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Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • Hi gang!

    I test drove a 5-speed 2002 SE (4 dr.) hatch yesterday and was disappointed with the folddown rear seats.

    What puzzled me is that neither the seller nor I could figure out how to have both rear seats folded down all the way (for maximum cargo volume) AND have the driver's seat be in a confortable driving position.

    When we slid the seat backwards to accomodate my legs (I'm only 5'10"), the driver's seatback would crush the left rear seat cushion that's flipped vertically to allow the rear seatbacks to come all the way down.

    Conversely, when we slid the driver's seat forward to unsquish the rear seat cushion, that of course left me in an overly cramped driving position.

    So...were the seller and I just spacing out and missing something painfully obvious about how to fold those rear seats down without the driver's seat mashing the left rear seat bottom? Have any hatchback owners out there had a similar issue? If I'm correct about this, do I just live with rear seats that fold down only partially?

    I just can't believe that a design feature this inelegant could make it's way into an otherwise fantastic car. Or do I chalk this one up to Saab "quirkiness", and just live with it?

    Herb :-)
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    From Edmunds' coverage of the 2003 Franfurt International Motor show: Saab 9-3 Sport-Hatch concept. For those that missed, see more information in Post #496 of this discussion.

    Also, if you know anyone that would interested in discussing this subject, please send them here. Here' the url to this discussion that you can copy/paste: /direct/view/.eea6849/495

    Thanks for your participation!

    Host of Hatchbacks & Wagons
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I searched the certified used 9-3 listings and found that there wasn't a lot of 9-3s in the area. Is that just low sales of the 9-3, or are more owners keeping the hatches?
  • jchan2...

    I live in San Jose, CA.

    I've been looking for "my" 9-3 since Sept/Oct '03, and if all goes well, will be in my shiny, laser red/charcoal gray 2001 9-3 SE (5 spd) within two weeks. (Can't wait!)

    The Saab specialist who found the car for me says that the 9-3 hatches are in relatively higher demand nowadays. Reason being (no surprise here): Saab no longer makes'em.

    In fact, he can sell a used 9-3 for close to (if not even more than) the price of a comparable level 9-5.

    As far as your "low sales" query, it felt like it took forever for me to even find the exact car I wanted. Part of that, though, was my desire for the particular red/charcoal color combo in the SE level.

    Apparently, it's a very low demand color. Few new car buyers ordered it originally. And few used car buyers want it. It took me close to four months to even find one car that fit the description, and that's the one I hope to be driving soon.

    Hope that helps...

    Herb :-)
  • jajjaj Posts: 55
    Has anyone heard of or had experience with some "kit" to solve the so-called "weeping" of fluids? A local mechanic mentioned such a thing for about $120. I have a 2000 9-3 HOT w/ 5-speed and it's just starting to show spotting on my garage floor (my '95 900 did the same thing and never got cured).
  • sastrybsastryb Posts: 6
    My 1999 Saab 9-3 is almost up on the extended warranty. I have 80,000km (50,000 miles) and have had minimal problems. In the past month, though, the head gasket needed replacing as well as the PCM. Thankfully, both repairs were covered under warranty, saving my a few thousand dollars. So now I am at the crossroads - do I get rid of the car, or should I hang on to it. Perhaps I am over-reacting based on my past month experience. Are Saabs good cars to own for the mid-to-long term (6-10 years)??
  • beamer12beamer12 Posts: 2
    Once they get up in the 70k - 80k miles they start to get real expensive to maintain. Great cars in their early years, but I would dump it for a newby. I was told that from an ex-internal inspector for Saab. He inspected my car as I was returning a lease with high mileage. I was in the shop once a month on something that needed to be fixed with the final blow having to rebuild the engine.
  • ligartligart Posts: 109
    I'm assuming your extended warranty was thru Saab. You can also purchase extended warranties thru other companies, like Warranty Direct (though I don't think they do business in Canada?).
  • ligartligart Posts: 109
    Yah, but there's no newby like my Viggen!
  • sastrybsastryb Posts: 6
    Well, I have 80,000km on my 1999 Saab 9-3 and it's time to change the tires. Any reccomendations on what I should replace them with? I currently have Michelin Pilots 205 50 R16 (stock). I appreciate the feedback.
  • Sastryb, there will be many opinions regarding replacement tires, so I can only give you the benefit of my experience. My 2002 9-3 came with Pirelli tires that, after 20,000 miles (or approx 30K kilometers) became extremely noisy, and the rough, bouncy ride unacceptable.

    I elected to purchase a slightly lower-profile, quiet-running tire, a Goodyear Assurance P205 55 R16 with an H speed rating (I believe the original equipment tire had a higher V rating). I have been very pleased. I have also been surprised at the roadholding, being unable to detect any deterioration in cornering or braking -- in fact the lack of uncontrolled bouncing has improved these. I live in snowy Chicago, and the snow performance has been very acceptable, not as fantastic as the Blizzaks on my Avalon, but certainly very good for a high-mileage rated, all season tire.

    The Saab is, unfortunately, not a well-insulated car. Anything that reduces tire noise is a plus. By the way, the Assurance tires have a built-in permanent shine on the sidewalls, a very useful appearance attribute.
  • r34r34 Posts: 178
    Shouldn't the Pirelli have the same spec (except speeding rating & Max Load rating) as the Good year ? I thought Saab changed the OEM tires for 2002 9-3 to 205/55/R16.

    I am living in the Chicago area too. I bought my 2002 as CPO and found that the dealer put some cheap Cooper tires on it. It may due to my heavy steering and longer stopping distance problems. I am looking for a good all-season tires (at least it will do ok on light snow). I heard good things about Kuhmo ASX but they don't have 205/55/16. I am thinking among Michelin Energy, Yokohama, and the Goodyear you mentioned. I am trying to stay away from directional tires.

    How's the Goodyear tires perform on Dry and wet surface ? Do they provide good handling ? Thanks.
  • I must admit I don't have a clear recollection of the exact Pirelli tire that came standard on the 2002 SE, so you may well be right.

    As I get older my driving has become more conservative, so I rarely take my tires to the performance edge. Nevertheless, I have great confidence in the Goodyear Assurance dry road performance. Since you live in Chicago you will know that our summer has been remarkably dry, but my recollection of early Spring driving in the wet was very positive. Of course, my tires are relatively new, which always helps wet traction. We also received only moderate snow during the winter, but the Goodyear Assurance performed most satisfactorily.

    On our Toyota Avalon, however, I installed Bridgestone Blizzaks on steel rims for the winter -- and I can change back to regular tires/wheels in my garage if no snow is forecast. During a very difficult winter in northern Kentucky (we moved to Chicago from Louisville) the Blizzaks were superb. I cannot speak too highly of them. Swopping for genuine winter tires is always a better choice than all-season, but I have not done this for the Saab. Maybe this coming winter will be a test ?!
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    My son wants a 9-3, but he won't be driving for another few years. (he's 13) :D

    It'll be tough to find one. :(
  • r34r34 Posts: 178
    I had a 2001 Saab 9-3. I used Michelin Alpin in the winter time. I like them. That car was hit by a truck but it saved my wife's life. That's why we keep buying Saabs.

    The ContiExtreme I used were good on snow but they were a liittle bit noisy.
  • I've heard very good reports on the latest version of the Michelin Alpin, but high price always seems to be a problem. The ContiExtreme are actually a performance tire -- I've never understood why performance should be a priority when all one wants to do is get home safely in a blizzard or freezing rain :)
  • r34r34 Posts: 178
    people like me who do not have enough storage space to store extra tires or the wife "forced" them to give up winter tires may but good all-seasons instead.
  • kylep86kylep86 Posts: 30
    Hey, i was wondering if anyone can give me some insight about the 9-3 Se's around the year 99-01 ( i would like a 2000) reliablility, safety, maintence, ownership, common problems? etc. Thanks! I have a 04 Jetta now fully loaded, leather, heated seats, mulitfuntion steeringwheel, etc. When i was looking around at cars my parents edge me more towards the Jetta, but i still have a soft spot for the 9-3's. So i would like to find a saab with all those features as well. Thanks to all who post. -Kyle.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Well, in 2000 CR recommended the 9-3 because its reliability was passing.

    It got an "Average" grade, which isn't too shabby.

    But I think that after 100K miles Saabs tend to bring trouble. So try to get one with low miles.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the car an Acceptable rating in the Frontal Offset test. I have an odd feeling the 9-3 can do better than that, but test results are test results...

    I'd go for it. Buy what you like, as long as you know what you're getting when you write that check.

    My own son wants a 2002 9-3 SE (either hatchback or convertible) when he begins driving.
  • Recently there was a news item about how Saabs from around 99 and newer are suffering from the dreaded engine sludge problem. Since ultraheavy depreciation costs on new Saabs have always forced value-minded buyers to only consider Saabs once they are about 3 years or more older, the engine sludge potential problem (engines are not cheap) may be enough to avoid Saabs altogether.
    Some ask the question, which brand disappears first, Saab or Mitsubishi?
This discussion has been closed.