SaabCentral Forums banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the second week of ownership of my third Saab.

An old 99 got me through High School.
An 87 900S 20 years later
And two weeks ago an 89 900, with automatic transmission

I'm an aeronautical engineer and I believe the older Saabs are one of the best cars I've ever driven. I bought the 1989 and almost immediately started to regret the purchase. The car (with my repair work) is pristine. Only a small scratch is on it. Yet, I'm regreting the purchase -- someone called a meeting at Saab and proposed as an agenda installing a 3 speed automatic transmision! I don't have fuel economy data on the car yet, but I'm anticipating it may come in at around 20 MPG.

So, I've been reading about manual transmission swaps. My 1987 was a beautiful malechite green car with a 5 speed and the pinion bearing went. People told me that manual transmissions in Saabs are known for pinion/synchro failures and while I'm capable and interested in performing a swap on the car -- the thought of taking a perfectly fine automatic and installing a bad manual transmission makes me shudder!

Which raises the question: HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY A SWAP from a cost standpoint? It seem like a bad financial decision. For example:

Blue book for an 89 Saab is $1500. That's a mid-range figure. A used transmission (including clutch, and other hardware) is at LEAST $800. A used transmission stands a god chance of needing replacement in 2 years if you believe the people I've talked to.

That means going to a rebuilt transmission -- that will cost more than the value of the car -- perhaps by a factor of two.

You could buy an entire car for that much! A good one! So, I'm extremely curious -- what rationale, logic, or motivation would cause one to justify swapping transmissions? I'm SURE this is a newbie question -- in fact I am new to this forum and ask for your patience. What am I missing here?

Siggy
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the feedback -- the Oscar quote was also wonderful. :p You both confirmed what I suspected: It's for the love of the car (meaning: there is no data that I'm missing -- perhaps I overlooked that there is a supplier of $200 rebuilt transmissions :cheesy: ); and second, that I should look for a parts car.

I must say, I am a perfectionist of some sorts and I can not feel completely at ease until I address this circustance: 65MPH at 3300 RPM!

It's just wrong!

I'm surprised that no one makes a final drive gear that can be substituted for the stock gear to lower the drive line compound gear ratio. I don't need great acceleration (I own a 400hp Ford Mustang Boss 302 for that); just good fuel economy and that wonderful Saab body feel.

Anyway, this is a great forum -- I found this forum last night and I stayed up quite late last night enjoying the posts.

Kind thanks,
Siggy

:cheesy:
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My problem is that I love Saabs and am a perfectionist. A very knowledgable man who wrote an article on how to do the swap gave me the impression that the automatic (Type 37) is very unreliable.

And here in California fuel prices are very high Perhaps not so high that there's a positive return on investment to fund swapping transmission -- not in about 20 years of driving! :D

I suppose I had better just drive the car.

It's funny. I think about the performance of business and engineering managemnt in a company where such a beautiful chasis was designed; where an engine that can easily exceed 250,000 miles was designed; where the ergonomics were so well thought out, the safety, the vehicle dynamics -- how in the world -- in a climate where there was so much excellence -- how could the transmission development programs (MANUAL and AUTOMATIC) be so poorly executed? And why didn't anyone correct it? What sense does it make to produce an engine that can drive the distance to the moon, but to mate it with such poor tranmissions? It's like dressing in fine silk to attend a royal dinner and eating with one's hands and feet. I just can't understand it. What can you say about a beautiful ballerina who finshes a dance by defecating on the stage? Saab would be a wonderful Business management case study.

Siggy
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Excellent comments, all. I think that we can all agree on one point, if design groups (including supplier management for outsourced components) within Saab were babies in a hospital maternity ward, one would have to agree that the transmission design group was a switched baby! The car is otherwise an inspired design. I truly belive that an insider at Saab would have a very interesting story to tell concerning the evolution of the Saab transmissions.

Two other points -- I must be completely misguided. I live in California. I own a 35 year old Ford muscle car that will get 5-6 miles per gallon (miles that will be run at an obscenely high rate of acceleration :eek: ) and I own a SUV. I bought a Saab because I wanted to do my part to conserve fuel and because I believe the car is economical and cost effective. I'm somewhat shocked to hear knowledgable Saab owners claim the car can be expensive. As the saying here in America goes, "Please say it ain't so!" The only expense issue that I see is that the Saab dealerships are abysmal in terms of their pricing -- and attitude. I inquired about 4 NGK spark plugs for my normally aspirated 16V engine last week and was told that the plugs cost over $8 apiece! I easily found them for $2.

The other point is a bit off topic but to my brothers and sisters of Europe let me say that we Americans love and respect you -- but I'd like to say that there are many people in America who claim that the recent increase in gas prices is nothing to complain about. They cite the fact that gas prices in Europe are 3-4X that of the US. Some environmentalists even advocate that the US government should increase gasoline taxation to discourage poor fuel conservation behaviors.

I beg to differ on those points. I wish that any of you who might think that way would consider the following (and I won't stay long off-Saab topic):

1. Europe has a lot of -- how do I describe it -- ahhh -- let's see, there aren't a lot of these in the US so it's dificult to describe. They're...like system thingys for transporting people and stuff -- but they do it without cars! I'm serious! You give a small amount of money and you can totally go places without a car! :cheesy:

Seriously, what does this mean, other than the fact that Europeans are, well....smarter. It means that to a low income person in America -- with much greater distances to travel -- the affect of a higher fuel price is far more disastrous to their lives than to a person living in most places in Europe.

2. Much of the cost of gasoline (not oil) is tax. In Europe the gas taxation rate is higher, causing higher gas prices, but the taxes are being used wisely and you're deriving benefit for those higher prices -- for example the much better public transportation system. Increasing gas taxes in America will hurt low income people (that's called regressivity).

Gasoline prices should be going down, not up. Americans shouldn't be paying more, you should be paying less. Productivity in economies results in two things: An improvement in products and services, or a reduction in costs for a given product or service. In the past 30 years, aircraft, semiconductors -- pick a product -- almost anything you can think of has enormously improved or fallen in price in adjusted dollars. Gasoline is arguably unchanged or worse (lead additives aside) in performance yet is approximately as expensive as it was in 1970 in adjusted dollars.

Anyway, enough on that topic. A lot of people here in the US are angry and frustrated on this subject. I will stay away from politics, but the current middle east situation and INCREASE in gas prices is very ironic. Ironic indeed.

Siggy
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
RoccoH said:
It could be the space limitations of the (btw wonderful) compact design of the transmission underneath the engine. In the years Saab continuously improved the design of the gear box. Check the Engine/Gear page of this very interesting Saab 99 site, it will teach you a lot about the development history of the 99/900/90!
Good site -- it deserves a close reading over tea. Not sure it's the space limitation because two of the offending failure points may have been avoided by a good design review of a bearing and gear design. A better material choice or other change could have addresed the pinion bearing and that would not have affected the installation envelope. I'm no expert, mind you.

People have anecdotal experince with a car that went over 200K miles, but the body of evidence from mechanics and even people on this forum is that the transmission was a C or D grade in a report card that is otherwise all As. There must be quite an interesting story in Saab as to how that occured.

Anyway, based on the comments I've received in this forum, I'm going to change the oil and filter in my automatic during every oil change -- whicle will be every 3000 miles -- and I will use fully synthetic oil in the engine. Type F oil in the transmission.

Cheers,

Siggy
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Matthew said:
Clearly, the UK is not in Europe because neither of those two points are true ;)

We pay a large sum of money and then wonder if the train/bus will turn up. Then we are unsure if the bus/train will make it to our destination. Even then, we'll probably be late. For all this we pay ever higher punitive fares for ever poorer levels of service.

If one penny of fuel duty or road tax goes back into improving (I mean really improving, not this traffic "calming" etc rubbish) the UK network then I'll eat my socket set.

My advice: stay in the US and be grateful for what you've got.
Oh my -- what a great post! That made me laugh hard! By the way -- I thought that Englanders were increasingly thinking of themselves as part of Europe. That's one sensitivity I will been keen to remember! :cheesy:

I thought public transportation in Europe was OUTSTANDING. Whoops, I might be wrong there too. :lol:

That was eye opening -- perhaps things aren't as great over there as we have been led to believe.

Siggy
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top