jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/1/21 12:53 a.m.

Having been successful (with some self-induced pain) in retrieving the Jag XK8 from a GRM'er in Florida in May and driving it back to Wisconsin, we're going to try it again in a '94 Saturn.  I bought it on Cars and Bids for my #2 daughter.  The car has 24K miles on it and looks pretty good from the pictures on the auction site:

The car was a couple miles north of daughter #1's place in Sunnyvale and the seller said he would deliver it.  I won the auction and sent off a check.  A few days later the seller dropped it at my daughter's place - the second time in a two months that I sent a big check off to an unknown person for a sight-unseen car.

My traveling companion, the slightly too trustful lady, and I are in San Diego for another day (there are at least a couple of breweries here in SD that we haven't hit) .  The we head north to LA for a couple days, then up the coast through Big Sur to San Jose to drop off the rental Camry and pickup the Saturn  After picking up the car and some stops in Monterey and the bay area, it will be off to wine country - Dry Creek mostly - then east to Tahoe and the longer drive east to Wisconsin.

There's a lot of moving parts in this trip and a 27 year old car adds to the uncertainty, but we're hoping for a good tour of California and the trip back to Wisconsin.




Powar GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/1/21 7:08 a.m.

Very cool! I was watching this auction on C&B but didn't bid due to the distance (and too many other cars). Definitely looking forward to reading about the trip and seeing some photos!

Cooter UberDork
7/1/21 11:35 a.m.

As the owner of a half dozen or so of these appliances over the years, since my first SW I bought brand new in '94, I will predict that if your back can handle long stints in the the seats, the trip itself should be pretty trouble free.  



Good luck - we'll be here cheering you on!

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/1/21 9:38 p.m.

I love a good Saturn! Have fun, and if you run into trouble or need a driveway and some tools in the East Bay, let me know!

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/1/21 11:36 p.m.

Have fun!


Literally 2 years ago I did a fly and drive for the Rampage and had a hell of a lot of fun

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/3/21 11:19 a.m.

Got some seat time in the Camry wading through traffic from San Diego to Santa Monica.  Not bad for a beige car.  I think we hit most of the breweries in San Diego.  My favorite was Ballast Point in Little Italy.  Great clean light beers and really fine barrel aged big beers.   Decent food too.

Revelation - Wisconsin weather in June and July >> Southern California coastal weather.  Didn't know about "June Gloom", it's been overcast and chilly since we arrived.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/8/21 6:18 p.m.

We are through southern California and dropped the rental off at the San Jose Airport.

The car looks and feels pretty good.  Front tires are old and there's no air in the spare, but I can fix that.  Drove down to Monterey without any drama.

Starting to make a mental inventory of the things that need to be done - wiper blades, front tires are old, PS fluid is down a bit.


jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/8/21 6:19 p.m.

Do any of you Saturn guys know about giving the air conditioning Freon a boost?  Can I just pickup a charging kit at the local auto parts store and expect that to work?


jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/9/21 9:46 p.m.

Never mind on the Freon - I spent fifty bucks on a can of R134a with a gauge and the low side pressure is 35lbs - right in the middle of the OK range.  AC works but not very well, we're not looking forward to the desert and summer in the midwest.

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/9/21 10:36 p.m.
jwagner (Forum Supporter) said:

Never mind on the Freon - I spent fifty bucks on a can of R134a with a gauge and the low side pressure is 35lbs - right in the middle of the OK range.  AC works but not very well, we're not looking forward to the desert and summer in the midwest.

Is the radiator fan working well on high speed with the AC running? Not a Saturn, but I had a bad fan resistor make my AC weak. Not enough air blowing through the condenser to cool it down.

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/10/21 6:33 a.m.

Agree on checking the fan. It's supposed to turn on whenever the AC is on. 

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/10/21 9:57 a.m.

We're in SF for a couple of days and I'll check the fan after we get the car out of the hotel parking  Drove the car up from Monterey to SF through Santa Cruz.  It was hot and we got stuck in traffic several times.  The temp gauge edged up two notches but it didn't overheat which I think means the fan was working.  (Don't know if there are two fans on these.)

On my brother's recommendation we stopped at Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing.  Great fish, huge portions, long lines, industrial fish market ambience.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/13/21 11:23 p.m.

Checked the fan (I think there's only one), and it does turn on and seems to run freely.  Also read the manual and "Max A/C" is when both the AC button and Recirc button are pushed.  We tried that this afternoon running up from Sonoma to Tahoe via Hwy 50 and it did seem to help cool the interior at least a few degrees better than the outside.  Unfortunately, in 90+ degree up-the-mountain driving it also sends the temp gauge up.

We take off across Nevada to Salt Lake City tomorrow morning.  Have four gallons of water and bought a spare serpentine belt just in case...

Here's a Saturn posing at Meeks Bay Beach, Lake Tahoe.  Seriously needs a bath after some dirt roads in Sonoma.

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/14/21 6:59 a.m.

Don't worry too much about the temp gauge. I seem to recall that it was much more active than most "idiot light with a needle" gauges and would show temp to climb and then drop again with air flow. I seem to recall travel between 1/2 and 3/4 on the gauge. 

ProDarwin MegaDork
7/14/21 9:02 a.m.

I have never had luck with A/C repair in these.  I have had several that the A/C is mediocre at best on (i.e. not exactly comfortable in NC 95F+ summer days).  Low side will read normal, but high side reads low.  I've tried replacing compressor and TXV without luck.  

That said, aftermarket compressors are truly E36 M3.  I think to get the A/C 'right' again, you need to get a known good compressor, and replace the TXV, drier, evap, and condensor all in one go.  Which is probably what a shop will quote $1500 to do :/

When the A/C is working as designed, it does work very well.


The temp gauge works fine on these.  But its realistic.  If you aren't in the red, you aren't endangering anything.

If the temp gauge is acting wonky and the motor does anything funny, check the temp sensor.  At that mileage it probably has the original ECTS (plastic end).  It cracks and causes bad readings.  Any autoparts store will have a brass one you can replace it with.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/14/21 10:30 p.m.

Thanks for the info on this.  I'll see if I can dig up a proper set of gauges when I get home to get a better idea of what's going on.  We made it through Nevada and the Salt Desert to Provo today.  It was hot, but the A/C on max took the edge off the heat and it wasn't too bad.  Glad it wasn't 100+ degress today.  We didn't encounter any problems along the way - very happy about that - and we're pretty much sprinting for home.  Expect to make it back to Wisconsin sometime Saturday.

I actually like this car.  Save for the lack of amenities - crank windows/door locks/cruise/auto trans, it's really not a bad drive and is more responsive than most driving appliances.   My son had a SC2 that he autocrossed and did pretty well with.  I can see why it worked as well as it did.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/14/21 10:47 p.m.

Some pictures -

Heading north into Big Sur.  Stunning.


Rented a cottage in Big Sur, mostly because I couldn't find anyplace else to stay at a reasonable price.  Turned out to be much better than a hotel/motel.

Out the back door of the cottage

Brought tools (in a beer box) and drop shipped a stereo to my daughter's place in CA.  Still haven't finished installing it.

Golden Gate Park from the Ferris wheel

and of course the bridge

There are some damned steep hills in SF.  We stayed at the Intercontinental at the top of Nob Hill (fancy place).  The valets were fascinated by the old Saturn and left it in the prime parking spot at the front of the hotel instead of taking it down to the lot.  The car gets more attention than you'd figure.

more coming...




jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/14/21 11:01 p.m.

Wine country.  I like Sonoma better than Napa - fewer tourists and traffic jams and less expensive.  We spent most of our time in  Dry Creek.

Stopped at Pedroncelli for an extended tasting - my favorite for reasonably priced everyday wine and rejoined their club.  Also Trattore.  Here's the view from Trattore.  (BTW, I request and use a spit bucket and probably poured out more wine than I drank on this visit.)

And the owner has a love of old tractors.  Apparently trattore is Italian for tractor.  Porsche Diesel -

Finally, Hwy 50 into Tahoe.  The Saturn needs to downshift to make it up the mountain grades, but aside from slowing a bit, no problem.

Edit - somehow I missed adding a picture of the redwoods at John Muir Woods north of SF.  Awesome place, especially once you get off the main trail where all the tourists are yelling at their kids.  I think we hiked about five miles, seemed like nearly all uphill, but well worth the effort.


cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/20/21 6:34 p.m.

Looks like you're enjoying yourself!

I like Trattore a lot, haven't been to Pedroncelli though. I'll have to try it out next time I'm up there.

jfryjfry SuperDork
8/1/21 9:06 a.m.

Curious...  it looks like it doesn't have a California plate. Did you have to bring one? Or is/was it registered somewhere else?

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
8/2/21 10:39 a.m.

It's a Wisconsin car now.  Titled it and bought plates before I left to pick it up.

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