Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 00:35:05 -0400
From: "Kenneth S." <>
Subject: Re: should a buy a saab

Johannes H Andersen wrote: > > "Kenneth S." wrote: > > > > You oblige me to say this, Mr. Hinz. You have a long history of being > > emotionally involved with Saabs, and of personally attacking anyone who > > is not sufficiently enthusiastic to suit you. > > > > However, these are matters of objective reality, not of personalities. > > The objective reality, as indicated by consumer surveys and personal > > experience, is that there is a reliability problem with Saabs of this > > vintage. For most people, ownership of a particular brand of automobile > > does not generate religious fervor. Most people make their evaluations > > on the basis of a range of vehicle characteristics, of which reliability > > is a major one. > > I find it difficult to answer this since you obviously have had some bad > experience. But do you have evidence of such objective reality of reliability > problems on a statistical scale? Certain model years may better than others, > but in general the Saab 4 cyl turbo engines are legendary and the cars are > well put together to stand up to the harsh Swedish climate. Other car makes > also improve and we don't always keep up with what's available. Diesel cars > are at a rage in Europe at the moment, I for one don't quite understand this, > but a recent Jaguar X diesel was tested as the best model in its range??? > > Johannes, pig in the middle. > I base what I say on: (a) what I see in the U.S. magazine Consumer Reports, which rates used cars of different vintages, and identifies particular trouble spots; (b) what the market says, in terms of depreciation; (c) anecdotes about the experience of others; and (d) my own experience, including the marked contrast with my other car, which is a 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata that has a far higher mileage than my Saab 900 SE. Plus, in general, I tend to believe in the principle of "no smoke without fire." So far as I know, there is no tendency to question the reliability of some cars, notably the Japanese ones, but there are widespread stories about the frequent need for expensive repairs to Saabs (a fact that I didn't find out until after I bought mine.) It may well be that the engine and drivetrain of Saabs are long-lasting. I believe that, because of their construction, they are one of the safest cars on the road. However, for me, those positive features, plus other things that I like about the car, don't compensate for the amount of time and money that I have spent on a whole range of repairs, culminating in the recent replacement of the AC evaporator core and receiver-dryer at a cost of $1,500. (What part, if any, the Swedish climate plays in Saab AC shortcomings, I can't say.) There are also several design problems that I didn't anticipate, and have never encountered on other cars. To take one strange little example, the external driver's side mirror doesn't adjust far enough out, and leaves a blind spot close to the left rear side of the car. At a guess, I would say that this quirk is simply the result of a failure to take into account the fact that driver's side exterior mirrors in the U.S. have to be flat glass, by contrast with the European practice of using convex glass. I much prefer the European practice, but if you're selling a car in the U.S. you should modify the extent of movement of the mirror to compensate for the flat glass required by U.S. rules. I was told by the Saab dealer when I asked that there is a standard fix for this problem, involving inserting washers behind the mirror, but several years ago the cost was $140.

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