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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I have been looking to get into SAAB ownership for awhile now and think I have found it. Its a 2001 9-5 Aero, 5-speed. 130k miles. This will be my first SAAB, and also my first turbo car. I'm hoping to check it out this weekend, and had a few questions from those who know more about these 9-5s than I do. I've done my research, and plenty of digging on the site, so obviously I know all about the sludge issues these engines can have.

Is there anything in particular to the 2001 9-5s I should look for? Any areas that should be thoroughly checked? Any specific areas or methods to spotting a possible sludge problem? With 130k, is there anything I should be expecting to replace soon?

How has reliability been for the 99 and up 9-5s? Should I expect this car to make it easily to 200k with little problem?I'm no stranger to DIY working on cars, so compared to the domestics, how are these cars to work on myself? As a frame of reference, I'm used to domestics (Ford, GM, etc) for which quality parts are reasonably priced.

I'm looking for something mainly reliable, decent on gas, and not something you see everyday. Is this what I should expect from an 01 9-5 Aero with 130k?

Any and all advice is welcome!
 

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I'm most of the questions could be answered in the FAQ.

Rockauto.com has a good selection of consumables at good prices.
 

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Definitely do a search here since this is a very common question. If you have questions after that then go ahead and ask. Usually if you do think of a question then 9 out 10 times it has been asked before.

Good luck and enjoy your Saab when you get it.
 

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I bought an 01 Aero this spring with 135000. Love it and it is mint from Ca. Cant tell it not 6 months old when I look under the car. Replaced the rotors and pads and a few other things. No sludge either even tho PCV 6 was not done.
If not already replaced you likely will be looking at the following soon.
Direct Ignition Cassette. Expensive and your likely will be on it 2nd or 3rd. Pull it out to see if it Saab or China made.
Spark plugs. Be careful to get the right ones. Find out here not at NAPA. Clean and replace if still good. New plugs tend to kill off older DIC's.
Fuel pump.
cps.
trans fluid changeover.
abs module rebuild at BBS
motor mounts and torsion rod for transmission
alternator-horrible job
brakes
throttle body rebuild at BBS
SID rebuild at BBS
Alarm Rebuild at BBS
My shocks and springs are fine-feel very tight.
Seems like a lot, but the rebuilds are cheap.
The Aero came with recommended full syn oil and were not nearly as prone to sludge as the others. The 4 speed is very good as opposed to the 5 speed in the 02 which was very problematic.
A lot of this has likely already been done on your car. If not or no records you might want to keep looking. Most of the stuff I have listed is pretty easy to do and the fourm will walk you thru it. If the body is rust free I would not be afraid of the 01 with 130 on it. Your turbo is the Mitu TD 04 and will last 200X or more if you change the oil often with Mobil I 0-40
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the reply Mike, a lot of good information. Is the 5-speed transmission known to have problems in this generation 9-5 Aeros?
 

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Thanks for the reply Mike, a lot of good information. Is the 5-speed transmission known to have problems in this generation 9-5 Aeros?
I "believe" Mike was refering to the 4-speed and 5-speed automatics. The four speeds were used from 1998 thru 2001. Whereas the 5-speed autos first appeared in 2002. Maybe the 2002 5-speeds had issues in their first year but I am not familiar with this problem.

Since you said this car is a 2001 with a 5-speed I am asuming it has a manual transmisison, very desirable in an Aero. If indeed it is a 5-speed automatic you need to start asking more questions of the seller. If it is an manual transmisison car you may want to add a new clutch to the list of potential replacement costs that may appear within the next couple years.
 

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Should I expect this car to make it easily to 200k with little problem?
No, not at all. 200,000 miles (another 70 from where you are now) will cost you some $$. Could be thousands. These cars are maintenance intensive, they are not Hondas.

Hopefully there is a trustworthy independent Saab mechanic close to where you are.

Personally, I would buy the newest 9-5 I could afford, and make it model year 2003 or newer at least. Lots of people buy these cars because they are cheap, but have lots of luxury and the driving dynamics are good. However, they can't really afford to maintain them. I've had several, including a 2002 wagon bought new at the dealer, a 2002 9-3, and two 9-5s. I've stopped keeping records of how much they cost to maintain since it just upsets me :)

I want to edit and note that IF you are mechanically inclined and can read reasonably well, this forum will save you a ton of money on maintenance. Since the 9-5s had such a loooong model run, just about everything that can go wrong with one has, and somebody found a way to fix it.

My next one will be an Aero Wagon.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Is it a general consensus here that Ld_rider is right? Outside of the normal preventative maintenance like oil, filter, plugs, etc. should I expect to spend thousands if I expect an 01 Aero to last another 50-70k miles, ie make it to 200k? Even on a car with supposed full maintenance records and the latest pcv update?

I admit, the features for the price is what sparked my interest in these 9-5s, but if its going to need constant, expensive upkeep I may just stick to finding an 04 and up 9-3 with the Ecotec engine and on the Epsilon platform. I'm used to domestics that make it to 200k from similar mileage on $1k-$2k or less outside of normal oil changes and tune ups.
 

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I'm not sure that I'd agree with the post about constant expensive maintenance. I've now had three of these cars, one of them my son drives. The two that I drive and pay attention to have been relatively minor maintenance stuff. My 03 Aero has 140K on it now and in the last couple of years I've done brakes, CPS,sump drop, PCV update, Serpentine belt and pulleys, a wheel bearing, (a new radio but that wasn't necessary) and I'm doing a full set of motor mounts today.

I do know that I'm going to need a throttle body rebuild soon and the SID is missing some pixels. But right now those problems aren't an issue.

With the exception of the sump drop to check for sludge and the PCV update I would say that these are typical "wear" items on most cars.k

My son's 99 is another story. I think he drives it like any other typical idiot teenager. he has gone through a set of tires in as little as 15K miles, I think hit a curb and caused damage to a wheel bearing, etc. his has been a bit more problematic but I attribute it to the way that he takes care of it and drives it. But still not off the charts. The turbo was the big item for his car, but his is the LPT which is not as robust as the Aero turbo.


It does help if you have a small amount of mechanical skill and can follow and read what's in here. As someone said, I've been able to do a lot of the work on my own car after reading and following the tutorials here.

They're great cars, extremely good value for the amount you pay and if taken care of can last a long, long time. (especially if you live in CA where even the calipers don't rust)
 

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Is it a general consensus here that Ld_rider is right? Outside of the normal preventative maintenance like oil, filter, plugs, etc. should I expect to spend thousands if I expect an 01 Aero to last another 50-70k miles, ie make it to 200k? Even on a car with supposed full maintenance records and the latest pcv update?
I respectfully disagree with that assessment. I drove my first 9-5, a 2000 lpt model, for 318K miles then sold it to a woman who expects it to last her another 80K to 100K miles. I tried to religiously follow the 60K mile major service interval work items, and I always changed oil and filter at 5K mile interval using synthetic only.

Yes a few things broke, but nothing catastrophic or at low mileage.
 

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Hi,

To Mike Brennan's list I would add the following:


  • Coolant bypass valve
  • Serpentine belt and pulley
  • Suspension bushings (likely rear)
  • Various vacuum leaks from deteriorated rubber 1/4 inch vacuum hoses.
  • timing chain tensioners (may not be very worn with your milage)
On a cold engine (over night) at start-up it should not puff any smoke back at the tail pipe. If it does, your TD04 is on its way out and may need to be rebuilt or replaced.

My opinion, look for 04' 05' a few years newer 20 more horses and more piece of mind.

Ro from Woodbridge
 

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04 and 05 I believer were the best years and are a great value used. All of the things listed that are potential replacement issues-most can be done by a driveway fixer. Most but not all. If you are not able to work on a car you might be better off with a honda or something like that. Most of us enjoy the fixing of Saab ourselves and sometimes screwing them up in the process and then getting people here to help fix what we wrecked. So think about it. The list seems awfully long, but in reality the list is pretty typical for almost any car.
 

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Definetly be sure that you really want one because this is definetly an enthusiast-project car rather than your traditional ol reliable daily. Reliability is much more dependent in the previous owner than yourself.
Just got an 03 aero about 2 months ago. Have replace so far, rear main seal , engine, turbo, blower resistor..... and suspect the valve body might be next. All of these are common issues, parts are a ***** to get and expensive when available, and everything you swap from another car seems to need a tech 2 to divorce and remarry.
The only satisfaction is that the car really drives nice, but I honestly didn't expect as many chronic design and engineering flaws as I have discovered. Due your research.
 

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If it helps, here's my experience:

Bought my '02 9-5 in February. It ran rough when I bought it.

Replaced:
Fuel Filter
Air Filter
Cabin Filter
Spark Plugs
Radiator and Thermostat

Oil and ATF drained and filled.

Car runs great now. Drove it 200 miles this weekend to pick up

A '95 900S
Original owner took good care of this car. Picked it up used and drove it 200 miles. Tach would not go above 3,000 so I stopped at Vato Zone and got a $14 air fiilter. Car now revs fine.

Needs:
Front Brakes
Headlight Switch
Ashtray

Then we'll replace:
Fuel Filter
Cabin Filter
Spark Plugs

Oil and ATF drained and filled.

Cost of cars: '02 - 120,000 miles - 2,300 ---- '95 - 137,000 miles - 1,250

These are cars I bought that had issues that made their owner decide he'd rather sell than fix. My '02 has only needed maintenance items aside from a radiator problem due to a failed thermostat. The rough idle and stalling he complained of was just a clogged fuel filter and old plugs.

If I had purchased any used car, I'm going to change the oil, ATF, air filter, plugs, etc... I always assume that normal maintenance was not done.

The '95 got sold due to the lack of boost and "electrical issues". A $14 air filter and a $10 headlight switch from the junk yard. No tools even required.

I'm assuming all of these owners at some point took their Saab to a mechanic who quoted them an ungodly figure to fix their cars.


IMHO, if you own a Saab, you are a Saab mechanic or you're wealthy enough to go buy a 5 series and stop farting around with used cars. Saab/BMW/Volvo mechanics work with BMW/Volvo budgets. They are not for the moron trying to score a cheap used car. If you are going to rely on a mechanic, it will get expensive fast.

I have worked on a good number of cars, and minus a few quirks, Saabs are very easy to work on, and the parts are mostly reasonable.

Working on your car changes your relationship with the vehicle. It's more like buying a dog than buying a blender. You will know your car intimately. You will know the source of every squeak rattle and grind, and you'll drive it for a year knowing the vacuum lines are bad "but you'll get to it". (As opposed to uninvolved drivers who have no idea there's a vacuum problem until it stops making vroom noises.)

You will know the name of the man who designed your engine, because you are going to crank call him late one Sunday night and ask him why he put the f***ing thermostat there. (Luckily I don't speak Swedish, and I don't think he spoke English.)

So, are you ready to not own, but adopt a Saab into your family?

If you want something that "Just works" then Saab is not for you. If you're ready to spend your weekends crawling under a car, then Saab's can't be beat.
 

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It's more like buying a dog than buying a blender.
Great quote, Lost!:lol: - and spot on from my experience as well. It's really all relative, how much parts cost, how likely the subsystems are to fail, preventative maintenance, and the rest. There's a good bit of luck involved in it as well. No, a Saab's not a Honda ownership experience, nor is it a Ferrari experience either.:roll:

I have 2 MY03 9-5s now, and they each have a very unique 'personality' of their own, but almost the exact same car by design. I work on them both almost every weekend, and often weekday evenings as well. Mainly because I accept and enjoy that type of ownership. So far neither has required any 'major' repair(s) that I couldn't DIY. This forum makes a lot of that possible.

One of my basic guidelines when buying used cars (especially Saab) is how much TLC the previous owner(s) gave the car? For example did (s)he garage it religiously or park it out in a back alley? Makes a difference over time, and also pretty indicative of their automotive understanding and upkeep habits.

...anyway, my .02SEK for the OP: I'd personally hold out for an 2002 or newer Aero over the 2001, but if the price is right, snap it up, bookmark goldwing and GS, and join the ranks!
 

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On a cold engine (over night) at start-up it should not puff any smoke back at the tail pipe. If it does, your TD04 is on its way out and may need to be rebuilt or replaced.

ehhh not really a huge issue, if you're car is blowing blue on WOT or even constantly then yes your turbo is going, but my '01 lpt has had the cold start puffs for probably five years now. No sign of it getting any worse, and I put my car through some rigorous driving more often than not.
 

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If it helps, here's my experience:

Bought my '02 9-5 in February. It ran rough when I bought it.

Replaced:
Fuel Filter
Air Filter
Cabin Filter
Spark Plugs
Radiator and Thermostat

Oil and ATF drained and filled.

Car runs great now. Drove it 200 miles this weekend to pick up

A '95 900S
Original owner took good care of this car. Picked it up used and drove it 200 miles. Tach would not go above 3,000 so I stopped at Vato Zone and got a $14 air fiilter. Car now revs fine.

Needs:
Front Brakes
Headlight Switch
Ashtray

Then we'll replace:
Fuel Filter
Cabin Filter
Spark Plugs

Oil and ATF drained and filled.

Cost of cars: '02 - 120,000 miles - 2,300 ---- '95 - 137,000 miles - 1,250

These are cars I bought that had issues that made their owner decide he'd rather sell than fix. My '02 has only needed maintenance items aside from a radiator problem due to a failed thermostat. The rough idle and stalling he complained of was just a clogged fuel filter and old plugs.

If I had purchased any used car, I'm going to change the oil, ATF, air filter, plugs, etc... I always assume that normal maintenance was not done.

The '95 got sold due to the lack of boost and "electrical issues". A $14 air filter and a $10 headlight switch from the junk yard. No tools even required.

I'm assuming all of these owners at some point took their Saab to a mechanic who quoted them an ungodly figure to fix their cars.


IMHO, if you own a Saab, you are a Saab mechanic or you're wealthy enough to go buy a 5 series and stop farting around with used cars. Saab/BMW/Volvo mechanics work with BMW/Volvo budgets. They are not for the moron trying to score a cheap used car. If you are going to rely on a mechanic, it will get expensive fast.

I have worked on a good number of cars, and minus a few quirks, Saabs are very easy to work on, and the parts are mostly reasonable.

Working on your car changes your relationship with the vehicle. It's more like buying a dog than buying a blender. You will know your car intimately. You will know the source of every squeak rattle and grind, and you'll drive it for a year knowing the vacuum lines are bad "but you'll get to it". (As opposed to uninvolved drivers who have no idea there's a vacuum problem until it stops making vroom noises.)

You will know the name of the man who designed your engine, because you are going to crank call him late one Sunday night and ask him why he put the f***ing thermostat there. (Luckily I don't speak Swedish, and I don't think he spoke English.)

So, are you ready to not own, but adopt a Saab into your family?

If you want something that "Just works" then Saab is not for you. If you're ready to spend your weekends crawling under a car, then Saab's can't be beat.

I'm sorry but there are some points in your quote that I disagree with.
These cars are far from just needing a tuneup or a quick fix, from my research from this very forum.
U have mostly worked on BMWs most of my life and I truly thought I would get something at that level mechanically when getting a Saab.
But I never thought I would run into a car with so many chronic issues.
There have been 6 different pcv updates. Sludge issues galore where there has been an aftermarket oil pan designed to check and clean or oil pickup on every oil change.
An oil pump design flaw that doesn't flow enough oil eventually, so they had to go back to the oil pump from 15 years ago.
Oil lights flickering on idle, transmissions jerking from P to D,
...I'm sorry for hijacking this thread, but I'm just venting out my frustration caused by a car that is supposed to be a daily and has turned into the restoration project. Hate to say it but I bought an auto M3 with 200k which should be the project car, but I trust it more as my reliable daily more than the Saab.

That being said my previous car was a 01 540i sport , and I love the way the Saab drives more than the 540i. I'm just tired of dropping oil pans already. ...
 

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These cars are far from just needing a tuneup or a quick fix, from my research from this very forum.
But I never thought I would run into a car with so many chronic issues.
I have to agree. The OP asked about his potential purchase reaching 200,000 miles with normal maintenance. That is highly unlikely, despite anecdotal evidence of one or two cars actually doing that.

These are "hobby" cars. Those that like tinkering on their Saab every month or so (in some cases every weekend) to fix issues are still here, on this site. Those that wanted Honda reliability have moved on and obviously aren't here to post about what a POS their Saab was. I guess to some, working on their Saab is actually fun.

I have had everything from a Ford Taurus wagon to a Porsche 911 turbo that I bought new. Probably 40 cars in total. Not one has required the tinkering that my four Saabs (some bought new) have needed. Do I mind? Apparently not, since I'm still here <shrugs>....

BTW, of all the modern cars I've owned, only one do I find it necessary to keep spare parts in the trunk :)

The reason people buy these 9-5's is <exactly> why the OP is interested; They are cheap and have a lot of "luxury". Well, guess what? There is a reason they are cheap. Just sayin'

BTW, in the last two months on my 94,000 mile 9-5 I've replaced the crankshaft position sensor, rebuilt the throttle body, bought a new Direct Ignition Cassette, replaced rollers and rubber guides on the driver's door, put in a new O2 sensor, repaired part of the wiring harness, tried (and failed) to repair the power window assembly on one of the rear doors, replaced a failed windshield washer pump, had a new alternator put in by an indy, since there was no way I wanted to deal with it and probably a bunch more things I forgot. If it weren't for this forum, I would not know how to do most of that work and the maintenance would have cost me thousands and thousands of dollars. That is simply a fact. A scary fact, but still a fact.

I am the second owner and bought it with 38,000 miles. I've been fanatical with the scheduled maintenance.

For the last few weeks the alarm has been going off pretty much when it feels like it, so I have to start searching the forum about that problem soon.
 

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I have to agree. The OP asked about his potential purchase reaching 200,000 miles with normal maintenance. That is highly unlikely, despite anecdotal evidence of one or two cars actually doing that.

These are "hobby" cars. Those that like tinkering on their Saab every month or so (in some cases every weekend) to fix issues are still here, on this site. Those that wanted Honda reliability have moved on and obviously aren't here to post about what a POS their Saab was. I guess to some, working on their Saab is actually fun.

I have had everything from a Ford Taurus wagon to a Porsche 911 turbo that I bought new. Probably 40 cars in total. Not one has required the tinkering that my four Saabs (some bought new) have needed. Do I mind? Apparently not, since I'm still here <shrugs>....

BTW, of all the modern cars I've owned, only one do I find it necessary to keep spare parts in the trunk :)

The reason people buy these 9-5's is <exactly> why the OP is interested; They are cheap and have a lot of "luxury". Well, guess what? There is a reason they are cheap. Just sayin'

BTW, in the last two months on my 94,000 mile 9-5 I've replaced the crankshaft position sensor, rebuilt the throttle body, bought a new Direct Ignition Cassette, replaced rollers and rubber guides on the driver's door, put in a new O2 sensor, repaired part of the wiring harness, tried (and failed) to repair the power window assembly on one of the rear doors, replaced a failed windshield washer pump, had a new alternator put in by an indy, since there was no way I wanted to deal with it and probably a bunch more things I forgot. If it weren't for this forum, I would not know how to do most of that work and the maintenance would have cost me thousands and thousands of dollars. That is simply a fact. A scary fact, but still a fact.

I am the second owner and bought it with 38,000 miles. I've been fanatical with the scheduled maintenance.

For the last few weeks the alarm has been going off pretty much when it feels like it, so I have to start searching the forum about that problem soon.
... alarm siren battery rebuild..
 

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Working on your car changes your relationship with the vehicle. It's more like buying a dog than buying a blender. You will know your car intimately. You will know the source of every squeak rattle and grind, and you'll drive it for a year knowing the vacuum lines are bad "but you'll get to it". (As opposed to uninvolved drivers who have no idea there's a vacuum problem until it stops making vroom noises.)


So, are you ready to not own, but adopt a Saab into your family?

If you want something that "Just works" then Saab is not for you. If you're ready to spend your weekends crawling under a car, then Saab's can't be beat.
Agree with this about 1000% ;ol;
 
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