Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • GBrianKGBrianK Posts: 211
    Yeah, I traded in my Honda Accord for my first Saab. What a difference! Honda's are definitely reliable, but sure are boring. For the duration of ownership of my 1999 Saab 9-3, I had only two problems with the car (both of which were not defects, but damage caused by external variables).

    First, my antenna was bent by the car wash attendant. He was poking along listening to Tejano music while cleaning the car and left the radio on when the car went through the wash. I watched from the viewing window in agony as the antenna was bent back.

    Second, the right rear door's control rod (rod that connects the external handle to the lock mechanism) was disloged from its housing. This was done by my friend slamming the door as hard as he possibly could.

    Other than that, the car was a gem!
  • IMO, the '87 clutch system is apparently a more robust design than what's in the 94- NG's.

    But note that I said "system".

    In neither of my Saab clutch failures was the problem attributable to the clutch's pressure plate. Nor to User habits/driving styles. Both times, it was a binding and seizing in the actuation system, most likely attributable to a defective bearing or bushing design.

    I believe that I mentioned that my 3rd clutch had different part#'s than the 2nd, which had been done in 1999. This says that Saab has running Engineering design changes coming through their logistics support system between 1999 and 2000.

    Logically, its expensive to obsolete and supersede parts. These running changes signal a recognized shortcoming...the old designs weren't good enough...that needed correction. It is also not hard to put 2+2 together and realize that this redesign infers that all pre-2000 Saab NG's are technically suspect for the reliability of this particular subsystem. I suspect it is more time based than mileage, so IMO, don't be at all surprised when we hear of 9-3's hitting the same failure mode when they turn 3-4 years old.

    Please understand that if I had only had one isolated repair incident, I would accept it as "bad luck" and get on with life. But it hasn't been just one...there have been three, summing to an outlay of $4600 before I even got to 50K miles. Now explain to me why I should even consider buying another one.

  • jonw2jonw2 Posts: 49
    HH, Sorry I broke in on this subject thread without reading your experience with Saab clutches etc.I can understand your despair with your Saab. Yes, I believe the 1987 Saab was an unusually good year. Unfortunately, in the 1990s Saab reliability was spotty, at least by Consumer Reports ratings from the years 1993 through 1997.

    As I mentioned, I have never been enamored with the "throw" of the Saab stick. Someone equated it to driving a school bus. And I agree the problem must be in the design that necessitates a fairly long cable run. However,I am surprised that Saab hasn't improved the ease of shifting markedly over the years. Last year I test drove several new cars, including a Passat and a Saab 9-3, and the Passat won hands down in driveability. As it turned out, we ended up buying a Subaru L station wagon, largely from financial considerations, and it has been an excellent car.

    Sometimes the only thing left to do with a trouble-plagued car is to cut your losses and trade it in on something more reliable. Last year we did just that with a troublesome '93 Ford Taurus. If you are looking for a sporty car and space isn't a problem,I would recommend taking a look at the Subaru WRX that just received rave reviews in Car and Driver. In any event, best of luck. -- Jon W.
  • I have a 98 9-3 turbo 2-dr. Throttle cable has been binding some lately. Have taken it apart and lubed it up and that worked for a couple of weeks but the problem has returned. Seems to be worse when engine is warm. Any ideas?
  • Have heard the following noises in my new saab.......(now w/1700 miles

    a) a clicking/pusling sound when I apply the brakes...
    b) doesn't take bumps well.......rattles in the back.......(dealer originally installed a few wahsers in the back seat to help the noise.but returned)
    c) brakes squeak when applied only in reverse.......

    Anybody have something similar????????

  • Greetings again Dstrau....I have noticed some similar things with my SE some of which I might be able to help you with.
    a)Clicking when applying the brake....I think this is the interlock with the transmission...You hear the noise coming from the shifter (auto) when you brake...not sure that this can be fixed but try raising the volume on the stereo...its pretty good in the SE
    b)Rattle in the back....first make sure the headrests are completely stable...if they are not locked then they tend to rattle....if this does not work try placing foam under the seat hinges.....if this helps then you can have your dealer fix the may also be coming from the hatch area which they found on mine and I thought it was coming from the seat. Try looking on for fixes for rattles by doing a search under the bulliten boards...lots of useful info on there.
    c)Brakes sqeaking...1st I would try blasting the wheels with a garden hose to clean out the brake dust...most of the time its just due to the dust accumulating
    Hope you are enjoying your 9-3 SE as much as I am..6700 miles right now and no problems.
  • GBrianKGBrianK Posts: 211
    2002's should be here anytime now....
  • GBrianKGBrianK Posts: 211
    Yup, to Keep America Rolling.... One thing they don't tell you about the 0% financing is that you have to put 20% down to get it.
  • dmf000dmf000 Posts: 2
    Hi, Saab-owners. I understand that for 2002, Saab will no longer be offering the Base 9-3 models. Maybe that's why I found a price online from that seems incredibly low - $22.7 for a 2001 Base 3-dr with auto. Is this a good deal? I test drove one and it drove great. I'm partial to hatchbacks, but I noticed, compared to my lowly Ford Probe, that the Saab had very limited cubbyhole storage spaces (where do u put CD's?), that the "armrest" isn't one at all (unless you're under 4' tall) and that the gas cap door does not lock. Picky, but I know the Saab's got a reputation for being different, so I can live with this. Should I take the plunge? The offer expires 10/31. Feedback appreciated.
  • Hey dmf000...You are correct the base models have been discontinued and the 2dr hatchback is only available as the viggen for 2002. The 4dr SE has be decontented and the price has been lowered. Some standard items for 2001 are options on the SE for 2002...still after adding all the options back on the list price on my loaded SE will be $2555 lower for 2002. I am guessing the factory to dealer incentives will be lowered because of this. If you want a 2dr you have to get a 2001. I originally wanted a 2dr hatchback (none were available at the time) but test drove both the base and SE models..SE has better handling, more horsepower and more options.. I would at least test drive the SE before you buy if you can afford the additional money.
    As for the gas is locked when the doors are locked...but opens along with the doors. An armrest can be ordered for the dealer or Saab catalog online...Two are available...get the sliding armrest....the other one is useless..I know I bought that one first. The price of $22700 seems fair may even be able to get the dealer to go lower on your own. Let me know if you do decide to take the plunge and feel free to ask any more questions
  • dmf000dmf000 Posts: 2
    Very helpful, thanks for the quick response. Is the sliding armrest difficult to install?
  • The sliding armrest is $85 and available only in grey or beige leather. Took me about 1 minute to install...don't pay the dealer a penny for installation....just need to pull off the cupholder cover...pull at one of the hinges while sitting in the back seat and its off. Just as easy to install the new one...any other questions just ask
  • Ed,

    Sorry for the delay...was on vacation.

    I believe that there's a TSB for reconfiguring the clutch cable linkage, as some binding is a known problem on some 199x should be under warranty, so I'd have the dealer check it out.

    The bad news is that it sounds like the same problem I've had (twice). But the good news is that it appears that you can make it go away by re-lubing your system, so I would presume that you could choose to do isolated rennovations so as to narrow down just which part of the linkage is the problem (so that future re-lubes are more focused & faster).

    Something else you can try is to sit in one in the showroom floor and compare its pedal push as a way to define "normal". Its not foolproof, but its easy, fast & free. If there's a big difference, speak up and get someone to look at it...and clarify ahead of time that you don't accept any claim that its a "wear item" that is only warrantied for a single year: wear items are high mortality items like brake pads and wiper blades, not stuff like shift linkages and bushings.
  • Jon,

    Sorry for the delayed response...

    Re: Saab reliability - - I agree that in the 1990s Saab reliability was spotty, as per Consumer's Reports (CU), but at the time of my purchase, the problem in the New Gen 900 model hadn't really cropped up yet. I recall reviewing CU and they didn't look that "bad" or "different" from other Euro-makes. Today, though, the trend for those years is pretty obvious. Oh well.

    Re: gearbox feel & throws - - - Yeah, its "imprecise". Virtually every time I'd put my Saab in for service when it was under warranty, I'd put poor shifting on the checklist. A good mechanic who is conciencious about it can do a pretty good job to minimize its aggravating aspects and make it tolerable. But it will never be slick.

    Overall, I'm afraid that slick, well-engineered solid gearbox linkages are a victim of the demands of the economics of manufacturing. Cable-based shifters are far cheaper to design, install & adjust and are thus all too common today.

    Re: dumping lemons - - - So how much you going to offer me for my wonderful car? ;-)

    I do have to admit that I'm a bit aggravated that I am going to have to dump this car, roughly 3 years and 50K miles earlier than what I'd normally consider to be acceptable. Its running fine (although it needs YA muffler), but I simply don't feel that I can completely trust it. BTW, is anyone interested in four mounted snow tires?

    Re: Subaru WRX? - - - I saw it at the NYC car show this spring and I'm thinking about thinking about it. I used to drive a Subaru (a "FF-1G") many years ago, and while I haven't tried any of them recently, the general trend I've seen through coworkers and rental cars is that Japanese auto's still often mimic US cars in their control system rates and suspension setups, which I personally loathe. I believe that AutoWeek reported that the WRX has been configured significantly "softer" for the US market than its ROW configuration, which I feel is a shame (dammit, at least offer the tight setup as a BTO option!). nevertheless, I figure I'll be stopping in the local dealer for a look-over and test drive, if for no other reason than to complain to them that its not tight enough ;-)

  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    Bought a base 9-3, auto, w/ everything you can get on the base in May. Now have 9000 miles on it which is split probably 50/50 between city driving and highway driving. And when I say city, I am talking D.C.- anyone who has ever driven in D.C. will know just how bad the roads are and how hard they are on your car. Not a problem yet. Everything still works great, car feels as tight as when new, and no squeeks or rattles. There is only one bump in the whole city that causes the CD player to skip, which is pretty impressive. Only down side is the stereo is a little weak, although I noticed this after test drive. Maybe I'll ask Santa for an upgrade!

    I have to say I no longer have car envy. Not only is it a car that turns heads (why couldn't I have had this when I was 18 and single) but it is immensly practical with the huge trunk/hatchback. And we have had no problems with three adults on long (4 hours plus) trips and five on shorter jaunts (1 hour or so). Best part of all is that at the end of long trips I feel utterly fresh- almost as good as when I left. The car is a dream to drive- the seats are just the best seats my rear has ever had the pleasure to grace, and the acceleration is excellent. I actually use the speed warning feature because I find myself easily doing 85-90 on Route 95 without knowing it. If you need to pass some idiot doing 65 in the fast lane you are around them in a matter of seconds. This, combined with the pinpoint steering, is to me the most important safety feature on the car. After all, best safety feature is being able to avoid an accident.

    To anyone who has read prior posts about problems and is scared- I've had a great experience so far, although I do follow the maintenance schedule. Why not when the dealer gives you a loaner car for anyhting that will take more than an hour. If looking to buy in DC area, check out International Saab in Falls Church- very happpy with them. I feel like I own something special the way I'm treated there.
  • I was close to getting a Saab, but was scared off from all the horrors stories re reliability.
  • eman5eman5 Posts: 110
    Can we get the 2002 Saab 9-3SE data posted in the "New" section? The 2002s are in stock, and it'd certainly be a help to have invoice and other data before the 0% financing ends October 31... I'd never want to buy a car without being armed with Edmund's info.
  • dstraudstrau Posts: 17
    Tosay, when I got out of my 2001 SE, I heard a "snap" under the seat. After looking around, I realized that the plastic memory seat piece was loose????????? Wasn't able to "snap it back!" It is not hanging, just loose? happen to anyone else?

    P.S.- Just broke 2200 miles.Otherwise, besides the brakes squeaking in reverse and a "ticking sound" the car is great!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dealer said that they will take care of the ticking and brakes at 10k checkup
This discussion has been closed.