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9-5 Service schedule

Originally, the 9-5 service schedule was based upon larger intervals than the old 9000 range. With the benefit of hindsight, many dealers and independent specialists believe that this was 'wildly optimistic'. Worse still, the revised schedule relied upon a small but crucial change in oil specification from semi-synthetic oil to fully synthetic oil. Unfortunately, to qualify as semi-synthetic oil, the synthetic polymer content needs be just 5% and certainly nowhere near the 50% that most people might assume it should be. Cost conscious owners and some fleet managers were tempted to run beyond the service interval - with expensive and unforeseen results.

The breather system on the 9-5, like many of the internals, was radically different from the 9000 in a design change forced upon the maker to comply with ever-tightening emissions regulations. In the English football League, it is often said that managers should not alter a winning team and many sage SAAB experts believe that much the same can be said for engine design. Altering a raft of core components from the pistons, turbo-charger and breather system created new potential for trouble that would materialise all the sooner if extended oil change intervals were undertaken using semi rather than fully synthetic oil. The root of the problem has come to be known as 'sludging' (Read the full article)

Our recommendations are simple: institute a regime of oil and filter changes every 6,000 miles using ONLY fully synthetic engine oil. Do remember that cars that cover low annual mileages are especially at risk from sludging because they seldom warm up - for this reason NEVER let the oil change interval exceed 12 months, irrespective of mileage.

Weekly checks
You don't need to be a SAAB Master Technician to maintain your car but even those who don't fancy donning a set of overalls and wielding spanners should carry out the following basic checks.

With the car on level ground and with the engine COLD (or at least after the engine has been stopped for5 minutes), remove the dipstick, wipe clean with waste cloth or rag and replace. Withdraw the stick and check the level. The level should be between the MIN and Max marks. If the level appears to be beneath this, it should be topped up with fresh oil SLOWLY at the rate of half a litre at a time, then left to settle and checked again. DO NOT OVERFILL the engine!

Next check the brake fluid level visually through the translucent reservoir. It should be near the Max Cold graduation.

Check and top up the screen washer fluid reservoir, if necessary. Do NOT use washing up detergent, as this contains salt. Instead either use a small measure of methylated spirits or proprietary screen wash fluid.

Check the tyres visually for signs of damage to the sidewalls (such as splits or 'eggs'), then check the depth of tread on each before checking the tyre pressures. If that seems a chore, reflect on this comment from our local tyre shop proprietor "Tyres typically cost from £40-120 per corner but about 40% of the tyres we change could have lasted longer, if they had been run at the correct pressure!"

Finally, check all the lights, horn and washers work properly before checking that the battery electrolyte level has no dropped below the level of the plates - a favourite 9000 trait is for the cars to 'boil' their batteries dry, usually stranding their drivers with no warning. Top up only with distilled water.

Every 6,000 miles

Drain & refill the engine with fresh oil & change the oil filter. While the oil drains, carry out some of the other checks! Oil changes are best carried out with the engine warmed but take care that you don't get scalded by hot oil or burned by hot metal parts. Use a new sump sealing washer or if one is not available, use a couple of twists of PTFE tape. Nip the drain plug tight - DON'T over tighten it! Check the oil level several times.
Check the coolant level and if necessary, top up.
Check the power steering fluid level and if necessary, top up.
Check the function of all lights, wipers (renew if required) and the horn.
Check the battery is secure, then check the electrolyte level (non-sealed batteries only) topping up if necessary.
Check the battery terminals are clean and tight. Pour boiling water over the terminals if they appear to be covered with a white powder, then apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to protect them from further damage.
Lubricate all locks (sparingly) and then apply grease to the check straps on the doors. Oil the door hinges sparingly to avoid an unsightly mess!
With the car raised slightly on a trolley jack, check suspension joints for wear by attempting to rock the wheel from side to side and by grasping the wheel top and bottom and checking for wear, again by rocking. Check none of the rubber boots covering the CV joints are split, loose or leaking grease.

With all tasks complete, road test the car to make sure all is well.

Every 12,000 miles/annually

Carry out the operations for 6,000 miles but additionally:
Check the PCV system for leaks or collapsed hoses
Check the strength of antifreeze is at least 33% (but ideally 50%)
Check the serpentine drive belt condition, looking for cracking or splits
Check the condition and security of the exhaust system
Remove and replace the spark plugs. Cars with Direct Ignition MUST be fitted with Resistor plugs (NGK are best)
Jack the car up having first loosened the road wheel bolts, remove the wheels and check the condition of the brake discs and linings.

Every 24,000 miles/every 2 years

Carry out operations for the 6 and 12,000 miles services but additionally:
Change the air cleaner element filter. Make sure the closed end of the filter goes into the filter housing first - if you install it wrong way round - the engine will cut out!
Cars with automatic transmission should have the Dexron fluid drained, refilled and the gearbox filter changed.
Change the brake fluid. Use DOT 4 fluid. Do NOT mix different types of fluid!

Every 48,000 miles/every 3 years

Drain and refill the cooling system. Check all hoses thoroughly for leaks, splits and cracks.
SAAB say the fuel filter needs changing at 96,000 miles but as this often gets overlooked, we've seen a good few cars with leaking filters due to corrosion, so change earlier. Make sure your new filter comes with a set of new copper sealing washers - they're often unaccountably 'missing' when purchased from motor factors.

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