2000 SAAB 9-3 Base from North America - Comments

25th Mar 2009, 21:53

At 320,000KM, aside from regular maintenance, I'm now due for new tires and I just got the heater box replaced to fix an issue with the HVAC controls again.

The design of the knob and shaft for air distribution is really dumb, and they commonly break as it's a flexible plastic shaft... and it's also expensive to fix because it's labour intensive.

If it breaks again, I'm just gonna rip it out and just use a long flathead screwdriver.

24th Apr 2009, 18:21

I have had my car for about 5 months now and I have to say it is the best car I have ever owned. I bought it fairly cheap with high mileage, but not high for a Saab from what I read. Repairs are expensive but they haven't happened all that much.

I was hoping that someone would be able to help me with a problem I am having. Today on the freeway the car started to sputter at higher speeds. At first it actually felt to me like the transmission was slipping. When I would put the car into neutral and coasted on the freeway, the engine didn't die. Well when I was almost home and got on the off ramp, the car stalled at the stop sign at the end of the ramp, I started it back up and it was sputtering like no other. I drove off hoping to get home and made it about a 1/4 mile when the car died again. This time I would try to start the car and it would only turn over, never actually start the engine.

Well I waited for a ride, and when my ride got there, about 15 minutes later I got in the car and it started just a little hard, but ran like nothing was wrong. Got it home the rest of the way and parked it in the garage. Tried to start it and it was doing the same thing again, turning over and not starting. Waiting about an hour and started up again only running rough. Since then I have tried adding Heet in case of water in the gas. Put some in and started the car about 1 hour later and it ran fine. Too scared to take it on the road right now. Let me know if anyone knows anything please! Thanks!

17th Jun 2009, 09:04

How did you make out with your problem with the stalls?

19th Oct 2009, 20:22

I would get rid of it. Doesn't sound like you have had the car long, and are having a lot of problems.

I have the same car. I paid 5000 for it, and it's been nothing but trouble, and stupid expensive to work on. A power steering pump is 750, that's crazy.

They are mechanical failures. Seriously, save yourself a big headache, and take your loss and run far far away.

16th Aug 2010, 20:12

I'm the writer of the original review, and here's another update.

After 32 months of ownership, I'm at 347,000KM now... which means I've put on 53,000km on this car since January 2008.

Since my last update on March 25, 2009 (the posts after that were not me), the car has been pretty reliable and enjoyable to drive.

Aside from regular synthetic oil changes, I've had to replace:

- PCV valve and hose

- Replace passenger side door mirror (my fault... I broke it off by accident... got a used one installed for $150)

- Tires

- Rear brake pads, rotors and calipers

- Radiator (old one began leaking) (expensive... $500 installed... and that's with a good used radiator)

- Direct ignition module (started giving indications of failure... throwing check engine codes. Replaced on the advice of my mechanic. Expensive... around $300 just for the part.)

- Some coolant hoses as they were getting old and cracked and leaking

- Driver side interior door handle that broke off

- Battery

- Right rear tail light assembly (got a used one cheap)

- Replaced HVAC knob shaft again... just leaving on defrost from now on

- Flex pipe on exhaust

- New windshield wipers

- Re-torqued cylinder head on the advice of my mechanic

- Coolant temp sensor (cheap... only $50)

As you can see, many of these things you would have (such as brakes, tires, battery, windshield wipers) you would have on any car.

My average cost of repairs and maintenance is holding steady at $250/month.

While the Saab is costing me about $150 to $200 more per month compared to a cheapo Ford or Honda overall, the Saab is still much more enjoyable to drive than either of those.

Further confirmation that if your priority is having a car at the lowest overall cost, a Saab isn't for you.

But if you're willing to spend an extra $150-$200/month (compared to the cost of an Escort, Focus or Civic) for a car that is faster, has better handling, is quieter, is a little bigger, more solid feeling and is a little more technically interesting, then it's worth the extra money.

The key to having an enjoyable Saab ownership experience is to have an independent mechanic that is very familiar or specializes in Saabs.

The dealers in Canada sucked... expensive, and not worth it.

So the fact that Saturn-Saab dealers in Canada all closed at the end of 2009 is no great loss. It only means that to buy a new Saab, you now have to go to the US.

24th Dec 2011, 09:19

I'm the original reviewer, and it's been a while since I've given an update.

So... I'm at 379,000km now. I was thinking of getting rid of this car... but when doing the emissions test, the numbers indicated that the engine is in positively excellent shape. The emissions were lower than other cars I had in the past that had much less mileage. So I'm going to hang on to it.

My cost per KM is averaging 32 to 33 cents... and that includes all repairs, gas, maintenance, insurance and registration fees. Something like a Civic or Escort I estimate would be about 20% cheaper at today's fuel costs and insurance rates.

Since my last update I've done:

- A few oil changes

- Changed the air filter

- New front pads, rotors

- New AC compressor (that was expensive at about $1500 with a used compressor. Using a new compressor would have cost around $2000).

Also my rear passenger side window doesn't stay up on its own. The part inside that holds the window up broke. I just duct-taped it shut. I may or may not get it fixed. The part alone will be about $200 used. I figure with labour, it would be a $500 to $600 job.

Also going to need a set of tires in 2012... which shouldn't be too bad given this car only has 15 inch wheels. I figure that will cost around $600 to $700 for a set of Michelins.

Also, I might be due to do the rear brake pads later in 2012. And if not in 2012, then definitely by 2013.

And though the car has some scratches, stone chips and dings, still absolutely no rust. Clearly the quality of the metal and the rust proofing from when this car was new is top notch.

Too bad about the annoying little things that break on these cars.

Right now though with the way it's running and the excellent e-test results, I'm gonna hang on to this car for another couple of years unless something major breaks.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard the sad news... as of December 19, 2011, Saab is officially bankrupt.

But that doesn't worry me as there are still plenty of aftermarket and used parts available. But this might become a problem in 5-10 years.

24th Oct 2012, 22:52

I'm the original reviewer and this is the final update.

Got rid of my Saab in August 2012.

By that point it had 392,000km on it.

I would have kept it, except it had the following issues:

- Intermittent no-start-when-hot condition.

- Rear passenger window won't stay up... had to duct tape it shut.

- Exhaust rusted out.

- One of the stereo speakers is broken.

- Due for new tires.

- Will be due for rear brakes within the next 12 months.

Plus there were a few other minor niggling issues.

When you add it all up, it would amount to $2000 to $3000 in repairs/maintenance within the next year.

I opted instead to buy a newer 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser with 1/3 of the mileage for just $3250, less the $200 I received for the scrap value of the Saab. The PT Cruiser should be cheaper to own/operate... and so far, it is.

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