23rd Jan 2009, 10:48

Have a 99 9-3 series turbo and it won't start. It is not the battery. The key froze up a while back, but was okay after we warmed it up. Any suggestions?

31st Jan 2009, 21:28

We bought a 2000 SAAB 9 3 used with 30k miles. I won't go through my long tale of woes, but now at 90K they are saying I need a new engine because of oil sludge, and I use synthetic oil. I've read many of the posts, with very few getting any satisfaction from SAAB. Monday will be my first call, but what have most people done?

4th Feb 2009, 13:41

Start praying and get out while you still can!

8th Feb 2009, 18:05

OK - I have a 2001 Saab 95 Aero Wagon - engine light kept coming on, take it to dealer, nothing in the computer, engine light comes on, take it to dealer, nothing in the computer about 5 times.

Last time in, engine is toast at 60K.

Changing the oil at 10K is absolutely ridiculous for this car - it simply will sludge up and die at those intervals.

I went to war with Atlanta (where Saab has its center that deals with customers). I had all the receipts except one and they told me tough!! Not documented. I prepared a thorough, bound rebuttal (I had changed my own oil once - thus no receipt - they wanted the receipt for the oil I purchased.) Never talked to the same service person more than once, even though they assign one person to handle your case.

The rebuttal, complete with pictures of the sludged up pan and the clogged oil pick up screen, as well as text picking apart the service manual (BTW the local dealer was absolutely NO, that is NO help at all), along with my promise to go to court (and the package alone would have easily won a court case) made them change their decision after 3 months of dickering with them, and I got a new short block.

You absolutely must change the oil on this car every 5,000 miles, especially with a turbo. The engineering is horrible. The catalytic converter sits right next to the oil pan. When you finish driving, the heat of the catalytic converter peaks (no air flow any longer) and it cooks the oil. This is not some gross accumulation of a black, gelatinous mass of gook, but a brown accumulation of cooked oil, that when it breaks up, the small pieces of hardened oil clog the fine screen of the oil pick-up, and that reduces the flow of oil to the engine parts - that's why the engine light keeps going off, and the fact that the engine management system is very limited, is the reason for the frequent engine light is not saved to the computer.

Further, as pointed out by an astute member here, the PVC system is a disaster of lousy engineering and poor quality rubber. The many hoses involved in the Saab system, deteriorate and then collapse, causing all the engine vapors to be contained in the engine, rather than exhausted from the engine and burned in the pistons.

An American engine is probably one of the best in the world for reliability. We use relatively simple engineering that has been perfected over the years - no double overhead cams, just good old push rods. Look what Corvette has done. They routinely blow the doors in on cars costing 5 and 6 times more, and have the latest and greatest engineering doo-dads.

Some of the complaining about turbos though are not warranted. A turbo that lasts 100k miles has done its duty. Turbo's take a real punishment because they are expected to turn at very high RPM, and do it at incredibly high temperatures - putting a real challenge on its longevity.

Given the unfortunate engineering of this car - something that should have been fixed early in 2000, but wasn't, that Saab has stuck it to its customers is awful.

And the guy who said that this was just a problem that we Yanks have, and that they don't have problems in the UK, is uninformed. The difference in Europe is that Saab dealt with the problem right away, made early changes to the oil change interval and paid to replace the engines. Saab America kept all these problems as secret as possible - many mechanics were unaware of the problem. So in Europe you just didn't have a lot of angry customers.

Every European car I have owned has had very significant maintenance problems (Peugeot, BMW, Volkswagen) - European cars have an unearned reputation and are way overpriced. Unfortunately Toyota has had an engine sludge problem as well, which I don't know enough about to comment on.

My next car will be a Cadillac CTS 4x4. This baby will blow the doors in of any BMW less than $100,000 on any road you care to compare them. Plus it has excellent service history and the price is right. I have a detailed discussion of my war with Saab on http://www.saabcentral.com/index.htm.

For those of you with Saabs with over 60K miles, I would counsel that you bite the bullet and have the pan lowered and cleaned - or suffer the consequences. If you love Saab, I have a very nice 2001 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon, grey. It has the normal body scabs of a car of 75000 miles, but it does have a new short block - it's for sale for $7000. (703 690 1942)

22nd Feb 2009, 23:30

Ha, what a blast from the past this thread is. I found this board and this particular thread about the engine sludge issue a few years ago, the day before I bought a 1999 Saab 9-3 with a little under 80,000 miles on it. I saw the car with my parents at a little Saab dealership here in Maine, and my parents liked it and encouraged me to commit to buying it that day. (They wanted to have a nice safe car for their daughter to drive to school in Massachusetts in.) After finding out about this problem (on here), I balked. But the dealer assured me that the car had never had anything but synthetic oil in it. (He pulled out the oil pan to make sure, if I remember correctly, or something to that effect.) Other than replacing 2 ignition cassettes (d*$# buggers), I've never had a problem with this car. NEVER. My Dad changes the oil in it, every 5,000 miles--he's a little obsessive about it, he LOVES this car and would gladly take it off my hands! We always use Mobil 1. We never have one of these quacks at Jiffy-lube or whatever change it, we always do it ourselves (I'm learning, too). The key is SYNTHETIC OIL!! No cheap stuff allowed. As long as you stick to that rule, you'll be fine.

I LOVE this car, it's stylish, it's safe, and it's never given me any problems, aside from the annoying ignition cassettes. My whole family loves this creature so much that when my sister totaled the old family station wagon, my parents used the insurance money and bought ANOTHER one of these babies. THAT's commitment.

So I guess I'd like to say to anyone reading this thread who, like I was, is scared to buy a Saab 9-3, DON'T BE. Do your research, make sure yours has only used synthetic oil, and continue the habit once you take your new baby home. Odds are that you'll be fine.