Take advantage of bargain basement prices
23 March 2010

Used versions of the Saab 9-5 have never been cheaper.

What's more, buyers get loads of standard equipment, exemplary safety protection and superbly comfortable seats.

Tom Hagstrom, a specialist dealer, advises: "They are great. We don't get any big problems with them at all. If not looked after, though, the engine will go pop at 150,000 miles."

If you're tempted, here's what to look out for:

HeadlampsBig and prone to chips. Dealers will charge over £100 per headlight, whereas a breaker will supply one for £39. Self-levelling items can fail and official quotes for a complete unit will be £700, but a handy independent can replace the motor for a shade under £100.

Head gasket If the top corners of the engine block look damp or oily, the gasket could be on the way out — especially if it is accompanied by a misfire. Most garages charge about £500 to fix it. This is a clear sign of service neglect, along with the state of the breather pipes.

Breather pipesLocated at the top of the engine towards the back and under a cover, so often ignored. Eventually the pipes get cooked and break, which leads to oil starvation and terminal engine damage. Worth changing them and the plastic pulleys that you also can’t see.

SID displayThose pixels are almost inevitably going to disappear over time; it’s the most common issue with 9-5s. It is possible to replace the display and a good specialist can offer a rebuilt unit for about £80.

Coil packsThis large, black plug-in unit has a finite life. Hesitation when accelerating or starting problems mean trouble but failure still comes suddenly. A £200 fix officially but can be had for £140. A recon unit from a breaker is £50.

Suspension bushesThis is a heavy car, so when you drive the car over rough surfaces, listen for knocking noises indicating that a shock absorber, suspension arm or, most likely, a bush needs replacing. The bushes themselves are just a few pounds, but replacing them all on a 100,000-miler will be about £200.

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Join the debate


23 March 2010

these pre facelift Saab 9-5's do look dated now! the Dame Edna front end versions looks slightly better! slightly that is! i think it would have to be a very good price to consider one of these over a bmw 5 series of any age

23 March 2010

[quote VX220EDDIE]

these pre facelift Saab 9-5's do look dated now! the Dame Edna front end versions looks slightly better! slightly that is! i think it would have to be a very good price to consider one of these over a bmw 5 series of any age


Yeah, even a fairly mint E34 5-series will struggle to fetch 1k nowadays and the scruffiest, oldest, highest-mileage E39s can be had for under 1k (and even the mintiest ones will cost no more than 8k). E60s can be had for anything from about 6k to near-list. If space is a big consideration, E38 7-series can be had from 2k to 10k or so, not sure about newer ones. Now justify buying a used 9-5, which is still just a first-gen Vectra with a Saab body, a Triumph engine with a Saab turbo and a GM transmission. I'll say this, though, a friend of mine runs a T-reg 9-5 saloon in a sort of metallic maroon colour and it does look quite nice.

I almost wet myself the other week when I saw an E38 750i - I think someone had 'built' it, it was the SWB, with what I think was a LWB-only engine - and various bits and pieces, making it look like a post-facelift model, lovely metallic blue paint with deep creamy leather interior, nice alloys - £2500. Everything worked properly, even down to the retrofitted M5 six-speed manual gearbox (excuse was the auto had gone bang). Needless to say, it quickly disappeared from the used car garage forecourt in question... someone will have got themselves a bargain.

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