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Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 15:42:32 -0400
From: 'nuther Bob <>
Subject: Re: Starting to shop

On Thu, 22 May 2003 00:23:55 -0700, Joe Gugliemino <> wrote: >I think the Saab has the best lines, and from >what I've read it has solid reliability. I Fairly good. There are a few things that tend to wear and a few things to look for. Repairs are not cheap on European cars, although my Saab dealer only charges about $5 more per hour than my Nissan dealer. The difference might be that there are more aftermarket parts for a typical Japanese car (lower cost) than there are for a Saab. However, using the 'net you can get parts for a good price. Basic maintenance is minimal in terms of parts. > My hypothetical Saab would be a 900 S/SE 5-speed. As SE turbo is "the one" to get. Avoid the V6 if you can. Some folks like it, but it's high maintenance and hard to work on. It has less power than the turbo. > 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. If you put snow tires on, you can pull out stuck SUV's. With all seasons, you'll still out perform most other cars. >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? Absolutely. Change the oil every 3.5K (dino) or 5K (synthetic). The Saab motor itself will go 300K miles. The turbo itself will go at least 150K if treated right (change your oil!) The only maint issues are with a couple of the accessories: you need to change the serpentine belt (not timing chain, the "fan" belt) every 50K along with a pulley that can wear, $80 parts, 30 min labor. The Direct Ignition Cassette will go somewhere after 65K miles (welcome to the world of DI, it's the same routine for all cars with it.) and that will cost $275-$400 depending on how good a shopper you are, 5 minutes to install. You'll need a clutch cable every 45K, $50 parts, an hour of labor. Note: you can let all of these items go longer, but you'll regret it when you get stuck somewhere one day. A few folks have had problems with their clutch (not just the cable) a little early, maybe 70K miles) and it will be about $1300 to replace it complete. You might also have a a/c issue with the evaporator which could set you back $1000 (I think it's a poor maintenance issue, but I can't really say).You might even have a head gasket problems, a few folks have, to the tune of $1500. Sometimes Saab will pay half of the cost if you are out of warranty and ask nicely. They tend to be liberal. >Does a non-turbo have enough zip to make it fun to drive? Not IMHO. Others like it. There's nothing like stomping on a turbo when you want to go fast. There's torque to spare. >It seems like I've got 2 options for buying used. I can either buy an >off-lease for $10-15k (or more), If you can swing it, get a car that is still under the 4/50 warranty for at least 6 months. That gives you time to have anything fixed that needs it. Saab is very liberal with the bumper to bumper coverage IMHE. One of the best warranties I've run into. You will also be into a 98 or newer, and they fixed up a lot of issues like eliminating the clutch cable (it's hydraulic after 97), the head gasket issue, and a couple of other items. >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? Saab watches problems closely and fixes things as the model matures. As I mentioned, the 98 has the improved clutch, new torque specs for the head, and miscellaneous other improvements. The 1997 had most all of these improvements except for the clutch change - the late 97's got the new torque specs on the head. I would shy away from a 96 if I could because there were a few issues like a water pump shaft problem (replaced under a goodwill campaign on most cars... not sure if they still do goodwill on cars that old now). >What would be a good price for an SE? KBB is the best source I found. Look to get the car for something between "trade" and "retail". Don't pay retail unless the dealer is giving a substantial free warranty, you can do better. >Can I get one for $6k that would last? Maybe. You might run into one or two $1000 repairs, but since you are getting a deal, maybe it's worth the risk. >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? You should really specify a state when posting on the Internet :-) But, since I am familiar with the MA area... there's a great Saab Mechanic(s) called "The Doctor" in Acton/Westford that you can use for a pre purchase checkup. I highly recommend that you do that. I don't know where to get older models, but there is a in Southern NH (Amherst) - I don't know anything for or against them. I like the service at Village Saab in Concord/Acton, MA but I was not thrilled with the Sales Department. The dealers tend to have cars that are no more than 3 years old. I do know a guy who is great for "off lease" cars - very small (one salesman, one mechanic) dealership, he picks the cars from the factory auctions personally, he sells for a fair price. If you are interested, email me and I'll send you a little blurb on him and his operation. It's in Rawley (North Shore, MA). Great guy, honest, worth the drive if he has what you want... he can often find what you want if you can give him a little time to hit the next factory auction. Email me at if you want some info. Bob

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