Saab 9-5 2.3t estate – advice please

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  • Saab 9-5 2.3t estate – advice please
  • Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    As there appear to be several Saab owners on here ……..I fancy one of these for its dog/bike/camping load carrying capabilities as well as apparent comfort and turn of speed. Going to look at one locally tomorrow with a very limited budget (can’t stretch to a diesel without v. high mileage) so any advice welcome

    It’s an ’00 2.3t SE auto with 90k on the clock, taxed end April and MOT to Oct. with full dealer history up to last year when the current (and only 2nd owner) had his mate who is a Saab mechanic service it. Full leather and looks to be VGC for £1K !

    What do you reckon?

    palmer77
    Member

    There was a design fault on the cam belt cover (I think), basically the side part of the right hand side of the engine block which resulted in the gasket leaking. They fixed this under extended warranty for a few years but be aware as this cost me £1300 on mine. Also watch for the drop links on the front suspension and the bushes on the rear. Great car though, pretty much bombproof bodywork!

    b r
    Member

    Whatever the car and price, only buy with 12m MOT.

    And get the number of the mechanic.

    Duplex cam chain on the 2.3t . Usual stuff , try and get to it cold . Check for mayo inside the oil filler . Oil and water levels etc . Engine is basic and should boost from about 1700rpm . It will not be economical , expect 25 – 28 mpg .
    Rear tyre wear can be an issue on the 9-5 , plus check all the electrical bits and bobs , there should be no warining lights on anywhere , oh and extreamly comfortable seats ( heated )

    hora
    Member

    Oil breather/sump done?

    ‘Worsecase you could break it for spares on ebay then sell the shell/rest to a breaker for c£2-300?

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Thanks. I had a test drive of one at the weekend at a dealer (one man show) and I was wondering when the boost was supposed to come in, as it didn’t. Slowest 185bhp I’ve ever driven and he wondered why I wasn’t interested 😕

    Sump shouldn’t really be a problem as it has been serviced at dealer but always worth a drain and clean asap.

    The poor mpg is putting me off although I don’t do much town driving and about 10k a year, mainly on country roads with little traffic.

    Car ad here

    Spoke to the seller and there is a very small dent on the bonnet and front tyres are getting low but he has two good used ones (with wheels) which he will throw in.

    the 2.3t SE is the low output turbo version of the engine – around 170bhp (was upped to 180 a year later)

    I have a 2004 auto AERO – ie a 2.3HOT – which puts out around 250ish BHP – i get on average 28 to 29 on the daily commute – getting around 420miles from a tankful. The earlier Autos are less economical to a certain extent as they were 4speed rather than 5speed of the post 2004 cars.

    With the 9-5, all petrol engines – make sure the owner has run it on fully synth oil, they dont like semi synth (ie they REALLY dont like semi – it can gunk up and block the oil pick up pipe, causing oil starvation & turbo failure) Best bet is to budget about £70-100 with your local friendly SAAB specalist (T K Autos in Edenfield if you near Manchester is excellent) to drop and clean out the sump, then new oil and filter. Gives a bit of peice of mind.

    90k on the clock is nothing to these cars – my previous X reg 9-5 2.0t SE had 185k on the clock when we sold it – seats were still as comfortable as when we sold it and it was still in good condition – we upgraded to the aero.

    Might not get heated seats with the SE as it was an option at the time, but i think the uprated stereo was standard (CD/Cassette/Radio)

    As said – listen for any rattle from the chain cam on cold start up, the chains are good for double the mileage the car has with decent oil changes. also look for any blue smoke on start up, or clouds of smoke when you let off the accellerator after heavy accelleration (when the engine is warm) which can be signs the turbo is on the way out.

    The turbo went on ours old one around 100k miles – but it had suffered from the previous owner had run it on semi synth and hadn’t had the updated Crank Case Breather fitted (somthing that was needed on the 2.0t engine) the 2.3 engines have a different, more robust turbo from Mitubishi, rather than the Garrett turbo of the 2.0 engines.

    They are alot of car for the money – and a lovely to drive. Hence why we went for another, have already put 20k miles on the newer one since we bought it last May.

    Swallows all our camping gear. Can get two bikes in the boot and loads of leg room in the back seats.

    UncleFred
    Member

    I bought an ’05 pre face lift 2.3t vector sport a few weeks ago with 55k on the clock. It’s the first SAAB i’ve owned.

    Its the 220bhp model, auto box with paddle shift. Leather heated seats are super comfy, i’ve hardly used the paddle shift as the auto box is so good, sport mode speeds up the kick down and holds the gears for spirited driving.

    I’m getting about 25mpg but thats par for course around here.

    Not sure if i’m going to keep it yet, just feels a bit meh compared to my previous car, although the extra space is very useful.

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    2005 Aero Estate owner and ex Saab mechanic and Saab GB enployee here.

    As said above, 90K is nothing if is been looked after, check for timing chain rattle from cold. Lord Summerisle speaks a lot od sense.

    Get the sump dropped, cleaned and the latest breather kit fitted unless you have a receipr for this. It could be the cheapest £200 you ever spend. There was a problem with the crankcase breather system hoses degrading with time, blocking the oil pickup, this is made worse if semi-synthectic oil was used during servicin. This caused oil starvation and bigend/main bearing failure.

    On the lpt (light pressure turbo) you won’t feel the turbo really, if the 185 BHP feels slow a simple remap will see you at 220ish BHP, 2.3T spec. Replacing the turbo and injectors for the Aero type and standard Aero software will get you to and beyond Aero spec. But these cars are about mid range torque not BHP. My Aero with a couple of simple hardwear mod is running 285 BHP with 440Nm of torque from 2000rpm.

    Get yourself on to UKSAABS forum, it’s a STW for the Saab world

    Parts aren’t an issue,

    Any questions my email is in my profile

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Thanks to all for the info. Given me some good pointers for when I see the car, hopefully later on today.

    michaelbowden Thanks for the tips – I like the sound of a remap if it’s that easy to gain 40 BHP but I’ll see how this one feels compare to the last one I drove. The ‘local’ garage near where the car is now is The Saab Centre which seems to have a good rep and know what they are doing, so if it’s been serviced there previously, it should have been done right. I’ll have a look at the UKSAABS but how much would the basic remap cost?

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Hi Woody

    If you go to one of the big company’s £300-£400 like Map Tun who The Saab Centre are dealers for. But once you get yourself on UKSAABS there’s a few guys who do it in his free time. One I am very happy to reccomend and he will do it for under £150. He is very reilable and offers a great service, he’ll even post you a replacement ECU for you to fit all ready programmed.

    Basicaly there is quite a big ‘european scene’ for tuning saabs (including using the engines in other cars) Someone got hold of the original SAAB software for writing the engine maps and this has been shared around the community and developed for the last 15 years or so.

    So you can have anything from taking an lpt(185 bhp) to full pressure (220bhp) using an original saab map so comletely safe to something bespoke depending on the hardwear modifications you have had done.

    hora
    Member

    I wouldn’t remap an old car. I’d rather spend the money on fresh oil and keeping it on the road/healthy.

    Premier Icon veedubba
    Subscriber

    I struggle with long sentences but…

    Lord Summerisle’s right.

    I had a 2000 Aero HOT and managed 37mpg on the motorway. It was reliable for the (short) time I had it but I sold it for a diesel.

    They’re fantastic cars for lugging stuff around in, but they are looooong. They’re also extremely comfortable on long journeys too.

    The suspension bushes were ready to replace on mine, and I had the heater system valve fail on me in a carpark 100 miles from home (p1ssed all the coolant on the floor – the part was only £15 but was a b*gger to replace). Oh and the ignition barrel was worn which wasn’t fun until I replaced it. Apart from that (!) it was a fantastic car and I’d have another.

    There’s a place in the North East that’s a specialist and I got a lot of advice from him (serious Saabs I think)

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t remap an old car. I’d rather spend the money on fresh oil and keeping it on the road/healthy.

    Each to their own hora but I think I’ll go with advice from michaelbowden as he clearly knows a bit more about Saabs than what you may have heard on pistonheads 😉

    hora
    Member

    Each to their own hora but I think I’ll go with advice from michaelbowden as he clearly knows a bit more about Saabs than what you may have heard on pistonheads

    Common sense really. Not everyone seeks power for powers-sake but why would you need so much power and… tuning the engine of a decade-old car can open a can of worms. 😉

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t remap an old car. I’d rather spend the money on fresh oil and keeping it on the road/healthy.

    I guess it depends what you want from a car. Any car needs fresh oil regularly – I do mine every 5000 miles I always have on every car I’ve owned. The thing with these Saabs is that the only mechanical difference between the 185BHP lpt SE engine and the 250BHP HOT Aero engine is the size of the injectors and turbo. So you are not stressing the car beyond it’s limits at all.

    As an example there is a 9000 Aero local to me (engine is almost identical to the 9-5 one), that has been extensively tuned. It’s has been runnig over 500BHP (it was 225 when new) for the last 70,000 miles. Its gets used for everything from commuting to 3 or 4 track day’s a year.

    It now has 185,000 miles on the clock, the engine block and head hasn’t been touched other than higher lift camshafts and stonger valve spring to increase its maximum revs.

    Yes he changes the oil every 3000miles and has spent a lot of money on the engine ancillary’s, gearbox, brakes and suspension – but the engine block is all but standard.

    Premier Icon finishthat
    Subscriber

    Sounds like a reasonable buy , I am on my second 9-5 estate , advice above is good.
    For the price , unless there is something obviously wrong I would certainly have a good look at it.
    Its the older pre MY00 version , the older ones are better built than the newer ones, but are a bit more barge like in the handling.
    The rear shocks will be borked if they have not been changed and they make a huge difference – cheap and easy to fix.
    At that price I would not invest in more than keeping it running , oil changes are essential as above.
    I would change the auto gearbox oil , 3 drain/refills with a 30 mile drive in between – make sure you use the right oil.
    Expect the SID display and A/C display to have lost some pixels , fixable – not the end of the world.
    The rear suspension bushes can need attention , especially if it has been towing , again fixable – but you need a special tool ~ £50 .
    My old one was a 99 2.0 manual (still going on 180k engine silent )- newer one is a 2005 2.3 auto (85k)- the new one uses more fuel , do not expect more than 30mpg unless on long runs .
    If there is a rattle from the front suspension its more likely to be the air filter box rattling , its right under the
    OS front and the rubber mountings break , it will not fall off , just cable tie it secure .
    Avoid the diesels they do not last as well as a properly maintained petrol.
    Very happy with mine!

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Common sense really. Not everyone seeks power for powers-sake but why would you need so much power and… tuning the engine of a decade-old car can open a can of worms.

    Yes, yes and yes, it all depends on what you’re starting with and what you want.

    Would I take an already stressed engine, tune it beyond manufacturers specification and expect it to be reliable? No.

    Another example, a 2 year old 40,000 mile Mecedes C63 AMG, has what 500BHP odd to start with. But I know of one that has been tuned to close to 600BHP by a known Mercedes tuning house. The owner is now faced with a £45,000 bill from his Mercedes dealer for just a replacement engine.

    Premier Icon finishthat
    Subscriber

    Re – remapping – I would say that the Aero models have bigger brakes for a very good reason, and they will not fit inside the 16″ wheels on that one you are looking at (can be retro-fitted) The standard brakes are marginal .
    The 4 speed auto cannot handle as much power as the 5 speed .
    If you want the power just buy an Aero – plenty about and not expensive.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    tuning the engine of a decade-old car can open a can of worms

    Not if the basic engine is sound and already designed for the increase. Of course, no-one really needs that much power but when was that ever a reason not to have it!

    I haven’t driven a 9-5 since 2001. I think it was a 150 BHP version which I drove to The Alps twice fully loaded with a roof box and gear and it didn’t feel noticeably underpowered.

    Different circumstances now though and I might feel the benefits (and fun factor) outweigh the cost, especially as most of my driving is on A and B roads where overtaking opportunities are limited. On the other hand I may feel it’s adequate as it is, in which case I won’t bother.

    It’s nice to have the choice though and how many cars can you increase BHP by 40% + for so little money 😉

    Premier Icon Clobber
    Subscriber

    2 words…

    Torque steer

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Re – remapping – I would say that the Aero models have bigger brakes for a very good reason, and they will not fit inside the 16″ wheels on that one you are looking at (can be retro-fitted) The standard brakes are marginal .
    The 4 speed auto cannot handle as much power as the 5 speed .

    Correct correct and correct 🙂

    From memory and I may well be wrong, the 2.3T (220 BHP) cars didn’t have the bigger brakes – maybe the auto’s did 😕 . Still it is not a difficult mod, new disc’s, new/secondhand caliper mounts and yes you’d need the 17″ wheels.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Thanks again for all the advice.

    I’m going to have a look at 1pm today. 13 service stamps should be a good thing and have covered most of the ‘checkpoints’ listed above but I’m wary as the seller has only had it 3 months, although he seems to have a valid excuse for selling it. He was willing to meet me somewhere but that’s a no no as far as I’m concerned as I want to see it started from cold as well as make sure he lives where the V5 is registered.

    I will update later.

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Goodluck! 🙂

    hora
    Member

    Not if the basic engine is sound and already designed for the increase. Of course, no-one really needs that much power but when was that ever a reason not to have it!

    For the past year I have been relearning how to carry speed and fully utilise a gear in a car with only 65hp.

    Later this year I’m going to at least triple that power in a different car.. 😆

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    For the past year I have been relearning how to carry speed and fully utilise a gear in a car with only 65hp.

    Later this year I’m going to at least triple that power in a different car..

    I used to work for that manufacturer too….

    hora
    Member

    I saw a 08 (dirty) 93 in red at the weekend. It looked really really nice in red. Think I’ll keep a lookout for a red un.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Had a good look round the car and he let me have a test drive on my own, which was nice.

    Seemed like a decent honest guy and his mate who changed oil/looked it over last year does work for the local specialist. No nasty noises, in fact virtually no noise at all from anywhere. engine sounds sweet as a nut and feels like 185BHP should, with no smoke on start-up or over-run after being booted. A few pixels missing from screen but all other electrics working fine but no heated/electric seats which TBH I’m not too worried about as it’s one less thing to go wrong.

    Not a sports car by any means but a very respectable turn of speed, especially in the all important 30-60.

    I’m seriously tempted but there is the possibility of an ’02 Aero 250BHP for around the same price not far away. Done 140k but pretty immaculate with all the toys. Someone talk me out of it 😆

    mrmoofo
    Member

    Hi had a Saab 9-3 (02 model). I was impresssed by the way SAAB had taken all the componants of the Vectra , and made it much, much worse …
    Build quality was shocking, ride was like a drunken donkey, and the paintwork scratched if you brushed a coat against it.

    There is a very good reason why they went tits up ….

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Interesting mrmoofo as the thing which impressed me most was the build quality.

    Sounds like you had a duff one, or maybe the 9-5 is just a much better standard.

    EDIT: Aero has now been sold, so that’s that out of the equation and makes the decision easier. Not too bothered, as the 185BHP estate gives me all that I really need with less cost. If only I could get my head around the 22mpg I got on the test drive,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,but that wasn’t too bad considering 😆

    well the 9-3 is a completely diferent animal to the 9-5, and suffered far more GM cost cutting and standard parts in the hunt for the fleet sales. the 9-3 got standard GM engines while the 9-5 retained the SAAB developed H Series engines (a follow on of the B series of the pre GM era)

    As for Woody – go check out the Aero, less wafting than an SE model as the suspension is firmer & lower – if like mine the lower profile tyres on the 17″ alloys also contribute to the harser ride, but does make it better on the twistys – its not a sports car in anyway, its far too long in the wheelbase & heavy for that. 140k still no probs.

    Always best to compare cars rather than buy the first you see.

    In terms of remap i think its been suggested that the basic 2.0 lpt is the best bet for power gains as in standard 150bhp its hardly stressed and a simple stage 1 remap of the ECU can see healthy gains in power (50-70bhp improvement), with some on Saabscene and UKsaab saying they actually saw improvements in MPG as they didnt have to work the engine quite to hard, with a better torque spread.

    While spending a several grand in replacing the ECU, injectors, air filter, parts of the intake system, Aero spec turbo, larger exhaust can get the 2.0 up to around 300bhp and beyond

    where as it takes alot of money to get the power increases on the aero

    Going off Abbott Racing (as a bench mark turning guide)
    stage 1 upgrade is £400.
    2.0t 150bhp > 220bhp
    2.3t 185/220 > 230bhp
    2.3HOT Aero 230/250 > 265bhp

    2.0t Stage 4 – 285bhp (£2200)
    2.3t Stage 4 – 285bhp (£2200)
    2.3HOT Stage 4 – 300bhp (£3300)
    2.3HOT Stage 5 – 320bhp (£4500)

    As for torque steer – not something i really notice. i remember feeling it when i first got a saab 9-5 8 years ago but i got used to it. Equally the steering gives great feedback over what the front wheels are doing, this feedback would be removed if they had adjusted the steering to eliminiate the torque steer.

    Premier Icon finishthat
    Subscriber

    As you found the 9-5 is an entirely better built and finished car than the 3 models.

    go for it , what else can you get for that price.

    As you do not do much town driving then you should get 30mpg as long as you are reasonably restrained
    with the right foot.

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    One of my biker mates has a HOT Aero saloon which is getting on for 10yrs old. Still goes very well.

    Another example, a 2 year old 40,000 mile Mecedes C63 AMG, has what 500BHP odd to start with. But I know of one that has been tuned to close to 600BHP by a known Mercedes tuning house. The owner is now faced with a £45,000 bill from his Mercedes dealer for just a replacement engine.

    Over on the MB forum’s there have been a few people reporting problems with the standard 63 engines. They don’t seem to have the reliability of the 55kompressor engines.

    b r
    Member

    Common sense really. Not everyone seeks power for powers-sake but why would you need so much power and… tuning the engine of a decade-old car can open a can of worms.

    Its not often I agree with Hora, but my basic premise on older cars is “if it ain’t broke, don’t touch it” and that if you want more power, you should buy a more powerful car to start with.

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Hi

    If the Aero has been as well looked after it would be worth comparing.You’ll get the extra toy’s and performance etc At 140k it’s going to start to need suspension components – lower arms bushes, rear rose joints, shocks etc if not already done.

    Proper oil changes will be all the more important, fuel consumption will not be as good

    Edit I see it’s now sold.

    Lord Summerisle, it’s sounds like you’re an enthusiast. Are you on any of the Saab forums?

    My Aero is stage 3, so that’s a 3 inch down pipe and a 3.5bar fuel pressure regulator – this gives 285BHP and 440Nm from 2000-5000rpm all for about £500 if you do it DIY.

    If I add a larger intercooler that can rise to 295BHP/450Nm but at that point the turbo starts to run out of puff, as does the standard fuel pump and injectors.

    If I was to go further it would be expensive, intercooler, bigger turbo, bigger injectors, higher flow rate fuel pump,stronger clutch and to go over 330BHP forged pistons, this could see the car easily at 400BHP/500Nm. BUT you really start to loose the drivability and start to get back to 1980’s levels of turbo lag. Oh and gearboxes that don’t last too long………

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    if you want more power, you should buy a more powerful car to start with

    True to a point but sometimes it’s reasonably easy and cheap to improve on the manufacturer spec. as appears to be the case with the 9-5.

    BTW I’m very happy with my ‘other’ car, which has been vastly improved from standard by spending a few hundred quid and it’s 35 years old!

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    So Woody, what did you decide????

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Bought it 🙂

    First impressions very good but that’s only after 30 miles or so. Good turn of speed for a big lump but equally scary watching the fuel consumption when ‘making progress’ !! Handles better than I expected too although I haven’t pushed it yet for obvious reasons. I’m working all weekend so will give it a thorough going over on Monday and arrange for a service and see how much extra it will be to drop and check/clean the sump.

    All appears above board and apart from a taillight bulb being out and a few pixels missing on the screen it’s good . Even has original tool kit and cargo net.

    So far so good and thanks for all the pointers . I’ll be joining the Saab form shortly 🙂

    Premier Icon michaelbowden
    Subscriber

    Great news, hope you enjoy the car.

    There are people on ebay who will reapir the SID/ACC if it starts to be a problem.

    Most people seem to charge about £200 if they do a sump drop and fit the lastest breather kit. If it’s still got the original hoses they definately need to be replaced. I think the kit is about £65. Parts for Saab and Neo Brothers (also on ebay) are good suppliers.

    Premier Icon finishthat
    Subscriber

    Enjoy . Make sure you change the gearbox oil , and pump the tires up to the max
    specified , makes a big difference to mpg if they are on the low side.

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