Saab Central - Technical Help
The GM 900 (or NG 900): Second Hand Buyers Guide
Article by Ian Chalmers
One of the most frequently asked questions in the Saab 9-3 & GM900 Workshop Forum here at SaabCentral concerns what to look for, or check when considering buying a GM (or NG) 900.
This article is an attempt to collate a lot of the answers that have been given on the forums by owners and enthusiasts as well as the information that is available on the internet into some sort of guide to assist with the decision making process and also to help diagnose some of the more common problems that may occur once you have become an owner.
This guide is not a list of everything that you should look out for in the purchase of a car, as this is well documented elsewhere, but rather it is an attempt to list the details/issues specific to the GM900.
Introduced in late 1993 the GM900 was based on a Cavalier/Vectra floor pan but everything else was Saab except for the engine in the 2.5 V6 which was a GM unit. The early models had various teething problems (like all new cars do) which in most cases were rectified under warranty by recalls and during services once they had been identified.
The main things to watch out for:
- The 900 engine is reliable and capable of extremely high mileages as long as the oil and filter have been changed when necessary.
- The oil in the turbo needs to have been changed as per the service schedule as well so a full service history is pretty much essential and is especially good if it is a SAAB one.
- Start it up and take it to about 3000rpm, it should sound smooth with no harshness or rattles – rattles can mean that the timing chains need replacing…which is an engine out job..!
- Check for oil leaking from the head gasket.
- A high pitched whining or whirring sound from the engine, that rises and falls with the revs, can be indicative of the idler pulley(s) needing replacing but this is not a huge job and the parts are not that expensive.
- The Direct Ignition module in the turbo model can fail but is easily replaced.
- Check the operation of the gear change as there were problems with the gear linkage on the early models (mainly 1994 & 1995) and this usually manifests itself as difficulty in selecting reverse and or second and will require a replacement linkage to correct.
- Check that you cannot put the car from reverse into neutral when the key is out of the ignition.
- The cable operated clutch can be very heavy to operate especially when the clutch is worn but can be rectified by replacing the clutch and cable.
- Avoid the Sensonic, unless you really want one, as it is expensive to repair if it goes wrong.
- Check around the gear selector shaft seal as it is prone to leak on manual transmissions.
- Check out the bottom of the doors, the top rear shock mounts, and the jacking points for signs of rust. Surface rust is treatable, but if it has taken a firm hold on load bearing parts walk away.
Suspension and Steering
- Listen for a knocking or ‘clunk’ sound from the front suspension when going over bumps (such as speed ramps), during braking and/or on initial acceleration. This often means that the upper suspension mounts need replacing. This is not a difficult job for the serious DIY’er to undertake.
- Listen for a load clicking noise from the drive shafts (meaning that they are failing) whilst driving slowly in a circle at full lock. Check this in both directions
- Check the steering rack for signs of leaks from the gaiters.
- Check the discs (rotors) for corrosion on the face which indicates a possible seized caliper.
- Check action of handbrake as these can be difficult to keep adjusted correctly and even when they are correctly adjusted they need to be pulled up all the way to engage properly.
- Make sure that the A/C or climate control works correctly and also check for any sign of damp in the LH foot well. This can be a sign of problems with the A/C but it can be as simple as a blocked drain hose which is easily cured (and could be used as a method of getting a price reduction)
- Check the upholstery. On the earlier models the stitching on the seats could start to come undone.
- Check the stereo particularly the AM reception as scratches or cracks in the heated rear window element can cause interference in the radio when it is turned on.
- Make sure that the seller has the security code for the radio. Although you can get this information from SAAB if need be.
Ultimately the NG900s are as well built, solid and reliable as any other SAAB and if looked after correctly will go on almost forever.
If there are any specific questions you have about a potential purchase then try searching the forums here at SaabCentral and if the answer is not already available, post a question and someone will probably be more than happy to help you out if they can.
It is always recommended to get a knowledgeable mechanic to look the car over thoroughly as well.
Happy Hunting - Ian
Article by Ian Chalmers (aka Munki)
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