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Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • maynardf1maynardf1 Posts: 127
    A more comprehensive source for would-be saab drivers is
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    ... is typically a "you bought it" type of proposition.

    The difference is that instead of paying some amount and having a zero balance at the end of the term, you pay something less, and at the end of the term, you owe some additional lump sum amount, which is what is called the "balloon".

    FWIW, if you don't have the cash, some balloon loans are set up so that you're able to effectively re-finance the balloon amount over the next couple of years.

    For a totally made-up illustration, with bogus numbers that are guaranteed to be wrong, consider the following:

    Assume: $20K financed @ 8%

    Normal 3 year loan: $626.72/month

    Hypothetical Balloons

    #1: $1/month, with $25,200 due at end of period
    #2: $300/month, with $14,000 due at end of period
    #3: $626/month, with $20 due at end of period.

    And so on. Basically, you're paying interest on cash and not paying off some percentage of the principle.

    The basic idea behind the balloon for car loans is to still buy the car (and generate principle) while keeping the payments as low as a lease (where you never generate any principle).

    The trade-off with cars is that cars depreciate. If a car depreciates to a value lower than your balloon residual, you're stuck behind the power curve pretty nastily.

  • 22sub22sub Posts: 9
    thanks for the input guys. i'm actually very familiar with the mechanics of how these programs work (i.e. low payments, high final payment). the only reason i would consider using one of these programs is with the option to give the car back at the end of the payment term, just like with a lease (these programs exist, or at least they are fairly common in this part of the country). you simply pay a fee (probably $100 - $250) to give the car back instead of refinancing or paying it off. i have 2 partners who are currently doing this - 1 w/ mercedes, 1 w/ ford.

    what i am really trying to get my hands around is: if i can own the car within a balloon-type program and have payments as low as with a lease, plus avoid the tax that exists with a lease, is there still an argument for why i should still lease and not buy? (nyccarguy) i presume that 3-yr free maintenance would exist on the same car whether i buy or lease right? this scenario seems to point to taking advantage of the balloon, unless i'm missing something?


  • boonsboroboonsboro Posts: 22
    When I looked at this the big difference is the effective interest rate. Saab is currently offering a money factor of .00001 on a 3 year lease and a money factor of .00055 on a 4 year lease. The equivalent interest rate is basically 0% for the 3 year lease. The credit union with the "smart lease" (balloon loan) wants something like 7% interest.

    Compare the extra interest cost from the balloon loan to the personal property tax (which is probably deductible on your federal taxes) and see which is the better deal. I'm going to guess that you are better off with lease.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    I can offer no further comment as I don't really know about these types of loans. I think Huntzinger said it best in his explaination (he usually does). Maybe there's a law in Texas that allows this type of transaction.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • 22sub22sub Posts: 9
    thanks again for the input - the money factor vs. interest rate might be the difference i'm looking for. i will let you know if i find out more good information. cheers,
  • if so, what is the offer? and as far as the premium package, is it possible to pick and choose different aspects of the package and toss out what you don't like? For instance - Saab is offering full maintenance coverage and checkups
    every 10k/20k/30k miles despite the fact that the car would be under a bumper-to-bumper 4yr/50k mile warranty... which should be sufficient for a 3 year lease.

    any thoughts out there?
  • mpg5mpg5 Posts: 68
    i am seeing base 9-3 lease of $2990 total due at signing $239.00 per/36 mos. tax/tags extra. rolling tax into payments came to $251 per with $13700 approx buyout. 12k miles per year. looks pretty good to me, but i'm afraid of all the "SAAB" stories i am hearing. for potential buyers, one local dealer told me saab is offering $4000 cash back now. if they need to offer deals this aggressive, there must be some merit to the poor build quality/design issue. i really want one, love the esoteric design/utility of a cavernous hatchback coupled with 200hp turbo and sports car handling, but haven't been able to take the leap of faith.....yet.
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    If I had to do it over again, I'd lease.

    Overall, my Saab was reliable for the first 3 years. It wasn't until it it 36K miles that it went downhill.

  • BlokeBloke Posts: 10
    Another reason for the aggressiveness is the simple fact that there is a totally redesigned 9-3 on the way. I made the leap just a few weeks ago, and so far am very happy with the car. I am not too worried about long term reliability, as I am leasing.
  • hppypaulhppypaul Posts: 43
    I think it would be nice if somebody started a conversation about how great the 9-3 can be when it's running well. I

    find mine to be the most balanced car between "fun to drive" and "practical" that I've ever owned. I used to be a vw guy, and looking back, my GTI and Passat needed more repairs over time than the 9-3 ever has. Lots of little aggravating stuff that made them rough around the edges.

    Enough about lease rates and problems, how about some positive feedback about what you can do to customize, and make the car even more fun. The only thing that bugs me is that the new 9-3 is supposed to drop the hatchback. It's why I got it in the first place. If they do this, I'm gone anyway. If you agree send an e-mail to saab.
  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    but your key statement was "when it's running well." I'll get off of my problems with my car, but it's still an important aspect of the ownership experience - enough of an issue for me to count down the days to the end of my lease in July!
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    I find my Saab to be extremely practical. Coming from a 1998 Ford Explorer Sport I was worried about losing room. Fold down the rear seats and my Saab swallows cargo. I've moved a friend back and forth from NYC to Ithaca, NY with all his stuff (no furniture). I moved countless bags of clothing and various other items from my old apartment on the east side to my new apartment on the west side.

    My Mom takes my car instead of her CLK when she goes on runs to Costco or a large grocery run.

    The few times we've had snow over the duration of my lease since December '99 I have not missed my 4WD Explorer one bit.

    I've taken the Saab skiing with 4 people (myself and 3 others) with skis and equipment in the trunk (skis fit nicely through the pass through). The Turbo works great on those high altitude hill climbs from the NYS Thruway to the mountain.

    I Love the effortless power, tightly wound suspension, night panel, & everything that makes it a Saab.

    I don't like the stock rubber that came on the car. I also don't like the look some people give you when they find out you drive a Saab. For me it cost about the same as many SUVs out there.

    When I was looking to lease in late '99, I was quoted $525/month for a GLX Passat & $475/month for an Accord EX Sedan (Both with $0 Down 36 months/ 36K). For $398 & change I pay, the Saab was way more fun to drive! I think I made the right choice!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • mpg5mpg5 Posts: 68
    when you say downhill, approximately how far did it go?
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    he means down a very long, steep, down hill. Scroll back through the last hundred or so posts and you'll find it. Huntzinger had lots of trouble with his car.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • mpg5mpg5 Posts: 68
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    There was a handful of little stuff, which I was willing to overlook. The big stuff was:

    36K - first clutch replacement
    45K - loss of lubrication without any loss of oil.
    It ate alive its timing chains & gears.
    47K - second clutch replacement

    I would have accepted any one of these problems as "bad luck", but this was more along the lines of: "3 strikes and you're out."

    The clutch problems were due to a failed bushing, which evidentally was not "self-lubricated for life" like it was supposed to be. It would begin to bind, which would erode itself even more. It would eventually cause the clutch cable to break and leave you stranded. This is an Engineering design/manufacturing defect and it cannot in any way be attributable to the operator's driving habits.

    My Saab's warranty listed transmission "wear items" as being covered for only 1 year/16K miles from time of purchase instead of the normal warranty duration. The catch is what exactly is and is not on this list. The clutch cable and release bearing are, but if I had to do it all over again, I would get a list of specific part numbers for the items excluded as a condition of vehicle purchase.

    BTW, the Saab Customer Assistance Center's phone number is 1-800-955-9007. They're open M-Fri, 8AM-8PM Eastern Time USA.

  • Unfortunately, I do not get enough time to spend with my '99 Saab 9-3. As a college student in New York City, I have no need for a car in the city, and I only get to drive it when I go home for breaks, but those few moments that I do get to drive my car bring me such incredible feelings of joy. Now that I am used to the turbo engine (automatic gearbox), I find naturally aspirated engines weak and unsatisfactory.

    I got my car used. It had something like 55K miles on it already. There are a few squeaks and rattles, but nothing even remotely annoying. Of course, I must admit that getting those in a used car is considerably less disturbing than on a new car. My air control dial was malfunctional, but repaired at $200. Since I also got floormats that day at the dealer, they threw them in for free. This is 128 Saab in Massachusetts, by the way.

    I got Bridgestone Potenza RE950's, which work beautifully. I have noticed that there is something not quite right with the steering however. It's precise, but not really centered correctly, even though I have had three alignments done already. Firestone provides free lifetime alignments for $99. So when I go in to the dealer for the big 60K checkup this summer, I will have that checked. Also, the autobox shifts a little harsh between first and second sometimes, so I want to have that checked as well. Does anyone else find that problem?

    Other than that, my car has been absolutely perfect. My mother drives it regularly, and likes it more and more each day she spends away from her '97 MPV. I do not think Saab 9-3's are any more unreliable than other cars. If you look at the other car boards, there are really just as many problems.

    Anyway, just thought I would share a positive experience.
  • ligartligart Posts: 109
    With the new 9-3 coming soon, I sincerely hope you KEEP a hatchback in the lineup. This is a KEY ingredient in making a SAAB useful. (It was a pity you discarded the hatch on the 9-5, especially when the hatch model looked like a trunk anyway.)

    If you read any of the internet discussion groups (e.g. you will see people LOVE their SAABs because they have a hatch and are VERSATILE.

    Please please don't go to a trunk! If you give in to the common notion that "no one wants hatchbacks" it will be a BIG disappointment!
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    If you read any of the internet discussion groups (e.g. you will see people LOVE their SAABs because they have a hatch and are VERSATILE

    Agreed. The presence of the hatch & folding rear seats was a very big part of why I originally bought mine, instead of a 3-Series BMW.

  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    That's why I got mine also - if I hadn't had so many problems with mine, I'd be getting another one. I'd challenge anybody to show me a car that size with that much utility. The only thing I'd ask them to improve (besides their reliability and quality) is that the rear seats fold truly flat (like the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix). None of the other cars on the market can fit to Labrador Retrievers in the back with such ease!
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    Agreed! I love the hatchback! I don't like the blind spots that come with it! I've fit a Great Dane in my car! Of course she sat in the back for abour 2 minutes and then she came up and sat in the passengar seat!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • maynardf1maynardf1 Posts: 127
    Morning paper has a first look at the Mazda 6, successor to the 626. It's going to start as a sedan, but for '03, mazda will offer both a hatchback and a wagon derivation.
    From the review, it sounds as though the thing will be a blast to drive.
    I wonder if saab might do the same thing with the 440: broaden the line-up to include a hatch.
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    Prior to my Saab, I had had a VW Scirocco. As such, the Saab was a pretty big step up in size, mostly for back seat, but also for cargo volume.

    I spent 2001 looking around for a suitable replacement for the Saab. It went slowly, mostly because of a lot of other commitments which stole my free time. There really aren't that many hatches out the marketplace, although things have heated up very recently in the lower price segment. As per Edmunds, there are exactly 3 hatchbacks in the $25-30K price segment (and 58 SUV's/Trucks).

    Overall, you have a couple of basic issues and product groupings to consider what your personal biases - er "preferences" ;-) are to narrow down the list. Besides price, they are:

    - European, American or Japanese design philosophy?

    - The back seat: is it there just to lower your insurance, or is it really for people (you like) to sit in?

    - Style: genuine hatch, or will a wagon do?

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    3 hatchbacks & 58 Trucks/SUVs...sad world we live in huh?

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • hppypaulhppypaul Posts: 43
    Any Viggen owners out there with a story to tell?? Is the performance that much better than the SE?? Any trouble spots worse than what's typically stated here?? With the changeover coming, I'm hoping to get a good deal on a Viggen Ragtop next year when they really want to move them.
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    That's why I got mine also - if I hadn't had so many problems with mine, I'd be getting another one.

    Exactly the same story here.

    I'd challenge anybody to show me a car that size with that much utility.

    I recall reading a review on like a dozen of the midsize SUV's a few years ago...and when I got to the part on cargo capacity started laughing out loud: my Saab had a greater carrying capacity than all but one of them.

    I'm going to miss the size of the trunk. I'm also going to miss watching hours of CNN in the waiting room down at the Saab dealership.

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 12,220
    If you want to get a good deal on a Viggen next year, I'd say go with the 5 door, not the convertible. I had a 2002 SE Convertible as a loaner when I brought my 2000 9-3 5 Door in for service a few weeks ago. WHile it was really cool to have a convertible for the day (especially since it was 60 degrees in the afternooon), the blind spots with the top up were really bad, and structural rigidity seemed to be non-existent with the top down (Read SHOOK LIKE A LEAF). The car felt slower due to the weight increase in the convertible. I noticed the difference while I was driving the convertible, but they were even more apparent when I got back in my car. My 5 door accelerated quicker (even with the less powerful 185hp engine) and felt as solid as my Mom's old 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300E.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    Your service department had CNN? I wasn't so lucky - all I got was the opportunity to read the same "History of the Saab 900" book about 500 times. (At least my service department had soda and Starbucks coffee for free. I got to sample it all too many times.)
  • smu1976smu1976 Posts: 110
    O.k. it's not Colorado Springs, but what do they teach you in the Viggen Academy? Any grads out there? Any recent buyers of the Viggen and deals out there yet?
This discussion has been closed.