Re: 2002 Saab 9-3 turbo automatic - how reliable? - Saab NG900 & OG9-3 Bulletin Board -

[General | Members | C900 | 9000 | NG900 & OG93 | 93 | 95 | NG95 | 99 | Sonett | Vintage Models | Performance | Detail | Clubs & SOC | Other Cars | FAQs | Gifts | Member Photo Galleries | Member Directory | Classifieds | Service/Mechs | Manuals | *Buddy Registry | *Mileage Registry | Polls | What's New | Raffle | Photo of the Month | Sponsors]

NG900 & OG93 Bulletin Board
1994-2002 [Subscribe to Daily Digest]
(Search Author's Posts: e.g. Keyword:username)*Members Only

[Main NG900 & OG93 Bulletin Board | Post Followup | BBFAQ ] [ Prev by Date ] [ Next by Date ] Member Login / Signup [Latest Member Gallery Photos]
Re: 2002 Saab 9-3 turbo automatic - how reliable?
Like This Post:
Posted by Justin VanAbrahams [Email] (#32) [Profile/Gallery] (more from Justin VanAbrahams) on Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:05:14 Share Post by Email
In Reply to: 2002 Saab 9-3 turbo automatic - how reliable?, Kurt, Sun, 25 Mar 2018 18:16:10
Alert me when someone posts in this thread:

The 9400 body 9-3 is an odd car IMHO... even though it's much newer, it's not nearly as complex as a c900 on the macro level - there are some complicated bits like, say, the throttle body, but on a "stuff to break" level they are a pretty basic car. I think it's important to remember the underpinnings are from a cheap Opel, and by and large they are built like an economy car. *Way* more Chevy Cavalier than BMW 3-series in terms of complexity.

I think that is very important to remember. The c900 drives mostly like its contemporaries, but the 9-3 does not offer the same refinement or dynamics as its contemporaries. A 1992 c900T will compare favorably (some push, some pull) vs a 1992 325i, but IMHO a 2002 9-3 does not compare favorably with a 2002 325i. It drives way more like a Buick (HA!) than a luxury car. Don't get me wrong - it's a fine drive and on the open road the B205R will put a smile on your face, but when you get down into details like materials, touch & feel, dynamics, feedback, etc., it kinda falls behind.

In many ways, that can work to your favor. The 9400 is generally cheap to repair, its issues and foibles are all pretty well documented, and to a large degree very DIY friendly. Even if not a really competent drive it's hardly bad and IMHO they make for a good commuter - reasonably comfortable, inexpensive to operate, great safety.

As a point of reference, I recently bought an '01 for a family member... $760 with 138k in the "needs mechanical work" category. You can read my trials and tribulations with the automatic transmission below. :) Excluding the cost of my own shenanigans with the transmission, here is what getting the car into ship shape cost me:

Total - $3681

CAR - $760
smog - $50
AC CHARGE - $330

Air filter, cabin filter, fuel filter, pcv update - $122
Loctite, oil pan orings - $38
trans mount, trans sealing washers, turbo oil gaske - $64
turbo oil drain hose, trans drain plug seal - $60
trans fluid - $28
TC seal, VC gasket, timing chain pad - $32
trans fluid - $28
axle seals - $65
transmission - $217
water pump + AC compressor kit + vacuum pump seals - $317
radiator hoses + thermostat - $64
exhaust studs, oil cooler o-rings, swaybar bushings - $108
spare key + cut - $72
radiator - $132
coolant + trans fluid refill - $45
hood strut + fuel pump - $32
crank sensor + spark plugs + wipers - $120
Air shields + fuel pump orings + belt tensioner + hood strut - $163
idler pulley - $28
spare DIC tool - $16
stereo + SWC interface - $192
2x LCAs - $110
tires (falken fk452) - $300

As you can see, I essentially replaced *everything* mechanical and a whole lot of electrical parts too, plus a new stereo and four new tires. I used OE or OEM parts everywhere, no cheap stuff except the Mevotech Supreme LCAs (which seem quite nice, on a side note). This car needs to be 100% reliable, so I wasn't looking for broken stuff - I was looking for anything that wasn't new and reasonably replaceable. The only things I did not replace that I will probably regret are the DIC and the ABS module.

It's all DIY, but I think a reasonable time estimate - again ignoring issues I caused myself with the transmission - is around 30 hours. Maybe $3000 to $3500 in labor? That makes this a nearly $7000 car in an absolute sense, and my point to you is twofold: If this car is "nicely maintained" at $7000 you're overpaying by 80-100%. If this car has a *mountain* of documented work in recent times, it could be an okay deal. As a point of comparison, if someone offered me $5k for the car I just finished, I'd take it. :)

My *personal* with a 98k car is gonna be that it's not been driven a lot and may be headed into expensive maintenance... everything that hasn't worn out from use will be wearing out from age, and you may get stuck holding the bag. Lots of people think low mileage is really good, but I think I'd rather have a car with moderate mileage and a really comprehensive service history.

posted by 12.195.130...

Posts in this Thread:
Alert me when someone posts in this thread:

Post a Followup

No Site Registration is Required to Post - Site Membership is optional (Member Features List), but helps to keep the site online
for all Saabers. If the site helps you, please consider helping the site by becoming a member.

Name: Member Login / Signup [Latest Member Gallery Photos]
E-Mail: (Optional)
Re-Enter E-Mail: (Confidential & Secure - Not revealed to other users!)
Note: Please check your spam folder for BB responses.


Posting rules are simple - No for sale/wanted ads may be posted here - use the site classifieds.
You may not cross-post your message to multiple BBs.
Not permitted: political/religious topics and being disrespectful (personal attacks, insults, etc...).
Site Members do not see any red text, inline ad links, bottom of page anchor ads, box ads, or anti-spam check.

Message: (please no for sale/wanted classifieds - post those in the Classifieds)
Links are now automatically made active, no need for any special code (or use the Option Link field below) - don't put links in () or end with a '.'
To add inline images to your post, use [img][endimg] (or use the Optional Image Link field below).

Links are now automatically made active, no need for any special code (or use the Option Link field below) - don't put links in () or end with a '.'
To add inline images to your post above, use [img][endimg] (or use the Optional Image Link field below).

Optional Link: (e.g.
Link Title: (Optional)
Optional Photo/Image Link: (e.g.
Photo/Image to Upload: [Member Only Feature] - Sign Up

The content on this site may not be republished without permission. Copyright © 1988-2020 - The Saab Network -
For usage guidelines, see the Mission and Purpose Page.
[Contact | Site Map | on Facebook | on Twitter | Shop Amazon via TSN | Site Donations]

This is a moderated bulletin board - Posting is a privilege, not a right. Unsolicited commercial postings are not allowed (no spam). Please, no For Sale or Wanted postings, SERIOUSLY. Classifieds are to be listed in The Saab Network Classifieds pages. This is a problem solving forum for over 250,000 Saab owners, so expect to see problems discussed here even though our cars are generally very reliable. This is not an anything goes type of forum. has been a moderated forum since 1988. For usage guidelines, see the Mission and Purpose Page. Please remember that you are not anonymous. Site Contact | Site Donations | Other Sites by SP -
Your address is: - Using CCBot/2.0 ( - Logged.

Site Members do not see red text instructions, bottom of the page anchor ads, or box ads.
Click here to see all the Site Membership Benefits!