2000 Saab Engine Seizes



We own a 2000 93 Saab Turbo, with 120,000 miles. We have mainted it meticuouslly, with synthetic oil only, top grade fuel, and a regular maintenance program. Three weeks ago we brought the car to a reputable Saab garage to have the oil changed. Three weeks later the engine seizes up, the mechanic said the pistons melted. Oil was leaking from underneath. The oil light never came on before the day the engine froze up, it began to smoke, rattle, and the check engine light came on, and the oil light came on. We were about 7 miles from the house and got it home right away. We had it towed to the mechanic. After it was towed away there was there was a large rainbow of oil left behind. Do think this could have been caused by the mechanics not tightening the oil pan nut, or not putting a seal in place properly, or putting the oil filter on right? The day they did the oil change I remember saying “You’re done already?” They were in and out of that car within 25 minutes.


If you had shut the motor off immediately when the check engine and oil lights came on you might have saved the motor from a complete meltdown. Those last 7 miles, took about 15 to 20 minutes. Without oil circulating that is plenty of time to kill the motor. The need to get home and those last 7 miles cost you your motor.

I don’t think the car is worth enough in book value to replace the motor, that will cost a bunch of money. You can donate the car, get a small tax write off and start shopping for another car.

Sure something about the oil change was botched. The drain plug was put in too loose or too tight. Either one could allow the drain plug to leak or even fall out. The oil filter could have been defective, or put on improperly and leaked.

You have 2 issues here, the oil change was done badly is one issue. You drove the car when all the warning signs said “STOP!” is issue number 2. The bad oil change caused the oil to leak out, but the real damage was done in those last 7 miles.

You might get some money from the oil change place, but likely you’ll have to go to take them to court to get it.


The engine lights didn’t even go on until it was already smoking and making a lot noise


There’s no evidence the oil change was done incorrectly. It may have been, but you can’t prove it. 25 minutes is more than enough time for an oil change. This could be purely coincidental. The oil leak may have started as the engine destroyed itself.

When the engine started to smoke and rattle you should have shut it off immediately. You may have been able to save it. Driving it 7 miles is what destroyed the engine. I know because I once did the same thing, except it was only three miles.

You have to decide whether or not to install another engine or give up on the car.


This is very sad! Do you think someone would buy it in this condion. It is a beautiful car - fully loaded with new tires water pump, fuel pump, and very clean, like new.


I think you will find that Saab cars of that age were very prone to oil sludging . Do a google search for Saab oil sludging - lots of listings there !


The check engine light is to monitor the emission systems on the car. The light will go on when the motor starts to misfire. The “oil” light is separate and relates to oil pressure. It goes on when there isn’t enough oil in the motor to get a miniumum pressure of say 5 lbs, where a running motor needs about 30 lbs or more of pressure to lubricate the motor.

Therefore, it makes sense that the motor started making some noise and smoke because it was running “hot” even before the dash warning lights lit up. If you had shut the motor off immediately upon hearing the unusual noise and seeing some smoke the motor might have been salvageable… At that point is was damaged, but perhaps not beyond repair.

It is sad, but you won’t get a buyer for the car as is. There are mechanics who buy cars with blown motors and they find replaceement motors from junked cars. Sometimes they keep these repaired cars for themselves, and sometimes sell them for a profit.

Your best option is to contact junk yards and see what a used motor from a salvage yard would cost. Some salvage yards offer removal and installation of the used motors and they do a good job at it. You’ll be without the car for a bit but that is the cheapest way to get it back on the road.


Have them check to make sure there was not an old oil filter gasket that was not removed. If they find an extra gasket, the oil change was not done properly. 2 gaskets can hold for a while but when it goes so does all your oil.


What are the warning signs that your engine is going from sludging. We knew that this was a risk with Saabs in our age range, but we always serviced it with synthetic oil, and used the highest grade gas. The bad thing about the day our car seized up, the oil light never went on until the car started smoking and making noise.


The car is prone to sludging(1999-2003) even with proper oil changes. It lies in the PCV system and a retrofit is available.

No don’t blame your Saab folks. Maybe if it happened a few miles down the road, but not 3 weeks latter and after you decide to drive 7 miles with oil/doom light on.

The car is not worth much in this condition.