SAAB 9-5 (1997 - 2009) - Blown turbo woes  
Blown turbo woes - DougB
Hi ? My wife owns a Saab 9-5 auto which she bought just over 3 years ago when it was 4years old. Bought from a Saab main dealer who had looked after it from new. Has now done 68,000 miles.

It has been relatively trouble free although not cheap to run. It has always been serviced regularly in line with Saabs recommendations as we are aware of the sludge problem. (The timing chain etc was changed under warranty at the time she bought the car)

Two months ago she had a problem starting the car and said it kept stalling so she booked it in to the dealers. They fitted a new oxygen sensor. Problem was still there.

I am no mechanic (HJ recently and Car magazine back in the seventies is all) but I had a listen one morning when she was leaving and it sounded rough and the exhaust was smoking. I thought turbo and told her so.

Car went to dealers again who kept it for four days. They found nothing wrong, said the car was fine. Wife obviously relieved at the inexpensive conclusion.

Three weeks later she goes up to Buxton (we are in London) to bring daughter and the contents of her flat back from uni. Turbo blows on the A6. Clouds of smoke and almost complete loss of power. Luckily this happens near a lay-by so she can pull off the road. Calls AA. They are brilliant. Tow her to Buxton. Help fill the car with flat contents, tow her to Leicester and truck the car back to London. Thanks guys.

AA come back next day and take the car to dealers. New turbo, new catalytic converter total cost £2500.00. Wife mentions the fact they had said given it the OK. ?Nothing to do with us. We ran the diagnostics and they checked out.? Asked what could cause the turbo to blow. ?Turbos go all the time love?.

Given that we are talking about a main dealer who has been around at least 25 years and that most Saab cars are turbo charged I am amazed they did not spot this but they refuse to accept any liability.

I could write several pages on this but I will spare you. I cannot see how she has any come back. I told her to write to the dealer?s MD and copy to the group MD, Saab customer relations and trading standards. At the least that will release some of the pent-up aggression.

What do you think? Bad luck? Incompetance? Negligence? Are service technicians over dependent on diagnostics?

The only positive thought on this is that it did not happen in the outside lane of the M1!

Thanks for your time, DougB.

Edited by Pugugly on 12/06/2009 at 18:56

Tags: technical issues turbochargers legal and consumer advice dealers consumer rights

Saab Woes - oldnotbold
I guess the question to ask is how much less would it have been had they diagnosed the turbo fault correctly. Sounds as though it was going to need work, but would it have cost the full £2,500?
Saab Woes - Mike H
I don't think there's much you can do. There is no specific diagnostic for a failing turbo. There are symptoms e.g. blue smoke in the exhaust (particularly on a cold start), sluggish pickup. But a failing head gasket will cause "smoke" - but white "smoke", as it's water vapour. Sluggish pickup could be poor petrol, old spark plugs etc.

Unfortunately, most turbos do go without warning. The turbo in my old 9-5 had done 177,000 miles without replacement, and started to smoke...about 7 years and 100,000 miles ago and didn't get worse. After thinking long and hard, I had a replacement fitted and I hadn't realised how slow the old turbo was to spool up - it's almost a different car.

One thing to beware of - if it let go in a big way, it can cause bits of shattered impeller to go into the intercooler. If they didn't remove and clean the intercooler, then there is a risk of some of these bits being sucked into the new turbo - and you can guess what that means. Ask them whether they did that.

Lastly, for specific Saab help and advice, go to www.saabscene.com/forum/index.php where you will find a whole bunch of friendly waiting to help!.

Join the discussion

Reader Offers and Prizes

Latest News & Road Tests

Buying Advice

Honest John's Newsletter

Connect with Honest John

Facebook YouTube