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  #1  
Old 9th September 2010
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Default Most reliable year/engine for the 9-5?

After reading about all the little build quality issues on the 9-3 (mostly rattles and squeaks), I'm now considering a 9-5 with a manual transmission.

My gripe with my Volvo S60 is the heavy clutch and shifter. I assume the 9-5 is lighter and easier to engage?

Looks like, according to http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=58536, that 2004 was the year the sludge issue was supposedly resolved. Is this indeed true? The more I read, the more it seems like the sludge problem is an ongoing issue and that even the use of synthetics wont keep the problem from recurring.

Should I completely avoid used 9-5s because of this?

Also, what year did the blend door issues cease to be a problem?


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  #2  
Old 9th September 2010
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I have always been a fan of the 4 cyl not the v6, and after i believe 04 GM started doing all the electronics, so I would try to stay before that. Could be wrong on all my facts, not claiming to be an expert.
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  #3  
Old 9th September 2010
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The most reliable 9-5's are the 2004 and newers. Simply because sludge is sorted out. In 2006 they turned kind of ugly, IMO, and yes, the dash is full of GM electronics in the gauge cluster, head unit, and HVAC controls. But this isn't necessarily a BAD thing.

If you get an earlier one and drop the sump and clean out the pickup screen it would still be a great car. After seeing the pickup screen in my friend's '00 LPT with 170k miles on it I would NEVER buy a 1999-2003 9-5 2.3t without dropping the oil pan first thing.

I haven't driven an S60, but I wouldn't describe the 9-5's clutch as heavy. It's pretty nice to drive, though it holds revs between shifts which can take some getting used to.
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  #4  
Old 9th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raquettelaker2 View Post
If you get an earlier one and drop the sump and clean out the pickup screen it would still be a great car. After seeing the pickup screen in my friend's '00 LPT with 170k miles on it I would NEVER buy a 1999-2003 9-5 2.3t without dropping the oil pan first thing.
All Saab engines are good engines if maintained properly with regular synthetic oil changes. Conventional/Synthetic blend oils and lengthy oil change intervals (GM) and with Saabs poor engine ventilation (GM) created the sludge issues in these cars mostly 4cyl 99-2003. I’m a big fan of the 4cyl; I just don’t like the idea of changing the timing belt every 60k on the 6cyl! So if you consider an earlier year I would do what raquettelaker2 said; and add the PCV #6 upgrade as well and a Saab engine will run for a long time. If you do that and can live with a tempermental car then you will love your 95.

Last edited by Saaber95er; 9th September 2010 at 01:36 PM.
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  #5  
Old 9th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saaber95er View Post
All Saab engines are good engines if maintained properly with regular synthetic oil changes. Conventional/Synthetic blend oils and lengthy oil change intervals (GM) and with Saabs poor engine ventilation (GM) created the sludge issues in these cars mostly 4cyl 99-2003. I’m a big fan of the 4cyl; I just don’t like the idea of changing the timing belt every 60k on the 6cyl! So if you consider an earlier year I would do what raquettelaker2 said; and add the PCV #6 upgrade as well and a Saab engine will run for a long time. If you do that and can live with a tempermental car then you will love your 95.
I don't see the problem with changing the timing belt every 60K, but then again every car I have had has had that interval:

1991 VW Jetta 16V (60K intervals)
1994 Volvo 940 (does not really count: non-interference motor )
1997Volvo 850 LPT (65K i think?)
2000Volvo V70 LPT (120K but the essentially the same motor as the 850 above so I did it at 65K)
1989 BMW 325i (60K)


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Old 9th September 2010
LeoLegend LeoLegend is offline
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it's either the belt at 60k with the v6, or at 200k the timing chain with the I-4. it would seem, however, I've seen people with much more on their timing chain.
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  #7  
Old 9th September 2010
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I don't see the problem either if you don't have a problem doing it. To me with a Saab I have enough to keep me busy; it's just one less major repair that needs to be done. All my Saabs have been 4cyl and I'm happy with the 4cyl at 200k I won't mind changing the chain (if needed) because with the 6cyl the belt would’ve been changed 3 times already with 40k to go. I don't dislike the 6 but I prefer a 4; the 95 have their share of temperamental behavior the only difference is the engine size and what it takes to keep them running.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9 View Post
I don't see the problem with changing the timing belt every 60K, but then again every car I have had has had that interval:

1991 VW Jetta 16V (60K intervals)
1994 Volvo 940 (does not really count: non-interference motor )
1997Volvo 850 LPT (65K i think?)
2000Volvo V70 LPT (120K but the essentially the same motor as the 850 above so I did it at 65K)
1989 BMW 325i (60K)


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  #8  
Old 9th September 2010
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Uh, discussing the the V6 doesn't even matter in this thread. Jesda wants a manual, and the V6 was never offered with one. Though, I do like my V6, and I probably won't have it long enough to see the second belt replacement. It'll be replaced by a newer 9-3 Aero V6 by then.

On topic though, I agree with the above. 2004+ would be the way to go, but 99-2003 would be fine if it had the oil screen cleaned and the newest PCV.
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  #9  
Old 9th September 2010
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I've driven an '09 Aero w/manual over a weekend test drive. The car was new. It was so, so nice. It was addictive. The clutch was linear, smooth, and perfectly weighted. The shift linkage was tight, positive, smooth short throws and precise. Comparing that car to my dad's '07 V70R, his clutch is heavy, and very grabby. The shift linkage isn't smooth, but notchy. It has longish throws, and feels a little wobbly in neutral. I would think, for the R, it would be shorter and tighter.

I loved the 2.3 engine in my 9000. There's days I miss it. It was lots of fun, reliable, and it had a great personality. I'd certainly buy another 2.3 engined Saab. But I'd definitely get a manual transmission. The idle vibrations are gone, and the extra boost with the manual is just amazing.

There's a few things I just can't understand with the 9⁵'s 2.3 compared to the 9000's 2.3. I don't know why they changed the pistons. I understand for reduced weight and friction. Now, I'm not sure, but didn't that make them less robust than the 9000's? And when did the weeping head gasket / re-torque head bolts issue get fixed? And why didn't they update the ancient timing chain system?

On that note, having a timing chain isn't always best. Agreed, on paper, a timing chain is the best way to go. But not everything on paper applies to the real world. And not every engine will have the same outcome. One of my 9000's balance shaft guides snapped where it bolted to the block. It let the chain go slack and rattle around. The car had a perfectly maintained 80 something K miles. When I replaced that guide, a plastic tensioner broke in half easily. But that was a cam chain tensioner. The complete kit was over $500. And it took me a good day and a half to replace. Why some car manufacturers still use a bicycle chain and non reinforced plastic guides/tensioners is a mystery to me. Especially since Saab did a partial redesign of the 2.3 for the 9⁵. If Saab used chains like Jaguar and Mazda uses, a multi-link CVT type chain, and aluminum reinforced guides/tensioners like Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, I'd have a lot more peace of mind in knowing this is a lifetime chain system. Because my experience with the 2.3's chain system has proved otherwise. And my experience with the similarly set up VW VR6 timing chains has proved otherwise in two different engines, both before 100K miles. But that was a nightmare to replace compared to the Saab's.

The timing belt in the 3.0t is very easy to replace (3hrs), inexpensive parts kit ($250) And from what Saturn,Cadillac, and Saab say, it's good for 100K miles because of updated belt/tensioner/idler bearing design. I'm still fine with changing it myself every 60K.

These a few pics of the chains and tensioners I'm talking about.
Click to enlarge.



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  #10  
Old 9th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesda View Post
After reading about all the little build quality issues on the 9-3 (mostly rattles and squeaks), I'm now considering a 9-5 with a manual transmission.

My gripe with my Volvo S60 is the heavy clutch and shifter. I assume the 9-5 is lighter and easier to engage?

Looks like, according to http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=58536, that 2004 was the year the sludge issue was supposedly resolved. Is this indeed true? The more I read, the more it seems like the sludge problem is an ongoing issue and that even the use of synthetics wont keep the problem from recurring.

Should I completely avoid used 9-5s because of this?

Also, what year did the blend door issues cease to be a problem?


Thanks!
"I"' would be worried about sludge weighted on mileage and age and then use it along with other factors to decide which era to pursue. in my personal experience the my 2006+ was a bit off putting "at first" BUT as many things became superior to the older versions over time. (seems many other marques copied or emulated the style since actually) I now own a couple 9-5's and while I used to prefer the 04-05 aero appearance I currently view that as dated and prefer the 06+.

so... you want tight manual action and the latest * while minimizing potential for sludge? get as new an aero as you can reasonably afford and go from there. surely can't hurt. (ps, if you're considering a manual for sporting
purposes see threads on suspension differences and setups.)

I mean if you really prefer the more dated look on the 05 and get a great deal on one with super low miles and/or excellent maintenance record, want to drop the pan, improve the suspension and go from there.. hopefully the time and money spent will warrant the difference between that and buying an 06+.

personally, depending on price and style etc I like them all from 02+. (not really big on the grill of the -01)
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  #11  
Old 10th September 2010
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And if I understand correctly, the 250hp 9-5 Aero is a half second quicker to 60mph than the 210hp 9-3, right?
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Old 10th September 2010
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I really don't plan on buying any 9-5 older than 2004 from here on out, they finally got it right.
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  #13  
Old 10th September 2010
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"Lighter is faster"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesda View Post
And if I understand correctly, the 250hp 9-5 Aero is a half second quicker to 60mph than the 210hp 9-3, right?
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  #14  
Old 10th September 2010
three_jee[s three_jee[s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesda View Post
After reading about all the little build quality issues on the 9-3 (mostly rattles and squeaks), I'm now considering a 9-5 with a manual transmission.

My gripe with my Volvo S60 is the heavy clutch and shifter. I assume the 9-5 is lighter and easier to engage?

Looks like, according to http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=58536, that 2004 was the year the sludge issue was supposedly resolved. Is this indeed true? The more I read, the more it seems like the sludge problem is an ongoing issue and that even the use of synthetics wont keep the problem from recurring.

Should I completely avoid used 9-5s because of this?

Also, what year did the blend door issues cease to be a problem?


Thanks!
I own a 2004 9-5, manual, some impressions/data points for you:
-Clutch feel - definitely light...and smooth, I like it.
-2.3L LTP turbo, 4 cyl= smooth - Use mobile 1 synthetic and OEM oil filters.
Spark plugs cost about $16 EACH,
-My belt tensioner froze/died at 40K. I had same issue on my 93, 9000s.- I would make it a maintenance item and change belt+tenioner+guidepully every 50K. As far as I am concerned, major design flaw.
-DI cassette - died at 60K - similar experience with 93 9000s. Make replacing this a 60K maintenance item.
-Tires: the OEM P6s suck, General Ultamax suck, BFG grand touring reasonable, now have on Continentials Extreme contact DWS - seem best so far.
-Road noise-horrible for this car no matter what tires are on it. At 60 MPH on a concrete or certain types of asphalt roads, you will notice you are speaking louder than normal. My Jeep GC is *much* quieter.
-Seating - more than its share of blind spots with the center pillars and the high trunk line, you do a lot of head twisting and still not sure.
Also, the front seat tilt is limited...I've never gotten the support on thighs that the 9000 or the 900 seats provided. Makes for tiring road trips.
-Outside rear view mirrors - provide good side visibility but, personally, I hate the aspherical edges and if you break the glass, dealer cost is $160 for the glass only, and it is a dealer only item.
-Suspension - reasonably smooth. A bit too much front end dip/roll for my liking. Still it beats the 9000s which would shock your spinal cord on small bumps.
-xenon lights - I like them, but no matter how high above horizontal they are aimed, the cutoff is still way to short - I end up driving with my high beams on a *lot*. I understand that the std halogen have a short (e.g. 1year) lifespan.
-Gas mileage - excellent, consistent 23-24 city, 33-35 hightway.

I was very enthusiastic when I got the car...as time went on I began to dislike driving it. I am to the point where I avoid driving it. I would have gotten rid of it if my S.O. didn't like it so much. I've been driving Saabs since 1975. I was hoping that the newer ones 'got it right.' For me, there are some improvements, but other things got worse, so its a mixed bag.
Having pointed out some of these issues, perhaps you could evaluate if later model years improved them.

Sludge issue? I haven't heard about that one...Thats another one of my pet peves about Saab...been desiging engines for how long? and defects like this show up? give me a break.

Good luck!
John
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  #15  
Old 10th September 2010
Keemoesaabee Keemoesaabee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesda View Post
And if I understand correctly, the 250hp 9-5 Aero is a half second quicker to 60mph than the 210hp 9-3, right?
other things to consider is overall vehicle "potential".

look deep... there is often more than initially meets the eye.
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  #16  
Old 11th September 2010
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So with that being said, the 9-3 is definitely the Saab with more overall potential when compared to any -'09 9⁵.
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  #17  
Old 11th September 2010
Keemoesaabee Keemoesaabee is offline
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but it squeeks and rattles.


as if my door handle didnt' pull in half the other day as I closed the door in my 06+ 9-5. (or squeek everytime my knee rest against it. really need to do something about that pos handle)

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=193298
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  #18  
Old 11th September 2010
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I've heard this squeak and rattle objection several times. But I meant overall vehicle potential. And about the 9³ interior, I don't particularly like the soft touch plastics, cause they all eventually get scuffed. But my mom's '09 9³ Aero hasn't started to squeak or rattle yet. But I know that all of her door grab handles will eventually start to creak when grabbed. So far the build quality is leaps better than my dad's very squeaky and rattle infested '07 V70R.
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  #19  
Old 7th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by three_jee[s View Post
.....Sludge issue? I haven't heard about that one...Thats another one of my pet peves about Saab...been desiging engines for how long? and defects like this show up? give me a break.

Good luck!
John

If you don't know about the sludge issues then how can we take any of your comments as knowledgeable? Give me a break.
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  #20  
Old 7th October 2010
three_jee[s three_jee[s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine View Post
If you don't know about the sludge issues then how can we take any of your comments as knowledgeable? Give me a break.
Hmmm, lets see...doing automobile and small engine repair since 1968, owned a number of SAABS since 1980 and did mostly all my own work on them (cept the tranny repair on the 81-900T), advanced degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering...education, practical experience, professional licenses, academic position, design control systems for aircraft...I think I have some credentials and knowledge....

I didn't know about the sludge issue because it has not happened to me (yet), and I've moved on to other things instead of care and feeding of an automobile, including dealing with/correcting engineering screwups.

Upon first seeing the early 900 turbo, within 10 seconds my first question was - why no water jacket for cooling?!?!!? only took them 10+ years...I guess they just wanted to educated the public that if you get oil hot enough it will coke....and cause you pay a handsome price for repair.
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