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To Saab or not to Saab...that is the question

Hello. Would you or would you not buy a Saab? I thought this was a simple question, but never knew the fury it would unleash. I have scoured the internet, polled family, friends, co-workers, internet automotive chat rooms etc. I have landed squarely in the middle with 50% saying no (Hell no!) and 50% saying yes (Hell yes!). Let me say that I know all the issues about them going out of business and how I will never be able to find parts and/or service for the vehicle. I don’t think that will be a problem for me, as I have already found several Saab/Swedish mechanics in my area. Each side has their own reasons which make sense to me, but I still need something to tip the scales here. Please give me your answer along with your reasoning. Oh and here are the stats on the vehicle I’m interested in…2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T, $9500, 96k miles (high for the age of the vehicle I know, but I’m guessing this is one of the reasons for the low price).

The Carfax shows 1 owner (commercial). I know that Carfax is not the end all/cure all/fix all and is only as good as the information reported, but I just thought that would be good to take into consideration. I’ve already taken a long, winding test drive and was pleased with the outcome. I plan to take it for a mechanical inspection in the upcoming days. So let’s say it passes the inspection with flying colors. To Saab or not to Saab? What’s your answer?

Nope. Why put up with the troubles of a bankrupt out-of-business company? There is nothing left of Saab, it wasn’t bought by anybody, so support will be limited to general maintenance parts, junk yards, whatever. Of course you could make it work, but why? The recent Saabs were nothing special, rebadged parts bin GM cars mostly.

The old Saab died many years ago.

I’d buy it, IF you get a very good price. It is an “orphan” car and if you buy it don’t expect to get any resale value if you ever want to sell it, or trade it in.

I think you will be able to get parts and service for the car. I’d prefer a manual trans over an automatic but there are salvage transmissions if you find you ever need to replace the auto trans. The turbo’s can be rebuilt. Suggest you use either full synthetic oil, or change dino oil every 3K miles to keep that turbo spinning.

I don’t think repair parts will be an issue. Most maintenance and routine wear and tear things can be gotten from any parts house and any odd ones that crop up can be found generally on the cheap by perusing eBay. Craigslist, or SAAB forums.

Just my 2 cents, but I’m an ex-SAAB mechanic and not only like the cars but I’m also a SAAB owner, past and present.
Engine and transmission problems, along with suspension, etc, are practically unheard of and when there is a problem it’s often caused by the person who owns the car. Poor maintenance habits and abusive driving habits create many problems. That’s not to say they don’t have their share of quirks but all cars made have their own particular set of problems.

It’s difficult to say on a high miles car that is going on 5 years old but having a thorough inspection pre-purchase does help considerably. Just be aware that problems can crop up no matter how thorough the inspection is and how competent the mechanic. There is simply no way of foreseeing mechanical problems on a new car, much less a used one.

If you really want the car and it passes muster the only problem I could see would be the asking price. Considering the demise of SAAB I’d have to try and negotiate that down a bit; say 10-15% at least.

I dumped my 2010 9-3. It wasn’t a bad car, but it’s a dated design. The car is cramped and small and had a rough ride. Some parts at the moment are hard to find. I was told there was no problem and I believed it, until I talked to people who’s car are parked because there are no ignition parts.

I also read that they have totaled cars because they haven’t made any body parts. I was mad that I loss my warranty and I didn’t feel like gambling with this car, so I had to cut my losses.

That’s an average price if it is a private owner sale. It is about $1000 below the dealer price for a 9-3 with little to know reconditioning required. The $1500 price reduction for high mileage is already figured in. Don’t talk price until you have the mechanic’s inspection report in hand and know what repairs it needs. BTW, the prices I looked at included only auto transmission. Any other options will increase the value. These cars are steeply discounted compared to competitive models. For instance, a comparable Infiniti G35 sells for $6000 to $7000 more.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback so far.

@ Uncle Turbo: Regarding the resale value, that is not really a big concern for me because I am the type of person to keep a car for at least 8 to 10 years. My current car, a 2000 Altima (purchased in 2004) I have been driving for 8 years. It has some issues and I just feel like I am ready for something different. I figure I can get anywhere between 2700 to 3700 for my Altima and would put that money toward the price of the Saab.

I’m really more interested in reliability as far as not constantly finding myself on the side of the road waiting for AAA to come rescue me. From what I have seen so far when I was researching the internet and polling people, the major feedback has been focused on parts and resale. So I’m more concerned with the probability of mechanical breakdowns or constant repair issues. If a vehicle is less likely to have these problems then there would be less of a reason to be worried about finding parts as a result of these issues, correct??

@ ok4450: I do understand and agree with you in that even the most thorough inspection cannot uncover any current issues nor predict any future issues. So if we were to remove parts and resale value from the equation and the inspection came out with good results would this be a good buy in your opinion? Again, I am more concerned with reliability and longevity.

@steveng: I actually like the looks very much (as far as the exterior). There are the usual quirks in the interior like the rediculously designed in-dash cupholder but I can live with that. And of course it will take some time to get used to the location of the ignition, but again I can live with that.

@jtsanders: This car is being sold by a small independent dealer who sells only BMW’s, Saab’s, Volvo’s, Mercedes etc. It is the automatic transmission (the regular, not the Aero style).

With all due respect, talking specifically about a SAAB or Volvo or Mercedes at the exclusion of all other makes you might try out, shows we may be buying a brand name and not a car.

Should you try out a SAAB…absolutely. But if you or anyone is enthrolled with the name even though another make might perform better for you, means you might as well go the the junk yard, remove a few SAAB name plaques and affix them to someone else’s car. Come to think of it, it’s been done before to Subarus and GM SUVs.

There are lots of happy SAAB owners out there… But be sure and try out a bunch of other comparable cars too.

How will you be using the car? Will this be your only car?
If you are an over-the -road salesman and you depend on your car, then you may not want the concern of having the car laid up while a part is being tracked down. On the other hand, if you have alternate transportation to your job in case the car is out of service waiting for a part, and you find the car great to drive, then it may be right for you. You have to make this decision.

I have always liked cars that weren’t mainstream: the two stroke Saab, the Austin Healy Sprite, the Morris 850, but at the time, none of these cars fit my needs (or budget). I needed a car that if I couldn’t make the repair, the local gas station could. I live in a college town and taught at the university until I retired. I have some colleagues that own a BMW, a Mercedes Benz, a Volvo, etc, The nearest dealership for these cars is 55 miles away. Many of our local shops won’t do anything except the routine oil changes. These people like their cars enough to put up with some inconveniences. To me, the function of my main car is to get me from point A to point B safely and with some degree of comfort. The Saab probably won’t afford the transportation value that your Altima does.

It is the luck of the draw, no more no less. You can find happy and unhappy owners of the same car worldwide. So then you have to go to consumer reports or some other agency to evaluate the car. Then you start to rationalize, only 50% had problems vs 60% had problems. Take your chances and pay your dues!

@Triedaq: This car would be used to get to and from work and trips around town. I actually live literally right next door to my job. I can stand on my patio and see the office building and the parking lot. I could walk if need be and I actually had to last summer when the alternator in my Altima died and had to be towed to AAA.

Yes, it would be my only car. I very rarely drive out of town/state and when I do I am always the passenger in somene else’s car so I am a very low mileage driver. In fact, when I purchased my 2000 Altima in 2004, it was already low mileage at a little over 35,500 miles. And eight years later, my odometer is at a little over 88,000 miles. But I still need a car for the regular errands around town, going out with family/friends etc.

@dagosa: It’s not that I specifically singled out the Saab. I’ve never been a “brand name” type of person solely based on what “status” I think would be conveyed by driving a certain type of car. I only care about getting around efficiently and safely. I just happended to come across the Saab while perusing used cars and it stuck out to me.

I think the deciding factor for me will be the inspection results and also if I can haggle the price down even further.

Since you’ve thought this out so well, I see no good reason not to buy the Saab if it checks out well. Make sure that the wear items (tires, brakes) are new or prorate replacement and deduct that from the alrady good price. You should also deduct any repairs your mechanic discovers. If you want more off, aim for a 5% reduction. If that’s where you want to be, ask for $900 off and be happy with a reduction of $450. But don’t be surprised if they don’t budge since the price seems low to begin with.

you live next door to your job and still drive there?

@jtsanders: Yeah, I’ll make a decision if the inspection turns out well and see where the haggling goes.

@bscar2: Haha. I knew someone would ask me about that. I get that question fron my co-workers a lot. But my apartment community is huge and I live all the way toward the back. That day that I had to walk, it was a sweltering, humid and sticky day 97 degree day (yes I remember all the details because I missed my car’s AC so much that day and I have a garage so it never sits out in the sun). And the property is built on an steep incline so, it’s quite a hefty walk uphill albeit the short distance. Anywho, in the short time it took me to walk to work, I arrived hot, sweaty armpits and back of my shirt soaked through and looking not to appealing. Also, I like to run errands either during my lunch break or after work, and it helps to not have to walk home first. So, yes, I get chided on not walking to work all the time, but hey what can you do?

And did you really have to include the clip art :wink:

Caradviceplease wrote:

So I’m more concerned with the probability of mechanical breakdowns or constant repair issues.

You’re taking a gamble by taking a road less traveled.
Are you after the love of Saab, or do you seek a reliable vehicle?

Given that you only care about getting around efficiently and safely, I would put cars like Altimas, Corollas, Camrys, Fusions and Accords much higher on my list then SAABs. This is not to say they are bad, just not up grade for bang for the buck and long term cost efficiency.

You’re asking my opinion about whether it’s a good buy and it’s not in my opinion but that’s based solely on the fact that the car would have to be a real steal and priced well under what a dealer would ask.

As to reliability, that’s still and unknown and will remain so. As I said, SAAB motors and transmissions are near bullet-proof but one never knows what kind of driving personality the previous owner, or plural of that, had.
Some get that turbo SAAB mindset and drive them harder than they would another type of vehicle and that can translate into additional maintenance and problems.

Consider it a Jekyll and Hyde thing and I freely admit that I suffer from it. When driving my Lincoln I baby it but once behind the wheel of my turbocharged, 5 speed manual SAAB I have a tendency to pound it for one reason; it’s a ton of fun.