on the Opel Antara SUV and the second-gen model had significant exterior improvements when compared to the first one. It was also more reliable, but we can’t recommend the 2008 model due to transmission issues and steering problems that were commonly reported.
Best Saturn Vue years
Right after getting to know about the common problems and Saturn Vue years to avoid, there comes discussing the best model years. Thankfully, not all the Saturn Vue models were plagued by the listed issues and there are some pretty reliable models out there. To cut your worries short, here’s a list of the best Saturn Vue models:
- 2002 Saturn Vue
- 2005 Saturn Vue
- 2007 Saturn Vue
- 2009 Saturn Vue
- 2010 Saturn Vue
Out of all these, the 2010 model received the least complaints and it’s considered the most reliable Saturn Vue out there. It’s not much of a surprise, since the latest or facelift versions of various car models have proven to be the ones with the least issues.
If you are thinking of buying a first-gen Saturn Vue, you can go for the 2002 or 2005 model and it’s only important to avoid the problematic 2003 and 2006 Vue cars. Make sure to go for one with a 3.5-liter Honda engine and try to avoid the one with a CVT transmission if possible,
Is the Saturn Vue worth buying?
Ultimately, we can say that the Saturn Vue is worth buying due to all the features it offers for a pretty affordable price tag on the used car market. However, not all of these were made with the same level of reliability, so we have to advise you to avoid certain model years.
Our team strives to do just that through this guide, so we hope that you will have an easier time picking a used Vue after reading it.
What year was the best Saturn Vue?
The 2010 Saturn Vue was the best model in terms of reliability and it had the least amount of complaints.
Which Saturn Vue has transmission problems?
Saturn Vue models with a CVT transmission had transmission problems and these were most prominent with a 2006 model.
What is the life expectancy of a Saturn Vue?
The life expectancy of a Saturn Vue is around 120,000 miles with proper maintenance.
Do Saturn cars last long?
Saturn cars are in the average range of automotive life expectancy and that’s a decent deal considering their fairly lower price when compared with the closest competitors.