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I have an opportunity to pick up a 2002 Viggen convertible. Only 60k miles and very well maintained. Has been in the extended family since new as a weekend/fun car.

What are the issues I should be looking out for? I've heard the hydraulics for the convertible top are very finicky.

Just trying to understand (best I can) what I'm in for maintenance-wise.

Thanks!
 

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I would say the only big bugaboo is going to be sludge in the engine - low miles, probably little maintenance, great candidate for that issue. Otherwise, I wouldn't describe much about Viggens as unreliable or unusual... including the top. That system is on the whole pretty reliable and generally trouble free. Overall, the turn of the century 9-3 isn't far off in terms of maintenance than any turn of the century luxury car.
 

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If anything the 9-3 with hydraulic convertible roof and microswitches as sensors is more reliable than the 900NG which has a nightmare of cogs and worm gears and tiny electric motors and potentiometers as sensors to run it. I've had far fewer problems with mine - when a hydraulic system starts failing it can be manually helped, or just run and then top up the leaked fluid

A 900NG mechanical roof can actually lock up, immovably, half open. Like my old 900NG did.
 

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The biggest problem with the top are leaks so as long as owners have not been topping up the pump you're probably good. The top's rams have a drain that empties in front of the rear wheels. You can look under the rocker panels to see if it's moist with fluid. There's also the tonnau cover ram in the boot, so you can check for wet carpeting.

Someone mentioned on a previous post that Viggens tend to be driven hard. So even at 60k it may be worth doing a compression check and taking a peek at the tops of the piston to see if all are consistent with minimal buildup. Maybe even check timing chain indicator to make sure it's in line with the wear you'd expect on 60k engine. Turbos are another big ticket item but a bit difficult to assess if they are working and not making bad noises. Check the cat/downpipe (especially the flex section) and the rest of the exhaust. Make sure the engine has the PCV fix that is well documented in the forums. If it doesn't and you buy it, I'd drop and clean/inspect the oil pan and sump pickup to be safe.

As for ongoing maintenance you'll want to check CV axle boots and will probably want to change the belt and pulleys before they go. There's a big O-ring on the oil pump cover that gets brittle and can fail without warning causing massive oil loss - if you don't shut down immediately you can cook engine. 60k is low mileage so it's really the age of the o-ring that's a concern. Ditto the vaccum lines, probably best to replace them all. Brakes and rotors might be ready for replacing. Every 2 or 3 years seal the top - lots of posts with recommended products. Make sure you change oil with proper synthetic and personally, I'd add an oil pressure gauge so you can monitor pressure as the car gets older.
 

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I'm on the other side on this... 60K is almost new for these cars. They were under warranty until 50K (although with low miles, the 4 years probably ended it first). I would be planning on a pan drop... and maybe figure some suspension parts might need bushings due to age, but 60K is nothing.
 

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I bought my 1998 9-3SE 2.3i last year with 60200 miles on it. It had spent 8 years locked up unused in a barn (2009-2017) then a few months on the roads before I obtained it

Problems I've had, during 18 months and 23,000 miles (currently at 83K)

  • Leaking hydraulic roof lines to RH main cylinder (replaced entire set with aftermarket upgrade set).
  • Leaking RH hydraulic roof cylinder (replaced with non-leaking part from a scrapper)
  • Crumbly engine vacuum lines (replaced with off-the-shelf 4mm silicone)
  • Crumbly Crankcase Ventilator valve grommet (replaced with new genuine saab part)
  • Soft water hoses to radiator and heater - replaced all of them with aftermarket before it sprung a leak
  • Brake master cylinder main seal failure - replaced BMC with a part from a scrapper as the BMC for UK RHD vehicles is no longer available as a replacement part.
 

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I'm actually on the middle of the fence but tend to err on the side of caution. As BSaabit notes 60k is a drop in the bucket but CC's experience shows, rubber and plastic bits can corrode away. I'd expect a barn car to have much worse corrosion vs daily which would keep fluid or air circulating through hoses. A weekender can be tough to gauge - especially if you don;t know how often they operated the top.

It might be a little off-topic , but It'd be interesting to learn from any rubber/plastic professors in the forum what to expect corrosion-wise on rubber and plastic parts in an unused, weekender and daily driver vehicle that is 15-20 years old. Meybe even specific guidance on the oil pump O-Ring (I have an O-Ring phobia as I've had a couple fail). Assuming a Saab shows no sign of neglect, is not leaking and you are not planning any maintenance near the pump cover - is there any level of use (mileage) or age of the original O-ring that should prompt an owner to replace it?

Getting back on topic, you might be able to get a decent look at the top's hydraulic hoses where they connect to the rams (looking down where they mount to the frame on each side of the car) to see if the hose's black exterior coating is intact and in good shape. As the hoses degrade the outer coating can swell, crack and fall off exposing a white secondary wrap around the hose. I found it's often worse at the connection fitting or the sharp bends leading to the fitting. The only top hose that I've had fail seemed to be caused by the outer coating corroding and falling off which I think caused the connector crimp to fail and the hose blew out of the connection. That said, several of the other hoses are in the same condition but have not failed. So an ugly hose condition may be a better indicator of a weepy ram seal or connector/fitting issue as opposed to warning of an imminent failure.
 
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