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  #1  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Question Buying 900SE Convertible...sight unseen...problem

For $1,500 (750 pounds), I'm "looking" at a 1996 Saab 900 SE Convertible 5 speed with 100,000 miles (160,000 km). The price is pretty much the reason I'm considering this car without actually seeing it yet. I've seen the NG900 Buyer's Guide and know that I can walk away, but I will be flying there to see it so either it's sold to me or I rent a car to get back home.

Anyway, here's the issue. According to the owner, reason it's being sold is two reasons. One is that it won't start, but on the phone I can hear the starter try to turn it, but very low power. Betting it's the battery.

The real issue and reason for my post is this. Owner says that the car had a new clutch cable put on, but doesn't know if it was OEM self-adjusting or aftermarket manually adjusting. 4 weeks driving it, and a "sound" begins to emanate from the transmission area. Seems that at low speed, something between a "whirring" to a "groaning/roaring" sound. Owner says that there was no squishiness or excessive play in the clutch pedal and had no trouble changing gears nor grinding in gears. Further, once car got up to speed in 4th or 5th gear, say 50 mph (80 kph), sound would go away.

That's about all of the information I was able to gather. Owner is sick of messing with mechanic shops, and just bought a new car 4 weeks ago, so Saab hasn't been driven since and memory of circumstances that lead to the funky sound is fuzzy.

1. Anybody want to take a "guess" at the problem? I've thought of low transmission oil and poorly adjusted cable, both of which could be fixed on the spot.

2. Once I see it, I'm not very sure that I'll know the source of the problem as this may be my first Saab. For that matter, on sight only, how can you tell if it's a self-adjusting or manually-adjusting clutch cable?

ANY thoughts or ideas to try would be appreciated. When/if I go see it, I will be limited on the number of tools that I can take with me...airline regulations on weight restrictions and all. Thanks and cheers!

Last edited by flyhop; 5th March 2008 at 11:50 AM. Reason: misspelling
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  #2  
Old 5th March 2008
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Frank_Drebin Frank_Drebin is offline
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I see you are in Georgia as well. Where will you have to go to get the car? Have you decided on a list of tools/parts to take? When I bought my last Saab (sight unseen) I took the following:
  • Spare Ignition Cassette
  • Torx Wrenches
  • 10mm-17mm sockets, ratchet and extensions
  • 17mm deepwell (for spark plugs)
  • Vaccuum tubing
  • Tie wraps
  • My handy-dandy book of Saab wiring diagrams
  • Flashlight
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Plug Gap Tool
  • sheet of sand paper
  • Favorite CDs (last two saabs from Ebay had broken off antenna masts)
I had to drive the car from West Palm to Atlanta (600 miles) and wanted to make sure I had the basics needed to get it moving. Mine would start, however and I knew that before I left. While I was there I test drove it and had the seller pay for an alignment before I closed the deal.

The problem you may run into is that you do not currently have a Saab so may not know where everything is and what the common failure points are. Give yourself plenty of time to work on it and be prepared to get a hotel room. It may very well be the battery so why not ask the seller to go get a new one for you?

Did the seller give any other symptoms? Could you question him further to get more details? I would ask alot of questions before potentially stranding myself somewhere.
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  #3  
Old 5th March 2008
Tweek's Turbos Tweek's Turbos is offline
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Georgia the country or state? And whats with the pounds sterling conversion?


Gearbox is probably shot, and you will probably need a new ignition cartridge, and some proper NGK plugs. But you never mentioned SE V6 or SE turbo 4. If its an SE V6, bring an engine too.
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  #4  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweek's Turbos
Georgia the country or state?
Why, its Gee-aw-juh the state, y'all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweek's Turbos
And whats with the pounds sterling conversion?
Sometimes folks in the UK chime in too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweek's Turbos
Gearbox is probably shot, and you will probably need a new ignition cartridge, and some proper NGK plugs. But you never mentioned SE V6 or SE turbo 4. If its an SE V6, bring an engine too.
SE turbo 4.
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  #5  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweek's Turbos
Gearbox is probably shot.
So what could be the whirring sound the owner has described? Bad synchro? Owner said that the car continued to function, but the noise was the straw that broke the camel's back and let to the car just being parked and owner to buy a new car.
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  #6  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
I see you are in Georgia as well. Where will you have to go to get the car?
S.C.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
Have you decided on a list of tools/parts to take? When I bought my last Saab (sight unseen) I took the following:
  • Spare Ignition Cassette
  • Torx Wrenches
  • 10mm-17mm sockets, ratchet and extensions
  • 17mm deepwell (for spark plugs)
  • Vaccuum tubing
  • Tie wraps
  • My handy-dandy book of Saab wiring diagrams
  • Flashlight
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Plug Gap Tool
  • sheet of sand paper
  • Favorite CDs (last two saabs from Ebay had broken off antenna masts)
I hadn't thought of CDs. Good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
The problem you may run into is that you do not currently have a Saab so may not know where everything is and what the common failure points are. Give yourself plenty of time to work on it and be prepared to get a hotel room.
If it comes to that, I'll just rent a U-haul with a full car trailer (all 4 wheels off of the ground) for about $300, and come on back. Family waiting at home while I go off and find yet another toy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
It may very well be the battery so why not ask the seller to go get a new one for you?
Think owner has put all they are going to into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
Did the seller give any other symptoms? Could you question him further to get more details? I would ask alot of questions before potentially stranding myself somewhere.
No other symptoms, but all good points. Like I said, sight unseen and 30 days since car was driven last. Thanks for the tools list.
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  #7  
Old 5th March 2008
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Frank_Drebin Frank_Drebin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyhop
Why, its Gee-aw-juh the state, y'all.
Never do that again
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  #8  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Drebin
Never do that again

Hahahahaha...that was great.
Yup, born and raised in Atlanta, then married a girl from Alabama. Hard not to be a redneck with those kind of credentials. I would like to change that image, hence the Saab purchase. Of course, it'll be on blocks in the front yard....
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  #9  
Old 5th March 2008
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i personally don't understand how a gearbox could be failing at 100,000 miles unless it had the living crap abused out of it. i agree though that the DI would be a concern for a long drive if the state of the car is questionable.

no one has mentioned the operation of the top though, and it's pricey if you have to fix it. i'll just refer you to the thread from when i bought my car since it has plenty of links to info about the top. mine's a little leaky in heavy rain/wind (it needs renovo sealant), but it operates flawlessly. check it closely.
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  #10  
Old 5th March 2008
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stamonkey stamonkey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saabchilten
i personally don't understand how a gearbox could be failing at 100,000 miles unless it had the living crap abused out of it.
I agree with saabchilten, ng900 transmissions are fairly beefy. I never travel without a spare dic, vacuum lines, and my torx set.
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  #11  
Old 5th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saabchilten
i personally don't understand how a gearbox could be failing at 100,000 miles unless it had the living crap abused out of it. i agree though that the DI would be a concern for a long drive if the state of the car is questionable.
I kinda wondered about that too, but since it won't start, there may be no way to test it out. I was hoping that it was a clutch cable adjustment issue, but owner tells me it has no problem shifting, no grinding of gears, not much play, etc.
Having a spare DI on hand is not an option for me at this time. Don't have one on hand, and not a dealer within a 100 miles. Not enough time to search on eBay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saabchilten
no one has mentioned the operation of the top though, and it's pricey if you have to fix it. i'll just refer you to the thread from when i bought my car since it has plenty of links to info about the top. mine's a little leaky in heavy rain/wind (it needs renovo sealant), but it operates flawlessly. check it closely.
The convertible cover does not close. Given that it's a 96 (read your post), it's one or both cover motors (called "tonneau", right?). I'm figuring right now on hitting www.car-part.com for new one.

I've been looking for a Saab 900 SE convertible for the better part of the year....and something I could work on. Love to tinker with this stuff...great outlet. Yeah, I'd love to drive it around, but not looking for beaut right out of the shoot. This is a really cheap car, and for a reason...or maybe several of them.

Still looking for ideas on the transmission "whirring" noise. I've heard "shot gear box" thus far. Any other ideas?
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  #12  
Old 5th March 2008
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does the owner say the tonneau isn't latching shut only when putting the top down? mine gave me error codes about that a few times when looking at it, and then started working perfectly. i've been told that it's a fairly common issue for the top to not fold quite right and set off a "check soft top warning" when the tonneau appears to be completely closed. i only had it happen once where the tonneau didn't properly close (sticking up just enough not to actuate one of the microswitches), but i have never had a single issue with it since. i think you'll just have to operate the top up and down several times to check if any problems it shows are inconsistent. in most cases, any problem is just the top being touchy.
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  #13  
Old 6th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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So, anybody think this could be a clutch issue? Any chance that a poorly adjusted clutch cable could create this described noise? Or could low transmission oil do this?

For only $1500, I'm thinking that I'll take on this problem and do the work myself. My primary thought is getting this thing home without having to rent a truck with a car dolly.

Any other ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.
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  #14  
Old 6th March 2008
flyhop flyhop is offline
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bump bump

Any ideas?
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