Saab & Volvo automatic transmissions

Is my memory correct on the following issue? I’ve been a Car Talk listener for 13 years and I believe I’ve heard Tom & Ray both say in the past that Saab’s need frequent repairs.

I’m seriously considering either a used Saab, a 2000 9-3 4 cylinder Turbo, or a 1999 Volvo S70, both with over 65,000 miles. Both cars are being sold by the original owners who have all the maintenance records, and mechanically everything else checks out, including clean Carfax reports. The Volvo had the 60,000 mile service and it got new brakes plus other items.

I’ve been told by two reliable local mechanics that Saabs and Volvos with automatic transmission are much more likely to need major repairs or replacement than the same makes with manual transmission. I drove cars with manual transmssion for 15 years and now strongly prefer an automatic for suburban driving. Any comments would be appreciated.

Patrick in Kensington, MD / DC suburbs

In regards to the transmission issue I think the statement about manuals compared to automatics could apply to every car made. An auto trans is basically a large hydraulic unit with many more parts and systems than a manual so of course the chances of having a trans problem is increased with an automatic.

For what it’s worth anyway, I’m an ex-SAAB tech and current SAAB owner. I’ve seen few trans problems and many times a trans problem is owner inflicted due to abusive driving habits or lack of regular fluid changes.
A fair number of Volvo and SAAB drivers can be somewhat aggessive with the throttle and there’s a good chance most transmission complaints come from these people. (What! Me drive my car hard! NO WAY!):slight_smile:

My previous SAAB was an automatic and had about 200k miles on it with never a peep out of the transmission.
I think a guy on eBay recently sold a good running/driving SAAB (original engine/trans) with over 400k on it.

Unless something has changed, SAAB transmissions were/are built by Borg-Warner and they build some pretty good units.
It should last a long time with proper driving habits and regular fluid changes. Just my 2 cents anyway.

I think you picked cars that aren’t likely to be stolen. I judge that to be the case because of the odd looking factor. The Saab seems to be the better choice for reliability. You didn’t even mention safety! They seem to be safe. Just about all models of Volvo are best to avoid. The Saab 9 3 from 1999 is also on the Used Cars to Avoid list. You have reliable mechanics, Tom and Ray and my negative word. The other word is to not buy a used car with the word turbo on it. All the letters in turbo are also found in trouble. They’re just arranged differently with le glued onto the end. If that doesn’t look like a hint, I don’t know what does.

I drove a 89 saab 900 turbo about 300K miles without any significant issues, certainly no turbo issues. Mine was a manual tranny, I’ve never had an auto saab or volvo. I don’t know anything about the GM/saabs.

Unless you want information on a Toyota or Honda, you are better off to post your question on a Saab or Volvo board to get information about these cars from people who actually have one.

I have owned 4 Saab’s wiht my last one bieng a 2000 95. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to buy a newer Saab. I had to replace the engine in my 2000 95 2 times iwth the second engine only lasting 18 months.

Also, Saab no longer cares about customer service.

I would look at another car.

And I am not biased. I owned a 89 Saab 9000 and it had 327.5K miles on it when I gave it away. It had the origingal timing chain, a/c compressor, turbo and xmission in it. But my 2000 Saab was a piece of junk!