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Discussion Starter #1
Been looking at this car on Craigslist for awhile, and finally got to test-drive it.

There are two issues, one of which is a potential deal-breaker.

1) It's nearly impossible to get into 5th gear- it just revs like it's in neutral. The owner says it needs a synchro ring... Does that sound right? I know nothing about transmissions. If that sounds like a likely problem, what sort of costs am I looking at for part & labor?

2) The stereo is dead- the screen is just dark. He said it's a roughly $225 fix. Don't know much more about that.

Otherwise, the car was a blast- engine pulled like it was new, suspension felt great, and interior was great, aside from a few worn buttons on the dash.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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So right off the bat you know you need to rebuild the tranny, and it needs a new head unit which will probably cost a bit more than $225 to fix (figure in the dealer's ripoff rates on the five minutes it takes to marry the head unit to your car in Tech II)? Unless it's an unbelievably good deal that more than offsets the cost of pulling the tranny and rebuilding it, and replacing the head unit, I'd pass on it. If you want a cheap 9-3, come to New England where Saabs are a dime a dozen.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's a Vector with 129k miles, everything on it is great except for the above issues. I'd be paying $3500. Is it worth the investment for a tranny rebuild?
 

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Call a couple of places, local shops and Aamco and get quotes on both a synchro ring replacement and Trans rebuild......
The HU replacement will probably be double....

Check the front Springs.....
 

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woudl be cheaper to just replace the tranny, plenty of them on ebay and junkyards...
 

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In general I'd pass. Just to get into the transmission labor will be costing you between 500-1000 (at least that's what it was to do my clutch). And if it's hard to get into gear is one thing, but if it's in gear, and especially with the higher gears, if it revs under throttle as if it's in neutral then it most likely needs a new clutch (sounds like you'll be paying somebody like I did and it'll be 1500-2000 when it's all said and done).

The stereo is superbly complex in these cars, if it's a problem with the fiberoptics wiring it can be hard to diagnose and everything is going to have to be done at the dealer. The guy sounds like he doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

I'd steer clear and look for the next one, possible in the next model years when some of the bugs were better ironed out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the advice. I'm going to look at an 04 linear today. It will be disappointing to give up the six speed and larger turbo, but a working transmission is a decent tradeoff, I suppose.
 

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Manual transmissions are stupid-easy to rebuild and the tools are cheap. If you are mechanically inclined and you really like the car and you can source the parts reasonbly inexpensively and don't mind losing time on it, it could be a decent project car with a classy result. Otherwise, I'd pass on it.
 

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Do this…
Step 1) Engine off, car stationary of course, and clutch pedal on the floor, begin shifting as though you were driving it. Do not lift off the clutch pedal. Shift into each gear smoothly and slowly beginning with 1st through top gear, then into reverse. Do this a few times, and repeat gear shifts going backwards.
Will all gears engage properly, is there any detent feel when going into fifth or any other gear?
Step 2) Repeat the process, engine still off, with the clutch pedal out.
Will all gears engage properly, is there any detent feel when going into fifth any other gear?
Repeat step 1 above with the engine running?
Will all gears engage properly, is there any detent feel when going into fifth any other gear?
Write back as to your findings. The transaxle may not require a synchronizer ring or overhaul, but a shift linkage or a linkage bushing(s). Remember this thing has 129k, who knows how it was driven… time and miles, causes things to wear out. Taller gears are smaller, and easily moved by the fork, there is less strain on the synchronizer ring, it shouldn’t wear.
There are plenty of members here with high mileage manual transaxles… I’m sure their cars still shift well.
 

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I would not recommend a private seller. Try to find something at a reputable dealer who has a fully functional 9-3, and will offer you a one year warranty or something like that. It would be worth a $1000 premium price. I have not heard of many people here with much more than 129k miles - I'm sure a well taken care of 9-3 could last a long time, but unless they're an enthusiast like most of us I doubt they took good enough care for it to last much longer than 129k without something major blowing.
 

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I would not recommend a private seller. Try to find something at a reputable dealer who has a fully functional 9-3, and will offer you a one year warranty or something like that. It would be worth a $1000 premium price. I have not heard of many people here with much more than 129k miles - I'm sure a well taken care of 9-3 could last a long time, but unless they're an enthusiast like most of us I doubt they took good enough care for it to last much longer than 129k without something major blowing.
For this price range I disagree with the above comment. Perhaps on a new car, but most dealers who get a car at this age with those miles in just send it to auction anyway. I would recommend taking it to a shop first though to get inspected (if you can convince the seller). Perhaps they can give you real figures on the repairs that the seller is claiming need to be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks guys, but I ended up going with a '00 9-3. I really wanted a sedan, but this thing was in amazing condition inside & out. 87k miles for $3800. Looks & drives like it's fresh from the showroom.
 
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