Saab 9-5

The Saab 9-5 was launched as a replacement to the Saab 9000 in 1998. With its introduction it became the biggest car produced by Saab. A total of 483,593 9-5’s were produced in two distinctly different versions, with the Saab 9-5 Generation 1 produced from 1998-2010 and Saab 9-5 Generation 2 from 2010-2012.

Saab 9-5 First Generation

Designed by a team led by Einar J. Hareide the first generation of the Saab 9-5 was launched in 1998 as a successor to the Saab 9000, with the  estate version launched the following year.

The engines and gearboxes were further developments on what was used as in the Saab 9000. The chassi on the Saab 9-5 was equipped with a unique split rear axle, the first time this was used by Saab.

The Saab 9-5 interior offered a lot of unique features when launched, for example the “Night Panel” – which had existed on earlier models as “Black Panel” –  allowed for all instruments except the speedometer to be switched off in the dark. 

Just like on the 9-3, the ignition key sits between the front seats. The main reason for this is safety, since it removes the risk of the key being jammed into the knee or other parts of the body during a collision, which can happen if it’s in the dashboard or steering column.

Compared to the Saab 9-3, the space and ride comfort were significantly better, although the size does not differ much externally.

Updates 2002

In 2002 the 9-5 was updated with a new range of engines program, a new front grille design, new tailgate and tail lights, new steering and a new type of adaptive airbag. From 2002, ESP (electronic stability control) was included as standard.

Updates 2006

The 9-5 received some major updates for the 2006 model year with, among other things, redesigned exterior (for example new front and full red tail lights), new instrumentation, harder shock absorbers, increased track width by 6 mm, and an increased length of 9 mm for the saloon model and 13 mm for the estate.

At the same time, the top of the range Aero model, was given more power from 250 bhp to 260 bhp and was fitted with wider tires. In fact the Aero has been praised by journalists around the world, here in spot number 4 for example, on numerous occasions.

Saab 9-5 Second Generation

A brand new Saab 9-5 was introduced for the 2010 model year. This new 9-5 came with a wide range of petrol, BioPower and  diesel engines to meet local requirements. It was available with both a manual and automatic 6-speed gearbox.

Counting all versions of the new Saab 9-5 there were two four-cylinder engines offered for petrol and diesel respectively, with a V6 engine also available for the petrol versions.

Some of the features of the second generation Saab 9-5 were:

ESP with 4-wheel ABS as standard, advanced XWD with eLSD as an option, the electronically controlled DriveSense real time shock absorption as an option, and the option to have the Head-up-display.

The safe choice

The Saab 9-5, and especially the estate version, was a massive success and for many years one of the most sold cars in Sweden. In addition the Saab 9-5 has been ranked as the safest car in Sweden by one of the largest insurance providers, Folksam, on numerous occasions.

The Saab 9-5 introduced Saab’s Active Head Restraints (SAHR), which moved up and forward to prevent whiplash when the car was struck from the rear. This feature won technology and safety awards around the globe. The Saab 9-5 also was one of the first cars to have extensive side-crash protection.

Fast forward to present day, and both generations of the Saab 9-5 still maintain a high level of safety. In fact, both generations have five stars, the highest grade, in EuroNCAP:s collision test.

Keep your Saab 9-5 in top shape

The Saab 9-5, like all Saab cars, is famous for the luxury spacious cabin, the comfort, and the excellent road holding. Whether you already own, or are thinking about buying a used Saab 9-5, here are a few things you can think about to ensure that it stays the same special car as when it was produced.

Perhaps most importantly, there are parts available and qualified Saab workshops to keep your car in top condition. Through Orio AB, the company behind Saab Original, and the authorised Saab workshop network you have access to both highly skilled mechanics specialised in Saabs and approximately 47,000 unique lines of Saab parts. So even in that sense owning and buying a used Saab 9-5 continues to be safe.

As all cars are complex constructions and have their quirks, it is simply impossible to list everything that could possibly go wrong for any vehicle. However, there are a few things worth knowing about Saab 9-5’s that can increase the enjoyment you get from them and save you time, money, and frustration.

It has been noted by some that in the early Saab 9-5 model years (1998-2003) oil sludge can lead to the engine not getting enough oil. However, there are things that you can do to avoid these issues. Firstly, make sure to carry out regular oil changes, an authorised Saab workshop will be able to help you out if you are unsure about how frequently this should be done. Secondly, check that the crankcase ventilation is clean and working properly.  Checking the crankcase ventilation is easy, you can read more about it in the crankcase section of  our comprehensive service guide

The Saab 9-5 uses a Direct Ignition Cassette (DIC), which wears over time so make sure that it is replaced in a timely fashion since the data sent from this module needs to be correct to not risk your car running rich, lean, or misfiring. This is also why it is particularly important to use an Original part when replacing it. The Saab Original Ignition Cassettes are available from authorised Saab workshops or through Saab webshop.  

On Saab 9-5’s with V6 gasoline engines it is important to follow the recommendations on when the timing belt, tensioner, and idler pulley needs replaced (the recommended interval is about every 100 000 kilometers). A failed timing belt can cause considerable engine damage (expensive repairs), so make sure to change when needed. Authorised Saab workshops will know, and can advice you on the proper intervals. If you don’t have a record of when this was done last, it is worth replacing to be on the safe side.

Buying a used Saab 9-5

A piece of advice that holds as true for Saab as with any used car is that the service history of the car is generally more important to look at than any equipment or engine specification. Having said that, here are some other things to consider when buying a used Saab 9-5.

Generally Saabs are well-equipped compared to a lot of other makes. When buying a used car it means that a Saab is a lot of car for the money you pay, since used car prices are mostly based on model year, service history and mileage rather than equipment level.

Always run a diagnostics check before buying a used vehicle. Authorised Saab workshops have tools and diagnostics equipment developed specifically for Saab cars, and can help you ensure that the Saab you are considering buying is in good shape.

If you are looking at a used Saab 9-5, check the service history for regular oil changes (with a stamp from an authorised workshop in the service book you can rest assured that these have been carried out).

Also check the condition of the Ignition Cassette and make sure that it is an original part. As you can read in the section above these are important, and available from authorised workshops and Saab Webshop.

Additionally it is worth checking when the last time the timing belt on the vehicle you are looking to buy was changed. Again, you can read more about why that is important above.

The Saab 9-5 is available in these levels:

  • Saab 9-5 Linear –  which is the entry level model with standard equipment.
  • Saab 9-5 Arc – add a bit more luxury, equipment and comfort to your ride
  • Saab 9-5 Vector –  which is a sport version that sits somewhere between the Arc and top of the line Aero version equipmentwise
  • Saab 9-5 Aero – the top of the sport model.


The most common engines found in the Saab 9-5 are  4-cylinder 2.0 and 2.3 litre engine. 

The name of  the most commonly found engine in the Saab 9-5 is B205 (2 litre)/B235 (2.3 litre). It is a 4-cylinder in-line turbo charged engine with 4 valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts, and 2 balancer shafts integrated in the cylinder block. The engine is a cross-flow type, i.e. with the inlet ports on one side of the combustion chamber and the exhaust ports on the other side.

When the Saab 9-5 was introduced there were two alternatives:

  • B205E (150 hp/240 Nm)
  • B235E (170 hp/280 Nm)

Over the years a range of variants were introduced to increase power and torque, among the variants also a BioPower version was introduced. 

In addition to the B205/B235, the Saab 9-5 was equipped with a range of 4 and 6 cylinder petrol and diesel engines over the years. All the petrol engines are turbocharged, have “E-throttle”, and are fitted with Saab’s Trionic engine management system T7.

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