Project Car Hell: Saab 9-3 Aero Edition; Help Needed From Jalops

Good afternoon Jalops, my Uncle needs your help with his Saab.

My Uncle (on my Mother's side) had a really nice Honda that was paid off, but was way, way too beige for him. Because of this, he traded it in and purchased an amazing Saab 9-3 Aero; with a proper Turbo setup (much boost). His Saab started displaying misfire issues about 2 months back. The coils on this car are notorious for failing, so he replaced all the coils and plugs and the issue disappeared ... temporarily. After the maintenance and before the issue re-appeared he flashed the ECU with a better, more eager boosting tune: JZW Stage 1 which was sooo much fun. He boosted around hard for a few weeks on it and the car was properly quick. He was planning on keeping the car forever and adding a DP/MP/Exhaust, intercooler, injectors and 20t soon and then, the issue came back worse. He replaced the coils with non el cheapo coils and the mid-to-high rpm misfire went away, but the idle and low-throttle rpm misfire remained. He tried everything to find it, but couldn't, so He took it to a shop. It only has 50k miles on it, so the problem had to be simple, right?



Cylinders 1-5 have and hold 170 psi.

Cylinder 6 has 70 psi and leaks down to 0.

A used 30k mile engine is $2k plus labor.

A rebuild will likely cost just as much.

It is leaking in to the crank case. Not a valve issue. :/

Air-fuel mix blowing into the crankcase is bad because the fuel will mix with the oil, thin it out and then wash off oil off all surfaces. I don't know about you, but a seized engine isn't as easy to fix as one with blown rings.

The Car is paid off. To get a car of equal comfort and enjoyment would cost as much as just getting the engine replaced.

I think engine is the way to go. :/ right? A new engine would be killer in that car.


Labor on an engine swap is ~$1250, and the engine itself is $2100. So for $3400 all in, he'll have an engine that has a 1-year warranty. Better than he has now?!

Cylinder #6 has broken ring lands. The damage was contained to the piston, so there is no cylinder damage or head damage. Completely fixable, right?


...yeah, about that.

The pistons are almost $600 each. On top of that, there are only 4 of them in the entire world. FOUR. All four are in Sweden, and they would take 3-weeks to be shipped here. Adding in the additional cost of the rings, bearings, thermostat and any other undiscovered costs, it's well above $4k to rebuild JUST cylinder 6.


OR he could spend ~$4k and replace the engine with a low-mileage example. Gee, that's a hard decision. So, today he is calling around and trying to bargain on the price for a low-mileage engine. He already found a 42k mile engine with a 1-year warranty, but also saw an 11k mile engine on Car-Part. We shall see. What do you think Jalops? Please help.

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