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Less-driven Peugeot over a road-weary but reliable Saab (in Finland)?

I have a 2001 Saab 93 automatic with 174,000 miles on it. It’s a sport model with all the spices and it has never let me down during winter. Oh, and did I mention I live 250 miles north of Helsinki? It starts cold in any temperature, albeit I regularly use an engine warmer. Last year we had -25 F for a few weeks running and the car started every morning without so much as a cough. The car passes inspection every year and has no rust. Drawbacks: the car is bound to die soon with so many miles on it. AND it’s expensive to run. Doesn’t get good gas mileage, and gas here is 8 dollars per gallon. Mind you, I don’t really drive much at all. Probably less than 20 miles a week.

Our neighbor has offered to sell us a 1997 Peugeot 306 sedan manual transmission with 38,000 miles on it for $2,000 USD! This is about the same amount we’d get if we sold the Saab. Of course this car will be cheaper to run and has more life left in it. We’re told it was extremely well cared for, and knowing the Finns, I believe it! But I’m worried about the winters. When you drive the Saab in winter you can just feel that it was made to withstand the harsh conditions, and has front-wheel drive, a gem in winter. It also feels so safe, like a little tank plowing through the snow.

What would YOU do?!

Is the 306 FWD or RWD? If it is RWD then the winter driving experience is going to be totally different. If you are ok with a rear wheel drive car in winter it could be a good deal.

In addition to what Uncle Turbo noted regarding RWD vs FWD, I would be extremely concerned about the very low odometer mileage on that 14 year old Peugeot. Based on the information that you provided, that car has been driven only about 2,700 miles per year (in a very cold climate) over that 14 year period, which is the perfect formula for creating damaging engine sludge.

If you are comfortable with the reality that a light car with RWD will have much less winter traction than the Saab, then I would suggest that you do two things prior to purchase:

Ask to see the maintenance records for this “extremely well cared-for” car.
If it has really been well cared for, there will be documentary evidence of at least 25 oil changes over the past 14 years. More oil changes would be even better assurance that the engine is not filled with sludge at this point.

Have the car thoroughly inspected by your own mechanic, and make sure that his inspection includes removing the valve cover in order to determine how much oil sludge might be lurking in there.

If the engine turns out to be clean, then this purchase might be a good idea.
Just remember that, despite the low odometer mileage, the Peugeot will need ongoing repairs as a result of its age. And, it will be considerably less safe in the event of a collision, as compared to the Saab.

Thanks to you both! Good advice.

As far as I can tell, this is a front wheel drive small car with a reasonably good reputation. I think the offer is a good one, subject to a good examination by a mechanic. It will be smaller and lighter feeling to drive than your Saab, but there is no reason to assume it is basically unsafe or somehow too risky to drive. You may find yourself happy with a simpler and less mechanically challenging car. Beside that, the price sounds right and it should provide you with reliable economical transportation for quite a while.

Oops! I forgot. If it is a diesel, I would not buy it under any circumstances. Operating a diesel car in very cold winter conditions is a problem, and the less you use it the more likely it is to be a very difficult car to start and run.

Thanks, wentwest. The Peugot is a back-wheel drive, and the Saab is front-wheel. The Peugot is not diesel. I just talked to another friend, who echoed something one of the other posters said: be careful, an under-driven car can have problems, too. So, yes, a thorough service history check would be in order before the purchase were made. As of now I am leaning toward keeping the Saab.

Penelope70 A reliable SAAB of that vintage and miles is relative. Unless they are keeping the better ones and sending the worse across the pond to us, my experience with three of them is to dump it soon regardless of your next car choice. If you think it expensive now to drive, keep it and see.

A 174k miles is not that much compared to the guy here in the U.S. who put a million miles on his 900.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with SAABs and never found them to be that problematic. People were not beating down the service doors carping about them when I worked for SAAB.

With your limited driving and it being a dependable car up to this point I’d say keep the SAAB rather than roll the dice on a 14 year old Peugeot.
I can’t glean anything from your post about maintenance habits but I’d say keep the filters, spark plugs, etc. changed regularly and drive it.
If something pops up (failed fuel pump, water pump, etc.) then do not fret over that. Those are normal wear parts and no reason to dump a car.

I agree with the others - better the Saab you know. As long as you’re taking good care of it (change the various fluids at least as frequently as specified, and more often for transmission and brake fluid) and keep up with the other items in the owners manual you should have several more years of life in it.

Thank you everyone! As the darkness and cold starts to creep in (yes, it’s happening already!) I am readying the Saab for yet another Finnish winter. Thanks for your help in the decision.