NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
7/8/14 8:49 a.m.

Okay I have sold both of my Subaru's and I am coming out of driving a rusty 2002 WRX. The power was great, but three things sucked; 1) Rust, 2) Thirst for fuel, and 3) The need to run Premium.

I am looking for the collective knowledge here on a 2002 Saab 9-3. I have found one posted that seems pretty attractive. Here are the details: - body looks great
- Only 112,000 kms (70 k miles)
- Manual
- Hatchback

I am looking for a car that will give me an honest 5 years. I need that to pay off my wife's newish vehicle. I would be paying cash for this one.

I have checked online and the reliability ratings for the Saab are pretty good except for 2 motor issues:

  • Possible sludge build-up
  • Ignition cassettes

Beyond that the ratings are actually pretty good. Is there away to check for sludge (Pull oil cap, etc.)

Can you run a Saab 9-3 turbo on regular - this is a deal killer for me as the price gap up here just keeps going up (currently 13-18 cents per litre or 50-70 cents per US gallon). Many websites seem to be in conflict - some say yes and some no. I know it will run better on Premium but most of my driving doesn't need it. If I want to have fun, I will dump a tank of premium into it. Yea, I know - I will get a bunch of comments about if you want a turbo then be ready to pay. Well I have been there and done that. The car I am considering just happens to be a turbo, I wasn't looking for one.

Any comments from this group would be welcome.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy PowerDork
7/8/14 9:03 a.m.

You can run them on regular, but your fuel economy will drop quite a bit; you may actually be spending more money as T7 compensates for the lower octane.

At .70 cents a gallon more across a 13 gallon tank you are spending about $9 extra per tank. If your range on premium is closer to 400 miles instead of 300 on regular would you consider that worth the extra $9?

The mostly-effective way to check for sludge is to unbend a wire coat hanger and scrape the bottom of the oil pan through the dip stick tube, but the best way is to drop the oil pan.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad Reader
7/8/14 9:05 a.m.

My brother had a 2005 9-3 until two years ago he totaled it (not his fault) and walked away from a HUGE hit. Very safe cars.

It was a fine car, easy to drive turbo wasn't much and ran fine on regular. A quick search of my local CL shows a ton of cheap Saabs and we're below the rust belt so you might consider a fly/drive.

summary: great cars, the fact that Saab went under just drove down their prices. I say get one.

Powar
Powar SuperDork
7/8/14 9:07 a.m.

You can run 87 in them. It'll be slower and may get worse fuel econ, but you can do it.

The only issues I had with my '01 were a failed A/C compressor (after I sold it to my aunt) and a dirty MAF sensor. Good fuel economy, quick, attractive. Floppy Vauxhall chassis, but there are bits out there to address that if you're so inclined.

tjbell
tjbell New Reader
7/8/14 9:59 a.m.

I have owned a 97 900se turbo (same car more or less minus t7) and own a 2004 9-5 arc, and have worked on countless saabs, I love saab. check for service records, and drop the pan as soon as you buy, crank sensors are fairly common, about 65$ 9-3's rust out on the rear doglegs, rear shock towers, and the rear flood boards. not a huge aftermarket but enough to get buy. is it the SE(HOT) or not? (LPT) about a 20 hp gain between the two due to Mitsu TD04 compared to small garret gt17. the garrets fail around 100k miles and td04... well mine has 200k and no problems. any questions ask

Aspen
Aspen Reader
7/8/14 10:03 a.m.

The fuel economy difference between regular and premium is at best 5% (likely more like 2%) while the Canadian price difference is about 11%, so it is cheaper to run regular.

KyAllroad is mixing generations of 9-3. The older gen is not as safe for many reasons. It is also much less stiff and prone to torque steer. I like the hatch, but for the money I would go for a 2006 wagon. You can get a good one for cheap because nobody wants a Saab these day. I would do it for the safety and more modern everything.

Of course I'll bet the 2002 you are looking at is almost free and a lot of car for the money.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy PowerDork
7/8/14 10:38 a.m.

In reply to Aspen:

I saw mileage drops significantly bigger than 5% on my '99 9-5 turbo between regular and premium; that said my driving was nearly 100% in town at that time, which may have had an effect, or maybe it's our crappy Wisconsin gas. Either way it might be worth spending an extra $9 for a tank sometime and seeing if your numbers improve significantly. Mine did, YMMV, etc.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UltraDork
7/8/14 11:04 a.m.

In your situation, I'd be looking at a similar year civic sedan. Just sayin'. Better mpg, and honestly, unless you are constantly hauling 4 people, the truck plus back seats folded down is almost as good as a hatch... especially considering the 9-3 isn't a straight up hatch either.

Powar
Powar SuperDork
7/8/14 11:31 a.m.
HiTempguy wrote: especially considering the 9-3 isn't a straight up hatch either.

How so?

NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
7/8/14 11:45 a.m.
HiTempguy wrote: In your situation, I'd be looking at a similar year civic sedan. Just sayin'. Better mpg, and honestly, unless you are constantly hauling 4 people, the truck plus back seats folded down is almost as good as a hatch... especially considering the 9-3 isn't a straight up hatch either.

In addition to the Saab am looking at a number of options (however as noted the SAAB is CHEAP and looks to be in fantastic condition:
- Mazda 3 (ugh - I think they install rust at the factory) but a much better looking car than a civic
- Ford Focus - Better looking than a Civic of that era (04-07) but not as nice as the Mazda. Harder to find a Focus in the 2.3L too.
- VW Golf - I have had a few VW's (99 Passat and 2010 Golf Wagon) - not sure I want to go back there due to various issues, but still an option.
- Mazda 6 - slightly larger and might fit me better (I am 6'4" and north of 300 lbs). Again rust factory installed but not as bad as the 3's for some reason.

NordicSaab
NordicSaab New Reader
7/8/14 11:54 a.m.

I had a 2001 Saab 9-3 coupe and it was one of the best daily vehicles I ever had. Torque steer can be bad (I had 320whp) but is manageable by the nut behind the wheel.

I think what has been said is all pretty accurate (except the true hatch comment). This is what I know from experience:

  • can be quick
  • tons of room
  • reliable
  • PCV fix ($60) and regular oil changes will avoid sludge issue
  • comfortable
  • DIC are unreliable, most guys carry a spare in their trunk
  • incredibly safe, I walked away from being rear ended a expedition going 50mph while stationary.
  • no reason to run anything but premium fuel

Give me a shout if you want to discuss further.

dj06482
dj06482 Dork
7/8/14 12:01 p.m.

I ran premium in our '00 9-3 (base model, not the SE). It ran far better on premium and the mileage was about 2 MPG better than regular.

Everyone else has done a good job of covering the high/low points...

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
7/8/14 12:50 p.m.
HiTempguy wrote: especially considering the 9-3 isn't a straight up hatch either.

Unless he is looking at the verts.. the 2002 9-3 is about as hatchback as you can get.

CobraSpdRH
CobraSpdRH New Reader
7/8/14 12:57 p.m.

Are Saturn Astras common up there? I just picked up a 5 door XR for pretty cheap and so far has been a good little runabout.

NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
7/8/14 1:53 p.m.
CobraSpdRH wrote: Are Saturn Astras common up there? I just picked up a 5 door XR for pretty cheap and so far has been a good little runabout.

No - The only one that has come up in my searches was a 2-door hatch (3-door) and I have boys that are approaching teen years. Has to be a 4 or 5-door.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UltraDork
7/8/14 2:07 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: Unless he is looking at the verts.. the 2002 9-3 is about as hatchback as you can get.

This is why the "define a hatchback" thread was hilarious.

A hatch that is at a 45* angle is not nearly as useful as a hatch that is straight up (like a civic hatchback). He seems set on hatches, but to be set on a hatch that doesn't add much usefulness...

Like I said, if he wants reliable and cheap for 5 years, you want the Civic sedan. Of course, you've written it off for aesthetic reasons, but its not like the car is ugly. It is a standard, everyday sedan. Don't worry, we'll judge you just the same in your bland hatchback/wagon thing you appear to have your heart set on

NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
7/8/14 2:34 p.m.
Aspen wrote: The fuel economy difference between regular and premium is at best 5% (likely more like 2%) while the Canadian price difference is about 11%, so it is cheaper to run regular. KyAllroad is mixing generations of 9-3. The older gen is not as safe for many reasons. It is also much less stiff and prone to torque steer. I like the hatch, but for the money I would go for a 2006 wagon. You can get a good one for cheap because nobody wants a Saab these day. I would do it for the safety and more modern everything. Of course I'll bet the 2002 you are looking at is almost free and a lot of car for the money.

The one I am looking at is an SE and it's only $2K.

It seems like a hell of a buy for that kind of $$$'s.

^^^ I like the look of hatchbacks and I think a Mazda or a Ford with a 2.3L running around 160 Hp to be a little bit more entertaining than a Civic sedan pushing out 117 Hp - judge me however you like, I am well past the age where that is any sort of worry.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
7/8/14 2:59 p.m.
HiTempguy wrote:
mad_machine wrote: Unless he is looking at the verts.. the 2002 9-3 is about as hatchback as you can get.

This is why the "define a hatchback" thread was hilarious.

A hatch that is at a 45* angle is not nearly as useful as a hatch that is straight up (like a civic hatchback). He seems set on hatches, but to be set on a hatch that doesn't add much usefulness...

can a straight up and down hatch do this?

Saab has been doing hatchbacks longer and better than almost everyone out there. if you ever get the chance, check out the "trunk" on one.. it is huge

NordicSaab
NordicSaab New Reader
7/8/14 4:04 p.m.

Omg! #saabwin

nicksta43
nicksta43 UberDork
7/8/14 4:35 p.m.
mad_machine wrote:
HiTempguy wrote:
mad_machine wrote: Unless he is looking at the verts.. the 2002 9-3 is about as hatchback as you can get.

This is why the "define a hatchback" thread was hilarious.

A hatch that is at a 45* angle is not nearly as useful as a hatch that is straight up (like a civic hatchback). He seems set on hatches, but to be set on a hatch that doesn't add much usefulness...

can a straight up and down hatch do this?

Saab has been doing hatchbacks longer and better than almost everyone out there. if you ever get the chance, check out the "trunk" on one.. it is huge

clearly that is a four door pickup truck

KyAllroad
KyAllroad Reader
7/8/14 10:26 p.m.

http://louisville.craigslist.org/cto/4545415390.html

This

slow
slow Reader
7/8/14 11:56 p.m.

I have a 2005 9-3 Linear that I got last year with 140k. No problem so far, I replaced the turbo bypass valve (with a Forge one because I was not able to get a factory one) and changed oil + brake pads so far.

I would check for brake pads and so on. My car spent 8 years in NY. The rear brakes were seized when I got it and there were many parts that were kind of fused together and difficult to take apart. Other than that, it is just a GM car with good design but relatively poor quality interior parts (compare to Japanese cars).

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
7/9/14 8:34 a.m.
HiTempguy wrote:
mad_machine wrote: Unless he is looking at the verts.. the 2002 9-3 is about as hatchback as you can get.

This is why the "define a hatchback" thread was hilarious.

A hatch that is at a 45* angle is not nearly as useful as a hatch that is straight up (like a civic hatchback). He seems set on hatches, but to be set on a hatch that doesn't add much usefulness...

Like I said, if he wants reliable and cheap for 5 years, you want the Civic sedan. Of course, you've written it off for aesthetic reasons, but its not like the car is ugly. It is a standard, everyday sedan. Don't worry, we'll judge you just the same in your bland hatchback/wagon thing you appear to have your heart set on

A Civic Sedan is a REALLY crappy hatch.

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