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11,312 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I have searched through the 9-5 forum but I can't see the info I am after.

Can I have some input from current 9-5 owners as to the sorts of things to look out for when viewing a Saab 9-5 as a potential purchase. The one to be viewed is a 1999/T 9-5 2.3t Wagon - but all information covering the range of Saab 9-5s would be welcomed here to serve as a guide for future users.

NB: Can we keep this one on topic please, it will then be a useful thread in the Saab 9-5 forum


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275 Posts
(From a 99/T 2.0t Estate)

Items to check

Rear shocks (Common problem)

ECU/EMU/Whatever the black box is called, should have been replaced by a recall.

SID pixels (As always - although I didn't have any problems in the 3 years I had mine)

Front fogs are pricey to replace if cracked.

Hows that for a start.

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6,523 Posts
I'll sticky this for a while, get as much feedback as possible, then perhaps us mods can get together and do a full write up?? I know we keep saying it

Thanks Mcwill, excuse if I cover your input already!

Blue smoke on start up, a fairly common problem on lpt variants, saab have introduced modified parts over the life span but can still be a problem even on later cars.. up to MY00 is rife!
Ultimate cure could be a new turbo.
Can effect HOT models too, but is quite rare.

PCV system, check the 2 main hoses 1 comes off cam cover just behind 'SAAB' should be firm but squeezeable, other is a smaller bore one to the left running to metal breather pipe that terminates at the intake pipe.

Rattles, the 9-5 engine is a little more vocal than its 9000 cousin, due to reduced weight, i.e less metal! Check for usual things, timing chain rattle, etc.

Oil leaks, Common issue is the head gasket leaking oil on the right hand front corner, decide for yourself how serious each leak is!
Check for oil leaks around the throttle housing, on platic inlet pipe models, there is an O ring that can get lost/brittle, easy 47p fix!
Check for oil leak around timing cover, known prob on early models, now appears fixed by modified parts.

Auto box appears reliable so far, no real known faults, usual autobox checks apply.

Manual box, check engagement of reverse and 5th, another known problem, again saab have modified parts in place now.

Front wheel bearings can be short lived, check for noises under cornering.

For some reason the 9-5's rear shocks tend to be fairly weak, and can leak oil at a low mileage!
OEM parts are not cheap either!

The car in std trim can feel a little floaty, but the ride should be quiet and sublime!

Check for any unusal suspension noises, it should be quiet, any knocks or clonks will need further investigation.

SID unit....
All too common, not many get away with it, at £160 a throw not cheap, SID still works, you just can't read the info correctly, most appear to have some success with fairly simple repairs , good bargaining point all the same!

ACC panel, ditto SID, tends to loose its symbols over time, but should still function correctly!
Also whilst checking do a re-calibration, check fault codes , this is done by holding auto and off buttons together. If theres any fault codes stored take care, as some repairs can be very costly!

Check for recalls, as with most new cars, there were a number of recalls early on, contact a saab dealer with the cars details, ask them to check for any outstanding recalls.

A couple of problems that may not be apparent on test/viewing, Throttle bodies went through a period of failure, any check engine lights, make sure you get the fault code pulled, not simply reset.
DI cassttes, seem to have a life of anything between 60k miles and 150k miles! £190 part from SAAB, doesn't appear to tell you when its failing, simply refuses to start at some point! Check the plugs are the correct SAAB spec, i.e NGK BCPR 7ES-II, NO OTHER make of plug should be used on DI cars.

Once engine is started the only dash light you should see is the 'INFO DISPLAY' checking the SID will probably show TEST BRAKE LIGHTS simply press the brake pedal to clear the SID and light, no ther dahs light should be on..... except maybe the fuel low light

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16,468 Posts
Soggy / blocked crank vent pipes and PCV valve.

Random stalling.

Throttle body change (may not be able to tell).

ECU replaced if early car.

Sound deadening foam mat present between floor and spare wheel.

ACC pixels.

Radio reception. Radio Upgrade?

Wiper arms seized on spindles.

Headlamp wipers operating and parking.

Blue smoke on start up.

Oil leak from gaskets.

The right boxes tick on the modification plate under the bonnet. (Can't look now, it's p***ing down!).

Upgrade packages: rear cup holders in front of armrest/floor mats/centre arm rest/cruise control.

All heat absorbing glass present - not replaced by ordinary glass.

Ignition locks in reverse (manual only). May have been forced out and broken by valet parker.


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376 Posts
Can I add a Service book with Saab dealer stamps close to the specified service intervals - these things like regular oil changes.

Run by uncaring company car drivers - the 12,000 mile service intervals stretch the endurance of the oil - especially if lots of short journeys are undertaken.

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4,356 Posts
Sheehs, you guys seem to have it all covered already

I'm sure I've read something somewhere about loose suspension bolts or something.

Aero front spoilers will be scratched / grounded more often than not

Faulty batch of auto-dimming mirror mounting brackets in MY00 at some point

AS1 is rubbish ...

There've been a few threads in the past on spec, what the various models should have etc, which are worth a read.



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4,391 Posts
There's another potential gearbox gripe affecting manual 9-5s and 9-3s, which is when it becomes v. difficult to disengage 4th at the first attempt when hot - can be a bit of a pain when you come up to a busy roundabout and want to nip into a gap!

Again Saab are aware and there is a kit to fix, may get done under warranty as can appear as low as 15-20K.

If poss I'd avoid the low spec models & go for an SE or SE Airflow as resale will be easier - though leather was only an option even on the SE at that age IIRC??.

99/T - will that be the 170 bhp car rather than 185?

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2,148 Posts
Here, you boys have got me worrying about all sorts of things now!!! I would add check the bodywork closely, especially if you are buying an ex-lease car like I did.

Poor paintjobs post accident repairs that are carried out on the cheap prior to the cars going to auction! Some only came to light on mine after a long drive in the wintery snow and salt conditions around Scotland last winter. Several areas of rust appeared around the edges and inside edges of the RHS doors.

Both doors had been re-skinned quite well, but the lacquer job was obviously substandard. Of course, I didn't notice until washing the salt off by hand for the first time a few weeks after buying the car.

Not Saab approved repair equals no come back. Thanks very much to a large vehicle leasing company based down in the Basingstoke area - t0ss3rs!!!!

I am led to believe that original doors were galvanised, as were bonnet, bootlid etc. So if you have rust, the chances are that you have shoddy repairs!!!!

All the same, I still love the car!!!!!

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428 Posts
I seem to have suffered from a few of the common problems... rear dampers giving "interesting handling, turbo failure (excess oil passing through, variable radio reception on AM due to a poor connection, never solved

More seriously I have also had a gearbox mainshaft bearing failure at 60,000 miles, repaired under warranty. I was told this was pretty unique.

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52 Posts
On the older models there is a fault with the A/C whereby if the front passenger vents are shut hot air is blown in the rear passenger seats.

There is a fix for this (drilling holes somewhere in the air circuit) but my dealer won't do it for free as my car is too old....

Also check that the ashtray works properly, there's a small sprigot that can break easily and it does not close anymore (some people have glued it shut!)

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16,468 Posts
I think that by 99 they had fixed it, but it's easy to check. Close the passenger side dashboard vents and open the ones at the back of the centre console. Start car and drive along with the ACC on a cool setting (17 or 18 should do). When the system has settled down and the driver is getting cold air, reach behind you between the seats and see if the temperature from the centre vents is hot or cold.

May not happen if the outside temperature is too cold, not sure. So choose a warmer day!

Unless you normally drive with the passenger vents closed, it's not a problem. And if it is happening, you can cure it by opening the front passenger vents.

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