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Saab Question

I have a dilemma. My beautiful, immaculate, gently cared for 2007 Saab might be sick. I currently have 49000 miles and have had all the requisite maintenance done religiously. A week ago all of a sudden a message appeared on my computer to check the oil level. Upon doing so (went to the
manual to find out how to do that) the dipstick showed zero oil. My soninlaw came over and put in almost 2-1/2 quarts of 040 Mobil One.
Please note I have always had my oil changes done at about 7,000 miles. The car runs perfectly by the way. The only dealership that handles Saabs now that the company is out of business was puzzled. I had no oil on my garage floor so it had to be going someplace. They changed the oil and told me to come back when I have 2000 miles on the car so they could check it again. They also told me to check my oil level and if it changed to bring it in. They said that they had never seen this happen at this mileage with this car. I love my little car. It is a 93 turbo by the way and has never, never, had an issue. I currently drive about 8500 - 9000 miles a year. Can you help?

signed, a depressed Saab lover

This is all just speculation from afar, but one of the possibilities is that your engine may be consuming oil as a result of engine sludge.

How does engine sludge form?
By doing mostly short-trip local drives, and/or not having the oil changed often enough.

While I don’t know your exact driving patterns, I suspect that it consists of mostly short-trip local driving. If I am correct, your oil change regimen–every 7k miles–means that you only change the oil approximately once a year. Under the circumstances that I described–which is termed “severe service” by car mfrs–oil should be changed at least every 6 months, perhaps even more often than that.

If the engine is sludged-up–which the dealership can determine by removing the valve cover for a look-see–then you would have to decide whether to invest the money to have the engine disassembled and cleaned-out.

However, there is also a low-cost possibility that you should consider right now.
Because short-trip local driving can also lead to a gunked-up PCV system, you should have your SIL replace the PCV valve (for a cost of ~$5) and flush-out the PCV hose with an appropriate solvent. Just doing that could drastically reduce the amount of oil consumption.

Have him do the PCV work, and then ask him to monitor your oil level every couple of days. This work might not make a difference, but it is also possible that this will remedy the problem right away. A friend of mine experienced drastically-increased oil consumption with his Rav-4, after only ~55k miles, and after I replaced the PCV valve and flushed the PCV hose, his oil consumption returned to its “normal” rate of 1 qt per 5k miles.

The reason why I suggest doing the PCV work right away is that, if your engine is burning oil, that is taking its toll on the very expensive catalytic converter, and replacing the CC is something that you may be able to avoid if you act promptly.

you need to check your oil on a reg. basis .read the owners manuel . my car needs a qt, every 3k miles i still check it once a week to be on the safe side i can’r affoord to replace the engaine ($3,000)or more

I agree with Big Marc. I check the oil on our vehicles every weekend before the vehicles are started. Also, when I am on a trip, I check the oil at the first gasoline stop. This habit dates back to the old days of carbureted engines where the oil might become diluted with gasoline and burn off more rapidly. This probably isn’t as necessary with today’s fuel injected engines, but it doesn’t hurt anything to keep an eye on the oil level. Our 2011 Toyota Sienna uses 0W-20 oil (synthetic). It doesn’t use any oil, but particularly in warm weather, I want to keep tabs on the oil level with oil of this lighter viscosity.

Is it possible they just didn’t put enough in at the last oil change?

The more than likely problem here is that the engine is suffering piston ring damage because of 2 things.
One is failure to change the oil often enough and the other is running the engine low on oil with the latter leading to rapid oil degradation. This can cause oil sludging or coking around (usually) the oil control rings.
With a turbocharged car, oil changes are even more critical.

Based on your type of driving, the oil should be changed every 3-4k miles or 4 months, etc.

Not all SAABs have PCV valves so you’re likely out of luck on the issue being that simple.

Several problems I have with the shop.
With no leaks, the first step should be a compression test, both dry and wet, to determine if there’s an obvious piston ring problem.
They also told you to accumulate 2000 miles on a known oil consuming engine and bring it back to them for an oil level check. This may be a big mistake as oil consumption could increase dramatically over that 2000 miles and lead to total engine failure.

I realize the car only has 49k miles but many cars with far less miles than that have suffered because of the oil change regimen.


Let’s get something answered, please

First you talk about your 2007 Saab

Later on you say “It is a 93 turbo by the way”

Which is it?

db4680–“93” is (was) a Saab model, so I believe that the OP’s car is a 2007 Saab 93 Turbo.

More exactly, a “9-3”, rather that a late 1950s Saab “93”.

New Berlin: I too have a 2007 SAAB 9-3 2.0T, six-speed manual transmission that I bought from new. This car has no PCV valve to replace, so while VDCDriver’s advice is sound, it doesn’t apply to our cars. The car holds 6.2 quarts of oil, so while being down 2.5 qts. isn’t good, it’s not a death sentence for your motor. I had a similar experience after getting an oil change. The low oil warning came on the dash when climbing a hill. It was down 1.5 qts. I added it and it has been fine. Now that you know where the dipstick is, check it every Saturday before leaving the house. Keep a small notebook and note how often you are adding oil, and share that with the dealer/service shop that you work with. Adding a qt. or 2 of oil between changes is not unusual. I get my service done when the dash display says to, not at a mileage interval. The computer monitors your driving patterns and will let you know when to get it serviced. The car uses Mobil 1 or SAAB synthetic 0W-40 oil, and doesn’t need to be changed more often than what the computer says. 7000 miles between changes seems long to me. My car gives me the service warning every 5500-6600 miles based on my driving patterns, etc. Good luck, and happy Swedish motoring!

The 0W40 oil mentioned here is very good oil and meets European standards above and beyond what most cars call for here. That being said, it still needs to be changed. It sounds like this car takes a lot of short trips and is a turbo. Both are hard on engines and their oil.

Keep using this oil and change it more frequently. Also check the oil level to make sure it isn’t using or leaking any every other fill up or so.

A similar thing happened with a Cadillac Northstar that a friend has. This engine has several known flaws and one of them is excessive oil use. They never had this problem until they started having it changed at Wal-Mart with whatever oil they put in. They also used something a lot thicker than what the manual calls for based on the window sticker reminder. Several crises happened and they forgot about the oil change and went over. The rate of burning went pretty sky high as they were burning about a quart every 200 miles. There were no leaks and no smoke but the oil was going somewhere.

I changed the oil for them and used this 0W40 Mobil 1 as well as cleaned out the PCV system. Since these engines are notorious for stuck rings, I took it out and drove it like it was stolen after this and the rate of oil consumption went down dramatically. It still uses some but I understand that this is common on a Northstar and not something to worry about too much as long as you keep an eye on it. I personally wouldn’t ever want to own a Northstar but it does run and drive like a dream.

I don’t know much about Saabs but it is likely a high performance engine. How often do you put it to the test? Change the oil and take it out and drive it hard.

The 2007s still sludge? I thought they fixed that. And don’t put dino oil in a SAAB - synth only will do wonders for engine life.

Echo-ing Sven’s comment above, it may well be the case that there was absolutely no engine damage as the result of the low oil level. I’d not assume there was, unless symptoms have developed, and it is proven by testing. Esp if there was never any overheating symptoms. So where did the oil go? Well, for one thing, like mentioned above, maybe it was low after the prior fill-up – the prior shop simply didn’t put enough in. And there is always some oil consumption with any car, from the valve guide seals and piston rings. And a small oil seep, like from a valve cover guide, can evaporate once it hits the hot surface of the engine, before dripping any oil on the ground. Since you only change oil once a year, this is possible and you could well not notice it happening.

So what to do?

  • After each oil change, check the dipstick yourself. Immediately after. And the next morning. And at every fill-up.

  • Change your oil at intervals no longer than 6 months apart, irrespective of how many miles you drive.

  • Ask a shop to do a visual, look for signs of any minor oil seepage, esp from the valve covers.

@NYRegJD, why are you resurrecting 6 month old threads? This is the second one, and the OP hasn’t been back since April. Plus, she said in the lead post she uses Mobile One, a true fully synthetic oil. Please check date stamps on these threads.