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Old 06-20-2002, 01:55 AM   #1
Maxim
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Default Engine cradle : HELP please !

Hi, a newbie from Canada....eh...

Need your assistance/input on a problem...

SL 2 1994, 155,000 kilometers (about 100k miles)

At my last oil change, technician suggested that we may need to replace engine cradle (looked weak to him, corrosion from salt on our roads ?)

Saturn dealer agrees. Cost about $1,500 CDN ($ 950 US)

ouch....

Question :

This car was maintained by the book at the local dealer. Is there some secret warranty on this or room to negotiate ?

Seems to me this is a serious flaw on a chassis component with security features (crumple zone concerns etc..). This is an 8 year old car....

One mechanic (whom i trust and not affiliated to the dealer) feels that perhaps as it is not badly corroded and there is no evidence of twisting or misalignement then perhaps a plate welded in the area under the area where the ball joint connects would be an acceptable solution.

Note : in our province, all automobiles are inspected annually. This mechanic is confident that his solution would past muster at inspection time.

Another mechanic (very knowledgable) thinks it is a VERY bad idea to fool around with an engine cradle as this could affect the crumple features of this car in a collision.

Any opinions, suggestions ????

$ 1,500 is a LOT of money to spend on high mileage car. It also loves dino oil....

With thanks

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Old 06-20-2002, 02:40 AM   #2
SIYAM
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That, to me, is a wierd thing to need to be replaced. Seems like everything else would go before that...

But, I don't live in Canada with the harsh weather... nor am I a tech so I wouldn't know common problems.

What I can tell you, though, is that you can get a used cradle in good condition (read: no rust) from a junk yard for not too much. It's not that hard to put in, really. Just support the engine/tranny, and drop the cradle. Put the steering, mounts, and suspension back in and you're done. I wouldn't put 1000 bucks into that car for just the cradle...

Ian

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Old 06-20-2002, 06:09 AM   #3
krasch
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My ex 94 SL had rust at the edges of the sheet metal that makes up the engine cradle. I would try to find one from sunny Florida from a Saturn that was wrecked in the rear end. I just replaced a bent engine cradle on a salvaged 92 SL2 because someone hit a curb hard and bent it. There is only 4 or 6 bolts holding the cradle to the frame. Saturn dealers drop the whole engine/tranny and engine cradle if they need to do any major work. The lower engine mount, transmission mount and steering rack bolt to the engine cradle.
I paid $200 for mine from a local salvage yard.

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Old 06-20-2002, 01:53 PM   #4
bigbird
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I do the service on my mother's '94 SL1. I'm under the car every 3 months for oil changes, and I haven't seen any indication of rusting away of the cradle. There is some minor surface rusting, but nothing near approaching metal failure. And yes, there is lots of road salt used in Winnipeg in the winter.I'll assume several things are possible:
1) New Brunswick uses huge amounts of road salt and the cradle rusting can be blamed on that
2) Your car has been in an accident, and the repairs or lack of have affected the integrity of the cradle
3) The cradle was never satisfactorily factory coated against corrosion

Since your car is way out of warranty, you might want to bring this up with Transport Canada, rather than Saturn Canada, as this is a safety issue

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Old 06-20-2002, 07:19 PM   #5
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I hesitated to answer your post because without being able to see the cradle and it's supposed problem it is VERY difficult to give accurate advise. I can tell you that all 3 of my Saturns have been in Maine thier entire lives (road salt capital of new england) and even the 92' is still on it's factory cradle and just passed our state inspection at 194k miles (324,000 kilometers +/-) even with factory ball joints and tie rod ends...DO NOT reinforce or alter it as it's design is critical to crash worthiness. For what it's worth even though the engine/transaxle/steering rack and front suspension are mounted to the engine cradle, it does not REALLY support 100% of the weight of ANYTHING. As far as where the control arm is attached to the cradle...it serves more as an alignment and pivot point than a load bearing member. You can actually unbolt the control arm of a Saturn from the cradle and lower the car's weight back down onto the wheel.. and if done carefully.. cause no damage (although I WOULDN"T RECOMMEND IT) Since you stated that your car has to pass inspection every year....I am curious as to how this has all of a sudden become a problem less than a year from it's last inspection????

FYI A cradle job done locally with NEW factory parts is $835.00 US.

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Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
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Old 06-20-2002, 08:59 PM   #6
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Default Only Problem

I had my engine cradle damaged because my battery exploded around 20,000miles I think. It was repaired without question by the dealership.

I still have the paperwork and I'll see if it lists prices anywhere even though it was covered by warranty. I know it's major work.

-j

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Old 06-20-2002, 10:02 PM   #7
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I have to agree with every one on trying to add things to strengthen the cradle, don't do it. The cradle would have to extremely rusty for it to be unsafe. By extremely rusty I mean big chunks of rusted metal falling off if you touch it or probe it. Is there any point on the cradle that you are able to go through the metal of it? Does it look to you like it's ready to fall apart? Maybe it's just that the rust has gotten under the paint and is looking a lot worse than it actually is. Are you able to take it to an inspection place and get their opinion on it? As for prices out here in my part of Canada I believe that a cradle will run you about $1200.00 plus labour and we charge 5 hours labour and a wheel alignment.
Good Luck.

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