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Old 8th February 2004
JCarpio JCarpio is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003                                                
Location: Chicago, Illinois
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Default Purchasing Advice: Work in Progress

- SID units, repairable but worth noting
- ACC units, dead pixels, normally still work, check fault codes if you get a number 8.. could be big bills, hold auto and off for fault codes.
- Rear shocks have high failure rate, so check for leaks.
- Blue smoke, ultimatley a new turbo req!
- Front wheel bearings can be a bit vocal, check for rumbles under cornering.
- The engine should be generally quiet, usual timing chain rules apply.
- Gearbox, manual, check 5th and reverse engagement, it is a problem, and saab have a mod for it, but its a box re-build to fix!
- Autobox appears to be a good one! no known issues!
- Check for oil leaks, a sweat on the front right corner is fairly normal, check timing cover for leaks, another known issue!
- PCV Hoses
- Exhaust System seems to rust out quickly if the car is driven mainly on short trips.

Last edited by Matthew; 19th March 2007 at 02:40 PM. Reason: Fixed PCV hose link, broken due to forum software changeover
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Old 11th February 2004
Henri Henri is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003                                                
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Boot light failure caused by kinking electrical wire at the left hinge.

Also check these links :wink: :

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Old 2nd March 2004
JCarpio JCarpio is offline
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Default PCV Update

THIS is the newest PCV update.
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Old 11th October 2004
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Simon Simon is offline
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Some new 'Tech Help' articles added today...

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Old 25th January 2005
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pollyPocket pollyPocket is offline
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My Saabs: '05 9-5 Arc wagon, Steel Grey/Charcoal
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Lightbulb Re: puchasing advice...

Here is a link to repair the dreaded Code 8 (Driver's side ACC non-functioning) for next to nothing...


Mine had this problem but now works perfectly. If you're handy and have a few hours to spare it's well worth the effort!
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Old 13th July 2005
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PeterGibons PeterGibons is offline
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Just a note, if you notice that the insulation under the hood shows a small area that appears to be burnt, this is normal. When I looked over my 9-5 before the purchase, I noticed the burnt insulation. When I called the local Saab dealer and talked with the service manager, he said this is normal, it is caused by heat from the turbo.

One thing I did before making my purchase, was to buy a carfax report. I also recommend calling your local Saab Dealer and ask the service manager what things you should check for, relating to the model and year of the car you are looking to buy. If you have the opportunity, test drive a couple other cars that are of the same make and model/year, this might help to give you an idea as to what the car should drive like.


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Old 5th March 2006
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Chris 9-5 Chris 9-5 is offline
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Items to check

Blue smoke on start up, a fairly common problem on lpt variants, Saab have introduced modified parts over the life span but can still be a problem even on later cars.. up to MY00 is rife! Ultimate cure could be a new turbo. Can effect HOT models too, but is quite rare.

If the Bosch Diaphragm Dump valve fails it may emit a hooting sound, (like an owl) as pressure escapes. Replacing the Bosch unit, which is not repairable, is around £35 from Saab but other more reliable alternatives are available such as the Forge Piston Recirculating Dump Valve at around £95. Both would take minutes to fit and is a simple DIY task. The latter type is a serviceable item

Revised pulleys with larger bearings were fitted early on in the MY99 model run: this was from chassis number X3025752. Another way of checking is that if your rear brake calliper is the same type as the front [ignore its position] then it has the revised pulleys. There's some anecdotal evidence that these are a little more resilient. Esp/y for pre-MY99 models, therefore, it would be wise to replace the pulleys along with the drive belt when the latter is changed at the 66k service.

Major Service at 66,000 miles - £527 plus corrective actions - total £700 !

PCV system, check the 2 main hoses 1 comes off cam cover just behind 'SAAB' should be firm but squeezable, other is a smaller bore one to the left running to metal breather pipe that terminates at the intake pipe.
“At the 78,000 mile routine service the dealer told me of a modification that Saab was recommending involving a new breather pipe and valve kit. I held off having the work done and when I called a few months later to book the car in for the work found that the modification had been withdrawn, it was causing more problems than it was solving! Instead of the modification Saab increased the engine warranty to 8 years providing the car had a full service history.”
The PCV is positive crankcase ventilation. The oil fumes are sucked out into the inlet - via throttle body unless you have had the most recent modification. (search board for PCV - search button top right of this page). If system fails the head gasket can leak oil. Check pipe at back of engine going vertically down to sump. If they are soggy, change them and do the latest mod. There is a non-return valve in the system inserted in a rubber hose just at the back top of the engine. All this is under the [plastic cover which just unclips).

Oil leaks, Common issue is the head gasket leaking oil on the right hand front corner, decide for yourself how serious each leak is!
Check for oil leaks around the throttle housing, on plastic inlet pipe models, there is an O-ring that can get lost/brittle, easy 47p fix!
Check for oil leak around timing cover, known prob on early models, now appears fixed by modified parts.

Timing chain rattle, etc.

A couple of problems that may not be apparent on test/viewing, Throttle bodies went through a period of failure, any check engine lights, make sure you get the fault code pulled, not simply reset.
DI cassettes, seem to have a life of anything between 60k miles and 150k miles! £190 part from SAAB, doesn't appear to tell you when its failing, simply refuses to start at some point! Check the plugs are the correct SAAB spec, i.e. NGK BCPR 7ES-II, NO OTHER make of plug should be used on DI cars.

The right boxes tick on the modification plate under the bonnet. Modification boxes marked on my 1998 2.3 are: B5, C4 & C5. Plate is on left hand front wing, under bonnet.

CPS Crank Shaft Position Sensor can fail

Auto box appears reliable so far, no real known faults, usual autobox checks apply. – However this from Honest John and two members here: Aisin-Warner autoboxes prone to failure because friction-fitted metal bush carrying a gear wheel can slip along its shaft interfering with the flow of transmission fluid to the torque converter and, when reversing, simultaneously engaging forward and reverse ratios, resulting in burnt out clutches.

Manual box, check engagement of reverse and 5th, another known problem, again Saab have modified parts in place now.
There's another potential gearbox gripe affecting manual 9-5s and 9-3s, which is when it becomes v. difficult to disengage 4th at the first attempt when hot - can be a bit of a pain when you come up to a busy roundabout and want to nip into a gap! Again Saab are aware and there is a kit to fix, may get done under warranty as can appear as low as 15-20K.

Front wheel bearings can be short lived, check for noises under cornering.

Body & Interior:

SID unit....All too common, not many get away with it, at £160 a throw not cheap, SID still works, you just can't read the info correctly, most appear to have some success with fairly simple repairs , good bargaining point all the same!
Once engine is started the only dash light you should see is the 'INFO DISPLAY' checking the SID will probably show TEST BRAKE LIGHTS simply press the brake pedal to clear the SID and light, no other dash light should be on..... except maybe the fuel low light

ACC panel, ditto SID, tends to loose its symbols over time, but should still function correctly! Also whilst checking do a re-calibration, check fault codes , this is done by holding auto and off buttons together. If there are any fault codes stored take care, as some repairs can be very costly!

On the older models there is a fault with the A/C whereby if the front passenger vents are shut hot air is blown in the rear passenger seats. There is a fix for this (drilling holes somewhere in the air circuit) but my dealer won't do it for free as my car is too old....

Corrosion, underneath the door gaskets for the rear doors on the car body. The 9-5 has two sets of door gaskets and the outer set can keep water and dirt.

Pool of water in driver's well - after heavy rainfall. Blocked heater hoses.
Blowing cool air to the rear in the winter despite 24 degree setting.
Failure of AC during the summer
There is an (sounds common) audible rattle in the passenger door with the window over 1/3 down.

Aero Lux Pack had (from memory):
AS3 9 speaker Harmon Kardon audio
Rain Sensing wipers
Electric front seats (driver's with memory
Auto dimming rear view mirror
Park assist
heated front and rear seats
Xenon lights

Later years started deleting these standard items as well as a few more (door pillar nets, emergency triangle, lashing bits in wagon etc) and added others to the options list (folding door mirrors, satnav etc).
The key to whether it has the AS3 audio is that the rear speaker grilles in the parcel shelf have "Harmon Kardon" on them. If they are plain they are just grilles - no speakers (unless an aftermarket add-on)

Front fogs are pricey to replace if cracked. TIPS - Cut out some clear perspex and use double sided sticky pads to protect the front fogs and the headlamp protectors are not cheap, but less than a headlamp.

Check for recalls, as with most new cars, there were a number of recalls early on, contact a Saab dealer with the cars details, ask them to check for any outstanding recalls.
Service book with Saab dealer stamps close to the specified service intervals - these things like regular oil changes. Run by uncaring company car drivers - the 12,000 mile service intervals stretch the endurance of the oil - especially if lots of short journeys are undertaken.

Sound deadening foam mat present between floor and spare wheel.

Wiper arms seized on spindles.

Headlamp wipers operating and parking.

Upgrade packages: rear cup holders in front of armrest/floor mats/centre arm rest/cruise control.

All heat absorbing glass present - not replaced by ordinary glass.

Ignition locks in reverse (manual only). May have been forced out and broken by valet parker.

Aero front spoilers will be scratched / grounded more often than not

Faulty batch of auto-dimming mirror mounting brackets in MY00 at some point

No one seems to have mentioned leaking water into the boot pouring out of light panels in boot lid - failed rear washer/wiper pipe somewhere (whole wiper/motor assembly replaced).

Spoiler on wiper blade detached on one of its two mounts and drew pretty scratches right in the eye line - had it polished out for £80 seemed safer than risking a replacement screen. Wipes just as well with the spoiler thingy in the bin.


For some reason the 9-5's rear shocks tend to be fairly weak, and can leak oil at a low mileage! Check for any unusual suspension noises, it should be quiet, any knocks or clonks will need further investigation. OEM parts are not cheap either!

The drive shaft bellows, especially the one closest to the wheels can crack. This is a mandatory check on second hand front wheel drive cars.


The big/expensive worry is sludge in the sump (but its results may be covered by the 8 year warranty). So, as part of the deal get it cleaned out or soon after get it cleaned and then it should be ok for some time. At some point in its life the turbo may need replacing so allow for that in your finances.

The servicing costs can be kept down by doing your own but then need to be careful with warranties. The expensive 66k mile service is not particularly difficult but takes time hence the cost. Prevent CPS and DI cassette failure by replacing them before they go and avoid the breakdown - then have spares for the boot. One of the many good things about this forum is you know what is likely to go wrong so can use preventive maintenance and when buying a car have a good idea what to look out for.

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