1999 Saab 9-3 To Trade or Not to Trade

We are trying to decide if we should keep this thing or finally give up the fight. It has been a great car, 128,000 miles and still goes great. In the last two weeks, we have come to realize the rear axle is bent for some reason. No one can tell us how long the new tires we just put on will last. Is this common in this car? Secondly, the A/C stopped working. I believe it is the evaporator which is shot. Whatever it is it is directly behind the turbo and the part through Saab is about $1,000 and another $500 for labor.

If we drop another $2,500 in this car, are we good for another 100,000 or is 125,000 miles where everything starts to go south on these things?

My wife if very emotionally attached to her car, but I am not a fan of throwing this much money at a car that is 10 years old.

A bent rear axle is caused by a collision, curb strike, or a large pothole. You asked if this is “common”, which infers it’s a car problem due to inferior quality. It’s not a car problem at all; it’s an owner inflicted problem in some way.

The A/C is going on 11 years old so it’s had a good run. You sound as if you’re not certain the evaporator is even the problem. Leaks on SAAB evaporators are rare. It can happen but it’s not common.
How has this been determined? Electronic sniffer, dye test, or what?
Sometimes it’s possible for evaporator seals to leak and the evaporator mistakenly gets the blame instead.

In the event the car actually needs an evaporator then find one in the aftermarket or on eBay. You will very likely find one for far less than a grand.

The reason the axle is bent is IMPACT. There was an impact, at some point, hard enough to bend the axle. Like it or not that’s the only explanation. A bent axle will result in increased tire wear, and perhaps other problems.

The AC leak may be something other than the evaporator. Without a proper leak test you’re just guessing.

$2,500 is a lot less than $25,000-30,000 for another car, and a happy wife is priceless.

For what it’s worth, we are still driving (though not daily, since March) our 1998 SAAB (just over 230,000 miles). Runs well, burns no oil. Over the last 100,000 miles (and mostly over the past 50,000), we’ve replaced the alternator, steering pump (and rack), and mass air flow sensor; all but the alternator were “clean” used parts, in excellent shape, per my mechanic. It’s a stick, and the clutch is original. No problems yet (this was where we changed the clutch on our 85 Saab, which went over 330,000, before I got hit by another car). Lots of other normal wear and tear items (brakes, hoses, plugs, exhaust, etc.) but mileage is still good (30 mpg locally, pushing 36 mpg highway).

If you do the repair and need a used part, try Goldwing Saab, Hastings, NY (http://www.goldwingsaab.com/asp/default.asp); they ship all over, and even my Saab dealer uses their parts; a lot cheaper than new! I’d definitely address the rear axle; might not want to even sell it with that damage, unless it’s going only for parts.

Good luck.