Saab’s are great cars, especially for drivers in the Northern areas of the United States. They have good engines, good transmissions, and a dedicated community of enthusiastic mechanics to support your needs. You will pay more to maintain your Saab than you will for many other vehicles, but for most drivers, the excellent handling, safety, and gas mileage of their Saab makes this worthwhile. With that said, like with any other vehicle, the love relationship can quickly turn sour if engine failure occurs. What do you do? Do you search through remanufactured engines? Do you scour over used engines? That’s what this article is about. We want to give Americans the information they need to remedy the situation with their Saab engines, and get them back on the road quickly.
First, let’s establish why used engines are better for Saab’s than remanufactured engines. There are two main reasons, both of which are hugely important. First, price. The price on a used Saab engine is going to be much, much lower than the price on a remanufactured Saab engine. Secondly, if you buy a low mileage used engine for your Saab, the quality will be much higher. Good Saab engine remanufacturers are getting rarer each year, and quality is going down hill. When you buy a low mileage Saab used engine, you are getting OEM parts with very low wear – not reconditioned parts mixed with new parts.
In the last ten years, Saab has had several major lines. The Saab 9-2X (the engines used were the 2.0L EJ205 and the 2.5L EJ25) was offered in 2005-2007 model years, the Saab 9-3 began in the 1999 Model year and continues through today (with too many engine variations to list here), the Saab 9-5 has been produced since 1998, 9-7X SUV was produced from 2005-2008, and the 9-4X began sales for the 2009 model year.
Here is a hint: Saab doesn’t produce many of its own engines any more. The Saab 9-2X, for example, uses Subaru engines. The Saab 9-7X SUV uses the same 4.2L and 5.3L engines that go into the GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Chevy Trailblazer, and Isuzu Rainier. The Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 have true Saab engines in them, are thus the rarest, and thus the most expensive Saab engines. These are the Saab engines on which you will save the most money buying used.
With the facts established that you can save a lot of money on a good used Saab engine, we must now also consider the fact that you can have a bad experience buying a used Saab engine. There are many ways this can happen, but the most common is through seller deception. There are excellent companies selling used engines with great quality control mechanisms in place who offer excellent warranties that are honored to the T. There are also companies who prey on people who are caught between a rock and a hard place. These bad companies will sell engines that aren’t suitable for installation and would better be used as a boat anchor.
How do you know who to buy from, and who not to buy from? There are several basic methods you can use.
The first is to utilize the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Check out the company. Don’t go by their rating, go by the number of resolved and unresolved complaints that the company has. For example, it would make more sense to buy a used engine from a company with 3 complaints annually than it would to buy from a company with 100 complaints.
The second method is to go to www.google.com and search for the company, both by their name and by their domain. Read complaints about them. The key thing to look for is the volume of complaints. There is always going to be the occasional customer who will not be satisfied or the competitor out to slander a company, so what you want to do is make sure there is not a high volume of complaints and that the complaints are legitimate. If there are a lot of legitimate complaints against a company, steer clear of them since they will not treat you any differently than any of the customers they’ve sold used engines to in the past.
Next, understand that only about 50% of used engines are able to be started before they are sold. Wiring harnesses, starters, and fuse boxes can all be damaged in ways that leave a good engine that can’t be started until it is reinstalled in another vehicle. You want a supplier who is experienced in inspecting engines. You might also want to consider purchasing a labor warranty in case something slips by inspection. Yes, that can happen even with great companies!
Finally, when buying used engines make sure that you understand the warranty you’re getting. The standard warranty on used engines is 30 days parts only. This means the engine is warranties for 30 days, and that if it fails in that time, you will be supplied with another engine but not with any reimbursement for installation charges. This is by far the most common warranty offered in the nation on used engines. It is the opinion of this author that quality used engines come with a quality warranty. Demand at least a two year warranty on engines with under 50,000 miles, and a year on engines with over 100,000 miles. If the supplier won’t offer that, why would you want to buy an engine from them? You don’t.
Hopefully this article will help those needing Saab used engines navigate through the myriad of options available and know what to expect from engine suppliers, saving you time and money.