28th Dec 2007, 15:00

Purchased off-lease 2001 Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon in 2004. After numerous major repairs over the last three years (easily costing, in aggregate, over $1500 per year), the engine finally blew while driving 80mph down the interstate a few weeks ago. Local Saab mechanic diagnosed blown piston (said there was 0% compression in the #1 piston and 50% compression in the number two piston). Considered repairing the pistons, but when he start digging further said sludge had taken over and it would be cost-ineffective to repair. Since I purchased the car off-lease, I don't have any receipts for the first 3 years of its life. As such, the "sludge" warranty is worthless to me. I just sold the aesthetically pleasing (but otherwise worthless pile of junk) to a local salvage yard for $2K. Such a shame, considering I still owed $5K and had hoped to drive the car for many, many years to come. My wife and I went and bought a Honda Odyssey. Not much personality there, but at least you can count on it not to stop running in the middle of a 6 lane interstate. I would advise anyone weighing a similar decision to think long and hard before purchasing a Saab. The worst financial mistake of my life so far.

29th Dec 2007, 15:09

My wife was driving her 2001 Saab 9-3 from San Francisco to Reno on December 5th when the engine started to make some noise when accelerating, then lost power. She pulled over and was lucky to have found a spot just before a bridge. The car was towed to Reno and the engine was blown. It needed a short block, but further inspection showed a cylinder was scored, needing machine shop work. No one mentioned sludge. All the photos of the damage and the documentation of proper oil changes were emailed to Mike Sprinkel, the factory representative, with a request for assistance for just labor. Within two hours the claim was rejected on the grounds that the car was out of warranty. The bill will be about $8,000. I had the usual frustrating experience with the customer reps at the 800 number: "this case is closed. Is there anything else I can help you with?" I called Detroit and someone said they would send an email to Mike Sprinkel, but he never responded.

Now, checking out the internet searching for class action lawsuits and Saab problems, I have learned there have been problems with this car for a long time, but we never were informed by our dealer or by Saab about the potential for oil sludge related engine failure.

What is the next step? What if there was no sludge found. Can I trust the dealer to tell me if there was. Would the photographs of the damaged parts show oil sludge? How does one go about asking for warranty coverage under the 8 year extended warranty?

We have owned Saabs for over 20 years. There have always been problems with my Saabs, but my wife was spared until now. Hers had a DI cassette failure, a replacement of the head gasket, and replacement of the turbocharger and catalytic converter before the engine blew. Is there really any reason to own a Saab any more, since they look just like all the non-descript cars being sold today anyway?

11th Jan 2008, 14:30


I bought my 2000 Saab 9-3 Convertible in august 2003 and from March 2004 on have had nothing, but problems with it; oil leaks, broken tranny mount, replaced a/c compressor, replaced master cylinder, replaced power brake booster, replaced brakes so many times I've lost count, but now I've fallen victim to the dreaded sludge problem and since I bought my car off a lease and my ex-husband religiously changed my oil, Saab won't honor anything. The ticking started a few weeks before xmas, then the infamous oil pressure light coming on and off - kept bringing it in because of noise and got told my oil is fine until it up and died on me 3 days before xmas. had it towed to Saab dealer and they gave me hope by saying it could be the result of two sensors, but then called and told me my engine is gone. built from jets? HA! these cars are the biggest piece of garbage and I have no clue how the dedicated Saab lovers actually love their Saabs -do they drive them? Mine will make a nice planter in my yard with the top down!!!

14th Jan 2008, 16:46

I am also a dead engine 1999 Saab 9-5 SE sludge/headgasket victim. I purchased the car from Boston, MA in 2006. I drove it for 2 months and the vehicle poured out white smoke from the exhaust (to where the whole neighborhood could not see). Vehicle has been sitting in driveway since. I am at a great loss, and don't know where to begin. I paid $4000.00 plus a $1000.00 for shipping to Texas, just to drive vehicle for two months. What is my recourse, since purchased through EBAY with no receipts? I did get one oil change done at Jiffy Lube three days before it died on me.

25th Jan 2008, 22:00

`It's weird. When I saw the 1999 Saab 9-3 in 2002 at the used car lot, I fell in love with it. The test drive sealed the deal. I thought it would look great on my wife for a surprise birthday present. She wasn't sold on it at first, but as she drove it, she too fell in love with it.

My previous experiences with dealerships in general lead me to find a local shop that I could trust and it was there that I brought the SAAB in for periodic scheduled maintenance. Aside from air leakage from the left front tire that resulted in a blow out soon after the purchase, the car ran well from about 30,000 miles when we bought it, to about 55,000 miles. Seemingly out of nowhere, the head gasket blew. That seemed premature. Then a fuel pump went out.

Not too long ago this year the car wouldn't start. We towed it to our shop and found that the ignition coils needed replacing. After hearing the estimate of about $1200 for that, I felt compelled to call around to see if I was getting ripped off by my once trusted shop, but lo and behold, unlike most cars that have several coils that can be replaced one at a time at lower cost, SAAB in its infinite wisdom, has bundled coils that can only be replaced all at once; hence the high cost. Another inconvenient tire blowout later (I've never had a vehicle that required such vigilent air pressure maintenance), and now, as many of you have already experienced, today I look for answers as to why my mechanic tells me that the reason our SAAB won't start, is because the camshaft broke and shot through the head. He had no idea why such a thing would happen. But after reading through every entry on this site, talking to a mechanic at the SAAB dealership, and another SAAB expert in town, it sounds like the engine overheated with no warning light, and exploded, or burned up, or whatever.

Now, faced with the decision to purchase a used engine or dumping this vehicle that we have recently put so much money into, wears on us. We will undoubtedly go with the used engine that has approximately the same amount of mileage as the one that just fried. I will make sure the oil pan is sludge-less, I will ask my mechanic to look into the possibility of moving the catalytic converter, and I will be sure to change the oil at 5k instead of 10k, and use synthetic oil. Oh, yeah, and pray.

The irony in all this is my wife, who found herself looking at new and used SAABs online and in the newspaper this evening, regardless of what the testimonies of others have revealed here, and what we've experienced with our SAAB. I now must question her sanity.