2004 SAAB 9-3 Aero convertible 2.0 turbo from UK and Ireland


Fundamentally flawed


Lots of minor faults.

Loads of squeaks and rattles.

Electrical gripes that are intermittent.

Headlamp bulbs blow frequently are are a pig to replace.

Wheels hard to balance.

Remote keys frequently stop working.

Electric windows 'bounce' in comfort mode.

Major fault.

Front suspension spring broke whilst driving and shredded a tyre.

General Comments:

Pleasing to drive, lovely to look at at fast.

Minor reliablity issues would put me off buying another one, and a design that allows a suspension spring to break (apparently not an uncommon fault) and hit the tyre is positively dangerous.

Depreciation is fairly unpleasant too. Paid £33,000 new and after 4 years (and admittedly high mileage) the car looks pristine but is worth about £10,000.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th May, 2008

23rd Aug 2008, 15:23

My 2004 has experienced almost all of the issues you raised. Love the car when I can get into it, due to the key fob not working. The remote top down has not worked in a year. Still fun to drive, but it's the last one I will ever buy.

2004 SAAB 9-3 Arc 2.0T from North America


If you can get past the minor electrical issues, a low maintenance and very quick and responsive car


I have had several issues, all minor.

1. About one month after buying, noticed a groove in one of the front brake discs... turned out to be a defective brake pad. Front pads and discs replaced under warranty.

2. Pinch sensors in the windows are horribly designed and constantly malfunctioning. Dealer says its from dirt in the window track... I think its just a bad design. Front passenger window especially; goes all the way up and then the pinch sensor malfunctions and window automatically goes down about a quarter of the way. Driver's side override works, but terribly inconvenient.

3. Body sheet metal is not rigid at all. Any little bump from adjacently parked cars puts a dimple in the doors.

4. Light bulbs. From fog lights to side marker lights to driving lights, have gone through a lot more bulbs than I care to think about for a 3-4 year old car.

5. Black coating on all the buttons falls off. They coated all the buttons on the console with a black material that frustratingly comes off if accidentally scratched with a fingernail or even just pressure from a finger.

General Comments:

Great fuel efficiency and a general joy to drive. Great sound system and the high-pressure turbo is fantastic. All in all, a great performing car with a finicky electrical system. Handles like a dream and likes to be driven. Saab service is somewhat frustrating sometimes.

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

Review Date: 17th January, 2008

18th Jan 2008, 15:07

Lamps don't last forever; in a car, they are subject to constant shock in driving as well as normal wear and tear from being used. it is best to change all lamps at the same time rather than as they go; the latter gives the idea they are always blowing, but in fact lamps have a limited life. Some last longer than others for any number of reasons.

If, on the other hand the lamps are excessively short living, have your alternator voltage checked. Over-voltage will reduce their life, and your battery life and you may also see the results of that around the terminals.

Too many globes also fail from poor soldering.

The quality of all globes is not the same and dearer isn't necessarily better. OEM will give supposedly the best results as these should be tested to quality assurance (if the dealer is actually selling you original equipment globes.) But in my experience some of the better globes, better than OEM, came from the then Soviet block; Czechoslovakia, for example.

I wonder why there is so much emphasis today on car "sound systems." One wonders who is concentrating on their driving and who is not. Sometimes it is obvious as they pretend to be drummers, guitarists, or just beserk music friends pretending they are in a loungeroom space capsule, often expecting us to also appreciate their "musical" maelstrom.

There would not be a quality Eurpopean car made which does not have a well-engineered sound system.

The one great thing about car radios (when valves and transistors were around) was there was a tunable RF stage; an extra stage of amplification at the incoming signal end. They performed far better than almost all domestic radios under poor conditions.

Having said that, some radios are built for 'overseas' use. For an example, some Dutch radios built for use in Indonesia. I also had a tuned RF amplifier stage to assist in poor reception areas, or to get European stations on the broadcast band with a good antenna system.

Once upon a time, houses used a long wire antenna, quite becomingly and proudly, to get broadcast reception. It's quite refreshing and evocative to see an old English home with its old antenna still strung across the roof (many were inside it) or across to a tree, very neatly.

Today, with vastly more stations around and FM repeaters, I doubt the quality of engineering is as high. Radios are essentially common modules of commercial 'integrated circuits' in different cans with different buttons, with more attention paid to the audio amplification end because of the incidence of CD and cassette use (as opposed to quality sound via radio).

I know that piece of 'useless' information will be soundly appreciated.


25th Aug 2010, 13:24

Had similar issues with the windows going up and down a quarter of the way. It just stopped happening, but now my left blinker keeps on going on.