Saab 9-3 Convertible (2003–2011)

What's good

5 Star NCAP rating in 2004 Test.

Most UK SAAB Specialists listed by postcode:

SAAB parts and accessories in the USA:

Disconnecting the battery does not lose the radio code because the radios don't have codes.

What to watch out for

By 2009 was starting to feel its age.

In the wake of the news of the demise of SAAB GB on 29th November 2011, the warranty specialist, Warranty Direct, is offering SAAB owners 25% off any new warranty policy for SAABs less than three years-old.

Petrol engined SAABs with 4 cylinder SAAB engines prone to sludging up of the oil feed to the balancer shaft sprocket. Essential to change the oil and filter every 5k miles, to flush the old oil, and to drain from the sump plug. Do not siphon the old oil out or you will leave sludge in the sump.

1.9 diesel autos vulnerable to failure of heat exchanger in radiator admitting coolant to the ATF and wrecking the transmission. On cars just out of warranty GM SAAB usually contributed 40%.

If the hood mechanism fails the reason may be lack of lubrication of the mechanism. Can be solved by increasing the hydraulic pressure controlled by the valve behind the rear seat.

1.9 diesels can be delightful to drive, but give a lot of problems: Failed inlet manifold swirl flaps (and the flaps can beak and be ingested by the engine). Failed EGRs. Choked DPFs. Failed timing belts, often because the waterpump seized. Belt, tensioner, pulleys and waterpump need replacving every 40,000 miles. Failed oil pumps. Failed alternators. Failed dual mass flywheels. Failed turbos.

20-1-2011: Spate of car fires due to wiring fault (moisture ingress?) in SAAB 9-3 convertibles during 2010.

20-2-2012: Important to reprogramme ECU of 1.9 diesel with latest software specifically developed to cope with town driving. DPF regenerations are prompted by a drop in pressure in the exit end of the DPF which is sensed when it begins to get clogged.

8-5-2013: First serious parts shortage seems to be 'CIM' units. If these fail, diagnostics point to the steering angle sensor which it integral to the CIM unit and failure of that knocks out the ESP, which means an MoT fail. These CIM units seem to be specific to the SAAB models. It's possible that ECU Testing or BBA-Reman might be able to repair the failed CIM units.

18-6-2013: CIM steering column electronic module for SAAB 9-3, part number: 12769671 available from camcoelectronics Price: £175.00

19-12-2015: Seems to be a problem with the Takata automatic tensioning cable in the drivers’ side seat-belt retractor that could break, meaning the seat belt would not retract. NHTSA recall of 28,789 SAAB 9-3 convertibles in the USA in July 2014; not in Europe.

23-5-2017: Complaint that when timing belt of SAAB 9-3 1.9TiD convertible was replaced prior to purchase at 69,000 miles in October 2016, the waterpump was not also replaced. This then seized in May 2017, throwing off the timing belt and trashing the engine. Vital to replace timing belt, tensiomner, waterpump and aux helt every 5 years or 60k miles whichever comes first.

8-12-2019: Non-availability of rear suspension bushes for SAAB 9-3s reported.


August 2005 TSB concerning hood. Possibility of kinking of the hydraulic lines. 'Straps and brackets' to be fitted but were initially slow coming through.

July 2014: NHTSA recall of 28,789 SAAB 9-3 convertibles in the USA because the Takata automatic tensioning cable in the drivers’ side seat-belt retractor could break, meaning the seat belt would not retract. Recall not repeated in Europe.

What is your car like to live with?

We need your help with our latest Satisfaction Index, so that we can help others make a smarter car buying decision. What's it like to live with your car? Love it? Loath it? We want to know. Let us know about your car - it will only take a few minutes and you could be helping thousands of others.

Help us with the Honest John Satisfaction Index now