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No, the SAAB 9000 auto gearbox isn't really that bad, to the contrary, it's quite good.
What do a Rover 248, Porsche 928 and 944, Audi 100, Audi 6 &8, BMW 320i-V8 and Alfa-Romeo 164 have in common with the SAAB 9000? First, they are all very fast cars. Second, they all share the same ZF-4HP18 auto gearbox made in Germany by ZF.
True, rebuilding an auto gearbox is expensive, but it's no more then a gearbox for BMW, MB, Jaguar, Audi or Volvo.

That said, the life of the ZF-4HP18 auto gearbox depends on religious maintenance and fluid changes at least at 60K intervals or annually.
My '94 9000CSE has 189K and the ZF-4HP18 autobox works perfectly. Use Dextron III fluid.

So if you fancy a late 9k CS with an auto gearbox, take it for a good road test and check that the gears shift very smoothly with no thump or hesitation. Try it both cold and hot. Check for leaks from the transmission, these are costly to repair. As far as the manual 5 speed gearboxes, they fail too, and a 5 speed gearbox + a clutch rebuild is about the same as the auto. Hope it helps, as I believe that for the 9000CS, the autobox works more in harmony with the engine. (On the other hand, the Aero works better with the 5 speed).
 

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If you have a non turbo or LPT you get easily reach 200K on an original box. On the early 9000's the recommended oil change was about 60K but they dropped this to about 30K. I change mine every 10K-15K as when you change the fluid you only actually drain half the oil and you will notice a smoother gear change even after 10K. The auto gearbox does not like the full pressure turbo and if you floor it from a standstill or regularly kick down from 4th to 2nd you can go thru a box in less than 60K. You can get a good recon box for £1100 and a new one fitted by Saab will cost £2950 - I know I had this done under warranty. Ideally if you go for a FPT go for one under 60K that has not been chipped or go for a LPT of higher mileage and then chip it.
 

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Thanks guys - much appreciated.

I've been having a nose around, and have across many high-miler autos, so clearly not as much of an issue as it 'seems' to be.

Just gotta sit and wait for the right one to come up at the right time.

Thanks again,

K
 

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The older designed 9000 autobox was less reliable. I think the change came in around 1993ish. The opinion of Saab Service Managers and also the Technical Expert at UK Saab Owners Club all recon autoboxes - if looked after with regular fluid changes - will last 150k to 200k miles with no fuss.

My 1998 2L ECo anniversary autobox runs smoother now than it ever has. I bought it because of seemless transitions - when cruising, same economy as manual in 4th gear (as 100% lock up = no loss of torque), lasts longer than the manual box (!!), and I spend less than 5% of my time driving car hard (e.g. racing!). Think of all those pointless gearchanges I have saved over past 4 years - must have saved my elbow significant wear and tear!!
No.. really.. manual/auto is purely a personal choice, and if I had a 2.3 FPT, I'd almost certainly go for a manual.

If autobox fluid AND filter not changed at 2 year Saab specified intervals, make sure you do a drain - refill - run for 5 miles - redrain - and refill. Thuis will change approx 50% fluid + 50% = approx 75 to 80% fluid change.

Make sure filter is changed, (or at least washed in suitable cleaner - although this is not ideal), as small mesh will clog with fine metalic particles over time and reduce oil/flow and hence gear change performance.

HTH's.
Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well if she still has her 9k CSE when the a/box goes bang, I would be thinking of coverting it to manual.
Cause it just as cheap if not cheaper than a recon a/box, its to good a car to scrap.
 

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Just bought a MY92 9000, 2.3 HOT with a org. red box (220 HP), it has covered 300000 km without any problems! But I do fear the day it dies!!!

Its such a nice car to drive and I will never go back to a manual!
 

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Just called the wizard at GF in Denmark!

The big killer for the Auto box is wheelspin!!!!!!

That could explain why my box has lasted so long even with an engine upgrade, as I have TCS!!
 

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Thanks for the info Soren.

Explains why my 2L ECo autobox is doing so well - too! Controlled (or not too much) power is obviously a good thing in terms of autobox lifespan.

Another cost effective option, of course, is a second hand autobox - so long as you don't get a knackered one. These are available in the UK around £400.
 

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And how do you know it's not nackered untill it's in!  [/b]
Good question!

I normally use psychoanalysis, and check out the guy selling to make sure he's telling the truth when asked questions about how good unit, milage of vehicle it came off, etc.

Seriously, this depends on reputation of seller, and what sort of guarantee they give. If I didn't find a seller who I had confidence in, I'd get a Saab specialist (like Neo Bros or similar) to supply and fit a unit. Much less likely to fit a duff unit in this case and any problems within the warranty period (probably only a few months) would then be their's to resolve.
 

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Hi. I have a 2lt lpt auto, had the box go on me this time last year, £550 to replace SH, at present when she changes up or down she does tend to hesitat, any ideas why this maybe?
Also while on the subject I notice that when changing the oil
make sure you do a drain - refill - run for 5 miles - redrain - and refill. Thuis will change approx 50% fluid + 50% = approx 75 to 80% fluid change.[/b]
That's a lot of oil wasted, and the cost ????
 

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That's a lot of oil wasted, and the cost ????  [/b]
Good question... A while ago since I did it, but my reconing is as follows:

Amount drained each time is between 4 and 5 litres.

So total cost of 'wasted oil' was approx £15.

Don't buy 5x or 10x 1 Litre bottles of ATF Fluid, as you will pay an arm and a leg. Find a suitable supplier and buy 4Litre or 5 litre (if available) containers (x2) which is nearly half the price of same volume in 1Ltr bottles!!

Do a double change yourself, and it will still be cheaper - by far - than paying most garages for a single fluid change! It's as easy to do as an engine oil change, except autobox filter requires just a little more care and has three small bolts retaining cover - but that is no problem.

HTH's
 

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but only a small amount against a new auto box!!![/b]
OK, OK, already, I understand, I did this to my last 9000, I know the score, I HATE DOING OIL CHANGES, what a mess you can get into, then what to do with the old oil, you cannot put it down the drain these days! So I'll do it next month, failing that I'll do it this Sat.
Happy Xmas guys
 

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Bicardi,

Agreed.. it can be messy.
For this reason I get my engine oil changed via garages such as Kwik fit - as only £40 for mobile 1 inc filter. But was quoted £100 for autobox oil change by several garages..!

I put my hand/arm in a plastic carrier bag to keep oil off when undoing drain nut. Also, catch oil in old bucket, then poor back into original used container - or similar. Best to locate your nearest Municipal/Council Waste site, as they will take the old oil and process it according to environmental regs.
 
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