Thursday, March 07, 2013

Need your help! Saab 9-3 Viggen

I really want a Saab, and I found a low mileage Viggen. I know next to nothing about Saabs in general and Viggens in particular. What should I be on the lookout for? Are they reliable? Any trustworthy websites or forums I should check out? And how hard are parts to source? Thanks in advance.


Cchanner83 said...

Yey, Saab! The Viggen is an awesome car. I owned an NG900, which slightly predates the 93 Viggen, but much is still the same. The big worry with the 2.3t is to watch for oil sludging. If the car comes with its history and the owner was diligent about oil changes and did it with synthetic, you should be ok. The bummer is, the only way to know whether you've got a sludging problem (I think) is to drop the oil pan, which is a pain in the ass.

Other, problems are the DI-Cassettes (Saab direct ignition system, replaced the distributor and wires) which are known weak points and have a tendency to stop working. Some owners carry a spare, the part is about $400-500 last I checked. Although, I seem tor recall black top (originals and early ones were red) DI-Cassettes were improved? Otherwise, they're like any European luxury car - gets expensive if neglected, but can be pretty worry free if it's been well cared for. Once you go Saab you'll never go back.

As for resources, is the best car forum I've ever found, for any car, ever. Super helpful, nice, mature posters and its an active forum. They should have a FAQ about buying the Viggen.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope it works out!

Maxichamp said...

@cchanner83: Thanks!

Edvin said...

A Saab 9^3 Viggen? Wow. Interesting choice. Will you be keeping the Phaeton?

Now then, if you get one you should look into getting a Viggen Rescue Kit by Abbott Racing, which cures the reportedly dreadful factory handling. I suspect a large number of them (at least the enthusiast owned ones) may already have the kit installed.

I hear Saab parts availability in general is still OK in our part of the world, but I don't know about the US. Another factor to consider is the service infrastructure. What will happen to mechanic training, special tools availability, diagnostic tester servers etc. in the future?

Based on my experience with turbocharged fwd Saabs, make sure the car has been serviced meticulously and that the chassis and powertrain feel tight. The powerful engines put a lot of strain on the chassis and they're nasty to drive if the chassis is worn and loose. The engines themselves should be pretty bulletproof apart from the previously mentioned DI-cassette and possibly the turbo on higher mileage cars (they typically last about 150k miles).

I'd tell you to look out for rust, but I guess that's not an issue where you are.

Anonymous said...

As a current Viggen owner, I salute you sir! ;-) I searched for two years before a found a suitable Viggen. They are inexpensive to buy and can be somewhat expensive to maintain if you buy one that was fairly unloved like the one I found. Still, you'll have spent thousands less for a distinctive, collectible car that can shame many new cars today.

They did leave the factory flawed. I agree you should definitely get a steering rack clamp and brace to tame torque steer. I would also recommend upgrading the suspension with a larger rear sway and better struts/springs all around. These things will do wonders for the driveability of the car. Sportier springs will lower the stance of the car and - though it seems counter-intuitive - help you avoid scraping the bottom of the front bumper, which can happen often when entering/exiting ramps, etc. The front bumper is very long and low so you need to be careful when parking, etc.

Thankfully, in the US makes wonderful parts and offers some great aftermarket stuff too. SAAB OEM parts supplies are also back to normal so I don't think you should be overly concerned about that either.

Alan said...

You should look at pre-1994 900, they were much more mechanically interesting cars than their replacement, which was pretty much a re-bodied Opel Cavalier. For example, backwards, slanted four with chain drive to the trans.

I want a Saab badly myself, and they're so cheap it's very tempting.

Richard Chen said...

I think there are a couple of Saab specialists in the area: Saab Replay in Berkeley, and Embarcadero Automotive in San Francisco. No direct experience with either one of these shops.