Although the eccentric Swedish brand is no longer with us, its cult fanbase remains devoted as ever. Saabs are beloved by many for their quirky appearances, unique features, and stubborn reliability.
However, even the toughest cars have their bad days, so how big of a financial effect does a Saab have when something goes wrong?
Are Saabs Expensive to Fix?
Despite Saab being a dead brand, its cars aren’t that costly to fix. The average annual repair price is $282. That’s because Saab cars are dutifully reliable since they’re well made to handle their native Sweden’s harsh winters. It’s why Sweden is almost famous for producing highly safe and very durable cars.
Secondly though is that their former parent company, General Motors, kept plenty of spare parts, a practice many carmakers follow. Saab cars made under GM ownership shared a lot of parts that also belonged to other brands, particularly Opel.
Overall, Saab owners are normally quite happy with their set of wheels. The fact that, say, a 9-3 saloon will likely be cheaper than rival cars to repair probably has something to do with it.
Also read: Are Saabs Good Cars? Should I Avoid Them?
What are the Most Common Saab Problems?
The most common Saab problems are bulkhead fracturing, failing inlet manifold swirl flaps, and oil sludging
Although they all share the same badge, each Saab car has its own set of possible issues, so we’ll go over the more popular vehicles. First-generation 9-3s, for example, can suffer from bulkhead fracturing, the 2.2 diesel engine use up quite a bit of oil and the convertible’s lack of rigidity causes irritating scuttle-shake (i.e. a bad vibration when on the move).
The second-generation 9-3 also has a few troubles you will want to be aware of. The 1.9 diesel, when working properly, is a fairly nice engine, but it can suffer from failing inlet manifold swirl flaps and timing belts breaking. The latter is mostly thanks to a seized water pump.
Saab 9-5s will need looking after when it comes to oil, specifically on four-cylinder cars that used the old B205 and B235 engines as oil sludging is an issue. Cars from 2004 and onwards had it rectified though. Any 9-5s from before then should have an oil change every 6,000 miles.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix Saab Problems?
Fortunately not as much as you would first assume from a bygone, niche brand.
The usual repair and maintenance costs for Saab cars are between $80 and $6950 with the average sitting around $282, but a well cared for model should see even lower margins. On the whole, a Saab is actually cheaper to fix than the German cars they were meant to face off against.
Don’t forget though, this is a higher market brand I’m talking about, so while it’s cheaper than cars like it to fix, it’s not entirely cheap to fix in general. Smaller, less luxurious cars will cost notably less to repair and run, so it’s all relative. If you’re in the market for more premium cars though, Saabs stand as one of the financially friendly options.
Is it Easy to Find Replacement Saab Parts?
You would think a dead carmaker’s products would have parts that are hard to come by these days, but you’d be wrong.
If you own a GM-era Saab, then getting your hands on replacement parts won’t be much trouble. A lot of them are parts shared with Opel cars, so there’s a plentiful supply.
Of course, keeping in mind Saab made a good few parts bespoke for its cars, which might be tougher to find. Fortunately, there are suppliers that can lend a hand, so owning a modern Saab isn’t going to involve much component hunting.
For older Saab though, like the 900 and 9000, parts aren’t quite as numerous. There are fewer places that offer such replacements, but don’t let that discourage you. The original 900 is one of the most popular classic Saabs and with more than a million of them made, components can still be found.
What are the Total Costs of Maintaining a Saab?
Average annual maintenance costs hover around $908 for Saabs. The good news is you will likely not pay as much, so long as the car in question hasn’t been poorly cared for. What’s more is that while Saabs are an out of left field choice, they are not some obscure bunch of costly runabouts.
An interesting detail to also be aware of is the average servicing distance. Most manufacturers always recommend a service every 12,000 miles, but, for a Saab, the advice is for every 18,000 miles. Obviously, this very well reflects the engineering fortitude that almost every Saab possesses.
Which Saab Model is Most Reliable?
All Saab cars will happily last a long time. Their habit of being over-engineered has allowed for some impressive lifespans that come with few faults. The 9-3 has left owners a happy bunch for not leaving vast repair bills, but it’s not just modern cars that don’t break down.
Much older cars, like the 900, are still wonderfully durable. Just be careful of the 900 Turbo models as they may have gone through a lot of overly exuberant driving, putting on some mechanical strain. The 99 is also well known for its toughness with build quality that was so robust it’s been said you could tow one out of a ditch by its door handle!
Whether you’re in the market for a newer Saab or a classic, they’re all put together robustly. As I stated earlier, there are a few problems to keep an eye out for, but, aside from that, they’re good at taking up the miles without any bumps along the way.
What Saab Engines are the Most Reliable?
Although most of the engines in Saab’s catalogue are all fairly sturdy, a few stick out as the best choices, such as the 8-valve 1.9 turbo diesel found on the 9-3. Another one to consider is the twin-turbo 16-valve diesel engines. Petrol engines are also good on the 9-3 as they belonged to the Opel’s Ecotec line, which soaked up the miles.
Older engines must also be mentioned. The inline four-cylinder Saab B engine helped propel the 99 and 900 to be some of the best high mileage performers out there. Impressive, considering the fact the engine started out as a very unreliable Triumph engine.
Saab’s talent at both durable construction and long history of turbocharging help ensured most engines in their cars, even when they were not of the Swedish manufacturer’s own design, weren’t going to give up the ghost in little time. In some cases, they even perfected them.
Is it Worth it to Buy a Saab?
Cars may no longer roll out of their factory in Trollhattan, but owning a Saab is still worth it. They remain off-beat, but highly comfortable cruisers that are also the result of a fierce determination towards safety. Following in Volvo’s footsteps (or wheel tracks in this case!), Saab put great focus on making their cars safe and even innovated a few features.
A unique trait of Saabs is their ignition key being placed between the front seats. This had a purpose as it meant drivers wouldn’t seriously hurt their knees in a collision. In 1997 they introduced the SAHR or Saab Active Head Rest. The device was meant to stop whiplash during crashes.
A Saab might not have the intuitive handling of a BMW or the luxury of a Mercedes, but their own special features justify themselves as a very worthy and inexpensive premium car to own.
I hope you found this guide helpful. To many, Saab is an oddball brand that’s a bit of an unknown, especially these days with no new cars being made. This obscurity would make many believe them to be an expensive fix when things go wrong, but really they would have little to fear.
Whether it’s a car as new as a 9-3 or as old as a 900, they prove to be exceptionally constructed and at times even cheaper to buy and run than the German machines they were meant to combat. Parts remain simple to track down and owners clubs can be very helpful in offering tips and means to find specific components.
In all fairness, these are not the biggest bargain cars to purchase and own, but for those wanting something both durable and opulent without putting too much strain on their bank balance then a Saab is quite a good choice.