We've had our 2001 Saab 9-3 for 10 years now, and recently thought about saying good-bye. It's worth about $1500 to a private party, but it's way more more car than that!
The truth, as I see it is this: If you have a mechanic who knows Saabs, owns the right equipment, and understands how to fix them, you are good-to-go. We are lucky to have Ray and Rich at Auto Works of Knoxville in our area. Ray bought all the right equipment to service Saabs years ago, and customers come from as far as St. Louis, MO to have their Saabs worked on here. Ray and Rich know these cars and keep us up and running.
Saabs are Saabs...quirky and sometimes frustrating to own. Ours, we call her "Sadie", will suddenly decided she's going to turn on the check engine light and stay in second gear. The fix is a reset with a code reader. Works great for six months, then she does it again.
Then about every two years, she'll just stop running at a stop sign. Suddenly starts idling rough and shuts down. Solution? Rich cleans the throttle body and resets the computer. "The next time, though, the throttle body will need replacement" says he. Ray says we can still keep driving her, he can still get parts, and anticipates he will be able to for years to come.
Stellar performance, especially from a car valued at $1500....Oh yeah, we spent $600 last year to fix a tiny, flimsy switch that lets the top go down successfully. You have to be able to cuss in Swedish to get your fingers in the place this thing goes, and the flimsy switch is replaced by another...flimsy switch. But hey, it still works and is fun. "That's cool!" observes our Grandson Sam as he watches the top cycle.
going strong after 191000 miles, fun to drive and amazing capacity.The turbocharged engine makes things fun and it is amazing in the snow. Now for the down sides it feels like I am playing wack a mole with all the problems maybe its just the fact it is an old car at this point. I would consider it decently reliable but, the parts feel like there unnecessary expensive compared to cars of the same size. Good car could be better though. if given the decision I would pass considering the company is out of business and there isn't much of a scrap Saab base to scavenge parts.
If you're thinking about buying a 9-3 Hatchback: don't think twice, just walk away. If you work on your vehicles yourself you'll end up tearing your hair out because everything in the engine compartment is so poorly planned, parts are hard to find and expensive. Good luck finding a mechanic that will touch it. I bought this car 2 years ago and have had nothing but problems for the last year and a half (and it's been well taken care of). There are so many people saying they're happy I felt it necessary to share my absolutely terrible experience with this car. I find it no surprise Saab isn't around anymore.
I do like the central ignition and window controls, and the info display is handy as well.
I am the original owner. The car now has 132000 miles on it. Two years ago, in the winter, I drove it ALONE 4545 miles from Charlotte NC to Anchorage Alaska and that includes driving the Alcan Highway and then repeating the journey back home 6 months later. I now have driven it 2768 miles across country to Portland. This car never even "burped". I love this car. If I had any complaint, it would be the SID's pixels going out.
This car worked perfectly for me and I loved everything about it. It had good power, fuel economy, lots of cargo space, I like the way it looked and drove. I bought it used with about 57000 miles and in the four years I owned it I had to replace the turbo, throttle body, and timing chain to the tune of about $3k total. Then one month before I would have paid it off cylinder no.2 overheated, causing the piston rings to go. The engine was destroyed. The SAAB shop I was dealing with said a used motor installed would have cost almost $4k. I liked everything about the car except the reliability wasn't there and its very expensive to fix. SAABs were good in the early 90's, not anymore.
Turbo motor has great power while still getting 30+mpg highway. Hatchback body style combined with fold down rear seats makes the car into a small truck.
Turbo motor is notoriously prone to failure due mostly to oil sludge issues among other things. Goes through headlights faster than any car I've had even with the daytime running lights disabled. SAAB information display (SID) screen poorly engineered and manufactured.