Money Sucking 2001 Saab 9-3


I am having problem after problem on a relatively low mile 2001 Saab 9-3 (60,000 miles). I bought it 3 years ago with 35,000 miles on it and it was perfectly fine for 2 years. And then a little over a year ago everything went down hill. I have had to replace the turbo, the water pump, an intermediate exhaust pipe, a wheel bearing. More recently I needed new calipers and rotors after the back brakes seized up. This past month the air conditioning as gone out and the SID display stopped working. The problem is I don’t use the car that much to have all these problems. I commute to work by bus so there is no real wear and tear. I don’t understand how all of this could have gone wrong at one time ? Could the miles have been rolled back and it really has more miles on it than I think? These seem like problems on a car that has much higher mileage. Or does this seem in line with other Saab 9-3’s? Does anybody have any similar experiences?


It could be excessive or it may not be. You have no idea how it was driven and maintained in that first 35k miles.

Brakes are a wash; that’s a wear item and should not be considered a problem.

Bad driving and maintenance habits are the biggest contributor to a failed turbocharger. Done propely, the turbo usually lasts the life of the car.

The water pump is iffy. The mileage is low but it’s also 7 years old, so if the pump was leaking a bit that could be normal.

Sixty thousand miles is a bit low for a wheel bearing failure on a SAAB, but there could be contributing factors also. The possibility of you or the previous owner driving through high water during heavy rains, the car sitting in foot deep water during a flood, etc.
This could fall back on the previous owner and you have no idea what they did or did not do.

The exhaust pipe failure is also premature. This should not happen, but again, there could be contributing factors that you don’t know about; high water and rot for example?

It’s hard to say on the A/C without knowing what went wrong and ditto the SID. The worst that should happen with the A/C is that it develops a leak and needs the leak repaired along with a system recharge. Most A/Cs develop a problem or two around the 7 year mark so that would not be abnormal.


As predicted by Consumer Reports… To be fair they only said that the predicted reliability of these specific models was much worse than average. With the communications and reports available to everybody; there was no need to buy a used Saab 9-3 and suffer so greatly. It’s true that you could have been lucky, but ask yourself whether or not you have been exceptionally lucky in your life or did you have to earn what you have. Don’t let cars take your earnings away from you. Improve your selection and your luck will get better.