About to buy a 1999 Saab 9-3


Our 1990 Camry got stolen Friday and we have to get a new car on the road ASAP, I spotted a Saab 9-3 hatchback w/126K for $3,000.

The title looks good except for a 5 year stretch as a rental, but the first 18 months show only 11K put on it.

Is this a bad idea? We love the design of the car, it seems like just what we need (lots of room, handles well in snow and a decent engine) but I was wondering what anyone here might have to say about this model or if there are warnings we should be aware of.

Thanks everyone.


Just like any used car, much depends on how it was driven and maintained. SAABs get ripped up a bit but my personal opinion is they’re fine cars.
They’re a bit quirky to service and many problems are often the fault of the place servicing them because they just flat do not know the cars. Some shops will flat out REFUSE to provide service because they’re scared of them.
Normal maintenance and wear/tear items are no more expensive or difficult to service than any other car out there. In the event an odd part is needed, it can often be found on eBay or whatever for a very reasonable price.

(For what it’s worth (not much?) I’m an ex-SAAB tech, have owned a SAAB in the past (great car) and currently own 2 SAABs. The last acquistion was a non-running 900S DOHC that I bought 2 weeks ago for a 100 bucks. The shop, and the original owner, had given up on trying to make it run after 1500 dollars worth of “stuff”. They should have checked the ignition module wiring a bit closer. :slight_smile:
The rubber was good but they even said I could even have the extra set of wheels/tires in the back end. A full set of SAAB wheels with brand new Michelins on them and a set of new SAAB snow chains to boot. For a C-note, what a deal!)


Thanks for the feedaback. I actually owned a Saab 99 years ago and absolutely loved it, that little thing took a lot of young-driver abuse and never let me down. Only thing that killed it was a good samaritan trying to jump it with the battery cables reversed! Always wanted to get another one but the opportunity never came around. I was considering a 1972 Saab 95 Wagon for myself but now that we have to buy an everyday car I doubt my wife would be too thrilled driving to work in that :wink:

I was mainly concerned about any notorious problem with the early 9-3 but haven’t really seen anything to get worried about and we always set aside a chunk of savings for car repairs anyway. So with any luck I’ll be a Saab owner again this afternoon.


The 9-3 is a fine car, especially if it has the 2.3 liter four-banger in it. I’ve never understood why Saabs get “ripped a bit”. I’ve owned Saabs since the seventies, reliable, long lifetime, and fun to drive. The old '94 900 that my daughter has at college has over 400k on it and it still purrs. It did need a clutch at 270k, but hey…nothing is perfect!


The 99s were great cars also. The only chronic problem with them was the tendency now and then for the front brakes to go south due to caliper/yoke problems.
Brakes like new at 5k miles and totally gone at 9k.

Other than that the only engine or trans repair I had to do when I was a SAAB tech was an engine overhaul on a 99. The guy had bought the car from someone else who had driven it while it was severely overheating and had roasted the engine; and of course, that’s an owner fault not a car fault.


Just as a followup I got the car yesterday and it turns out it wasn’t a rental, one owner till 1995 and the fleet/rental listing on the title was due to it being purchased by a non-profit org in Carlisle MA.