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18 Posts
Saab 9-3 2.0t SE convertible 2001.

The list of repairs are extensive:
- New lower engine
- New turbo
- New Direct Ingnition Cartridge
- New clutch (well, whilst the engine was out, why not?)
- New Cat

Ongoing issues:
- Airbag light resulting from loose connection in the wiring loom under the passenger seat - does anyone have any DIY resolutions to this? Saab main dealers were not able to fix this.

- SID - display issues (fixed twice, but pixels starting to disappear again) and am sourcing a new replacement item.

Apart from the above, the car has been great. The catastrophic failure to the engine was a nightmare, but has been sorted by Carlssons Saab who did a great job (admittedly only 500 miles on since the replacement work though). Has anyone else had experience of Carlssons in Leatherhead? To date they have been great with my car.

6 Posts
93 TiD 115bhp
'98 138k
(2nd owner ex demo - bought May 91 with 46k on it)

new heater - warranty 55k
air con leaks - eventually rectified by independant air cond specialist.
Swirl valve problem - warranty 50k
CD error - intermittent
SID completely blank now £350 to replace
both rear shocks 100k
osf shock 105k
ns track arm bush 125k
os ball joint gaiter 125k
boot leak - os light cluster sponge gasket replaced now rectified 135k
poor handbrake function never rectified despite time & money still a problem. Good job you have to use reverse.

This does not include front discs, pads, tyres which I regard as consumables as am a high mileage user. Front tyre wear is heavy though.

464 Posts
9-3 Coupe SE 185bhp
1999, UK

Bought April 2004, 66k on the clock

1.Head Gasket re-tightened at 66k service
2.Interior fan decided it would only operate at full welly - £70 to fix (thanks /john for diagnosing on this excellent forum)
3.ACC display panel started to disappear - £318 to fix (thanks /john, sgould & Pete A) at local Saab dealer

3 Posts
New update based on a further eight months:

9-3 2.0SE LPT 2002

From new, now 34,000 miles

New front wheelbearings and suspension tightened up to stop clunks (only partially successful)
New front balljoint
Dealer rebuilt gearbox as third and fourth baulked sometimes - didn't reconnect linkage properly - jeez!
New SID display
Squeaky clutch pedal eventually cured with spray oil
Two new front tyres at 26,000 miles
Needs new fog lamp.

Nice car, let down by the dealer who seems to stock no spares and has little idea.

7 Posts
hi all

9-3 se sport hot 200bhp
1999 70000

blown head gasket at 55000 (of course)
faulty coolent temp sensor
repair to wiring in passenger seat for side airbag (srs light on)
fault now with drivers side airbag (srs light on)
1 line of pixels missing on my sid

but i love the car,and at the moment wouldnt part with it.

16,524 Posts
The 9-3 2.0t is the current model. The comments in this thread refer to the 9-3 than went out of production in 2002.

There were some problems with the very first models of the current line but they seem to be pretty reliable now.

If you are looking at the earlier model, again most people seem happy with the car. Remember that happy people don't come here and post for solutions to problems.

My wife has a current 9-3 and is very happy. Have you looked at the 9-5? I have one of them and it has a lot more room inside.

2 Posts
thanks for that info. The cars we are looking at are about 4-5 years old so would fall into the catagory. the 9-5 is a bit big for my wife although she loved the Alfa 164 we had she prefers slightly smaller cars. Will keep reading the forum. It does not seam any worse than any other car.

Thanks again

11,343 Posts
Discussion Starter #69
Originally posted by /john:
[qb]The Saab 9-3 is supposed to be pretty reliable for a Saab.  

Can we have a rundown of 9-3 owners and whether their 9-3 has been reliable.  
Can we keep this on topic, please, it helps for future reference      

I suggest something like this:

9-3 [model] [bhp]
[Model Year], [country]

- Failure Items [/qb][/b]

116 Posts
9-3 SE 'vert 185BHP (Running with St2) Untested.
2000 W, UK Spec

- Head Gasket at 35000
- Turbo & then everything else at 50000ish. Thanks WSS for sorting after the HG!
- Roof opening issue
- Creaking front suspension when cold
- Front wheel bearings replaced at 30000
- Door stop broken

But i love her and continue to spend fortunes with Elkparts and WSS....

20 Posts
9-3 Tid 115HP MY2000
Justs went over 100 000 kms yesterday (that makes around 70 000 miles I think), and driving 80% freeway / 10% small road / 10% city.

- front brake pads changed at 95 000 kms
- tyres changed 1 time at 60 000 kms and still look good (Michelin Primacy)
- wheel nuts all rusted
- a few pixels missing on right part of SID
- annoying "hummmmmm" sound at 80 000 kms from the vent in the center console that I fixed myself by some oil in the bearing

Nothing else. Trouble free car, amazing low gas consumption, one service every year at local Saab dealer. Great car, it just misses leather and sunroof to be perfect.


68 Posts
99 model LPT auto five door S trim..Just 50,000 miles since new.
Originally service by Ballamys and now by Mann and Woodland in Hove.
Faults since new..

Excessive wind noise, still persists, especially around drives door. Strangely only when conditions are wet!
General fit of panels poor especially right rear door and hatchback.
An engine mounting broke when the car was around one year old.
SID tells me to check brakes every time it ignition switched on.
Usual problem with heater controls. Not yet fixed but keep pair of pliers to adjust settings and use the a/c for demisting.
Ignition switch jams so central locking will not work until switch 'prodded'. Occasional fault.
Water in front left headlight.
Usual tyre and exhaust replacements. I use DTS tyres in Worthing; excellent knowledge, service and prices.
Told due for new discs up front and pads all around.
Very low braking power when manouvering from cold, especially in reverse.
Have found some RUST spots around front right suspension strut...very worrying this.
By and large though the car has been reliable, though, it does lack the character of the many previous Saab's owned and will probably be my last.

101 Posts
9-3 2.2 TiD 115bhp
1999, UK car
Car purchased with 74000 miles on clock. Have now owned it for 1 year and done 20000 miles.

Faults/ niggles:

1. Excessive engine vibration at idle - revs. increased by 100rpm at main dealer service, improved it but not totally cured.
2. Heater distribution control recently got very stiff - so far broken 2 "handwheels", not got round to trying DIY lubrication yet.
3. Front suspension creaks over speed bumps in cold weather - not got round to doing anything, as it doesn't take long for suspension to warm up.
4. SID not losing pixels but has red "creeping ivy" pattern in corner near clock, - putting up with it for the time being, as can still read clock.
5. Exhaust heat shield rattle at certain revs. just got noticeably worse - not yet had time to look into it.
6. Lack of performance/ low revs turbo lag - considering tuning box upgrade.
7. Saab CD multichangers stupid prices (for unit plus fitting) at main dealer, so using iPod instead.
8. Braking performance lacks bite, but ready for new front discs and pads, - new uprated ones being fitted tomorrow.

Car has been reliable, no major expensive repairs so far, fingers crossed it will stay that way!

22 Posts
1998 9-3 2.3iSE Convertible 150bhp
Owned since 2001, bought from original owner at 39,000. Now at 116,000 miles

- Exhaust; two new rear boxes
- Tyres; two sets at front, one at rear
- ACC; replacement compressor at 97,000 miles
- Gearbox; sychro on second lost, plus n/s drive shaft vibration. New gearbox being fitted
- Bottom end; gone, engine being replaced (See my posting 16-5-05)
- Hood; tonneau cover motor replaced at 89,000 miles
- Brakes; uprated discs and pads fitted at 77,000 miles
- Drivers seat; subframe became detached from runners on n/s rear, fixed myself with nut and jubilee clip (quoted £500 + for new subframe and seat rebuild!)

Overall - I'm happy with my car. I will be improving the handling with springs/dampers, rack clamp and rear anti-rollbar. Great on a warm day with roof down, great m-way cruiser.

101 Posts
Update on post above:

Braking much improved with fitting of new front Brembo HC discs and Pagid FR pads.

Exhaust heat shield had a corroded fixing and was resting on the exhaust pipe at the back axle position. Cured by drilling two holes in it and tying up with garden tying wire - okay so far!

Tuning Box fitted to engine - massive improvement. Engine runs smoother, much reduced turbo lag, big increase in performance, fuel consumption improved by 5mpg.

I never intended to start uprating this car, but now I could do with sorting the handling out!..

19 Posts

68 Posts
51 plate Aero 'vert
Bought it with 70k on it & within 6 months & 4k miles...

Gearbox - Had fix kit fitted under warranty.
Gearbox - Came out again to replace slave cylinder under warranty.
DI blew yesterday - another warranty job.

Warranty seems to be the best bit of the car at the mo!!

78 Posts
Originally posted by robw:
[qb]9-3SE TiD 125bhp
2001, UK
56k miles

- External Temperature Sensor
- Air Mass Meter (cleaned, then replaced - well-known fault)
- Heater box gasket
- Blocked washer jets (Why no mesh filter like on the classic 900?)
- Rear spoiler (!)

All above covered under warranty.  Also some 'service campaigns' - don't know the details.
Have recently started to loose pixels on SID2, but not yet called in to get it fixed.

Last week put on fourth set of front tyres, rears are still originals.  Brake pads/disks still the original, although fronts will need doing soon. [/qb][/b]
Update to the above (posted in Oct 2003):
- Now at 86k miles.
- SID2 replaced under warranty, just before it expired.
- Front and rear pads and disks
- Air induction tube
- Injector Seals. Done twice, as the first set of replacements only lasted 3 months (they are supposed to be guaranteed for 3 years!). This has made starting all but instant, the car has much more go and the MPG has got 10% better!
- And a few more tyres.

Overall still very happy with the car. Neighbours keep asking if I'm changing it soon as it's "getting old". Why would I do such a thing?

94 Posts
2000 'vert SE lpt
Bought 2003 54K miles, modded: Abbott ECU + VRK.
Now 72K miles.

2004 Engine oil leak from head gasket; head bolts loose!
2005 Roof hydraulics low on oil, no obvious leak.
2005 ACC display eventually failed completely.

19 Posts
New to forum - hi folks!
2000 9-3 S coupe 2.0 lpt 154 bhp, now 67k miles - owned from new - great car but not as trouble free as I'd hoped.

Under warranty:
Rear shocks
CD player skipping - whole unit replaced
Inner bearing & c.v. joint

Not under warranty:
Inner bearing & c.v. joint again (£££ ouch! ) [apparently often not lubricated properly on fitting]
Rear discs/pads
Aircon refill - had lost almost all gas
Heater air direction flow plastic connector (too feeble - design fault!)
Boot gas struts
Squeaky clutch pedal (oiled spring)
Mucky film on inside of headlamps (dismantled & cleaned)
Anti-theft tilt sensor fail switch error (anti-tilt still triggers alarm so had message suppressed!)

Currently experiencing very slightly 'lumpy' acceleration between 1500 and 2000 rpm and again when backing off quickly. (Many folks mention air mass sensor cleaning needed on their 9-3s - reckon it could be this? )
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