1999 SAAB 9-3 SE 2.0 HO turbo from North America


Finicky, but Fabulous


At first, the Auto climate control would be on the fritz and wouldn't work at all. The dealership where I purchased this Saab (not a Saab dealer) told me that it needed a new Climate Control computer. They replaced with a used model. ACC still did not function. Then I was told that it needed a completely new AC Compressor, belt, hoses. That was all replaced with (supposedly) new parts. The Climate control still didn't perform correctly. On a 100 degree day it would be set at 72 and blow pure hot air. I kept mentioning that the TEMP display on the dash kept reading - 38 degrees. I was told that it had nothing to do with the climate control. My partner then researched and found that it did have something to do with it, the car thought it was always -38 so wouldn't turn the compressor on, only heat. We found a $9 sensor on the bumper, replaced it. The TEMP gauge now reads exact outside temp. Climate control works perfect. It should work for a long time now with a $3500 new system which was probably not necessary.

Next, about 3 mos later, the car would stall out on takeoff and blow lots of smoke. Took to Saab this time. Needed a DI Cassette $500.Fixed and runs and drives great.

A few weeks after the DI cassette, upon takeoff and stopping, the engine would feel as though it was being slammed around in the engine bay. Transmission mount had to be replaced. Works good.

No further repairs other than scheduled maintenance for 1 1/2 yrs.

General Comments:

Despite the issues at the beginning, I Love my Saab. It is quick especially on sport mode and handles decent for front wheel drive. A lot of the problems were due to having the mechanic at the dealership where I purchased the car, trying to diagnose a car he was un familiar with. Take your Saabs to a Saab Dealer for repairs or al least someplace that works on European/Swedish cars. Like I said I Love my Saab, I haven't had any further problems and now consider it to be very reliable, But if something goes wrong I only allow local Saab Dealership to do the work.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th December, 2006

1999 SAAB 9-3 S TDI 2.2 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


I wouldn't recommend this car. SAABs are not what they were now GM has taken over


My Saab 9-3 2.2 TDI (1999) with just under 150,000 miles on the clock, has been diagnosed with major engine failure - piston 3 is not compressing fuel, hence the black smoke from the exhaust.

I expected to it reach well over 200,000 miles, being a diesel - a friend has an old Ford Mondeo, which has done 240,000 and still going strong.

I have been meticulous in serving this car at every specified interval, and as a professional musician, most of the mileage has been cruising on the motorway. I wonder what Saab can say that would inspire me to recommend their company to anyone? Reliability? High mileage? I don't think so, despite high service costs...

With a quote of around £4000 for a new engine and £1500 for a secondhand one, my only option is to sell the car for scrap. Needless to say, I am unlikely to buy another Saab, which is a great shame, as I've had a number of Saabs over the years.

General Comments:

Saabs are known for having good seats, and this car is no exception, but the problem here is that the steering wheel is not directly in front of the driver, but a few inches left of centre. This, combined with the fact that there is nowhere to rest your left foot when it's not on the clutch (there isn't enough space between the clutch and the centre console to fit your foot through to place on the the miniscule "footrest"), plus the long reach for the gearstick, results in a permanently twisted driving position.

The diesel engine is noisy and unrefined by modern standards, and the steering is heavy (definitely not for little old ladies). The brakes are excellent and the car holds the road well.

The enormous boot has proved useful, the rear seats split, but there is a safety bar, which the seat belts attach to, which remains in place unless both seats are folded (and even then, it still gets in the way).

The SID display always loses pixels - the same as on GM cars. This is a blatant design fault, but SAAB still want over £200 for a new display. Info on fixing it yourself can be found here http://www.saab9-5.com/howto/sidrepair.htm and here http://www.thesaabsite.com/93/Saab-Sidrepairs.htm.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th December, 2006