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    Thread: Tell me about: 2003 Saab 9-3 Arc

    1. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:23 PM #1
      Found one for a decent price and am thinking of checking it out (would replace the S60R). I love the way they look and I'd like a manual for daily duties. I'm also guessing that MPGs will be better (and I can get rid of the S60R and dump the excess "profits" into the M3).

      So, what should I be looking for? Seller says that there's something up with the AC. Do these have AC issues? The car has 84k on it.

      What is this Arc? I'm trying to figure the model break-down and can't figure out what the Vector gets that the Arc does not have.

      Rule #1 (the actual car is black and has some sort of big 5-spokes on it):
      Leonardo - Team Post-Killing Ninja
      Fizzy - Team My Little Pony

      Quote Originally Posted by Jrod511 View Post
      If I could do one thing with a DeLorean it would be to give Vad's parents a condom.
      Quote Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
      Do you want to be known as the guy who makes worse automotive decisions than VadGTI?

    2. Member CostcoPizza's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:29 PM #2
      Arc was the middle trim level, in between the Linear and Vector (later renamed Aero).

      They got the 210HP turbo, vs the 175hp that was in the Linear.

      Dashboard displays can be finicky, don't know much about the mechanics.

    3. Member DeckManDubs's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:42 PM #3
      Over all mechanical sound. Good fuel economy. No AC issues that I have seen.

      Few things to look out for:
      Broken Coil Springs
      Engine Mounts tend to move around a lot
      Wiper Motors seem not to last

      Over all they are a general good steal. Pretty easy to work on as well.

      Paid $2500 from 2nd owner who owned it from 35,000 miles.
      142,000 miles current.

      Mods:
      Bilsteins & H&R Springs
      BSR Stage 1 Chip
      BSR Exhaust
      BSR Intake
      Brembo's

      As a 3rd car just to break up the daily duty, I am not too worried.
      Last edited by DeckManDubs; 11-20-2011 at 08:01 PM.
      -Noah

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    4. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:50 PM #4
      What's the difference between an Arc and a Vector/Aero?
      Leonardo - Team Post-Killing Ninja
      Fizzy - Team My Little Pony

      Quote Originally Posted by Jrod511 View Post
      If I could do one thing with a DeLorean it would be to give Vad's parents a condom.
      Quote Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
      Do you want to be known as the guy who makes worse automotive decisions than VadGTI?

    5. Member Kandiru's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:51 PM #5
      NO NO NO!

      SAAB hardcore guy here.

      2003 and 2004 are the worst
      years you can choose for the
      new 9-3, given that most problems
      occured these years. After that a lot
      were streamlined.

      Anything 2005 and above and you are
      good. Very nice car!

    6. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:52 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Kandiru View Post
      NO NO NO!

      SAAB hardcore guy here.

      2003 and 2004 are the worst
      years you can choose for the
      new 9-3, given that most problems
      occured these years. After that a lot
      were streamlined.

      Anything 2005 and above and you are
      good. Very nice car!

      This thing is $3,500 (or less).

      How bad could it be? (famous last words)
      Leonardo - Team Post-Killing Ninja
      Fizzy - Team My Little Pony

      Quote Originally Posted by Jrod511 View Post
      If I could do one thing with a DeLorean it would be to give Vad's parents a condom.
      Quote Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
      Do you want to be known as the guy who makes worse automotive decisions than VadGTI?

    7. Member Kandiru's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 07:53 PM #7
      NO NO NO!

      SAAB hardcore guy here. www.saabcentral regular,
      former owner of a 2002 9-3 and a 2008 9-3 Turbo X.

      2003 and 2004 are the worst
      years you can choose for the
      new 9-3, given that most problems
      occured these years. After that a lot
      were streamlined.

      I would not go above 60k on a used
      engine, you may pay a lot more later.

      Anything 2005 and above and you are
      good. Very nice car!

    8. Senior Member J-Tim's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 08:02 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by VadGTI View Post
      This thing is $3,500 (or less).

      How bad could it be? (famous last words)
      Nothing wrong with those cars. They are quite simple and 2L low-pressure turbo is quite stout. You won't beat any speed records with it, but it should be a very comfortable cruiser.

      The main thing to check (just like with all turbocharged cars) is to make sure that oil changes were done on time.
      The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out
      What you on about ?

    9. Senior Member Chris16vRocco's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 08:43 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by Kandiru View Post
      NO NO NO!

      SAAB hardcore guy here.

      2003 and 2004 are the worst
      years you can choose for the
      new 9-3, given that most problems
      occured these years. After that a lot
      were streamlined.

      Anything 2005 and above and you are
      good. Very nice car!
      What you don't realize, is that this is Vad we're talking about. If he buys a car, you can be sure it will be the most trouble-prone version he can find for half the cost of a decent one.

      I mean, we are talking about a guy who imported a rusty E30 M3 from Colorado to rust-free SoCal. Who does this?
      Deal with it.
      80 Scirocco|87 Scirocco 16v|74 Land Cruiser|84 230CE|91 164L|86 740GLE td
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    10. 11-20-2011 09:33 PM #10
      we own an 03. I'd strongly recommend getting at least an 04
      07 TL-S 6MT & a CAAD10

    11. 11-20-2011 09:34 PM #11
      oh yeah the a.c. Is common. They leak and water will also seep through the cabin filter and rust your blower motor so it won't blow hard
      07 TL-S 6MT & a CAAD10

    12. 11-20-2011 10:07 PM #12
      I personally would stay away from an 03, go at least for an 04, 05 and up recommended. I would personally spend the extra $$ for an Aero(Vector if an 03). The Vector/Aero has stiffer suspension, Ground effects, different exhaust, high bolstered seats, the bigger turbo, of course..I might be missing a few things but you get the point. $3,500 on the other hand is very cheap for that car if its not too beat up.
      This is what I wrote on a similar thread some time ago:
      "As far as reliability- they are not that bad. I've heard of some electrical glitches on early models but have not experienced any except for a failed amp for the stereo. Also the synchros on the 6 speed don't like the cold and the first couple of shifts in 1st and 2nd feel a little stiff in cold temps. I've heard that some Redline or Royal Purple improves that. The PS pumps on early models are a common failure. The replacement takes no longer than 10 minutes.
      My wife has an 04 9-3 Aero 6 speed that just turned 100k and has been pretty reliable. The largest repair that I had to do lately was struts and springs, nothing unusual for the mileage and the struts were covered under a recall. Other than that I've only had to do regular maintenance. "

      P.S. I really miss the Aero! It used to put a big Grin on my face every time I got to drive it. The Murano that replaced it...
      Last edited by ZeeGerman; 11-20-2011 at 10:12 PM.

    13. Senior Member J-Tim's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 10:09 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris16vRocco View Post
      What you don't realize, is that this is Vad we're talking about. Which means he won't actually end up buying it
      Fixed that for ya.
      The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out
      What you on about ?

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      11-20-2011 10:10 PM #14
      I also recommend staying away from an 03, nothing but problems. I have no idea whether they got any better in 04 or 05, but 2 folks I know with 03's will never buy another Saab ever again.

      My buddy's (was his wife's) presently has no AC, no heat, no radio, 1 working headlight, smells like mildew (because it leaks like a sieve), has had all of the plastic trim fade to white, has had all 4 rotors replaced countless times for warping, chews through tires, and sounds like it's missing on all 4 cylinders, blows through coolant and oil like gasoline, CEL has been on practically since day 1. He uses it as basic transportation to the train until it finally blows up. It has 75k miles.
      Last edited by SVTJayC; 11-20-2011 at 10:15 PM.

    15. Senior Member Chris16vRocco's Avatar
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      11-20-2011 10:11 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Tim View Post
      Fixed that for ya.
      That too.
      Deal with it.
      80 Scirocco|87 Scirocco 16v|74 Land Cruiser|84 230CE|91 164L|86 740GLE td
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    16. 11-21-2011 07:57 AM #16
      Now that I'm on a computer and not a tablet.

      Issues we've had in the past 2 years with an 03 Vector (auto)

      SAI CEL came on. Had to replace the check valve. Luckily did in time to protect the SAI. This may be an issue for you for any year. ~$100

      Leaking in the passenger front footwell. 2003 cars do not have a water deflector above the cabin air filter. Water will seep in and ruin your blower motor. Ours is weak but I fixed the leak before the motor died (it is $$$ and a pain).

      Rear door seals always leak, they are ~$100 each.

      Right motor mount cracked. Saab had no parts, had to wait 2 months and was a $450 part.

      Water ruined the amp under the driver seat. Took it out and bypassed the fiber optic cable, but will eventually have to send out for repair for ~$350. New one is >$1000. Need to at least bypass or the car will play loud static out of whatever door speakers still work.

      Sway bar end links were bad, car still clunks a little bit but inspected last night and can't see anything really.
      07 TL-S 6MT & a CAAD10

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      11-21-2011 08:27 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by Danza. View Post
      Now that I'm on a computer and not a tablet.

      Issues we've had in the past 2 years with an 03 Vector (auto)

      SAI CEL came on. Had to replace the check valve. Luckily did in time to protect the SAI. This may be an issue for you for any year. ~$100

      Leaking in the passenger front footwell. 2003 cars do not have a water deflector above the cabin air filter. Water will seep in and ruin your blower motor. Ours is weak but I fixed the leak before the motor died (it is $$$ and a pain).

      Rear door seals always leak, they are ~$100 each.

      Right motor mount cracked. Saab had no parts, had to wait 2 months and was a $450 part.

      Water ruined the amp under the driver seat. Took it out and bypassed the fiber optic cable, but will eventually have to send out for repair for ~$350. New one is >$1000. Need to at least bypass or the car will play loud static out of whatever door speakers still work.

      Sway bar end links were bad, car still clunks a little bit but inspected last night and can't see anything really.


      Ah, I guess the water and no radio / AC is related in my buddy's car as well. I also forgot to mention its penchant for destroying wheel bearings.

      It's just a horrible, horrible car. Not sure why anyone would ever want to own one. There are ZERO upsides. They don't drive particularly well, they aren't particularly comfortable, they aren't fast. I guess the fuel mileage is alright, but other than that, I'd rather have a Taurus.

    18. 11-21-2011 08:31 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by SVTJayC View Post
      My buddy's (was his wife's) presently has no AC, no heat, no radio, 1 working headlight, smells like mildew (because it leaks like a sieve), has had all of the plastic trim fade to white, has had all 4 rotors replaced countless times for warping, chews through tires, and sounds like it's missing on all 4 cylinders, blows through coolant and oil like gasoline, CEL has been on practically since day 1. He uses it as basic transportation to the train until it finally blows up. It has 75k miles.
      i have an 'o3 and my brother has an 03. no major issues here, not sure why people are telling you to shy away. i never had any a/c issues, my brother has some coilpack issues. by now all the bugs should be worked out...knock on wood. 120K daily driver, its taken me from KY to ME to miami FL and evey other state in between without a hiccup.
      Last edited by robhurlburt; 11-21-2011 at 10:35 AM.

    19. 11-21-2011 09:33 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by SVTJayC View Post
      Ah, I guess the water and no radio / AC is related in my buddy's car as well. I also forgot to mention its penchant for destroying wheel bearings.
      If the amp under the driver seat is TOAST, the radio will not work. This is if the fiber optic connection is somehow corrupted.

      What you/they need to do is order a bypass kit. You can get them cheap online. This will let you bypass the amp and remove it from the car. With no amp the radio is blank. With it bypassed, only the door speakers and center dash speaker will not work.
      07 TL-S 6MT & a CAAD10

    20. Member One-EightT's Avatar
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      11-21-2011 09:46 AM #20
      Like a few others have already said, shy away from the '03s. Also, I'd look for an aero if you can find one, the price difference is usually negligible. I believe the aero has better seats, nicer wheels, and 250hp/260tq, etc. Mine is the perfect highway cruiser, will putter along at 80mph and 2400rpm. Don't expect great gas mileage, around town sucks (think 16mpg), highway is 30-32 mpg. I average 24mpg most tanks. Things to look out for:

      1. These cars are prone to sludging, you can check by dropping the oil pan.

      2. The S.I.D (info display) will be shot and missing pixels unless it was replaced. You can get one with a lifetime warranty for $150 on eBay.

      3. The hvac system is a PITA. The blower doors take a crap all the time, as well as the heater box. Press auto and off at the same time on the hvac controls and it'll run a systems check, and likely spit out a bunch codes. Another way to check is to crank the heat, my car will blow hot on passenger side and cold on drivers side, luckily you can shut off the vents.

      Overall a pretty good car for a DIYer, but I'd stay away if you pay People to work on our cars.
      Past: MKIII Jetta, MKIV GTI 1.8T, B7 Audi A4 TQM6 (13.9x @ 97, 1.79 60'), 1997 Volvo 850, 2002 Saab 9-5 AERO (15.05 @ 93)
      Present: 2012 Golf TDi 6MT w/ Tech., 2001 Miata LS 6MT (15.90 @ 87, stock)

    21. Member DeckManDubs's Avatar
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      11-21-2011 10:19 AM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by One-EightT View Post
      Like a few others have already said, shy away from the '03s. Also, I'd look for an aero if you can find one, the price difference is usually negligible. I believe the aero has better seats, nicer wheels, and 250hp/260tq, etc. Mine is the perfect highway cruiser, will putter along at 80mph and 2400rpm. Don't expect great gas mileage, around town sucks (think 16mpg), highway is 30-32 mpg. I average 24mpg most tanks. Things to look out for:

      1. These cars are prone to sludging, you can check by dropping the oil pan.

      2. The S.I.D (info display) will be shot and missing pixels unless it was replaced. You can get one with a lifetime warranty for $150 on eBay.

      3. The hvac system is a PITA. The blower doors take a crap all the time, as well as the heater box. Press auto and off at the same time on the hvac controls and it'll run a systems check, and likely spit out a bunch codes. Another way to check is to crank the heat, my car will blow hot on passenger side and cold on drivers side, luckily you can shut off the vents.

      Overall a pretty good car for a DIYer, but I'd stay away if you pay People to work on our cars.
      9-5's and 9-3's have different HVAC systems. Blend doors on the 9-5's are junk (stepper motors w/plastic cranks) When mine broke on my 9-5 I was Had to go on the coldest week of the year.
      -Noah

      PHENIX ENGINEERING

      Quote Originally Posted by ein View Post
      You couldn't dig a hole any faster with a nuke.

    22. 11-21-2011 10:37 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by DeckManDubs View Post
      9-5's and 9-3's have different HVAC systems. Blend doors on the 9-5's are junk (stepper motors w/plastic cranks) When mine broke on my 9-5 I was Had to go on the coldest week of the year.
      And different motors, and different SIDs. there are no sludge issues, and/or pixel issues.

    23. Member redsoxreturns's Avatar
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      11-21-2011 10:45 AM #23
      PM sent.
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