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Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 23:14:55 -0400
From: ma_twain <>
Subject: Re: Might buy a Saab - advice?

'nuther Bob < wrote: > On Mon, 30 Jun 2003 14:10:50 GMT, "William Balmer" > <> wrote: > > >>I'm selling a >>classic showpiece Mercedes Benz and my wife is hoping I won't buy another >>money pit! >> > > Downside - Saab is another European car; in the USA, parts and labor > cost a little more. Maintenance is a little more regular than > Japanese cars, less than American. Plan to occasionally spend a > few bucks on maintenance... most jobs are DIY if you are capable. > > >>After a short time on the 'net, here is a list of the Saabs I have found >>that look intriguing to me: >> > > First, you need to go drive a turbo Saab to appreciate it. Like Billy > Joel said "there's a new band in town, but you can't get the sound > from the story in a magazine". Drive one to be consumed. > > >>'96 900S turbo convertible w/ 53k miles >>'97 900 SE Turbo w/ 31k >>'99 9-3 SE w 29k >> >>These cars are all within about $1,000 of each other. I would think that >>the convertible would be the nicest (most comfort and safety features, >> > > Since I have a convertible, I'm a little biased. A drive with the top > down on a 85 degree night, listening to the turbo wind up... you just > can't beat it. I put the top down whenever I can, even it requires > the heater on full and a light jacket on cooler days :-) > > BTW - I think it would be unusual to find a *turbo* 1996 900 *S* in > the USA. Either it's a Canadian car, or it's an SE, AFAIK. Most > convertibles are SE's. Also, I'm guessing that the '99 is a turbo > too, check. > > >>but would I be better off with a younger car with lower miles? >> > > Yes, sigh, probably... but 53K is not all that much. However, the '99 > would be nice as they worked out all the little issues with the New > Generation 900 (NG900) by early 1998, then renamed it the 9~3 in > late 1998. ALso, the pre '98 cars had a cable (manual) clutch, the > later cars had a hydraulic. The cable needs replacement (of the > $35 cable) every 50K miles. Cheap enough. The cable clutch has no > hydraulic assistance, some smaller women find it too stiff. (If you > test a car and it's _real_ stiff, that car needs a cable or a clutch > job). Pre-96 Saabs did not use cable clutch. The earlier(93 and older) Saabs the clutch and brake shared the same hydraulic fluid tank. The theory was if you had a leak and had no brake fluid(no stopping), you could not disengage to clutch to start the car(no go) - a safety feature. > > There were a couple of (TSB issued) problems with the 96, they > probably apply to the '97 too. Most listed below. Some folks run into > all of them, some folks have none of them. There's a specific tonneau > motor issue with all 94 to 97 convertibles, it's a cheap ($10 parts) > but 2-4 hours of labor job. Another good DIY if you're inclined. > > >>What >>is the life expectancy of these cars? >> > Make sure you get "life expectancies" of the '96 and newer models. The engines in the '80s models would last 300K miles or more with out major work - often the car would be retired for rust or accidents first. The engines in the '96 and newer are not the same, one could hope they actually are improved, but only time will tell. The engines which have a proven record of lasting 300K miles had only 125 to 140 hp. The engines in the newer models can have over 200 hp out of about the same displacement and # of cylinders. More power is more fun, but will it last as long? Anyone out there with over 300K miles on a NG turbo? > Engines run 300K or more without major work. Clutch is probably > good for 100K or more. Trannys seem fine. There are > some electronics issues; the DI Cassette dies at 65-99K for $250 and > 10 minutes of work, or $400 plus labor at the dealer. The alternators > occasionally go in the pre '98 cars and there's a valve in the A/C > compressor that sometimes goes. Some folks run into a headgasket > problem in their pre '98 cars (later specs fixed that issue). I've > seen some reports of A/C cores failing and costing $1k in repairs. > The cable that the rear seat release uses stretches and needs > replacement in one or both seats of the two doors. > > Keep in mind that *all* cars seem to have issues with one or more > components these days - and I include my Japanese cars in that. > Very few run forever with no component failures. > > >>Do the turbochargers commonly fail? >> > > No. Not an issue. > > >>Are parts expensive? >> > > Many are dealer items, but (note the double "e") will > sell them to you for 2/3 of the dealer price if you like to DIY. > > >>Are dealers only interested in helping late-model >>customers (MB experience talking here)? >> > > Actually, Saab dealers seem to appreciate older cars. They almost > enjoy them. It's sort of a cult thing :-) > > >>How easy/difficult are they to work on? >> > > Very. Oil filter couldn't be easier, the spark plugs can be changed > in 10 minutes, air filter is well positioned. Even things like strut > replacement are easy. The only bad design (repair wise) is the clutch. > You have to release the engine and lower it a little to get the > transmission out. A full clutch job (plate, pressure, bearing, etc > typically costs $1-1.3K at a dealer. Another reason to keep a Classic 900 :-) $1,000 to $1,300 for NG clutch job? > >>Also, if I buy the convertible, can I expect good insulation from the winter >>weather? I'm in the Chicago area, so it gets cold here. I would hope that >>Saab convertibles would be designed for the cold, considering their country >>of origin, but I don't want to make assumptions that I regret. >> > > Well insulated. One of the nicest convertible tops I've seen. > I drive mine in the NorthEastern US year round. No complaints, even > in 0 degree weather. > > >>Any other advice on these models, Saabs in general, what to look for, >>possible problem areas, etc. would be greatly appreciated. >> > > See above. I'd go for the lower miles, but convertible is really, > really nice anytime the temps are over 70 degrees (80 degrees for the > wife and kids). > > From a maintenance and cost standpoint, I'd go with the 99 SE. But, > from a "fun to drive", I'd pick the convertible. Any thoughts on the '91 Convertible model? I know of one for sale and the price is definitely right. I never owned a convertible, but it is tempting. . . . > > Bob > >

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