21st Jul 2010, 18:06

I bought my 2003 Saab 9-3 in March of 2010 after crashing my 2001 Honda Civic - I was leaning toward buying a Toyota Matrix, but all the sellers wanted more than I was willing to spend, so when I came across this Saab I was thrilled - it drove great when I test drove it, was super comfortable and I could put 2 car seats in with ease, and all that for $5,000, so I jumped the gun and bought it. Registered it the following Monday ($450), and than the problems started.

First the left headlight went out - no biggie I thought, just a new bulb, I found a xenon bulb for $100 (that's cheap), and replaced it myself and it didn't work, so on a whim I switched the old bulb into the right headlight and by golly it worked. So now at a loss, I took it to a local mechanic who after not doing much of anything for $125, said that it might be the ballast, but it would cost another $125 for him to make sure and then $600 to replace it, I was angry with him for doing absolutely nothing, so I took my car and left, took it to the local GM dealer where the service personnel were super helpful and replaced the ballast for $400 with labor.

Now the car was fine, drove great, although the CD player didn't work, but I didn't care since I didn't use it in the first place.

Well it took less than a month for more problems; while driving on the freeway, my check engine light came on and the car lost power. Upon pulling over, the engine completely stalled and would not start up again. Had to have it towed to the dealer, where they determined that the Engine Control Module was not working right. In an attempt to save me money, they tried to reprogram it several times to no avail, and so we finally decided to go the more expensive route of replacing it ($900), and a week without a car.

Quickly there after, had to do some basic servicing - replaced rear brake pads, windshield wiper blades and oil ($150).

I was stoked, the car was driving awesome, so much so that we took 4 long distance trips in it and not a single problem arose. I felt so good about it that I even made another key ($250).

Well then about 10 days ago, while exiting the freeway, the car jumped a gear, and about a mile down the road, the Gearbox Malfunction light came on and I lost 3 gears, was down to just 2nd and 5th gears. So I took it into the dealer yet again, and this time they determined that there was a bad O-ring on the transmission, which allowed coolant to leak into the transmission fluid, which essentially destroyed the tranny, and also unrelated, the radiator is messed up too.

So now having owned this car for 4 months, I either need to some how get rid of this POS lemon or shell out $3600 for a new tranny and radiator.

When it is working properly, it is a great car and I love it, but all the problems have already cost me more than I was willing pay for a car in the first place, and way more than any one of the Matrix's that I wanted cost. So although it is a nice looking car and drives pretty awesome when it is working properly, it's not worth the risk to buy it, and I honestly wish that I had read all these complaints before I had purchased it. Oh well, I guess you sometimes gotta learn from your own mistakes.

26th Jul 2010, 19:28

I agree with the previous post, and others who have agreed this car is great when it's working, but the cost of ownership and inconvenience is unacceptable to the highest regard. I didn't want to list all the things that have required repair on my 2003 9-3, but let's just say 'ditto' to most of the items.

I lose sleep at night knowing there was a forum and car survey website out there such as this, in which I could have heeded warnings before my purchase. I did some research, but must have turned a tearfully blind and stupid eye. I've made some errors in judgement on cars in the past, but this has been by far the worst mistake I've made in my automobile-owning history. Anyone who purchases a 2003 (even thru 2008) 9-3, and has problems and whines about it later, and had access to this information but did not heed warning, is a complete fool.

I always wanted a Saab, and I want to love this car, and I intend to keep it until the extended warranty runs out, and any new problems not covered under warranty arise thereafter.. I will then torch, flood or destroy the car by driving it over a cliff, as I know I will not get more than a few hundred bucks on trade. The car still looks fantastic as there isn't a scratch, ding or dent on the entire car after 137k km.

It's now Japanese cars only for my wife, and hopefully a Benz or Audi for me in the near future.

Sorry Saab, but you suck.

24th Aug 2010, 21:36

Yup - no need to rehash the obvious... but my wife bought a "gently" pre-owned 2003 Saab Arc with only 55K miles. Then - the fun and excitement began - first with the gear malfunction (new transmission that after fighting with the dealership still cost us $1500), then the fuel sender, and on and on. Stay away from Saab - especially the 2003 Arc model... they are pure evil.