I recently purchased a 1999 Sabb 95 SE with the 3.0 Turbo. It has 115,000 miiles on it and has been a wonderful car to drive and own. The check engine light just came on yesterday and after reading the owners manual, I was a little frightened to even drive it to work. I’ve had other cars that had the light come on and have not had serious repercussions. What are the risks of driving the car until I can get it into a Saab mechanic to check it out? I am not going to wait too long to have it looked at, but because of my schedule, it may not happen for a week or so.
I am not a SAAB guy, but a '99 will be an OBD II computer system, so in general, unless the light flashes, the worst that you have is a car that is running ‘open loop’ meaning that it is running in rich default mode. This will result in very poor gas mileage, but will not hurt anything seriously.
If the car is running smoothly, I would drive it until it is convenient to get it looked at.
The most common causes of a check engine light are loose gas cap and poor oxygen sensor. At 115k miles, you may have an oxygen sensor that is getting slow to respond. OBD II does not like old sluggish oxygen sensors. Don’t let anyone sell you a new catalytic converter just because the computer says the cat efficiency is poor.
As long as your fluids are all OK you should be fine until you get it to your mechanic. The light illuminating means the computer finds at least one of the sensors out of its acceptable range. If your car runs fine and the oil, brake and coolant level and condition is good it is unlikely you’ll incur any damage.
I inherited a 2001 Saab 9-3 two years ago. The first series of check engine lights were related to a failing IDM. It was replaced for free under a recall.
I’m now getting check engine lights for my Mass Air Flow sensor. I’ve pulled the MAF and cleaned it twice. The next step is a new/rebuilt MAF.