Your Saab Specialists in Spokane

             1211 E. Francis - Spokane, WA  99208 - (509) 487-3308 **(see bottom of pg)






SAAB Flyer #2

From: Spokane’s only Independent SAAB Repair Specialists

Swedish Motorcar Service 

- 1211 E. Francis - Spokane, WA 99207 (509) 487-3308

May, 2000

Rewards for Our Loyal Customers…

This is our way of helping you keep your maintenance costs down while not sacrificing reliability or Service Life…

This summer we are charging $57 per hour, which is already 10% below most other shops working on Saab, including the dealer. ($63 + per hr.) In addition, we are now discounting parts and labor another 5% for our regular customers who rely on us for the full care of their Saab. This should result in more than enough savings (17%) to help our regular Service Customers afford the best maintenance possible. This is our primary focus as Saab Specialists and has been for over 34 years.

Good Auto Maintenance Not Changed in 35 years, Only the Marketing Has…

Slick, competitive advertising has perpetuated an expensive myth.

In the 35 years I’ve been taking care of your Saab automobiles, I’ve seen dramatic changes in the way Saab’s are constructed, marketed, and maintained. In the 60’s & 70’s, owners were educated by Saab to service them regularly following the European tradition of keeping a vehicle for 10-20 years, and certainly beyond the 200,000 mile mark. By the 80’s Saab was bending to market pressures for a "low maintenance" vehicle, (first begun by Subaru) and like other manufacturers, began publishing less and less service requirements for fear of being labeled a ‘high maintenance’ vehicle by consumer advocates. Ironic, that Saab builds enough quality into their car to keep for 20 years and 300,000 miles if maintained properly, but they cannot risk educating their consumers about the maintenance required to achieve that full service life, even knowing that this maintenance is least expensive in the long run. Manufacturers need to sell cars, however, and their ideal profile is for you the consumer to purchase one every 80,000 miles.

Today, modern marketing focuses on advertising images of safe and secure, carefree motoring in a vehicle whose quality is measured by how little maintenance it requires. We may see an image of a car being sold over the internet and delivered in a box like a computer, but there are too few images of technicians receiving the intensive training required to stay abreast of the high-tech systems incorporated in that vehicle. The subtle message would have us believe that the many complicated systems for high performance, pollution control, safety, luxury, handling etc, strangely require so little maintenance that the dealer can sell you "Lifetime Oil Services" for only $200 additional, or a "tune up" every 100,000 miles. Following that thinking, since the neighborhood ‘quicki-tune’ station does a "tune-up" for $29.95, maintenance cares are assumed to be a thing of the past.

Equally reassuring are the classy, but juxtaposed images of incredibly complicated, high-tech, high performance vehicles, outfitted with more computer systems than the Apollo spacecraft, yet so remarkably designed that the only maintenance they require is a 10 minute oil change, or shocks, mufflers, brakes and batteries that can be conveniently installed while you wait in a comfortable lounge trading stocks on the internet with your cell phone. And the repair persons doing this work are so competent (as evidenced by their perfect smiles on TV) that they can work not only on your Saab, but your neighbor’s Yugo and Motor Home as well, (and probably, that Apollo spacecraft). Would that life should be so simple!

This image of simple maintenance is pervasive today, and as far as doing only oil changes and calling them ‘maintenance’, it appears to be cost effective during the first several years of a new car. For the person trading the Saab after four years, low or no maintenance works with a little luck, give or take a transmission or two.

But down the road, someone will eventually pay back the money not spent on adequate maintenance, many times over. If good records are not kept, many important items will be overlooked, while the most common, ‘easy to do’ ones will be unnecessarily duplicated.

I’ve seen very few generic oil changes, muffler repairs, brake jobs, shock absorber replacements or any other ‘one job fits all’ repairs done to the standards Saab would require, or any of those that truly added value to the Saab. Most often, the Saab was downgraded in its quality of drive or reliability with each bargain repair and part, and the Saab became a little less "Saab" and a little more Generic in nature, and its service life was shortened. Most frustrating for me is to see many of these repairs costing more than what we would have charged to do the job properly, with high quality parts.

Though particular models may vary, good comprehensive maintenance for Saab and most other brands has remained essentially the same for 30 years with the advent of front wheel drive, electronics and computer management systems, disc brakes and aluminum component engines. Surprisingly, instead of becoming the "maintenance free" vehicles that manufacturers tout in their marketing strategies, the expensive systems on board today often require a more vigilant maintenance than before.

Examples include:

(1) Anti-lock brake systems requiring brake fluid changes to protect extremely costly replacements.

(2) Corrosive gasses from an old battery causing damage to delicate terminals to computer systems.

(3) Thermostats losing accuracy causing inaccurate fuel mixtures shortening engine life, or causing expensive overheating damage.

(4) Saab FWD Trans-axles, (especially Automatics) operate at extreme temperatures, and need frequent Fluid Changes to prevent transmission wear or failure caused by lubricant breakdowns.

Even though engine overhauls are nearly a thing of the past, these examples illustrate the unpopular fact that our newer cars require much the same maintenance as in the past, but even more vigilance to make sure nothing is missed. Keeping good maintenance records and tracking the individual maintenance items is essential to insure that they were not omitted or mistakenly duplicated at the last "XXX Mile Service". With proper maintenance, the reliable service life of a Saab can be doubled. When one considers the cost of a new Saab, the sales tax, depreciation, insurance and interest that a new car involves, driving another 100,000 miles in your properly maintained, older Saab can be seen for the true bargain and value that it is.

"Lifetime Free" and ‘Quicki’ Oil Changes will Cost More Than You Think… and may cut a Saab’s Service Life in Half…

Batteries not cleaned, risking damage to expensive electronics.
Gearbox or Final Drive oils not checked because of ignorance or that it was too difficult remove the inspection plug…
Drain Plugs left loose or stripped because of improper tools…
Automatic Transmissions improperly filled…
CV joints worn out because a torn CV boot was unreported.
Engine Bearings worn prematurely from using low viscosity oils (10/30 & 10/40) year round.

These are some of the most common problems caused by what many automotive specialists call the "quick-lube syndrome".

1/3 of the repair work we do is associated with a poor or infrequent maintenance history, which usually includes many quick oil changes and far too few Scheduled Servicings.

Whether the 10-minute oil service is performed by quick lube personnel not trained to work on Saabs, or a dealership or shop "lube-man", this type of cut rate maintenance is not suitable for Saab and most other Euros. It wastes valuable maintenance dollars and causes expensive repairs.

I think that the quick lube businesses are genuinely trying to do a good job changing oil. And the dealerships and service shops must compete to keep their bargain-minded service customers, just as we do. But the perception and claims that a 10-minute oil service is equivalent to the maintenance & inspections your car requires, are false and misleading.

Worse yet, some of these cheap oil changes, or free "xxx Inspections" are not focused on preventive maintenance and safety, but are only "search and sell" missions which arguably border bait and switch tactics.

Compounding the problem for Saab owners are the "one job fits all" shops, who besides selling tires or mufflers or oil, like to sell high profit, easy to install items like generic filters, brakes, shocks and spark plugs. If they have brakes for sale, you may hear "your brakes are "ten percent" , (whatever that means). Name-brand, but nonetheless generic shocks are near certain to be worse than the ones they find "worn out" on your Saab, even if it’s 200,000 miles old. Generic Brake repairs usually result in squeaking, pulsating brakes requiring later repairs. Generic brands are far below original equipment (OE) quality and after a few of these "bargain" repairs, you may find that your Saab handles more like dad’s Buick, and sounds like it too.

While there are many fine, honest and competent people working at the quick lubes, tire centers and dealership lube racks, the fact remains that the service they offer is limited in scope and often not suitable for a Saab. If you have the quick lube centers change your oil, allow us do the service at least every other time to insure a complete service being done by an experienced Saab technician, and double checked and test driven by yours truly. . We sell only one product: Good Saab Care!

The ABC’s of Preventive Maintenance…

6 mo. Oil Service (Synthetic Oil-Summer Grade 15/50)

Inspections on Hoist and under Hood, Cooling Sys. & Road Tests

Every Year: Oil Service + Service Automatic Trans or 5speed Gearbox, Power Steering Fluid,  Air Filter, Spark Plugs.

Every 2 yrs: Oil Svc. + Annual Svc. + Flush Brake & Clutch Fluid, Coolant, Thermostat, Fuel Filter, Cabin Filter.

Every 4 yrs: all the above + Repl. Belts, Ck. Water Pump, Service Cylinder Head, Ck. Camchain. Consider changing your Battery.

Summer: Batteries, Cooling Systems & AC

More batteries fail in summer than winter…

Old Batteries and sophisticated electronic and computer managed systems in a Saab DO NOT MIX! Some tips:

Disconnect your battery or employ a Tender (modern trickle charger) when storing the car for over 2 weeks.
Do not Jump start a totally dead battery or you may destroy a computer when the alternator surges and the battery is too weak to absorb the high voltage. Connect jumpers and charge the dead battery for a while with the jumper car before starting.
Replace the Battery when it begins to cause chronic corrosion around the terminals. The corrosion will spread to electronic terminals under the hood and cause expensive failures in systems like Anti-lock brakes and Fuel Injection.

Summer… The temperatures inside the cooling system can reach 260 degrees, with pressures up to 18 psi. As hoses age, small fractures grow internally, and may burst under pressure. If the coolant is lost completely, the engine will radically overheat, resulting in expensive, if not fatal damage.

We monitor Cooling Hose condition by looking for swelling, pinching the hose for internal fractures near the clamps, and paying close attention to the hoses subjected to the most heat. This strategy has worked pretty well, but after 10 years, it may be wise to replace any suspect hose.

The Pressure Cap, Coolant, Thermostat, Water Pump, Belts, and Cooling Fan operation should also be checked, especially in Summer.

We monitor all of these items & more in our Oil Service Inspections.

R12 refrigerant still available for AC… Though expensive, R12 is still available for older Saab AC systems and we recommend using it. There is always a risk of refrigerant leakage with any older system, but we recommend retrofitting the system to R-134 only if the AC compressor has failed and needs replacement. Retrofitting requires dismantling the old system hoses, flushing the old oil throughout, and installing new seals. R134 has a smaller molecule and will leak more easily in older systems not designed for it. Retrofitting to R-134 is not required by law.

Best not to Pressure Wash the Engine…

There are dozens of sensitive wiring terminals under the hood going to the Engine Management Systems, Air Bag, Anti-Lock Brakes, etc. While cleaning the engine area is sometimes necessary maintenance to help engine cooling, prevent battery corrosion damage and hose failures from oil saturation etc., the waterproof boots covering these sensitive conductors of electronic information cannot withstand the rigors of a pressure washer. In models over 4-5 years old, the protective coverings rot and are no longer even waterproof. We use special cleaners and rinse engines with a gentle nozzle to avoid getting water into the most sensitive connectors. Even using these precautions, moisture will often invade a terminal connection, sometimes activating existing corrosion caused from battery gasses, and a we will have to trace and clean the affected terminal.

Jump Starting a Battery can be dangerous- sparks occur while connecting the jumper cables can ignite explosive gasses in the battery. Connect the negative cable LAST, to the Chassis, not near the Battery Terminal! Always Use Safety Glasses.

Don’t Use Plastic and Save 2%…

Most folks are unaware of the fact, but merchants pay 2% to run a Credit Card, Debit Card or Check Card to pay for services. Consumers pay for this service through the increased costs.

We’d rather give it to you, so use a check or cash and save 2%!

Send mail to john@saabspokane.com or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2000 Swedish Motorcar Service
Last modified: March 02, 2012