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2003 Saab 9-3 Coolant in Transmission Fluid

Just got the bad news that coolant has leaked into the transmission fluid and I need a new transmission as well as a radiator, about $5k. For a car worth about $3k. I just had the transmission replaced in 2008. Is there a cheaper resolution to this problem? Should I replace the transmission again? Or just get rid of the car? Who would buy it?

I would have gotten rid of it after replacing the original transmission.

How many miles on this car?

What’s the condition of everything else? Need tires soon? Suspension? Brakes? etc.

You won’t get much from a salvage yard but one might take it for a little $$.

Stick it on eBay and Craigslist with full disclosure - maybe someone out there has a good transmission and needs a motor? Or maybe body parts…?

It’s only got 99k miles on it. Everything else on the car is good: 1 brand new tire (2 weeks ago), the other 3 have about 10k-15k miles in them (said the tire guy). Leather seats, sunroof, all the electronics working. Some minor dings & scratches, but never been in an accident. My last Saab made it over 16 yrs old & had 285k miles on the odometer before the odometer broke, then I drove it for another 6 months. So based on that, I thought Saabs were long-lasting cars.

Don’t even know what kind of new (used) car to get. I’ve been internet car shopping, and am dismayed that even a used Ford Focus is $10k.

That depends on how you shop for a used car. I’d suggest having a mechanic you trust and using things like Craigslist and the local classified ads. I.e. don’t buy used from a dealer - go with private sellers, and use the mechanic to help you figure out condition. You can do very well this way if you’re patient and a little careful.

The other thing to do is just ask yourself what you get with this SAAB (the whole picture, like even if you enjoy driving it & it meets your needs), how much it would take to put it back on the road (make sure to ask seriously beyond the radiator & transmission just in case) and then what you could get for the same amount of money on the used market considering that anything else you get used will also need things.

It’s impossible to say without knowing the details.
The transmission was replaced with what? Remanufactured or rebuilt by the book, halfway rebuild, or used?
If it was something other than the first one mentioned then that’s a mechanic problem on the second one, and possibly just bad luck on the last one.

If the fluid cooling lines were not flushed, the torque converter not replaced or flushed, etc. then that could contaminate the now failed transmission. Again, a mechanic problem.

If the prior transmission failed due to same problem (leaking fluid cooler) then that could explain why the current transmission did not last long. Again, a mechanic problem.

If you replace the transmission again I would advise adding an external transmission fluid cooler; something that some SAABs are equipped with. This eliminates fluid contamination by the coolant.

I’d look for a used transmission on eBay, Craigslist, etc., keep the current radiator (assuming that a cooler leak is the problem) and install an external cooler while bypassing the radiator.

Good news, I think. I spoke with the Saab National Customer Service and they offered a 60/40 cost split for replacement of the radiator & transmission. So I’m responsible for $2400. Seems fair, seeing as the car is way out of warranty. Maybe I should have asked for 50/50, but I was happy to get as much as 40%.