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I have a 1992 non-turbo 900 4 door 5-speed and love it. But, it has a bunch of little problems that are starting to add up. Brakes, exhaust, headlights, CV's, even the radio is going. For a car of this vintage, it starts to get beyond what I want to pay.

I now see a 1989 Turbo 4 door, much like mine (Nice) but it's an Automatic. How do the automatic transmissions fare in this model? I don't know the miles off hand. Are the auto's OK? I could use my current car as a parts car, and I am familar with other parts of this car, but the automatic transmission is a mystery to me, as I have never had one. What are people's thoughts? Thanks!
 

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I have owned 4 of these with automatics, and 2 with manuals. I have not had an issue with any of my automatics. The main issue is probably going to be the mileage on the car and how it's been treated through the years...but that's going to be the issue regardless of whether it's an auto or a manual.

They will be a bit noisier on the highway and the gas mileage will not be quite as good, but they are still nice cars. The automatic turbos actually spool up better and accelerate quicker than their counterparts.

Good to see another TC resident on the board!
 

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Tc

Thanks! Yep, I am here in SW Minneapolis.

I have noticed that most C900 drivers do waive hello here, maybe it's Minnesotan, maybe it's SAAB but I usually get a waive from my Scarabe Green 900. In any case, I thank you for your reply.

I rented a car today while mine was down, and I can't believe the crap that is out there. Ouch.
 

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The 900 Automatic IMO is really really weak. I mean come on, they love to fail.

I had a terrible experience with a 900 turbo automatic, plus the shifting style is just horrible. Vibration in drive is more than excessive, and the crusing on the freeway feels like garbage.

I'm sorry, I feel the 900 automatic is nealry a waste of time. Without being in really really good tune they are dreadful to drive.




Vrooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmm *THUMP* .................*THUD*

man, I don't miss that.
 

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flounder43 said:
I have a 1992 non-turbo 900 4 door 5-speed and love it. But, it has a bunch of little problems that are starting to add up. Brakes, exhaust, headlights, CV's, even the radio is going. For a car of this vintage, it starts to get beyond what I want to pay.

I now see a 1989 Turbo 4 door, much like mine (Nice) but it's an Automatic. How do the automatic transmissions fare in this model? I don't know the miles off hand. Are the auto's OK? I could use my current car as a parts car, and I am familar with other parts of this car, but the automatic transmission is a mystery to me, as I have never had one. What are people's thoughts? Thanks!
My 89 16V hatchback has an auto trans and it's really good. My 81 turbo is also an auto car without any trans problems except one niggly downshift clunk but that's probably a fluid pressure issue.

Most general servicing on autos can be done with the engine/trans in the car. Things like band adjustment, checking/adjusting ATF pressures, replacing ATF filters, pans, etc. can all be done in-car. Just like a manual trans, anything major requires the trans and engine pulled out.

The auto transmissions are much tougher than the 5-speed manuals by design no doubt due to the tighter tolerance requirements for all the special internal fluid mechanics to do it's job properly. That isn't to say they're immediately better since I would rather have manuals but the autos are still good and with regular TLC they'll last a long time before needing wholesale replacement.

Craig.
 

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i have a '92 c900 lpt 4-door saloon in manual and a 3-door auto. The manual is more fun to drive, but here in bangkok i actually don't mind the auto in traffic. It's only 3 forward gears, though, so at 160kph or so it's like you're redlining and wishing for another gear or an overdrive gear.... that's probably why people complain that it's loud at speed, because of it having only 3 gears ...

all in all tho, it's not so bad, but i have both -- if i had to choose one over the other i'd probably choose the manual, just a presonal preference.
 

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c900 said:
The auto transmissions are much tougher than the 5-speed manuals by design no doubt due to the tighter tolerance requirements for all the special internal fluid mechanics to do it's job properly. That isn't to say they're immediately better since I would rather have manuals
I'd attribute the durability to the torque converter which absorbs a lot of the "hit" you'd get from, say, speed shifting or dumping the clutch for a fast getaway ... they are, however, only three speeds, so you'll be two cogs short of a full pack!
 

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The autos are fine, but when they go it really isn't very practical to fix them at this point. Parts and competent service can be hard to find. They are more durable from HP blow up point of view but maybe not so much from a mileage stance.
I would say yes if most of your driving is local, no if you do a lot of long hwy drives.
 

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flounder43 said:
I have a 1992 non-turbo 900 4 door 5-speed and love it. But, it has a bunch of little problems that are starting to add up. Brakes, exhaust, headlights, CV's, even the radio is going. For a car of this vintage, it starts to get beyond what I want to pay.

I now see a 1989 Turbo 4 door, much like mine (Nice) but it's an Automatic. How do the automatic transmissions fare in this model? I don't know the miles off hand. Are the auto's OK? I could use my current car as a parts car, and I am familar with other parts of this car, but the automatic transmission is a mystery to me, as I have never had one. What are people's thoughts? Thanks!
I'm going to come at this from a slightly different direction to the other replies, and completely ignore your actual question...

You've currently got a 15yo car. It's got a bunch of fairly minor, normal wear-and-tear/routine maintenance issues. OK, no problem. I'd be more surprised if it didn't...
The bills are adding up and getting a bit scary, so you're thinking of changing cars. FIne. With you so far. (I sometimes wonder if that wouldn't be the sensible course myself - then I realise how miserably bored I'd be...)

But upgrading to an OLDER car? With higher maintenance requirements...? Helloooo...? If you want to avoid having to spend on routine maintenance, brakes, exhaust replacements, get a NEW car with a warranty... Has the '89 Turbo got a new exhaust, brakes etc?

Ask yourself...
- How much will it cost to fix those things on your car?
vs.
- How much will this new 900 cost you to buy?
- How much will the inevitable jobs on the new 'un cost?

Seems to me like the low-cost, less-hassle route would be to stick with the existing car - especially since you "love it".

Of course, if you want to use this as an excuse to your missus to let you upgrade to a turbo, don't let me stop you... <grin>
 

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TooMany2cvs said:
I'm going to come at this from a slightly different direction to the other replies, and completely ignore your actual question...

You've currently got a 15yo car. It's got a bunch of fairly minor, normal wear-and-tear/routine maintenance issues. OK, no problem. I'd be more surprised if it didn't...
The bills are adding up and getting a bit scary, so you're thinking of changing cars. FIne. With you so far. (I sometimes wonder if that wouldn't be the sensible course myself - then I realise how miserably bored I'd be...)

But upgrading to an OLDER car? With higher maintenance requirements...? Helloooo...? If you want to avoid having to spend on routine maintenance, brakes, exhaust replacements, get a NEW car with a warranty... Has the '89 Turbo got a new exhaust, brakes etc?

Ask yourself...
- How much will it cost to fix those things on your car?
vs.
- How much will this new 900 cost you to buy?
- How much will the inevitable jobs on the new 'un cost?

Seems to me like the low-cost, less-hassle route would be to stick with the existing car - especially since you "love it".

Of course, if you want to use this as an excuse to your missus to let you upgrade to a turbo, don't let me stop you... <grin>
yeah I second that.

A turbo Automatic of the 89' year stands the highest chance for being a costly hole. Seriously.

a 5-speed non-turbo is reliable. Engage in some DIY repairs, lots of help and information is on this site. If you can take a wheel off you can do nearly anything, some stuff it just more like taking a tire off 6-7 times. Car repairs aren't difficult in a sense that they are "hard", they are difficult because you need to be well organized, logical, and follow sometimes many many steps.

If you have put together a model car or built lego before it is more or less the same logic really. SOmetimes you need some strength; however, I'm 135 lbs and 6ft tall:eek: .....I still manage....sometimes with words on encouragement.
 

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Philbert, Craig, Teej:

I'm surprised to hear near consenus that the AT(s) were good.

I've never had/driven one. But both our indy SAAB shops tell me those things routinely fail 125-150k miles and rarely survive a rebuild.

Are all of them Borg Warner?
 

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For the most part, those of us who have an automatic tend to like them and also tend to like the manuals also. Those that have manuals tend to like them and detest an automatic. I think what sticks in my craw is the depth of that detesting....speaking in generalities, it's based on opinion and not on facts. Just take a look at the number of posts from people who have serious problems with their manual transmissions...popping out of reverse, pinion whine, shifting problems...that's not saying a manual is bad, just that it too can have some serious issues.

I've had two manual 900s...one was on its second transmission, the other I blew out reverse gear and junked out the car because it had so many other problems. I cannot put my experience with only two cars into the "manuals are junk" category. On the other hand, I've had four automatics...all without a problem. I also cannot put my experience with four cars into the "all automatics are great" category.

Both types of transmissions will only last as long as the maintenance done on them and how they are driven. I don't drive my automatics like a granny, but I also don't drive them like a teenager either. I have 231,000, 211,000, 144,000, and 97,000 miles on those cars and each of them drives and shifts perfectly.

I guess what I'm saying is this: you know your driving habits and what you like. Get the car that fits those needs/wants. Just because someone doesn't like automatics because of THEIR perference, don't make your decision based on that. Same thing, don't make your decision based on someone's opinion that an automatic is good because of THEIR perference.

As TooMany said, you have a bigger decision to make: Is it going to be cheaper to buy another car with unknown problems or fix the one you have?
 

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Auto is really slow though

I have an automatic, the 2,1 non turbo and I can assure you that it is really slow and not responsive. Granted, I knew all that but I didn't mind because this is my second car, which I use for fun and to learn how to work on Saabs. I commute shortly around town only and don't take it on trips. Driving this Saab, I have come into a complete new driving habbit of being patient and moderate, not gunning it, and waiting for the auto to do its job. It is really slow. The pick up suffers too. If you push it, it doesn't get much faster but really hurts the mileage. They are really tough though and with proper maintenance run well for a long time.
 

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Guys come on

A trip down to the dealer or to a Saab indy shop will explain how brutal thoes darn Automatics were for them.

The Saab Automatic is an ancient design and with modern day driving gets chewed up quite easily. The most part of it is from the 1950s. You can't sit in the slow lane and putter at 55MPH anymore, thoes days are long gone. Traffic moves at 70+mph. The Saab Auto can't handle this without horrible failure.

That said, the Automatic takes turbo boost like dirt and develops shifting troubles very easily. My Saab mechanic has had so many bad experiences with thoes darn things that he nearly refuses to service them anymore, suggesting only a drop in for a manual. Back in the day early replacement was normal and many saw lives of just 60,000kms or less in turbo models.

The 5-speed doesn't hold torque well; however, they will make it to 200,000miles without a hitch.

Vibration in drive is something the automatic is famous for and it really REALLY gets annoying, it is well beyond excessive.

I have driven a number of 900 Automatics, I nearly bought one. I would consider it a near safety hazard given the speed in the non turbo.

The way it shifts and the limit of 3 gears is horrible to drive really.

I'm sorry guys, I know some have great experiences with Automatics; however, this is just not consistent with the Saab repair shops I have been to and my persoanl experiences driving them. The general rule for 900s: Avoid the Automatic.

My boss bought his first 900 with an Automatic, the friggen thing blew up a month later.
 

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This isn't going to get into a manual vs. automatic debate. The plain truth is both are prone to have problems...both have "reputations" of being a weak link.

I have driven over 150,000 miles in four different Saab 900s with automatics with nary a problem (except for old red, it didn't like to shift right away when it got below minus 20. A fluid change cleared that up.)

Yes, the automatic was designed in the 1950's. When was the manual tranny designed? Yup, years earlier.

My driving is a minimum of 90 miles a day on the freeway at 70+ mph. All four cars take the speed well, no vibration, and it is definitely not a "safety issue".

If your personal preference is for a manual tranny, then buy one. I'm just saying don't blow smoke by making claims based on innuendo, biased opinions, or limited experience.

Oh, and to Woywitka...didn't you have to have your manual tranny rebuilt when it had less than 200,000 miles on it? And was your boss's car transmission on its last legs when he bought it? Reading back through old posts that's what I understood.
I'm an old geezer with a *** knee, and shifting is a problem nowadays. I truly would prefer a manual (brings me back to the days of my youth) but it just isn't possible any longer. I was, and still am, pleasantly surprised as to the performance of an automatic and how it does not deserve the reputation some have given them.
 

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I'm going to have to side with Phil here. Its a matter of preference. Which apparently we're going to have to add to the list of taboo topics. Politics, religion, music and Transmissions!
 

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jetman said:
I'm going to have to side with Phil here. Its a matter of preference. Which apparently we're going to have to add to the list of taboo topics. Politics, religion, music and Transmissions!
DARN! My next post was on politics! :lol:
 

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Fine then you old buggers:lol:

I will keep my experiences/opinions closed for now.

I will say that I had my Manual rebuilt for shift quality imrpovmeent, I'm sure it would have gone further. 7 owners takes a toll on it.

FOr the person posting: try it for yourself and see.
 

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Well and to be fair to Woy, I always say I have never blown a Saab tranny. But that's not technically true. I lost second gear on an 85 8v auto at 170,000 km and no amount of work ever brought it back.

On the other hand, according to the paper work my 81 had its 5 speed replaced under warranty at 12,000 km. But it was a demo I think...
 

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Proper maintenance of an auto?

So, what is recommended then in terms of maintenance to get a longer life of an 900's automatic transmition?
 
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