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Are Saabs Good Cars? (A Misunderstood Scandinavian Classic)

Are Saabs Good Cars

Saabs are revered for their comfort, performance, aerodynamics and safety.

After all they’re made by the same country that brought us the Volvo and all its advanced safety features.

One reason why Saabs get second guessed is due to their prima donna nature.

These are very advanced cars which means that when a check engine light comes on, a Saab won’t be as forgiving as a Honda or Toyota and requires immediate attention.

Saabs are built so that each system relies on other systems to work properly. But that doesn’t make them bad cars. Here are nine reasons why Saabs are good cars.

Are Saabs Reliable?

Saabs can be reliable. But like every car brand they have issues that are unique to them.

While Saabs are cars with generally high reliability ratings, every car brand has its particular issues.

The best way to think about Saab engineering is that every system is connected to every other system.

With that in mind, the three main issues common to all Saabs are related to the ignition, coolant loss and oil leaks.

First, the ignition coils are part of the ignition system responsible for amplifying a Saab’s low battery voltage.

Driving with bad ignition coils over time can damage the engine or catalytic converter.

Second, the models with a 2.0-liter engine can become low on engine coolant even without any obvious signs of a leak.

And third, engine oil leaks are often the result of an oil pressure sensor that’s gone bad. Many times, they’re misdiagnosed as a defective crankcase breather box.

How Many Miles Do Saabs Last?

A Saab can last as long as a Honda or Toyota depending on maintenance.

While there are some Saab unique aspects to owning a car from this brand, Saabs are otherwise good cars.

The secret to the longevity of any car is in the maintenance. As such, a well-maintained Saab can easily see 200K to 300K miles.

Considering an annual mileage of 15,000 a Saab can last you for 20 trouble free years. A secret to reaching this lofty high mileage milestone is using synthetic oil.

Most European cars here in the U.S. require synthetic oil to keep the engine properly lubricated, especially if you buy them used.

Best Year for a Saab

In its eighty-year run, Saab built some of the most unique forward-thinking cars in the world. Below are the most popular Saabs of all time along with the dates in which they were produced.

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Saab 99 Turbo (1968 to 1984): As the world’s first successful turbocharged car, the 99 Turbo was important for Saab. The Scandinavian company used the 99 Turbo to prove that you can combine practicality with performance.

Saab 900 Turbo (1978 to 1998): When this car was introduced, it was the first mainstream turbocharged car with a double wishbone suspension. And in 1985 it received a new 16 valve head for the turbo DOHC engine.

Saab 9000 (1984 to 1998): When this car was introduced into the U.S. it competed against other performance sedans like the BMW M5, Ford Taurus SHO and Infiniti Q45. And the interior was just as luxurious a place to be.

Saab 9-3 (1998 to 2003): In my opinion the Saab 9-3 is one of the most attractive looking Saabs, even more attractive than the bigger 9-5. And more reliable (partially because it has less features). It competed against the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.

Saab 9-2X (2005 to 2006): Although it’s one of the most compromised Saabs on the list considering that it was built when Saab was owned by GM who turned over the engineering of this car to Subaru. The 9-2X is nevertheless one of the more reliable Saabs on the market.

Are Saabs Expensive to Fix?

Saabs cost about as much to own as a BMW.

According to Repair Pal, Saabs have an annual average maintenance cost of $908 per year which is just a little less than the repair costs of a BMW.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a Saab, you’ll do well to look for one with full-service records – it’s almost always worth getting a mechanic’s second opinion.

The bad news is that even a small accident will result in an insurance company declaring these cars totaled.

But if you’re resourceful, you can easily find parts at more exotic places like a junk yard for a fraction of the price it would have cost to fix the car when new.

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Are Saabs Rare?

Saabs like the 9-3 X and 99 Turbo are likely to go up in value.

As Saabs fade from the roads into our collective memory, with each passing year there are fewer and fewer examples to choose from.

Even more rare are one of kind Saabs like the 9-3 Turbo X. Will Saabs be rare enough to become classics? Time will tell.

These cars sit in a rarified position in the automotive pantheon as cars that while mass produced aren’t that common, at least in the U.S.

They’re quirkiness has lent them a cult following. I’ve seen models like the 99 Turbo go up for auction.

To my mind the ones that will reach classic status will be the ones built before GM’s acquisition. But that remains to be seen.

No matter what happens in the future no one can doubt the uniqueness of these cars.

Why Are Saabs So Cheap?

You can get a decent Saab for not that much money right now.

But that quirkiness is one of the reasons why Saabs historically haven’t had good resale value.

The uniqueness of a Saab is polarizing – you either love it or hate it. That and their mass market production numbers makes it hard to command a premium.

Which is why it’s not uncommon to find a perfectly good used Saab on Cargurus.com for less than $5,000.

Depending on your position about Saabs, they’re one of the best bangs for your buck in the used car market, however.

And now, a word of caution: I’ve owned a used car with a turbo. And if the reliability of a used car is important to you.

Then I would advise against picking a used Saab with a turbo unless you know your way around cars, or you have deep pockets.

Can You Still Get Parts for a Saab?

There are companies out there that specialize in Saab parts.

Another thing that makes it difficult to pull the trigger on the prospect of becoming the owner of a Saab is the availability of parts.

While you still can get parts for Saabs, acquiring them can be challenging if not costly.

But companies like AdvancedAuto are working to provide parts for your Saab. They advertise having close to 8,449 Saab parts available.

SaabParts is another such company billing themselves as an exclusive supplier of Saab original parts and an authorized service center.

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Now if you live in Europe specifically Sweden where these cars are plentiful, parts are going to be much easier to come by.

Are Saabs Good on Gas?

Since Saabs are high-end performance cars, the MPG reflects that.

Part of a Saabs prima donna nature lies in the fact that these are premium vehicles.

And like most European cars, they require high-octane fuel to run at their optimal best.

Not to mention the fact that the performance models often come with a turbocharged engine which requires higher octane.

I lent a friend that turbocharged car I mentioned, and he made the mistake of filing up with cheap gasoline.

The engine ran rough until the cheap gas purged itself out of the engine. The good news is this isn’t an issue for modern turbo engines.

The average miles per gallon for any Saab regardless of year is between 18 city and 26 highway.

Why Did Saab Go Out of Business?

The automotive arm of Saab closed its doors on December 2011.

Now is time to attack the big question that’s been on your mind. Saab like BMW was an aviation company that took to producing cars in 1949.

Those aircraft influences made it into the design of each automotive model they introduced. Although Saab as a motor company closed its doors in 2011.

Saab as a defense and security business is still very much alive and well.

Although most people only recognize Saab as being owned by GM (General Motors) since 2000.

The fact is GM has had a 50% stake in Saab since Saab’s merger with Scania ended in 1989 – Saabs haven’t been made by Saab for over 20 years.

As you know, GM began having its own issues which led to the demise of many nameplates of which Saab was a casualty.

Regrettably, Saab’s automotive division was forced to file bankruptcy in December 2011.

Sources:

Getjerry.com; Wheelsjoint.com; Atlanticmotorcar.com; Myvehicletalk.com; Saab.com; Roadandtrack.com