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Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • dstraudstrau Posts: 17
    Any suggestions rather than paying the ridiculous dealer prices?????have checked a few websites on and have come up empty handed
  • First off all I can say is stay rebate is large enough to put up with this car. You can read my earlier posts from a year ago about all the positives of this car which there are many....but here are the negatives:
    1) Rattles rattles and more rattles. And if it doesn't rattle it squeaks, thumps,scrapes and any other adjective you can think of. To give you an idea I had an 1988 ford with 107K miles on it that was worlds quieter and better put together.
    2)Here's a list of other things that went wrong:
    keep in mind the car has 14K miles...
    Front suspension bushings replaced to remedy a cheap rubbery loud sound when going over speed bumps and to fix the loud thump when going over railroad tracks( I'm talking a thump so loud you pull over to make sure the wheels are still attached)I don't think this is all the car needed but this is all that was fixed after two days.
    The Saab Information display has moisture behind in and was illegible and on its was to burnt out..this was replaced too..Of course this will cost you $500 when the warranty is up. Then the engine light comes on during a u-turn...I laugh and keep driving cause its not gonna be my problem much longer..actually traded it today
    3)Customer service is horrible at the dealer and Saab could care less..I took the time to fill out their survey for service and asked to be contacted regarding the loaner car policy and problems I was having with the car but I was never contacted.
    All I can say is keep shopping ..don't be lured in by the rebates
  • exlegendexlegend Posts: 22
    Sorry to hear about all of your problems. My wife just picked up an '02 9-3SE Saturday and loves it. Why not? All of 100 miles on it so far! I'll admit this is the first car I've ever LEASED, having owned Acuras for the past 15 years, and while they've become somewhat bland, still exhibit near bullet-proof reliability. Hopefully, the problems have been confined to the 1999 through 2001 models, no offense.

    We normally keep our cars 7 to 10 years, with excellent maintenance complementing basic reliability from the factory. I got a little ansy with some of the posts (nyccarguy and huntzinger, to name two) on this site, so, with a money factor of near zero and only 36 months of "ownership," we gave the 9-3 a try. My wife learned to drive on a Sonnet and believes a Saab and a 5-speed is the way to go. We'll see.

    When did all of this heartache start with Saab ownership? When GM bought into Saab? Are there ANY 9-3 owners out there with 1999s through 2001s with positive ownership experiences?
  • I'm not saying that the 9-3 does not have good does..awesome seats, acceleration, handling and an a/c that stands up to the heat hear in Phoenix Az. However a car in this price range should not rattle apart after 1 year of mostly pampered driving. Furthermore the problems I experienced were simply not acceptable in a car that is only a year old...if it sounds like there is a crack baby with a rattle in the back seat at 14K miles what will it sound like at 60 or 80K miles??? I shudder to think because this started at 1500 miles and progressively got worse. Display failure, suspension problems and a check engine light just show the poor build quality. I should also mention that while i was waiting for the service manager to locate a loaner car (which i had to fight for even though they kept the car for 2 full days..again not acceptable when the brochure states loaner vehicles for warranty work) I noticed a repair order for a 99 9-3SE with 56K miles....1)Coolant light stays on
    2)Enginge has oil leak
    3)Engine making abnormal noises
    Besides this I have watched several Saab owners get the bad news of their repairs while waiting for my car to be serviced...$1000+ repair bills and they all left annoyed in rental cars. I do wish you luck on your 9-3...but i'd give it back when the lease is up and get another acura
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    I'll admit this is the first car I've ever LEASED...

    If I really had my mind set on another Saab, I think I would have leased instead of risking all the headaches that I did. I'd also make sure to have extensive ("extended") warranty up the wazoo to make sure that there's absolutely no doubt that Saab pays for everything - right down to windshield washer fluid :-)

    Overall, this reminds me of a conversation I had at a PCA meeting several years ago, although the subject of discussion was a Range Rover.

    At that time (not sure if this is still true), Rovers were plagued with electrical gremlins and the owner's advice was "the perfect vehicle to Lease instead of buying", based on the ability to be able to walk away from it.

    So if we were to suggest a new topic of:

    "You had better lease these vehicles instead of buying them, because of their poor reliability"

    ...what would we put on that list today, with the Saab 9-3?

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,334
    There are many positive attributes to my Saab. It is a blast to drive (even with a slushbox), the seats are great, The leather is showing no signs of wear even after almost 3 years (not a long time, but still), the ride, the handling, the acceleration. You made the right decision by leasing (especially coming from Acuras). I've had no major problems with my car (knock on wood), and most of huntzinger's problems occured after the magical warranty period was up. Another poster here has had problems from the get go. Enjoy the car!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • maynardf1maynardf1 Posts: 127
    The lease on our '99 9-3 just expired, and we got something completely different (saturn vue, fwiw), but we loved the car for the most part.
    Coming from a '95 900 that had many problems, including a water pump pulley that cracked and took out several engine components with it -- later the subject of a recall.
    The worst thing about the 9-3 was the manual climate control, as many have said. But once the control box was replaced, it worked great.
    There were rattles, but I was able to eliminate most with some foam tape, especially on the rear seats where they meet the upper strut and detach for folding down.
    We had a 5-speed and that's the way to go, imo.
    Another great thing is the safety of the car. I was hit once in the 900, in the front driver's side by truck coming through red light, and once in the 9-3, rear-ended at a stop.
    Neither was a severe accident, but I could drive to the dealer both times and was not hurt at all. The anti-whiplash head rests performed beautifully when we were hit from behind.
    Overall, I'd say the car can be frustrating when it's rattling or the suspension is creaking on a very cold day. But when it's right (and mine was most of the time) it's a joy to drive.
    Hope you and your wife have 3 great years in it.
  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    THe car is fun to drive, but should NEVER be owned outright. The reliability just isn't there. Besides, I refuse to put felt tape on a car to quite the rattles when when it's supposed to be competative with a BMW 3-series.

    Only 14 weeks until I can dump my car back on the dealer.

    Anybody ever tried to get out of the disposal fee charged on leases? I'm thinking about asking for an exception since my car has had SOOOOOOO many problems, I could never even consider buying it out at the end of the lease.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,334
    with the amount of problems you've had, I'd be happy to pay them to take the car off your hands! LOL!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • dstraudstrau Posts: 17
    Knopck on wood.nothing mechanical yet.for 9 months.just some annoying watrranty stuff.rattle in back,(a Saab trademark!!!!!!) power seat console on driver side came loose but still works.and brakes squeak (only in reverse!!!)
  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    This black, Toyota-box automatic sunroofed, leathered 1999 9-3 is by far the _best car_ I have ever owned.

    Fast, classy-looking, comfortable, safe and RELIABLE, the UK AutoClub placed the '99 9-3 FIRST, tied with three Japanese cars in reliability with zero (0) faults found after two ((2) years.

    Faults on ours included (1) the heaterbox, replaced under warranty and (2) a bushings squeak in v cold weather from startup lasting 10 minutes.

    If you have only ONE car to buy, it should be this one. More Saab people, per owner, are online than any other car. No other car sells to strongly on a single test drive than Saab. No other car has so many dog owners per unit than Saab. Most people (surveys say) will think you PAID MORE FOR IT than you did.

    Bottom line is loyalty. Saabs placed 6th overall behind only Porsche among Eurocars and a few Japanese cars for buyer return purchase. I'd buy another one in a New York Minute if I needed another one but Saabs last so long, you're not always turning 'em over; longer, in fact, than Toyotas and Mercedes in engine life.
  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    Which 3 Japanese cars were those? (If they're Suzuki, Isuzu and Manzda, that's more believable than Toyota, Honda and Nissan!)

    While I'll admit that I have a lemon which is far worse than the average Saab 93, between the other Saab owners I know and every time I walk into a dealer and see what problems people are having, I'd have a hard time believeing that Saab is that good.

    Just my 2 cents...
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    While I'll admit that I have a lemon which is far worse than the average Saab 93, between the other Saab owners I know and every time I walk into a dealer and see what problems people are having, I'd have a hard time believing that Saab is that good.

    Same here. It seemed that there were always a ton of cars always waiting for repair, and invariably, it seemed that there was always someone there for the same problem I was having (and this included my engine rebuild from that "mysterious" loss of lubrication that happened somehow without any loss of oil).

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,334
    you both will like this one. I do love my 2000 9-3! While I haven't had anywhere near the problems that huntzinger had during ownership and jas28 during his lease period, I decided long ago (when I signed the lease agreement) that I was just going to turn the car in at the end of the lease (nothing against the car, but I've never been a lease, then buyout kinda guy) and look for something else.

    I had my heart set on a BMW 325i or 325Ci which I was planning to get via European Delivery. The BMW would have put a significant strain on my already tight budget. I decided to go Sport Coupe. The car I've wanted since it's introduction in 1997 is a Honda Prelude Type SH. They stopped making the Prelude at the end of last year (2001), so my hopes for owning one were dwindling. I called a few dealers here in the tri-state area and after about 2 weeks of calling, my local dealer (Nanuet Honda) found a brand new 2001 Red Prelude Type SH for me. I put a deposit on the car and am going to pick it up either next week or the week after.

    I've still got the Saab to enjoy too until December 4 or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first). 6,000 miles shouldn't be a problem. The problem will be driving the Saab (Slushbox), when I have a new Prelude (5 Speed) sitting in my driveway!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    I believe there were two (2) Nissans and a Mitsubishi tied for 1st place with the Saab 9-3 but I could be wrong about those three.

    The article should be available at BBC archives.

    It is generally accepted that Saab has a more consistently high-quality dealer prep program in the UK than they do in North America.

    My car is serviced at a Saturn dealership, which always wins on dealer service in North America according to JD Power. This may give Canadian Saabs a small edge in North America.
  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    I wuz wrong about those Japanese cars. Here's the report:

  • I have had no major trouble with my Saab so far, but the British offer glowing reviews of Saab reliability. So is it somehow the case that right-hand drive Saabs are better screwed together? Hmmm...makes me wonder.
  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    The cars are exactly the same except for the placement of the steering assemblies.

    As I say, it is generally accepted that Saab has a more consistently high-quality dealer prep program in the UK than North America. ***All** Saab initial assemblies are done in the EU, right?

    There are various combinations of diesels and trims levels made available in the EU which we don't get here, mainly because, in the case of the diesel, our refineries are too dirty and in the case of trim (optional equipment) levels, North Americans are unhappy with basic transportation and generally "trick out" their cars with as many options as are available - and then some.
  • As the former owner of an '89 900S, one of the things that got me down about the car wasn't just the lack of reliability, but also the expense of repairs. I loved the car and the overall quality of materials, but once it went out of warranty, I knew that even if I could live with the various and sundry problems, I couldn't afford to fix them (e.g., $1000 for an engine management chip--that was re-conditioned no less). The parts costs also put my insurance rates through the roof, as they directly affected the collision coverage.

    That, however, was all on a pre-GM car. Can anyone tell me if parts costs have gone down on the post-GM cars? I thought I had my heart set on a WRX, but then was enticed by the near-$23,000 stickers I've seen on 9-3 SE's. I know this is the last model year and all before a major revamp, but at that price, I'm having a hard time turning down the idea of a Saab, reliability issues and all. Any thoughts?
  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    I expect we've been paying high parts costs, mostly because of limited production runs compared to the Chevies and Toyotas of this world. That, and currency exchange on Euros and the previously primitive (and therefore costly) shipping and distribution network for parts, now vastly improved through GM's Saab acquisition.

    While I don't expect we'll come down to big-volume car parts costs, I don't think we'll remain at BMW cost levels either.

    The car I drive is so new, I simply have no way of comparing, since I've done nothing but brakes so far. A muffler, spray pump for the glass-washing system and antenna were all replaced under warranty

    - the pump, as it saved much time-consuming tinkering by a GM warrant mechanic.
    - the muffler, because in-town driving with frequent shut downs in cold weather traps moisture.
    - the antenna, because I hit the garage door with it once and it was never the same after that.

    What I do know about the Saab is that it has a reputation for long life, if maintained. Some significant portion of long life maintenance is preventative. So I religiously maintain oil, filter and liquids changeouts and otherwise keep the tires, the body, and interior finishes in more or less pristine shape.

    As well, consistent with advice I got from a race car and bus mechanic, I try to 'drive gentle and firm', avoiding hard, abrupt anything, whether it's jarring surfaces, cornering, braking, or constant forcing of the engine and tranny.

    It's hard to compare the WRX to the Saab 9-3. The Saab will give you more of almost everything and the image you project is radically different. Most people, for example, still think Saabs cost far more than they really do. And more people see you in your car than in your clothing.
  • jas28jas28 Posts: 50
    they are expensive - I've peaked at the costs to perform warranty work on my car and they're high - to replace my instrument panel (because the grill on an A/C outlet broke) was about $950.

    I'll look at the sheets later and list the prices for various repairs.

    Thus far, by my calculations, Saab has spent more than $27,000 repairing my cars for warranty work (they should have taken it in as a lemon - they would have saved themselves a few bucks).
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,334
    I returned home last night after a 450 mile weekend trip with my girlfriend (& my Saab) from my parents' home (NW suburb of NYC where my Saab spends most of it's time parked in the driveway) to Montauk, Long Island (The End) and back. Every time I drive the car, I'm amazed at the instantaneous acceleration at any speed. Passing 2 or 3 cars on a 2 lane road (where it is legal of course) is no problem! Gas mileage was decent (23 mpg combined city/highway). I filled up when the trip computer said 51 miles to empty and took on 14.4 gallons of gas. On the Palisades Pakway last night (due to the high police infestation) I set my cruise control at 62 mph. The trip computer told me I was averaging 35 mpg! I also noticed a 1 mph discrepinsey in my speedometer (at 75mph, I was actually going 74 mph) so its not too bad. Overall, another quality road trip for the Saab. I hit 30,000 miles over the weekend. Only 6,000 more to go! I'm picking up a new Prelude Type SH next week and will burn out the miles on my Saab before I start driving the Prelude!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • arcadearcade Posts: 7
    I'm currently looking at leasing the 9-3 and a few recent posts stated that they just started leasing their car.
    I'm looking at an automatic, premium package, and heated seats.
    I've heard that there are good deals now because they're coming out with a new model next year. Are they going below invoice now?

    Thanks for your help.
  • vigorousvigorous Posts: 15
    You mean you haven't checked at

    My goodness!

    Since Saab has the most heavily internet-connected

    community of car owners of any car, and since Saab has been a sort of cult car, you should expect that you can find quality, precise, in depth information about anything where the afficionados (and not a few whiners) hang out.

    I wouldn't spend a nickel until I checked it out with the group at Saabnet. This will take you direct to the 9-3 board:

    The search function works great. Check for quality of dealership and mechanics while you're at your price thing.

  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    you should check out Edmunds' Incentives & Rebates to see what kind of manufacturer incentives (discounts) are available in your region. Good luck and please keep us posted. ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • arcadearcade Posts: 7
    Thanks vigorous and revka. It seems that the Edmunds TMV is much lower than what dealers are telling me. I'm thinking I can get a great deal on the 9-3.

  • If you check out, you can get an idea of what would be a reasonable price. I looked all over the country at what dealers were offering, and the cheaper ones were all selling for around $23,700. The cheapest I could find was in the Sacramento, CA, area at $23,500. If nothing else, having a printout with a guaranteed price on it will give you some ammo when going into a dealership.
  • yugoboyyugoboy Posts: 161
    Has anyone been able to find a sketch or even a picture of the newly re designed 9-3 for 2003!!! Haven't been able to find anything on it!!!!????
  • spider6spider6 Posts: 35
    Yugoboy, go to and look under News and Events.

    I noticed that on both and Edmund's listed the 02 Saab 9-3 SE premium package
    for $1995, at dealership this afternoon doing my Sunday car shopping and saw on the sticker
    the premium package listed for $2400+...The SE on the lot is a 02 SE so has anyone else noticed this discrepancy?? I will call to find out why tomorrow. Also, the sticker says that the steering wheel is telescopic but does is tilt? Couple other things that I find strange is that the
    02 SE does not offer Homelink or self dimming rear view mirror(does offer them in Saab accessaries catalog). I also didn't see a cargo net as standard, and unlike most new european
    cars(VW Passat, Volvo or Bimmers) Saab 9-3 doesn't offer jewel type clear head lights. Aside
    from these minors I find this car to be very attractive and interesting. And the fact this car
    is obtainable at reasonable price is even more intriguing. I think blk on blk will be sharp and
    consumer reports has improved realibity rating. I am a little scared to take a chance on this
    car after hearing all of the rattles and failures. Are these people treating their cars with reasonable care or they are the type just "drives" and "hard" on cars then wonder what had gone
    wrong? Anyway I am just curious. One more, when does the 02 production stop?
  • boonsboroboonsboro Posts: 22
    The steering wheel does not tilt, it just moves in and out. Homelink and self dimming mirrors are in the assecories catalog as are cargo nets.

    My understanding is '02 production has stopped.
This discussion has been closed.