First Car Question [Archive] - SaabCentral Forums

: First Car Question


PapayaFish
2nd July 2006, 12:14 AM
Hi all,
My name is Tony and I have a query about the SAAB 9-3. At the moment I am currently browsing around for a good, reliable first car and I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time to consider the SAAB 9-3(both the new or older hatchback version). I've read on some other sites that the engine of the car suffers from what seems to be a notorious "oil sludge" problem and that most of the cars have had transmission replacements at about 50,000 miles! I find this to be a bit troubling since I don't really think I'd be able to afford those multiple car issues. Also, I doubt my parents would be too happy about them either.

That said, I've heard a lot of positives about SAAB as well. Most notably the handling and the fun factor. Also, I read about a fierce owner loyalty that SAAB owners have. I think the most notable factor though is that SAABs are just different in a way that appeals to a few in a way that is quite strong. At the moment, I have to borrow my dad's BMW 328i which is a good car in its own right, but isn't really that fun nor that exciting. Most people just accept that BMWs are great, but I think it is a car that appeals to most but not to all. I've found that the car isn't all that it is said to be and would prefer something that is much cheaper to maintain as well.

Anyway, I thought you all could shed some light on this and could advise me about whether or not to honestly consider a SAAB for my first car. Thanks!

escalator guru
2nd July 2006, 10:17 AM
I would definitely consider a Saab for a first car. My first car (and all my subsequent cars) were Saabs. But I wouldn't go with a newer Saab for your very first car ever. All my friends, my siblings, and everyone we've ever known crashed their first car within months. The sludge problem wouldn't make your parents nearly as angry as smacking up a new Saab would.

Plus I really don't recommend anything turbocharged for a first-time driver. I have been driving for years and I am still not so sure about how to manage the power my 9-3 puts out (especially compared to my old 900).

Look for a NG900, normally aspirated. You can get a good one in good condition for much less money than a 9-3. It will be cheaper to insure and if you happen to have an accident with it, 1. you'll still be safe and 2. your parents won't throw as harsh a fit.

ubermich
2nd July 2006, 11:53 AM
Look for a NG900, normally aspirated. You can get a good one in good condition for much less money than a 9-3. It will be cheaper to insure and if you happen to have an accident with it, 1. you'll still be safe and 2. your parents won't throw as harsh a fit.
What she said! I've had my Saab for about 7 months now. I finally got full boost out of the turbocharger last night and almost got about 8 1/2 tickets over the course of the day :lol::nono; This is a car I race in autocross and really focus in when I'm driving it, and still I've lost it a couple times. Once I went over a curb, once I went into a pole. Both were at low-speed thankfully and the damage was minimal, but it did happen. And a low speed impact in an old car like my C900 will be a WHOLE different beast than a low speed impact in a new car with all its plasticy bits.

Let me put it this way. I paid $1200 for my car. Yes, the transmission is worn after 300,000 miles and needs to be replaced. But I have a transmission on the way. That cost $450 shipped to my door. So with the price of the car and the necessary repairs which I knew I would need to do shortly after purchasing the car, I'm still looking at <$2000. And insurance on the c900 is DIRT cheap.

The NG900 insurance is not as cheap, unfortunately. But if you are not mechanically inclined and just want a nice car to cruise around in, I too would definitely recommend the NG900. If you aren't afraid of getting your hands dirty and want to learn how to keep your own car running (and consequently save LOTS of money), I recommend the C900.

As for engines, do a search on the 4 cylinder vs the 6 cylinder. And I too recommend the NA version for a first car. There are plenty of cheap Saabs with turbochargers that you can buy *after* you have lots of experience navigating around other drivers.

CleveSaab
2nd July 2006, 01:36 PM
I've read on some other sites that the engine of the car suffers from what seems to be a notorious "oil sludge" problem


A lot of cars have 'sludge' problems. Mercedes. VW.
On the Saabs it is a bit more prone to sludge on the 2000-2003 9-3. And supposedly it is a cold climate issue. i.e. a Miami Saab should never have sludge, not matter how abused.


and that most of the cars have had transmission replacements at about 50,000 miles!


I can believe the myths we hear about our cars sometimes. This is pure and utter gabage. Which Saab is that supposed to be an issue? The tranny is actual a very strong issue on a Saab. Particularly the NG900\9-3. The automatics fail so rarely, they are nearly bullet proof for at least 150K miles and beyond. I can count on one hand how many threads I have seen on this board in 2 years where someone needed a new tranny.

Print this out for your folks.
http://www.lundsaab.com/safety.htm

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

ubermich
2nd July 2006, 01:43 PM
I can believe the myths we hear about our cars sometimes. This is pure and utter gabage. Which Saab is that supposed to be an issue? The tranny is actual a very strong issue on a Saab. Particularly the NG900\9-3. The automatics fail so rarely, they are nearly bullet proof for at least 150K miles and beyond. I can count on one hand how many threads I have seen on this board in 2 years where someone needed a new tranny.
This is true as well. If any saab has tranny issues, it's the C900. But like I said, I found mine for $450 :cheesy:

aero1116
2nd July 2006, 02:41 PM
I would definitely consider a Saab for a first car. My first car (and all my subsequent cars) were Saabs. But I wouldn't go with a newer Saab for your very first car ever. All my friends, my siblings, and everyone we've ever known crashed their first car within months. The sludge problem wouldn't make your parents nearly as angry as smacking up a new Saab would.

Plus I really don't recommend anything turbocharged for a first-time driver. I have been driving for years and I am still not so sure about how to manage the power my 9-3 puts out (especially compared to my old 900).

Look for a NG900, normally aspirated. You can get a good one in good condition for much less money than a 9-3. It will be cheaper to insure and if you happen to have an accident with it, 1. you'll still be safe and 2. your parents won't throw as harsh a fit.


Get a newish one if you can, but avoid the 2003 9-3's because they are prone to first year teething problems.

Guru, I'm younger than you and I can easily handle the Aero. Anyways, Saab's are not hard to drive... just have to get used with the clunky shifter and weird clutch. In my opinion, buying a NA Saab defeats the whole purpose of buying a Saab. I think it would be much better having a turbo Saab as a first car than an SUV (Jeep Cherokee for me). :roll:

How old are you and how much are you willing to spend if you don't mind me asking?

i want an aero
2nd July 2006, 03:04 PM
:D welcome to saab central tony, a saab as your first car:p . i wouldn't buy anything else;)

PapayaFish
2nd July 2006, 03:25 PM
Get a newish one if you can, but avoid the 2003 9-3's because they are prone to first year teething problems.

Guru, I'm younger than you and I can easily handle the Aero. Anyways, Saab's are not hard to drive... just have to get used with the clunky shifter and weird clutch. In my opinion, buying a NA Saab defeats the whole purpose of buying a Saab. I think it would be much better having a turbo Saab as a first car than an SUV (Jeep Cherokee for me). :roll:

How old are you and how much are you willing to spend if you don't mind me asking?

I am going to be 17 in less than a week or so actually! It's quite exciting. At the moment, the negotiation between myself and my parents has been at around the $15000-$20000 price range provided that I make the down payment, which I can as I've been saving up and working for some time. I was browsing through carsurvey.org and looking around and I think that were I to invest in a used 9-3 it would have to be at least 2004 for the new model or around the year 2000 or so for the old hatchbacks.

As for the turbo v. non-turbo, that I am not sure about. Seeing as I have never driven a turbo-charged car before, I'm not sure if I would be able to handle it. I guess that would be more easily determined after having seen what a turbo is like.

I'm glad to see all these responses! Thanks a lot! I shall keep browsing and checking this forum. It's a great place to learn about Saab. I have to say that I know a few people who have Saabs and swear by them, but was a bit concerned when looking at the issues that some people encountered. I did notice though that a large number of issues came with the 2003 Saab model, perhaps because it was a new model year? I assume so.

On a side note, I was interested in Volvo and Volkswagen for a bit, but I I think the debate now is between Volvo and Saab. I'm leaning towards Saab, but I guess a lot depends on what my parents think as well. I guess we'll have to just visit some dealers and check out what is the best buy and handles the best. I think Saab is a better choice mainly because I've heard it has the Volvo safety and reliability standards plus fun factor. A Volvo 240 or S40 v. a Saab 900/9-3? There is no contest in my opinion

aero1116
2nd July 2006, 03:36 PM
I'd say a 2000-2002 9-3 is your best bet. If you get one, you better baby it or we'll hunt you down. :cheesy:

StormCrow
2nd July 2006, 05:41 PM
Also remember that a lot of people just join this board to post a problem and get a fix for it. By that I mean that these cars aren't any more prone to faults than any other but of course if you look in the workshop sections it's full of problems :cheesy:

Mag-X
2nd July 2006, 07:22 PM
I agree with getting a non-turbo for your first car. Even a non-turbo Saab can get you into trouble. Get a turbo after your wreck the first one. You need to have some since knocked into you first.

ubermich
2nd July 2006, 08:01 PM
For that kind of money, you're pretty much only looking at turbocharged cars. You can easily find a 2k+ 9-3 for <$16k

If you do get a turbocharged car of any sort please, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to learn how to drive it OFF of public streets! Until you know exactly what it feels like to understeer/oversteer in/out of corners or down straights with/without boost, you don't know how to drive your car. If you MUST drive the car on public streets without knowing your car PLEASE drive it like a grandmother. Else you will kill someone else. The good news, however, is that you will still be alive and well!

I don't mean to be a downer or try to drag this thread down, but people overestimate their own driving abilities and their training. Just because the state thinks you're qualified to operate a motor vehicle doesn't mean ****. I recommend it to everyone else and I'll recommend it to you too. Find some way to get into an advanced driving/racing course and/or participate in a local autocross or something similar where you can really push the car to its limits -- and push yourself to your limits -- without running the risk of hurting someone else. There is a LOT more to driving than turning right on red, and very little of it can be taught from a textbook.

Cambio
2nd July 2006, 08:18 PM
Wow! Thats a huge budget there! I didn't have much of a budget at all when I got my Saab, $7000 was the very limit but my 9-5 was very much worth every penny of it. I bought mine off an enthusiast who fell for a newer model Saab, and the car is wonderful. However I had already been driving an 1990 Acura with a big V6 as a first car, however it got totaled when a large rainstorm destroyed its interior and trunk and rodents took up living in the engine compartment. I then drove a 2000 Dodge Ram with a big V8 and a manual transmission for a good while. I never got a scratch on either car. Then I got my turbocharged Saab, and I had never driven anything as luxurious or as fast in my life. It blew me away, I was hooked. However I definetly recommend that you master driving a normal car before getting a turbo'd one. I would also recommend learning a manual shift, if you learn on an Auto transmission chances are you'll never drive a manual.

ubermich
2nd July 2006, 08:27 PM
$7000 was the very limit
!!!:lol::lol:
My Bronco (my first "car") was $1,600
My SAAB 900 was $1200...

INCLUDING parts, I have yet to spend as much as you! :lol:

mike saunders
2nd July 2006, 08:41 PM
I'd spend 10,000 on the car, and 5,000 for advanced driver training courses.

And that price range will put you into a 2004, probably with CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) warranty. Nearly everything you look at post 1998 will be turbocharged...

timmehhhhhh
2nd July 2006, 11:14 PM
You're looking at 9-3s only? What about 9-5s? Do you live around Irvine? :D

ubermich
3rd July 2006, 12:59 AM
I'd spend 10,000 on the car, and 5,000 for advanced driver training courses.

And that price range will put you into a 2004, probably with CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) warranty. Nearly everything you look at post 1998 will be turbocharged...
Man, if I had $5k for driver's courses...!

I'd do $10k on the car, $1-2k on courses, and the rest on mods :lol:

9ryan5
3rd July 2006, 04:14 AM
i think a SAAB is a wonderful first car. find the car you want and get it. just make sure you can keep up with the responsibility of it.

PapayaFish
3rd July 2006, 01:36 PM
I prefer to only look at the 9-3 because the 9-5 seems like it would be way too much car for me to deal with. I guess it would be asking why I would only want a BMW 3-series instead of a 5. I just need something smaller, but is true to car roots. I mean, I saw the Saab 9-2x the other day and the interior looked almost exactly like the Subaru copy. Bah!

As for this turbo discussion, I agree that it would be very wise to learn how to deal with the turbo power added in there. I can imagine that it must be very different than a regular car without any boost at all. I'm not sure if I could get driving courses, but it's good that on the roads near my house there isn't much traffic, if any at all really. It will make for a good area to slowly learn how to handle the car.

At that rate though, there is no saying on whether a Saab will be in the works for sure. Discussions are going nicely with my parents, but slowly. That said, I am really glad to see the response here and all these tips. They're great.

Creech
3rd July 2006, 03:36 PM
I say dive right in. Find a good used 9-3 turbo, and jump right into it. I'm a firm believer in trial by fire. Sounds like you've got a good deal going with the 'rents, and if they're worried about safety for you, you're looking at two of the best brands out there. Go ahead and get everything you think you'll ever want in Saab (turbo, manual trans, leather, moonroof, etc.) because you'll never get rid of it. :cheesy:

cassonian
3rd July 2006, 03:58 PM
I say dive right in. Find a good used 9-3 turbo, and jump right into it. I'm a firm believer in trial by fire. Sounds like you've got a good deal going with the 'rents, and if they're worried about safety for you, you're looking at two of the best brands out there. Go ahead and get everything you think you'll ever want in Saab (turbo, manual trans, leather, moonroof, etc.) because you'll never get rid of it. :cheesy:

Just noticed your Avatar, most amusing but a bit sick. ;)

Best not let my missus see that, she's a total cat lover!

escalator guru
4th July 2006, 10:57 PM
Guru, I'm younger than you and I can easily handle the Aero. Anyways, Saab's are not hard to drive... just have to get used with the clunky shifter and weird clutch. In my opinion, buying a NA Saab defeats the whole purpose of buying a Saab. I think it would be much better having a turbo Saab as a first car than an SUV (Jeep Cherokee for me). :roll:


You aren't a lot younger than I am. And didn't you have a couple of, err, "incidents" with the Jeep (or am I thinking of someone else?)

Saabs are not hard to drive by any stretch, but for a first-time driver (a REAL first-time driver, not a first-time Saab owner with a previous track record) I would really, really not recommend something with that much power. I've had my car for three months (today's our anniversary :) ) and I'm STILL not used to it. I wouldn't trust my 17-year-old self with a car like that. I don't trust my twentysomething year old self with it, either. I take my risks, but only on roads I've been familiar with for the better part of the last decade. And I definitely take fewer risks now that I'm slightly more mature than I did when I was 17 and had much less to throw away.

And to the original poster, it's not the traffic on the roads that some of us are worried about, it's the stuff OFF the roads. Ditches, trees, telephone poles, mailboxes, pedestrians, parked cars, nun parades...

timmehhhhhh
5th July 2006, 12:03 AM
You aren't a lot younger than I am.

I'm 20, have been driving this 9-5 since 2002, and I don't think there's enough power :confused: (it's no Aero but it's still a Saab engine)

It really depends on how long you've been playing Gran Turismo before you get into the real thing :lol: :o