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  1. #1
    Saab Fan
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    2002 9-5 Inquiry

    Greetings all,

    I'm wondering if I can enlist some of the expertise on this forum....

    Currently, I'm debating whether to purchase a 2002 9-5 Linear, about 120k miles (it is an automatic). I have never owned a Saab and up until last week, had not researched the merits of purchasing one. I must say this forum and other Saab "communities" on the internet are extremely informative - thanks to the administrators/moderators/contributors for providing a great resource. That said, I am aware of the issue with the turbocharger and oil sludge problem - but am wondering if there is any other problems to consider?

    The particular Saab I'm looking at is in good shape on the exterior. VIN searches reveal a clean title, no accidents, and no odometer tampering. Went to look at it and the tires had even wear, CV joints/boots looked good, no rust, coolant looked normal before the test drive.

    Turned the key and there was some struggle, but I don't take it as indicative as any major issue (the car had been sitting in a lot for a few months). After some worrisome seconds, it turned over. The engine sounded great, idled at normal RPMs. Automatic transmission (something I did not expect on a Saab) shifted well, no slips, RPMs changed consistently. All electrical accessories seemed to be in good order. A/C and heater both worked. Brought it on the highway and punched it, no vibrations, shaking, or other noticeable issues while cruising between 70 and 90 mph - very, very smooth ride. Brakes didn't pulsate/vibrate, but they did make some noise, sounded like some rust on the brakes (can probably be attributed to sitting in a lot). Brought it back to lot, popped the hood with the vehicle running. Fluids looked good, A/C was on and cooling fan seemed to operate fine. Turned it off, checked the oil - looked/felt good.

    I'm having a Saab mechanic (not from a dealership) look at the vehicle in the next few days. Aside from the oil sludge/turbocharger issues, I'm wondering if anyone here has suggestions/opinions on what to look out for in terms of mechanical problems? With 120k miles, it seems that the things that could have already gone wrong...well, would have already gone wrong (e.g. the turbocharger). I'm going to insist on inspection of the oil sludge issue.

    Also wondering on the general reliability of these vehicles? I drive almost exclusively highway miles. Again, this is my first Saab experience, so please excuse any improper terminology, etc.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I look forward to any comments/suggestions that you may have.

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  2. #2
    Frank Wulfers
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    previous: 2006 9-3, 2001-06 9-5, 2011 9-4X
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    It sounds like you did your homework and know the possible problems. It could still have its original turbo at 120K miles so that may have to be replaced in the future. You often can get a good feel of a car by the way it looks and drives and it sure sounds like it was a positive experience.

    Besides the sludge issue, it is mostly maintenance and service like with any other car. You can save some money if you can do the easy things yourself. Does the car have any service history like oil changes and so on?

    Not sure if you have seen the 9-5 Buyer's Guide with information about most common problems with the 9-5: http://saabworld.net/f9/saab-9-5-buyers-guide-693/

    Welcome to the site and good luck with the inspection and purchase decision.

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  3. #3
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    Frank,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    The car has a service history for the last 20,000 or so miles (when the guy I'm buying it from drove it). Consistent oil changes, every 4k-5k miles, fully synthetic. Before that, the records are scant.

    I have taken a look at the 9-5 Buyers Guide (read it over several times) before posting...and I just read it over again. Thanks for the great resource. Is there any way to "check" the turbocharger aside from waiting for the blue smoke? I'm a proactive/preventative maintenance kind of guy...

    Also, I'm assuming it is probably wise to have the Saab mechanic confirm the PCV update was completed?

    Assuming the Saab mechanic discovers some possible sludge issue, what's the best course of action? Walk away from the from vehicle? Or is it something that can be addressed with a simple cleaning and exclusive use of fully synthetic oil w/ changes every 3k-5k miles from that point on? The car ran great on the test drive, I'm just wondering if the sludge issue implies other types of permanent damage to the vehicle.

    I have never enjoyed the process of buying a vehicle up until this 9-5. It is truly a nice vehicle that seems to have all the practical features (decent gas mileage, overall reliability) that I look for in a car.

    What are the "easy" things you are referring to? I am somewhat handy, but foreign to Saabs.

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  4. #4
    Frank Wulfers
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    Not sure if you can visually check the turbo and see what shape it is in. You may be able to check if there is any play on the turbine wheels but I can't remember if that's possible with the turbo on the engine. It is not a very expensive item to replace (I believe around $400 for a remanufactured turbo) if you can do it yourself.

    Definitely make sure it has the latest PCV update. My 2001 9-5 had quite bit of sludge in the oil pain but still ran fine. As long as the oil pickup tube isn't completely clogged, I think the engine should be fine. You can also pull the valve cover and see what it looks like under there. If the sump is relatively clean, I wouldn't worry to much about sludge inside the engine. Unless the previous owner already cleaned the sump.

    The easy things to do yourself is oil changes, ATF chnages, possible the coolant bypass valve, serpentine belt, filter changes (air, cabin and fuel). Other repairs are not that difficult either if you have a good repair manual and help of many knowledgeably people here on SaabWorld.

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  5. #5
    mdb99@bellsouth.net
    Oh! I Get It Now Mike Brennan's Avatar
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    Your Tech can easily check the turbo for shaft wobble, Side to side and it is probably going, if not its good to go. If there were good syntheric oil changes throughout the life of the car a GT 17 can go 160000 miles or so. If not way less. You cant tell. A dealer will give you a service history on the VIN at least through the warranty period, but that is of only marginally helpful as back then it was a 10000 mile change with who knows what kind of oil, so you really cant tell if a PO had it done more oftern. You pretty much have to drop the pan to be sure. A car well taken care of will usually have some pretty fresh transmission fliud in it. If the radio stations are tapped into easy listening stations that is a good sign of soft use.
    Check the carpet under the drivers seat and confirm it is dry and pull the cabin filter, lots of DIY on that, Its a pain the first time but it does need to have that area cleaned. I pulled the wipers off my 01 when I got it (and good luck with that too) and the cowl and cleaned out all that nasty stuff in there. You will have to buy a wiper puller tool. Loosen the nut tull it just hanging at the top of the thread, put you puller shaft into the nut and under the arm and twist it till your sure its going to break and then twist some more till the wiper breaks free. And when you put it back on use lots of Locktight so the next owner will never be able to get it off.
    Your gonna love this car on the highway

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  6. #6
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    Frank and Mike,

    Thanks for the responses, you guys know your stuff.

    Had the specialist look at it yesterday. Latest PCV update was completed (phew). The guy was very anal (which I like, being ex-military) and noted many little issues (all normal wear/tear issues that are now the seller's responsibility).

    Some points of concern, as these seem to be Saab-specific:

    (1) the plastic engine/battery cover were both missing (having them replaced).
    (2) there was a pending code on the turbo, but one of the hoses was disconnected (could be using the wrong terminology/not explaining the issue properly) - he re-connected the hose and believes that will solve the pending code.
    (3) Oil is possibly leaking out of the dipstick shaft, he recommended a new dipstick seal (mentioned that is common with these vehicles). Another possibility is this could be indicative of an issue with the turbo. In any case, oil from one of these places is beginning to get on tubes/hoses under the hood and beginning to eat at them. This can of worms needs to be closed fast!
    (4) Something funky with trunk (wiring is all bashed up) - having that fixed too.

    All-in-all, there was no blatant signs of misuse/lemon status. The specialist stated that the car is in decent shape for a Saab of its age. It is coming up on a 120k service - as a serial used-car buyer, this is something I am unfamiliar with.

    There is a nice service history on CarFax, only two owners, both local to my area. Seems all the major things were addressed early in its life. Thankfully, it looks like it was also serviced every 4k-5k miles, however the report is unclear as to whether fully synthetic was used.

    In any case, I'm buying the car conditional on the current owner fixing all the little things. I'll bring it for a 120k service in a couple months and take it from there.

    Any recommendations on a good repair manual? Where can I buy this "wiper-puller" tool? Is there a technical name for it?

    I'm looking forward to driving this thing on the highway!

    Thanks again guys.

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  7. #7
    Frank Wulfers
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    I have both the Saab 9-5 Haynes manual and the WIS. The WIS is the same information that is used by Saab dealers and describes everything you need to know in great detail. Search for "Saab WIS" on eBay and you can usually find it. In addition to the WIS, there also is the EAC (accessoiries) and APC (parts) catalogs. The EPC is handy for looking up any part information/numbers and details.


    Little things can be expected with any used car but it sounds like it is in overall nice condition. Keep up on the service and it should last you a long time. Looking forward to the pictures when you get it.

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  8. #8
    mdb99@bellsouth.net
    Oh! I Get It Now Mike Brennan's Avatar
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    Here is a link to the wiper puller type that works. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-4676-Winds.../dp/B000L7JQE8 Most parts stores have one. Many folks just replace all the hoses under the hood. There are lots of DIY either here on Franks site or on Saab Central. It is neither hard nor time consuming. I would also replace the check valves as surely one or two are no good especially the one out of the boost control. Look for a housing with 3 hoses coming out of it on top behind the radiator. Pull the top hose out and put a bolt in the hose in it to block it off, You dont even need the valve on that line, but if it is not working, and I am sure it is not, you will have less power. Just plug it and forget about it. Really.

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  9. #9
    Saab Fan
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    Just to update:

    I bought the 9-5 last week. Drove it off the lot and brought it home. After I turned the engine off, something told me to try and turn it back on for good measure. The car wouldn't start...after having a minor hissy fit, I called Triple AAA.

    To make a long story short: the guy I bought it from put the wrong battery in the vehicle (way under voltage). As part of our sales agreement, he had to replace the battery currently in the vehicle. The Triple AAA guy put in the right battery and the car started fine, but I knew it was likely that the wrong battery could have caused some damage to the electrical system.

    Next day, I am driving and the battery light comes on (the one that means the battery is not charging, stop driving immediately). I knew then it was the alternator...and suffice it to say the mechanic confirmed this. What an unideal way to start off my ownership of this vehicle.

    In any case, the alternator was replaced and the car has gone about 100 miles w/o any other problems. What a joy of a ride on the highway. The turbo is great for getting around lackadaisical drivers in city areas.

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  10. #10
    Mike
    Moderator Shazam's Avatar
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    Glad you like it! Shame about the battery though. Did he have to pay for the alternator too? Hopefully he did.

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