Servicing the Saab 9000
An important aspect of caring for the Saab 9000 is regular servicing. The 9000 range is of sophisticated design, with some very high-performance variants. It was designed primarily for the European market, where car-owners have come to expect to service their cars meticulously. Excessively frequent oil and filter changes are neither necessary nor sufficient on their own to keep the 9000 trouble-free.
Presented here are service schedules from various sources. The schedule varies according to type of engine (turbo/non-turbo), year of manufacture and market.
A note for foreign (non-UK and non-European) readers, especially those in the US and Canadian markets:
The oil-change intervals recommended for the European market may seem dangerously long (to Europeans, US oil-change intervals seem ludicrously short). I don't know for certain why the markets differ so much in this respect. Certainly, local climate will have something to do with it, but I feel that cultural differences may be partly responsible. The US oil industry has done a good job of promoting frequent oil changes to the extent that there are some high-mileage drivers changing their oil every month and companies such as "Jiffy-Lube" have sprung up to service this market. I know of no equivalent of "Jiffy-Lube" here in the UK.
Synthetic oil seems not to be popular in the US, possibly because it would be expensive to change it with the frequency with which it is changed in that market. In Europe, it is taken for granted that fully-synthetic oil is used in high-performance and "quality" cars. However, Saab market both fully-synthetic and semi-synthetic "turbo oil".
Additionally, I have been told by someone who sells oil in the US that oil in that market is often inferior to the equivalent oil sold in Europe, even under the same brand. Perhaps this again reflects the expectations of oil longevity in the respective markets.
Anyway, the upshot of all this is: if you are not comfortable using the oil-change intervals recommended for the European market, feel free to change the oil and filter more frequently.
UPDATE: I recently came across an interesting response to this Saab9000.com article in an old Internet newsgroup:
"There are a number of factors at work here.
For one, the US oil specification is controlled by the oil industry -
API. In Europe, the oil specification is controlled the the auto
manufactures - ACEA. The American Petroleum Institute (API) sets the
service level with some input from the vehicle manufacturers. In Europe
the vehicle manufacturers, ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers'
Association) set the service level.
Secondly, the API has specified one lowest common denominator service
specification, e.g. API SM for all gasoline engines. Although the
vehicle manufacturers are pushing for higher standards, they are
constrained by the oil industry. Thus, they try create their own
specifications and even created their own association - ILSAC - to
promote their cause.
Next, in Europe, the ACEA has created quality tiers, e.g. A1, A3, A4, A5
for gasoline engines. These tiers increase in quality starting from A1
and ending in A5. Even the lowest quality level, A1, is formulated with
mostly Group III synthetics and has a drain interval of 12,000 miles. A5
oils are Group III or IV synthetics and have a drain interval of up to
20,000 miles. Since the vehicle manufacturers own the specifications,
they naturally specify as high a quality as is feasible for their engines.
Finally, but less a factor, many highways in Europe have no speed limit
so engines (which are smaller on average than in the US) are run at a
higher speed for longer periods of time and correspondingly operate
under higher stress. This calls for higher quality oil.
There are a few more issues at play, but that's the gist of it."