Saab Extends Engine Warranty After Finding Sludge Problems

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005 Christopher Jensen
Plain Dealer Auto Editor

Saab is the latest automaker to acknowledge some of its engines could fail because of problems with sludge, a thickening of the oil.

Saab plans to inform the owners of about 132,000 vehicles this month that it is extending the warranty on its engines to eight years and unlimited miles from the time the vehicle was new, spokesman Tom Beaman said Wednesday.

Typically, sludge occurs when oil thickens because moisture and contaminants break it down, causing it to gel. That can reduce the lubrication of the engine, causing it to fail.

The models are:

The 1999-2003 Saab 9-5 with the turbocharged 2.3-liter four- cylinder engine.

The 2000-02 Saab 9-3 with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder .

The 2000- 03 Saab 9-3 convertible with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

The 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen with the turbocharged 2.3-liter engine.

Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi have also offered extended warranties on some of their engines in recent years. Some owners of Chrysler’s 2.7-liter V-6 from the 1998 to 2002 model years have had engine failures, but Chrysler has denied a sludge defect and said a lack of oil changes is the problem.

But sludge problems are caused by a defective engine design, contends Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, which has received hundreds of consumer complaints about engines destroyed by sludge.

“No automaker can explain how a particular engine would attract all the poor maintainers. The 2.4-liter and 3.0-liter Dodge Stratus [engines] do not sludge up, only the 2.7-liter. It is the engine, not the consumer, which is at fault,” Ditlow wrote in an e- mail.