1999 SAAB 9-3 SE 2.0 turbo from UK and Ireland


Happily driving my son back to university, and the car started making an awful sound from the engine. I pulled over, and as I did, the car stopped. I turned the engine over and the noise was worse, and car would not start up again. Got towed to my local garage, and they informed me that my engine had seized up. I needed to have a new engine. It has been very difficult to purchase a 2nd hand or reconditioned engine.

Saab now have my car, and are putting in the replacement engine. I have been in contact with Saab UK and the dealership where I bought my car from in 2006; they are not interested, and are not admitting that there is a problem with these cars. Don't know where to go from here. I feel they should bear the cost. I am very disappointed in Saab's customer service, or lack of it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th June, 2007

14th Jun 2007, 08:04

Should have stuck with the Volvo! If I had a choice, I would drive the Volvo any day - very reliable cars (I'm on my 2nd)

20th Jun 2009, 14:33

I love my Volvo 850! It's my first car and I LOVE it!!! Put a few hundred into it, but it has 150,000.

7th Oct 2010, 04:53

I've seen quite a few SAAB 9-3 turbo's for sale needing engine replacements. What did GM do to screw up these cars? Is it caused by a sudden oil leak or by a blown head gasket? There's 4 nearby Volvo specialist garages, and another that works on European cars, and they all refuse to work on Saab's, what gives?. Heck even the local SAAB dealer didn't want to service Saab's that are more than 8 years old. Before anybody buys a used Saab, they should find a good Saab mechanic.

1999 SAAB 9-3 SE 2.0 turbo from North America


Great, reliable, and fun to drive


Nothing has really gone wrong with the car, other that normal maintenance items.

General Comments:

Great car for us. It has been trouble free for the most part. The DI Cassette went out at 125,000 miles and cost $500 to fix. Someone else posted that it cost the almost $800, you should probably shop around to get a better price. I see a lot of oil sludge problems posted, and at 129,000 miles I have not had any issues with oil sludge. I change the oil every 5000 miles and use Mobile One Synthetic. I would definitely buy another Saab. We plan on keeping this one until 150,000 miles and then trading it in for another Saab. The routine maintenance it a bit pricey, but the first time this car saw the shop for a repair was at 125,000 miles for the DI Cassette. I definitely recommend the Saab.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th June, 2007

6th Jun 2007, 20:57

I very much agree that the 1999 Saab 9-3 is a great car, and reliable. I also have one, 121k no major issues other than DI cassette and transmission mount. I change oil every 3-7,000 miles depending on if I've done mostly Hwy driving, and so far no sludge issue either. I absolutely LOVE my car, had it for a long time and plan on driving till the wheels fall off!

29th Apr 2010, 11:57

I am the original poster of this review. I traded in my 1999 Saab 9-3 with 160,000 miles and it was trouble free up to the end. I traded it for a 2007 Saab 9-5 and I love it. I hope this one is as reliable as my 9-3. We were very sad to drive away and leave her sitting there, but we just wanted a newer Saab.

1999 SAAB 9-3 S 2.0 turbo from North America


Love Hate Relationship


I bought the car with around 70,000 + miles. My first 25K miles were maintenance free. Then replaced the idler pulley. Relatively easy fix.

100K, replaced information display.

110K, replaced DI cassette.

At 122K, my problems began:

A/C went bad. Replaced with new compressor; $800 just for the part. I put it on, now AC only works when it wants to. I'm sure it is a bad sensor, but too lazy to try to find out about it so I still have no A/C.

124K, water pump and upper radiator hose.

134K, head gasket ($1000 repair).

145K, replaced DI cassette again ($350 part).

150K, replaced idler pulley again and put on a new serpentine belt.

General Comments:

Owning this car has been a love hate relationship. It is so fun to drive. Handles beautifully and is super comfortable... more comfortable than my dad's Buick. If you've ever driven a SAAB, you'll know what I feel. You fall in love with it.

You'll get tons of power out the turbo 4 cylinder, and decent gas mileage. It is so quick, and it will be a step down in power unless I jump into a V-8, which won't happen. I get 27 on the highway and 22 around town.

The downside is they come with expensive repair bills. I've been lucky because I've done all the work myself except for the head gasket. I've worked on this car more than any car I've ever owned. It has voodoo electronics. I am constantly going through headlights and tail lights, and am always adjusting them. Half the time my airbag light and brake light comes on, and my check engine light has been on since 90K.

I would love to own a SAAB again, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I probably won't. Like I said, it's been love hate.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 31st May, 2007

1st Jun 2007, 15:59

You've got a car which started giving a few issues from about 120K miles (193K km), you managed to make the water pump last THAT long?? The mechanical stuff you mentioned is about right for the mileage of many cars these days, including Japanese cars. US$1,000 for a head gasket job (which I'm sure will include shaving the head/block for warpage) is average to cheap, a friend had a Mitsubishi which cost 1.5 times that just to rectify for the same thing.

The electronics, let's face it -- almost any car these days with a dot-matrix panel will have the display stop operating properly in time, perhaps the older (but less attractive) normal LEDs are mor durable. The stereo -- no comment. But yeah, cars just aren't even DESIGNED (let alone built) the way the older ones were, when things were simpler, more expensive, but more durable.

I say you had a pretty good run! As I'm doing this comment, I can't see your original review, but you haven't mentioned an automatic transmission overhaul yet. All I can say is, you've gone from about 100K km to 192K km over a period of 5 years, and the mechanical problems are pretty much on par for mileage.

Oh yeah -- your aircon. A friend with a Mazda here has not bothered getting the aircon fixed because it would be worth more than the car now. I hope where you live doesn't make aircon too mandatory.