30th Apr 2018, 19:56

Hi there, I'm not sure if there's any chance you'll see this in time.

I've test driven an 89 Saab that has 60K miles on it, that I want to buy. However, I don't know anything really about Saabs, will it be reliable? The man selling it says there aren't any issues with it, but I'm hesitant.

You have any advice?

1st May 2018, 08:24

Hi, hope this helps - I have a friend who's had a rare 1989 900 Coupe, then had a mid '90s 900 hatch, followed by a late '90s 9-3 which he still has. We talk cars all the time.

As with any car, you need to ascertain the general condition. Note that even a Japanese car, of the same age, will not be foolproof as there will be components that break simply due to age, plus wear and tear. All things being equal, if the car was looked after reasonably well, you will eventually need to replace items such as the cooling system hoses/radiator/expansion tank, water pump and thermostat. The alternator and its diodes may be more delicate now. The seals for the engine ancillary components or gearbox may start to perish and leak (perhaps nothing serious, but may be laborious to get to, to replace). The odd sensor would also play up. But these are with ANY car - SAAB or otherwise.

If you're fairly handy with tools, you can work on the car and proactively start replacing things before they fail. North Americans are lucky in that they can get many car parts cheaper than other countries.

What you need to look out for are cars which have problems that previous owners have allowed to get worse because of the expense to repair it. Maybe nothing supposedly major - but if the labour involved to get to normally-worn components would cost more than half the value of the car, you can see why people just run cars into the ground. One important factor though to consider is the availability of a good independent mechanic who knows SAABs well enough. They know what its common problems are and how to fix them at a reasonable cost. And sometimes it's just a matter of technique - how to get to a part to replace, without needing to remove other components that less experienced mechanics would tend to do.

1st May 2018, 15:47

Had a friend who died of brain cancer that had an 1989 Saab. He loved it to death. Went everywhere with it. He said it was reliable, but he admitted he put some of money into it. A/C unit... CV joints... interior pieces and other things that I can't remember. Can't remember the exact miles he had, but I know it was a lot, over 200,000 miles. I was driving Hondas at the time, so when I rode in his car i really didn't understand the car, it was that different an experience. But it was fun. Way different than the Honda experience.