By on May 10, 2012

Curt writes:

Sajeev,

I’m looking for some Saab selling advice.  A couple of years ago I convinced my girlfriend that she would love the functionality and performance of a 2002 Saab 9-5 turbo wagon (5-spd)… perhaps in some small part because I wanted one myself.  As she fell in love with the Saab I grew to hate its constant need for attention and respect its ability to find new and creative ways to fail.

Now that I convinced her to upgrade to a 2009 Jetta TDI wagon, I have to figure out how to unload the Saab.  The problem is, aside from some typical small problems, this car has an emissions leak (causing a check engine light) and needs a Direct ignition Cassette, (currently preventing full boost mode).  I’ve devoted a lot of weekends to this car so most of the gadgets work and it looks great, but I figure no one will touch it with the current problems… Because I wouldn’t.

My question: is it worth the money to invest another $200 – $300 for the DI cassette, which *should* solve the lack of boost?  And how much should I be asking/expecting on the open market?  It now has 120K miles and will be sold with the evap leak because fixing requires dropping the fuel tank and that aint gonna happen.  To make things slightly worse, we live in a town that requires emissions compliance before allowing vehicle registration, so the new owner has that to look forward to.

Oh yeah, the sooner you can weigh in on this, the better, as the new (used) Jetta is already in our garage and the Saab needs to be gone ASAP.

Thanks,
Curt

Sajeev answers:

As a Lincoln-Mercury fanboi with no brand-honest prospects in the (near?) future, it pains me to see a turbo, stick, SAAB wagon in search of a new owner. But you couldn’t pay me to own it, either. You need money, plenty of time on the forums, or a very worthwhile SAAB independent mechanic to make that beastie worth owning. Tragic.

So should you spend the money to fix that check engine light, so it will pass emissions?  Yes, unless the cost spirals out of control.  Your $300 budget sounds totally worth it, except you have no interest in fixing that leaking evap emissions thing. Therefore the light will stay on, emissions won’t be passed, value plummets. So let’s run some numbers.

Taking a wild guess at your 9-5′s options and overall condition via Edmund’s appraisal tool, I’d say you’d be lucky to get more than $4500 on a private party sale, and good luck getting over $3000 on trade-in/wholesale.  This is assuming you clear all engine codes and the rest of the SAAB is good for an inspection. And assuming you remain a resident of a fly-over state, not one of those SAAB friendly places on the coast.

The SAAB’s transaction price if you don’t clear the codes?  I donno…and maybe who cares?  At what point does a loss of 500-2000 dollars really hurt you?  Is time more valuable than money?  Are you on the fast track to a promotion, bonus, etc?  I’d recommend going to a few dealers and seeing their cash offers.  If you leave infuriated, well, maybe you should fix that heap so it will pass the emissions test for the next owner.  If you kinda shrug it off, just dump it on craigslist for a little more than the dealer’s offer…fingers crossed on that.

Perhaps you should make a friend in California? Or Oregon? Massachusetts? You see my point.

Oh and by the way, I’d sincerely recommend an extended warranty for that Jetta. But you probably already knew that.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.
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57 Comments on “Piston Slap: Dumping your 9-5? 10-4 on that!...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I always check to see what similar vehicles go for on Autotrader (to guage the market). It’s been a while, but the last time I checked Autotrader, Saabs were not doing particularly well holding their value (at least not in the Canadian market). Good luck…

    • 0 avatar
      MarkP

      The asking price and the selling price on Autotrader are two very different things. My recent truck (not) selling experience is that Autotrader will suggest a higher value than you can actually get. Too bad there’s no way to check selling price on vehicles sold through Autotrader.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    “cult” cars tend to sell more quickly on entusiast sites than they do in the general classifieds pool. You also are more likely to end up with a buyer who understands the needs of the car. This may seem like a small thing, but when… ‘eccentric’ cars are sold to a toyota loving mainstream car buyer, car problems can turn into hurt feelings, which can then turn into a very angry person either harrassing you or threating legal action.

    And as far as your replacement choice of a TDI Jetta: are you nuts, or just a glutton for punishment?!? I like stick wagons as much as the next guy, and probably more than most, but I wouldn’t wish that car on anyone, and I used to own one. Go check out a base Mazda CX-5 with a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Nice post Sundowner. For us buyers these make the best deals as no one spends the money or doesn’t want to take the time to find valid repairs on the forums.

      If the minimum maintenance isn’t done, I can imagine what the next owner will uncover.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Saab to Jetta: frying pan into the fire

    • 0 avatar
      mic

      Exactly! How bout a nice Hyundai Elantra Touring? The money you save at the shop can go toward gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Yeah dang, if he goes through with the VW thing he can report back in a few years to tell us which was the bigger headache.

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        I took a pretty substantial financial beating on a brand-new Elantra Touring. In one year and 30K miles, it was at the dealer fourteen times – twice on a flatbed. I then made the exact opposite trade – I dumped my Elantra for a used, manual 9-5. I cannot emphasize the difference between the two – even with over 200K miles on it at the end (I drive a great deal for work – generally upwards of 50K per year), the Saab still felt tighter, more engaging, and more fun to drive than the Hyundai ever did. The dull droning of the Elantra’s engine was also a major turnoff for me. As was the awkward clutch release. And the overly plasticky interior, and the inoperative heated seats, and the hefty aluminum shift knob that came off in my hand one day…

        At any rate, I’d rather know that I’m going to have to shell out some serious bucks for maintenance but also have a fun-to-drive car to go along with it. The boring-Toyota route for me was that Hyundai – and I got the boring-to-drive, but not the boring-to-keep…life is too short for me to ever try that again!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “The boring-Toyota route for me was that Hyundai”

        That’s like saying that healthy living for you meant restricting yourself to using crystal meth exclusively after noon.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        Apart from a gas filler issue the dealer fixed for free, my wife has put over 30,000 on her 2011 Elantra Touring with no complaints from either of us.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Oh, some lucky ones don’t get burned…merely _seared_ in that pan.

      • 0 avatar
        mic

        @wagonsonly, Thanks for the input on the Hyundai as I don’t own one but was contemplating it since the reviews have all been generally good. I own a 2010 Versa Hatch with 41k and all I’ve had to do is oil and tires. But it doesn’t have a tow rating and the Hyundai does. Did you try to invoke the Lemon Law?

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        @mic – my state’s lemon law is structured in a way that makes complaints all but impossible to prove unless you have the same major safety-related problem three times and the dealer/manufacturer is unable to repair. In my case I had all sorts of different and interesting maladies – wouldn’t start (but only twice), alarm wouldn’t stop going off, keyless entry system occasionally decided not to work, check engine light came on regularly but wasn’t considered a safety defect, radio ceased to function, airbag malfunction light came on twice (the first time I was told it was a blown fuse; the second time the seat sensors in both front seats were replaced); the ABS/traction control system module was bad and had to be replaced; the steering wheel was replaced for faulty stitching on the leather; the seat stitching on the back seat (which I rarely used!) started to come undone….

        But I digress. If I ever buy another Hyundai, it will be an ’85 Excel – and I fully expect to have a better ownership experience than I did with my Elantra.

        @ CJ – Unlike others here, I actually will go out and buy a manual transmission station wagon. That’s what suits my needs and satisfies my desires. Of the new car options on the market in 2009, I could have gotten the following:
        -American: None; no more Focus wagon and nothing from GM & Chrysler for years;
        -German: Jetta, leftover Passat, 3- and 5-Series, E-Klasse, Audi Avants;
        -Swedish: 9-3 & 9-5;
        -Japanese: None, with the Mazda6 sedan only, Subaru’s offerings transformed into hatches and CUVs, and Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi all abandoning the wagon segment in the middle 90s or before.

        Given these options, the number of miles I drive (over 50K/yr), and the cost of keeping a Bimmer or Audi outside the warranty period, I figured it would be best to keep a boring car for work and the miles off the fun ones. Since no one automaker appears to be willing to invest in the one segment of the market that I am interested in, however, I’ll deal with potential Saab repairs – knowing that they are likely to be expensive and frequent – before making the assumption that a brand new plain-vanilla transportation appliance like my former Elantra will actually do the job for which it was intended.

  • avatar
    Nate

    Trading my wife’s 2005 9-3 in last February (and getting payoff for it, no less) for the Grand Cherokee may be the most unintentionally brilliant thing I’ve ever done. Of course, that’s after a $1400 brake job, $200 worth of head light bulbs, etc., etc.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbobjoe

      Were those Xenon bulbs? Those are standard bulbs used in lots of cars, I’ve bought them on amazon for $40 per bulb.

      • 0 avatar
        Nate

        Yeah, they were Xenon. I changed a few myself, but they were a nightmare to get in on the passenger’s side. Some electrical gremlin kept frying them every few months. I have to say though, even with the problems we had that car was a blast. It single handedly ruined my wife for any other sedan. That’s how we ended up with a Grand Cherokee. Before we bought the Jeep, we drove an Infiniti G37, and she actually wrinkled her nose up during the drive like there was a turd on the dashboard.

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      Ha! I have a 9-5, and am picking up our Grand Cherokee (Overland, Off-Road Adventure II) this afternoon! For the wife, of course.

      Aside from having to import Sweedish air for the tires, jack up the car to change the air filter, and watching the cooling system periodically dump its contents onto the pavement, it’s been a blast! Oh… and the headlights! MAN the headlights! I had the first two changes done under warranty, but I am seeing the right one flicker again….

      (But it is still the most fun you can have with a FWD car & 4 doors!)

      Just import a Troll from Trollhatten to do maintenance for you.

      • 0 avatar
        Nate

        They are definitely fun cars, but you’re right. You need a Swedish Troll with extensive mechanical skills with you at all times. I wonder if you have to feed them meatballs…/rimshot

        Anyhow, you’ll love the Grand Cherokee. Ours is a Laredo X with the Pentastar engine. Very smooth SUV. Especially for the money. We average north of 21 mpg too. Having said that, I still prefer my ’99 Cherokee XJ to anything else on the road.

  • avatar
    snabster

    I suspect there is some bad information here, and it isn’t being conveyed in the email.

    1. A bad DIC will throw out a engine code. That needs to be fixed.

    2. “lack of boost” — very unsure of what that means, but it sounds like a t7 limp home mode has been enganged.

    3. If the emissions evap is throwing out an engine code, then it is easy to fix. Because the DIC has a code, go to Autozone and borrow a code reader. Most evap problems in SAABs don’t throw out codes, and those get expensive, because you’re just replacing parts. However, I have a hard time figuring how the evap problem involves dropping the tank.

    Buy a used black cassette (I don’t want to say black DIC) on ebay for $75. The reason your DIC went bad is whoever put it before — probably to change spark plugs — forgot to put the di-electric grease on it.

    • 0 avatar

      All 4 cyl Saabs of this vintage have usually the same six? problems. The DI cassettes every 100K? Check for proper spark plug & gap. 90% of evap problems are a purge valve that is usually fixed with a shot of WD40 and a smack or a easily found broken or loose hose. Serp belt and idler pulley. A rare, easily changed crank sensor or fuel pump. Occasional PIA climate mixers. Yeah those Saabs sure suck.(Maybe the V6s after overheating??) Thats why GM couldnt stand ‘em. They hardly ever broke.

      • 0 avatar
        snabster

        Yep. You can almost always HEAR the purge valve fail as well.

        Clutch cable on some models — I know, amazing — some of these wierd European cars have an extra pedal.

        Heater core. And the fan unit thermostat.

    • 0 avatar
      DaveDFW

      “Lack of boost” should really be read as “performance problems” because there are many things that can cause poor performance on the Saab T7 cars.

      Boost is easily testable by unplugging the wastegate control line. If you get boost into fuel cutoff, the problem isn’t really “boost.”

      It’s much more likely is an ignition problem. When the T7 detects detonation. it first triggers ignition retard, then fuel enrichment, then when those fail the throttle will be closed. All of these pull back performance.

      The only way to track down these issues without wholesale parts replacement is to follow the WIS troubleshooting charts. They’re very complete and will find the problem quickly.

      Limp-home mode doesn’t just result in poor performance, it makes the car basically undriveable. This isn’t something that is casually overlooked.

      • 0 avatar
        snabster

        Good point on the limp home.

        But the essential issue is how to read “lack of boost.” As you said, some very simple ways to actually diagnose the problem.

  • avatar
    JTP

    Is there anyone here at TTAC that has a single good thing to say about Saabs? I have had several including the 9-5 I currently own. I can attest that the old 900 and 9000 models could be troublesome but the 9-5 I own has been one of the most trouble-free vehicles I have owned. While parts/repairs are more than what you would pay for a Ford or GM they are downright reasonable compared to any other European make.

    FWIW, The Jetta I previously owned was a nice driving car when it ran… When it didn’t run it was usually pretty expensive to get back up and running.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      JTP, plenty of us love Saabs. I had a 9000 in college, talked a friend through buying an older 900 as his first post-law school car, and have nearly bought three different 9-5s in the last four years (a used 2005 Arc when I was looking for cheap wheels (in-laws dumped their old RX300 on us instead), a used 2009 Aero when it came time to trade up, and a 2012 9-5 purely because of the opportunity). I _loved_ the new 9-5. I also never had a major mechanical problem with mine in five years of ownership. But with the mothership gone, it becomes very difficult to justify owning a car with no dealer network and an uncertain future of parts availability. It’s very much like a bank run, in that perception becomes reality and sinks the brand no matter how good the product.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        TTAC is chock full of folks who love to read about exotic, adventurous cars, but wouldn’t dream of owning one. So go buy an approved, safe brand. Your pick, Honda or Toyota. Then come back and join us in the peanut gallery, tossing rocks at the braver souls who take risks.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh gosh, are we in the same boat Asitgmatism. I have, again and again, come THIS (| |) close to buying multiple 9-5s. I was unbelievably close to saying “go!” on a 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero for a great price. But in the end, I chickened out, and got a Subaru instead (not the turbo models of course). Usually it was the cost of repairs, or the electrical problems, or the suspension/tire costs that turned me off.

        But overall, I also adore them. The wagons, the sedans, the facelifts. I like them all. And the new one? Gorgeous. I even picked the 9-4x as my favourite CUV. Too bad there won’t be any in the used market.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Ignorance is a bliss, mate. That makes one’s world view so much clearer and simpler.
      If every man and his dog “knows” something is junk – sure it is junk. That is how public perception operates.

      ++++ Being on my SAAB #7 – 04 9-5 Aero w/MT – enjoying every drive. Would get a second one, a 9000, but now place to park and to work on it…

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        Exactly. Our 04 9-5 Linear wagon is doing fine at 150k miles, and has been everywhere from Maine to the FL Keys, and plenty of places to the Midwest without a failure. I acknowledge that other folks can have problems with theirs, but this blanket Sajeev-speak on these matters lacks cred in my experience.

    • 0 avatar
      kid cassady

      I own a ’94 9000 Aero. Maintenance needs aside (and I sure won’t claim that they don’t exist), the car is amazing. It is unbelievably fast on the highway, comfortable, quiet, roomy, and sporty. I have used it to move nearly all of my worldly belongings between cities and it will swallow a full-sized couch (Ikea, to be appropriate) with no complaints.

      I think the number of cars on the market that can do all of these things at once can be counted on one hand. I am convinced that if Saab was able to sell this for significantly under the near-$40K MSRP (in 1994!), it could have been a world-beater, because there was nothing with all of its virtues on the road in the US then, and certainly not many now.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    I think you guys are too hard on Curt. Nothing says: “I really love cars no matter the consequences!” quite like buying a 9-5 Saab and a TDI VW in succession.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Except for having an autobox and possibly, having a bigger turbo and more output, I own this same car (aero model) and same year (except mine has 75% of the mileage of yours, and I’ve owned it since new.

    If your car is in good physical shape, I’m not at all sure putting several hundred dollars into it is such a bad idea and the notion that, compared to this car, the ’09 Jetta TDI is a paragron of liabiity is risible. Check the figures on CR or True Delta. Sure the TDI gets 40 mpg, but the Saab gets 30 (do the math and you’ll see that the difference is trivial in dollars) and at least the Saab accelerates faster than a frighened terrapin trying to cross an Interstate.

    The key, obviously, is finding a mechanic who knows what he’s doing and doesn’t just throw parts at a problem. I’m fortunate that there’s an independent shop about 40 miles outside of DC which knows everything Saab.

    In my mind, if you like the car, the way to value it is its replacement cost, not what someone will pay for it. Let’s take my Saab: assume it’s worth $4,500. Is there anything out there that I would prefer to own for $4500 than my car? Absolutely not. My youngest daughter, who goes to college at UW-Madison, has had the car for two years to get around Madison and drive back and forth between Washington and school.

    At this point, you’ve already committed to the VW, so the Saab would appear to be an “extra” car. If that’s the case, you’ll have to fix it to a point where a new owner is able to take title (i.e. pass emission test, no CEL, no codes in the computer). Otherwise, you’ll get peanuts for it, because all the guy can get is a salvage title or something like that.

    Finally, if you don’t have access to a decent Saab mechanic, then the calculus of keeping it may have to be refigured. With any older car, one of the key components of your decision is the availability of competent and not exorbitant service. Just remember, that the initial year depreciation on even a cheap new car is between $2,000 and $3,000, so if you only spend half of that keeping your old Saab going, you’re ahead of the game. The depreciation curve on that car has flattened out considerably.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “In my mind, if you like the car, the way to value it is its replacement cost, not what someone will pay for it. Let’s take my Saab: assume it’s worth $4,500. Is there anything out there that I would prefer to own for $4500 than my car? Absolutely not. ”

      +1. I’m in a similar spot with an older BMW. I want something more economical to run, but for what the thing is worth at this point, I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to drive.

      As for the Saab in question, I like Sajeev’s advice. Depending on your financial situation, find the easiest way to dump the thing and move on. The difference between your loss selling as is and the cost of repairs is hard to judge and probably not worth losing sleep over.

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      DC Bruce — Autoscandia in Herndon?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        S&S Motors on US Rt. 29 south of Gainesville. I live in kind of a “Saab neighborhood.” As soon as mine was out of warranty (freeing me from some marginally competent dealer mechanics (International Motors in Falls Church), this is what one of my neighbors recommend.

        They also recondition and sell older Saabs and Volvos. (They’re a Volvo shop, too.

  • avatar
    radimus

    Situations like this is where public auto auctions come in handy.

  • avatar
    thompson2

    My 2002 Aero (5MT) 128k has been mostly trouble free (oxygen sensor, cam shaft position sensor, heater bypass valve). My car will throw a code because the throttle body needs replacing, but it is easily reset. It can go months before doing it again. I checked eeuroparts.com and the DIC was $500. I do agree that there is no reason to think that the VW would be any more or less reliable. I would fix the SAAB clean it up and sell it.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    I had (and loved) a ’99 Saab 9-5 wagon, V6t with an auto. Basically the same body style. Great looking car. I sold it before the demise of Saab when fear of emminent failure won out over my affection for the car. Had the same evap problem that kept the check engine light on and the water pump was going, 120k also the clock.

    I sold it about a year ago for $3500. Check engine was on and I was upfront about the pump and various little gremlins (a/c air mixture vents didn’t work, seat heaters were long gone, etc). Within an hour of posting on CL a guy showed up cash in hand and drove it home that night. I left the posting up to see if I’d under priced the car, thinking there must be some huge Saab following in Florida. No one else responded. Ever.

    I suppose I was lucky to sell it so fast. A car like that is one of those things that 99% of people (outside of certain parts of the country listed above) will immediately pass over. But you could easily find that one person that is taken with the idea of a car almost exotic in its funkiness and relative rarity.

    Good luck, I know you will always have a special place in your heart for it.

  • avatar
    violent_k

    Where is the car at? I may be interested.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Get the DI cassette replaced, pay a tech to find the CEL culprit, and list it on saabnet. 2002 seems to be a desirable year on the forums, which was the reason I purchased a ’02 Aero a few cars back. I got spooked when I went in to check on the progress of replacing a broken balance shaft sprocket and saw the internals of the engine spread out over the dealership shop floor…goodbye 9-5 shortly after that.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    If you expect to get anything for it you’ve got to fix that evap canister. That problem right there would make it a “NO SALE” for most people.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      There is one sneaky thing you can do. If this is really an evap code, is it for a small leak or a large one? OBDII tells you which one by the unique code. If it is a small leak, fill the tank full and reset the computer. The way the evap test works is that the computer will not initiate the test with a full or empty tank. So the light will stay out when the tank is mostly full or mostly empty. Drive the car around for 15 miles or so and refill the tank again. For the computer to read normal operation, the car has to have been driven for 20 miles or so. It is important to do this because when you go to sell the car, the buyer’s mechanic will almost certainly put a scan tool on it and you don’t want it to indicate that you had cleared the computer. With the tank always full, you don’t have to worry about the light coming on. But don’t be a total tool. Tell the buyer that the light has come on in the past but then went out. You just don’t know why. Or just fix the damn thing properly.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Search saab forums and find a reputable indy in your area.
    Have him run the codes on Tech2.
    Figure out what is really needed and get a quote. That indy might also get you in contact with somebedy who is interested in/looking for a saab like yours.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    Let’s acknowledge — which in this crowd should go without saying — that some people just want to have fun when they drive their car. The Saab may not be the most reliable or cheap to repair, but it certainly is more fun than the average family ride (Camcord, et al). As long as you’re willing to put up with the cost and occasional inconvenience — and find a reliable, competent repair shop — it isn’t crazy to buy a Saab or similar car. Indeed, as I begin to contemplate replacing my 16 year old Volvo 850 wagon (yes, the day may be coming), the idea of buying a “newer” Saab has crossed my mind. I could buy a Camry for the same price, but it would be almost as old as what I already drive and about 1/4 of the driving enjoyment. No thanks!

    I also know, however, that I wouldn’t buy anything like this Saab without a thorough checkout by a mechanic, which would likely take this car out of contention for me. (Unless I got an amazing deal too good to pass up.) So, if there is any intention of selling this thing for any reasonable amount of money, I would invest at least a few hundred dollars in making it whole. Whatever happens afterwards is up to the next owner.

    And, while the Jetta might seen like more of the same, my sense is that this era of TDIs has been much more reliable than older VWs. It’s a sweet ride if you like a wagon with a stick and high mileage. Let the Prius owners fall asleep at the wheel.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    My 2000 9-5 Aero was the most unreliable car I’ve ever owned. An electronics recurring nightmare. The 87 9000 was one of the best. Go figure.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Now that I convinced her to upgrade to a 2009 Jetta TDI wagon, I have to figure out how to unload the Saab.”

    I may be missing something, but…why didn’t he just trade the Saab in for the Jetta?

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    As mentioned above, we need a followup feature here at TTAC similar to Click & Clack’s “Stump the Chumps.”

    I’d like to know both 1) how much the Saab ends up selling for (and how much $ was expended before the sale), and 2) how the newer TDI holds up (my 1997 TDI still sits dead in my driveway, waiting for new IP seals, the low-sulphur fuel finished it off).

    • 0 avatar
      AmateurSophist

      As the seller, I will try to address all these questions:

      The saab sold for $2700 within 6 hours of posting. We didnt even wash it, let alone fix anything. Asking price was $3000. It was purchased about 2 years and 30k miles ago for $5k. Two very enthusiastic previous Saab owners offered to buy immediately after retelling their own horror stories of Saab ownership. We didn’t trade the Saab because the VW was purchased from a private seller in Florida. Keeping the Saab was off the table because aside from the mentioned problems, the turbo was leaking oil into the intake, it was getting harder to find reverse (necessary to remove the key) and and the exhaust was rusting out. Also, replacing the clutch in this car is the most unholy experience out the dark ages.

      As for the VW, when the girl wants a turbo sport wagon with a stick, what can you do? We tried and failed to order a new TDI wagon from the dealer that met her exact requirements (red, stick, blonde leather interior), but eventually found a 2009 for $10k less than a new one. Even if the VW requires as much attention as the Saab (which is unlikely considering how much newer it is) it can’t possible be as painful and unintuitive to wrench on, as the Saab was. ….right? :) anyway, most people seem pretty happy with the current gen TDi.

      Lastly, in a bizarre twist of fate, the new owner has relisted the Saab to Craigslist for $2k more than he paid. He is conviently neglecting to mention the emissions problem that will prevent registration in this county, let alone all the other obvious issues. I’m currently working to make sure he actually titled it in his name.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    From my experience (two TDIs, 250,000 total miles), the injector pump in a 2002 TDI is good for about 150,000 miles. It costs $1,600 to replace. That bites when the bill comes due, but it works out to about a penny per mile. You ought to be able to get your pump replaced or rebuilt (there’s a Bosch shop in Portland that did mine a few years ago, when OEM pumps were on backorder).

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If it was something popular, such as an Accord, then I would fix it. But this car could very well become an orphan, so I’d be inclined not to.

    I’d start by posting some ads in the classified sections of Saab forums, offering it as is. If that doesn’t work, then you may need to do some repairs. But do start by trying to attract a real devotee of the car, who won’t necessarily see the repairs as being a big deal.

  • avatar
    EchoChamberJDM

    Just sold my Echo and turned around and bought a nice 2003 Saab 93, dollar for dollar match. (ok, gotta change my TTAC handle now). Seller practically gave it away and I couldn’t pass it up. No check engine codes, full service history, but needed tires and brakes. Got used tires off Ebay, and had local shop do brakes so only spent $300 in total to get thru state inspection.
    Saabs are great used car buys…but even on Saab Net classifieds, prices are low. And the Saab-ists out there know all the sludge problems, transmission issues, and electronic problems that the early 95 years were prone to.

    Without fixing the problems , Curt’s 9-5 is worth $2k at best private party sale. Wholesale, its an $800 car. There’s nicer 9-5s on ebay and Saab Net with no problems for low $3k range. Trade it in as-is and enjoy the TDI!

  • avatar
    claytori

    I am now on my 2nd Saab 9-5 wagon (aka “Sportback”) with AT. Yes, the maintenance cost is a bit higher than average due to fairly high parts prices. This can be kept within reason by use of the internet, forums, a good indie, and doing some work yourself. For instance, whoever designed the cabin air filter must have had a bad day, as what takes 3 minutes on other cars takes an hour for this job. I ended up with the former ’99 (deceased, accident) because we had a very large tent trailer and needed something wagon-y with a good towing capability. The wife said no minivans and no SUV’s (she is 5′-2″). OK what? Audi A6? Nope. Subie Outback? Ditto. Saab 9-5? 3300 lbs, Bingo. It towed that thing like pulling 20 feet of rope. Love it, Love it, Love it. Even better with Bilstein shocks all around.

    Replaced that one last December with an ’05 Aero wagon. At 180,000 km it is ready for a new timing chain. I have a heater bypass valve and a set of cabin fan brushes ready to go when needed. I have no doubt that these cars can accumulate over 400,000 km on the original engine and transmission without major problems. Yes, there will be some little things. I am now very familiar with the weaknesses, and they don’t scare me. Rebuilt throttle bodies and electronics modules are available. Downside- some parts are now getting more difficult to find. Like an ignition key.

    Oh, the tow rating on the ’05 is up to 3500 lbs. Fuel economy in mixed driving is ~10 l/100km or 24 mpg. To get max output from the engine you should use 93 octane but it runs fine on 87.

    I gave up on VW after I found myself yelling uncontrolably at the “service adviser” at the dealer after he pulled a “You broke our beautiful car!” (or some variation of same) schtick. Brittle paint, mirrors without silver, cheap upholstery, lousy electrics, etc. Did I mention the nearly useless “warranty”.

    I also gave up on new cars at that time, as I wanted to save for retirement. Overall cost is about half by my calculations. No warranty. If I break it I fix it. BTW I have now had 4 cars with AT and have no failures in 400,000 km of driving them. All the rest were manuals with only clutches and one slave cylinder failure. There have been a few engine problems though, but none on the Saabs.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The 9-5 is a towing beast! Twice I’ve towed about 4,000 lbs without trailer brakes. It sways a little at highways speeds but can pass Yaris’ up steep grades and brakes that don’t fade.

      With ECU, intake, and exhaust with the small Garrett turbo and manual transmission I was seeing 21- 23.5 mpg towing. Probably close to three times the fuel economy as anything will see towing 4K lbs.

  • avatar
    ffdr4

    I own an ’02 9-5 2.3t wagon. It has over 200000km’s on it and other then replacing a power window switch, a starter and turbo it has needed nothing. It has been one of my most reliable vehicles. For someone who has some moderate DIY skills, it is very easy car to do your own maintenance on.

  • avatar
    pyrrhic74

    As a former VW owner and currently a SAAB owned I say you are Nucking Futz if you’re replacing the 9-5 with a Jetta. As much as I loved my VWs, they brought me nothing but headaches and lots of money lost.

    Currently I own three SAABs (1987 900i, 1995 900 Turbo, 2000 9-5 Aero Wagon) that are extremely reliable and very easy to work on. As a mechanic I feel SAABs are easier to work on than VWs.

    I say replace the DIC, drop the tank and fix the EVAP (easy to do if the tank is near empty), and if you want to sell the 9-5 that bad, do it after fixing those items. Then buy something else other than a Jetta, unless you really love to keep paying for repairs.


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