1997 Saab 900se, turbo, automatic transmission.
I know - the car is 10 years old - still...
I love the way it handles, it is very fun to drive, it has many amenities, it didn't cost much to purchase, still...
I knew about the reputation of Saabs being expensive to own. So, I got a warranty with it. Combined with the sale price it was reasonable.
I had the car checked by Fred Bean's Saab dealership prior to buying and they said, "it is a great example of a Saab of it's vintage. Really it needs nothing, but here's what should and/or could be done to bring it to spec." They then handed me a list.
DI cassette was incorrect - said they didn't know how it was running, but it was (and fine at that time). They strongly recommended this as they said it could possibly damage the engine. $550 to replace.
Power seat was harness disconnected, they plugged it back in gratis (or so they said at that time).
CD changer not working. $350 to change.
Power antenna not work (mast...motor was fine) $190.
They said I didn't need to do the DI cassette and of course I didn't need the CD changer or the antenna; however, I found one on eBay for $20 and it came with three additional disc holders and I got the antenna mast for $15. Together the labor took me about 15 minutes total... for both...a total of two screws and one connection for the CD and one nut for the antenna.
I asked about the bit of smoke when it first started in the morning and they said it was normal, just some oil in the turbocharger burning off. Oh, the head gasket was replaced by the previous owner within the previous year.
Well, I waited awhile to consider. Understand, I have had the car for about 7 months and have only driven it about 3,000 miles and here's what has happened:
The "check engine/check gearbox" error message came on randomly at start up about 5 times. When this happens the car goes into what seems like the winter driving mode and will barely move. The first time it happened I was lucky enough to be about 2 blocks from home... so I walked. Once home, I read online where it would go away after restarting about 5 times. That was correct, restarting made it go away. Still, it's continuance concerned me so...
I decided to have the recommended work done and have the error message checked. I dropped the car off at Fred Bean's Saab dealer where I went to have it checked initially.
The Check Engine/Check gearbox indicator was found to be the Neutral Position Switch. I decided to have it replaced, along with the DI cassette (and they said the plugs should be changed).
Suddenly, while they had the car in they wanted to charge me $90 for plugging in the harness to the seat during the previous check that they said they did free...heck, they only plugged in a harness. WTF? Something seemed wrong.
After debating and haggling I had the recommended repairs done. They didn't get it done until the next day. When I actually got the car back they had it running for me. So I drove home.
I noticed the turbo was kicking in sooner (it could bee seen from the indicator on the dash). Okay, maybe the DI cassette did need to be replaced.
However, the next day when I started the car, the ignition switch now does not snap back into run from start. It sticks!!! They said, uh... maybe it needs to be replaced. :maddddd: It was FINE before they touched it. Apparently they did this when replacing the Neutral Position Switch. Also, now it smokes badly when starting up and the smoke actually can be seen coming from under the hood too (and it smells badly)!!! :madddddd: It is way worse then before. Their answer? None.
The error message has not come on since, but the car now is worse then before I had the supposed repairs done. I'm trying to learn as much as possible myself to.
In all, I love driving this car. It is agile and responsive, it is a bit quick when needed, braking is good, and overall it's a blast to drive.
Still, in the 3,000 miles I've driven it, it has had more niggles and possible signs of problems (the turbo, the ignition, other niggles not mentioned) then I've had in 20+ years of owning Toyotas and Nissans. Sheesh, I had an MR2 with 160,000 miles on it (I drove much more back then) that ran like a champ and all I ever had to do was change the oil and the timing belt when recommended. I only got rid of it because I became a father. We even had a lowly Chevy Cavalier that gave us no problems. We got it at 30k (looking brand new) and kept it up to over 100k (it was done in due to an accident) with zero problems.
I am still unsure what to think of the Saab. At once I love it yet dread what will pop up next. Parts are expensive and it's a quirky to repair (you have to jump through hoops just to replace the cabin filter - yet brake light replacement is really a nice design with clips on the hatch - not even a screw driver is needed).
I want to love my Saab... I have the passion... it has lots of goodies which equal nice amenities, but sources of trouble (sensors galore). I guess I could best sum it up as they're great drivers and fine to own if you don't mind DIY and the cost of parts and are prepareed for semi-major repairs on a semi-regular basis.