Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Saab 9-5 saloon?
Given the potential trouble in finding parts, you really need to find a Saab 9-5 that has been properly cared for. Theoretically, the fact that it's based on the Vauxhall Insignia should help, and some engine and gearbox parts are interchangeable. However, you won’t be able to get a Vauxhall dealer to carry out regular servicing, not least because the Saab’s on-board electronics are different.
In fact, it could be a good idea to get involved with the Saab Owners Club if you’re really keen on a 9-5, as they’ll be able to help you track down both a good car and the right people to help you care for it.
What are the most common problems with a used Saab 9-5 saloon?
Suspension issues are not unknown, and a sharp banging noise as you drive over bumps can often be down to a cracked spring.
The brakes, especially the rear discs, are prone to premature wear and tear, too, so check them carefully for signs of scoring or pitting.
A heavy clutch pedal means the clutch will probably soon need replacing, and that can be an expensive job.
Is a used Saab 9-5 saloon reliable?
It’s hard to get a good hold on Saab 9-5 reliability because there are so few on the road, but its relationship to the Insignia gives some clues.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine, for example, can suffer from turbo issues. Black smoke from the exhaust is always a bad sign, but sluggish accelerator response - especially above 1800rpm - also serves as a warning that the turbo may need replacing, and this can cost more than £1000.
Excessive engine vibration at idle means that the dual mass flywheel is giving trouble and, again, that’s an expensive thing to fix. It's worth changing the clutch at the same time because it's a gearbox-off job anyway.