3rd Jan 2009, 20:16

I don't think I've read this in any of the previous comments, but for anyone that stumbled upon this that's thinking about buying a Saab, consider the following:

The Saab 9-3 (1999-2003) will take regular or synthetic oil. In addition to the oil filter, it has a screen that catches the impurities from the used oil. Over time this will get clogged. If you buy a used Saab, make sure the dealer pulls the oil screen and replaces it (or at least cleans it out). After this, you have no problems for the next 40,000 miles. Just remember to change the oil as normal. If you ignore this, the screen will clog and eventually starve the engine of oil.

2nd Jul 2011, 14:40

I agree 1000 percent... if you change the oil every 3000, instead of the 5k or 7k as many dealers say is enough, then you are taking a chance with your engine.

I just bought a beautiful convertible 2002 9-3 SE for my daughter, and have gone thru it as I always do to make sure everything is in good order. Oil sludge is not an engine design issue, it is a breakdown of the oil due to the following: lack of changing, waiting too long between oil changes, using cheap grade oil or a high paraffin oil, using the wrong grade of oil, allowing the oil to get low and the engine run hot, and then adding oil to a very hot engine, changing the oil without changing the oil filter... basically being unfaithful on engine oil maintenance.

I have rebuilt over 400 engines, and most of them were due to a lack of oil maintenance... oil and oil filter change is a must. By the way, the owner’s manual for the 2002 9-3 calls for semi or fully synthetic oil, SAE 0w-30, 5W-40, or SAE 5W30. If you do not inquire or specify the type of oil used, and yes, especially at a dealership, then they will usually put in the cheapest stuff they can. I guess that is why I always either do in myself, or I am there ensuring that it is being done right.

I am 52, and I have never had an engine fail due to oil sludge issues... and even though I bought this SAAB at 132k, it will also not fail because I have already taken the time to go thru it, and ensure it is brought up to standard... then I just have to maintain that standard.

25th Jul 2011, 11:52

I own a Saab 2002 9-3 Convertible. Synthetic oil changes every 2.5K-3K miles.

At 33K miles my engine died. Completely. Diagnosed as oil sludge problem. Did some research, and found that there was a recall on these cars for same problem. Presented Saab with all my oil change receipts, and they decided not to honor them because I had not gone to a Saab authorized repair/service center/dealer for my oil changes. I still had payments totalling $12K due on my lease, so I had to buy a new engine at Saab ($8K installed). I would never ever buy another Saab or GM product again... ever.

Currently I am part of a group lawsuit, as it seems that GM may have recalled the car due to the sludge problem (over 121,000 cars recalled), but very few (I was told by the Saab mgr that it was less than 5K NATIONWIDE!!) of the recalls were honored. You live, you learn.

13th Aug 2011, 09:01

I am the owner of a 2002 Saab 9-3 SE convertible. I have had it for five years, and have been religious about changing the oil, synthetic, every 3500 miles.

I bought the car with 21,000 on it. Now, having just paid it off, I am concerned about the so called sludge problem typical of this year. I'm taking it in for a new head gasket (700). Just wondering if this is the precursor of things to come? Should I sell (I really like the car) or risk the possibility of losing my engine and having no car? Any opinions?

10th Apr 2016, 14:04

I agree, I just want to learn more about the Saab 9-3 2002 model, can you email me because I am on the way to buy one at 175k ! For a first car I essentially only need it to last me 2-3 years (30k) before I'll be able to make any huge repairs. The radiator was replaced 1 year and half ago with a Saab part, properly maintained by the owner. My main concern is can this car last me until I graduate 3 years max!?