2001 Saab 9-3 - buy or avoid?

In my continuing saga to find a reliable car in my price range, I came across a 2001 Saab 9-3 with 138,000 miles for $1,800.00. I thought this was “a steal” as the seller proclaims, but then I looked up the book value on KBB and found out that in “Good” condition, the base model has a book value of $1,200.00, and the SE model is at $1,510.00.

When I compare this with a 2001 Honda Civic LX with the same mileage which has a book value of $3,141.00, it makes me wonder what is driving the value down on the Saab (which has 70 more HP than the Civic)?

In researching problems, the two main ones that I see are the failure of the ignition cassette, and sludging from not following the oil change intervals. Is there something else that is scaring people away from them, rightfully or not? Are they a lot more expensive to maintain than most cars, and are parts hard to come by?

By the way, for those who may have read my other thread on another car that I am considering, I’m still waiting to hear back from the seller on that one.

I’d pass, ‘old $1,800 Saab’ and ‘reliable’ don’t go together. Another reason folks don’t buy them is the company’s gone.

IMHO, never purchase a vehicle where the manufacturer has gone out of business.


Here are some owner reviews in case you haven’t seen them. Most are positive but some are extremely negative:


You could get lucky and get a good one, or you could get unlucky and get one with a bad turbo, etc. One unlucky owner says:

“If you’re thinking about buying a 9-3 Hatchback: don’t think twice, just walk away. If you work on your vehicles yourself you’ll end up tearing your hair out because everything in the engine compartment is so poorly planned, parts are hard to find and expensive. Good luck finding a mechanic that will touch it.”

I myself would walk away. Even if you do get lucky, it will need fixing sooner or later, and then you’re up the creek.

Thanks. I guess that explains why they’re so cheap now.

My sister has one. She spends about $1,500/year to keep it on the road. She does not trust it for long trips, just around town (been towed several times).


In addition, just check consumer reports car buyers guides older issues that include reliability ratings for 2001 SAABs. In older cars, bigger motors is less important then more reliable motors.

Best use for a 2001 Saab 9-3:


Thank you, I’ve already decided to walk away from that car.

Run away from the car

SAAB = sob story


Next we will see a Subaru camper.