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NHTSA — Engine Problems

2008 Saab 9-3 (Page 1 of 3)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,094 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2008 Saab 9-3 engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Saab 9-3 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Aug 312016


  • 105,000 miles


I was driving at 55 miles per hour on the lodge freeway in metro detroit, I was in the left lane and there is no emergency lane on the left, and my engine turned off on itself (scary!). as we are aware, brakes pretty much stop working when the engine is off and I was driving with 55 mph with many vehicles around me. I managed to pull over to the right without getting hit. When I stopped, I tried to start the car, it would start for 5 seconds and it will stall and I had about 10 gallons of gasoline in the tank. I had to get the vehicles towed to my house. Next day I started reading the blogs online to figure out how it is possible for the engine to stall like that without any warnings, especially one is going at highway speed. It turned same thing happened to a lot of Saab owners as well - engine stalled without any warnings when they were driving. I hooked up the vehicles to a diagnostic computer and it showed that the crankshaft sensor stopped working. If there are other Saab owners with the same problems, we should do something to prevent any injuries - happy to discuss it with anybody.

- Berkley, MI, USA

problem #43

Jun 142016


  • 74,000 miles
The stock intake valves are bad, noticed problem at 75,000 miles and bought the car at 74,000. This is a very common problem for this year including engine failure. Over a 3,000$ fix.

- Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #42

Apr 052016


  • 90,000 miles
Car was manufactured with a bad set of intake valves which is noted on many Saab owner threads. Valves break down in cold weather around 50K miles. Car starts and bottoms out sometimes and has rough idle until warmed. Accelerating while engine is cold can cause safety issue. Quoted repairs run $2000-3000.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #41

Mar 312016


  • miles


Defective intake valves. Repair center specializing in Saab performed cold compression test on cylinders and found that 2 of 4 had low compression. Informed me that they have found 90% of the Saab they test from 2007-08 have this problem from cheap valves used specified by GM.

- Louisville, CO, USA

problem #40

Jan 202016


  • 100,000 miles
Intake valve issue - car will not start on a cold day and, sometimes at a stop sign /light, will stall - had to two mechanics depict the issue and it is the intake valve issue - many Saab's have reported this issue and nothing was done by GM - I called GM and they said that they are not responsible - this issue has been reported several times and there are several threads as well.

- Douglassville, PA, USA

problem #39

Feb 132015


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Saab 9-3. while starting the vehicle, it idled roughly. Additionally, the vehicle would sometimes take a long time to start. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #38

Apr 062015


  • 75,000 miles


I didn't have a problem with the car in southern California, but I moved to New York at about 75K miles - and I noticed a problem right away. Rough idling started, and would even turn on, then right back off. The problem was not an issue again during the summer months, so I was able to drive it to 83K miles. Now that it is winter time, even though it is garaged it will not start if it is under 45 degrees. I had it checked out with a certified Saab mechanic and he confirmed by way of compression test that it is indeed the dreaded intake valve problem. The estimate for repair is $2,230!

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #37

Jan 222016


  • 108,954 miles
Hard/rough start especially in cold temperatures. Mechanic said #4 cylinder is misfiring. Confirmed to be low compression due to prematurely worn intake valves. #1 cylinder/intake valve is not far behind #4. became a serious problem when engine stalls when sitting in traffic. Also vehicle engine has stalled/shut off while driving at low speeds, for example, in parking lots, redlights, 4 way stops.

- Crestview, FL, USA

problem #36

Jan 122015


  • miles
Rough cold start. Compression on cylinder 4 to low.intake valve problem.

- Burlington, VT, USA

problem #35

Nov 042015


  • 79,000 miles
79,000 miles began with sluggish cold starts until warmed than began to run O.K until stopped turning over. Another owner of GM screwing the public with crappy valves installed in these engines. When will there be enough complaints to create a recall. Ordering parts from East coast Saab parts store and looking for reasonable and knowledgeable California based mechanic. Expecting to pay approximately $2K. Will update this complaint when job complete. Another GM disappointment in car ownership!

- Desert Hot Springs, CA, USA

problem #34

Jul 062015

9-3 4-cyl

  • 84,000 miles


The engine lost total compression due to what the mechanic said was a well-documented case of intake valve failure, happened in northern California. The engine cut out while I was in traffic on the freeway, the car stopped, and the car was grazed from behind. Not much of a problem due to damage, just a quick re-paint of the back bumper, and paid out of pocket. The engine was gone. The Saab specialist told me that so many 9-3's, especially on the East coast, have experienced total intake valve failure like mine. I contacted Saab and they essentially said to go screw myself. Saab and a subsequent call to GM claimed they had "never heard of the issue" which my mechanic specialist said was a "bold lie" because there's an online history of this that I found, and they denied me any help in getting it fixed. Since the car was worth more than the $2,900 cost I had to pay to have the engine rebuilt, with the same faulty valves that will cause someone else trouble later as I traded in my car, I decided to repair it, and then get $1,200 more out of it once I traded in my car. You need to investigate this. It is not fair to owners who are out of pocket. There was a safety concern with my incident. If the car behind me had not been aware once the freeway started moving again, I could have been hurt. Saab and GM deny this, yet search google---"intake valve problems Saab 9-3" and you'll see for yourself. Make GM pay for this. People have lost a ton of money on depreciation alone, and now the engines fail, almost all of them, according to the shop who fixed my car and to what I've read online. Please issue a recall. Saab and GM were both especially arrogant to me. They should pay for this problem, and reimburse me what I was out even though I sold my car. I have the receipts if you need them. Thank you for listening! please email only.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #33

Jul 152015


  • 60,500 miles
I have the same issue that others have talked about. GM put cheap valves in engine--they have now failed for a number of us. Cold starting, rough idle, smell of gas, ultimately will not start. Expensive repair on car without much mileage 60K repair is 2500-3000 GM should fix these for free or reduced cost.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #32

May 242015


  • 51,426 miles
Car will not start on cold days. Found cylinders 1 and or with low compression.intake valves need replacement.

- Warminster, PA, USA

problem #31

Nov 202013


  • 89,000 miles
I first noticed a difference in how my car worked about a year and a half ago. I purchased it certified pre-owed from a certified Saab dealer at the time. When I first noticed the "cold-starts" I thought it was just normal wear and tear and maybe needed an oil change. I always use premium gasoline and get the vehicle serviced regularly by the dealer. When I took it to the dealer in the beginning of 2014, the technician said he's familiar with the problem that I was having. He says the issue is with the compression valve. He told me that I was "unlucky" that I purchased this car because Saab manufactured 2007-2009 9-3 model engines where the valves were made of weaker metals that when surrounding metals. As the edges of the valves impact the engine walls, their original convex designed became concave, thus causing a loss in pressure and combustion. (I'm not an engine savvy guy, so please excuse my lact of terminology). So, he quoted me about $3,000 for a valve replacement. That's rediculousness! how can GM produce a vehicle whose valves will deteriorate after normal wear and tear? this has led to not only cold starts but also decreased responsiveness on the highway. Sometimes when driving, I would apply the accelerator and my car shakes for a few seconds. When giving a ride to others they look at me like, "that's not supposed to happen." My car hasn't stalled or shut off while driving, but I'm guessing if I don't get this fixed soon it may happen. There is a safety issue that I'm sure GM is aware of; accordingly, there needs to be a recall to get this issue resolved.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #30

Oct 162013

9-3 4-cyl

  • 710,000 miles
At about 70,000 miles the car began to start rough on cold mornings this continued on until this year 2014-2015 it would barely start on all on a cold morning, after less then a minute of running it would be smooth with no apparent lose of power. All plugs and plug ignition coils we replaced with no effect. Finally I did a web search and found out a number of 9-3 Saab's 2006-2008 had bad metal in some of valves causing them to wear paper thin.once the engine was warm the metal expanded giving normal compression. A compression check on mine came back cycl 1,3,4 50lbs cycl 2 200lbs. This starting problem was first noticed at 70,000 I got the motor fixed at 92,000 miles. Of course the fix was a valve job and a cost to me of $2088.02. I feel Saab (GM) should share a large portion of this cost. This problem was very well documented on all the Saab forums. I hope anyone reading this and has the same problem please file a complaint this is not right.

- Shelburne Falls, MA, USA

problem #29

Mar 302015

9-3 4-cyl

  • 103,978 miles
My 2008 Saab 93 2.0T has intake valve failures. In the morning it idles rough until it warms up; this has been verified by a Saab specialist. My engine is not molded or altered in anyway other than the consumables over time (belts and such). A quick check for 2008 Saab valve problem leads to forums chalk full of other owners with the same issue. GM should foot the bill for this $2500+ rebuild of the engine that they poorly manufactured in the first place.

- Washington, PA, USA

problem #28

Mar 032015


  • 120,543 miles
On the 2007-2011 Saab 9-39-3 there is a common issue with the intake valve seals going bad causing a rough idle and/or misfire on cold starts. Mine exhibits this behavior but is not still under warranty. This is not just wear and tear it is a bad part or bad design that is basically designed to fail. To fix this it costs $1500+ and GM should be responsible for a flaw in the vehicle regardless of the 5 year/100,000 mile warranty.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #27

Oct 152014


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Saab 9-3. while driving at various speeds, the vehicle failed to accelerate without warning. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, where it was diagnosed that the intake valve needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Twinsburg, OH, USA

problem #26

Jan 202015

9-3 4-cyl

  • 81,704 miles
Check engine light on.. shop found multiple engine misfires.. checked engine compression.. compression below manufacturers specs.. needed complete valve job per Saab recommendation.. parts sent to machine shop for repairs and re-condition.. re-install of cylinder head assembly with new head gasket and all other needed gasket and seals.. flushed and refilled all engine transmission fluids.. complete valve job with intake and exhaust valves.. defective valve is reported issue on Saab 9-3 2008..

- Hoboken, NJ, USA

problem #25

Jan 012015

9-3 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
We purchased a 2008 Saab 9-3 in 3/2011 with 34,000 miles. As of 2/2015 the vehicle has 104,000 miles. Last month the vehicle barely started after sitting overnight and would take several minutes to reach a normal idle. It would then start the rest of the day, sometimes after a "hard" start. The check engine light came on and the mechanic said the code read as a "cylinder misfire" code. 8 days ago the car would not start and is now sitting in my driveway. I called a Saab specialist about 2 hours away from me who knew exactly what the problem was. He explained the intake valve problem that a lot of Saab owners are experiencing due to defective materials used by GM and/or suppliers. He said the cost will be at least $2,200 but could easily be more depending on the severity. This is a known defect (a service bulletin has been issued detailing this issue) that should be subject to a recall. We cannot afford to fix an engine that does not work due to substandard valves. This is not a normal "wear and tear" issue, but an issue dealing with parts that were doomed from the beginning.

- S. Williamsport, PA, USA

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