Not too long ago I got my first taste of Saab (after driving Toyotas for years) with a 2001 9-3. I’ve been hooked ever since on the mix of cruising and sportiness. Problem is, Saabs are notorious for, well…problems. I have noticed, and been told, that there are ones with problems and one that are reliable, you just have to spot them. Is that true? Can a “good” Saab be spotted by a carfax report or a mechanic? Is there an alternative to this drug known as SAAB? (those who have one know what I’m talking about). Help!
Saab’s are addictive all right.
For performance AND reliability, try 3- or 5-series BMW.
I don’t think there’s a way to “spot” them. The trick is to follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Owners of “reliable” SAABS never allow them to become unreliable by skimping on maintenance.
As far as used SAABs go, the only way to know is to be able to see all of the maintenance records from the previous owner(s). Good luck. I wouldn’t trust Carfax with this.
Our two Saabs, a 1984 900T 5-speed, and a 1989 9000CD 5-speed, were both ultra reliable cars. They are though, different than some cars in some ways and inexperienced mechanics might not know, for example, a special tool is (or was) needed to bleed the brakes.
I recall in those earlier years that some automatic Saabs had some issues with stalling at stop lights, but I think those sorts of problems are long gone.
Not sure about the newer Saabs, but we got 60,000 miles on front brake pads and 90,000 on the rear pads… that’s a lot! They were both fun cars and had very good utility (big trunks, lots of leg room F/R, good ACs, and decent economy).
Because Saabs are less known, I think that they tend to depreciate somewhat faster than average… but that can lead to a great buy on a used one.
If you’re still looking - buy from an individual. They know the car inside and out, and a real saab enthusient [aka do it yourself] will have records and tell you everything they’ve done. I write down everytime I fill up, when I change fluids, when we replace anything mechanical at all [I don’t care if a knob], let alone it gets brought to a mechanic [saab specialist - not dealer] if there is anything we’re not 100% positive on fixing, or want an opinion first before fixing to make sure we’re correctly identifying an issue.
They are expensive but man - there is nothing like driving one and kicking that turbo into gear. I’m in New England as well, and they are amazing in snow with some studs on it.
I’m on a 99’ now, and it may be one of the last Saab’s I own once this goes though. The newer ones aren’t as reliable and as well manufactured. The Quality has gone down considerably. An 01’ would be considerable, but until they get their quality back, I wouldn’t buy anything newer than an 03’…and 02’ would be iffy.
I fully plan on keeping it going for years though with Yankee inginuity. GOOD LUCK.
There’s really no way to tell and keep this is mind. Many of those SAAB “problems” are often owner inflicted. Lack of maintenance and even aggressive driving styles contribute a lot to it. The average SAAB owner is going to thrash a SAAB much harder than a typical Camry owner for example.
The problem is that when a complaint is made about a SAAB (true with any car) no one ever knows the real or entire story behind the complaint. The number of SAAB complaints can also be inflated by an overly-fussy owner too.
I’m an ex-SAAB tech, have owned SAABs in the past, and currently own one. No complaints from me and they are a lot of fun to drive.
You can narrow your chances of a “bad” Saab by frequenting a board related to them. For example the 2003 Saab 9-3 is plagued with issues (the current design) however this was its first year. I know two owners beyond happy with 2005’s, they get MPG into the mid thirties on the highway and have plenty around town with the efficient turbo engine.
My brother has incredible luck with a 2001 Saab 9-5 Aero that was a lease before. He has put 50k miles on it over 5 years (now @ 90k) and could bot he happier. It was purchased with 40k for under $14k when used prices were higher. I can imagine they must be real bargains now.