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#4445328 - 06/29/17 08:04 PM Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability?
92saturnsl2 Offline

Registered: 03/02/04
Posts: 1186
Loc: Flaherty, KY
I'm beginning my search to replace one of my vehicles that's used solely for a 35 mile work commute each day. Looking for a small to mid-size car that's available with a manual transmission that gets reasonable gas mileage, say > 25 mpg. Prefer a vehicle with lots of options versus a cheap econobox. Looking through Craigslist briefly, Saabs have been catching my eye as they look sharp, come relatively loaded and can be found in a manual. Prices seem great for what you get. I fully understand parts and repair costs may be higher, but as long as they're not a total bear to work on, I intend to do all repair work myself, as I do on my other vehicles.

Any serious drawbacks or problem areas I should be aware of with these cars? Need to stay under $5k, ideally less than 130k mi. or so.

#4445335 - 06/29/17 08:14 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
pbm Offline

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 7424
Loc: New York
Parts may be hard to come by being that Saab no longer makes cars.

#4445346 - 06/29/17 08:19 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
CKN Offline

Registered: 10/14/14
Posts: 3532
Loc: Utah
Were they that reliable when new?

I have heard they had many electrical issues. NO first hand experience though.

Edited by CKN (06/29/17 08:22 PM)

#4445350 - 06/29/17 08:25 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
eljefino Offline

Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 32224
Loc: ME
Wife had a coworker that had an 80's SAAB that was wonderful, 250k, ran it until it rusted out and then some.

Got a 97 saab and it left him stranded 4x in 2 years. Stuff like fuel pumps.

If I were given one, I'd flip it as fast as I could.

By this point you're getting the broke status seekers who'll do horrible maintenance.

Better off in a Cavalier.

#4445352 - 06/29/17 08:28 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: pbm]
Ethan1 Offline

Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 1620
Loc: 'murica
Originally Posted By: pbm
Parts may be hard to come by being that Saab no longer makes cars.

It's easier to get parts for a Saab than a same-year domestic car. I can call my Chevy dealer and have anything for a Saab in 2 days.

#4445365 - 06/29/17 08:39 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
BrocLuno Offline

Registered: 09/06/15
Posts: 5062
Loc: Kalifornia Kollective
I've had a 2001 Saab 9.5 2.3T 5-speed for a few years now. All 9.5's are loaded. Great car. Not quite as sticky as my Sirocco ( laugh ), but still fun to drive. 147K on mine and the engine is still strong.

Things that bother me are leaky sun-roof in hard rain. Had to do an in-tank fuel pump (accessible under back seat), radiator (plastic end tanks got soft), and had to have the TCS computer rebuilt (mailed it to Boston, back in three days).

No problem getting parts. Active Saab web sites with knowledgeable users. Parts still being made in Trollhattan by ex-Saab employees.

Personally, if I were to get another, it would be an Aero (wagon) w/o sun-roof. Still handles well and goes good, more room smile

Or look for a good used early 2-stroke Saab and kill mosquitoes all day long laugh

28 MPG if you stay out of the turbo ( laugh ).

Somewhere around 2003 GM started to substitute real Saab parts with Opel sub-assemblies. Some mis-matches there that lead to issues ...

OH, and the BITOG issue - Saab put the front CAT next to the pan at the oil pump pick-up location. It can cook (coke) the oil and eventually plug the oil pump intake. It'll starve the motor for oil. The issue needs to be addressed with decent synthetic oil (I use Rotella T6) and a pan drop every 50,000 miles or so for inspection and cleaning. Not hard, but ... It's worse on stop and go commuters who idle in traffic cooking the oil. So ask the seller what the previous driving was like. Any low oil pressure CEL's or codes, just walk away. Was not maintained correctly ...

Edited by BrocLuno (06/29/17 08:50 PM)
Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.

#4445428 - 06/29/17 09:50 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
Kage860 Offline

Registered: 04/17/17
Posts: 59
Loc: NY
My wife had a 2001 saab 9-5 that was in rough shape that was nice for what it was. Lots of work was needed on that particular one. Common problems are engine sludge, the turbos burn oil when they get old, cps sensor only lasts so long ignition coils come as a set and are pricey. Window regulator clips fail all the time. Headlights burn out fast. Thats what I remember off the top of my head. Seats very comfortable though.

#4445464 - 06/29/17 10:14 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
DB_Cooper Offline

Registered: 10/01/07
Posts: 400
Loc: Ga
Back in 2011 I bought my daughter a 1995 Saab 900 convertible. 132K miles automatic with the 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engine. Paid about $800 from a local Ford dealer. The Ford dealer got it on trade and was going to wholesale the car. They knew that was about the value, at best, at the auction.

Top did not work (could be done manually) and had some mystery electrical issues..intermittently the radio would not work and the headlamps would not turn off till the key was removed.

I installed a new serpentine belt and pulleys..doing a revised configuration eliminating one pulley not needed. Several tune ups, tires, brakes and oil changes.

She drove the car all over town and accumulated some miles in 2-3 years then I gave the Saab to my younger daughter and she drove the wheels off the car for a couple of years too.

Aside from the oil pan/oil pick-up coke problem..easily done..the weird electrical issues, door hinges tearing off the body, nagging trim and rain water issues, I replaced an oil pump "O" ring on the end of the crankshaft (the oil pump is there), transmission would intermittently go into "safe" mode (restarting the car reset the transmission) and any real diagnostics needing an ISAT tester (Intelligent Saab Tester) rather than a standard OBD..the car was just Okay.

Safe car..kinda cool..not fast..GM body quality was marginal..and no readily available OBD and weird electrical issues..and that oil pan/oil pick-up maintenance issue too.

Sold the Sabb for $500 and the kid drove the car back and forth from GA to NC..changed the oil regularly and got in and out of the car through the driver's window (if the top was up) as the drivers door was falling off and hard to close. Still going as of a year ago.

The Saab served its purpose..but even at $800..I don't think I would do that deal again.

Edited by DB_Cooper (06/29/17 10:29 PM)

#4445496 - 06/29/17 10:46 PM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
OneEyeJack Offline

Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 7335
Loc: S California
The company did not fail because the cars were a problem other than different.

I replaced the clutch on one and it took a spark plug wire and a socket used as a spacer. It's something every SAAB mechanic knows and no one else.

#4445617 - 06/30/17 04:44 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
ET16 Offline

Registered: 10/28/08
Posts: 1242
Loc: MD
I think Saabs are a great value, but you need to get one that was well maintained. Early 2000s have a problem with sludge; problem was resolved in 2004 with a new pcv system. Later 9-3s (2007+) have intake valve problems.

I have a low mileage 99 9-3 that I really like.

#4445665 - 06/30/17 07:05 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
wag123 Offline

Registered: 06/14/11
Posts: 795
Loc: Texas
You do a 35 mile commute to work and you are considering a 10-20 year old SAAB? If you buy one you better have an alternative mode of transportation available, towing coverage on your insurance policy, and an understanding boss! Parts availability WILL be an issue going forward. There are better (and smarter) alternatives available for $5k.

#4447284 - 07/02/17 09:50 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: pbm]
madRiver Offline

Registered: 07/11/15
Posts: 3202
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: pbm
Parts may be hard to come by being that Saab no longer makes cars.


#4448191 - 07/03/17 10:19 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
CincyDavid Offline

Registered: 03/03/16
Posts: 592
Loc: Cincinnati, OH USA
I've had several, the classic 900s (1992) was weird but reliable, the new generation 900s (1996)was a complete nightmare. Comfy seats, Bridge of Weir leather that dries out, shrinks and pulls seams apart unless you condition it and treat it frequently.

The later ones are basically GM/Opel dressed up as Saabs and I'm not a fan.

I might suggest a Camry for a commute like that.
06 Kia Sportage EX greenish gold(ugliest color ever)
14 Honda Accord LX metallic black
16 Honda CR-V EX silver
17 VW Jetta SE black

#4448269 - 07/03/17 11:30 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
92saturnsl2 Offline

Registered: 03/02/04
Posts: 1186
Loc: Flaherty, KY
The sludge issue is good to know about. I will keep that in mind if/ when I test drive. I appreciate all the feedback on the subject.

Even though this will be a commuter car, I'm a car nut through and through, so fun factor, style and overall driving experience trumps reliability and maintenance requirements within reason. I just don't want to end up with a money pit, or make a lousy purchase if it can be avoided.

I'll probably test drive a few to see what 5k can get me. I've had good luck with vehicles at that price point -- I usually get a good 80-100k miles of mostly trouble free driving, even on makes and models not known for their reliability, like a Land Rover Discovery II, I once owned.
1985 F-250HD 7.5L 4x4 135k- Maxlife 15w-40 HDEO
04 Odyssey EX 175k PUP 5w-40
96 Maxima GLE 235k PUP 0w-40
02 Mazda Tribute 185k - Citgo 5w-30 conv.

#4449270 - 07/04/17 10:38 AM Re: Older saab (late 90's to late '00's) reliability? [Re: 92saturnsl2]
Lolvoguy Offline

Registered: 02/06/14
Posts: 2046
Loc: Canada
If you want something quirky with comfy seats, why not just get a Volvo?
06 Lexus IS350- Wife
88 BMW 325is- Mistress
03 Suzuki SV650S- One night stand

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