oh boy, thats hard to say, but i have come up with a short list of things that can be bad. Of course this all depends on the price range that youre talking about.
1. Transmission: manual 89-90 were good, 91-93 were better before 89 they were not too great. if you can drive the car listen for the dreaded pinion whine, that means the trans is on its way out. other symptoms include popping out of gears. Auto: RUN AWAY! at least thats what im told, ive never gotten to try one.
2. open the coolant reservior, check for a miky brown substance on the top of the coolant: if yes, needs a head gasket. (ask me how i found this one out :roll: )
3. Turbo: have someone stand behind the car while you stomp on the gas, if you see blue smoke, most likely you need a new turbo.
4. Rust: common areas include but are not limited to front fenders under the fender flares, under the spg panels if its an spg or under the trim on regular turbos, spare tire well, inside the hood near the rear (youll see it right away if there is any)
5. Front suspension: when i get a C900 it usually needs at least one CV boot and a full set of ball joints, just consider that a given (but theyre cheap if you do it yourself)
6. 91 on had airbags and i belive ABS standard, make sure that the lights dont stay on while its running.
i think thats the major stuff anybody else feel free to chime in, DeLorean? :lol:
PaulH covered most of the major stuff. It's important to understand, these C-900's are not growing on trees anymore. They are not exactly easy to find in really nice shape. Go over everything, no doubt you may find it needs a few major or minor repairs. no big deal, C-900's are fairly easy to work on. you can do a job like a head gasket (your first time) in a weekend. a clutch can be replaced in a day. As for the transmission issue, as long as it's fully working, shifts well, holds in gear, and does not make any strange noises, you are safe there for a while as long as you are at stock boost. 89-93's are better but 85-88's are still ok in terms of life. you may get 50-100K :lol: out of a fresh tranny rebuild if you have a heavy foot. Also, check out this link to SC of what to look for when buying a C-900 (written by one of our favorite people) :? --
The auto trannies are definitely weak, but even more so, they're absolutely NO fun at all. 3 gear ratios. Woo-hoo! :roll:
87 and earlier had the funky sliding yoke front brakes with the handbrake up front. The yokes on those things commonly wear in a way that backing up makes a very loud clunk noise. This isn't (IMHO) something to be too concerned about, as even rebuilt caliper assemblies exhibit this behavior. The only way to cure it is to buy new calipers (mucho dinero) or have a machine shop weld the slots up and re-machine them (mucho dinero). In the end, it's nothing more than an annoying noise. But be aware that the early cars had the handbrake up front, not on the rear calipers.
87 and earlier also had a different wheel bolt pattern.
If you're going for an SPG, and planning on keeping it stock, later is better. The early years of SPG didn't have as many upgrades. (My brain is too rusty to recall what the specifics were though.) But, if you're going to modify the suspension and APC anyways, it doesn't really matter.
Popping out of ANY gear is bad as Paul said, but popping out of reverse isn't too bad. There's a lever on the reverse fork that you can remove from an access panel and modify to cure that problem - stock from the factory, the gear barely engages, so the edge of it wears out quickly. Thus, it pops out. Modifying the lever causes full engagement, curing the pop-out problem. Of course, the gear may already be pretty worn, but keep in mind that popping from reverse isn't a do-or-die problem, IMHO. If it's popping out of other gears, or making a whine noise in any gear, run away as fast as you can unless you are getting the car for dirt cheap and enjoy the thrill of pulling drivelines apart.
Keep an eye out for sagging in the rear suspension. It's a common problem on all classic 900's. The rear springs droop over time. Again, if you're going to upgrade the springs, it's no big deal. But if you're not, and the rear sags, you might find that you're bottoming out over little bumps all the time. New or upgraded springs aren't expensive, but it's something to keep in mind.
Keep an eye out for sagging headliners, too. You can fix it for about $100 with a full day's effort. Chances are, if you see a car with a good headliner, it's already been replaced. The dashes on these cars like to crack too, but it's purely a cosmetic problem. Also, the glovebox door's trim likes to peel off.
I'd reccomend staying away from cars owned by smokers. Besides the problem of the nasty smell, the ashtray on c900's was poorly designed. Basically, it leaks. Tear the dash apart on a car owned by a smoker and I garuntee that there will be a fine (or thick!) coating of ash all over every component under there. This can cause all sorts of little "gremlins" in the electricals, heating, radio, etc etc.
In addition to Paul's coolant check, check the oil for milkyness. That could also indicate a bad headgasket.
Other rust spots, in addition to those mentioned above, would be the bottoms of the door panels (down near where the weatherstripping seals) and the spare wheel compartment under the floorboard in the trunk.
Also check inside the engine bay for rust. The inner fender panels like to rust down near where they meet the frame "beams." This is a structurally important area and can turn an otherwise fine looking car into a parts car.
And, finally, a shameless plug. If you're looking for a fixer-upper SPG, I just might know someone who has one sitting in his front yard begging to be sold. . . :lol:
heh - everything you fellas say not to buy I bought
My 1986 c900 SPG has a rotted front fender (needs complete replacement) and a cracked rear quarter. The interior is nasty (needs all new - dash too ) and the windscreen needs to be replaced along with the motor I am rebuilding (soon) and I plan to replace the trans reguardless (Rhich you can have my working core in part of my purchase if you'd like) and even the frame has surface rust.... the hood is shot (new dual vent in "better" shape going to get restored for project. So basically my Saab is worse off then a parts car :lol: Should be about a year tho before it on the road and looking sweet. I plan to pull the motor asap and begin that part tho. I have almost enough to cover all the motor work. Next savings allotment is for the transmission.....
When buying a c900 - use common sense.
These are old cars now - sounds pop up, and fade on and off.
Tappet sounds will almost always come from these motors when running, not really an issue typically.
Check for floor pan rot - water marks around the s-roof.
Bubling of the dash near the windscreen (leaks present)
There's a ton of little things that could be wrong - it's all a matter of what you think the car at hand is worth to you - and how muh you PLAN to spend on it for repairs/upgrades.
Yea my SPG was just like Burnsides when I saved it from the junkyard, have faith and you will be rewarded tenfold :twisted: Theres nothing better then the experience of driveing a classic Saab,exspecially when most consider that the c900 was the last of the pure Saab's, I agree with everyone else on what to look for when buying, I would suggest that 88 model year cars are the best to buy. Its the first year of new suspension and brakes, but last year of LH2.2 fuel system, which I think offers more in what you can do to car. Best about 88 and up cars is ability to swap 9000 Brake Calipers and rotors(a little thicker) Cheap upgrade for 33% more Pad swept area on rotor. And 16" wheels.
Don't overlook a car for frame rot.
If anyone needs frame repair on c900, I do cheap frame repair($400 for both sides).Repair is made with 1/8" plate to box in frame between lower control arm mounts. I also can make up drivshaft/upper control arm reinforcment plate for inner fender, its one piece fully welded in and 1/8"plate. I would also recomend adding full body subframe connectors, since most front wheel drive cars frame rails end under drivers feet, adding these will make dramatric improvment on squeks and rattles and also stffness of car.