I have an 01 Saab turbo wagon automatic with approximately 120,000 miles on it. Has some heater issues that make for a miserable ride in the winter. Needs the heatbox replaced according to a mechanic, which would cost $1700 (10 hours labor). We did some brake work on it recently which was $400.

Just feeling really nervous investing more than half of what we paid for it initially into a repair job. Is it worth it?

  • Whether it is worth fixing is a matter of opinion, not objective fact. It's certainly cheaper to fix it, than to buy a new car with a warranty, though. – dobey Sep 5 '14 at 2:08
  • Insurance companies have a way of objectively quantifying this type of thing: will it cost more to fix than to replace? If so, replace, else fix. – Captain Kenpachi Sep 5 '14 at 8:53
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    Insurance companies only have one concern; minimizing their own financial losses. It has nothing to do with an objective value of worth, which is a word that defines subjective value anyway. – dobey Sep 5 '14 at 14:35
  • Thanks for the input. I doubt we'd be able to sell it for much with the heater in its current state since it's fall in Minnesota. Tried the blankets idea (along with thick socks and winter boots) which works great if you're only on the road for 20 minutes. It would help of it wouldn't blow out cold air! – user3541 Sep 5 '14 at 14:39
  • Does "heatbox" mean "heater core"? – jscs Nov 30 '14 at 20:10

It's almost always cheaper to fix than replace a car. However when faced with major repairs I always recommend two things.

  • Second opinion/estimate
  • Cost analysis

Get a second opinion and estimate. In your case base on the information provided the estimate is really high. I am assuming the "heatbox" is the Heater Core Case if so that's about a 5 hour job, not 10, if heat box means the heater core or heat exchanger it's even less time.

Once you are happy with the recommended repair and the estimate do the following cost analysis.

If what you can sell the car for as is, plus the cost of the repair is more that what the car is worth fixed. Then it's not worth fixing, you lose money.

For Example:

Sold as is it's worth $2000 If fixed it's worth $3000 Cost to fix is $1700

If you sell the car you get $2000 If you fix the car you have an asset that's worth $2000 and you put an additional $1700 in it for a total of $3700.

In that example you would be putting $3700 in something only worth $3000 so you loose $700 by repairing the car.

If the repair cost is $700 it would look like this.

Car is worth $2000 as is, plus $700 for the repair, for a total of $2700. The car is worth (fixed) $3000.

In this example you have a total of $2700 in something worth $3000 so you gain $300 by repairing the car.

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    Analysis doesn't even cover the risk/hit taken in buying another used (or even new car). I'd do this repair in a heartbeat. The probability is that there's still a lot of utility left in that car. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 30 '14 at 19:57
  • @BrianKnoblauch That's a good point you have a known quantity with your current car, and a lot of unknowns in a new car. Some of which can be mitigated with a good inspection by a qualified technician. – Move More Comments Link To Top Dec 30 '14 at 23:09

It's hard to give a direct answer, but my main concern with Saab is that the company does not exist anymore, so finding parts for them will get harder and harder as time goes by. That being said, a Saab is a really solid car and should serve you pretty well if you keep it in good shape.

If you sold the car as-is and added $1700, would you be able to buy a better car? If yes, then sell it. If not, then fix it or buy a blanket.

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  • Whether a company still exists or not, is not entirely relevant to whether or not parts will still be available after a certain time frame. You aren't likely to find many parts for a 32 Ford at your local Ford dealer, either. – dobey Sep 5 '14 at 14:38
  • Would the likelihood of finding parts for a 32 Ford increase or decrease if Ford closed down tomorrow? – Captain Kenpachi Sep 5 '14 at 19:45
  • The likelihood of finding parts for a 32 Ford would be exactly the same as they are today, if Ford closed down. Just the same as finding parts for my Pontiac Fiero(s) is equally as hard as it was 5 years ago before Pontiac closed. Ford doesn't still make parts for all Ford models ever made. – dobey Sep 5 '14 at 20:10
  • What about a 2001 Ford Mondeo? – Captain Kenpachi Sep 5 '14 at 20:15
  • The parts don't just disappear. There are only a limited number of parts available for 2001 model year cars. Only parts which continue to be used on newer models, will continue to be produced, after a certain period of time. Many of the parts that are available, but not used on newer models, are just new old stock (NOS), and have been sitting around for some time. That's how there are "new" deLoreans available for sale today from DMC. – dobey Sep 5 '14 at 21:09

There is a common issue on this era Saab 9-5 with the blend door arm breaking. If your heat is coming out one side, but not the other this may be the case. In any event it can be checked without removing the box (and without incurring huge labor cost). I would recommend determining if this is the issue as the fix is only a couple hundred bucks with labor.

The repair kit can be found on http://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/8032/Blend-Door-Repair-Kit-BDKIT/

The procedure to fix it is at http://www.autopartsapi.com/eEuroparts.com/TechNotes/BDKIT_95_Repair_Instructions.pdf

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