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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, like many of you, I kinda took Saabs for granted especially growing up in snowy New England where every other car was a Saab or Volvo. Now I'm interested in possibly owning one. Is there a good Saab Buyers Guide here? Also a comprehensive Saab history you can point me towards? Right now, Saab 9-3's are calling me but I remain open minded to other interesting Saab models. I'm new to this forum as well having spent the last several years on a Toyota Land Cruiser forum site. Thanks!
 

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You need to narrow things down a bit. Are you looking for a sedan, a hatchback, a convertible, or a station wagon? What is your budget range? What kind of performance are you looking for? Are you planning to maintain it yourself, or shop it out to a shop? If a shop, are they Saab specialists with the knowledge and tools required?

Without even getting into the different body styles and drivetrains available, there are other considerations.

Classic Saab 900 cars have relatively simple mechanicals, but in can be frustrating to make them run right if the fuel injection (or carburetor) isn't working right. Parts can take hunting down.

9000s are for Saab enthusiasts; they seem to be a lot of work to keep running properly and parts can be hard to get.

In my estimation, the interior and exterior build quality is best in the late '90s and early 2000s 900/9-3 and 9-5 cars. These are still fairly plentiful and parts are available, but the quality of some parts is no longer OE.

The 2003+ 9-3 are common and cheap. The drivetrains are good, the suspensions are sporty, but interior quality is questionable. Plus you really need a Tech II/security access to do a lot of the repairs on this model.

The 2010+ 9-5, the 9-4X, etc. are rare and servicing and parts are issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You need to narrow things down a bit. Are you looking for a sedan, a hatchback, a convertible, or a station wagon? What is your budget range? What kind of performance are you looking for? Are you planning to maintain it yourself, or shop it out to a shop? If a shop, are they Saab specialists with the knowledge and tools required?

Without even getting into the different body styles and drivetrains available, there are other considerations.

Classic Saab 900 cars have relatively simple mechanicals, but in can be frustrating to make them run right if the fuel injection (or carburetor) isn't working right. Parts can take hunting down.

9000s are for Saab enthusiasts; they seem to be a lot of work to keep running properly and parts can be hard to get.

In my estimation, the interior and exterior build quality is best in the late '90s and early 2000s 900/9-3 and 9-5 cars. These are still fairly plentiful and parts are available, but the quality of some parts is no longer OE.

The 2003+ 9-3 are common and cheap. The drivetrains are good, the suspensions are sporty, but interior quality is questionable. Plus you really need a Tech II/security access to do a lot of the repairs on this model.

The 2010+ 9-5, the 9-4X, etc. are rare and servicing and parts are issues.
Hi, thanks for your reply. Late 90's to early 2000's is what I'm focusing on. This will be my everyday driver; like my Land Cruiser, I'll service what I can (typically maintenance items and repairs not requiring 5 banana-level skills!); so will have to seek wisdom from a knowledgeable shop or like minded Saab enthusiast! Hatchbacks, sedans and convertibles especially (I live in Florida) are enough to keep me busy. I've done some reading/research since my initial post so I can appreciate the need to narrow options down. Thanks!
 

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If you want a convertible, do compare the OG9-3 (1999-2003) with the NG9-3 (2004+). The NG9-3 are supposed to have a lot less cowl shake and flexibility. I do own a 2004, and it's still not exactly a bank vault. You also want to avoid a 2004 convertible unless it's working perfectly. And the 900 convertibles have an all-electric top with can require serious fiddling with a Tech II to get it all working properly. Basically, as always, convertibles are a lot of fun, but they will always have more maintenance, and in the case of Saab, highly complex mechanisms involved in lowering and raising the tops.

In sedans, your choice is 9-5. It's a bigger car and less sporty feeling, but also a great relaxed highway car with lots of room. The ventilated seats, if you can find them, would be a great feature in Florida. The T7 motor has sludge issues, which got fixed by 2004. However, by 2004 the cars were already being decontented. I kind of like the glass headlight cars over the first facelift with the plastic headlights.

Hatchbacks, well, you have the NG900 and OG9-3. If there's a non-turbo 900 available, I'd say check it out. The motor is overbuilt for turbo duty, and lacking the turbo system, there's less to go wrong. The OG9-3 all have the turbo motors. 1999 9-3 is a 'safer' purchase because it has the T5 engine instead of the sludge-prone T7. Although 'sludge-prone' does not mean 'sure to have sludge', you just have to do due diligence.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi and thanks for the info. Yes, comparing the OG9-3 v the NG9-3 is a great place to start. When you say the T7 tends to be "sludge-prone", do you mean in terms of inherent design defect (service bulletin/recall?) or a one-banana annoyance issue that can be kept in-check with a quality monthly fuel/oil additive like Techron?
 

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Bounder - The issue was a design fault in the engine. It was fixed in later versions, however, there were some solutions you could apply. 1. PCV kit (or breather kit) that got installed. 2. Preventative maintenance is 'dropping the pan' to ensure it is clean and clear. 3. Regular oil changes with good quality oil.
When you are looking an OG9-3 etc you need to look at the history to determine if it's had those applied.
The buyers guide is here:

The OG9-3 forum will be able to assist with technical questions.
The 1 banana solution is - find a nice OG9-3, with good history. Drop the pan if needed. Make sure its got the PCV kit update #6 installed, replace the hoses and check valve if needed.. and ensure it gets regular oil changes with something like Mobil 1 0W-40 at frequent intervals - more if you drive stop/start. The OG9-3 crowd (Viggen and SE / Aero) owners do tend to be very particular about oil changes and the oil we use - because we love our cars.
I've got a OG9-3 Aero!
Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
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Bounder - The issue was a design fault in the engine. It was fixed in later versions, however, there were some solutions you could apply. 1. PCV kit (or breather kit) that got installed. 2. Preventative maintenance is 'dropping the pan' to ensure it is clean and clear. 3. Regular oil changes with good quality oil.
When you are looking an OG9-3 etc you need to look at the history to determine if it's had those applied.
The buyers guide is here:

The OG9-3 forum will be able to assist with technical questions.
The 1 banana solution is - find a nice OG9-3, with good history. Drop the pan if needed. Make sure its got the PCV kit update #6 installed, replace the hoses and check valve if needed.. and ensure it gets regular oil changes with something like Mobil 1 0W-40 at frequent intervals - more if you drive stop/start. The OG9-3 crowd (Viggen and SE / Aero) owners do tend to be very particular about oil changes and the oil we use - because we love our cars.
I've got a OG9-3 Aero!
Best of luck.
You're amazing Mort! Thanks for the guidance and information. Tom.
 
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