The Truth About Cars » Saab http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:14:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Saab http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com TTAC Forum Crapwagon ReCrap: Scouting for Interesting Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ttac-forum-crapwagon-recrap-scouting-interesting-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ttac-forum-crapwagon-recrap-scouting-interesting-cars/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154873 Last week, we began our occasional look back at the interesting cars I’ve been posting daily in our Classic and Collector Car forum. Maybe these cars aren’t quite worthy of the full Crapwagon treatment, so we call this the Forum ReCrap. (To the 2 percent of our readers that are female, please recall that nearly […]

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Scout

Last week, we began our occasional look back at the interesting cars I’ve been posting daily in our Classic and Collector Car forum. Maybe these cars aren’t quite worthy of the full Crapwagon treatment, so we call this the Forum ReCrap.

(To the 2 percent of our readers that are female, please recall that nearly all males — especially those who happen to love cars — are perpetually twelve years old, and thus still find toilet humor titillating.)

This week, the forum featured: an SUV from a tractor company; a modern shooting brake; a legendary FWD sports car that will likely be stolen; a Japanese-built, Italian-styled derivative of a Chevette; and a hatchback that was born from jets.

Monday, I looked at an attractive International Harvester Scout. The pea soup green paint looks marvelous, especially with the gunmetal steelies. It looks like the seller ended the auction early, perhaps after a sale outside eBay. Someone probably picked up a fun ride.

Pulsar

Tuesday, I featured another car with a removable rear body panel. This one, however, is a bit less compelling to the general public. The Nissan Pulsar Sportbak is one of those answers to a question that, if asked, probably shouldn’t have been. Nonetheless, it’s kinda cool, and could be a fun, quick ride with something a bit more beefy under the bonnet. It’s still only $2,000 and for sale very close to Myrtle Beach. Fly in, hit a seafood buffet or a golf course, and drive home in glorious Eighties style.

Integra

Wednesday, I found a unicorn: an Integra Type-R that might not yet have been stolen. The seller needs to learn how to get photos off the phone, however, rather than screenshotting everything. I love reading ads for hot Hondas — invariably, the words “Adult Owned” will appear on anything that doesn’t have dozens of decals littering the clearcoat. As of this writing, the bid is around $10,000 with five days left, so my guesstimate of a $15k sell price might not be far off.

Impulse

Thursday brought a favorite sleeper of the Eighties. Isuzu’s Impulse, penned by Giugiaro, is a stunning sportscar built on pedestrian GM underpinnings. Sadly not a turbo, the performance might be a bit blunted, but this looks like a cheap, fun classic.

Viggen

Today, I happened across a Saab 9-3 Viggen. The last hurrah of the hot hatch from Trollhättan, the Viggen was a torque-steering monster of a family sedan. I wonder how good the parts support is now that Saab has left this realm. That would be a significant factor in whether I’d consider one for myself.

I know I’m not the only one out here in internetland that trolls the web for interesting cars. Head over to the forum, and post the cool stuff you find!

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Saab is the Automotive Kiss of Death, Apparently http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-automotive-kiss-death-apparently/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-automotive-kiss-death-apparently/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 19:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145401 The resurrected Swedish automaker producing electric 9-3s with a Saab badge signed an agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation to help stay afloat, GoAuto in Australia is reporting. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the Chinese company that purchased the remains of Saab after its parent company Spyker went bankrupt, announced that it would distribute electric cars in China […]

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saab-9-3-aero-sedan-my14-09-1

The resurrected Swedish automaker producing electric 9-3s with a Saab badge signed an agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation to help stay afloat, GoAuto in Australia is reporting.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the Chinese company that purchased the remains of Saab after its parent company Spyker went bankrupt, announced that it would distribute electric cars in China with automotive giant Dongfeng and add a production facility there, the report details.

In return, NEVS will supply Dongfeng with engineering standards to help it meet safety standards in Europe and North America.

It certainly has been a bumpy road for Saab.

State-owned Dongfeng has a slew of joint ventures with other automakers, including Nissan, Honda and PSA in China.

According to the report, Dongfeng will open a production facility in Tianjin, China to build the Swedish electric cars. Production of the electric 9-3s halted last year when Saab couldn’t pay suppliers.

Dongfeng is apparently unfazed by Saab’s record since the turn of the 21st century.

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Saab Was Way Ahead Of Its Time http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-was-way-ahead-of-its-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-was-way-ahead-of-its-time/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1140938 So I’m driving along the other day and I notice a badge on the tailgate of the latest Lincoln Navigator that says “EcoBoost.” That’s right, folks: the giant, bold, shout-out-loud Lincoln Navigator is now using an EcoBoost engine. The V-8 is gone. The big, brawny, “look at me” V-8 rumble has disappeared. Lincoln has now […]

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saab-900 the real thing

So I’m driving along the other day and I notice a badge on the tailgate of the latest Lincoln Navigator that says “EcoBoost.”

That’s right, folks: the giant, bold, shout-out-loud Lincoln Navigator is now using an EcoBoost engine. The V-8 is gone. The big, brawny, “look at me” V-8 rumble has disappeared. Lincoln has now dropped that stuff in favor of turbocharging.

It would be one thing if it were the MKZ, which is a midsize sedan that looks sort of like a woman’s shoe turned upside down. That thing is turbocharged, and nobody really seems to care. It’s just another car, in a sea of cars, looking to eek out the best possible fuel economy.

But the Navigator! The giant, truck-like Navigator. Lincoln’s answer to the Cadillac Escalade, even though it debuted before there was a Cadillac Escalade. The huge flagship model of the Lincoln lineup; something Lincoln drivers across the world aspire to own, from airport limousine drivers to Lincoln dealership owner spouses. It’s now turbocharged.

And, of course, the Navigator isn’t the only recent luxury car to include a turbocharger. Other turbocharged luxury cars that have debuted in modern years include, well, basically all of them. Lexus, once the champion of smooth engines with low power and big displacement, now has a turbocharged NX and IS. Mercedes has all sorts of turbos. And Audi’s entire lineup might be turbocharged, for all I know. I cannot be sure of this fact because it’s impossible to spend more than 10 minutes on the Audi website without falling asleep.

It wasn’t always this way. Years ago, Mercedes brought us two types of engines: naturally aspirated engines and bigger naturally aspirated engines. Lincoln and Cadillac gave us V-8s. And Lexus offered Toyota engines that inexplicably ran on premium fuel, even when the Toyota version had no problem with regular. It was a great time.

Actually, it’s a great time now, too, because turbocharged engines are kind of fun. I especially like turbocharged engines from the mid-2000s because of how they operated. First, you put your foot down. Then, you did your taxes. Then, you were launched into a hedge somewhere in the next area code.

And this brings me to the point of today’s column, which is that Saab was way ahead of its time.

Many of you think of Saab as a fledgling Swedish automaker who had just one or two distinguishable products and could only afford to redesign its vehicles every decade or so. Of course, many of you think of Volvo in the same way. But Saab was like that, too.

But Saab’s biggest unique trait — more than its three-spoke wheels, more than its hatchback designs, more than the fact that the Saab logo faded off its emblems after three weeks of driving around in regular sunlight — was turbocharged engines.

Do you remember this? Back in the 1990s and 2000s, Mercedes-Benz and BMW and Lincoln and Cadillac and Lexus and Acura were all using big ol’ naturally-aspirated engines; the kind of engine where you’d walk up to your neighbor at a party and proudly announce your displacement like you’d share your newborn daughter’s weight at birth. My Acura has a three point five, you’d say, knowing full well your neighbor’s Lexus was only a pathetic three point oh. Or: My Cadillac has a four point nine. Or: My Mercedes has a five point six.

All of these things were acceptable to say back in the day when displacement ruled the earth.

And then there was Saab, off in the corner, somehow extracting even more power than its rivals but with far less fuel engine size. Whaddya got there, a neighbor would say, proudly stroking his new 4.0-liter, V-8-powered Lexus LS400. A two point three? And then he’d run away laughing as if his great dane had just put your entire Pomeranian in its mouth and gnawed on it a bit like a corn cob.

What he didn’t know, of course, is that your puny little two-point-three had 250 horsepower, or maybe 280, a function of Saab’s basic idea at the time that by God, there are a lot of horses running around Trollhattan, and they need to be captured and stuffed inside front-wheel drive sedans. Back then, that was considered unorthodox. Weird. Strange. Odd. “A turbocharger?” people would say. “What the hell is that?”

But now…

Well, now Saab is dead. Unfortunately, its ideas live on in virtually all modern cars: turbochargers are good. Smaller engines are great. Fuel economy is nice. Aerodynamics are fun. And as I look at today’s crop of luxurious front-wheel drive two point threes and two point ohs, and turbocharged this and EcoBoost that, I can’t help but think one thing: the only thing separating these cars from a Saab is the faded emblem.

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Piston Slap: The Saab SID, the Dead CD Stereo! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-saab-sid-dead-cd-stereo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-saab-sid-dead-cd-stereo/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132193 Seth writes: Sajeev (and your evil twin) OK, you asked for it so here goes: I have an 2005 saab 9-3 5-speed convertible that is having issues. I use it as a summer car. It is my third saab so I am use to some weird stuff. Last year, I parked it for the winter […]

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Seth writes:

Sajeev (and your evil twin)

OK, you asked for it so here goes: I have an 2005 saab 9-3 5-speed convertible that is having issues.

I use it as a summer car. It is my third saab so I am use to some weird stuff. Last year, I parked it for the winter and everything worked. I lost my garage space for the winter so I had it under a car cover. When spring came my SID (Saab Information Display) did not work. I know the SIDs in previous generations were an issue but not on this model. As a bonus, my CD player also died, but the radio still worked even without its display.

So I get the SID replaced — really the only reason was so I could see radio the current station — by an independent Saab mechanic, but now the radio does not work. The indie said the amp is bad. The Saab amp setup (I have a 7-speaker, 150W ARC sound system, I think) is fiber optic and a PITA. He checked the fuses and said they are fine. It seems odd the radio does not work the minute the new SID is in. I can replace the amp, but it’s a 4-hour drive one way to do so and I would prefer not to kill a day to find out it was something simple.

I checked the board but it seems I have the one in a million issue. Got any ideas? And no Panther advice, please.

I will have garage space from now on and I do not mind getting the amp fixed. I love the car but a radio and a working SID would be nice.

Sajeev answers:

This thread suggests you check the amp and wiring for water damage. Not a bad idea, and there’s also a conversion harness for eliminating OnStar if your old connector is damaged by liquid.

I suspect your Saab indie mechanic is right: the amp’s internal guts are indeed dead and you gotta replace it. If you doubt him, get a shop manual and follow the diagnostic yourself. Sometimes a book, a multi-meter and a lot of spare time is worth it. But I’d probably stick with your trusty Saab mechanic’s advice.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Orphan Cars And The 10 Year Parts Myth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/orphan-cars-10-year-parts-myth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/orphan-cars-10-year-parts-myth/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117393 Every automotive enthusiast has an opinion when it comes to car buying and many are quick to point to an orphan car for a good deal. While some orphan cars are a bargain for their genre, maintaining some of them can be an exercise in futility. Internet commenters and forum aficionados are quick to defend […]

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9-4x

Every automotive enthusiast has an opinion when it comes to car buying and many are quick to point to an orphan car for a good deal. While some orphan cars are a bargain for their genre, maintaining some of them can be an exercise in futility. Internet commenters and forum aficionados are quick to defend their recommendations and point to some parts law that supposedly forces manufacturers to provide parts for 10 or 20 years after they kill a model, but no such law exists. While there are laws like the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that provide some protection in certain situations, it’s nowhere near the 10-year mark.

According to the FTC, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides rules on warranties for all consumer products, and in the automotive world it forces automakers that provide warranties to produce parts for the term of the vehicle warranty. In some cases this can be as short as 3 years after the sale of the last model. Once that term is up, they do not have any further obligations to the consumer. The entity providing the warranty can also choose to stop manufacturing parts before the warranty expires, but in that case they may be liable to replace the product or provide a refund.

The other piece of the warranty puzzle is emissions coverage that is mandated by the EPA that provides for 2 years of coverage for any emissions performance issues and 8 years of coverage for any defect related to the emissions system. While this coverage is notably longer than the usual powertrain warranty, it does not necessitate that the manufacturer must provide parts or service. It only states that they must cover the cost of any required repair.

I tend to buy cars out of the ordinary and currently own an orphan car in the form of a Saturn Vue Hybrid. I approached the purchase by researching parts availability and volume of sales. I found that there was a great deal of parts available as many of the steering and suspension components were shared with its GM Theta platform siblings, while the engine and hybrid system was shared with the Chevy Malibu Eco. I also checked Good Car Bad Car and found that there were about 113,000 units sold in the second-generation body style so I knew that body parts would be plentiful at junkyards if I could not locate new ones. I was able to negotiate a great price on the CUV since many buyers were afraid of the orphaned car and have successfully acquired parts for the few times it needed repairs and maintenance since.

Saab is another orphan brand that went through the hands of GM and I am happy to recommend some of their last models such as the 9-3, which has decent parts availability and shares many of its components with other GM models like the Buick LaCrosse. There is one Saab model that you should run far away from mostly because of its low volume but also because there is not an entity that is currently responsible for it. The Saab 9-4X rides on the premium version of the Theta platform that underpins my Saturn and shares the most parts with the Cadillac SRX that was built alongside the 9-4X in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. The 9-4X is something of an oxymoron as it has become somewhat of an enthusiast CUV due to it limited production which amounted to just 457 units. While the 9-4X is more rare than a LaFerrari it will be hard pressed to gain any value in the future.

srx2

Saab models prior to 2010 were built under GM ownership and are covered for any remaining warranty and recalls through them, the 9-4X was built under Spyker ownership and no longer has representation in the US. According to a statement from the NHTSA, if a company has no assets or funds to pay for work then recalls would not be completed. The same stays true for warranties. If there is not a company to pay for the charges, then the warranty is void. This can be seen quite clearly when comparing recalls of the SRX and 9-4X. The SRX has received five recalls, and from what I can tell, four of those recalls cover the same parts that are used in the 9-4X, but only one shows the 9-4X as part of the recall. I am not sure how even that one came to include the 9-4X, but it may be due to the safety factor of the recall and some sort of clause in one of the bankruptcy agreement.

While some potential owners might take the risk and maintain the cars themselves, problems have already popped up and part shortages abound. One of the most common issues is the windshield. The 9-4X uses a different windshield than the SRX, and to make matters even more complicated, it was offered with an optional rain-sensing feature. Once owners started to break windshields, they found that there were few available to purchase. Standard windshields were the only ones initially available so owners took those by default and the ones that downgraded from the rain-sensing windshield lost their intermittent wiper feature. Some rain-sensing windshield have become available from Saab Automobile Parts North America which is now known as Orio North America but those were quickly snapped up. I checked a few well known Saab parts dealers and see none in stock at this time.

Orio has been working hard to stock up on many parts and even sent Sajeev a nice description of what’s available, but the low production numbers of the 9-4X still cause issues. They also offer a warranty for the 9-4X and other models through their Saab Secure program which starts at around $1,900 for a 3-year plan, but owners still commonly wait 6-8 weeks for certain parts and live with not having some parts at all. The 9-4X has shown lots of problems that go along with a first-year model including a common problem of water leaks in the passenger foot well.  Many owners have experienced the issue and luckily parts are available for repair, but others in the future may not be as lucky.

Orphan cars can be a bargain if the research is done properly, but many times they can be a nightmare when part shortages arise. While many of these cars can be reliable and last for a long time, some are already showing quality issues and the faded Saab badge is becoming common like in the the 9-7X that Jack spotted a few years ago. The badge can be easily replaced but what lurks beneath may be a costlier endeavor.

[Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org and qJake/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Piston Slap: Saabaru Takata Airbag Recall Kerfuffle? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-saabaru-takata-airbag-recall-kerfuffle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-saabaru-takata-airbag-recall-kerfuffle/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107521   Ron writes: Sajeev, I’ve what should be a straightforward question, but before I go down the rabbit hole with Subaru and GM, I thought I would get some advice. My girlfriend bought a ’05 Saab 9-2X recently. She loves the car and has been making plans for modifying the interior (she’s a lead electronics tech). Anyway, […]

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They didn't make compromises, they made Saabs?

They didn’t make compromises, they made Saabs?

Ron writes:

Sajeev, I’ve what should be a straightforward question, but before I go down the rabbit hole with Subaru and GM, I thought I would get some advice. My girlfriend bought a ’05 Saab 9-2X recently. She loves the car and has been making plans for modifying the interior (she’s a lead electronics tech). Anyway, Subaru broadened their Takata airbag recall to include ’05 WRXs…which is essentially what her car is, under the skin.

You can see the question coming, of course.

As Saab is dead, who does she talk to about getting the recall work done? Is there some skeleton crew left keeping the lights on at Saab specifically for safety issues? Does Saabs’ former owner/assassin, GM, handle them? Or should we talk to Subaru, the company that actually built the car and certainly knows best how to work on them? Searching online gets conflicting information; the NHTSA website says that GM will handle 9-2X recalls, virtually everyone else says that Subaru handles them.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

Sajeev answers:

Virtually everyone else? Remember who owned Saab and is legally responsible for their products. Who would go against NHTSA on this? Perhaps you should call this 1-800 number. Or, after a little more Googling, the NHTSA link you mentioned is a resounding endorsement for GM:

Subaru will notify their owners and General Motors will notify Saab owners. Dealers will replace the passenger air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall began on June 17, 2015. Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783. Owners of Saab vehicles may call 1-800-955-9007. Subaru’s number for this recall is WQR-53. Note: This recall partially supersedes recall 14V-763 in that model year 2004 through 2005 Subaru Impreza and model year 2005 Saab 9-2x vehicles are now only part of this campaign.

I would contact your most favorite, highest rated, local GM dealership for advice. Why? Because they are the ones tasked with getting parts, installing them and being compensated for their trouble. Odds are they’ll be overwhelmed with airbag-related queries, but you’ll be the most memorable of the flock — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they are likely underwhelmed with replacement stock for any unique GM vehicle.

If Ford made new airbags for the rare Ford GT, your girlfriend’s Saabaru will be just fine. Eventually.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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While You Were Sleeping: No Holden Volt, Super Troopers 2, and Meeke Gets a Win http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-no-holden-volt-super-troopers-2-meeke-gets-win/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-no-holden-volt-super-troopers-2-meeke-gets-win/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:03:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054985 The second-generation Chevrolet Volt won’t go on sale in Australia as GM will not convert it to right-hand drive. The Holden Volt is dead (CarAdvice) It appears a Holden version of the second-generation Volt will not come to fruition as General Motors has decided not to build the car in right-hand drive. Bolt still on the table. […]

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Mary Barra and Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS 2015

The second-generation Chevrolet Volt won’t go on sale in Australia as GM will not convert it to right-hand drive.

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Piston Slap: Saabaru, The “Reliable” Subaru? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-saabaru-reliable-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-saabaru-reliable-subaru/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 22:50:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1036929 Adam writes: Hello Sajeev, I have a classic “keep it or sell it” question for you and the greater TTAC audience. Two years ago I bought my wife a 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero (sadly an automatic, which was a non-negotiable requirement for my wife). You may remember these as being rebadged Subaru WRX wagons, and that […]

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95% Subaru, 5% Saab…100% Awesome?

Adam writes:

Hello Sajeev, I have a classic “keep it or sell it” question for you and the greater TTAC audience.

Two years ago I bought my wife a 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero (sadly an automatic, which was a non-negotiable requirement for my wife). You may remember these as being rebadged Subaru WRX wagons, and that was the main reason I bought the car at the time. I assumed that since the underlying platform was basically a “reliable” Subaru, repairs would be infrequent and parts would be plentiful.

The reality is that I’ve never spent so much money trying to keep a car in good running condition. The car is now at 127,000 miles, and in the past two years we’ve done the following work: valve cover gaskets (twice), rebuilt heads and head gaskets, new power steering pump, replaced valve breather assemblies, new radiator, just to name a few things off the top of my head. None of these pending repairs were brought to light through the very thorough pre-purchase inspection, and the car appeared to be well cared for when we bought it.

The head rebuild alone cost us almost $3000 and kept the car in the shop for almost a month, mostly due to parts availability issues, which really surprised me. Even after all these repairs, we are still dealing with a mystery oil leak that periodically drips onto the exhaust somewhere and fills the cabin with a wonderful burning smell.

My question is one of sustainability. Even though the car is comprised of 95% Subaru parts, it seems that the 5% that was supplied by Saab is becoming increasingly more difficult to come by. Things like plastic body panels (rocker panel covers, bumper covers, etc.) are nearly impossible to find now, and even the struts are specific to the Saab model, having been tuned specifically for the 9-2X. Even if I have taken care of most of the major repairs for the foreseeable future, is it really a great idea to hold onto a car that is losing replacement parts support? Even the Subaru parts seem much more scarce than they should be.

I should note that despite all these issues, the reason we haven’t already replaced the car is that we really enjoy driving it. It’s a fun, powerful car that’s good in Minnesota winters and can haul a decent amount of stuff with the seats down. I have no idea what I would replace it with if I did sell it.

I am open to any and all suggestions and advice!

Thanks,
Adam

Sajeev answers:

The answer is clear by the overall tone of your message: put it on Craigslist, wait for the right buyer because it’s still in good running condition.

You really like the car, but not enough to deal with the crap.  Saabs are hard to live with because of parts/repair costs, Subarus are the same (to a lesser extent).  What’s the benefit of being 95% Subaru when their motor popped the head gasket?  Exit now, before you spend thousands more on a 10-year-old car at the bottom of the depreciation curve.

I can see why you might consider the alternative: all my old cars are in some state of serious disrepair. Only a fanboi fool like me does all this for no good reason. If I was a Saabaru fan, I’d love your car too.

Best of luck, and remember there are plenty of AWD hatchback utilities on the market for you and your wife to consider.  Test drive them all, you have nothing but time!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033705 The Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples […]

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20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples deemed worthy of saving, but a few have hung on in side yards and cornfields long enough to show up in wrecking yards now. We saw this ’68 sedan in California last year, and now there’s this ’68 wagon in Denver.
19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the Ford Taunus V4, rather than the three-cylinder Saab two-stroke so beloved by those who have never driven a car powered by one (to be fair, I know some two-stroke Saab owners who do love driving their cars).
12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe gauges have that cool Saab airplane logo.
14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinFour-on-the-tree diagram and cold-starting instructions are found on this dash sticker.
05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinNo obvious signs of rust-through, and the interior isn’t too horrifying. After several months in this yard, still not many pieces have been plucked from this old Swede.

01 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Piston Slap: Outdoor Convertible Storage? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-outdoor-convertible-storage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-outdoor-convertible-storage/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:53:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017562   Ken writes: Sajeev – I thoroughly enjoy your column – keep up the good work! You’ve also answered several questions I’ve sent over the years, so thanks for that. Your latest article on rear quarter panel rust on Hondas got me thinking. I have an attached 2 car garage and 3 cars. You can […]

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Or not… (photo courtesy: http://www.rigsofrods.com/)

Ken writes:

Sajeev –
I thoroughly enjoy your column – keep up the good work! You’ve also answered several questions I’ve sent over the years, so thanks for that.

Your latest article on rear quarter panel rust on Hondas got me thinking. I have an attached 2 car garage and 3 cars. You can see the dilemma. Two cars are DDs and one is a recently purchased pleasure vehicle/ toy – in a used 2007 Saab 9-3.

Since I’m married, my wife’s MKZ (the same one you provided mod advice on) owns one of the spaces – leaving me one for an SUV (2010 Xterra) and said convertible.

I live in New England and the convertible will not see usage from November through till April. This is my first winter with the two car dilemma. At first my decision was made for me. The Saab 9-3 would sit outside. We have a newborn and I didn’t want to trudge the little guy into the cold when we have an attached garage. And since a pop up carport went over with the Wife like a fart in church – I bought a high end car cover for the Saab.

Fast forward, things have changed and we no longer utilize daycare for the little guy. The Saab is now sitting in the garage. WITH a car cover on it. (Cause why not? Already have it.) I figured I could wrench on it occasionally during the winter. But if I’m honest, even though the garage is attached, its just too friggin cold. So it could sit outside.

Both vehicles I’d like to keep for a long time. But my Xterra is of more use to the family and should get the better treatment of the two. The Saab shouldn’t rust much as it will never see salt, but the Nissan is my winter driver.

My question is – which should be outside and which inside? With the latest snow storms I am a bit annoyed clearing snow off my car when I don’t have to – but its just me and I’ve done it for years so its not really a big deal. I’ve also heard that its better to keep a vehicle in the cold rather than cycles of warm and cold as the attached frozen salt will melt and corrode more. Is there any truth to that?

What are your thoughts? Car cover the Saab outside or leave it in the garage?

Sajeev answers:

A total no-brainer: leave the Saab in the garage.

Never leave a winter beater in the garage when you have a topless summer toy! Okay, so says the single guy who lives in Houston.

But still, the effects of snow on a droptop are dangerous, especially when it’s a vehicle lacking the ridiculously strong aftermarket support of something Mustang convertible-like.

 

You want it, they got it .(photo courtesy: foxresto.com)

 

Like the above set up, most of which I’ve replaced (some personally) on the Mehta’s own Mo-Stang, a 1987 Mustang GT droptop.  It’s pretty easy and super cheap, and the re-popped parts are often OEM-quality: making the Mo-Stang a pure joy to own and restore like most Fox Bodies.  But that’s really not the point.

The point?  What works for me is not so cheap and easy for you. So forget outdoor convertible storage, it ain’t worth the risk of wear and tear. Put the Saab in the garage and leave the rusty winter beater out in the winter.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: The Sportcombi’s Gloomy Vue? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-vue-sportcombi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-vue-sportcombi/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:38:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926233   Keith writes: Sajeev – I’ve gotta get rid of 1 of my 4 family of cars – the family consists of a 2011 Civic LX (for the kids), 2009 Taurus X (for the wife) – and the two on the chopping block – 2006 Saab 9-5 Sport Combi (with 154,000 miles) verses 2006 Saturn […]

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Even Google knows our first question!

Keith writes:

Sajeev – I’ve gotta get rid of 1 of my 4 family of cars – the family consists of a 2011 Civic LX (for the kids), 2009 Taurus X (for the wife) – and the two on the chopping block – 2006 Saab 9-5 Sport Combi (with 154,000 miles) verses 2006 Saturn Vue V6 (with 131,000 miles). I enjoy different aspect of each of these cars and I’m torn over which one should go.

Here are the pros and cons of each:

2006 Saab
Pros –
· Premium feel and build quality (real wood dash, heated leather seats, sunroof, etc.)
· Above average acceleration (especially in “Sport” mode)
· Handles the curves well
· Nice sound system
· Station wagon utility
· Makes a good impression
Cons –
· Drinks high octane fuel (19 mpg city/hwy)
· Requires full synthetic oil
· Has some minor interior and exterior age spots
· Dinky side view mirrors (big is beautiful)
· After thought cup holders
· Former “wanker” car (they switched to Audi since Saab’s demise)
· Constant fear of a high dollar repair

2006 Saturn
Pros –
· I LOVE the Honda 3.5 liter V6
· SUV utility (good for runs to the garden center and the dump)
· Good sound system (user installed)
· Rides tall in the saddle
· Beautifully big mirrors
· Decent cup holders and console storage
· Did I mention the 250 hp V6?
Cons –
· Basic interior (cloth seats, hard plastic dashboard and console, no sunroof)
· Noisy at highway speeds
· The brakes SUCK
· Doesn’t impress anyone

Finally the financials –
Saab – Bought it last year for $4900.00 with 133k miles and I’ve got about $3k (including taxes and title) in the car. Present value is about $3900 and dropping fast.
Saturn – Purchased 2 ½ years ago for $7000.00 with 83k miles on the clock. Upkeep has been minimal, about $1k, and the current value is about $5000 and holding steady.

Personally I’m thinking that the Saab needs to go… but I’m not sure.

Sajeev answers:

Personally I’m thinking that the Saab obviously needs to go.

Mostly because I agree with your Pros/Cons.

If the brakes suck on the Saturn, do a brake job with aftermarket aggressive pads (either ceramic or semi metallic) and maybe these rotors are higher quality.  We can’t possibly take the undesirable GM fit/finish/public perception problems out of the equation, but let’s be real: cars under $5000 have a tough time impressing most onlookers conditioned to the latest and greatest products. Especially since most folks don’t give a shit about station wagons.

Yes, the Vue lacks the “Euro wagonista” swagger. It will never have Saab grade leather/wood and Saab driving dynamics without imprudent levels of customization.  But the odds of needing repairs that’ll be 50% of it’s (superior) value is less likely. Which kinda beats it all.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Junkyard Find: 1968 Saab 96 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1968-saab-96/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1968-saab-96/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922105 I see plenty of Saab 900s in self-service wrecking yards these days, but Saabs older than that have all but disappeared from the U-Wrench-It ecosystem. I did see a truly ancient Saab 92 at a yard over the summer, but that was in the heart of Saab’s homeland. So, it came as a big surprise […]

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12 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI see plenty of Saab 900s in self-service wrecking yards these days, but Saabs older than that have all but disappeared from the U-Wrench-It ecosystem. I did see a truly ancient Saab 92 at a yard over the summer, but that was in the heart of Saab’s homeland. So, it came as a big surprise to spot this Saab 96 three weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.
06 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYes, Rust Belt residents, this California car isn’t rusty at all.
16 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis car has the four-stroke Ford Taunus V4 engine instead of the two-stroke three-banger used in earlier 96s.
01 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe interior has been stripped pretty thoroughly, but a few pieces remain.
05 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinMy racer grandfather had one of these cars, which he ice-raced in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1970s. Rust killed it, of course.
10 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI have informed the Freewheelin’ Pikers Saab 96-racing 24 Hours of LeMons team about this car, and I hope they have sent their Bay Area-based minions to grab parts off this car before The Crusher eats it.

The Swedish car with aircraft quality!

Here’s another version.

01 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 14 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 15 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 16 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 17 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

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Crapwagon Outtake: X Marks The Saab http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/crapwagon-outtake-x-marks-saab/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/crapwagon-outtake-x-marks-saab/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894362 When Michael Karesh reviewed the Saab 9-3 Turbo X some 6 years ago, he found it wanting. I still want one. The Turbo X was meant to celebrate three decades of Saab’s turbocharged powerplants, with a limited run of just 600 units. The 2.8L twin-turbo V6 made 280 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and […]

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When Michael Karesh reviewed the Saab 9-3 Turbo X some 6 years ago, he found it wanting. I still want one.

The Turbo X was meant to celebrate three decades of Saab’s turbocharged powerplants, with a limited run of just 600 units. The 2.8L twin-turbo V6 made 280 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and could be had with a 6-speed manual transmission. Saab’s XWD system, which allowed for rear torque vectoring, was standard.

Buying a used Saab is a bit of a crapshoot, but for the price of a new Hyundai Accent, you can have this 70,000 mile example “no-story automobile”. Is it as good to drive as the equivalent BMW 335i? Probably not. But what it lacks in neutral handling characteristics, it makes up for with gobs of character and sheer novelty.

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Saab’s Newest Owners Face Bankruptcy Petition In Sweden http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/saabs-newest-owners-face-bankruptcy-petition-sweden/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/saabs-newest-owners-face-bankruptcy-petition-sweden/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889754 Saab’s newest parent company may soon be declared bankrupt by a Swedish court, once again bringing the make toward the grave. The Detroit News reports supplier Labo Test has petitioned the court to declare National Electric Vehicles of Sweden bankrupt after failing to receive kr150,000 ($22,000 USD) since February 2014. The supplier provides testing tools […]

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Saab’s newest parent company may soon be declared bankrupt by a Swedish court, once again bringing the make toward the grave.

The Detroit News reports supplier Labo Test has petitioned the court to declare National Electric Vehicles of Sweden bankrupt after failing to receive kr150,000 ($22,000 USD) since February 2014. The supplier provides testing tools to automakers for quality testing of auto parts.

Sveriges Radio adds that CEO Håkan Bodin has no “hard feelings against NEVS,” and would be joyful to receive money owed from the company’s Chinese owners. NEVS communication officer Mikael Östlund, meanwhile, states that though his employer “cannot fully pay any of its suppliers,” NEVS itself is not insolvent.

The bankruptcy hearing, to be held in district court in Vänersborgs, is scheduled for September 8.

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Piston Slap: The Last Afghani Trail to Blaze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-last-afghani-trail-to-blaze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-last-afghani-trail-to-blaze/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:26:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860353 M.D.K. writes: UNCLASSIFIED I am currently at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where I will often find myself motoring around the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in one of the last generation Chevy Trailblazers. It is the straight six variety and it has undoubtedly led a difficult life. My requirements are few however…pretty much I need something […]

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M.D.K. writes:

UNCLASSIFIED

I am currently at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where I will often find myself motoring around the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in one of the last generation Chevy Trailblazers. It is the straight six variety and it has undoubtedly led a difficult life. My requirements are few however…pretty much I need something that can do 25 miles an hour or so and not strand me on the other side of the airfield. As a bonus, the Trailblazer has a working AC and radio. What it doesn’t have is the ability to do 25 or so miles an hour regularly and get me back from the other side of the airfield.

Pressing the gas pedal beyond a few millimeters will get me stalling and/or backfiring. In general it sounds like it is running on 4 cylinders. It will surge and run normally for a second and then not. It seems to get worse the hotter it is (which is bad this time of year.) I took the damn thing to the motorpool and they told me I can turn it in and walk back if I don’t like it (the drawdown is a mother). I had to jump out and push it up the little ramp into our compound as it lacked the power to accomplish this feat on its own. As a Ford guy, I get some amusement out of this and taunting the Chevy fans but the fact is we could really use this thing. A bunch of us IT types have stared under the hood for some time and haven’t figured anything out. I am mechanically inclined (I’ve changed motors and stuff before) so I think I am the truck’s last hope.

This thing would be the nicest vehicle in our fleet by virtue of the AC if it would run. No, I can’t pull the damn codes as the PX is short on OBDII readers (and toilet paper) and there isn’t an Autozone within 7000 miles or so. If this may be something simple like a fuel filter or something I’m willing to get some parts sent over and crawl under myself. Just need to know if there are any common issues with these things. I don’t see any major mechanical issues like overheating or oil in the coolant. I appreciate your input.

UNCLASSIFIED

Sajeev answers:

So…no professional diagnostic tools, no basic Autozone diagnostic tools, and you’re the truck’s last hope? And an LS1-FTW swap is totally out of the question?

Checking the forums, it’s possible that a cam position actuator solenoid is the problem…and it will not throw a code.  Or maybe a dirty throttle body, a clogged fuel filter or a dirty air filter.  If the fuel you receive out there isn’t the highest quality, the filter is a major concern.  And maybe your IT folks have electronic contact cleaner to clean the throttle body AND the mass air flow meter. But I’m all over the map: here’s my plan of action, given limited resources:

  1. Replace fuel filter, if other vehicles need regular filter changes out in the field.
  2. Shake out the air filter, bumping it on a large surface. Don’t bang it against a wall hard enough to damage it. I find large plastic garbage cans work well here.
  3. Clean the mass air flow meter and throttle body with electronic contact cleaner.
  4. Pull the spark plugs, clean and gap them.
  5. Replace the Cam Position Actuator Solenoid: even Amazon stocks them, maybe one of their drone prototypes can deliver it.

I will keep my fingers crossed that bad gas and dusty air are your only problems.

But no matter what, thank you for writing to us and thank you for your service.  

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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Mahindra Courting Saab’s Remnants? Never Say NEVS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mahindra-courting-saabs-remnants-never-say-nevs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mahindra-courting-saabs-remnants-never-say-nevs/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:36:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845113 NEVS, the Swedish outfit that currently produces the Saab 9-3 (or is trying to, at least), is facing a major cash crunch and may not be able to make payroll or settle accounts with suppliers. But they may have a savior in Mahindra. Just-Auto is reporting that Mahindra is interested in NEVS, though in what […]

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NEVS, the Swedish outfit that currently produces the Saab 9-3 (or is trying to, at least), is facing a major cash crunch and may not be able to make payroll or settle accounts with suppliers. But they may have a savior in Mahindra.

Just-Auto is reporting that Mahindra is interested in NEVS, though in what capacity, we’re not sure. While Mahindra would not comment on the matters, NEVS confirmed that “…it was in discussion with two Asian OEMs.”

Although Mahindra is an established player in the automotive world, accquiring a brand like Saab would give them a way to pursue avenues that may have previously been unthinkable – for example, a premium brand, or an entry into the North American market. The last one may be a bit of wishful thinking, but stranger things have happened – like a planned entry via Ssangyong.

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Hammer Time: The Cars Of The Cave Bears http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hammer-time-the-cars-of-the-cave-bears/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hammer-time-the-cars-of-the-cave-bears/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 13:30:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693697 I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies. An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country. Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies.

An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country.

Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the world becomes my oyster.

Except not right now. It’s too damn cold outside. Which got me to thinking…

What would you say is the best car for cold weather?

Part of me would say that the Swedes would have this wrapped up. Volvos from the 850 on forward have offered heating systems that are warm enough to tend to the most delicate of Southern frailties after a few minutes of cold.

Whenever I used to take my family from their comfortable bucolic life of North Georgia, to my brutal native land of Northern New Jersey, I would take a Volvo along for the ride. Great heat. Wonderful leather seats. A nice balance of good outdoor visibility and a cocoon-like interior. A lot of folks don’t have a lot of love for the 850/S70 Volvos for their long-term cost and reliability issues, but I have always enjoyed their balance of safety, good heat, and solid fuel economy.

I like SAABs as well for many of the same reasons. Great seats, nice heat, livable fuel economy, and packaging that strikes the right balance of sight and safety when visiting the cold strange ancient lands that are no longer my home. The fact that older GM based sleds, like the more recent SAABs, tend to offer outstanding heat, also helps balance off some of the quirkiness of these vehicles.

Still, I wonder on a day like this whether there are other rides that are even better choices? Does a Jeep Grand Cherokee offer a better cold weather package than a Ford Explorer? Would a Lincoln Town Car be more safe and splendorous than a Cadillac Escalade if you had to do your daily commutes in the coldest of cold winters? Small heating area favors the smaller rides. But then you have to worry about everyone else on the road.

So my question for you is, if you had to survive with cold weather, snow and ice for twelve months of the year and had, say, a $30,000 budget for anything new or used, what would be your choice?

Oh, and a one way ticket to a country that plays limbo with the equator does not count. Please consider this a chance to spend $30k on something that would almost make that trade of temp worth it.

 

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New or Used: Should I Beat My Hauler? Or Haul My Beater? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-or-used-should-i-beat-my-hauler-or-haul-my-beater/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-or-used-should-i-beat-my-hauler-or-haul-my-beater/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=685722 To The Best & Brightest, I need advice on my next used car purchase. 99% of the time the vehicle will be a daily commuter (rural highway and very little city traffic / 26 miles round trip). But during the winter when salt keeps my classic pickup off the roads I need the ability to […]

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To The Best & Brightest,

I need advice on my next used car purchase.

99% of the time the vehicle will be a daily commuter (rural highway and very little city traffic / 26 miles round trip). But during the winter when salt keeps my classic pickup off the roads I need the ability to tow my boat and trailer (combined weight of 4500 lbs.)

The towing distance is only 13 miles and the vehicle must either be front wheel drive or AWD/4WD to get the boat out of the water. The ramps are fairly steep on the lower Niagara river and for obvious reasons can be icy in the winter time. Normally just me in the car but have a wife and two teenagers who come along boating occasionally. A three seat pickup would work but most I have seen are too expensive. It’s either by two vehicles or one if it offers the right combination of capabilities and economy. I would like to keep it under 12 grand but would go as high as 15 for a great vehicle. If it won’t get a t least 20 mpg I would likely go the two vehicle route. I have a neighbor who is a great independent mechanic and for reasonable prices will help me keep an older vehicle on the road.

Lastly, is it worth the cost and hassle to travel to a non snow state to find a rust free vehicle to avoid the rust belt effect of vehicles here in the Buffalo area? I thought a used Grand Caravan would be perfect but those are evidently only rated to tow 3500 lbs. Thanks.

Steve Says:

The good news is that you’re hitting the prime part of the used car market as it pertains to value.

There are a ton of older minivans and SUV’s, hundreds of thousands of them, that are molderizing in wholesale auction heaven as we speak. Unpopular vehicles. Orphan brands. You could pretty much start at the near beginning of the alphabet with the Buick Rainier, and work your way nearly all the way down to the Volvo XC90. Both of those vehicles, coincidentally, would easily hit your price quotient and may have older owners who took proper care of those rides.

This brings me to what I think is going to be the big issue with you, the prior owner. You’re not buying a used vehicle these days as much as a prior owner who may or may not have done the right thing. I would keep your list fairly open and wide while attempting to snag that ride that can handle all of your hauling days.

Would I encourage you to buy it outside of the rust-o-sphere that is northern New York? Hell yes. Not only due to the rust, but the fact that the suburbs surrounding the tri-state area are swarming with used SUV’s (and minivans to a lesser extent) that have been garage kept and dealer maintained. I may sound like a complete snob for saying this. But I would prioritize a vehicle that was dealer maintained over one from the rougher parts of town that was not. I used to liquidate vehicles for an auto finance company and  at the time, I visited quite a few wholesale auctions that had more heavy haulers than they knew what to do with. The difference between a well-kept one and an abused one was quite vast.

If you’re asking for that one vehicle, well, I have a bit of a shocker for you. My choice would be the last year of a good generation from an unpopular automaker. A 2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport Limited 4WD with all the options. I would definitely opt for the 3.5 Liter with the touring package. As for fuel economy, if you drive with a lighter foot, you’re likely to get about 16 mpg, which is less than the 20 mpg you mentioned. But if you’re only driving it part of the time, say maybe 8,000 miles a year,  you are only looking at a few hundred dollar difference in gas. To me, a better tool for the job and a lower purchase price will more than make up for that cost differential.

If you drive a LOT, then get whatever car interests you for daily commutes… and then get the Montero anyway. The only hauling vehicle with a serious fuel economy edge would be a Touareg TDI, and they are hysterically overpriced. So is the Toyota Highlander.  There is also the SAAB 9-7x with the 5.3 Liter V8.  But most people don’t have the guts to buy an orphan brand. Even though that particular vehicle is composed of the most common of GM engines and the most common of GM platforms, nobody wants em’.

That’s what I recommend. Hit em’ where they ain’t. Opt for a loaded orphaned or unpopular vehicle that was built in the last year of it’s production run.

Good luck!

 

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: And It’s All Small Stuff Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-and-its-all-small-stuff-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-and-its-all-small-stuff-edition/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 15:09:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=671050 On the same day that a Chinese firm announced that it would restart production of the 9-3, I happened to bump into the poster child for Saab’s decline and fall. This Saab 9-7x can’t be any more than seven years old, but the badge on its nose has already faded away to nothing. The faded […]

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saab97

On the same day that a Chinese firm announced that it would restart production of the 9-3, I happened to bump into the poster child for Saab’s decline and fall.


This Saab 9-7x can’t be any more than seven years old, but the badge on its nose has already faded away to nothing. The faded cloisonne is almost as much a part of Saab lore as the centrally-located ignition key, and it’s something that should have been fixed long ago. General Motors’s stewardship of Saab was supposed to result in an improved customer experience. That was the promise, but the reality was a few riffs on a European Cavalier and an Oldsmobile Bravada with a nosejob. A bad nosejob, as you can see.

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Piston Slap: Daddy’s Daily Driven Droptop? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-daddys-daily-driven-droptop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-daddys-daily-driven-droptop/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 13:44:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=668114 TTAC Commentator furhead writes: Sajeev, A while back I had written in with a question about which is the best wagon to get. The advice was great, but I didn’t follow any of it. We ended up with a 2005 Camry SE simply because it was too good of a deal to walk away from. […]

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TTAC Commentator furhead writes:

Sajeev,

A while back I had written in with a question about which is the best wagon to get. The advice was great, but I didn’t follow any of it. We ended up with a 2005 Camry SE simply because it was too good of a deal to walk away from. The car is fine…and I guess that is the problem. That is all it is: fine. Except for the seats, they suck. The front seats are by far the worst seats that I have ever had to travel in. Any ride longer than 1 hour requires a bottle of Advil nearby in order to make it through.

So now, after living with two children for some time now, my wife and I have a better idea of what we need and don’t need, and we are coming to the realization that we don’t need a car that neither one of us likes and makes our backs hurt on long drives.

We have something bigger and likely always will, which is making us start to wonder: could we make due with a convertible? We would like it (whenever we rent a car, it has no roof). The kids would like it (they always request all the windows and sunroof open). We both really like Saabs and miss my old SPG, which has us looking at 2006 – 2008 9-3s as well as first generation Volvo C70s (the new hard top looks great, but eats too much trunk space). I know there are potentially other options, but seating for four and front wheel drive are necessary as we live in the northeast (AWD options are likely out of our price range of roughly $12-$14k). Comfortable seats is also a high priority as we regularly travel 3 – 4 hours to visit family.

I have a good independent mechanic who specializes in European cars, and we are a three car family, so when the convertible is inevitably in the shop, we won’t be in a bind.

So, is there any chance that I could hear from parents who have a convertible (of any kind) as a daily driver? Are the compromises worth the enjoyment?

Sajeev answers:

Ah yes, beancounted seating was so 10 years ago!  Many cars (including the Camry) from this era had pretty horrible seats.  Not sure if new Camrys have better seats, but they are better for a few minutes at a time. But from what I’ve seen in new rental cars (Fusion, Avenger, 300 etc) they are light years ahead of previous iterations.

That said, the best seats in modern family cars are certainly in the domain of the Swedes.  I am sure 99% of human bodies are supremely comfortable in them.

So anyway…about your Swedish droptop fantasy. Your expectations of the potential SAAB-Volvo are spot on, since this is a third vehicle and you know a good Euro mechanic, buy one with an excellent service history. But only after your mechanic gives it their stamp of approval. If you keep the child seats (assuming your kids are that small) locked in the rear and fill them with kiddos with the top down, this sounds pretty simple. Not having a roof makes it seem easy.

My only concern is safety: do you want to daily drive a vehicle with a flexi-flyer body packed full of kids in bad weather surrounded by SUVs?  

Will you hear from parents with a daily driven drop top? Only one way to find out: off you go, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Piston Slap: Escaping The Land of Lotus-Eaters http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-escaping-the-land-of-lotus-eaters/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-escaping-the-land-of-lotus-eaters/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 11:52:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=630066 Susan writes: So I found a 2011 Saab 9-5 that I just love. I have never owned a Saab. Do they break a lot? I don’t want to spend thousands on car repairs. Been there done that. Please let me know what your honest opinion is on whether I should buy this car or not. […]

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Susan writes:

So I found a 2011 Saab 9-5 that I just love. I have never owned a Saab. Do they break a lot? I don’t want to spend thousands on car repairs. Been there done that. Please let me know what your honest opinion is on whether I should buy this car or not. Thanks for your time.

Sajeev answers:

Run like hell. That’s the short answer. More to come. :)
Sent from my iPhone

Susan answers:

Hahaha ok
Sent from my iPhone

Sajeev concludes:

Here’s the thing: I truly adore it when readers make no pretense to their mechanical prowess (I can do this, I think I’d be willing to do that) and instead get to the point with a Yes or No question…with past experiences in mind. That makes my answer far more accurate. Why?

Consider these:

  1. Turbo Saabs are chronically below average in terms of reliability, durability and repair costs.  While a 2011 model may be far superior than older models with unobtainium non-GM parts and (possible) questionable upkeep from previous owners, while parts are available via the “Saab Secure Program“, only certain parts of the country are truly Saab friendly when it comes to service and support. Not so compared to other luxury marques.
  2. Saabs aren’t for everyone and like any niche, plenty of folks appreciate such quirkiness…and are willing to deal with non-Lexian levels of quality.
  3. The final Saab 9-5 is a rather beautiful and unique automobile, even with the Chevy steering wheel and underlying GM architecture.
  4. Saabs (and Volvos) probably have the best seats in the business, for decades. But what are those seats bolted to?

We know enough to make a sound judgement against a pretty vehicle with serious concerns: if one readily admits to being repair-averse, don’t even consider a Saab.  Hell, maybe you shouldn’t consider anything from Europe (without a very extended warranty) these days.  Make your life easier, there are plenty of alternatives out there. Just go test drive them, Susan!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Saab 9-3 Back in Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/saab-9-3-back-in-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/saab-9-3-back-in-production/#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=523065 After years of rumors and speculations of the will they/won’t they variety, a brand-new Saab 9-3 has – finally! – managed to roll down the assembly line! Don’t be fooled by the fact that this new Saab looks just like the 2009 models the company was building when it was spun off from GM’s bankruptcy, […]

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Saab re-starts production

After years of rumors and speculations of the will they/won’t they variety, a brand-new Saab 9-3 has – finally! – managed to roll down the assembly line! Don’t be fooled by the fact that this new Saab looks just like the 2009 models the company was building when it was spun off from GM’s bankruptcy, however. This car features all-new components designed by Saab engineers and manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden.

Saab, now owned by the National Electric Vehicle Sweden company, promised its new cars would reach production in 18 months. That was in September of 2012, so they’re about 6 month ahead of schedule. That on-track message puts NEVS-owned Saab in a decidedly different league than faux car-makers like Detroit Electric and Elio Motors, who’ve spent more time justifying delays than they have building cars. Don’t take my word for that, though, check out the well-appointed assembly line and experienced Saab assembly workers in the photo gallery, below, and start getting excited.

Saab’s back, baby! All we need now is a new Saab 900 revival and we’ll really be in business!

 

saab saab_3 saab_2 New Saab 9-3

Sources | Photos: Saabs United, via WorldCarFans; Originally posted to Gas 2.

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Saab’s New Owner Hopes to Restart 9-3 Production by End of 2013, Faces Supplier Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/saabs-new-owner-hopes-to-restart-9-3-production-by-end-of-2013-faces-supplier-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/saabs-new-owner-hopes-to-restart-9-3-production-by-end-of-2013-faces-supplier-issues/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 17:32:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500477   National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Chinese backed company formed to buy the assets of Saab, says that it has hired 300 workers for the factory in Trollhattan, Sweden and that it hopes to start making cars again there by the end of this year. Mikael Oestlund, a spokesman for NEVS, told Automotive News Europe that […]

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National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Chinese backed company formed to buy the assets of Saab, says that it has hired 300 workers for the factory in Trollhattan, Sweden and that it hopes to start making cars again there by the end of this year. Mikael Oestlund, a spokesman for NEVS, told Automotive News Europe that the Trollhattan plant is “practically ready” to begin production of the 9-3 sedan. That production is dependent on coming to agreements with suppliers. Also, some of Saabs former suppliers failed when the automaker went under and replacements for those parts must be found. “We are not there yet and therefore we are not able to make the decision of start of production,” Oestlund said.

The spokesman also said that the 9-3 that the revived company will make will be very close to the one that was being built by Saab in 2011 when the company went bankrupt.  It will be powered by a turbocharged gasoline fired engine. An electrified version, promised for next year, will get different styling. The 9-3 will be sold in China and Europe at first, with possible North American sales later. “Saab will again be a global brand, but we will gradually add markets. The U.S. market is important for us and we intend to enter when we see that we have a business case,” Oestlund said.

Following the restart of production and the launch of an EV 9-3, NEVS plans to introduce completely new vehicles based on Saab’s Phoenix platform, developed but never produced. Before they can put a car based on the Phoenix architecture into production, about 20% of the car will have to be changed to components that were originally going to be sourced from General Motors, which formerly owned the Swedish car company. Oestlund told Automotive News Europe, “The Phoenix architecture is very flexible and when fully developed it will give us the opportunity to design and manufacture several models from smaller to bigger cars. We have not yet decided which models and we have no time plan — that is some years ahead.”

According to a Bloomberg report in January 2013, NEVS has plans to build 120,000 9-3 models a year by 2016. Saab’s best year was 2006 when it sold 133,000 cars.

Beijing National Battery Technology, which builds batteries for city buses, will supply the battery packs for the 9-3 EV. NEVS and Beijing National Battery Technology are both controlled by by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings. That firm is is run by Swedish-Chinese businessman Kai Johan Jiang who has investments in green engery. Earlier this year, the Chinese city of Qingdao bought 22% of NEVS. NEVS bought Saab out of bankruptcy in August 2012.

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Bring back a BOF 5-seater or I’ll buy a Saab http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bring-back-a-bof-5-seater-or-ill-buy-a-saab/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bring-back-a-bof-5-seater-or-ill-buy-a-saab/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 17:24:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495576 I have a problem. I own a 2002 GMC Envoy. No, my ownership of a GMT360 SUV isn’t the problem although it is probably enough to get me committed to a mental institution. At 140,000 hard miles, my Envoy is getting old and there’s nothing out there to replace it. That’s a problem. Whenever the […]

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Saab 9-7x Aero

I have a problem. I own a 2002 GMC Envoy. No, my ownership of a GMT360 SUV isn’t the problem although it is probably enough to get me committed to a mental institution. At 140,000 hard miles, my Envoy is getting old and there’s nothing out there to replace it. That’s a problem.

Whenever the Envoy gets brought up I feel the need to defend myself by saying I “married into it.”  This is entirely true, I did not have anything to do with the purchase. My name is not on the title and finances were co-mingled after it was paid off. That being said, I have an awkwardly styled place in my heart for GM’s GMT360 SUV. Why? It’s all about towing.

I am one of the few people in the USA crazy enough to have built their own home. No, I didn’t write a check to a contractor to build my house, I built my house. Two years into the continuing saga the only help we have had in our construction nightmare has been from friends that had no idea what they were getting into when they offered. Because I’m a cheap bastard, this meant we dug our foundation with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows and we poured the foundation by the 50lb bag. All 67,200lbs of it. Yes, I am insane and should be committed. No, I do not recommend that anyone follow in my footsteps.

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Since “my” car during this process was a 1998 Volvo S70 T5 (manual of course) and then a 2006 Volvo V70R (manual yet again), hauling duties fell on the Envoy. Almost everything that is our house came in the Envoy, on the Envoy, or a in 14-foot utility trailer towed by the Envoy. Why not buy a pickup truck? There were several logical reasons. First off, the Envoy 4.2L I6 produces reasonable torque, it seats 5, has a covered cargo area, is fairly easy to park, but most importantly: it was paid off. The used utility trailer with electric brakes has proven far more useful than simply swapping the Envoy for a pickup. Yes, I still dream pickup dreams (that’s what happens to you when you go to college in Texas) but my practical side says I may never own one.

I never really liked the Envoy before we started construction. I knew better than to deride my better half’s car shopping, but I never understood why anyone would pick the Envoy over a Grand Cherokee or an Explorer or a Pathfinder, or, or, or. As it turns out, the Envoy isn’t half bad after all. The 4WD low range is useless honestly, but the locking 4WD system has saved my bacon when trying to shuttle heavy items on our hillside property or haul a heavy trailer up the steep gravel road. The rear seats fold completely flat, and though doing so causes the front seats to become decidedly uncomfortable, the cargo hold is generously sized. GM may have used a solid rear axle but they tossed in a load leveling air suspension in the back that has been incredibly handy. The air bag suspension doesn’t just keep your butt off the ground when you put people in the back seat, it keeps the suspension in the middle of its travel when you have 800lbs of crap in the back making the Envoy handle better than most SUVs of its era when fully loaded. Not that I recommend this, but it also makes trailer hauling easier because you can go way over the recommended tongue weight without causing serious driveability problems for the tow vehicle. In addition, GM has a bleed off valve you can use to inflate tires, basket balls, etc. I can’t count the times I have had to adjust the tire pressure in the trailer or in the car in the middle of nowhere because something happened as I was hauling a load of free Craigslist.com bricks.

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The only downside seems to be the relative china doll transmission. The 4L60 transmission isn’t GM’s most robust unit and we’re on our third slushbox at 140,000 miles. The first transmission was replaced at only 15,000 miles so I’m positive that was a manufacturer’s defect but Transmission #2 failed around 80,000 miles (covered by an extended warranty). Looking back on the problem, I have a feeling that the issue was inadequate cooling and inappropriate service intervals for the load. Since then I have been flushing the ATF every 20,000 miles due to the loads we haul. Still, the Envoy is showing its age. The dashboard has gouges from ABS pipe hauling, the rear window weather-stripping is torn from 4x6s rubbings against them, one rear window leaks, the rear air suspension deflates after a few hours when parked, she burns a little oil and the transmission isn’t shifting like it did 60,000 miles ago. It’s time send my friend out to pasture. Did I say friend? I guess I did.

So what options are there on the mid-sized market that won’t cost an arm and a leg but can haul 6,500-7,000 lbs? Can’t do that in the GMC Acadia (GM’s replacement for the Envoy). The Pathfinder and Explorer have given up on towing, Kia killed the Borrego, the Montero was mercy killed, the Rodeo is extinct, the Xterra and 4Runner top out at 5,000lbs and VW’s Touareg is luxury priced starting at $44,000. That leaves just the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the mass-market mid-size SUV segment with over 5,000lbs of towing capacity. How can GM think there’s no market for a well prices world-market Trailblazer?

Here’s where my cheap side kicks in. A low mileage 2009 Saab 9-7x can be had for $16,000-$17,000. That makes it the best priced  GMT360 SUV by a few grand. It also happens to be the best GMT360 ever made. I realize that’s like saying it’s the best bedpan ever made, but it does have an impact on this very small segment. What’s a car guy that tows to do? Do I 2014 Grand Cherokee or Durango for $33,000+ or do I dive into a used “Trollblazer” because it is a crazy-cheap known quantity. Stay tuned.

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U.S. Court Shoots Down Saab Suit Against GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/u-s-court-shoots-down-saab-suit-against-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/u-s-court-shoots-down-saab-suit-against-gm/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 12:29:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491602 When Spyker sued GM for mucking with Saab’s failed deal with Youngman, and wanted $3 billion for its trouble, TTAC’s resident garage lawyers did not give Spyker big odds. Yesterday, the suit was thrown out. A U.S. federal judge said the GM had the right to block the sale of a company using its technology, […]

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When Spyker sued GM for mucking with Saab’s failed deal with Youngman, and wanted $3 billion for its trouble, TTAC’s resident garage lawyers did not give Spyker big odds.

Yesterday, the suit was thrown out.

A U.S. federal judge said the GM had the right to block the sale of a company using its technology, Reuters reports. Said U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain said in a hearing in Detroit:

“General Motors had a contractual right to approve or disapprove the proposed transaction. The court is going to grant the motion to dismiss the matter.”

Spyker Chief Victor Muller was in the court room. He did not want to say whether he would appeal. “We will be awaiting the written order and then we will assess,” Muller told Reuters.

The allegedly aggrieved entity was Saab and not Spyker. Saab went bankrupt, and its assets were bought by a murky Chinese entity. Spyker acquired the rights to sue GM. As usual, Muller did not use his own money. Back then, a Spyker press release said:

“Spyker has secured the financial backing required to see the lawsuit through to the end from a third party investor.”

More money down the drain.

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