Saab Technology

Reliability of Saab diesel cars and How to Drive a Saab Turbo Diesel

Saab diesel

On the internet forums and groups we can often read many topics that deal with diesel engine problems. Based on these discussions, the impression is that the diesel engines are problematic and unreliable. But is it just so in practice? Also, the impression is that petrol engines have slightly less problems and are more reliable… The truth is usually somewhere between the two (diesel-petrol) sides.

The first generation Saab 9-3 was the first Saab available with a diesel engine, it was 2.2 diesel, and then there were two more versions of the 1.9 JTD aggregate, and we do not forget the 3.0 V6 diesel. All of these engines have some disadvantage, but they are generally very reliable, powerful and economical.

However, if they are regularly maintained and properly driven, there are no problems with these engines. And, this statement is proven by the numerous testimonies of the Saab car diesel owners who responded to a request from a forum member – he asked the question about these engines: “Just an observation – most reliability related posts on here seem to relate to the 1.9 diesels. Are there just more higher mileage diesel examples around, or are the diesels generally less reliable than the petrols?

Saab Aero TTiD

Below are some (and there are many) very positive opinions about diesel engines in Saab cars:

    • Vincer C. – They get used a lot more. Diesels have problems petrol don’t but have major benefits being fuel cost saving…
    • Matthew W. – Diesels were more common. They’re now cheap cars. People buy them as cheap cars. Don’t maintain them. Drive them wrong. Moan when basic maintenance is required. Buy one, maintain it, drive it right. Less issues. 162k here.
    • Fenton W. – My old 93 1.9 was on 250k when it gave up not bad I think and to be fair I looked after it but other owners may not have done as no service history came with it.
    • Denis P. – Im on my third 1,9TiD Sportwagon 150 – sold the last one at 212k miles no major issues in 100k in my ownership & still driving perfectly – The one before that had 190k miles on when i sold it (bought at 100k), again with just regular servicing & also still going strong with nearly 250k on it – My current one was bought with 90k on & now has 146k & again no issues apart from a leaky steering rack (which could happen on any car), so i personally consider the diesels to be one of the most reliable cars on the road & thats why i keep buying them & running up high miles on them.
    • Mark M. – To me this like most older diesel engine is great if miles are put on it …it runs hotter and cleaner at higher revs therefore giving more mpg and greater reliability…it’s when you do school run mileage you get issues with DPF, EGR, swirl flaps etc etc as they are not getting used as intended…mine is on 190k with no major issues for me or previous owner as has a good service history….so………change the oil and drive the thing !
    • Mark J. – sold my last TTID at 160K after driving 100K with it. Saw that the new owner just renewed the MOT with no advisories as well (not bad considering it has no DPF!)
    • Jaye L. – I have a 170k miler, no issues, ( now they’ll surface)
    • Coreen A.190k on mine. Very quirky car but no major issues and hasn’t let me down once so far.
    • Elizabeth R. – Apart from an intermittent electrical fault on my power steering, my 1.9 Tdi 150 doesn’t miss a beat. Still churning out the miles and so much fun to drive, love it!
    • Steve D. – mines a Saab 9-3 diesel, almost 120,000 miles, never any problems, runs really well always. always surprises me hearing all the issues people have on here. I’m no mechanic, but it gets a full service every September, that’s all it seems to need.
    • Andy P. – I run a 2008 TTiD and it goes like a bomb, 60mpg and no problems in 2 years, gets a regular 6 month oil and filter change with Mobil1 0w-40, plus I only use the premium diesel from BP or Esso, that stops EGR and smoking plumes in my experience.
    • Michael E. – The biggest issues surrounding diesel saabs is that many people don’t understand about how to drive them correctly and basic preventative maintenance to keep them running spot on… I’ve had mine for 75k miles now, and it’s sitting on 128k miles overall, and had no problems with it...
    • Andrew S. – Oil change often, premium diesel fuel. Mine has 153k on the clock no problems in last 2 years and it goes up and down the motorway to devon most weeks.
    • Philip E. – I’d say it’s just a general lack of preventative maintenance. Improper driving style often kills diesels too.


How to take care of a Saab diesel, and How to drive properly?

From all of the above, and from experiences generally with diesel engines, we can recommend the following:

  1. Use the premium diesel with additives – To save the injectors, use quality fuel… Use fuel additives such as “Wynns Injector Cleaner” (This will preserve the injectors and flywheel)…
  2. Carry out regular servicing, use only specified oil and all filters!
  3. Protect the turbocharger – Turbo idling – very important. Every turbo needs idling. Never rev a diesel engine too much while driving, till it reaches the operating temperature. ou don’t need to ‘warm’ up the car, 30 seconds is enough. In the mornings (especially on cold winter mornings) before you leave your home, start your car and let the car idle for about five to eight minutes just to warm up the turbo and bring it to operating temperature. This engine idling time allows your engine oil also to warm up. Also, DONT accelerate on low revs. This puts strain on the turbo and that alone with burn the turbo.
  4. Easy start and easy driving – Do not always drive below 2000 rpm, even though that is possible and Do not unnecessarily rev a diesel engine till 4-6k rpm…
  5. Time to cool down – Wait at least 20 seconds before you turn the engine off; it the drive was longer and more dynamic, give your car up to 2 minutes…


  • Great post. I run a 3.0tid v6, 117k on the clock. Pulls like a train and surprises people. Regularly service by a saab tech. Only issues I’ve had with the car have been consumable parts.

    • 319k 2009 9.3 1.9TiD. Bought with the service book stamped through with new oils and all filters. Drives wonderfully. New wheel bearings and new Dunlop tires, it’s nearly silent even at 130km. Love our Snow white.

  • I have 200k kilometers on my 9-3 SC 1.9 TiD’s odometer, and it still runs great. No issues, except for exhaust pressure sensor fault. (which caused my Saab to enter the “limited performance” mode, but allowed me to drive home)
    But I change oil and filters regulary (every 10-15 k km), and use the car for long distances only. (just like the diesel engine is meant to be used)
    Surprisingly, no issues with DPF, or EGR…

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