Buying advice

Thanks to the users on Saab Turbo Club of Sweden we’ve gathered some buying advice on what to look out for when buying a used Saab 9-5.

NOTE Before you decide to buy the car so we recommend that you check the car’s history with an online report, such as CarFax. A very affordable and cheap assurance that the car, for example, has gone as far as the seller says.

Engine / Service

  • Oilsludge: Models between years 1998-2003 are at higher risk of Oilsludge. Short driving distances and carelessness with oil changes are big reasons why it occurs. From 04 onwards the problem is fixed. Be sure to check that the crankcase ventilation system is upgraded to version 6 (if there is a small pipe with a hose from the oil filler tube it is upgraded).
  • Service book: Is it complete and stamped properly? Remember that Saab’s 8-year engine warranty is only valid with a fully filled service journal. Biopower needs service every 1500 mil / 9320 miles, all other cars every 2000 or 3000 mil depending on model year.
  • Listen for a rattle from the timing chain which is located on the right side of the engine (left if you are standingin front of the car). Replacing the timing chain can cost well over $2000. If you’re able to replace it yourself you can expect to pay around $500 for all of the parts needed. A timing chain tensioner who are stretched out 15mm or more indicates that a change should be made ??as soon as possible.
  • Check the oil level to get an idea on whether the seller has been careful to keep track of the oil. It should be between the small ball and the rest of the black part on the arm (preferably near the max level).
  • Check if the car smokes during acceleration, which in could indicate a bad turbo.
  • Check for visible leakage (the AC can leave small odorless puddles under each front door, nothing to worry about since it’s just condensation).
  • When you test drive the car be sure to check to see if the car jerks or hesitates when accelerating.

Body and paint:

  • Check for paint joints throughout the body, and for cracks in the paint at the joints in the roof. It is a common problem on previous Saab 9-5 models.
  • Check the rubber strips around the window when you raise and lower the window. If they fold so possibility of water leaking into and strip should then be replaced as soon as possible to avoid rust inside the doors.
  • Check for rust under the trunk, as well as in the upper panel of the model year 2002-2005. The tailgate can be chafed against the plate with paint/rust damages as a result.
  • Check the fuel cap that is often prone to rust.
  • Look over all the door handles for paint drops.
  • Check that any stone chips has been filled and not started to rust.


  • Check the rear shock absorbers for leaks and if the car feels wobbly during the test drive.
  • Check the rear A-bushings (front bushings in the rear suspension) so that they are not cracked or separated.
  • Check the rear B-bushings (rear bushings in the rear suspension) so that they are not cracked or separated.
  • Listen for clonking sounds under the car or squeaking from the bushings in general.




  • Check the condition of the brake discs and pads. Rusty brake discs may need to be replaced and also brake pads if they have little surface left.
  • Check the handbrake function, it should not be possible to pull it far up.


Manual transmission:

  • Check that the clutch does not take the top or slips.
  • Make sure all gears are working that they will not jump out.
  • Check if reverse gear goes in without a problem.
  • Listen for any unusual wines from the gearbox.

Automatic transmission:

  • Check that the car shifts smoothly and without cuts.
  • Check the level and color of the transmission oil, it should be quite clear and reddish if it is good.
  • Check if there are any vibrations from the car during the test drive. Try even a bit higher speeds (follow the speed signs on the road ;-))


  • Check that all controls and displays are functioning. Saab’s SID and ACC displays are likely to have issues with dead pixels on previous models. A broken SID is a cost of about $300 to fix including labor and materials, but you can get it fixed cheaper with a used one.
  • Press the AUTO + OFF simultaneously on the ACC unit. This will start a self-test, it will show a 1 in the corner if it is OK . Otherwise, it will for example show a 1 in the left corner and an 11 in the right which means you have 1 error code which is 11.
  • Make sure that you can get both hot and cold air and that it is possible to get the air to come from all places ( floor, right at you , and on the windscreen) .
  • Make sure that the chairs can be set as they should (Both electrically and manually adjustable)
  • Check if the radio memory works, tune in a radio channel and then turn off the car. When you start, it should be saved .
  • Get in your car and turn the ignition on, then press the trunk button on the car key in the ignition lock. The SID panel shows how many keys are coded into the car and you know how many keys you shall ask of the seller.
  • Check that the spare tire and jack are in the trunk.