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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new to this forum and joined because I'm considering purchasing a 1999 Saab 9-5 SE 2.3L turbo and I have a few questions. I am more familiar with the volvo b230 engines and know how long I expect them to last but I'm not sure how the saab 2.3L engines do.

How many miles should I expect out of these engines?

What are the typical issues to look out for?

The person selling the car took the head off of the engine chasing an oil leak. After it was off he says that the cause was due to a failed timing chain tensioner seal. It needs re-assembly and I am wary of the oil leak - especially after reading an article in the tech help section here regarding a crankcase ventilation fix. Sounds like this might be a common problem.

I haven't looked at the car yet but from the pictures it looks to be in decent condition considering the age. With it apart, what do you think it may be worth? Supposedly the turbo is only two years old but I will check the bearings for play when I look at it.

Just a little more info:

I am totally comfortable working on cars and have loads of experience with VWs and Volvos. I wouldn't have any problem reassembling it - probably with some help from the folks here on the forum.

Thanks in advance
 

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The engines and transmissions in these cars are pretty robust. My first 99 9-5 had 147K on it when I got rid of it, my 03 Aero now has nearly 140K on it.


The biggest issue is sludge so no matter what you do, the first thing is a sump drop to clean things. If you keep it with synthetic and reasonable oil change intervals, you should get to 200K easy.

That *might* require a new timing chain, but with the engine apart you may want to do the chain now before you put the car back together. It all depends on how much it has stretched measuring the tensioner, but you're beyond that with the head off.

I'd also say that this forum is a huge asset and probably one of the best out there. There are some really knowledgeable people in here and some tutorials that show step by step how to get things done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply. It raised my concerns with this particular car. Since the head is off that means the valve cover is also off and probably means it has been cleaned so I can check it for sludge.

It sounds to me that I would need to drop the pan to check for sludge and at that time I probably should drop the crank to check the bearings as well. I'll probably take a look but sounds to me that I should get this real cheap if it is worth my time.

Thanks again.
 

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how many miles?

If there is no sign of sludge, I'm not sure I'd go through the trouble to check the bearings if you don't see a lot of sludge.

Then again with the head off you pretty much nearly have the engine out of the car and could do a rebuild. If the rest of the car is in great shape then you have a perfect idea of how long it's gonna run (i.e. a long time!)
 

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If you're mechanically inclined, and don't need it for a daily driver, I'd say get it cheap and go for it!

Where about's in Illinois are ya? If you're near me I'd love to help ya out, I'm not a master mechanic, as I've just started with Saabs, but I know my way around a wrench (Used to own Saturns, so I've done my share of engine and transmission swaps).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm in the northwest suburbs of Chicago - near Crystal Lake. I hope to take a look at the car tonight. Yeah, I'm thinking I must get this car pretty cheap in order to make it worth my while. My son is the one who will be needing the car. He's looking for a job currently and has spare time so he can do a lot of the work.

I'll post back once I take a look at the car.

Thanks for your help on this.
 

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For a baseline, I got my 00' 9-5 SE for $3000, with a few problems here and there, but body and interior are immaculate.
 

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If you're lucky you can play on Saab fear and score the car cheap. I bought a 2002 9-5 Arc 3.0 for $2300 with 120K miles on it. Mine needed routine maint done for the most part.

Check the carfax for recall services. Since Saab dealers aren't fired up about doing the recall work it's best to get one that already has it done. Also, check to see how long it was serviced by the dealership.

IMHO, being somewhat new to Saabs, the primary thing I have come across is that everything works great if routine maintenance is done properly. So, good maintenance records go a long way.

With the car already having it's head off, it's hard to put a value on it. You could easily find yourself needing enough parts to make the car not worth it. (A bad DIC can run $3-400) With Saabs selling for so little in great running condition, you might be better off to shop around unless there is something very special about this particular one.

MSN autos has a nice reliability section and even compares the same models over different years.

http://autos.msn.com/research/vip/Reliability.aspx?year=1999&make=Saab&model=9-5&trimid=3051

I wouldn't take their word for gospel, but it's a good idea of what you can expect. Also, if you like a particular car/model, you can target a year that has most of the issues ironed out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I was able to take a look at it this morning. Body was average - some bubbling rust near the front of the rear wheel wells. Also some rust underneath - not bad though. Looking at the engine turned me off though. Lots of carbon buildup on the tops of the pistons. On the head, someone had bolted a plate on to keep the cam plugs from popping so I have concerns about crankcase pressure. Also, checking the turbo it had some shaft play - it wasn't scraping yet but it was close.

Given that the turbo needed a rebuild and the rest of the engine condition was questionable I had to give the car a pass. The owner wanted $1800 and wouldn't come down (has $4k sunk into it). He is going to part it out to try to recoup some of his cost.

Thanks for your help here. The information provided was invaluable in checking this car out.
 
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