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Saab 900 Turbo (1979 - 1993)

Last updated 10 March 2013

 
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Buying Guide

Good

  • Eccentric, 'classic' Saab looks, much loved by the entertainment industry and often the car of the star in a TV show.
  • Convertibles best, despite scuttle shake.
  • 185PS Ruby Turbo (last of the line) is now an apprerciating classic.
  • Heavy, solid, and capable of mega mileages if looked after properly.
  • Hatchback has long, flat luggage area.
  • Rear bumper makes a good seat for events.
  • Nice old car with bags of desirable character.
  • A late convertible or a Ruby Turbo were appreciating by 2010.
  • Timing chains and tensioners tend to need replacing every 60,000 miles. Trend Saab (0115 937 7200) has an economical method of replacing timing chains of four-cylinder SAAB engines in situ by re-threading the chains.
  • Even non-turbos are fairly thirsty.
  • Parking brakes of pre-1988 cars worked on front discs and were never satisfactory - often an MoT failure point and expensive to fix.
  • Autobox was only a three-speeder.
  • Government stats show high seven point death rate from accidents in this model.

Bad

  • Timing chains and tensioners tend to need replacing every 60,000 miles. Trend Saab (0115 937 7200) has an economical method of replacing timing chains of four-cylinder SAAB engines in situ by re-threading the chains.
  • Even non-turbos are fairly thirsty.
  • Parking brakes of pre-1988 cars worked on front discs and were never satisfactory - often an MoT failure point and expensive to fix.
  • Autobox was only a three-speeder.
  • Government stats show high seven point death rate from accidents in this model.

 What to Watch Out For

  • Now old cars, of course, but regarded by many as classics.
  • If buying, check for rattling timing chains, dirty oil, cracked cylinder heads (check for mayonnaise under the oil cap), cracked turbo manifolding (remember, it glows red hot).
  • Check suspension bushes, front hubs and driveshafts carefully.
  • Make sure turbo not 'coked' as Saab-sourced replacements are expensive.
  • Make sure big bumpers have not been used as buffers.
  • Check that aircon blows cold.
  • Parking brake of pre-1988 cars worked on front discs and was never satisfactory - often an MOT failure. Can be due to not being re-set properly when the pads are changed or not serviced as specified. (Frequently MOT stations fail the handbrake on these cars because they either test the wrong wheels, or dont pull it on enough.) Replacement callipers can be obtained for £80 from www.partsforsaabs.com
  • Steering racks get stiff when cold and the pinion and spool valve seals have to be replaced. Can be done with a £35 kit but most people change the rack. Just a rack pinion outer seal costs arm+leg from SAAB but one from a bearing supplier costs £2.
  • Plastic joint in fuel line under drivers seat can deteriorate and block fuel line. 
  • Can be gear-selector problems. Gearbox pinion bearings are notorious for failing and are very expensive to replace. Later boxes have beefier bearings, but when these fail, the resulting damage can be a lot more expensive than a rebuild on an earlier box.
  • By Summer 2010, the characterful wraparound screens had fallen into very short supply.
  • Video of how to decoke the 2.0-litre 16v engine here: SAAB 900 Classic 16v decoke

Recalls

  • 1996 (900 convertible 1993-1995: old shape): check for loss of steering control.

 

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