Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit New Reader
12/23/10 1:51 p.m.

I have been looking for a newer car and have noticed a number of Saab 9-3 turbo from the late 90's (98) to about early 2000ish (2002) have been coming up for sale. Most are 100K mile or more and tend to run from good used cars to USED UP cars.

Are these cars any good if you fix them or is it a never ending war?

Most of the cars seem to blow the engines around 185K miles or so and this has made them very cheap the main question is how hard is it to find a good replacement and how much money will this cost (I will be doing all the work myself) and are there any special tools needed to work on these car and are they OBD2 compliment?

Thanks Paul B

That idiot who can't spell
That idiot who can't spell SuperDork
12/23/10 2:13 p.m.

Run Away!!!!!!!

Rusted_Busted_Spit
Rusted_Busted_Spit Dork
12/23/10 2:24 p.m.

If you can find a 99 T5 car that has been taken care of it should be a good car, otherwise there are other things to look out for.

I had a 99 9-3 that I gave to my brother last year with just under 200K on it and the worst thing that happened to it in the 120K miles that we had it was a fuel pump but there are a few other people on here with very different SAAB stories.

HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox
HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox SuperDork
12/23/10 2:43 p.m.

I'd absolutely buy one. I'm always on the lookout for a 4dr H.O model. Near-Viggen performance for way less monies.

Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit New Reader
12/23/10 2:44 p.m.

I know there will be people who love car X and no shortage of people that hate car X , My main thing is after an major (such as a engine) repair will the car hold up?

I am in no hurry to buy a car so I can look till the right car comes along at the right price.

Thanks Paul B

HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox
HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox SuperDork
12/23/10 3:07 p.m.

The biggest issue i've seen/heard on them is the DI cassette. They blow. You slap another one in and go down the road.

Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit New Reader
12/23/10 3:28 p.m.

Fist of very cool name now are you talking about the radio ?

HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox wrote: The biggest issue i've seen/heard on them is the DI cassette. They blow. You slap another one in and go down the road.

How can you tell the stander and H.O apart and are there any good primer sites on this era of cars?

Thanks

HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox
HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox SuperDork
12/23/10 3:45 p.m.
Donebrokeit wrote: Fist of very cool name now are you talking about the radio ?
HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox wrote: The biggest issue i've seen/heard on them is the DI cassette. They blow. You slap another one in and go down the road.
How can you tell the stander and H.O apart and are there any good primer sites on this era of cars? Thanks

It's a part of the ignition. When it goes (and it will), you're stranded. Just keep a spare in the glovebox and you're fine.

As for standard and H.O, the 4dr turbos of that era are the H.Os. Little bit more power in stock form, though i can't remember if the turbos are actually the same. It may just be increased boost in stock form. If that's the case, then it doesn't really matter much, since a chip would even them out.

As for primers... i used to frequent Saabcentral.com, but i've been a bit out of the loop for awhile.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
12/23/10 4:40 p.m.

I had a 94 900SE Turbo... hated it. Maybe the newer ones are better.. but I found it very nose heavy and unreliable. Had both the alternator and the starter go in the same week.

I now rock a 91 900s with twice the miliage (226,000 and climbing) and I am loving it.. it will be nicer when I transfer the T5 injection and turbo from the SE into it

Buzz Killington
Buzz Killington HalfDork
12/23/10 11:00 p.m.
HalfTrac, Lord of the FWD deathbox wrote: How can you tell the stander and H.O apart and are there any good primer sites on this era of cars? Thanks

It's a part of the ignition. When it goes (and it will), you're stranded. Just keep a spare in the glovebox and you're fine.

As for standard and H.O, the 4dr turbos of that era are the H.Os. Little bit more power in stock form, though i can't remember if the turbos are actually the same. It may just be increased boost in stock form. If that's the case, then it doesn't really matter much, since a chip would even them out.

As for primers... i used to frequent Saabcentral.com, but i've been a bit out of the loop for awhile.

IIRC, the SE version was the high output engine. My wife had a '99 9-3 sedan (5-door hatch), and it was not the HO version. it stranded her twice (once was the DI cassette; once was the fuel pump).

that said, i would buy one in a second. she had the typical Saab owner love/hate experience. except for the breakage, it was a great, great car. comfortable, safe, economical (almost 30mpg highway), practical, and quick (the turbo midrange thrust is pretty nice). it was a little sloppy in the steering/braking depts, but apparently that is easily fixed.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
12/24/10 1:44 a.m.

Awesome cars. Except for when they break. I'd do it for a DD for me, but not for my mother or girlfriend or wife etc.

You asked "Are these cars any good if you fix them or is it a never ending war?"
Well, if they have been maintained, it won't be a war and will treat you well... but something could still happen that will surprise you and leave you stranded.

Mezzanine
Mezzanine New Reader
12/24/10 10:47 a.m.

Insight on the DI cassette: DI stands for direct ignition, and is essentially a coil-per-cylinder sort of set-up, but in one big unit... They optimize spark, and are pretty hard on the spark plugs as a result. Only use the NGK plugs recommended by SAAB, and gap them with every oil change and the DI cassettes will last a LOT longer. They make the plug gaps open up a ton, so the gapping is pretty important.

C

02Pilot
02Pilot Reader
12/24/10 10:56 a.m.

I was satisfied but never really enthused by my Saab (99 9-5 SE). It was a competent appliance, drove well on the highway and in snow, returned good mileage, and carried everything I ever asked it to. When it blew its turbo 850 miles from home, or when it ate its transmission, I rather quickly forgot these positives, as I never developed any real affection for the thing.

If you don't mind living in constant low-grade fear of a catastrophic failure, they're fine cars. Once my personal experience raised the fear quotient from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 2, I blinked.

As a related aside, if anyone wants the old used T7 DI that I used to carry in the trunk of my 9-5, it's yours for the price of shipping or pick up for free.

thestig99
thestig99 New Reader
12/24/10 4:02 p.m.

Well... depends on how they've been treated.

My '99 9-3 was a total bitch and I hated it, but most aren't. My other ng900/og9-3's have been great.

You can potentially get around replacing the engine by dropping the oil pan and checking for sludge/cleaning the oil pickup screen - that's what kills engines in these. De-sludge and change your oil religiously with synthetic and the T5 engines ('94-'99) are damn near bulletproof. The newer, T7, engines are fine but weaker, pistons start cracking at ~300hp. The T5 cars are much more tuneable and a whole lot less picky about it.

Anything '96 and newer is OBD2.

The chassis is terrible, no other way of saying it Understeering, rolling, torque-steering mess... My '96 9000 Aero, stock, with 240k miles easily out-handles our gutted, suspension modded, '95 900se.

Solid DD material I think. Just change your oil and throw a spare DIC in the hatch

Rusted_Busted_Spit
Rusted_Busted_Spit Dork
12/27/10 10:00 a.m.

In 99 there were 3 different versions of the T5 2.0 motor. Base, (175hp)SE with an Auto (185hp)and SE with a manual (208hp), those numbers may be off some but should be fairly close. I would hold out for a 99 SE with a 5sp if I were you. They got the same turbo and intercooler as the Viggen and with a couple of cheap mods are very fun. To get them to handle takes some work but a bigger rear sway bar goes a long way.

The Stig ^ has it about right, my 99 9-3 SE was very solid but as with anything YMMV.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
12/27/10 10:08 a.m.
thestig99 wrote: The chassis is terrible, no other way of saying it Understeering, rolling, torque-steering mess...

that about sums up my experience with the 94 900SE I had... hated everything but the straight line acceleration. Was great for passing!

snipes
snipes Reader
12/27/10 4:27 p.m.

I think the 9-3 is a great idea

I have posted this pic before here

Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit New Reader
12/27/10 5:55 p.m.

Thanks guy you have been a big help I am going to keep looking for the right car . This is why I love this list there is a ton of knowledge here.

Paul B

Clarty
Clarty New Reader
12/30/10 12:06 a.m.
mad_machine wrote:
thestig99 wrote: The chassis is terrible, no other way of saying it Understeering, rolling, torque-steering mess...

that about sums up my experience with the 94 900SE I had... hated everything but the straight line acceleration. Was great for passing!

I had a 1995 900s, not the turbo. I can't address the performance, but the chassis is essentially the same as the '98-'02 9-3. I recommend running as fast and as far away from any NG900 or pre-2003 9-3 as you can.

I'm a guy who loves SAABs (hard-core SAABers still capitalize the name, since it stood for "Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget" in 1947.) But the NG900/early 9-3 is based on the Opel Cavalier, and is perhaps the worst SAAB in recent memory. They are not safe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6Knt2zNNiQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpO2QFbUpOw&feature=related .

Mine used oil like a 2-stroke, and was told it was within "factory specifications;" had the manual transaxle rebuilt twice for popping out of reverse; and the whole chassis creaked and groaned when it got colder than about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're on GRM, you're interested in handling. SAABs understeer like mad. There are plenty of better-handling FWD cars out there.

I drove a "classic" 1986 SAAB 900 130,000 miles, but I sold my '95 NG900 within six months and bought a brand-new 2000 VW Golf without a single regret.

Unless it's almost free, I'd recommend against any NG900/early 9-3.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
12/30/10 1:44 p.m.

maybe the GM SAABs understeer like mad.. but I find my classic 91 sticks VERY well and is very neutral. I was actually very impressed with it's handling

Clarty
Clarty New Reader
12/30/10 9:47 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: maybe the GM SAABs understeer like mad.. but I find my classic 91 sticks VERY well and is very neutral. I was actually very impressed with it's handling

Touché!

I was referring more to the newer SAABs. I recall the '86 was pretty decent, and actually treated me to a case of unexpected oversteer on a wet off-ramp once!

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