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  1. #1
    Joe
    Third Saab's a Charm Warren Demontague's Avatar
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    Saab 9-3 definitive oil thread

    OK, this is something I've always wanted to see - a definitive oil thread. A thread stuck at the top that people will see and read and have their questions answered. 9-3SS guys know that the same exact question can be asked several times EACH WEEK on this topic. Please read and interpret the FAQ items carefully - chances are the answer to your question is below!

    *Disclaimer*
    The following recommendations are based on recommendations from Saab/GM and discussions among Saab owners. They are NOT "official" in any way. Make your own decisions and perform all work on your car at your own risk!

    1. What is the best oil for my 2003-present 9-3?

    An endless discussion can ensue over which brand and viscosity of oil is the best, but let's stick to what Saab and General Motors recommends - any synthetic oil meeting or exceeding GM-LL-A-025 spec. Europeans seem to have a wider selection of oils available that meet this spec, but in the United States, two major brand oils meet GM-LL-A-025 - Mobil1 0W-40 and Castrol Syntec 0W-30. There are also other options from Amsoil, Elf and others. Saab specifically recommends Mobil1 and Saab Turbo Oil (now discontinued), but the point here is that the recommended specification should meet GM-LL-A-025.

    2. How long can I use my GM-LL-A-025 spec synthetic oil before it needs to be changed?

    Most drivers may leave their oil in for as long as the SID (service information display) recommends, or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. Owners of 2003-2005 9-3s have a SID that's calibrated for a 15,000 mile oil change, so keep that in mind and stick to a 10,000 mile interval. Generally, the SID adjusts its recommendations based on driving habits, but if you put a lot of wear and tear on an engine (stop and go traffic, short trips, etc.), then you may wish to change your oil earlier.

    3. Can I use a non-GM-LL-A-025 spec synthetic oil in my Saab?

    Yes! You may. While the recommended oil meets or exceeds GM-LL-A-025, a non-spec synthetic oil may be used as well. However, the SID bases its recommendations on GM-LL-A-025 spec oil being used, so it is probably best to disregard the oil life monitoring provided by the SID. Your engine will not fall apart, although it is probably best to change your oil every 7,000-10,000 miles.

    4. Can I use non-synthetic mineral oil in my Saab?

    Yes, although this is not recommended due to your car's turbocharged engine. If you or a mechanic have used mineral oil by mistake, it shouldn't damage the engine - although be aware that while mineral oils have improved over the years, they still have a substantially lower life than synthetics. You'll want to change your oil and replace it with a recommended synthetic within 3,000 - 5,000 miles.

    5. Will Brand XX work in my car?

    Please read the back of the bottle to see if it meets GM-LL-A-025 spec, and read the recommendations above. If it is not GM-LL-A-025, see Question 3.

    6. Which brand is better? Brand X or Brand Y?

    There really is no consensus on which oil brand is better, and it's been discussed a hundred times. Most 9-3 owners, at least in the United States, use Mobil1 0W-40 because it is the most readily available and can occasionally be found on sale. Some owners have their loyalties to a certain brand, while some find the best deal. Follow our recommendations, and you should have no problem.

    7. Will changing my oil with a non-spec formula void my warranty?

    No, it will not void your warranty.

    8. I have a diesel...what do these guidelines mean for me?

    These recommendations apply for diesel owners as well - except Saab recommends GM-LL-B-025 spec oil for diesel models. GM-LL-A-025 is only for gasoline engines.

    IN SUMMARY:

    - The recommended oil for your 9-3 will meet GM-LL-A-025 specifications (GM-LL-B-025 for diesels).
    - If you use the recommended specification oil, you may wait as long as 10,000 miles before changing it, depending on driving habits. Use your discretion.
    - You may also use a non-recommended spec synthetic oil in your car. Nothing horrible will happen, but disregard your SID's oil life monitor and change your oil every 7,000-10,000 miles.
    - Mineral oil is not recommended, and should be changed within 3,000-5,000 miles and replaced with a synthetic oil.


    That's what I've come up with so far, folks. Hopefully we can avoid some of the repeat questions we've seen in the past with a good write-up here.

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    Last edited by Warren Demontague; 06 August 2010 at 14:20.

  2. #2
    Saab Fan
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    RE #1 "there is no specific recommended BRAND for Saabs".......From page 238 of my 03 Manual "We recommend the use of Saab or Mobile oils", 0W30 Saab Turbo Oil (Elf, the original factory fill) was discontinued in about 04

    RE # 2 The OLM's of 03-05 Vehicles are calibrated to 15,000 miles, they now have to ignore the SID.

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  3. #3
    Joe
    Third Saab's a Charm Warren Demontague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonV View Post
    RE #1 "there is no specific recommended BRAND for Saabs".......From page 238 of my 03 Manual "We recommend the use of Saab or Mobile oils", 0W30 Saab Turbo Oil (Elf, the original factory fill) was discontinued in about 04
    Replaced the last sentence in #1 with this: "Saab specifically recommends Mobil1 and Saab Turbo Oil (now discontinued), but the point here is that the recommended specification should meet GM-LL-A-025"

    Quote Originally Posted by JonV View Post
    RE # 2 The OLM's of 03-05 Vehicles are calibrated to 15,000 miles, they now have to ignore the SID.
    Added the following sentence in #2: "Owners of 2003-2005 9-3s have a SID that's calibrated for a 15,000 mile oil change, so keep that in mind and stick to a 10,000 mile interval."

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  4. #4
    Saab Fan
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    I used to do Dino every 3K on my C900 T16, the M1 guys went 5K... those old Oil Cooled Turbo's could cook up Oil.

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  5. #5
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    03' 9-3 SS Linear--gone, 06' 9-3 SC Aero--gone, 09' 9-3 SS Aero Auto--yeah
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    Oh boy one of my first threads!

    And Warren you might want to adjust your #2. I've said this over and over but some people keep posting otherwise. The GM LL 025 spec has NOT changed. It is still 30,000 km or 18,000 mi.
    Some people think the M1 0W40 was changed and can't go as far. It is still 18,000 mi. outside of the US. Saab changed the interval not Mobil or GM.
    Until someone posts that the GM Long Life spec has gone down to 10,000 mi. a spec'd oil can go 18,000 mi., not 10,000 mi.
    Mobil 1 0W40 or German made Castrol 0W30 are GM LL 025 spec'd. I've posted the UOA's on both these oils to prove it. The current formulation M1 0W40 will go at least 14,000 mi. on the Aero V6.

    I'm running RP 0W40 currently in my 06' Aero and have over 15,000 mi. on it however I can't get a sample out as my oil extractor tube can't get into the oil pan--something is blocking it I guess. I'm trading it in a couple of days so will not be doing an oil change.
    Hmmm...now I'm thinking. What tool would I need to loosen the drain plug? Perhaps I could do that to collect a sample for a UOA.

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  6. #6
    Scott Hutchings
    Too much to do, no time! SaabScott's Avatar
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    One of the downsides to the LL oils is simply leaving the oil in there for so long.
    No arguing that synthetic oils don't break down the way dyno oil does.
    But leaving the oil in that long means that you aren't getting the contaminents out of your engine.
    The only way to do that is by draining the oil.

    Also, there is the question of the filter itself.
    What changes have happened in the past few years that allows us to leave an oil filter on the car for a significantly longer period of time?
    Not many that I am aware of.
    They have a saturation point and I wouldn't be comfortable leaving one on any car for 14,000 miles ... or even 10,000 miles.

    My view point on oil and oil changes is simple.
    It is cheap insurance (relative to the cost of oil related breakdowns).
    I keep my cars for significant periods of time and mileage (have put more than 60,000 miles/100,000 kms on my current Saab in under 2 years).
    To change the oil every 5,000 miles ensures that I will have a less likely chance of something oil related happening to my engine.

    Just a viewpoint to consider ...

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  7. #7
    Joe
    Third Saab's a Charm Warren Demontague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbonFlash View Post
    Oh boy one of my first threads!

    And Warren you might want to adjust your #2. I've said this over and over but some people keep posting otherwise. The GM LL 025 spec has NOT changed. It is still 30,000 km or 18,000 mi.
    Some people think the M1 0W40 was changed and can't go as far. It is still 18,000 mi. outside of the US. Saab changed the interval not Mobil or GM.
    Until someone posts that the GM Long Life spec has gone down to 10,000 mi. a spec'd oil can go 18,000 mi., not 10,000 mi.
    Mobil 1 0W40 or German made Castrol 0W30 are GM LL 025 spec'd. I've posted the UOA's on both these oils to prove it. The current formulation M1 0W40 will go at least 14,000 mi. on the Aero V6.

    I'm running RP 0W40 currently in my 06' Aero and have over 15,000 mi. on it however I can't get a sample out as my oil extractor tube can't get into the oil pan--something is blocking it I guess. I'm trading it in a couple of days so will not be doing an oil change.
    Hmmm...now I'm thinking. What tool would I need to loosen the drain plug? Perhaps I could do that to collect a sample for a UOA.
    Sorry I've neglected this thread for a couple months. In my write-up, I have it worded that Saab changed the oil change interval - not Mobil1. There are conservative folks who change their oil very often, and those who are willing to go longer distances. I'm sure with today's synthetics, 18,000 miles isn't out of the question at all in terms of the oil maintaining its properties.

    In any case, this thread is not intended for people who have already made up their minds as to how they want to change their oil. Like I said, there are folks who want to change it sooner rather than later, and vice versa. This was written to avoid the repeat questions from new members about what they should do. Using Saab's 10,000 mile recommendation as a base point, I tried to bridge the ideological gap between those who change often, and those who think it can go longer. I did it that way for two reasons - so we can all arrive at a consensus answer (hopefully), and so that there will be no more arguing over this issue on SaabWorld.

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    - Joe
    2006 9-3SS Arc 5-speed
    2004 9-3SS Linear 5-speed (RIP)

  8. #8
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    I'm curious about what people think of getting the first oil change done sooner than recommended. I did a search and didn't seem to find anything on this. I've always heard that you should get the first change done sooner than usual to get rid of any machining residues or shavings left behind. In this case, I'd probably do it around 3500 miles. I've also heard that new engine manufacturing processes have made this obsolete. So what's everyone's opinion on this?

    Oil changes sound easy on the 2.0T, so I would happily change this myself prior to the scheduled change done by the dealer. Any drawbacks to this? I doubt it will affect when the service indicator will turn on.

    Thanks!

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  9. #9
    Jose Luis
    Saab Addict jlrSAAB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarSnaab View Post
    I'm curious about what people think of getting the first oil change done sooner than recommended. I did a search and didn't seem to find anything on this. I've always heard that you should get the first change done sooner than usual to get rid of any machining residues or shavings left behind. In this case, I'd probably do it around 3500 miles. I've also heard that new engine manufacturing processes have made this obsolete. So what's everyone's opinion on this?

    Oil changes sound easy on the 2.0T, so I would happily change this myself prior to the scheduled change done by the dealer. Any drawbacks to this? I doubt it will affect when the service indicator will turn on.

    Thanks!
    http://saabworld.net/f8/yearly-maint....html#post3752

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  10. #10
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    03' 9-3 SS Linear--gone, 06' 9-3 SC Aero--gone, 09' 9-3 SS Aero Auto--yeah
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarSnaab View Post
    I'm curious about what people think of getting the first oil change done sooner than recommended. I did a search and didn't seem to find anything on this. I've always heard that you should get the first change done sooner than usual to get rid of any machining residues or shavings left behind. In this case, I'd probably do it around 3500 miles. I've also heard that new engine manufacturing processes have made this obsolete. So what's everyone's opinion on this?

    Oil changes sound easy on the 2.0T, so I would happily change this myself prior to the scheduled change done by the dealer. Any drawbacks to this? I doubt it will affect when the service indicator will turn on.

    Thanks!
    I've got a new 09' Aero SS and changed the oil at about 4800 mi. Changing it early doesn't hurt one bit. I've got 13,000 mi. and will be going in for the first "intermediate service" this week.

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