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Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 21:42:41 -0700
From: Joe Gugliemino <>
Subject: Re: Starting to shop

Kenneth S. wrote: > Joe Gugliemino wrote: > >>I've started to think about a new car, as I don't think my Explorer >>('93, 200k mi) will pass inspection in September. There's not a lot out >>there that really interests me. We've got a mini-van now, so I don't >>need another utility vehicle. I also don't want a big car payment so >>I'm thinking about buying used. >> >>The cars on the short list (so far) include the VW Passat and Jetta, >>Subaru Impreza, and the Saab 900. I'm wondering how you think the 900 >>matches up against these. I think the Saab has the best lines, and from >>what I've read it has solid reliability. It also seems to be the >>roomiest. But I don't have experience with any of these cars so I'd >>like to collect some data points - even biased ones. My hypothetical >>Saab would be a 900 S/SE 5-speed. I live in New England at the top of a >>significant hill, so snow traction is important to me. Last year's >>snows gave our Odessey some trouble before the plows got to us. >> >>As for the S/SE, I like the idea of a turbo for performance, but I'm >>leary of repair costs. Have the turbos proven themselves to be as solid >>as the engine they're bolted on to? Does a non-turbo have enough zip to >>make it fun to drive? >> >>It seems like I've got 2 options for buying used. I can either buy an >>off-lease for $10-15k (or more), or an older model for $5 - 10k. I >>really don't want to spend over $10k if I don't have to, but I don't >>want to buy a problem child either. What are some things to look out >>for in '96-'98 models? What would be a good price for an SE? Can I get >>one for $6k that would last? >> >>The few Saab dealers I've called don't carry older models. Does anybody >>know reputable used car dealers in the >>Worcester/Framingham/Milford/Westford area? I've been checking Ebay to >>get an idea of prices and there have been 900SEs listed that are within >>driving distance, so I could check them out in person. I wouldn't bid >>sight unseen, but if I could give it a good once-over and have a >>mechanic check it out I'd be alright with that. >> >>Thanks in advance for any comments, >> >>- Joe >>(To reply directly, remove the 'deleteme' from my address > > > I have a 1996 900SE, which I bought over two years ago. I got it at > quite a reasonable price, because it had been on the lot at a Ford > dealers for several months. (I pass the dealers every day). My > experience has not been altogether satisfactory, because several things > were wrong with the car when I bought it and other things have gone > wrong in the intervening period. By contrast, my other car, a Mazda > Miata, has been extremely reliable during the five years I have owned > it, prompting me to generalize from the particular, and say that, if > reliability is the major factor, Japanese cars are best. > > I think Saabs of this vintage are not the most reliable, although the > newer ones apparently are more so (and, of course, more expensive). > Repairs seem to be much more expensive than other cars, partly because > it seems desirable to have Saabs fixed at a Saab specialist. Parts seem > to be MUCH more expensive than other cars I have owned. The electronics > appear to be a weak point on my car. The turbo four-cylinder engine is > not particularly smooth or quiet, but the car seems to have plenty of > power. I find the latter characteristic somewhat annoying in a car that > is supposed to be entry-level luxury, and has all kinds of marginally > useful electronic gadgets. To me, the central element of luxury is a > smooth, quiet engine. > > On the plus side, the configuration of the car as a four-door hatchback > is sound and practical, and gives plenty of luggage space. The engine > is said to be very long-lasting. I find the car is good on long > journeys. I live in an area where there is not usually much snow, > although there was last winter, and the Saab did far better than any > other car I have driven. Depreciation on Saabs appears higher than > other cars in its class, and that provides a major saving if you are > buying used. > > I would definitely have any car you are thinking about buying checked > out by a Saab specialist. One of my problems was that, although my car > had a year's guarantee, the Ford dealer told me his mechanics couldn't > fix the initial problems. It was the devil's own job to extract the > money from him to have the Saab dealer fix the problems. Thanks for the feedback. I plan on having my mechanic take a look at anything I buy. He's not a Saab specialist but I've know him for 8 years and he knows his cars. Depreciation is a good thing from my perspective. I always plan on being the last owner of any car I buy. So if I get it cheap I don't have to worry about losing money on resale, because there won't be one. If I were to go the Ebay route, what do you think of their roving mechanical inspector services like these guys? Has anybody used them? Do they do a thorough job? -- - Joe (To respond directly, remove the 'deleteme' from my address)

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