Oil Change for Saab 9-3

My 2006 Saab 9-5 has a no charge scheduled maintenance program.  GM will pay for oil changes every 10,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first. The dealer is required to use Mobil 1 synthetic oil, which means $60 for an oil change.

Most of my driving is short trip in stop and go traffic. I’ve always changed my oil at 5,000 miles, especially since the 9-5s had engine sludge problems a few years ago. The recommendation was to start changing oil more often.

The Saab service rep has been telling me that I don’t need to change my oil more frequently than the scheduled maintenance program calls for. He said the 9-5 issue had nothing to do with the 9-3.

I realize that the synthetic oil doesn’t break down, but doesn’t it still get dirty and cause wear? What do you think?

Bill in PA

The answer depends on how long you’ll have the car. If you plan on keeping it for a while (90,000+ miles) and you drive in lots of urban traffic, change the oil every 5,000 miles. Turbo engines are very hard on oil and need more frequent oil changes in general. If your car lived on the highway and did lots of very long trips I’d bump it up to 7,500 miles, but 10,000 miles makes me uncomfortable with that motor. Are you sure that car calls for 10,000 mile oil changes under the “severe service” category in your owners manual? Synthetic oil is good, but it uses the same types of additives that standard oil does and they eventually wear out.

I would never, ever, allow a vehicle to go 10,000 miles between oil changes, especially when short hop, stop and go driving is involved.
IMHO, 5k miles is the upper limit for your type of driving.

Never put much faith into anything a service manager/service advisor/service advisor tells you. About 90% of these guys are not mechanics, have no mechanical aptitude, and generally subsist on a little BS.

You’re right, the oil does not break down but it will still be contaminated by the combustion process and water vapor, the latter of which is not always burned off when short hop driving is the norm.

Ask those service reps if they will give you a guarantee, in writing, about standing behind any engine problems if you maintain their 10k mile oil change standard. My guess is you will hear “Well, uh,…uh…I… uh…”

For what it’s worth, I’m an ex-SAAB tech and current SAAB owner (3rd one) and I would never agree to a 10k mile oil change regimen.

Pay to change it once (after 5k) between the 10k free change interval and problem solved.

Why don’t I see any reference to the maintenance schedule listed by Saab in their owner’s manual. That is the first place to go for the answer to this question. Always remember it is the based on time or miles whichever comes first! Never do less.

If it were mine, I would take a look at the cost of having the dealer do it, since they are not doing it for free if they are charging you for oil, vs the cost of having someone else do it. Are you really saving anything? Remember you are not required to have it serviced by a dealer as long as you maintain proper records of the work.

It it were mine and considering the sludge problem that Saab has had, I would make sure it got twice a year or very 5,000 miles. I would also use a synthetic oil that meets all the specifications listed in the owner’s manual. If letting GM do it once a year is economical, then let them, but I would do an additional one.

That said, my car does not have a known sludge problem so I change mile oil at the manufacturer’s recommended 10,000 or once per year, using an oil meeting its specifications. I do it myself. I do believe that normally the manufacturer’s recommendations are fine. It is hard for many people to accept those long oil changes, but today’s engines and oils are far different than they were in the 60’s when I bought my first car. Today, even with longer oil changes, very few cars end up in the with engine damage due to oil related problems, if they have followed the manufacture’s recommendations or if they had a design weakness.