Why We All Need To Stop Crushing Saabs


Saab 9-5 in the junkyard

It’s no secret that many of the people working at eEuroparts.com are Saab people.  Most of us have been for awhile, and Saab people are a pretty straight forward breed.  They are the type of people that LOVE getting a good deal and finding the best value for quality.  In the used car market place, that mentality will often land you in a Saab, especially in New England.  They are great in snow, have excellent seats, extremely well thought out ergos, get great fuel economy and have tons of space.  To top it off, the commonplace turbo technology makes them quick under the right set of circumstances.  With the current parts availability, they are no big deal to own (for the most part) and maintaining a Saab is easy enough.

However, there’s a stigma around Saab.  Since they are no longer being made, people that are unfamiliar with them will assume a few things.  The first is that they must have been an inferior car in the first place or they wouldn’t have gone out of business.  The second is that they break all the time and are expensive to fix.  The consequence of these assumptions is a resale value plummeting through the floor, making Saabs worth practically nothing.  For those Saab guys out there looking to get the best bang for their buck, it means they can have their cake and eat it too.  For the non-Saab guys, it promotes neglect straight to the junkyard.  Why maintain a car that’s worth nothing?

Saab Headgasket

Sold for parts? How about doing a headgasket instead? If nobody wants to do it, this nice car is likely destined for the scrap heap.

If you’ve been to an auto recycler in the last year, you may have noticed rows and rows of Saabs being stripped of precious few parts before being sent near-whole to be cubed. That’s really sad.  It’s sad because when you poke around these cars, you’ll notice barely anything is wrong with them.  They often have a few dents and scratches from the rigors of daily driving, but it’s not rare to see notes scribbled on the windows that say ‘Engine+Trans GOOD’.  I’ve had friends pull very nice interiors out, major engine and transmission parts, whole suspension assemblies…if all these things are good, then what could have possibly taken those Saabs off the road?

Saab 9-3 Junkyard

Because the value is so low, when a Saab experiences a breakdown from something basic like a failed fuel pump or bad ignition coil pack (every car has these problems), the owner will instantly consider the value.  With a complete repair bill easily approaching or exceeding the resale value of the car, pulling off the plates and dumping it at the local scrap yard is by far and away the easiest  solution.  The problem is, with every Saab taken off the road, the likelyhood of parts remaining available also dwindles.

Saab 9-3 Junkyard

Didn’t even take the roof rack off, destined for the crusher

What many folks don’t do is think about how much their car is worth to them, instead of weighing against an artificially deflated monetary value.  Don’t let Kelly Blue Book tell you your car is worthless, only you can decide that!

If you have a Saab that’s KBB is worth $1000, and it needs $800 worth of work, that can appear like a no-go situation to most.  The most common thing people do when they find themselves here is to buy a new car….to save money.  Yes, to save money.  Say you have that $1000 Saab that needs $800 worth of work, and you dump it to put that money into some mystery used car on Craigslist.  Now you start the car payment up, only to find that your 10-year-newer car now needs $1500 worth of work because the high pressure fuel pump failed 6 months down the road.

Whoops.

You could have spent the $800 and gotten back your nice driving daily workhorse.

We see this time and time again, and we are doing our best to stop it.  As the number of registered Saabs on the road decreases, more parts become NLA.  We try our best to find a substitute and a work around, and work very hard to make sure the maintenance items for all of these cars are still available at a great price.  We make DIY’s and technical articles to help people start wrenching on their own cars, but that’s not enough.  Everyone needs to chip in.  Fix your Saab!  Put in that fuel pump before it goes bad.  Keep a spare direct ignition cassette in the trunk.  Rebuild that convertible top pump and install a new neutral safety switch.  Don’t neglect your transmission fluid and change your oil!  Yank the tape off and change the window regulator, and swap out that buzzy speaker!  Get some new floor mats and install a new button set for the dash.Stop Crushing Saabs
I bought the above car for $800 last year.  When I arrived, I checked for sludge (it’s ok and has had the PCV update).  The trans was locked in limp mode and the owner was ditching it.  The radiator was also leaking, the tires were shot, and the exhaust leaked.  The junkyard was not far off.  I put in a Neutral Safety Switch, a used radiator, got a cheap set of Nokian eNtyre 2.0‘s, flushed the trans, and put on a new Starla exhaust pipe.  With some junk yard Aero seats and a wax, it shined up nice.  Now, 30k miles down the road, ‘Serena’ is still providing reliable comfortable transportation with heated seats and a bumpin’ 9 speaker premium stereo.  I plan on doing some preventative maintenance in the coming month or two.


After you fix all the annoying things you’ve been putting off, you’ll fall in love with your Saab all over again, and it will cost a fraction of the price of getting another used car.  So, if you’re thinking of dumping off your Saab, think about why.  Is it because of that buzzy speaker or window regulatorFix it!  Is it because the left front strut is leaking and the sunroof motor is burned out?  Fix it!  The parts are out there.  If you see a used Saab that needs a few things, pick it up!  Do a weekend of wrenching and create a vehicle that can happily chug along for years to come. For the rhetorical $6500 extra dollars you would use to get a different used car, you could replace just about every moving part on your Saab with new.

That’s way better than crushing it!

 

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26 thoughts on “Why We All Need To Stop Crushing Saabs
  1. Jeff Urey

    To that point, I found a one-owner, ‘07 9-5 Aero with 91,000 miles (2.3 T). I picked it up for $4k. I think I can afford to fix her if and when it needs something! Here’s to keeping them on the road!

  2. David

    As an enthusiast, I completely understand your perspective on fixing a car instead of crushing it. That’s why I don’t mind repairing things as I see it being way cheaper than a car payment, and when it’s fixed, it doesn’t cost me anything aside from gas, etc. Unfortunately, most non car people don’t really see working on their car as something they want to do and would rather junk their car and get something more “reliable”. It’s a shame, but that’s how our society is nowadays.

  3. BEN MFANISENI MTSHALI

    Hi, can somebody invest in the rebuilding of these cars which could create more employment opportunities and have the car recirculated in the market again, with a permission of Saab. The ides I have is to remanufacture these care, revamp after testing all those that look old, rebuild the interior and touch it up.

    I have been having this idea for a long time now and feel I should share. I own two Saabs and feel that working on these cars can be a good idea with some few cosmetic interior changes

  4. Tom Tracey

    Couldn’t agree more. My daughter just picked up an ‘01 9-3 SE that needed nothing more than a climate control fan switch. It will last for years and is a blast to drive, safe, great on fuel and absolutely practical as all Saabs are. $1200 CAD. Hard to beat.

  5. Here in California I find the other shops that work on Saab’s to be a bit masochistic. Being a shop owner who specializes in the VAG with parts and service information readily available I regret it every time I take in some begging Saab owner who cannot get their car fixed . Finding repair information and parts such as control units often times takes way more time than the repair which the customer does not want to pay for. Until Saab is supported to the level of Volvo on an OEM basis here in this country I have put up a no repair order for Saab’s in my shop.

  6. Snowmobile

    I agree with David. I’ve got 4 SAABs I maintain including some classics, so I am an outlier. Most people have zero interest or capability or time vs other leisure activities to maintain their own vehicles. If you take that head gasket job to a shop, or a stack of repairs even, you are often looking at thousands of $ in labour. So I think that is what causes people to give up on their older cars. It is useful to have a good relationship with a SAAB shop also, but doing some work yourself makes the ownership cost more viable.

    I bought a newer used SAAB cheaply last year, and I’ve put a lot into it (time and $). They are great cars so worth it to me, but not everyone is like that. Love the sentiment of the article though. I wish the wreckers would hold on to the cars a little longer. The used parts are worth more than the scrap metal value. Message to those sending their SAAB to a crusher: find a wrecker who specializes in European cars, values the parts, and keeps them a while. We have one locally. Don’t send it to the metal recycler guys unless you strip it first! Also charities = metal recycler guys. Sell it to a good wrecker and donate what they pay you to the charity instead!

  7. Mike M

    I agree 100%. I’ve been telling folks for years that the “replace it?” equation isn’t the cost of the repairs vs. the ‘value’ of the car, it’s the cost of the repairs vs. what it’ll cost to replace the car. Of course, availability of a good independent mechanic is a key part of that balance too.

  8. Thomas Herceg

    Yes its not just Saabs I have a 83 Porsche 944 ,the book value is not that much being not a 911.The interior is not great mice chewed thru the console before I bought it. In 2 spots. But the value of the parts are worth more than the price someone would pay. It runs great but I put $ into it I Am considering parting it out. Which is different than crushing it. I’ll wait a while longer

  9. Steve Koplo

    I absolutely agree with fixing Saabs! Still the MOST INTELLIGENT CAR EVER BUILT although so many since have copied Saab technology. I’ll drive them as long as I can keep one on the road.

  10. Pierre

    Great Article.

    I challenge anyone to find a better value in the market today for a premium auto, with the features a SAAB has.

    The negative perception on SAABs is one that my wife shared, until she started driving our 9-5. I had a hard time convincing her that this was the car for us, even after all the research. Guess what she drives now? (We have a lot of cars to choose from.) Yes, you guessed it, our SAAB. She ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT. Guess what she is looking for as a replacement for our SUV… yes, another SAAB (SportCombi) ON ME TO FIND ANOTHER ONE.

    Simply put, there is nothing like it in the market for the money, and in many circumstances, nothing like it period, at any price. Really, what would you rather drive, a used Camry? Looking for a convertible, look no further than a 9-3. Live the dream, experience the joy of driving a convertible SAAB… it will put a smile on your face. Performance… try to find another car that can compete with 260 hp for the money. 9-5 Aeros and post 2006 9-5’s with the B235R engines are wicked fast. Faster than a 911 turbo from 40-70.

    As far a maintenance goes, it’s really not that hard. There is just not that much that you need to do, and most of the repairs you can do yourself… with the right amount of instruction and confidence… You can do it!. Sure, it takes some time, but you get the satisfaction of a job well done, you save money, and you have an awesome, unique car to drive.

  11. D. S.

    I’ve had 3 Saabs now (looking for #4) and two were totaled out in accidents. I understand that insurance carriers won’t write a collision policy since OEM crash parts are no longer available for older models. I think that will be the cause of a fair number of Saabs hitting the crusher.

    Another reason the rolling stock of Saabs is dwindling is the fact that emissions parts (cats in particular) are getting rare and/or expensive. If you are a California owner an older Saab can turn into a money pit when the P0420 code pops up. Other CARB-regulated items like the EVAP system, while less failure-prone, can also make you want to sign over the title to take the “cash for clunkers” money. Lots of cars of the mid-2000s vintage have been “retired” before their time because of worn out cats caused by age, lack of proper maintenance or poor engineering (looking at you, Nissan and your 5.6L manifold-precat units that crack…). When it costs a few thousand to make a car pass inspection a lot of people will walk away.

    Saabs are great 1st cars for teen drivers. They’re cheap to buy, they’re safe, they can be fun to drive and if you’ve got someone who can attend to the wrenching they’re pretty reliable.

    Also, thank you, eEuroparts, for your support of the Saab brand. I’ve had a lot of rewarding and fun times wrenching on our Saabs and you guys make finding parts pretty painless.

  12. Kenn Colclasure

    I surely agree, it’s a shame to crush a perfectly fine car like a Saab. I’ve owned many cars in my life, including a few Saabs, and the best car I’ve ever owned is my current 1994 9000 Aero. Yes, it does not have an entertainment center, self parking, trick gadgets like auto closing doors or trunk, or automatic braking, but it has an elegant engine monitoring technology that can produce 225 hp and run at 32 to 34 mph and do so cleanly. It drives solidly and quietly – a pleasure to drive cross country. It is maybe worth $2000 now. To crush the car would be to waste a fine car in favor of something that only offers distractions while driving and nothing more. I have a Prius also that gives me 50 mph, but its sole is lacking as a road machine.
    We have become a society that favors gadgetry over value, sheep-like preferences when it comes styling.
    I also have a 2000 Boxster S that does not offer the quality and enjoyment my Aero provides. I will not crush my Saab.

  13. Larry

    Great article! I’m currently on my third Saab, a 2007 9-3 Aero sedan with 112,000. Every time I think about buying a newer vehicle, I say why? I still love driving it, and I don’t see similar vehicles every day. Long live Saab!

  14. Paul F Busch

    I and my family have owned several 900 and 9000 SAABs (more than a dozen). I am currently running two 9000 CSE… but, you do have to commit some of your time for repairs. Still, far far cheaper than paying off loans or risking high money vehicles on the road where those get “totaled” with a small bump. Drawings and information on repair/rplacement remain difficult to find (after learning about clocksprings). Keep finding and listing parts… even used ones are great.

  15. Patrick Daniel

    My worst Saab experience was when I found a 2006 93 convertible in a junk yard in San Antonio Texas and they refused to sell it to me. So my only recourse was to strip it clean and try to save as many as I can. I could not ascertain what was wrong in the first place. KBB is full of Sh*t. They wouldn’t know a good car if it ran them over. Which is what I’ve done to a KBB book a number of times. That feels great. You should try it.

  16. Johhny Carson

    Yes, it’s a “crime” to crush a beautiful car with a plethora of worthy parts that many other SAAB enthusiast could use and pay just a few bucks, compared to the price of a new part. Stop doing that guys, smarten up, your SAAB can take you a long way, it’s worth even changing the broken engine for a good used one.Good luck!

  17. Chris Despond

    It is sad to see a perfectly good Saab at a scrap yard but sometimes it is like being a kid in a candy store as I can pick up parts for our fleet of 93’s for a lot less than the cost of a new part. That being said now the Parts for Life program is around then I may have to think hard about some of those parts.
    By the way anybody know where I can get a good front drivers seat for my 2008 93 Sport Combi?

    Great article Adam hope all is well with you! 🙂

  18. Marcus Kirksey

    I have rebuilt plenty of Saab from local junkyards [pull a part]. Get a Email every time they receive a new vehicle. Its like a gold mine, absolute love it. Also scroll Craiglist once a week for Saab.

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