Saab 9-3 Vector T2.0 Convertable

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  • Saab 9-3 Vector T2.0 Convertable
  • Rockhopper

    I’m thinking of buying a 2004 Vector T2.0 Auto convertible that I’ve seen for sale locally. I can’t find any really active Saab forums and Pistonheads appears to be not accepting any new postings at the moment so I thought I’d ask on here!

    Firstly rust. I’ve looked at a couple of convertibles around this age and they both had rust bubbles under the plastic trim below the rear side windows (one car on both sides, this one drivers side only). I’m assuming its a fairly common problem so how extensive is this likely to be and how easy might it be to fix?

    Secondly this car has 115,000 miles on it which is around average for a ten year old car I suppose. I’ve never had a turbo car before, is it likely that the turbo will still be good at this mileage (assuming it hasn’t already been replaced)?

    Similar the auto box – I haven’t found any drivers reviews of the auto version. Is it a reliable box with a smooth change?

    Premier Icon coolhandluke

    We’ve got an 05 Aero convertible, it’s lovely, no leaks, no rust.

    Turbos are likely to go at 80,000 (owned a number of petrol Saabs in the past and this is what I was told) but this depends how they are treated of course. My 9-5’s turbo years back lasted until 135,000 miles on it but that was mostly motorway stuff and I always let it idle before switching it off.

    The 210 BHP engine is lovely, not sporty quick but shed loads of torques. It’s fast, just not in a sporty way, more of a cruiser with nice pick up.

    Not sure of Saab auto boxes but older saab auto boxes (circa 2000) were shit apparently.


    I am a member of SAABScene packed full of useful info!

    i think this car has the M32 Gearbox (do a google) they sometimes fail. i think they changed to a F40 box which solved this issue.


    They are remarkably cheap, this one is up at £2600 and it look very tidy apart from the thumb nail sized rust spot. I want an nice comfy ride, my Alfa is very harsh and i’m just about fed up with it, this one is the 175hp engine so it should have plenty of go as well. Same insurance as my 147 which is bizarre!
    I think the M32 is five speed manual box and the F40 is a six speed manual box. The car I’m looking at is an automatic. Could be wrong though!


    There is nothing reliable about a 2004 saab

    They are like printers, cheap to buy horrendous to run.

    Look nice and drive nice though


    We’ve got 1.8t vector convertible as our second car, 2005. Had it three years, total cost of ownership has been two tyres and rear brake pads. Other than that it’s been perfect.

    Not the best handling car in the world but a decent cruiser. likes a drink though, think mid twenties around town.

    Also had a 1.9 estate as a company car for 3 years and 80k. It never missed a beat either.

    So quite reliable in my experience.



    Company car, so brand new when you had it then? Hardly suprising it didn’t cause much drama in first three years!

    I’ve been a saab fan for years but my last one, a 2005 2.0 lpt 9-5 vector sport estate bought 3 yrs old cured me forever.

    The 1.8t was the most reliable engine in the 9-3 though


    The first major problem is that it’s not an Aero.

    If you’re after a soft ride, I’ve got an Aero and it’s firmer than an Alfa 147. In fact, it’s firmer than most things. As others have said, the acceleration is deceptive. Torque is limited in 1st and 2nd, so 3rd is as fast as second, which is surreal.

    The rust under the tonneau cover is fairly common – muck accumulates under the rubber seal and stays there. Some got fixed under warranty. I’d say £150-£200 a side to fix it, depending on the colour. I know that as I’ve just had mine done…

    TBH there’s not a massive list of things to look out for on these – the key thing is that the roof goes up and down properly.

    The right NGK spark plugs should always be fitted, or they can run poorly as the plugs are used as part of the knock detection system.

    2003 cars had an SAI pump which pushed air into the exhaust. This can act up and be expensive to fix.

    There have been some reports of intake valves failing, mainly on 07 B207R (Aero) cars, which leads to poor cold starting / running. These issues seem to be centred more around american cars.

    Get one with the top of the line audio system. The audio system on the pre-facelift cars can’t be replaced with an aftermarket unit easily, and the basic one sounds nasty. The better audio systems sound OK.

    Oil should be 0W40 Mobil 1 or 5W30 full synthetic. Mobil 1 is the better of the two. Around £50 worth of Mobil 1 oil for a service if you buy it at the right price.

    All the turbo engines (1.8t, 2.0t) are more or less the same – 2 litre turbo B207s with various maps. You can have these mapped to near Aero performance. Only the B207R in the Aero is much different, with a bigger turbo, different cam profiles etc. and will map up to around 250 brake. There is a 1.8i which is some GM engine and not particularly popular.

    The diesels are the same as used in various Fiats and GM vehicles, and there a few problems documented I think. I know very little about them as I’m not interested in them.

    The 6 speed manual box is also a GM unit, and like the 6 speed in the Vectra, it can be a bit crunch if you rush first to second. Apparently a gearbox oil change and adjustment of the linkage can improve things.

    Oh, and the hood is around £800 to replace. You can reproof and recolour hoods, but if it’s actually damaged, don’t take any flannel about how you can get it replaced for cheap.

    All in though, they’re quick and very cheap – to get similar performance you’d be looking at a 328 or 330 e46, and a) they’re a lot dearer, a grand or two dearer, b) the larger engined E46s tear their boot floors to pieces, which is a massive repair and c) older BMs tend to have 6 suspect previous owners…


    This is entirely by the by, but I recently sold a 1996 900 turbo auto convertible. Bonkers, utterly bonkers. I was never quite sure which direction it was going to head off in when I accelerated. Wet roundabouts with the auto kick down, swiftly followed by the turbo spooling up and the whole chassis wobbling around were particularly great fun. This was only when it wasn’t broken, which was most of the time.

    I’d have another one in a heartbeat.


    Thanks Tron, that’s the kind of info I was after. The rust isn’t by the cover though, its about an inch back from the top corner of the drivers door. Two cars I’ve seen now have it in exactly the same place.


    Saabs used to be wonderful and totally robust but GM took over and donated more and more of their dodgy parts and poor reliability until they destroyed Saab altogether.

    The 2nd generation 9-3 is the worst offender. The petrol turbo engine isn’t too bad and has no horrendous outstanding issues. But the general build quality is much worse than on older Saabs. Everything – suspension, alloy wheels, interior – has a more limited shelf life, after which time it auto-destructs. But the worst is the wiring and electrics. Constant glitches as they grow older, which become more and more expensive to fix. I have had to scrap a 55 reg TiD Sportwagon with 170K miles on the clock because of repeated wiring loom faults, and associated failure of things like the ABS and traction control systems.

    However they do drive well if the suspension’s straight.

    If you do go for the convertible, find yourself a good local Saab specialist. They know the cars and what goes wrong, and try to repair stuff rather than replace everything as the ex-main dealers still do. Wherever you are in the UK, contact David Greenwood at Saabflight (01323449908) who is very knowledgable and honest, and will steer you to a good deal – plus he has a yard full of old Saabs and Saab parts.

    Good luck.


    Well the one I fancied has been sold but I’ve been hunting on the Saab forums and it appears that bulkhead cracking is very common on all ages of the 9-3 (and other models) so I’m not quite so keen to get one now…

    Premier Icon michaelbowden

    Bulkhead cracking only happened on the previous shape 9-3. It doesn’t occur on the 2004 onwards shape. I’m ex Saab GB technical dept.


    Hello there….

    I am also ex SAAB tech support for GB based in Sweden (was there until after the fat lady stopped singing)

    Check the wiring harness on the roof mechanism, if not properly tie wrapped they can chafe, short out and burn holes in the ragtop.


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