By on July 5, 2016

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Kevin writes:

Here’s my struggle:

I’m a Saab fanatic. Fanboi. Devotee. Whatever you want to call it. It’s a total #saabobsession. I’m currently driving a 2001 9-5 sedan, a 2.3-liter car that my wife and I have owned since new. I also own a 2006 9-3 Aero convertible, and I’m the vice-president of our regional Saab owners club. I’m in deep. We do have a 2011 Ford Flex Ecoboost as the main family hauler.

My 9-5 has just 118,000 miles on it, and has been meticulously maintained. For the first ten years of its life, it was my wife’s daily driver. When we got the Flex, I inherited it from her, got an ECU tune and upgraded the suspension. It’s nothing extreme, but it’s fast enough, plenty of fun, reliable, and I don’t worry about where I leave it parked.

A couple of weeks ago, the 9-5 started leaking oil onto the driveway. I took it to my good friends at my local Saab repair shop, and they told me that a seal needs to be replaced behind the timing chain cover, maybe between the head and the block? Whatever, the important takeaway is the repair estimate: $2,400. It also needs new brakes ($600), and a new clutch is on the horizon ($1,700) as the car’s still on its original clutch and it chatters when cold. So, here I am looking at over $4,500 in repairs on my beloved 9-5. Those repairs exceed the cash value of the car, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I don’t think it’s worth sinking that kind of money into it.

All of my Saabs have had manual transmissions.  I tend to prefer the utility of a wagon or hatchback (see also: the two Saab 900 hatchbacks I’ve owned) over the style of a sedan.

So now you can tell what I’m looking for, right? A powerful European wagon or hatchback with a manual transmission. I sound just like an auto writer (I did contribute to Autosavant.com for about nine years). Just looking at wagons and hatches of the European variety, there’s the BMW 328 wagon, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Volvo V60, Audi A7/S7, VW Golf/GTI/R… and I think that’s it. I could expand to include the Focus/ST/RS as well, but that’s about where the choices end, right? If I stick with the need for a manual transmission, I’m suddenly left with the Focus and the Golf.

I’ve recently test driven a Focus ST (too-tight interior… no room behind my 6’4″ frame for my 7-year old daughter’s legs), Volkswagen GTI (not as fast as my 9-5), Golf R (loved it, actually), and Polestar V60 (looks SEXY AF, but it’s also expensive AF and it felt very clinical and uninvolving to drive). Of those new cars, I liked the Golf R the best.

Last week, I also drove a very rare 2011 Saab 9-5 sedan with a manual transmission and 73,000 miles that’s for sale at one of those random roadside lots less than five miles from my house. That wasn’t bad… but I’d want to give it an ECU tune, better looking wheels, etc… essentially make it my own the way I’ve done to my 2001 9-5. But it’s at least a car that’s 10 years newer. I’ve got a lot of “Saab friends” who’ve weighed in that I should get this car.

So, umm, I don’t actually know what to do here. I actually like my current 9-5 for the most part — do I just sink the money into it? Or do I pay up and upgrade to the modern age?

Kevin (great name, btw), I am almost always the first person to tell people to write to Ask Bark that they should go ahead and get a new car if they’re considering it. Most people who write in with this “fix it or sell it” dilemma are actually asking for permission to buy a new car and spend a lot of money.

I think that you, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. I’m sure that if we lived in a parallel universe where Saab still existed (instead of being driven into the ground by GM badge engineering), you’d have a brand-new Saab on that list of wagons, and then we wouldn’t really be having this discussion anymore.

Unfortunately, Saab is just as dead as Chris Evans’ television career. And as somebody with a self-described #saabobsession, I don’t think that you’ll be particularly happy with any of the cars you listed, the “expensive AF” Volvo excluded (and then you won’t be particularly happy with the car payment). So, what should you do?

Using my elite powers of third-party searches, I think I found your desired car. It’s been on that lot long enough for him to have shot two entirely different sets of photos (look at the floormats). CarGurus says 66 days, but I’m guessing he’s taken it down and relisted it. However, since you know much more about Saabs than I do (or maybe anyone does), I’ll trust your judgement on that car. $14,991 seems waaaaaay too high, though. If you were interested in that car, I’d offer $11,500.

I know you’re a busy man who travels quite a bit (full disclosure: Kevin and I are Facebook friends who’ve never actually met), so I doubt that you have the time to personally deal with your Saab’s issues. So then the question becomes this: do you spend $4,500 on a car with a known service history, or nearly three times that on a much newer model you don’t know as well (and then sink even more money into customization)?

In the most anti-Bark recommendation ever, I’m going to say that you should keep that car that’s already in your driveway. Maybe see if you can do some of the work yourself with some of your Saab friends — have a big ol’ regional owners club party, buy some beer, and I guarantee you the work will be done before the night is over. When it’s all said and done, you’ll still have your Saab, and as somebody who’s been browsing Boss 302 classifieds, I can tell you that is worth something.

Got a question for Bark? Keep it to yourself. I already have too many sitting in my inbox. Just kidding! Fire them off to [email protected], or slide into my DMs at @barkm302 on Twitter. 

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142 Comments on “Ask Bark: What’s The Conclusion To My Saab Story?...”


  • avatar

    I guess we’ll know whether you LOVE it or not.

    I’d never sink almost $5000 into a car that old.

    • 0 avatar

      But Kevin is a Fanboi. President of a Saab club. And he’s owned the car since new.

      So if he pops $4500 into it, the question is “where would I find a car under $10K that would be as good and reliable as the resultant car if I repaired it?”

      Since he’s owned it since new, the answer is likely “nowhere.”

      It’s only wasted money if he doesn’t want to keep it and drive the money back out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Came here to say exactly this.

      Put that $5000 towards a new Volvo.

  • avatar
    ltcmgm78

    If you love SAABs, it simply depends on how many dollars you want to spend to keep that 9-3 sedan afloat and how far behind you want to be on technology. I can’t stand the GM radio because the green display is hard to read, but if I rip it out it will kill the OnStar switchery. Still cheaper than buying a new vehicle. I have a 2008 cabriolet and still waiting for that maintenance-related Sweet Meteor of Death. Nothing big has failed yet (knock wood).

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Keep it. Like Bark said – you know the service history and its going to last at least another 100k with regular maintenance.

    My family’s haulers have run the gamut from Cobras, Tacomas, Accords, Blazers, etc. There are two cars that my parents, sisters, and I can agree on that should have been kept longer: 89 900 Turbo and 95 9000 CDE. There is something about a Saab from that era (and earlier) that nothing else can quite match.

    You’ll regret getting rid of it over a 4500 fix. Enjoy it – you can always ditch the 9-3 and find something else.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Second on this. $4500 is a lot of money, but half of it is routine maintenance.

      You can do new brakes with quality parts, both pads and rotors, for less than $250 in a driveway with a jack, C-clamp socket set, and one of those cubes to turn in the rear piston.

      That sounds like at least $700 too high for the clutch job too. My S2000’s clutch is one of the notoriously hard to do and an expensive part at $400, and I can still get away with the whole job for less than $1200 normally. You also can ride that clutch out until it actually starts slipping, which means you potentially have a good amount of life left.

      The only thing you have to do now is that oil leak. Amortize the rest out over time and you’d be surprised how much less it hurst, especially since it seems like you want to stay in the Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I can’t get rid of my 2004 Saab 9-5 Sportcombi. It is heavy with slow steering and will shake your teeth fillings at a stop light, but with a stage lV ecu tune, Eibachs/Konis, and tires it’ll still surprise a few unsuspecting soles when they seen then old Saab wagon

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “instead of being driven into the ground by GM badge engineering”

    he says, as if SAAB wouldn’t have been dead anyway.

    SAAB had no chance of survival. GM just prolonged the inevitable.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I actually just shifted my gaze to these Scandinavian beauties on my totally random and constantly shifting search for a cheap second/winter car. i dropped the 04+ requirement for Lyft-ing to massively open up my options for something more interesting and better condition.

    There’s an ’01 Saab 9-3 5spd hatchback with 126k miles for sale for $2100 by a reasonable sounding private party, an ’01 9-5 auto sedan at a local used car lot for $1800, 142k miles I think. From what I’ve read, the ignition cassettes and oil sludge (improper PCV function?) are the most common things to look out for.

    Other cars I’ve looked at or am considering:
    $2000 1991 Merc 190E 2.6 – 193k miles, outstanding exterior condition, all original. Drove really well but spooked me all the same. Original owner garage kept it for 20+ years with dry-rotted tires. 2nd owner had it for 2 years and just used it for commuting. Already sold!

    $1800 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix GT – 163k miles, well cared for, drove as good as any old W-body possibly could. Rusty rockers (covered by plastic) and leaking valve cover gasket (no big deal) but man I just can’t stand American car interiors of this era! Probably the most practical/reliable option so far.

    $2900 1995 Volvo 960 Sedan – 115k one owner with documented maintenance. Eye watering clean interior/exterior condition. Potential nightmare in terms of spares?

    $1900 1995 Audi 90 2.8 Sedan – 160k miles, 2 owner, also great looking inside/out. Even more scared of this than the Volvo. Would satisfy my morbid curiosity of Euro car ownership

    $950 1996 Toyota Tercel 2dr- 155k miles, recent t-belt and clutch. 4spd(!) manual but does have A/C. Trunk is rotted out. Good old familiar Toyota mechanicals. Spare parts are dirt cheap, tire choice somewhat limited these days.

    $2500 2003 Toyota Echo 2dr- 190k miles, 5spd. Lowered (ugh, will have to hunt down stock springs). Inherently a super durable car, but lowering springs point to abuse.

    $2000ish – Generic 97-01 Camry with 150-200k miles, variable condition but possible to find a maintained one without rust. Perhaps the most logical choice overall.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m on my 2nd Euro car Volvo V70XC, and am a DIY old car owner. If you have a lot of time on your hands most euro cars are very nice to drive but the amount of work required and special tools goes up a lot with euro vehicles. I think you mentioned having a kid at one point. I have 3 kids that really cuts into the time for DIY, so having a longer time between projects is very desirable in my book. On that same front US and Japanese brands tend to have much cheaper parts and less difficult repairs, again saving time. (look up Volvo PCV system for an example)

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        mopar I wrenched a bit on my fiance’s ’04 S60 2.4i (124k miles) before we sold it for a tidy sum on craigslist, I gotta say I was a bit out of my element compared to my previous experience with Japanese makes. I did appreciate how much higher quality the fasteners are and overall rust proofing and paint quality was, but a lot of things seemed to wear and malfunction prematurely on it (front end was toast by 124k, dash pixels going nuts, faulty airbag warning due to cold solder joint failure, interior coating coming off in flakes, exterior trim brittle and sun-baked). No thank you I’ll take my mid-90s Toyota goodness!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Oh are we playing this game again?

      $2000 1991 Merc 190E 2.6 – 193k miles

      You probably dodged a bullet. Mercedes of this period can be finicky but are generally of high build quality, they make decent Sunday cars but I’d be wary of DD use. If it were me, I’d probably just avoid or I would look for a clean one which has simply been out of service for a time. You’re going to get dinged for parts dipped in gold regardless of something which sat or not simply because these are just so old at this point.

      $1800 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix GT – 163k miles

      The Church certainly approves however unless this is the coupe, and you’ve got an affinity for the coupe as some have, I’d go up to the final W generation which has a number of improvements (the wider exhaust pipe alone comes to mind). If it were me, I’d look for an MY05 (Series III didn’t come out until MY05, MY04 carries Series II). I also think $1800 is steep for something GM on its third owner with past 150K unless it had some sort of meticulous service history.

      $2900 1995 Volvo 960 Sedan – 115k

      I’d pass, this isn’t a Redblock its the 2.9. I see “as-is” 960s here posted on CL for a few hundred dollars. If one wants to wrench the 960 is doable but its not a 240 in the ownership sense. If you decided you loved the 960, parts cars are still around.

      $1900 1995 Audi 90 2.8 Sedan – 160k miles

      This is an odd bird, and if it was the 92/3? and earlier 2.3 I5 it would be a possible recommendation. I was told years back to avoid the VW 2.8 in the early 90s Audis but others have disagreed since then. If this is anything like my C3 100, the FWD transaxle is strange and requires specific fluid and service. By MY95 everything may have gone AWD so now you’ve got another diff and transmission design to worry about. I’d pass.

      $950 1996 Toyota Tercel 2dr- 155k miles, recent t-belt and clutch. 4spd(!) manual

      This sounds like a possible buy if the body isn’t completed corroded (Made in Japan FTW). Just don’t crash it. Seriously. How many owners and does it have any service history?

      $2500 2003 Toyota Echo 2dr- 190k miles, 5spd. Lowered (ugh, will have to hunt down stock springs).

      Drove a new Echo in 2002 for a week when my Cav was totaled. This being Feburary, slush and snow were afoot, and I had several handling and traction issues in the car. Enterprise pulled their “would you like it for the weekend” bit, to my reply was simply “No, that car is a deathtrap in this weather”. Extreme engine reliability aside, I say f that car.

      $2000ish – Generic 97-01 Camry with 150-200k miles

      Depending on owners/service history, its possible this is too much money for too many miles.

      Additional:

      There’s an ’01 Saab 9-3 5spd hatchback with 126k miles for sale for $2100 by a reasonable sounding private party

      My knowledge of Saab is near nothing but when I saw them much newer they were always lit up like a Christmas tree. If I had to go newer Swedish I would look for a manual S60 (which do exist), but that’s me.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        28 cars, you may be surprised by this (I sure was) but a decent amount of old Merc parts are surprisingly affordable. Take a look at a lower front control arm (my go-to comparison for apples to apples parts cost/availability). A OEM Lemfoerder arm with bushings and balljoint is a surprisingly palatable $147. A similar OEM part for a Toyota Echo? $213!

        the 98-03 Grand Prix (and any W-body) is a staple of our MidWestern craigslists, as such the high supply keeps prices pretty low. At $1800 believe me this one was a steal. Most are much more used up at this point. This one had fully functional everything and interior wasn’t too worn. Leather interior with heated/power driver’s seat. Suspension was tight, as the whole front end was redone about 5 years ago. LIM gaskets done as well. Transmission seemed to have some life left in it. Buying a $1000 one in hopes of saving some cash is a fool’s game (unless you literally only have that much to spend), as they all have many more issues IMO. For something like that, some rocker rust isn’t a deal breaker unless that implies rusted brake lines and such. As they say in Russian “na skorost ne vliyayet,” that is “does not affect speed.” I’ll take a recently redone suspension and solid power/drivetrain with a bit of non-structural rust.

        My good family friend had an ’01 5spd Echo sedan in the family that they bought new. 200k+ miles and 15 years of New York road salt and the body is rust free! A definite improvement over the Tercel. With snow tires, theirs really got around quite well, many memories in that little runabout. The 1.5 is a timing chain, and with the simple mac strut front and twist beam rear, and almost no power accessories, these things are just about indestructible. Tercel I think would be a similar deal except with some added age and rust related things to look out for, and a bit less driving refinement.

        Finally in regards to Camry price/miles, having just driven a 163k ’02 W body, and a decently kept one at that, I will say that even a 200k mile, 5-10 year older Camry will have a better put together interior, more confidently/smoother shifting transmission, and will ride better. Of course everything is on a case by case basis, but those old Camries are just built to last and are refined beyond their time IMO. I personally trust a Camry’s Aisin to live well beyond GM’s 4T65E. Motors are a wash, with the 97-01 Camry sludge debacle matching the General’s intake gasket fiasco every step of the way, and the ‘yotas have t-belts to eventually worry about (non-interference at least).

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m surprised on Benz parts, but I haven’t gone looking at them in more than five years. I was shocked to learn most parts for my Volvo are surprisingly cheap compared to the Volvos which came after it.

          “I’ll take a recently redone suspension and solid power/drivetrain with a bit of non-structural rust.”

          I could see this, but I’d still look at the final Grand Prix. I’d also be wary of the 4T60-E, which is worth replacing in a solid car, but becomes another four figure repair down the line. Might be cheaper to buy the final gen with fewer miles for $1,500 more today than buy this one for 1,800 and have to put a grand into the transaxle next year.

          I knew people with used Tercels but no Echos so my experience with them is limited. I still like the Tercel but I’d buy the chassis most appropriate for your climate. If its Echo, so be it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The deed is done. 2000 Maxima, 142k miles, $1600! Picking it up tomorrow, it was for sale within walking distance of my house, I responded to the ad literally within 2 minutes of it going up.

            Definitely a diamond in the rough, but with some good recent work done as well, rolling on fresh bridgestone tires. There is some rust, there is a bit of light body damage+ scrapes, there is a slight smell from the HVAC when the A/C is on (hey at least it works!), and there is a CEL (O2 sensor is what my money’s on, haven’t scanned it yet) But the motor sounds healthy, autobox shifts well, suspension feels decent. We’ll see if my $1600 bet is a good one!

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            So, what will happen to the Saab? It needs more work than it’s worth, so apparently it’s value is zero… If it were a ragtop I’d be very interested!
            Hopefully it will go to one of the members of the local Saab club, who will treat it as well as it deserves.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            With a 2000 Maxima, the CEL is likely to be a coil. Those used to be very expensive back in the day, but I see you can now get a set of 6 (aftermarket) for less than $200. You should do the plugs at the same time.

            If it was a Honda from the same era, the safe bet would be an O2 sensor. A Toyota would have an evap system malfunction (either the purge valve next to charcoal canister, or one of the many vacuum hoses in the same area).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Nice find, gtemnykh. Time to start tearing apart the HVAC system to clean things out and get rid of that smell. There’s nothing worse than stinky HVAC.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @RHD

            Sorry to confuse, I’m just some schmo that butted into the OP post to pick the B&Bs brains on some cheap used car options, since older Saabs were under consideration by me as well.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            This round of “Guess that CEL” goes to heavy handle! P1320, and P1130. The first seems to most commonly involve ignition coils, now 1130 has something to do with a swirl control valve… a small solenoid that craps out.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Just a correction, but getting 960 parts wouldnt be easy, even my 240s were a bit difficult without resorting to ebay.

            I did always say the Yaris, Echo, Xb models of that time were mostly improved Tercels. Still, I’d dodge anything lowered (think of the wear and tear underneath).

            Maxis of that time had good engines, I shopped them briefly but couldnt find one in decent shape. They suffer from what I call “Camcord-itis”, where in reliable cars are neglected “cuz nuttin ever go wrong”.

            The coils dont surprise me, seems thats a common repair on Maxis.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I had a friend with a 2000 Maxi and 6 spd, one of something like 600 that year. He took it to almost 200 but hit a deer which totaled it. Enjoy!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            And now Gtem joins the VQ party.

            Muhahaha all is going as I have foreseen.

            Side note: I had an Audi 90 (circa 2002) with the 2.8, FWD in pearl white. The example you cited was asking too much with that mileage in this day and age. It’s a very solidly built and heavy small car. Which makes it incredibly slow even in FWD guise, and the Quattro would be worse with extra added weight. Parts are quite expensive. The engine would be fine aside from t-belt worries, and your vacuum CEL fun times you get with old VAG.

            I put a pic of my 90 up on Wiki one time, and since then it’s been quite easy to find all over the internetz.
            http://zombdrive.com/images/1993-audi-90-1.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Something, something, something, DARK SIDE, something, something, something, COMPLETE.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Corey, I’ve always suggested 4th/5th gen Maxima/I30 as a good beater option, and now I finally put my money where my mouth is. VQ30s are beyond resilient and trouble free aside from some pesky coil/MAF/sensor issues, all easily and cheapy repaired. Timing chain so no t-belts to tear, and I’ve never heard of a VQ30 chain stretching or tensioners having problems at anything below astronomical mileage. Suspension is very simple and durable, and cheap and easy to R&R (mac strut front, torsion beam rear that snobs like to diss). Parts are dirt cheap and as available as anything domestic. I can get PowerStop brakes, all around (4 rotors, 4 sets of pads) for $126.

            It’s gonna be a smattering of a bit of work to get rid of the CELs, fix the noisy exhaust, chase down any errant knocks in the suspension, then do some light body work, bleach and clean the HVAC (replace the cabin filter of course), then replace the carpet and the center console armrest cover. Finally I’ll install a lower end pioneer head unit and some speakers. My goal is to have a total of $2500 into the car including purchase price when I’m done. We’ll see if that’s too optimistic. Budget-depending, might replace the hood with a junkyard unit and get it and the sun-weathered front fenders resprayed at a cheaper place.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I had one big issue with my I30.

            The center console latch was worn out when I got it, and I had to replace it at a cost of $4.

            You can expect about 23mpg in normal driving with mostly highway, or 19-20 in town and/or with the AC on. I had suggested the I30 as option because I liked the fully loaded nature of all of them, and IIRC they got more sound insulation.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah there was an opportunity to get an I30 with a leaking radiator for $700, but that’s just a bridge too far for me, even if it was potentially a screaming deal with an easy fix. The others I saw come up were beyond filthy and trashed $700-1000 examples.

            My biggest worry expense wise with the Max right now is the exhaust. I suspect the leak might be in the y-pipe, the one that has the flex pipe and built in cat converters. That’s a $250 part for a generic replacement. I might go ghetto on it for now with a good old beer can+ hose clamp patch, maybe a bit of muffler paste. Hear no evil see no evil!

            The body is actually much LESS rusty than expected, just those hood corners really rotted out for some reason.

            In my head I’m doing sort of a Wheeler Dealers style of refurbishment. DIY the labor (including paint prep and basic body work), find some acceptable junkyard parts when necessary, but have a genuinely decent car for minimal $$$ outlay at the end. Who knows I might even be able to sell it for a “profit” at the end of it all in a few years. Emphasis on “profit,” in that of course I realize my time could be much better spent if converted into monetary figures, but this is a hobby!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, you’re so dedicated to beater refurb! Perhaps you can hire a tall man to do the work and then get no credit, like on that show.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      Maybe it’s just me, but

      Merc = Mercury
      Benz = Mercedes

      I guess this will become an obsolete distinction as Mercury fades into distant memory as a failed marque.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      re: “ignition cassettes and oil sludge (improper PCV function?) are the most common things to look out for.”

      The ignition cassette is just a quick swap. It will throw a code well before failing.

      Any car that’s made it this long without sludging should be fine. There is a PCV update kit that’s relatively cheap (under $100).

      The main things to look out for are owner neglect, cheap aftermarket parts, and rust. Saabs aren’t very prone to rust, but 15 years on salty roads will take its toll on anything.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        heavy that’s generally become my approach. “if it’s made it this long and seems to run fine, then it’s fine.” One can go insane trying to look for and anticipate every little nuance people bring up with a particular make/model of car. Sure, it’s something to keep in mind. But total paranoia can lead one to miss out on some well kept gems!

      • 0 avatar

        Fortunately, I’m in the rust-free Pacific Northwest! And you know that since I’ve owned the car for 15 years and have maintained it the whole time, owner neglect and cheap parts aren’t a factor.

        • 0 avatar
          JReed

          I haven’t seen anyone mention it yet, but what about the Sportwagen with an APR tune? Approx. 250hp/300tq. You can get it in S trim with a manual transmission and for around $19k (or a smidge less) right now. If you want the luxury features, get the Limited trim, but your stuck with the automatic.

          Great handling, lightweight, good fuel economy, tons of space, etc. I’ve enjoyed my limited so far, and completely agree with you about the surprising lack of space in the Focus, which took it off my list.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Watch for oil sludge from that era. Otherwise organize your tool box and role up your sleeves. Rockauto has most if the parts you need….

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    You already have your sensible shoes cars. Keep the Saab…but with the caveat that you are going to have to learn to get your hands dirty. I have been into all sorts of old metal. The last was a Land Cruiser. No way can I do that if I am paying for someone else to do the work. If you dont have the time or the desire to get grease under your fingernails honestly youll probably get more out of one of the new options you mentioned. Owning an old car is an experience and part of that experience is you on your back underneath it. If you dont enjoy that part of the experience there is no shame, it just isn’t for you. Plenty of cars to lease and flip the keys back after 24 or 36 months if you just want to enjoy driving.

    This of course assumes you dont have the wealth to simply write the check to the mechanic and drive on. If you can afford it then yeah, just write the check and continue to enjoy driving it.

    • 0 avatar
      Tandoor

      I drove old B-bodies for decades. The only reason I could drive them was the ability to do the work myself with salvage and re-man parts. When one got too far gone, I bought a newer one. Like the Saab, I just ran out of B-bodies. My old Roady was literally the last of its kind and in the same situation, needing more repairs than I could justify. I leased some sensible shoes.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Brakes and clutches are routine maintenance items. I wouldn’t factor those into my calculations because any other car that you buy that isn’t new or slightly used will need those sooner than later.

    The seal is another matter. If you don’t fix it, then the car won’t be worth much of anything, regardless, so there is some cost associated with not fixing it (unless you succeed in covering it up and lying to the buyer, which I would avoid doing for ethical reasons.)

    If your car has been reliable up to now, then I’d be inclined to fix it. If it’s time to junk it, then I would certainly not suggest that you replace it with another Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      This answer makes a lot of sense. Any other car you buy from that list will have similar maintenance needs at similar costs sometime in the near future, so if you love your Saab, then by all means keep it!
      The clutch and brakes are DIY jobs, or at least not top-dollar mechanic jobs. The estimates seem very high. The seal may be less complicated than it sounds – get a second estimate from another shop.
      The market value of the car is a secondary consideration, although it hurts to put a lot of money into a car with a low figure in the Black Book or on Edmunds.
      If you sell it and replace it with a Camry, you are likely to regret that decision later.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    The $4,500 is one thing, but how will you feel if it’s followed in a while with a $3,000 new problem? Then you’ll really be second-guessing yourself. I’d buy a new Golf R and move on. How could it not be much better than a 2001 Saab? Besides, the safety equipment in the Saab is now twenty years behind the times.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    I drive a 9-3 wagon but do not have the same emotional attachment to the brand.

    Be very, very wary of most of the wagons you listed, they are very small and frankly even if only a touch smaller than my 9-3 it will quickly become annoying.

    I’d avoid the last 9-5 like the plague, unproven and parts are a NIGHTMARE.

    If i were you, i’d either repair the current vehicle or look to a lowish mileage 2008 9-3 AERO wagon with the 2.8 V6 Turbo. Ticks a lot of boxes and still looks modern enough.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      “I’d avoid the last 9-5 like the plague, unproven and parts are a NIGHTMARE.”

      Logged in to say the same. When I was considering one, a few minutes on the forums killed it.

      I guess it wasn’t badge engineered enough that you can get parts cheaply.

  • avatar

    I’m with Bark. Best to put the money into a known, trusted quantity. My parents were in a very similar position a few months ago. They have a 2005 9-5 Arc wagon they’ve owned since 2008 (fourth Saab — preceded by two 9000s and an NG900). It’s been exceptionally reliable, but is running into some wear issues: in March, it needed a new exhaust system. It also needed a new control module for the bi-xenon lights, new shocks at the back, and a few other sundry items. They initially planned to offload it and get a newer wagon or CUV (front runners: XC70, Outback 3.6R, GLK, 328i Touring or later E60 535i Touring). They eventually decided to put the money into a vehicle they knew the history of instead, and kept the 9-5 around (granted, their repairs came out to about half of yours— the price brought down by swapping in a set of halogen lights).

  • avatar
    JMII

    “Maybe see if you can do some of the work yourself with some of your Saab friends — have a big ol’ regional owners club party, buy some beer, and I guarantee you the work will be done before the night is over.”

    This. For example $600 worth of brake work seems really high. Maybe just pads and rotors? New calipers too? Got a similar estimate for my wife’s Volvo, but it turned out it only needed front pads. Real cost = $40 and an hour in the driveway with a jack and simple hand tools.

    Option #2 – my brother owns a Golf R, they are the real deal. He out runs plenty of sports cars during track days including my Z. With an ECU tune its a screamer.

    • 0 avatar
      TriumphDriver

      I’d at least contemplate the brake job as a way of saving some money.
      There is generally no shortage of advice on the Internet, some good, some questionable. Take a look at http://www.twinsaabs.com/9-5_repair/brakes/intro.asp?nsteps=5 to see if this is something you think you could tackle.
      Running older cars becomes more feasible if you can do at least some of the work yourself.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    When you really, really love a car — as it’s clear you do with this Saab — then value calculations start to look very different. You’ve already got this 9-5 exactly the way you want it. I think you’ll get more happiness out of $4500 by using it to fix up this car than you will by using it to get a different car that’s not as close to what you want.

    I’d upgrade to the 2011 car if and only if you actually like it BETTER than you did the 2001 before tune and suspension/brake/tire upgrades.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      I agree with dal. A vehicle you already have a history with is more of a known quantity than any replacement vehicle. Not to mention the emotional attachment. I speak from experience as I took a previous car from 7k miles to 227K over a period of 14 years with absolutely no regrets. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I’m with the bulk of the posts here. Seems to me you *Really* like/love this car. If so, then why get rid of it?

    The clutch I would outsource, that kind of work in my garage screams for a tow truck when I am done attempting the repair. The brakes? $600? Whoa up there a minute. Buy some pads and install them, if the car stops straight and does not make noise you are in business. I am not Saabophile, but surely pads can be procured for far less than $600.

    Oil Leak or Oil Drip? Big difference in my opinion. Next time you go to Costco, save the card board box and place neatly on the garage floor to catch the drip. Old cars drip fluids….

  • avatar
    Silence

    $4500 is nothing for a car that you’ve owned for a long time and if it’s in otherwise good running condition. I got rid of my Saab at 325k+ miles; yours is still practically new.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Bark is right. Speaking as someone who inexplicably sold my dialed-in 2004 9-5 Aero – I literally cannot remember my logic in doing so – and now regrets it on a daily basis, you would be crazy to sell it. And don’t listen to the anti-Saab interweb know-nothings with their fanny-packs and Camrys – the 9-5 is a fantastic car and well worth your efforts. And do the brakes yourself – very easy.

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      Selling a Saab is something everyone I know regrets doing.

      “anti-Saab interweb know-nothings” Ha! Those are funny, yet frustratingly ignorant.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    as a follow Saab fan I can understand your problem, I would say move on and get another Saab, newer Saabs are pretty cheap as you know and it may be worth it to upgrade years, if you plan to drive your car into the ground I can see a case for keeping it, in that case I like Barks idea of regional saab party work on my car, you do not need the clutch right away so you can save some cash there, as much as I love the new 9-5’s your rolling the dice on one, body parts are a bitch to find. With that said I am tempted to replace my VW TDI wagon with one.

  • avatar
    Chicanery

    I wouldn’t take a Saab if you gave it to me, but I do understand that whole fanboy feeling. I have it with one of my cars.

    If you think this car that you have truly is the shit for you, spend the time and money to fix and and show it some love. If you are questioning the economic intelligence of that, then consider technology improvements and which ones you like (reliability, gas mileage, on-board DVD players *eccch*)

    My favorite car is 30 years old. Doesn’t have remote keyless entry. My pickup is 4 years newer, and is an even simpler vehicle. But you know what? I can actually work on them, except for things I don’t want to do (trns/engine extraction, front end align, those kind of things). And when I get back in the driver’s seat after lovingly attending to my machine’s needs, it rewards me with more years of the same thing it was designed to do.

    You don’t need a new car for technology, in my opinion. You need a car that fits your needs and that you feel good driving. Give me a 1974 Fiat 124 Spider and I’ll be happy, but millions of other people deride my personal choice. Screw them — if you love your Saab and it’s not a rust bucket, keep it.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Instead of fixing it myself like I normally do I spent $3000 fixing up my pickup truck last year. New tires , brakes and fix some oil leaks.

    Truck is worth maybe $5500.

    Depreciation is minimal now, so if I still drive it for a couple of years why not.

    Value is not only about Blue Book.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Evidently the last 9-5 in 6 spd is a rare bird in USDM, but about 10 is all its worth. Once you break the 100K mark the value seems could dip about 30% although most of the dozen trading have not done so yet (only two have, and both were rough). If the cited example had 20K less miles it might be a buy around 11,9 retail, but at 77K even 11,9 seems like a fools errand (not to mention parts availability). If you’ve got the coin spend it I suppose but you strike me as being a regular prole like the rest of us so in your case I agree wholeheartedly with Bark.

    06/14/16 Manheim Ny Metro Skyline Regular $7,200 126,284 Below GREY 4CY A No
    06/03/16 Manheim Pennsylvania Regular $14,500 22,000 Avg BLACK 4GT A Yes
    05/23/16 Manheim North Carolina Regular $14,700 36,546 Avg SILVER 4GT A Yes
    05/04/16 Manheim Milwaukee Regular $9,100 73,525 Avg GRAY 4GT A Yes
    04/18/16 Manheim North Carolina Regular $13,100 46,537 Avg BLACK 4GT A Yes
    04/12/16 Manheim Statesville Regular $6,800 106,120 Below BROWN 4GT A Yes

    • 0 avatar

      The thing that’s appealing about the 2011 9-5 6MT is that it’s so rare. I’d be the only guy in town (or in my Saab club) with one. ORIO (formerly known as Saab Parts division) says most spares are available for most models, but the 2010+ 9-5 certainly didn’t have huge production numbers. Aside from parts availability, as you say, $14991 is totally ridiculous as a price.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You strike me as a drive it into the ground sort of fellow. We know your generation of Saab can put up high mileage and deliver a long ownership experience. We don’t know if the last 9-5 is capable of such a thing, and we also do not know what might happen if at say 150K the ’11 9-5 manual suddenly needs some sort of one off part because say the clutch is unique to Saab. Even at at 10Kish price, wouldn’t that same amount be better spent refurbishing your current Saabs than buying a whole new one?

        • 0 avatar

          It’s a very good point (and one I’m aware of) that my current 9-5 can last a very long time when properly maintained. Good point about the unknown longevity of the ’11. I do tend to keep cars a LONG time…

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        That 2.0T LHU used in the 9-5 is not tuneable by Trifecta, but is easy to find someone to tune the ECU.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      My indie mechanic told me the final 9-5 was a half-baked disaster, and anyone would have to be nuts to get into one. This was an unprompted comment, after I mentioned the brown one which was in the parking lot when I came in for a service.

      “They’re great when they’re working – but that’s not very often.”

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Thats how I’d describe most Saabs, lots of neat ideas, but often they’d get too caught up in perfecting things like “Night Panel” to notice a models underdeveloped brakes.

        Of course theres always oddballs like the 9-4x, or what is reportedly the best Saab ever the 9-2x (which is 90% rustin headgaket meltin Subaru).

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh dear, the best Saab ever is a rebadged Subaru. That’s saying something.

          I’m just realizing how many parallels there are between Saab and Lancia (and for a time with the Thema and 9000, they were the same thing).

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Corey,

            It works the other way. The best Impreza is the 9-2X. The best Trailblazer is the 9-7X.

            In terms of comfort, durability and fuel economy, it’s hard to beat a first-gen 9-5 or 9-3.

            I’ve seen those engines with a half million miles on them and no noticeable camshaft wear. A local Saab tech tells me he has never had to replace a wheel bearing or CV joint. In hindsight, they probably should have spent more on “touchable surfaces” and a bit less on mechanical stuff. Your average “premium segment lease customer” probably isn’t all that impressed by metallurgy.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, I’ve never been in a Saab where I felt the interior quality measured up to the price when new. They feel a bit “thin.” Like a new Hyundai Sonata does.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        The problem with the final 9-5 is parts availability. The production run wasn’t long enough.

        The same design has proven reliable as a Cadillac XTS.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Imagine the parts availability for the 9-4x. Those fall under unicorn status.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Corey:

            Funny you make that comparison, I recently drove a first gen 9-3 base, at just 114k miles it was rattling, goofed up info display, had records of overheating issues, hardly a solid car. Not entirely comfy and certainly not durable.

            After that it was an 03 Sonata with 146k, the Sonata was just a bit more solid if less exciting.

            Also tried a few Subarus from that time period, without 4wd these are really mediocre cars. But even then, most Subarus will out handle the pig like 9-3. Go watch Motorweeks Viggen review and witness bodyroll galore.

  • avatar
    MBella

    Whatever seal is leaking, you can probably find someone to perform the work for less. Ask around Saab forums for a recommendation from others in your area.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    If you didn’t dislike the GTI and thought it just didn’t have as much power as your tuned Saab, then think about GTI + a Tune. You will not find a bad review of what a tune will do to a GTI (other than warranty concerns). Plus VW is hurting for sales, Truecar indicates 21,761 for price on 4dr S.

  • avatar
    George B

    If it were my car, I’d install new brake pads myself, keep adding oil to replace what leaks out, and drive it until the worn clutch becomes annoying. At the point when you have to replace the clutch, sell it cheap to someone who likes Saabs with full disclosure of the oil leak.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Right, all Kevin now needs is a bit of GM-badged Opel in his life.

    Kevin, give up, move on. Just don’t get a new 328i, they suck the life out of your fingertips.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    $2400 seems high for a seal, and the description doesn’t help . The only thing between the block and head is the head gasket, which no one would call “a seal.”

    Is it the front crankshaft seal at the oil pump? I guess for that price they would be renewing the oil pump, and replacing the timing chain, idlers, tensioner and guide, and probably doing the serpentine belt and tensioner. It’s still a high price, but it will give you 15 more years on those components (except the serpentine belt which will last 5-7 years).

    If it’s a valve cover gasket, they are either ripping you off, or they are trying to get rid of you as a customer.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      The Saab 2.3 engine has a tendency to develop an oil leak on the left front corner of the engine since the head bolts will loosen up in that area. Retorquing, or better yet, replacing, the bolts will frequently fix this problem. (They can be retorqued or replaced one at a time without removing the cylinder head. Just follow the regular torquing sequence.)

      Of course it could also be the cam cover gasket or maybe the front oil seal or oil pump o-ring is leaking and spraying. All these are easy, inexpensive fixes.

      It really sounds like aside from the clutch the car doesn’t need much. Brake parts are cheap and easy to replace. Clutch replacement I’d probably leave to a shop since it would probably involve having to drop the transmission.

      Biggest problem with the pre-2004 9-5s is the 2.3 had an inadequate PCV system for the low-tension rings used so the earlier models had bad sludging problems if oil was not change religiously with synthetic. A kit is available to update the PCV system.

      If you’re going to get rid of the car sounds like it would be a good deal for a Saab fan who does his or her own wrenching.

    • 0 avatar
      Zelgadis

      It makes sense as a head gasket, yes. The repair price is right for that too. That’s precisely what happened to mine, though I paid less for the head gasket replacement… in Canadian dollars, even. Shop that repair around.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, that sounds like the repair, and it DID include replacing the timing chain, tensioners, etc. This is my local independent Saab shop, I trust them, and they price their repairs fairly in my experience.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        I’ve seen Saabs go 300,000 miles and more on their original timing chains, probably that’s a “while we’re in there” addition if the repair is the head gasket, and it probably makes sense. If you do your own work the retorque might well fix the oil leak problem, but a shop that has to guarantee the job can’t really go there.

        I would definitely have that engine checked for sludge issues before sinking any money in it, but if you have a reliable Saab shop they’ll already know about that. (It’s possible the PCV system has already been upgraded.) If sludge-free I’d expect that engine to be good for at least another 100,000 miles if not 200,000.

        Another thing to consider is the fuel pump is getting near the end of its expected service life if it’s the original. I’m pretty sure your car has an access panel in the trunk for this which makes it a pretty easy repair.

        The DI (direct ignition) cassette is also a wear item that may need replacing relatively soon if it’s original.

        None of these things are really that bad if you do your own repairs but at a shop the bills can start adding up pretty quickly.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve updated the PCV a number of years ago, and have changed the oil very regularly for 15 years, so I’m not losing any sleep over the worry of sludging in my 9-5. I do know the fuel pump is accessed via an access panel under the rear seat.

          It’s good info about replacing the head bolts. And the timing chain/related parts were totally a “while we’re in there” addition.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Sound like you’re in pretty good shape if you decide to keep the car, or if you sell someone’s going to get themselves a nice ride that just needs some TLC.

            Here’s a video on doing the head bolt retorque on a first-gen Saab 9-3. The procedure would be the same on a 9-5:

            My only criticism of the video is that a Saab service bulletin issued on this topic in 1996 changed the torque setting required to a 3-step procedure. So you’d first loosen or remove/replace each bolt one at a time and tighten to 30 ft-lb following the torque sequence. That looks like the following when facing the front of the car, with the timing chain to your left:

            8 – 4 – 1 – 5 – 9

            7 – 3 – 2 – 6 – 10

            Then go around in sequence again and tighten to 44 ft-lb. Then go around once again and tighten an additional 90 degrees for the final stretch.

            I did this on a Saab 9000 years ago and it worked great, no more oil leak. I did replace the bolts since they are “torque to yield” type that stretch and reusing them is a controversial topic. A new set only costs about $30 and the consequences of breaking a used head bolt can be a real PITA.

    • 0 avatar
      albert

      I also tipped the leaking head gasket. Then I sent the article to my SAAB dealer, who came to the same conclusion. He offers to do a new gasket for around $1.000. But you have to bring the car to the Netherlands first :-)
      American mechanics probably think that SAAB owners can spend some money.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I understand the love of the Saab, but your rational mind may want to take your emotional mind outside for a heart to heart.

    Here’s the issue: Is this the beginning of pricey repairs or do you believe there may be some unexpected ones in the next year or two?

    Window lifts, shocks/springs, electrical gremlins, AC/cooling system issues, various hoses and belts, etc. On their own, these are manageable, but if 2 or more hit at one time, it’s a big expense.

    A 15 year old Saab with 118k miles.

    Then think about that Golf R again. Or the Polestar.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the exact reason I asked Bark… my rational mind and my emotional one have been wrestling with this question for months!

      • 0 avatar
        TriumphDriver

        Your emotional mind can tell your rational mind that money can always be replaced with a bit of work. Your car is gone for good once you sell.

        I’m doing a far more irrational thing than you are contemplating by rebuilding my 1980 MGB. It makes no rational sense whatsoever since I could (and in fact did) buy another rubber bumper MGB for less. But the car I am rebuilding took me to every one of the 48 continental states and was a reliable daily driver for years. The only major repair was a clutch change that I did one weekend with my daughter’s help.

        My rational mind was routed on that discussion.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Always shop around for car repair, especially for something quoted so high.

    Case in point – today my wife finally was able to bring in her 80k miles MY03 Mini Cooper S into the dealer for a steering pump recall.

    They also did a check of everything, and wanted an additional $1100 to replace the front bushings.

    I remembered our local tire place doing the same thing for my now departed BMW 325i – for only $300. The same place said they would do the Mini for $500. That’s a heck of a saving compared to what the dealership was asking.

    The Mini is getting long in the tooth at 13 years old and will eventually become a garage queen. I would be up for selling it but my wife has become quite attached to the little thing. Not a rational decision buy hey…

  • avatar

    Clutch, brakes, tires, wiper blades, filters are consumables that need to be replaced on any vehicle.

    Keep your current Saab, make sure you get what you invest into it out of the the vehicle before replacing it at some point.

    It has a 2,400 oil leak, as a Saab expert you should be in a good position to know if its a reasonable price to repair the oil leak.

    Spending money on older cars is part of the ownership experience where it almost no longer makes sense, but it does because you like the car.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Building a car (or ANYTHING) to your individual tastes is immensely satisfying. I highly recommend it. Every time I look at my car I smirk and nearly every time I drive it I smile. With what I have planned it’s only going to get better and better.

    Personally I would go all out with the Saab thing and try and get either the 9-3 with the turbo V6 and “X”WD or one of the last 9-5s.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      sporty ,
      The 9-3 w AWD and turbo v6 is a crap shoot, I have not heard great things about them, so unless you really needed AWD I would pass on them.

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        Having had a 9-3 Aero with the V6 and the AWD, I would agree. Repairs are expensive on these, and shoehorning the V6 into that engine compartment means you have to deal with all sorts of potential issues with heat frying the nearby non-engine components.

        Unless you must have AWD and that V6 feel, the 2.0 four has decent performance and (in our experience) great reliability. And FWD Saabs will get you through a lot of bad weather without the complexity.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I just replaced a cam seal on a 01 volvo xc wagon, new cam seal, new water pump, new timing belt , $1300 at a indie in metro NY, $2400 seems high. I have a Saab 9-3 vert a Volvo xc wagon and a VW ( but not GTI) wagon, the volvo is the closest you will get to the feel of your Saab, great seats, solid doors just a overall solid car like the saab, I am sure the R or GTI drives better on the curves but it will not feel as solid as the swedes.

  • avatar
    firebert

    A common oil leak on these cars as they age is the crankshaft FRONT seal and/or oil pump o-ring. I just did one on my Saab. All that needs to come off to replace it is the oil pump pulley, which is one bolt. Since the leak is proximal to a spinning pulley, when it gets bad it sprays oil all over the timing cover making a godawful mess, which may be why all your mechanic could say about was that it’s coming from “somewhere behind the timing cover”. Because the whole timing cover looked like it was leaking.

    If that’s what is it (and I’m just guessing, but “just guessing” sounds kind of like that’s what your mechanic’s doing, too) it should be an hour or two of labor (DIY or otherwise) and $15 worth of rubber. Not $2,400 and digging around inside your timing cover.

    As for clutch and brakes, those are maintenance items, not repair. So my advice before you get rid of the car is at least make sure that $2,400 repair isn’t a $200 repair. I love Saabs and I’d hate to see one taken off the road before its time.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    So, I owned an ’02 version of this car with an autobox from new until 2013. About 115,000 miles. The main oil seal failure existed on my car too, although the leakage was not dramatic. The high price for the repair has to do with the labor associated with accessing a transversely mounted engine in a fairly tight engine compartment. Ditto for the clutch replacement. The independent shop favored by the Saabistas quoted a similar price for the seal fix. In my experience they were fair and did quality work, so I would trust that price ( although I elected not todo the repair).
    Other failures on my car during my time of ownership: alternator, starter, water pump, in-tank fuel pump, gas tank baffles coming loose (interfering with fuel gauge sender). The ignition cassette failed in my first week of ownership, but the replacement was reliable.
    The brakes are a DIY proposition. I replaced pads and rebuilt calipers on my Z3, adding new Brembo discs for much less and a few hours of my time.
    If the choice is between fixing and keeping an old car you have owned since new and replacing it with another car of similar age, I would favor keeping the car I owned.

    • 0 avatar
      Zelgadis

      That was a good read. I have a 2007 9-5 approaching the 160,000 km mark. I’ve done the head gasket and seal, fuel pump, and alternator already. I’ve not had an issue with my starter or water pump yet. Perhaps Saab either fixed those issues or that’s what’s going to hit me next. Good to know. :)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This is a time when grey imports should be allowed in the US. Again, a restrictive market. This article is for the dreamers. Grey imports are great for enthusiasts and creating employment for specialists to maintain and work on the vehicles.

    This would have to be the nicest, economical wagon in the EU at the moment. TTAC this have an article on Skoda here a couple of weeks ago.

    Back in 2008 I seriously considered a Skoda Superb Wagon. It has a Golf R engine and cover the 0-100kph in 5.8 seconds and AWD to put the power down. Oh, the Superb Wagon I looked at had the V6 VW engine.

    This vehicle would be a nice addition to add to the list of vehicle that should be made available to the US.

    Just a dream.

    http://www.caradvice.com.au/429301/2016-skoda-superb-wagon-review/

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Grey imports are great for enthusiasts ”

      Enthusiasts don’t matter. full stop.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Grey imports are allowed, as long as they comply with US regulations.

      This limits the pool to Canadian-market cars, mostly, plus some exotics, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t try to get something else in.

      Obviously, getting Aussie diesels to comply would be futile, but something like the Superb could be done, since it’s a close cousin to cars we already get.

      You need to ask yourself if it’s worthwhile, compared to just importing the bumper and grille and fitting them to a US-sourced Audi or VW. Lots of people do exactly that, applying JDM badges on US-market cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        heavy handle,
        If a car is not sold in the USA you can not grey import the vehicle until it is 25 years old.

        You will not be able to grey import this Skoda Superb. The new Skoda Superb diesel we have might meet US diesel emission standards. I’m not stating they do.

        As for the diesel comment, I do believe some new Euro VI diesels will meet US emission standards.

        Cars and passenger vehicles sold in Australia must meet Euro VI. The odd thing is US diesels are actually emit too much CO2 to meet Euro VI.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Big Al,

          The 25 year rule applies to vehicles that do not conform to safety and emissions regulations. If you can prove that your car does comply, you are in.

          Of course, that’s a costly enterprise for a one-off. Fact is, most cars that aren’t sold in the US probably don’t meet US safety regs, except maybe Renault, Peugeot and the VW off-brands.
          Grey market cars used to be fairly popular in the US in the 1980s. The reason why they aren’t now is that car are cheaper to buy in the US than almost anywhere else, so there’s no money to be made.

  • avatar
    claytori

    Disclosure – I am a Saab fan – 2005 9-5 Wagon AT 306,000km. However, I can look at the 2001 9-5 problem for reasonableness. The oil leak requiring a seal to be changed underneath the timing cover doesn’t pass the sniff test. The TC is oil lubricated. The cover retains the oil. The only thing in that area to leak is the front crankshaft seal, an easy fix. There are also some seals for the oil cooler lines and maybe the power steering cooler has a rust hole. All pretty easy. Yes, the clutch is a couple grand to do. Parts for these cars are readily available as the Saab Parts organization didn’t go bankrupt. Parts are now cheaper than when GM/Saab was distributing them. There is some indication that Saabs will start to appreciate in value.
    Did you post this oil leak issue on a Saab forum?

    • 0 avatar
      Zelgadis

      Bit of a head-scratcher here. I had a similar issue with my 2007 9-5, but with me, it was the head gasket going bad. That would make sense at $2400. No other seal would cost that much.

      Since the head gasket replacement, I can say that the car has been quite trouble-free since. Fingers crossed that it stays that way for awhile, at least.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Go get a decent Saab 9-2X if you really, really still need a Saab, or a 9-4X, pick one and ditch the 9-5.

    I know what its like to fall in love with a car, but like a fine woman, you cant have them picking your wallet dry.

  • avatar
    montecarl

    The last 9/5 would be a good choice if the price would come down a little more..You don’t see many around…Just a nice looking car..

  • avatar
    PolestarBlueCobalt

    I feel you,Kevein, I am now the owner of many Saabs. A 9-3 Viggen is my DD, and it’s been very dependable, fun, and I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like it.

    Stay with a Saab, you will not regret it. I’ve gone to the Japanese, the Germans, the Americans for cars, all of which I loved in theri own way, but have come back to a Saab every time. You’ll regret selling it.

  • avatar
    txsaabstory

    Dude. You need to buck up and get greasy and fix this thing yourself. I am currently rebuilding an engine for a 2003 9-5 Aero and it’s been an absolute blast. I’ve never rebuilt an engine before this one. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    These cars are special. They are engineered unlike anything I’ve ever worked on. Reliable beyond compare given the performance. A 2003 car turning out 250hp factory stock from a 2.3L I-4 is still a big deal.

    I just got done working on a 2008 328i. It has 56k and already had a valve cover gasket leak, oil filter housing leak, the rear main seal leaks, and it probably needs a center support bearing for the drive shaft. Trash.

    Fix the Saab it yourself and pocket the difference. Take the opportunity to make it your own and never get rid of it!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Dude. You need to buck up and get greasy and fix this thing yourself. I am currently rebuilding an engine for a 2003 9-5 Aero and it’s been an absolute blast. I’ve never rebuilt an engine before this one. Nothing ventured nothing gained.”

      LOL.

      “These cars are special.”

      LOL.

      “They are engineered unlike anything I’ve ever worked on.”

      LOL.

      “Reliable beyond compare given the performance.”

      f-ing LOL.

      “A 2003 car turning out 250hp factory stock from a 2.3L I-4 is still a big deal.”

      LOL.

      “Fix the Saab it yourself and pocket the difference. Take the opportunity to make it your own and never get rid of it!”

      Any “difference” won’t stay in his pocket for long after acquiring the tools to fix it himself.

      “Dude.”

      Do you even lift, bro?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Hed save money fixing it himself, but he’d lose quite a bit of irreplaceable time.

        • 0 avatar
          txsaabstory

          “Hed save money fixing it himself, but he’d lose quite a bit of irreplaceable time.”

          Not going to argue that point. Time is also money. I’ve spent a ton of time working on this car. A lot.

          Yet to me, it has ultimately been worth it. Before this car I had never rebuilt an engine. Learned a ton, all relevant info for any modern engine (DOHC multivalve turbocharged FI direct ignition blablabla).

          It’s a great feeling!

      • 0 avatar
        PolestarBlueCobalt

        Says the inbred old hag with an angry bird thumbnail picture.

        What are you doing on a car site, when you have zero clue what you spout 90% of the time? I haven’t read a semi-intelligent comment from you in a LONG time, no matter the subject. I’d love to see your Prius, or whatever sleeping-pill an inadequate person like you drives.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @JimZ

        PMS today?

      • 0 avatar
        txsaabstory

        I don’t lift. I just talk on a blog like I’d talk to him in person.

        “Any “difference” won’t stay in his pocket for long after acquiring the tools to fix it himself.”

        How do you figure? I’m fixing the Saab with about $200-$300 worth of tools. Oh and I bought an engine stand on Craigslist used for $40. Oooo I’m really breaking the bank. He quoted what, $4k for all the work? Your math sucks.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Most 15-year-old cars are basket cases because the previous owner(s) stopped fixing things that weren’t critical to keeping it running. Kevin’s car is in good shape. It may very well be in better shape than the 5-year-old one on the used car lot.

    There are two problems with sinking big money into an old car that has no collector value. The more obvious one is that there will be more problems in the future. The less obvious one is that its value to you is much greater than its book value. If someone wrecks it for you, you will only get the latter. You will lose the money you invested in maintaining it better than a typical example of the same age.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    You’ve got the appliance (Flex), so this is about car love.

    So assuming that there is some money in the “toy” budget, buy the 2011 Saab you’re looking at, and hang on for 10 fun-filled years, even if you end up spending some money on it.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    We had a 2004 9-5 wagon (base trim) that served us extremely well/reliably and was still going strong at 177k miles when a cement truck backed over its front end in traffic. I found many of the systems on it were DIY-able, such as the brakes, and without need for exotic tools like some of the German cars.

    That said, the resale value meant that we didn’t get much for the car after it was totaled by that cement company truck–it was worth far more to us as a safe, reliable Euro-wagon than the “market” says it is. That is one consideration you’d have to take in when making your calculation.

    My daily driver is an older gen 9-3 (2002, the last of the old liftback style cars) with 214k miles, still running and looking great. But I dread the day when some idiot T-bones it or slams into its rear end while texting, as there are fewer of us on the road. But IMO if you still like the car, it’s still worth the risk.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    Good news, everybody. This is a California car and therefore The Demon Salt has not started its Life Remaining clock to ticking. Rebuild on!

    Bad news, everybody. Since the early ’90s, cars are built as disposable transportation appliances. My ’76 VW can be rebuilt as many times as I have the patience to do so. Probably the same is true with a ’76 SAAB. But a car built in the last 20 years? tick tick tick…..

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Good news everybody, your 2001 Camry wont require frequent rebuilding like an old VW Golf!

      btw Dont 76 Saabs have the engine mounted backward? Making belt access hard?

      • 0 avatar
        Testacles Megalos

        not a golf, a 2L bus. Most complicated bit was making the quantum leap from carbs on previous cars to FI. Got that one figured.

        other than the perception of creature comforts, what new cars offer is a lack of need for weekly mechanical attention. Old cars don’t often need rebuilding and repair AS LONG AS you spend an hour or so on the weekend checking, cleaning, and making every minor repair needed as they arise. The difference is, unless it rusts out, I’ll keep my bus on the road long after all the 2001 Camrys have been recycled. (Well, with billions and billions of Camrys that might not really be true).

        The attention old cars regularly require really isn’t much time, but it’s the kind of time that some of us enjoy but others find irritating. Good for them, that’s why appliances like the Camry are needed.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I did the whole old car thing before, 1975 VW Bug, no AC for summer, atrocious heater, no power…and I dont have to comment on safety.

          Fun? Yea when it worked, not fun when it’d stall out on a rainy day.

  • avatar
    marmot

    For that leaking seal, have him try AT205 Reseal.

  • avatar
    DrSandman

    Dude – are you the alter-me?

    My 6’4″ frame and tall kids fit nicely (but snugly) into my 9-5. A recent oil leak had me contemplating another car. Turned out it was just a kinked PCV-tube — a $50 part and $950 in labor repair later, and it’s back to golden. Had the 100k rear shocks replaced at the same time. Crap, that was expensive!

    Then I sat in the perfect driver’s seat. And I revved the 2.3T (and it burped, farted, whooted, and whistled). No other car gives me the satisfaction of the Saab. And I can’t get anything for the $4500 it’s worth on a trade…

    Someday, I will have a BMW Wagon that will replace my winter Jeep and my Saab. But until it can’t be repaired reasonably anymore (i.e., $500/month in maintenance, which is the payment on a note for me…), I’m keeping my 9-5.

  • avatar
    Autoboy

    I have a 2008 9-5, which I absolutely love. I was searching for a used car in early 2014. I found a one ow error 9-5 with 61,450 on the clock. It now has 82,000 miles. All maintenance he been preventative.

    I was looking specifically for an 08-09, on the recommendation of my SAAB-only mechanic. I had it in the budget to buy a 2011, but was worried about parts. Plus it’s basically a Buick LaCrosse.

    I went into the 9-5 knowing that resale value meant nothing. I was looking for a car that looked good, comfortable, safe, quick and reliable. It hasn’t let me down. I expect to get 200,000+ miles out of it. History says that the Mitsubishi TD04 turbo and timing chain last over 200,000 miles.

    I just replaced my front rotors and pads…$320 for Zimmerman, Akebono and labor. Also had to replace my mid flex tube…$150 including labor. All of these are normal maintenance items…and will be good for another 75,000 miles.

    Whenever I get into the 9-5, it puts a smile on my face. That turbo is intoxicating.

    Good luck with a Volvo, BMW, Mercedes, or Audi out of warranty. They will make your $4,500 seem like chump change.

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