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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi. This is my first Saab, a hand-me-down gift from my best friend. Her partner came home with a brand new BMW and passed his old BMW down to her and she just gave me the Saab! As a single mother driving a beater Civic with almost 200K miles, it was a heck of a gift.

It's the 1999 turbo edition and only has 36K miles on it. The car was purchased by her partner years and years ago, but after his divorce, it sat in his driveway for a long time -- not being used -- as it was his secondary car.

Within two months, I hit a behemoth pothole that cracked two wheels. Had to replace those at around $500 for both. About a month later, the alternator started acting up. That was another $500 replacement. Hunting down reputable mechanics for Saabs was a bit difficult and the sticker shock of the repair bills (diagnostic fees!?) has convinced me that, as a single mother, I need a more sensible car. My plan is to sell the car and just get a mid/low mileage ten year old civic again. My best friend did most of the repairs on my old Civic and would help me out a ton with any issues I had at only the cost of parts, usually.

So... About a month ago, I left my seven year old in the car to run into the house and grab the cloth grocery bags to go grocery shopping. When I returned, he was in a panic and the top was semi-open. I already knew the top was finicky -- you'd try to open it and it would say "Soft Top Error" and then you'd just press the switch and open it a little more, get another error message, and later, rinse, repeat until it was open. But it opened and closed fine other than that -- latches, etc. Apparently, my son was trying to open the top. I still haven't been able to get a straight story from him. I don't know if he just pressed the button or if he was pushing on the top. He did open the front latch and had opened it enough so that the top was unlatched at the back.

Now the top won't open at all. I was able to muscle the front latch back closed so that I could drive it, but the back side is still not latched. I have about a 4-5" open space where the hooks in the bottom of the unit are just resting on the backside of the car. The top isn't stretched taut and when it rains, the water just pools in all over -- from the windows, from the back, at the front closure near the windshield. It's a mess.

I don't have $100 to drop into a diagnostic fees, which is what all of the Saab repair shops around here have told me. I took it to my old mechanic and he said he didn't do tops. Every other place I've called that "specializes in convertible repair" only replaces broken glass or ripped fabric. I know my issue is a bit more involved than that and when I explain to them what happened, they all tell me to take it to the dealership or to another shop.

My question is this -- is this a typical problem with 9-3s? I mean, not the mischievous seven year old, but maybe the motor burning out? Needing replacement? Or did my child just totally break my car?

Also, does it make ANY sense to try to get this repaired/repair it myself or with my friend when I'm just planning on selling it? My thought process is that somebody who would be buying an eleven year old Saab would probably have a mechanic, be in a position to afford the repairs, or know how to do their repairs themselves -- a Saab aficionado, so to speak.

The car is in otherwise great condition. Only a few dings on the body, interior is in great shape, and never been wrecked. I FEEL like with the low mileage, I may be able to come out okay selling it even with the top damaged. I probably only need $2500-3000 out of it to replace it with a car that is more my financial speed.

Sorry this was long winded. If you go this far, thanks for reading and for your input.
 

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And by the magic of the Admins, you are here. My dog Shadow had a tendency to hit the moon roof and window buttons, but that's another story.

The first thing that I would do is check the hydraulic fluid level. There may be a small leak and need some fluid. If that fails, I would try to lower and raise the top a few times. If it finally raises and locks, I would leave it that way and sell it. Just tell the buyer that you never use the top and it may need some adjustment.

So don't feel too bad with a used Honda; it could be worse. My GF has a '92 Honda Prelude and a Segway of all things... Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And by the magic of the Admins, you are here. My dog Shadow had a tendency to hit the moon roof and window buttons, but that's another story.

The first thing that I would do is check the hydraulic fluid level. There may be a small leak and need some fluid. If that fails, I would try to lower and raise the top a few times. If it finally raises and locks, I would leave it that way and sell it. Just tell the buyer that you never use the top and it may need some adjustment.

So don't feel too bad with a used Honda; it could be worse. My GF has a '92 Honda Prelude and a Segway of all things... Ron
I'm pretty sure I'll be happiest with a used Honda. I think it's more a familiarity thing than anything else.
 

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I think the car is worth the 2500-3000that you mentioned. I don't think you should let it go for less.
Idon't think there is anything major wrong with the top, but the operation has been flummoxed by what has happened >It needs a skilled technician with the right equipment to restore proper functioning. If you can get this done for 100 or 200, you will enhance the car's value atleast 1,000-2000 and probably more.
The bow which sits on the car at the rear when the top is up is called the fifth bow. This is the bow which has two prongs which are supposed to enter holes in what is usually called the tonneau cover and be latched. (The tonneau cover is often referred to as 'soft top cover' by Saab.
In order to be able to easily move the fifth bow manually, I believe you will have to use the emergency release handle(I think they still have that on your model). It is a red handle behind the rear seat backrest that must be pulled down to release the motors and allow manual movement of the top.You can search this forum for a post by member flyhop which post willl tell you how to operate the latches that are if they are latched will prevent the two prongs on the bottom of the fifth bow from entering the holes in the tonneau cover.
Once you have the top up and the fifth bow properly latched in the tonneau you willneed to raise the red release handle back to the up (locked) position and reengage the the tonneau motor by moving it by hand until it reengages .
By all means contact member Frank_Drebin by private message. (That is not his name in real life)He lives a suburb of Atlanta and is the world's most knowledgeable person on '99 Saab convertibles and is a very kind and helpful person. He could in minutes give you more help than you could find in a year from other sources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think the car is worth the 2500-3000that you mentioned. I don't think you should let it go for less.
Idon't think there is anything major wrong with the top, but the operation has been flummoxed by what has happened >It needs a skilled technician with the right equipment to restore proper functioning. If you can get this done for 100 or 200, you will enhance the car's value atleast 1,000-2000 and probably more.
The bow which sits on the car at the rear when the top is up is called the fifth bow. This is the bow which has two prongs which are supposed to enter holes in what is usually called the tonneau cover and be latched. (The tonneau cover is often referred to as 'soft top cover' by Saab.
In order to be able to easily move the fifth bow manually, I believe you will have to use the emergency release handle(I think they still have that on your model). It is a red handle behind the rear seat backrest that must be pulled down to release the motors and allow manual movement of the top.You can search this forum for a post by member flyhop which post willl tell you how to operate the latches that are if they are latched will prevent the two prongs on the bottom of the fifth bow from entering the holes in the tonneau cover.
Once you have the top up and the fifth bow properly latched in the tonneau you willneed to raise the red release handle back to the up (locked) position and reengage the the tonneau motor by moving it by hand until it reengages .
OH! So helpful! I will see if I can get back there this weekend and find the red release handle. Thank you so much!
 

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OH! So helpful! I will see if I can get back there this weekend and find the red release handle. Thank you so much!
Do you have the manual for the car? As JB stated above it can be manually manipulated both open and close. As far as your problem. You really should let the dealership take a look at it. These tops are a Pain to work on. The only problem I have ever worked on on my top is the small micro-switches weren't engaging enough and the top thought it was still closed. It gave me a "check latches" message though. I have never seen "soft top error". Sorry...
 

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If you were blessed with the owner's manual, that should have info on manually raising the top. My car is older, and the operating mechanism is different. However, on mine, I lower the rear seatback. Behind the seatback there is a thin flexible partition. This partition has a slit and one has to push that slit open to find the red handle release lever. The thread by flyhop should help you to get the fifth bow latched.
 
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