The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation of Saturn L Series vehicles because of persistent complaints of timing chain failures.
The NHTSA probe involves the 2003 Saturn Ion, 2000 to 2003 Saturn L-Series, 2000 to 2003 Saturn L series Sedan, 2000-2003 Saturn L Series Wagon, 2001-2003 Saturn L200, 2000-2002 Saturn LS, 2000 Saturn LS1 and 2000 Saturn LS2.
The North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC) brought the timing chain failures to the attention of NHTSA after consumers in the state complained that the timing failures resulted in a sudden loss of power in the Saturn.
Some of the timing chain failures occurred at highway speeds.
NCCC reports consumer concerns that an improper oil flow in the timing chain lubricating mechanism contributed to the failure.
In most circumstances, the Saturn engine would stall resulting is a sudden loss of power when the timing chain malfunctioned.
GM has issued a technical service bulletin advising dealers of a timing chain design change for the some Saturn Vues and Ions.
The bulletin stated that "all timing chain service kits now available will include the oiler nozzel" and that the nozzel is a new design that "will increase oil flow to the timing chain under low RPM operating conditions."
Since there are no complaints of timing chain failures with the Saturn VUE and Ion covered by the service bulletin, NHTSA has opened a preliminary investigation of timing chain failures in Saturns not covered by the new service bulletin.
The NHTSA evaluation will assess the frequency, trend, scope and safety consequences of the timing chain failures.