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Sluggish Saab

I have a 2001 Saab 9-5 with 82k miles and I just had the turbo replaced. I knew it was a bad turbo because I recognized the big puff of blue smoke that enveloped my car from the first time it happened – one week after I purchased the car. (sure, you can laugh.) I purchased the car from a dealer with about 19k miles and the salesman brushed off my concern about the tiny puff of smoke intermittently emanating from the tail pipe as a ?Saab thing? that occurred when a turbo car sat for a while. Yeah, I bought the story and the car and one week later couldn?t see through the fog of smelly blue bad-turbo smoke.

Given I?ve heard that cars can go for hundreds of thousands of miles without the need for a new turbo much less two, I surmise I have a lemon ? but I?m playing the hand I?m dealt. And it?s such a pretty car. Just so you know, I drive very gently (like a gramma) and have had it serviced routinely at said dealer since purchase. My current problem (besides being gullible), is that since I got my second brand new turbo installed, the car drives like I?m dragging a boat. I have to really give it gas just to get up to 30mph and passing cars now makes me nervous. I?m forever smashing the gas just to get the car to go and hence the turbo gauge is in the high yellow/red zone a crazy number of times during a routine car ride.

The dealer says it drives beautifully. Gave me the same lecture about good gas that I get every time I report a problem. Any ideas?


SAAB turbochargers are not prone to failure on their own. Most failures are caused by the drivers; either through abuse or lack of regular oil changes.
If the dealer is blaming this on “bad gas” that’s a cop-out excuse and is seldom ever the problem.

A turbocharged car should have the oil changed more often than normal and if the driving habits involve a lot of short hop, stop and go type stuff then it should be changed every 3k miles or 3 months IMHO.

There are several things that could contribute to a problem like this, but one thing I would inspect first, considering the previous turbocharger failure problem, is the possibility of a clogged catalytic converter. This is easily inspected with the use of a vacuum gauge. The difficult part of this inspection is that the majority of mechanics apparently do not use a vacuum gauge or know how to properly read one. Sad, but true; and especially considering it’s so simple to do.

What I’m getting at here is that if the previous turbocharger was bad and puking a little oil into the intake this oil will go through the combustion chambers and wind up in the converters, where it will coke up and clog the pores.
As an analogy, think of trying to breathe while covering your mouth and nostrils with a heavy towel. Kind of hard to function, huh? Hope some of this helps but if the car were in my hands the vacuum gauge would be step no. 1.

The vac. gauge will also determine instantly if there is a major vacuum leak somewhere (loose intake boot for ex.) and the turbocharger is simply not able to provide any boost due to an excessive air leak.