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Saab 9-3 Sedan



  • I just completed my lease on a 2003 9-3. Did I enjoy the car? Yes, absolutely. I always felt good about driving it. However, it was also the most problem-prone car I have ever owned (see my posts on this board). Other vehicles I have owned, have for the most part, been Japanese, but there's been a few American cars and an Audi A4 in the mix too. You're going to give up some reliability for the fun factor. In my experience, Consumer Reports has been pretty right-on, but they cannot measure how you feel when you drive your car. I don't regret my three years with the Saab, but I didn't lease another one...
  • CR is correct. The 9-3 is a lemon. I have a 2003 Arc and I have (sadly) gotten to know my dealer's service department very well. Two new recalls just were issued and I live in fear of he next message I will see on the information display that ends in "...Contact your Saab dealer." Stay far away from the Saab.
  • schoupschoup Posts: 22
    Saabs reliability has inproved since 2003. The lesson is never buy the first year of a model that has major changes. 2003 was the first year of the 9-3 sedans and the end of the hatchbacks.
  • esfoadesfoad Posts: 210
    I agree with ^^^. We have an 04 9-3 aero convertible. 2nd year model but first year convertible. For us it's an awesome car. Our second Saab, replace an 01 convertible. So far no problems at all! Dealer service is fantastic (Reinertsen Motors in Denville NJ) and other than a couple of recalls, always done either while I wait or with a loaner car, no problems. I say give 'em a chance especially since the warranty is so good. Then change it before the warranty's over if you've had problems.
  • tomwtomw Posts: 31
    My experience with a 2003 9-3 matches the CR rating. Terrible. Electrical issues. Numerous (apparently irrepairable) squeeks and rattles. Window regulate went out. Various recalls. The WORST production stereo system in the market today (the Chevy Cavalier that I was given for a loaner had a much better sounding system.

    I leased a SAAB 9-5 before, and it was a great car.

    I attribute the difference to the fact that in 2000 GM took full control of SAAB, and apparently has decided to ratchet the quality down to GM levels (the 9-5 was designed before GM took full control, whereas the 9-3 was designed after GM took full control. In fact the 9-3 shares its platform with the Chevy Malibu and Pontiac G-6).

    Avoid at all costs - between the 9-3 and 9-7 it is clear that SAAB's are, unfortunately, now just badge-engineered pieces of standard GM crap.
  • schoupschoup Posts: 22
    I'm debating between two offers:

    2005 Aero silver metallic, heated seats, automatic, xenon lights MSRP$36,595 sell for $28,967

    2006 2.0T silver metallic, heated seats, automatic, premium pkg, moonrooof MSRP$32,165 sell for $29,500
  • If you plan to keep the car for more than 5 years, get the 2005; less, the 2006.
  • You might be right, it certainly can't be worse. A friend of mine also has an '03 and he says he has had only some of the problems I've experienced. If the car were problem free, then it would definitely be a very good buy for the money. For my part though, I will never buy another Saab.
  • snaab1snaab1 Posts: 14
    I leased one of the early 2003 9-3's which had problems including door lock failure, driver side power seat motor failure, stereo that defaulted back to the 1st station setting every time you went to change stations, overly sensitive alarm (I never locked the doors for last 2 years), theft alarm would go off WHILE DRIVING, etc. I am now leasing a 2006 9-3 2.0T and can report 4 months of problem-free driving. I definately chalk the problems up to first-year bugs. But stay away from off-lease '03 models. I got sick of going to the dealer for warranty work and just lived with the problems until early lease turn-in.
  • Sorry for the late post. I guess I was stuned by the whole idea. I think IMHO that this list of cars is not the way to go.

    A new Lexus for a HS kid?? Why not a men's dress hat and an Chesterfield overcoat?

    A new Audi or a new Saab?? Whoa, this kid won't have any of the learning experiences that come from owning a four year or older car. These experiences while seemingly trivial are important in his developement into a self sufficient adult. They include first echelon car maintenace (fluids, tires, batteries, etc.), learning how to get along with garage employees who may not have gone to college, how to jump a battery safely, how to change a tire, how to buy replacement parts (OEM dealer vs aftermarket), and so forth.

    Please consider an older Volvo, preferably not AWD, or a 9-5 Saab. He would learn to be a better driver if it were simply FWD with good winter tires. A used Audi will kill you in maintenace and most are quatrro. Make the buying process educational. Buy used, let him learn about CarFax,, how to negotiate, etc. etc. If you don't agree with me and your kid grows up to be a self-centered individual who has no idea about how to buy, maintain, and drive a vehicle, and he panics when his Hummer gets a wheel bearing noise during his first convoy out to the airport....
  • I am seriously debating this issue. I cannot decide which one I want or need to go with.

    I am looking at an Aero with everything at a military discount price of $29,759 + TTL. That is HARD to beat and within what I want to pay. Great safety ratings and a distinct look are what I am most pleased about. 2 years free maintenance is a big selling factor. The size is a little smaller than the TL in the backseat, though. (two kids in car seats)

    Recently, I was turned on to the Acura TL w/Nav. Frankly speaking, the SAAB Nav sucks and the Acura is absolutely first rate. This is a big selling point along with the fact that the car (nav, climate, and radio) are all voice activated AND XM radio is included in the radio--something no so with the Aero.

    I found an '05 TL loaded for between $30k and $31k with 5800 miles. I am going to offer, I believe, $31,500 for a new TL with the same package.

    Which one do you all recommend. This decision is incredibly hard because they both offer me different things I want. Now, reliability....I am afraid I must go with the Acura on that one unless someone can tell me otherwise.


  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I think your observations are generally in line with mine. The TL's nav is doubtlessly better and it has a few nicer options, and will *probably* be more reliable. The 9-3's perks are (to me) it's more-fun driving, safety(though the TL is still quite safe), and distinctness.

    It's up to you which of those matter more.
  • Just bought the '05 TL w/ 6k miles and NAVI. Hard decision but when you figured that I saved $3k from a new TL that the dealer was trying to sell and I it was only $500 more than the SAAB, I had to take it.

    1. Reliability
    2. Resale value (heck, I might as well be a used car lot with the rate I go through cars)
    3. Features
    4. NAV and Bluetooth

    I pick her up in Providence this weekend and begin the trek back to NC.
  • kk2482kk2482 Posts: 33
    When a car clicks in general it is usually one of two things

    1. The oil wasn't changed correctly the last time it was maintained. Even a dealership can mess up on this - sad, but true. This can burn up your engine and the dealer should pay for it if this happens.

    2. The spark plugs need to be changed.

    *knowing that you are purchasing this vehicle new I would be quite leary and make sure the problem is fixed.

    A very close friend just leased a 2005 93 Arc and when it had the clicking sound the dealership said it was 2 things - the sparks needed changing, and the oil filter wasn't changed out the last time it was maintained.

    *my main question for you would be - was this car a dealer demo? if so then the oil and sparks may have needed replacing - but not at a few 1000 miles!! sheesh. Good luck with everything. :)
  • kk2482kk2482 Posts: 33
    It sounds like you have already made up your mind.

    Acura TL
    Navigation System is 1st Rate!
    Voice Activ. Controls *all buttons
    XM Radio included

    SAAB Aero
    Navigation System sucks
    No voice activ.controls
    Doesn't include XMRadio

    A+ Safety Ratings
    Distinct Look
    2yrs $0 cost Maint.
    Small Backseat

    *** My biggest suggestion is for you to check out the following link and review the total costs for each car. The ratings are quite useful, and you can compare your selection with similar vehicles. Maybe this will help in making your final decision ;) ***

    Average Per Mile Cost to Own
    05 SAAB Aero

    05 Acura TL
  • Great website. Thanks!
  • ed108ed108 Posts: 39
    Hey all,

    I have an '04 Aero Convertible, 19K miles. I bought it certified about 4 months ago with 15K miles. In general it has been pretty good and lots of fun to drive - my wife drives it most of the time and she's absolutely in love with it. It's a great summer car (and living in Las Vegas means we have 9 months of summer, took it out today with the top down)

    Two things that bug me about it:

    1. A noise that comes from the driver's vent. When you accelerate it is a soft grrr sound. I took it to the dealer they can't figure it out. Initially they pretended they couldn't hear it until I convinced them that it was there. They kept the car for a week and couldn't find out what it was. Any ideas? Anyone else have this?

    2. The mirror creaks like crazy when going over bumps and every road where I live is bumpy. Nothing seems to be broken, just cheap plastic that is not put together well.
    Can you buy spare mirrors and re-install?
  • I am interested in buying a 2006 saab 9-3 sport sedan. I am wary because I have read conflicting stories as to their reliability, particluar fixing them. Any truth to this from your experience.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    "Conflicting" stories on reliability simply means that some people have a lot of problems, others don't. Statistically, you are going to be more likely to have problems with a 9-3 than, say, a Japanese brand vehicle.

    It also means that a lot of your ownership experience will be influenced by the quality of the dealership's service department. E.g. can they fix problems quickly without requiring repeated visits, and do they work with the customers well?

    You should ask owners here about the Saab dealerships in your particular area before buying. If they are good, and you can put up with issues here and there, then a 9-3 is worth consideration. If not, look elsewhere.

    I'm sure the 2006's will be improved over the 2003 I have. But, personally, I couldn't bring myself to buy one. My 2003 is coming off lease and I'm glad I leased it (back when they were being heavily subsidized). It's obviously had its share of issues, made worse by the uneven service experience at Barrier Saab in Bellevue, WA (Barrier dealerships in the Seattle area have issues in general, e.g. I've heard many complaints about Barrier Mercedes-Benz).

    I can't imagine buying a 2006 at lease-end and putting up with more issues, more mediocre (or worse) service, and terrible resale at the end of the ownership experience.

    It is otherwise a fun vehicle to drive. Saab hasn't mastered the mix of good handling/relatively comfortable ride as their German competitors have, however. But it's cheaper and I like the safety. Taking reliability out of things, the vehicle is a good value. Safety, fun, and plenty of equipment for the price. I just don't want to own one.
  • I am interested in purchasing a 2006 Aero Sedan. I have read conflicting messages and reviews (expert and non-expert) about their reliability. Does anyone have any insights and would you suggest buying one.

    Does anyone have any experience with Ramsey Saab in New Jersey?

    What is a realistic purchase price for such model? Thanks to all who respond.
  • esfoadesfoad Posts: 210
    I have no information on Ramsey Saab, but I leased my 04 Aero convertible from JMK in NJ. However, they are far from my home so I service at Reinertsen in Denville, NJ. Both dealersips seem to be fine. I brought the car to JMK for the first two visits and since then at Reinertsen. Never an issue. Both places are nice, offer loaners and seem to understand the vehicles. So if Ramsey proves to have poor service (and I have not heard anything like this about them) then there are options. BTW, the car has been trouble free and a pleasure to drive. My other car is a 2005 Infiniti G35X. Both cars are very different. Some days I prefer the Saab, other days the G35X. Officially, the Saab is the wife's. She prefers the Saab always. I DO agree that resale values on Saabs is low so leasing makes good sense with these cars.
  • i am currently looking at buying a 2000 saab 9-3...the only question i have is weather or not its an SE or the base model. The dealer said its the SE, but i dont think he knows what hes taling about....he said it was the SE because it has leather and heated seats, and some other options. My question is, does that neccasrialy make it an SE? b/c i kno you can add those options to the base model. Is there ne specifice way to tell if it is and SE or a base model? I know the engine hp is the first way, but besides that?.....a big thanks to anyone who can help me with this. I want to buy it with in the next couple of days, so ne feedback is greatly appreciated....
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531 &mktid=ga323964

    The SE has more horsepower aside from the options, for starters. Click on the car, then "specifications"

    That being said, the driveability is not *that* different.

  • well thanks dave, but yeah i understand that the SE has more hp....but i want to make sure that im paying for an SE not for the Base can i tell from looking at the car?...or from looking at the motor?...cuz i dont think is says SE or 205 hp on the car or engine....
  • Get the VIN Number and call Saab USA. If they won't give you the info, you can always run a carfax
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    The 9-3 was on my short-list for my last car purchase, but I ended up with a 325i and am very happy with my choice. But my wife will soon be in the market for a new car and she would like to get something similar to what I have been driving (her favorite car that I drove was my previous A4 1.8T). But she is strongly in favor of buying about a 2-year-old car in the interest of saving money, and would plan on keeping it at least 5 years or more (about 10-12K miles a year).

    Seeing as how Saabs have a notoriously poor resale value reputation ;), I figured that we might be able to find a suitable used 9-3 for a good price. But my major concern is reliability, and especially reliability of expensive components. The big thing for me is the turbo. As an engineer, I look at a turbocharged engine and see a lot of extra complexity (and high service charges) due mainly to the turbo system. In fact, in 6 years of owning my A4, the only $$$ repair that I had was a turbo-related item.

    So what is the long-term reliability outlook of the 9-3 that we'd keep into the 70K+ miles range, and especially are there any typical problems due to turbocharging?

    The other big thing against the Saab is that my wife and I are anxious to get away from the problems we've had over the years with the GM products that we've owned, so GM being Saab's owner may be enough to take it off our list (or her list) entirely.
  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    Obviously, my information really doesn't have much impact on current SAAB models, but I thought I'd just add my 2 cents on SAAB's long-term reliability. We have two Classic 900's in this family - a 1985 900 4-door sedan, and a 1987 900S 3-door hatch. Both use the H-motor design, the '85 an 8-valve SOHC and the '87 a 16-valve DOHC. The '85 was bought new in April 1985 and the '87 (college-age daughter's car) bought used 5 years ago.

    Both cars are fast approaching 200K, and neither have required any mechanical engine work. And, both transmissions (a 5-speed and auto respectively) are both original. The clutch was replaced at 110K on the '85 900. Although I perform the majority of the maintenance on both, the mainenance has been minimal. Most importantly, the cars look extremely nice for their age. Very little rust, and still excellent paint . . .

    Overall, we've been pleased with both. Heck, I wish they were still manufacturing the Classic 900 - I would buy another!
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    ... my information really doesn't have much impact on current SAAB models ...

    It shows how much "progress" has been made. The 900 was a great vehicle. However, as you suggested, I doubt if we can expect the same kind of durability out of today's 9-3. Saab components have been replaced by Opel/GM parts, and those aren't renowned for very high mileage sturdiness. The platform is GM Epsilon. Most of the 9-3's parts don't even come from Sweden anymore.

    Did the old 900 use mostly local Saab parts, or were any major parts of it sourced from other companies?

    They don't make them like they used to.
  • chris47chris47 Posts: 25
    The Saab 9-3 frame is shared with other GM models.

    It seems that few of the moving parts are shared with other GM's. The 2.0T engine is made in Germany. The brakes, transmission, and steering are all unique to Saab.

    I hope they are reliable - I'm being diligent with maintenance with it.
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