Why don't you use synthetic oil like Mobil 1? I mean, oil sludge is only a problem related to regular mineral oil. I wouldn't dare putting regular oil in my car. Why save 40-50$ and risk ruining your engine? Synthetic oil makes your engine work lighter as well, you can simply hear the improvement.
It seems that someone is doing something wrong. How can Saabs (which is after all a Swedish automaker who made fighter jets) make cars whose engines fail after 40,000? Maybe you are using cheap fuel? You do know that these cars run on premium fuel? What oil do you use? You do know that the TURBO engines in these cars demand care? I have never owned a Saab, but always wanted one. My next car might just well be a Saab. I just cannot believe that all Saabs in this year range have engines that fail so quickly. Someone is either doing something wrong with their car, or Saab engineers are idiots.
Funny how most the Saab problems occur in the US. The reason for this is many Saab dealers in the US LACK the skills to service a Saab and are only interested in selling other GM cars such as Cadillac. Saab's have very high performance turbo charged engines and are reliable elsewhere in the world.
To the poster of 30 July stating that Saabs are very reliable everywhere else in the world outside the USA, I think he or she is seriously deluded or working for Saab/GM.
If the comments posted by many others on this site from countries outside the USA are not manifold and bad enough to evidence that there are more rogue Saabs than desired, then he or she should contact Saab owners in countries outside the USA.
Saab issues are many and varied in any country, particularly those where heavy traffic and high temperatures and humidity are experienced daily.
I am not saying that all Saabs are automatically bad cars, but the proportion of dissatisfied owners is too high for a car maker turning out less than 150,000 units a year. There are those who absolutely swear by their Saab and love them to death, but conversely, there are way too many that have had very bad ownership experiences with theirs.
I am currently trying to decide if I want to buy a 2003 Saab 9-3 convertible 2.0L 4 cylinder with 24k. Reading all of these issues with oil sludge is scaring me! Would a mechanic be able to see if it is going to have problems by checking it out now before I buy it??
I have a 2002 9-3 SE (5-door) which currently has over 121,000 miles on it. On the whole, it has performed very well since I bought it new. I have read about the oil sludge problem in the 9-5, but thought that only applied to the 9-5 model, not the 9-3. I have not been notified by SAAB about any potential sludge problems in my 9-3. Regarding service, I have always had EXCELLENT service at three different local dealers in northern NJ as well as at a local independent SAAB mechanic. My only wish is that some of the "big ticket" items had lasted a little longer. This is my first SAAB with an automatic and I had to replace the transmission at 118,000 miles. Since puchased I've also needed a new A/C Compressor, catalytic converter, and throttle body assembly. None were still under warranty and all were quite expensive. The IDM (ignition cassette) was replaced for free. I think my next car may have to be something non-SAAB. I need more room and less service.
I would not hesitate in recommending these cars to any prospective buyer, having purchased my 2nd Saab 9-3 a 2002 with 100000 miles. My 1st being a 1999 93se with 180,000 miles. For the the past 15 years I have been a motor mechanic and always drove Japanese cars for their resale value and reliability. The only thing I would say that goes against these cars is the chassis. The car cannot cope with the power going through front wheels especially in the Aero model (which has over 200bhp), accelerating hard through 1st and 2nd gear especially in the wet. Regarding the comments about oil sludge, as with any car regular oil changes is the key to the long life of any engine. However, I have never come across this problem. One common fault with these cars is the info display, the pixels tend to give problems and are quite expensive to repair, especially when getting a Saab dealer to replace. I would not let these problems put anyone off as the Saab 9-3 is a lot of car for the money.
Was looking for a site in general about oil sludge build up when using synthetic oil and found this Saab site.
I had used Mobil 1 for two oil changes at about 6,000 mile intervals, then switched to Royal Purple for last two oil changes and motor was making noises. Dealer took it in and pulled the oil pan and told me that I never changed the oil. 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT with 26,000 miles. They are denying repair claiming owner neglect. Anyone else have this problem.
I have a 2002 Saab 9-3 turbo. I don't have a warranty on the car; I got it used at 80,000 miles.
I've owned a lot of different European cars, and from what I understand they all require synthetic oil (at least the newer ones). If you don't replace your own oil with synthetic, or have the place you use to get your oil changed use synthetic, then your engine will fail period!!! You can't mix synthetic oils and cheap mineral oils together!!! It will turn to sludge; you can mix the two together outside on a hot day and it turns into goop.
Oh yeah, and change it every 3,000 miles no matter what the recommendations. Always make sure you have coolant in your engine, and if it's an automatic make sure your tranny fluid is full. Basically just take care of your cars.
Outside of you two with the engine failures, I've never heard anyone have a failed Saab engine unless they blew it up or didn't change their oil. And it's definitely not the Saab engineers fault.
My '95 Saab 9000 CSE is a workhorse. I still driving it daily in 2008. The first 6 - 8 years at least twice a month I drove 140 mph (220 - 230 km/hr) until I run out of rooms (few cars ahead occupied both lanes). Its was fun, never felt uneasy like driving Japanese cars at 180 km h speed. But I paid the price of front paints being sand blast as well as the windshield (many tiny white cradles). Saab need maintenance to have long life, so don't be stingy on oil and parts replacement. Even my Saab 9000 is 13 years old, and valued at 1/10 of a new Japanese Sedan, it still perform like brand new. I don't do 200 plus km/hr speeding anymore, as I'm getting older, and there are more car on the roads, especially those younger drivers don't signal and keep in slow lane anymore. You take care the car, and the car will take care of you, unless you bought a car that was neglected in the first place (3rd or 4th owner).