2003 SAAB 9-3 Reviews - Page 4 of 21

2003 SAAB 9-3 Linear 2.0t (low pressure turbo) from North America

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 2.0t (low pressure turbo) Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 0 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 1 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.6 / 10
Distance when acquired65000 kilometres
Most recent distance138000 kilometres
Previous carNissan Maxima

Summary:

Lucifer himself surely built this by hand. Least reliable car I've owned in 20 years

Faults:

Several items replaced before my ownership such as seat belt tensioners (which are failing again). I do not have the full list in front of me.

Power steering pump 70k km.

Emblems worn before I picked it up at 65k km.

Strut mounts replaced at 75k km along with several other suspension components that should not have to normally be replaced prematurely.

Squeaks, rattles and vibration noises (throughout the life of the vehicle).

Headlight modules and connectors replaced at 85k km.

Engine block replaced 100k km, GM replaced with a Used engine! (Which failed, see below).

Engine block replaced again at 112k km (coolant leaking into block due to engine replacement (used engine!).

Engine block replaced third time, along with new heads at 112k km.

Oil leak, not repaired properly 115k km.

Airbag sensors failing (no airbags), since 120k km. Too costly to repair, still failing.

Oil leak, not repaired properly 118k km.

Door lock failure, replaced at 120k km.

Oil leak, not repaired properly 123k km.

Wheel bearing replaced at 125k km.

Oil leak, not repaired properly 127k km.

O2 sensor failed, replaced at 125k km.

Oil leak, not repaired properly 130k km.

Fuel sending unit replaced at 135k km.

Oil leak, might finally be repaired 135k km.

The list goes on in between these items but I surely can't recall everything.

Total cost, out of pocket: approx. $10,000 Cdn in three years. Total including GM warranty repairs in three years: $44,900 (not including the cost of wheels, brakes, maintenance or the purchase price of the car - these are repair totals only. See below for more details).

General Comments:

The stress and aggravation this car has put me and my wife through cannot be described in words. My throat closes up and my eyes begin to swell when I think of how much time and loyalty I have wasted trying to get this horrible car to stop going into the shop. There is always a light on. The average service visit is every 6 weeks and this is compounded by the fact there are no longer any Saab dealers within 60km.

The key issue above is the engine replacements between 100-112k km. These replacements were covered under GM extended warranty, but were unnecessary from the get go. The novice GM service technicians dropped a piece of spark plug into the cylinder head during routine maintenance. The next day they determined they screwed up and decided to replace the engine. However, the replacement was from a wreck and as a result it failed as well. The dealership closed in the meantime and I had to bring my service elsewhere. After nine visits to the new dealer who did not want to take on the task, they closed as well. Months later another dealer was able to replace the engine, but not until after the car was gone for six months.

After all was said and done, the total bill was around $21,000 for the third and fourth engines. Approximately $18,000 more than the car is worth. This is a perfect micro example of the poor decision making at GM which caused their demise in the first place.

I always wanted a SAAB and I regret the decision with every last molecule in my being. The check engine light is always on and went on again yesterday. I pulled over and began to sob (read: Saab). I can't take this anymore, but I have sunk too much time and money into this vehicle to give up! I must try and drive it into the ground, despite the fact it already has about 300 miles of rubble and dirt on top of it so really there's nowhere else to go.

Bottom line, I shall never buy another GM product again, specifically a SAAB. Good luck to those who purchase a new SAAB by Spyker. Honda or Toyota here we come!!!

Oh, but it drives well and looks good when it's not in the shop, leaking oil or at the bottom of the next cliff...

Peace.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 9th August, 2010

9th Aug 2010, 18:46

GM offers many good cars. Saab is not your average GM model.

9th Aug 2010, 20:21

Why on Earth would you spend so much money fixing a car that is obviously never going to run right? I understand liking a car. I had a car that I actually really did like (it was a '95 Dodge Neon. In Canada it's called the SX 2.0. It was a horrible piece of crap, but when it was running it was actually a lot of fun to drive). I eventually gave up on repairing it and bought a more reliable Toyota Corolla (although it's not quite as fun to drive, it's never once failed on me). Eventually you need to just throw in the towel on some things. Never get attached to a piece of metal, because ultimately that's all a car is: a piece of metal.

10th Aug 2010, 12:39

The question needs to be posed to GM. I agree with you.

The money I spent out of pocket was over a period of 3 years, with gaps in between long enough to justify "Well, if I fix this, then the car will be fine". Then further down the road, the deeper one gets before realizing "Hey, I've spent a lot of time and money" over an extended period that you don't know whether or not you should turn back.

Nobody has a crystal ball, but I suppose one could argue you can learn a lot about the future from past experiences...

2003 SAAB 9-3 Vector Sport 2.0 turbo from Australia and New Zealand

Model year2004
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 2.0 turbo Semi-Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.4 / 10
Distance when acquired71000 kilometres
Most recent distance83000 kilometres
Previous carLand Rover Discovery

Summary:

Buy a SAAB, and move your mind ~ it is unlike any other premium medium size sedan

Faults:

Nothing.

General Comments:

I have now had my SAAB 9-3 Vector Sport Sedan for 6 months, and absolutely love it.

It is powerful, economical, smooth and great to drive. The five speed automatic gearbox is very adaptive and smooth, and the wheel paddle controls work great.

These cars are so well thought out and designed, you only have to look at the cupholders to see that the designers are innovative, or use the customise settings on the air-con, where you can preference the dual zone air con to work on single zone, unless overrided by passenger, yet resets to single on each new startup. Or alternatively, use the nightpanel feature where all the non-essential lights go dark at the press of a button, illuminate when used (eg. air con) and then go dark again automatically. Nightpanel is so smart it re-illuminates the fuel gauge automatically if you get low on fuel. The sensor and computer system will also warn you in scenarios where the back split-fold seat is not correctly locked in place, or when the fuel cap is loose.

A friend of mine has a same year Mercedes C180 K, and even though it has the prestige of a Mercedes, its features are primitive in comparison, and despite being more expensive, it has significantly less power.

In many of the reviews of 9-3's on this site, owners complain about windows not going up, or LED displays dimming or brightening, however these are not actual faults! People need to read their owners manual!

- The LED displays use an automatic light sensor, therefore, it adjusts the screen brightness according to the outside light. In circumstances where you drive into a dark parking garage from daylight, it takes a couple of seconds to dim, the same as going from dark to bright, it takes a couple of seconds to brighten. I would advise people to check the sensor is not covered or dusty, if they are having problems.

- People also complain about the electric windows not going completely up, if you read the manual you would know they have pinch protection. If some dirt gets stuck in the window track, it will automatically stop the window from closing, thinking it is a persons hand. However, you can easily override the function on the drivers controls by holding down the child lock button whilst putting the window up.

The only thing this car does not have, and it seems a bizarre oversight, is automatic door locking on take-off. Maybe this is available in other markets, but is missing on Australian models...?

It is such a shame that SAAB's future is currently so uncertain. Hopefully GM will do the right thing and sell SAAB to a company to allow it to have a future, as I certainly want to buy another SAAB in the future. The new 2010 9-5 looks great.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st January, 2010

2nd Jan 2010, 00:02

It is unlike any other premium midsize sedan, because it isn't a premium midsize sedan. Nothing based entirely on the Vauxhall Vectra (a truly awful car) and with an interior as dated as the 93's can be counted as premium.

Basically any other car in the Saab's class beats it. And I'm not thinking of the Mercedes C Class, I'm thinking of things like the Volkswagen Passat or the Volvo S40. They both have much nicer interiors, better build quality, better platforms, better engines and certain futures. You also have to factor in that Saabs lose their value quicker than just about anything, and don't really have very good dynamics.

I'm glad you love your car, and though it may not seem so considering what I'm writing, I love Saabs too. But when you look at the competition, the 93 is so far behind that it's funny.

Though it's not a direct competitor, even something like a standard Volkswagen Golf is light years ahead of the Saab.

I hope they have a good future ahead of them, and I too think the new 95 looks brilliant, but I am quite sure that buying any current Saab will fail to move anybody's mind.

Average review marks: 6.8 / 10, based on 64 reviews