I agree, routine maintenance really prolongs the life of the vehicle. Oh, and having service receipts from the local shop isn't always proof of a well maintained vehicle. You need to know what is being done to the car and why. Aside from your house, this is probably the most expensive asset you own. Do your homework people.
STAY AWAY FROM THESE CARS! I purchased a "no-kidding" garage kept 2001 Saab 9-3 SE with 37,000 miles. This car still smelled like the show room and had very little visible wear...
Since then I have replace a head-gasket, two transmissions, the sunroof gasket...
Additionally, the digital gauges are starting to go out (2X 350.00), new shocks, new tires (this cars loves to chew on tires), emission sensors (450.00), the chrome is coming off the grill... oh and new floor mats...
In the year in the half I have owned it...I did one long trip of about 2700 miles and about 7000 miles of daily driving (about 20 miles a week with the rest on the weekends)
I will never own one of these vehicles again... if it had not been for the purchase of an extended warranty... I would be in a severe financial bind as the cost of all of these repairs has almost (with a few hundred) exceeded the cost of this vehicle...
I intend to buy something much more simple and American... automatic and rear-wheel drive... looking at a Dodge Charger.
I seem to share the view of plus and minus... first the 93 has a problem with its Direct fuel injection (replaced twice) and water pump (replaced thrice) but then again I've done 150000km since 2002. The dealership service has been excellent and the backup has been good -warranty repairs on the injection and had to pay for the water pump. but all in all its been exceptional. Style is still good even though its 7 yrs old. and did I mention it still can do 0-100km/h faster than most of the new stuff. I wouldn't touch the new 93 and have my sights set on a Viggen.
The 'oil starvation' problem with the SAAB's is well documented and it would not seem to affect other cars. If the oil is also being used for the turbo charger, then a starvation issue will cause damage to this too. Having to replace timing chains at 60,000 miles is outrageous, as is dropping sumps to clear out sludge and clean the oil strainer - it's unheard of in modern cars. Using fully synthetic oil should allow 10-15K miles between oil services and to suggest otherwise is nonsense. It would seem that there is indeed some sort of design flaw with the SAAB 4 cylinder engines and it can prove to be very costly for owners.
And reliability of the newer 9-3 and 9-5 models is also woeful - electrical and suspension problems galore! GM ownership has ruined the SAAB brand and its design integrity, because of its refusal to provide the necessary investment for R&D and quality. Take a look at the latest 9-3 exterior plastics and door handles for instance; they're faded and worn looking after a year or so - a clear indication of poor quality materials being used. If this is clearly evident at this level, then you can be sure the less visible components are as bad if not worse. At least Ford ownership of Volvo has been beneficial, and Volvo is now making some very fine cars.
I am amazed at how people bitterly complain about their Saabs, and then there is a group that completely loves them. It is like the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of cars. There are those that detest them, and those that cannot live without them.
My neighborhood has five of them, including myself. All are 9-3s except for the oldest which is the predecessor 900 series.
Here is a rundown of all five cars:
1987 900 - car has 180,000 miles. The turbo was replaced at 145,000. The electric heated seats failed at 150,000 and were not fixed. Otherwise, the car has had no other problems. Pretty amazing to me.
2003 9-3 - more troublesome car with a few electrical problems, but all were fixed under warranty. Owner likes the gas mileage but not sure he would get another. Up to 97,000 miles.
2004 9-3 - not much going on there, would buy another. Has 75,000 miles on it.
2006 9-3 (mine) - I have 35,000 miles on it so far. No problems of significance (the Saab medallion fell of the hood and was fixed under warranty, otherwise just have done regularly scheduled maintenance). This has outperformed all three of my last cars, a 1997 Camry (blown engine due to sludge at 45,000 miles, 2001 Acura TL blown transmission at 61,000 miles due to chronic problem and fixed under warranty, 2003 Honda Accord blown transmission at 20,000 miles, blown wiper motor at 60,000 miles, blown rear defroster at 65,000 but I still have this car with 76K).
2007 9-3 Convertible - 28,000 miles. No issues as of now.
So taking inventory, four of the five cars are well liked, one not so much (I guess 2003 was the first year of the design). Perhaps if people avoid the first year of a new design, the bugs are worked out? I don't know, but this small sample does not see widespread problems.