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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking to buy a 1999-2001 9-3 SE convertible. From everthing that I have read the 99 is clear as far as the oil sludge problem goes, but the 2000-2001s are at risk. Many used cars don't come with all the service records. There is a possibility of getting a dealership to give the history of a car I am interested in if I provide the VIN, but no guarantee. My question is if I can't get a full service history should I just avoid the 2000-2001 years for 9-3 verts?

Thanks for the advice,
Jason
 

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No problem...

In the most worried tone you can muster, express your concerns to the owner, then ask if they can knock $500 off the price to enable you to have the oil pan dropped.

Drop the pan, clean the screen, replace the pan, run Auto RX through the engine for two treatments, keep the oil changed every 3,500 miles and pass the car off to your kids when they get old enough to drive. You may need to replace an oil pump as a preventative measure, but worry about that WAY, WAY, WAY down the road.

Oil sludging was more of a problem with the early NG900s, but no Saab is really immune. The "extended change interval" that supposedly lets your car tell you when the oil needs to be changed is bo-o-o-o-gus. The one key to engine longevity is frequent oil changes....
 

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Personally I would not buy any used Saab without a complete service history unless it had very low miles and was still covered under the manufacturers warranty. There are all kinds of other problems to worry about in addition to oil sludge. Saabs are not bad cars, but will exhibit problems if the service schedule is not followed to the letter. Dealers don't go through used cars with a fine tooth comb and fix issues like they lead you to believe. They detail the car, change the oil (maybe), and park it on the lot--or send it to an auction. The worse lemon will look pristine. Don't pay a dime over the Edmunds.com "trade-in value."

I would also not buy used again unless I could visit with the previous owner and ask about his/her overall experiences with the car. Saab convertibles are turbocharged sports cars and you need to know if the owner was a 50-year old librarian that babied the car or a kid who rodded the living hell out of it. Since Saabs depreciate terribly, many of these $40,000+ verts were leased and may not have gotten the care a long term owner might provide.

Exception to this, I guess, is if you are very good at doing maintenance on your car and don't mind fixing issues on your own as they arise.

Just my 2 cents.
MM
 

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SodakSaab said:
Personally I would not buy any used Saab without a complete service history unless it had very low miles and was still covered under the manufacturers warranty.
This is more of a comfort issue. Some people aren't comfortable if a car is off warranty because they don't have the time, tools or inclination to learn much about their cars, or they worry about big-ticket "gotcha" items later. This isn't a Saab-only issue at all. It applies to all makes and models. Getting a car that has just come off warranty is a good way to get a deal, especially with a Saab, because if properly cared for, the engine is good for 200,000 miles...

There are all kinds of other problems to worry about in addition to oil sludge. Saabs are not bad cars, but will exhibit problems if the service schedule is not followed to the letter.
Agreed, but this is very model and year specific. V6 engines have different issues than turbo-powered ones, engines with Trionic 5 management have different issues than those with T7. As with all cars, negligence will take its toll. A neglected Honda is no better than a neglected Saab....

Dealers don't go through used cars with a fine tooth comb and fix issues like they lead you to believe. They detail the car, change the oil (maybe), and park it on the lot--or send it to an auction. The worse lemon will look pristine. Don't pay a dime over the Edmunds.com "trade-in value."
Totally agree....But depending on what's wrong with the car -- and every car has something wrong with it -- you can and should use the deficiencies as bargaining points.

I would also not buy used again unless I could visit with the previous owner and ask about his/her overall experiences with the car. Saab convertibles are turbocharged sports cars and you need to know if the owner was a 50-year old librarian that babied the car or a kid who rodded the living hell out of it.
This isn't possible or practical in all cases, but in a perfect world, it's definitely the thing to do. At the very least, pull the car's Carfax data to see how many owners, whether it was in an accident, the useage pattern, etc.

Since Saabs depreciate terribly, many of these $40,000+ verts were leased and may not have gotten the care a long term owner might provide.
Most lease terms I know of require that basic maintenence be done, often by a dealer, so as not to void the warranty, which would presumably affect the value of the car. You're often better buying a car that has just come off lease because of this.

Exception to this, I guess, is if you are very good at doing maintenance on your car and don't mind fixing issues on your own as they arise.
You hit the nail right on the head....Even a moderate amount of DIY will save money in the long run.
 

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I would not worry even a tiny bit about sludge if I were you. The problem is only prevalent on a) neglected cars and b) cold climate Saabs.


Being as you are a Floridian you have almost no reason to fear OIL SLUDGE. Just run a carfax and make sure it's not from Alaska! :cheesy:
The oil sludge issue was a BIG problem in Sweden. Not nearly as bad in the states. The problem is that people weren't letting the car warm up enough, the oil never got viscouse enough and it causes sludging...
An 01-02-03 convertible should not be avoided. These later years are the best built, period. And as Saab started the "scheduled maintenance" program in 01, you should be even more comfortable buying a used one from those years. Also an 02 should still have a year+ of warranty left.

Sounds like Sodak was burned by a used car. :cheesy:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the advice. I didn't realize that the problem was more prevalent among vehicles driven in cold climates. Yet another reason I love being near the beach in Florida! I also didn't realize that they started the scheduled maintenance in 01 (I assume that is where maint is included during warranty years). Now that I am less afraid of 00 and 02s, you got me thinking about 99s and how they were the first year of the new model. I haven't seen many reports of problems with the 99s should I be wary of anything?

Thanks again,
Jason
 

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You won't get an objective opinion of the 99 from me, being a 99 9-3 Vert owner.



I like the 99's because they are kind of like a cross between a 97-98 900 and a 00 9-3. They have the internals of a 900 (ie they are easier to mod and make go fast) but they have the refinements that the 9-3 got except for traction control and a few other small things. The later 9-3's have a wee bit more HP stock, though.

Check the FAQ up top called FREQUENT QUESTIONS. Ton of good stuff in there.

Good luck!

Sludge info, for the record.

"Saab spokesman Orjan Aslund said a combination of cold weather and use of the cars for short drives, where the engine was not given time to heat up, could result in damage to the engines
of Saab 9-5 and 9-3 cars manufactured before 2002.

"We are not completely finished analysing this, but it appears that the quality of the oil is gradually degraded, leading to poorer lubrication of vital parts of the engine," Aslund said.

Saab estimated the problem could develop in roughly 3-4 percent of the cars of the affected models in its markets where severe cold occurs, mainly the Nordic region and part of the United States and Canada, he added."

FULL STORY HERE

/sidenote/ Been thinking of moving to the Tampe area. ;)
 

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Sounds like Sodak was burned by a used car.
Um, didn't he ask our advice before he bought it? Even if not, I distinctly remember a thread where we all urged him to hang onto it :cheesy:
 

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Well guys I guess I did get burned and that has tainted my opinion. I've just had a number of issues, mostly minor that I had to deal with and am wishing I had held out for a newer vert. I'm also not a car repair kind of guy, I like driving them but not fixing them--seems most forum dwellers here are avid Saab owners and are very adept (and enjoy) working on their cars. The Saab was my first ever "used car" purchase and I had some unpleasant issues with the selling dealership.

Try finding a used Saab vert in South Dakota? Not many there. I actually did talk with the former owner who gave me the thumbs up on my car saying the power mirror and heated seat on driver's side were the only issues. He claimed he serviced the car (did not have records though) but the critical 60K timing belt had not been done. This is when I should have "passed" on the car. Dealership (Saab) agreed to do this since it is covered anyway as well as fix the mirror/seat.

Problem was dealer replaced timing belt but NOT the tensioners/pullies that are usually the failing culprits. Fortunately I got the car into an independant Saab repair place when it began chattering horribly one week after purchase. :( The Saab dealership I bought the car from initially said they did replace everything (a lie) so I sent them the defective parts (they were very bad) and they immediately apologized and wrote me an $800 check. This helped. I decided to have bunch of other stuff done for piece of mind (cabin filter, trans service, coolant service, spark plugs, fuel filter, serp belt, alignment, etc.). Heated seat worked for a week and went out. A bunch of other minor issues were fixed by me since then. Had a coolant leak issue which came and went on it's own and now the SID is going bad, so kind of been one thing after another. ABS light comes on intermittantly and another dealer was unable to diagnose, said ABS works fine, so just a nuisance alarm.

But, I am keeping the car and am enjoying it. I paid about $1200 over trade in value. This, plus the repairs have produced some "buyers remorse." My wife reminds me that the I probably saved about $30,000+ by buying a 97 instead of a 2005 and too think of it in those terms. ;) Keep in mind my frame of reference having owned 4 Hondas, one of which went 10 years and 100K miles with nothing but a failed antenna. But, Honda doesnt make Accord convertibles.

Anyway, its a keeper, at least for now.
MM
 
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