Abandoned Car Advice? Rehab or Buy Used?

My 2005 Ford Focus is nearing the end of its life, so I’ve been eyeing my ex-husband’s 2006 Saab that he abandoned in our driveway 6 years ago when he moved to Mexico. He now concedes that he won’t be coming back for it, so here’s the question …

Do I spend $5,000 on any used car I find on Craigslist with 150,000 + miles?
Do I put $5,000 into the Saab, which has about 70,000 miles but hasn’t been driven in 6 years?

I don’t know anything about cars, but a friend suggested I post the question here. Is it even possible to make the Saab road-ready at this point? Or should I sell it as a ‘project car’ on Craigslist? And just for more context … I don’t have a garage, so the car has been out in the driveway about 2 blocks from the beach in Florida… so no snow/ice but the salt air is a problem here.

Thanks so much for any advice!!!

Sure it is possible but this is a discontinued brand 13 years old and setting for 6 years . Sorry, but it will most likely cost 2 or 3 times what a running 2006 Saab is worth . And you will still have an old vehicle where parts might be hard to find.

So where does this 5000 dollar number come from?

It has low mileage and if the car was running/driving fine when parked then fuel degradation would be the main issue along with the battery. Loosen the gas cap and smell the filler neck. If there is a smell somewhat similar to house paint or varnish then the gas has gone stale.

That would require draining the tank and possibly replacing the fuel pump which is easy enough to do on these cars. Tires might be an issue seeing as how they’ve been sitting outside in FL sunshine which can lead to dry rot.

Fuel system, tires, and battery should be nowhere near 5 grand so I am curious as to how that number was arrived at.
If the repair expenses are low my vote would be to fix it and drive it. I freely admit having a bit of a bias as I’m an ex-SAAB tech and have owned a few of them.

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Sitting in Florida (I live there) for 6 years will likely mean you need all new brake rotors and pads. The fuel tank will likely need to be drained and cleaned and possible the fuel pump replaced. Tires, too. We are talking $5000 in work now and the car may not yet run. It is only worth about $3000 once fixed!

If any critters have crawled in and snacked on the car, the cost will escalate. Plus, it is getting VERY hard to find a mechanic that will touch these cars and parts to repair them - I used to own a Saab 9-5, I know!

I doubt you’ll have much luck selling the car in the condition it is in but it can’t hurt to try. A better solution may be call one of the “WE Buy Junk Car” places or donate it to your local PBS station.


I can see both sides of the argument, but the fact that the brand has been discontinued for a while now makes my vote to get rid of it.

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A SAAB is never a good choice for a trouble-free car even when running. I think you would be better off to think more broadly and actually do some research on what might be a reliable used car at an affordable price. One place to start is with the annual Consumer Reports issue on cars, which has listings of decent choices for used cars. That would give you a more comprehensive view of what might be good choices. There are lots of cars besides the one sitting in your driveway, but buying off of Craigslist might not be the best option unless you have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic first and can get documentation as to the service history of the vehicle.

In my view the only way you will ever have a decent answer to your question is to research and find a local area mechanic who knows SAAB’s well and specialized in them. I Googled “Saab mechanic in Florida”, without the quotes of course, and found several in different areas. Work it out with one of them.

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First thing to do is see if you can even get the title so you can register it in your name, if not no sense going any farther.

No sense putting it in your name until after you have it inspected

Second thing, have it towed to a shop and tell them you want a full pre-purchase inspection and what it will cost to get it into a safe and dependable condition.


Get it towed, take the scrap value and move on. I do not see trying to get it running and maintaining the car a wise move.


What is it about your 2005 Focus which makes you believe it is at the end of its useful life? In my opinion, it might make more sense to put money into the Focus instead of the 2006 Saab. The relatively low mileage on the Saab means nothing. If some vital part fails and the Saab is laid up for 6 weeks while you wait for a part, what will you do for transportation. At least with your Focus, even used parts are readily available.
I once owned 1965 Rambler and lived in a town with no American Motors dealer. I had to have parts shipped from a dealer 50 miles away. That was bad enough. Imagine tracking down parts where there is no Saab dealer.
Years ago, I was advised by a mechanic friend to stick with Fords and Chevys. Today, I think he would recommend sticking with popular makes.

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I’ve never found SAAB to be any more of a problem than any other car and parts are not that difficult to find. All maintenance and wear items are available at any parts store. For the more obscure items they can usually be found on eBay.

The vast majority of work I’ve done on SAABs at the dealer was usually ho-hum maintenance services and wear items such as brakes, clutches, and so on. Sure they would have odd hiccups now and then but so does every car made.

The big unanswered question for me is what that 5 grand is for and how they arrived at that number. If the car needs 5 grand worth of work or even 3 or 4 grand I would probably say throw in the towel and sell it on Craigslist “AS IS, WHERE IS” and be done with it.
And any recommendation to keep it is based on the assumption that the car has not been door handle deep in water due to a hurricane.

It just gets worse. You start with a SAAB, then 70,000 miles, then not driven for 6 years, and then sitting by the beach outside. It might be just a pile of rust at this point. Then not to mention not being licensed for 6 years and maybe in his name? Yeah if you can get rid of it, treat it like a case of the measles.

If all you have is $5000, instead of buying a $5000 heap of junk, I hate to say it, but consider maybe putting that money into a lease of a new dependable car instead.

My vote is to let someone who knows what they’re looking at take a look at the Saab. It hasn’t rusted away in those few years sitting by the beach. The fuel system is trashed, the brake system is not far behind, and it needs new tires. A redneck with starting fluid might get it to run. Or it might be fodder for a steel mill. Someone who knows a little something needs to look at it and go from there.

As I understand it, this Saab is free, correct?

I’m going to answer your question with another question:

When was the last time you saw a Saab on the road?

I live in a place where cars don’t rust, and where very old cars are common, and I haven’t seen a Saab of any kind for at least a year. Even the 1987-1991 Toyota Camry, 1988-1992 Toyota Corolla, and early 1990s Honda Accord are a frequent sight here, but a Saab is about as rare as a Chevette at this point. Even in junkyards, Saabs are rare.

I would put this car up for sale on Craigslist under the “car parts” section, and post it as a car to be used for parts or repair. I’d ask $500 or best offer (remember, a junkyard is likely to pay $200 or less) and take whatever you can get.

A lot depends on which model it is. The 9-2x is a rebadged Subaru Impreza, and the 9-7x is a rebadged Chevy Trailblazer/GMC Envoy/Isuzu Ascender/Oldsmobile Bravada/Buick Rainier. Therefore, mechanical parts should be readily available, and mechanics should have no trouble working on one of these.

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Do you have the title? If you do I’d sell it as is, a Saab fan might pay you a little for it.

Abandon the Saab! Only very car savvy owners can keep an old Saab running. And any upkeep will be expensive.

Not sure why your 2005 Focus is “worn out”. Granted it’s not the best vehicle on the road, but what you will have to spend on the Saab would make the Focus a reasonably reliable vehicle. I would get an estimate from a reliable mechanic what the Focus needs. If it has transmission problems, get rid of it! A fix for that would be very expensive.

My retired neighbor has a 1994 Focus!!! which seems to run quite well and never gives him problems!

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This 2006 Saab is built from a lot of General Motors parts so it is not that hard to keep running . But bringing back from 6 years of non use will be.

Wow! I didn’t realize I’d get so much feedback! Thanks everyone for the info.

I DO have the title in my name, and I put new tires on it last year and drove it a couple of miles. The $5,000 amount is just what I have to spend, so my thoughts were … do I spend this $5,000 on a used car or do I put it into fixing the Saab. I have no idea if the Saab would cost that or more, so I’m going to take it to a mechanic and ask about the fuel system and the brakes as many of you have said.

I’m grateful for the suggestions. It gives me some knowledge when talking to the mechanic. Thank you so much!

Does the Saab run? Is it safe to drive as-is?

Then put the $5,000 into a savings account and keep adding to that account as often as you can. Drive the Saab until it needs a mechanic for more than an oil change. Then sell the Saab (someone else who drives a Saab will want it for a parts car even if it’s not running) and combine that money with your savings account to get a better used car than you can get for only 5 grand.

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