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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. I'm a newborn Saabophile and on the cusp of buying my first car, a silver 1989 900S sedan, normally aspirated, auto trans. It has its problems, the worst of which is a heavily pulsating brake, which, among other minor things, is to be fixed by the seller before I buy. Overall it's in decent shape and runs just fine, and has apparently been well maintained during its 118,000-mile life.

One thing that concerns me that I want to ask about is the transmission. There's nothing wrong with it. It is the untouched original, which apparently has never had any problems (and behaved quite well on my test drive). Is this a sign that it's overdue for a big breakdown, or that it's a fighter and will probably last another few years without problems? I've heard the AT has a reputation for dying early in these models. Anyone have any positive automatic transmission experiences they would like to share?

Thanks everybody!
 

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If it's been well looked after there's no reason it shouldn't do the same mileage again. 118,000 is a low mileage anyway. The turbo cars put much more strain on the transmissions. Have a look through the buyers guide for things to look out for.

Welcome to Saab Central :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey thanks Jezzadee. I really just needed to hear that I think. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Thanks for the link. I've been through that buyers guide and used the advice when I checked out the car. I've probably been through every "buying a used Saab" guide and FAQ on the web. This forum is wonderful though. I'm sure I'll contribute lots :)
 

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All the same, if you buy it, do a tranny service and give yourself the piece of mind.
 

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My '87 Turbo with an automatic is just about ready to pass 199k. It still shifts very well but I also maintain it too. The only trouble I have is it being cold-blooded in the winter and a leaky thermostat (which is being changed out to a lower radiator hose style).

The "reputation of dying early" is, as far as I'm concerned, a unfair reputation. In your case, is 16 years still early? Take care of them, do maintenance, and don't try to smoke the tires and it should last a good long time.
 

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I would do preventive maintenance on the trans at this age/mileage.

All you need is to change the filter ($20 from www.eeuroparts.com) and fluid (I get mine from Wal-Mart), and do a front band adjustment.

All this is DIY-able, or have a trans shop do it (not very expensive). Search this Forum for more autotrans advice. And, having done all this to the trans in my 1990 900S at 100k miles, it's still shifting and driving perfectly at 160k:)
 

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It sounds like a good car you're looking at, co-operative seller too.


Did you look at the fluid via the dipstick? Just a quick check to make sure that its not black or chunky. I think sometimes the transmission can be shot but still run ok if the fluid is full of debris. Wasn't there a 'dishonest used car sales man' trick of putting saw dust into the fluid of a car with a bad trans?

If it drives well and the fluid is red, I would be comfortable with the condition of the trans. After I got it home, the first thing I would do is get a new transmission filter and spend an hour researching the best fluid to refill with. I would also do the front band adjustment, but I think that can be a little intimidating. The one time I did it was as a last ditch effort on a 88 turbo with a blown out trans anyways.
 

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i hade a 89 900 trubo with a auto tranney i drove it till around 215000 onit befor it was un safe to drive in the street "rust" so i turned it into a race car and it went 2 years befor the motor went i would let the motor rev in first gear till 6000 and shift it to secound so i think thier are some of those tranny that last forever but on the mut part they seemed to go befor 100000 Good luk though swiching to standard is less then a two day job taking your time.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ProfZ said:
I would do preventive maintenance on the trans at this age/mileage.

All you need is to change the filter ($20 from www.eeuroparts.com) and fluid (I get mine from Wal-Mart), and do a front band adjustment.

All this is DIY-able, or have a trans shop do it (not very expensive). Search this Forum for more autotrans advice. And, having done all this to the trans in my 1990 900S at 100k miles, it's still shifting and driving perfectly at 160k:)
Ah thanks, this is exactly what I will do. So far, a week into owning it, there are absolutely no problems with the transmission! I guess that "reputation" isn't deserved. I'm taking her in for an inspection today, and I trust these people so maybe I'll have them do a tranny service while I'm there.

Man I'd love to put in a manual though. I'd just have to learn how to drive it :cheesy:
 

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There are basic two reputations for Saab transmissions. Manual transmissions have pinion failure (do to weakish parts and aggressive driving:nono; ) and auto transmission for being slowish and running high RPMs at hwy speeds.
 

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the manuals are worse? -cries- i wanted a stick-shift too. ill just have to check the trans when i look at the car.
 

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It's not that the manuals are worse, nor are automatics worse. It all depends on the driver, preventative maintenance, and usage. If you don't change the fluids, don't make adjustments, or do smash through the gears, both manuals and automatics will fail. Bottom line: If you abuse them and they fail, don't blame the car.
 

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No the manuals are fine. But you can't go nuts, mod your 15 year old car up to 225hp and rattle through the gears up and down like you're in an F1 car, and then complain when the tranny lets loose.

Certainly there are other cars out there that have stronger trannies. But knowing a weakness and not accomodating it makes the driver the weakness.
Bad habits that lead to tranny failure are:
Excessive downshifting
Reliance on certain points of the torque curve in getting your giddies
Anything that entertains conditions for flex of the tranny box
Poor maintenance of fluids.

In other words, drive as fast as you want but be smooth about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
At least I know that the previous owner didn't abuse the tranny for the year she owned it. Apparently she was famous for 45mph.. even on highways.. which makes me believe she probably didn't do anything fun and exciting like accelerate hard either. She wasn't a Saab nut or anything, just an overly cautious driver. Good for me and my transmission!
 

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As with ANY saab.. the Transbox is a Gamble... 5spds have been known to go from perfect to needing diff bearings almost overnight.
2nd gear teeth can and have been stripped off with OEM boost levels and exuberant driving :)
Auto boxes have lasted for 200,000 miles, For reasons not repeatable by others.
Historically Auto failures have started at 60,000miles, with a large percentage requiring rebuilding by 130,000.
Best preventative advise is to change the ATF annually.. Might even help some, besides it's cheap insurance.
Funny things can happen ato these: TQ Pump driver tangs shear off.. Why??. Forward Clutch springs have been known to shatter.. for no apparent reason whatsoever. Servos pop out of their bores. but that due to sloth and wear.. usually preventable.
As for service.. No need to buy a new trans filter, ever, it's essentially coarse steel wool ..wash it . Gasket goo on decent mating surfaces and new OEM gaskets is the signature of inadequate skill/knowledge IMHO
When the box is tired it IS possible to adjust the Bands BUT be aware that the Lining thickness is V thin ..1 mm or so (if memory serves) So adjustments.. usually when the thing won't shift up... Fixes this.. for a short while, consider it the point at which to start vigourously saving for the inevitable rebuild.
Kickdown Cable MUST be adjusted using a pressure Gauge..it plays with the overall system pressure..workshop manuals describe the required Procedure clearly.. Ignore this and the possiblity of trans failure is dramatically increased.
 

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well i dont think id be the type to rev it before shifting. id better not let my brother or father drive it then. neither of them are good with stick. so, mental note:dont push it with the stick and NEVER let amatures drive the car. got it.
 

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Whattt? Who isuggested that you shouldn't Use the Darn Car?
Use it to yer hearts desire.. "sparing it" will only make it Boring to drive.. it will still break, they do that, get used to it, but you gotta enjoy the thing, otherwise just take the Bus.
 

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its either the bus or the crappy lumina. id much rather a saab.
 

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Basre said:
Whattt? Who isuggested that you shouldn't Use the Darn Car?
Use it to yer hearts desire.. "sparing it" will only make it Boring to drive.. it will still break, they do that, get used to it, but you gotta enjoy the thing, otherwise just take the Bus.
You can enjoy the car and drive spiritedly and still not abuse it. The point being made is that to flog a known weakness is somewhat foolish.
 
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