What would you check if buying a ~2001 9-3

Hi;
Never owned a Saab, but my present car is rusted out and Saabs of the early 2000s are selling pretty cheaply in Toronto Canada.
I would be looking for a 9-3 2.0 with five-speed as the best on gas (it's expensive in Toronto) and probably the most fun.
I would want a hatchback, probably 5-door, but 3-door would do in a pinch. Doubt I'll see any wagons, although they'd be my top preference. (Wagons are so useful.)
On the one hand, I did just about all maintenance on my '78 Trans Am (whose rear springs are about to poke through the floor), and '87 K- car wagon, so I have the typical tools of an experienced home mechanic. On the other hand, I don't really know anything about Saab other than they are niche cars.
What would the likely problem points be in an early 2000s Saab? I know rust is always a concern around here. How do Saabs of that vintage stand up to high mileage? What are the major service items, scheduled and unscheduled? I don't even know if the 2.0 uses a timing belt or chain, doh.
To some extent, I figure I can get a nice car fairly cheap, so if lasts even a couple of years without too many problems, I get my money's worth. I wouldn't want ongoing issues, or immediate need for expensive service. That's where I'd prefer to spend an extra thousand or two to purchase a car in good condition. Just need to figure out what to look for.
Thanks! Ed
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13/09/2011 16:54, Ed Treijs wrote:

I've no idea what the rarity is in Canada, but I really would recommend a 9-5 wagon over a 9-3. I've been running mine (2.3l) for 10 years now, from new, and it's barely skipped a beat in 180,000 miles. In my experience, there's nothing special that needs checking that wouldn't need checking on any purchase. That said, I currently have a major problem with the dashboard electronics. If a friend is unable to isolate and cure it with secondhand parts, it may render the car uneconomic to repair, because it will fail the annual test if it lacks such a trivial and peripheral thing as a working speedometer! Dealer price for replacement is GBP1,200 (CAD1,900), which is just about what the car is worth in itself now.
Still, it's comfortable, reliable and always a pleasure to drive. Rust hasn't been a problem here in rainy old England, but might be in snowy old Canada. The seats are still firm, everything else works, and if I really do have to let it go I will get a late-model (2008/9) equivalent. Ah but there again, if Saab do manage to get out of the current financial scrape and the new 9-5 wagon actually makes it out of the factory, that really will be a temptation.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Charlie wrote 2011-09-13 19:20:

And I have the opposite recommendation, skip the early 2000s 9^5, they have numerous problems: oil sludge, fuel pump, AC air flow control valves, ignition cassette (even the ones exchanged on a recall are rather short-lived but at least may give you a warning before they die), crankshaft position sensor, weak shock absorbers (especially the rear ones), water pump and of course the AC and SID displays.
Both myself and several colleagues have had all of the problems I listed. Average repair cost (excl normal service) per car and year over a 10 year period is 1200 USD!
But I agree that the seats are still the best you can find, and magnitudes better than in most new cars.
--
th

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

How many of these problems also afflict the 9-3? Engine components would be common across the cars and 2.0 and 2.3 I assume?
I don't expect a perfectly trouble-free car, although it would be unfortunate if they tend to die completely. I don't commute, but I do go on fairly long drives for fun.
Craigslist has a good range of Saabs in the $1000-$6000 range from the late '90s and early 2000s. By contrast, there are Toyota Corollas of the same vintage with similar asking prices. I'd rather pay more maintenance on a much nicer and more enjoyable car.
To be honest, I hadn't really been thinking of Saabs, but some interesting ones stood out from the usual Civic/Corolla/blah/blah listings. I would hope that the low prices are because Saab is a less- known brand, and all the recent publicity about bankruptcy doesn't help.
While I would like a wagon, there are no wagons (but several convertibles) on Craigslist right now. The one style I don't want is a sedan.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I just traded in my 2005 9-3 Linear, and I was very happy with the performance and reliability. If you're in the market for a car of that vintage, I believe they will be more reliable over the range than the earlier 2000 models, from what I've been able to read, but I think it really depends on the car.
    Aaron W. Hsu
--
Programming is just another word for the lost Art of Thinking.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload


The GM Saab was better-quality than the Saab-Saab?
Unfortunately Saab's sales must have fallen off a cliff in my area as the 2000s progressed. Bumping my max price from $6000 to $10000 only adds a couple of cars, 2005 or 2006, both sedans.
Because Ontario is in the rust belt, I don't think I want to look at late '90s 900s, of which there are a few for sale. Also finding parts for these older cars will probably be tough.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Can you buy outside of your area?
    Aaron W. Hsu
--
Programming is just another word for the lost Art of Thinking.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not conveniently. I won't have a car (doh) and the rust belt goes in every direction for a thousand kilometres. Plus there's additional paperwork to bring a car over the border from the US. Realistically, I don't expect to get better deals in Canada, would have to go to US.
In the price range I'm looking at ($5000 or less) it would have to be a huge increase in quality or decrease in price to cover the cost, time, and risk of buying in the US and importing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
replying to Ed Treijs , Guest wrote:

How did you make out? I am in exact same boat as what you describe above and would be interested in an update on your experience.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.