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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I drove a 95 900 SE V6 Automatic for 10 years. I don't know how many people told me that I bought a Saab with the wrong engine. I had trouble with timing belts and oil leaks, but otherwise the engine was very reliable, and surprisingly economic. One thing in particular that I liked was how quickly it produced warm air for the heating system. I've never had any car that came remotely close to that.

So, after the V6 reached almost 150k miles, I felt it was time to upgrade to a newer model. The 9-3 SE had the larger wheels, better brakes, better stereo, better seats, side airbags, and a variety of other desirable features - including "THE" engine, the "better choice" (supposedly).

When I bought the 2000 9-3 SE, I was impressed by the additional torque. But coming from a V6, the engine sound was a bit disappointing. No big deal. Then I noticed it doesn't heat nearly as fast, and takes significantly more gas than the V6. This could be related to the "fun factor" with the additional power.

What I didn't expect is a whole slew of new potential issues with this engine: PCV upgrades, oil sludge, turbo failures,... requiring expensive measures like oil pan drop, frequent oil changes, etc. I thought these were THE engines, the ones that are reliable, that don't cause trouble like the V6.

Looking back, I think that V6 wasn't so bad after all. If the timing belt is properly taken care of, the main issue that remains are the oil leaks. I don't know, if there is a secret trick to stop those once and for all. But I would venture to say that fixing those leaks has not cost me more than the frequent oil changes, and the oil pan drop will add to the 9-3s cost of ownership.

So, why were people so hard on the V6 engine?
 

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I too own a V6 and must say that is has great power, very smooth, good sound, and is very economical. It has 202K miles and is running just as strong as the day I bought it...

I have never owned a 4-cylinder ,but I have driven a few. They seemed to have more power, although the additional power was a little bit unpredictable and harder to control (This may have just been that I wasn't used to the car though...)
 

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ah, switching from the v6 to a t7 turbo had you switching issues that would kill the engine. slipping belt and bent valves versus sludge. not so with the t5. if you drive the turbo gently, it'll get better mpgs than the v6, but why would you want to put it to waste? the frequent oil changes are admittedly annoying, but i think you'll manage when you adapt. i did basically the same switch, but my v6 was in a lumina, so the t5 turbo engine was a major upgrade for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
ah, switching from the v6 to a t7 turbo had you switching issues that would kill the engine. slipping belt and bent valves versus sludge.
Yeah, the one time the belt went out, the car was already at the dealer. I told the service advisor it rattles under the timing belt cover, and had to drag him to the car to look and listen.

Then they called and claimed the noise came from a loud water pump. Their quote was $600. My local mechanic offered to do it for $350, so I went to pick-up the car. But it didn't start anymore. That was because the camshafts no longer turned... Ouch

It had 91k miles at the time, so it was still under the timing belt warranty. It happened at the same dealer that had done the previous timing belt before I owned the car. I got two new heads that would normally have cost around $7k. Now you know why Saab never made any money! ;)

The second time I was in a parking garage, the car parked at a bit of an angle (tilted to the left). Apparently that allowed the warm and soft timing belt cover seal to come lose and work its way into the belt. When I started the engine the belt jumped by two teeth, and the engine ran very, very rough. I had it towed to a Saab specialist, who put on a new belt and glued the seal to the cover. The mechanic who did the previous timing belt change had forgotten to glue-on the seal, and paid for the repair. No problems since.

So, yes, those things were scary. However, both showed clear warning signs that something was wrong - long before any damage happened, and both could have been prevented easily by attentive service technicians. The first time the dealer was arrogant and didn't listen to a woman, then misdiagnosed the problem. The second time it was caused by a mechanic's mistake. Both were clearly not the engine's fault.

I guess it's all about learning the warning signs, and being sensitive to them. The V6 was usually smooth, and the two times it rattled, it had an obvious but serious problem. If the maintenance is done properly, and you don't ignore such warning signs, the V6 is a very nice companion. If you drive until things break... well, that's another story. But that's wrong with any type of engine.

Now I'm starting over with the turbo. I hope that there will be no sludge found in the oil pan this week. We'll see.
 

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You got a trionic 7 car, the first year of it in mainstream saabs too! This is not *the* engine, it's predecessor was THE engine, or the trionic 5 engine. The T5 engines, while not impervious, are pretty bullet proof.
-Cm
 

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THE engine, is the B204. The turbo 4 from 94 to 99. I have killed 2 transmissions with the B204, and even at 215k miles, the engine is the most valuable part of the whole car.
 

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I think i'd pick a V6 over a 4+turbo if I had to do it again.

Waiting for a turbo to spool up, etc, annoying and it pains me that I cant outrun my friend's v6 mustang with technically almost the same number on paper.
 

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The fun factor in a turbo for me is the ability to upgrade tremendously. It is a tuner's engine. There are reports of stock internals running over 300hp, that's saying something.
Also, the 4cyl engines can still bend valves as they are interference (atleast the C900 ones are, ask me how I know :roll:)

With proper maintenance even the t7 engines are very reliable and strong engines. Just change your oil and do some preliminary checks (and pcv upgrades) and you should be fine. And when the turbo goes, its time for an upgrade!
Tom =]
 

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With proper maintenance even the t7 engines are very reliable and strong engines. Just change your oil and do some preliminary checks (and pcv upgrades) and you should be fine.
Tom =]
^^^^ THIS.

Taking care of the PCV system is a one-time deal. Frequent oil changes are recommended for all turbo engines (and are a good policy even for engines with the oil life metering)

But....there's no doubting these comments:

Tweek's Turbos said:
THE engine, is the B204. The turbo 4 from 94 to 99. I have killed 2 transmissions with the B204, and even at 215k miles, the engine is the most valuable part of the whole car.
Cm452 said:
You got a trionic 7 car, the first year of it in mainstream saabs too! This is not *the* engine, it's predecessor was THE engine, or the trionic 5 engine. The T5 engines, while not impervious, are pretty bullet proof.
-Cm
 

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I drove a 95 900 SE V6 Automatic for 10 years. I don't know how many people told me that I bought a Saab with the wrong engine. I had trouble with timing belts and oil leaks, but otherwise the engine was very reliable, and surprisingly economic. One thing in particular that I liked was how quickly it produced warm air for the heating system. I've never had any car that came remotely close to that.
That's likely because the coolant was heated by both the engine and the oil cooler placed within the V...which was/is a common point of failure on the V6.
 

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The fun factor in a turbo for me is the ability to upgrade tremendously. It is a tuner's engine. There are reports of stock internals running over 300hp, that's saying something.
Also, the 4cyl engines can still bend valves as they are interference (atleast the C900 ones are, ask me how I know :roll:)

With proper maintenance even the t7 engines are very reliable and strong engines. Just change your oil and do some preliminary checks (and pcv upgrades) and you should be fine. And when the turbo goes, its time for an upgrade!
Tom =]
T7 can handle about 300bhp, t5 can handle a lot more, IIRC 450 or so!
-Cm
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, my "new" Saab with the turbo engine is in the shop right now. Since it turned out it didin't have the #6 PCV upgrade, I asked the mechanics to drop and clean the oil pan, and inspect everything as a preventive measure.

What they found was not much sludge,. Instead they found metal shavings, which turned out to come from rod bearing #4. It's not totallly worn, but out of spec. So, at 49k miles only, I'm having all bearings replaced. Plus there is an issue with a pulley/vibration damper that needs to be rectified.

Total cost $1700 estimated.

In my whole driving career, I never had any repairs on the bottom end of an engine. This is new to me.

I'm starting to lose faith in Saab engines.
 

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That low of a milage would have been a red flag to me. I am a firm believer on buying cars with super high milage. You know the prev. owner had to be doing something right to keep the car pounding asphault for that many miles.

Sept of 08 I Jumped my 95 900se turbo on a Chesapeak Porsche Club Rally, and cracked open the oil pan. When I dropped it, I was delighted to see clean oil, and not a hint of sludge. I change my oil usually around 3500 miles and have been using shell rotella for the last 3 years now. I could see nice clean metal underneath.

One month later I took my 95 900se turbo from VA-MD-PA-NY-MA-NH-ME-NH-MA-NY-PA-MD-VA in October. The only hitch was shredding an old tire in NY. Taking this pic on the way home in MA.
 

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200k WOW, mine jus turned 158k today, hoping itll reach the 200k mark.
That low of a milage would have been a red flag to me. I am a firm believer on buying cars with super high milage. You know the prev. owner had to be doing something right to keep the car pounding asphault for that many miles.

Sept of 08 I Jumped my 95 900se turbo on a Chesapeak Porsche Club Rally, and cracked open the oil pan. When I dropped it, I was delighted to see clean oil, and not a hint of sludge. I change my oil usually around 3500 miles and have been using shell rotella for the last 3 years now. I could see nice clean metal underneath.

One month later I took my 95 900se turbo from VA-MD-PA-NY-MA-NH-ME-NH-MA-NY-PA-MD-VA in October. The only hitch was shredding an old tire in NY. Taking this pic on the way home in MA.
 

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It's this kinda thing that scared me off of the newer, lower mileage 9-3 with t7. I am now inclined to go even further back and get an og900, because it is a badass car, and it is supremely engineered. I really feel for you, as my car is dead as well and is probably facing some serious labor time on my hands or others due to brake fluid neglect, but bottom end work really sucks-period.This is why Saab has some serious customer "faith" problems and why they are perceived so poorly by the public. I suspect, as do others here, that these T7 cars will continue to reveal insidious problems as they age due to inherent design flaws.
-Cm
 

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With proper maintenance even the t7 engines are very reliable and strong engines. Just change your oil and do some preliminary checks (and pcv upgrades) and you should be fine. And when the turbo goes, its time for an upgrade!
Tom =]
So what, the V6 will treat you well if you go to the Saab dealer for the free timing belt changes (until 90 k miles) and then ensure you have the updated tensioner design.
 

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So what, the V6 will treat you well if you go to the Saab dealer for the free timing belt changes (until 90 k miles) and then ensure you have the updated tensioner design.
;)
And would you mind reminding the class exactly WHY Saab changed the timing belt service from 60,000 to every 30,000 miles...and then made them free changes up to 90K...and then changed the entire tensioner assembly?
 

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Well, my "new" Saab with the turbo engine is in the shop right now. Since it turned out it didin't have the #6 PCV upgrade, I asked the mechanics to drop and clean the oil pan, and inspect everything as a preventive measure.

What they found was not much sludge,. Instead they found metal shavings, which turned out to come from rod bearing #4. It's not totallly worn, but out of spec. So, at 49k miles only, I'm having all bearings replaced. Plus there is an issue with a pulley/vibration damper that needs to be rectified.

Total cost $1700 estimated.

In my whole driving career, I never had any repairs on the bottom end of an engine. This is new to me.

I'm starting to lose faith in Saab engines.

Nicole, did you see the shavings, and or take a picture of them? Did they show you that the No. 4 bearing was worn?

I'm not impugning your mechanic, but there will often be some bright glints of metal in the bottom of the oil pan that's usually residue from the softer metal of the bearings. That's what they're there for...
 

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That low of a milage would have been a red flag to me. I am a firm believer on buying cars with super high milage. You know the prev. owner had to be doing something right to keep the car pounding asphault for that many miles.

Sept of 08 I Jumped my 95 900se turbo on a Chesapeak Porsche Club Rally, and cracked open the oil pan. When I dropped it, I was delighted to see clean oil, and not a hint of sludge. I change my oil usually around 3500 miles and have been using shell rotella for the last 3 years now. I could see nice clean metal underneath.

One month later I took my 95 900se turbo from VA-MD-PA-NY-MA-NH-ME-NH-MA-NY-PA-MD-VA in October. The only hitch was shredding an old tire in NY. Taking this pic on the way home in MA.
200k WOW, mine jus turned 158k today, hoping itll reach the 200k mark.
I'm lookng forward to my 300k mark (at 244,514 righnt now). My goal is half a million or more.:p
 
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