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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

Being a few months into my professional career, I'm shopping for my first car (to replace the '93 Volvo 240 wagon I'm borrowing from my parents :). After a lot of research, I've pretty much decided an OG 9-3 is perfect for me - stylish, European and quick, but affordable and decent on gas with the usefulness of a hatchback. I know one has to be careful about maintenance, but that could be a good learning experience in forcing me to pay more attention.

I've read through numerous posts here with buying advice, so I've heard about certain things to look out for, but I thought I would post my shopping list here for some feedback as I get ready to visit some dealerships:

1999 9-3, 76k mi, $6850 (one owner, might include service history)
2000 9-3, 96k mi, $5900 (local dealer, no known service history)
2000 9-3, 62k mi, $8995 (might include service history)
2000 9-3, 73k mi, $7900
2000 9-3 SE, 71k mi, $8900 (might include service history)
2001 9-3 SE, 97k mi, $7900 (local dealer, minor accident at two weeks old)
2002 9-3 SE, 89k mi, $8995

All are automatics, since I've never had the opportunity to learn stick. ;oops:

The ones marked as "local dealer" are both at a dealership less than a mile from where I live. It's a pretty humble-looking shop, but they have a good-sized inventory and said they sell Saabs all the time. I'm heading there tomorrow to check the cars out and see if I can do a test drive. The '01 SE is new on their lot, so all I know is that the Carfax said there was an accident 2 weeks into the first owner, but it was sold as Saab certified pre-owned a couple years after that, so it couldn't have been that bad. I might be able to take one or both to a nearby mechanic for evaluation.

All of the other cars are at least an hour from where I live, but I plan on emailing the dealers and arranging to visit when I can. Some of them mentioned having the original owner's manuals and service booklet, so there's a chance they'll have good records. Most of them have good extended warranty packages available. Oh, and those prices should pretty much give you an idea of what my range is - I'm just wondering what you all think about the potential value of these deals.

I know I need to get more information from the dealers about these vehicles, so I'll post what I learn here. Thanks in advance for any pointers on my road to a Saab! :D
 

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Welcome to Saab Central!

To me, a 5-door Saab is a great compromise of performance, utility and luxury. And used, you can get some great buys.

You might want to look on autotrader.com for some more guidance on pricing. And remember that sellers, particularly private sellers, may have some room to move on price if they've been trying to sell for a long time.

Don't be afraid to learn to drive a standard trans if you think you might want one. In fact, it's really a good thing to know, just so you can drive a friend's car in a pinch.

Air conditioning repairs can be expensive, and compressors can go out at about the age you're considering. Make sure the AC gets good and cold. Also, make sure that the controls properly channel the air from the defrost, to the floor vents, to the dash vents when you push the buttons.

Read the information here on the forums about sludge, which can be a probelm for these cars. The short summary is that you need to be sure the oil was changed on time.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks very much, Dave!

I've done a lot of looking at various 9-3s for sale, and even made a graph of price vs. mileage for 20 that I found. My uncertainty has more to do with not really knowing if it's worth it to pay an extra grand or two for 10-20,000 miles difference. Many people have said Saabs can last a very long time and not to be afraid of the 100,000-mile mark as long as the vehicle's been taken care of.

I appreciate the tips you gave and am making a list of things to check over when I visit the dealers. Of course, a lot of it will also come down to how I feel when I get behind the wheel of one for the first time! :cool:

I'm not afraid to learn to drive a manual, just haven't known many people who have one. A couple guys I work with do, so maybe some weekend I can get one of them to let me practice. Doesn't matter that much right now though, since the majority of the Saabs for sale around here are automatics anyway, and I'm not quite Viggen material yet either. :cheesy:
 

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Where in PA ?

IMO, Lehman Saab of Harrisburg is OK, I have been there once...
The way the vehicle was driven and maintained is a lot more important than the miles...
Try to buy from an original owner, but to do this, you will pay some premium, and these cars are hard to find...
 

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I wouldn't put too much emphasis on that certified pre-owned stuff. I was selling a BMW convertible once that I had wrecked pretty good. I even had a quarter panel replaced. A potential buyer took it to a BMW dealer for a comprehensive inspection and came back with a checklist that said it was never in an accident. These are the same people doing those certified pre-owned inspections. Its always just someones opinion...never a fact.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, but one of the cars I'm considering is down near Harrisburg.

I test-drove the two local ones yesterday and loved them! I took a brief look in and around both of them on the lot, but the salesman acted kind of surprised that I was looking closely at things and taking notes. The cars were clean and ran beautifully, and I only noticed a couple of issues with each:

'00 9-3: minor dent right rear door, many SID pixels dead, cupholder broken
'01 9-3 SE: minor dimples right rear door, scratched/retouched paint on both bumpers

If I get serious about either of these, I'll try to have them checked out by a mechanic so I'm not just trusting the "70-point inspection" that the salesman said his shop did.

I see what you mean about CPO cars. Neither of these vehicles had much written down in the Saab service booklet, but the '01 had the names of the original owners, so I might try to contact them and ask about the accident it was in. Also, the '00 had a sticker on the back for another local dealership that specializes in European cars, so it's possible they might have some information about its history.

Hey, I always did enjoy detective work... :roll:
 

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Viggen Dave said:
Welcome to Saab Central!

To me, a 5-door Saab is a great compromise of performance, utility and luxury. And used, you can get some great buys.
To me, that is true -the "extra" doors. You only need 2. ;)

Good luck! They are great cars!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
earthworm said:
Where in PA ?

IMO, Lehman Saab of Harrisburg is OK, I have been there once...
The way the vehicle was driven and maintained is a lot more important than the miles...
Try to buy from an original owner, but to do this, you will pay some premium, and these cars are hard to find...
Well, I took your advice and visited Lehman Saab today. It was 2 hours from where I live, but they have a fantastic '01 9-3 in midnight blue for $7997...with 110,000 miles. It's listed as a 1-owner on Carfax, and appears to have always been serviced at that very dealership. Servicings are listed at good intervals up to about 77,000 miles, but there's not much data between then and the current mileage. I wondered if the dealer's service department might have their own file on this car, but the saleswoman didn't seem to know - I might have to call service directly and ask, especially to find out what was done at 100,000.

What do you guys think? Is this too good to pass up? I was planning to look at a couple more, but maybe I need to make my move ASAP.

Anyway, as long as I was making the trip down there, I went to a different dealer to check out a gorgeous '01 in steel gray for $7695, but this one only had 74,000 miles on it. History-wise, Carfax shows that the car was maintained regularly by a Saab dealer for the first 36,000 and then sold as certified pre-owned. It's had at least two owners since then, and very little service information is available. The car was spotless inside and out though, and drove like a dream! I gotta be honest - I liked the looks of the gray one a little better than the dark blue, so this is not an easy comparison here!

OK, the catch: both cars already have potential buyers who just need to work out their financing before committing (as do I). I'm wondering if I might have to take a chance and put down a deposit to reserve a car, then cross my fingers that I can get a loan worked out fairly quickly...
 

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InteSvensk said:
Well, I took your advice and visited Lehman Saab today. It was 2 hours from where I live, but they have a fantastic '01 9-3 in midnight blue for $7997...with 110,000 miles. .
In my opinion, $7997 is about $1500-1800 too high for that car. NADA says it could bring $6800 (retail) in Clean condition.

I paid $5000 for my 2000 9³ with less than 70k miles. Is it possible that Saabs are bringing more that much more money in PA? If so, Florida has em cheap and it'd be worth the drive. There are tons of them on Craigslist and Ebay in the $5k-$6k neighborhood with less than 80k miles.

Good luck, Let me know if you find one in the Atlanta area and I'll go look at it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Frank_Drebin said:
In my opinion, $7997 is about $1500-1800 too high for that car. NADA says it could bring $6800 (retail) in Clean condition.

I paid $5000 for my 2000 9³ with less than 70k miles. Is it possible that Saabs are bringing more that much more money in PA? If so, Florida has em cheap and it'd be worth the drive. There are tons of them on Craigslist and Ebay in the $5k-$6k neighborhood with less than 80k miles.

Good luck, Let me know if you find one in the Atlanta area and I'll go look at it for you.
Thanks for the interesting advice, Frank. At the Saab dealership that had the 110k car, they handed me a printout from the Kelley Blue Book site that gave the retail value as $8360. NADA, on the other hand, gives me $5975. Quite a discrepancy, and definitely something worth negotiating.

Oh, and for the other car with 74k miles, KBB gives me a whopping $9375, while NADA shows $7675, extremely close to that seller's asking price.

As for it being worth the drive...I'm not so sure. Yeah, I don't want to get gouged, but since this is my first car purchase, I'd rather deal with a brick-and-mortar place that I can return to fairly easily. I would consider buying a car in the Boston area because my parents still live there, and I know the selection would be better than in PA, but somehow I doubt prices would be much cheaper (nothing is up there :roll:).
 

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Years ago, Kelley always used to be higher than the real value of a used car... looks like nothing has changed... :cheesy:

I don't think a 9-3 with over 100K miles is worth $8,000, Frank is pretty much right on, and his numbers apply to the Midwest too.

The cost of owning these cars after 100K miles is in the maintenance, or your own labor, not the purchase price.
 

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I can't speak for Boston specifically, but New England is usually a hot spot for Saabs, especially older ones. There seems to be more of them, and interestingly, better prices. They also love NADA in New England, but I would definitely go after them with the price differences. And don't listen to any crap about how one is used and not the other in your area, it's a common BS line.
 
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