SWEDISH MOTORCAR SERVICE
Your Saab Specialists in Spokane
1211 E. Francis - Spokane, WA 99208 - (509) 487-3308 **(see bottom of pg)
SAAB Specialists of Spokane
E. 1211 Francis
Spokane, WA 99207
( 509 ) 487-3308
From : john, mike, dan and chris...
Greetings ! Saab Friends;
Thank You again for allowing us to serve you and your Saab's needs. We hope you fared well through the Winter and IRS holiday on April 15.
About "SAAB Specs.".... This is a periodical Newsletter keeping our Friends informed of the latest Doings of Yours Truly, Saab Specialists of Spokane.
If this is "Junk-Mail" for You... If you no longer own a SAAB or do not wish to be on our mailing list for SAAB owners, Simply mark "Refuse" across the front and put it back in the mailbox. The Post Office will return it to us and we'll take your name off the list... simple as that! Thanks.
1978 Saab 99, 4dr,4spd,Sunroof,Refurbished and Full major Servicing; $2000 with 2 mo. 50-50 Warranty. Call John, 487-3308
Family Updates... What's new with the SAAB Specialists? Since last writing, Dan continues to play Acoustical and Electric Guitar to the enjoyment of all who listen. Mike reassembled his Husqvarna 430 Enduro Motorcycle and will probably be found riding after hours and on weekends at Seven-Mile ORV Park or in the mountains until the snow flies. Matt, another Lippis Kid, 17, will be helping out at SAAB Specialists this summer running the computer and parts reordering. (Matt and I are Computer Programming Buddies; He and Dan play great Guitar Duets together also) Chris is still reassembling his Sonnette III with great distraction from his new, all-black, lowered Chevy S-10 Pickup, which has caught his fancy. We've been telling him "Life is too short... to work on Chevy's" , but Chris loves his slinky new toy! Stacey will also be helping this summer, cleaning and managing the Television in the Waiting Room. She has promised that her Dolls and 'Animalia' will leave enough room for any SAAB customers who wish to use the area from time to time. Since last writing in Dec., John has remained overwhelmed with keeping up with the many responsibilities and complications of Small-Business. (explained later) He has put on weight from not having time to be physically active, has started and quit smoking twice (!), and continues to believe that 'just a little bit smarter program' for our computer will help get a leg up on all the bookwork and allow enough time to teach a High School Class on Auto Diagnostics next year. All in all, We're having a very stimulating, challenging time of it and in general, cherish the ability to all work together each day. And for this All, We Thank You! for making it possible.
(P.S. Moral of Update: We're a family business, proud of a family tradition of Honesty, Integrity and Putting Forth Our Best Effort, Always. We strive to offer the best service on Saab's; Anywhere.)
Another Saab Get Together....
Last Summer's national SAAB Owner's Convention held at Crystal Mountain Resort near Mt. Rainier was a huge success. This July 18-19, the Northwest SAAB Owner's Club is sponsoring a "Relaxed Weekend" at Crystal Mtn. again. There are wonderful accommodations at the resort, featuring Chalet-style lodging, magnificent views of Mt. Rainier as seen from Summer Ski-Lift rides to the top, Downhill Bicycling on mountain trails, Short-distance Hiking, Swimming, and Great Food. The Meadows below Mt. Rainier offer the finest of Mountain Meadow experiences, in my opinion. For Details and Reservations, call: Crystal Mountain Resort, (206 ) 663-2558 (Phyllis or Lisa). You may also call Skip Schott of the North West Saab Owners Club for details. (206) 486-1351 There will be a Dinner, Sat. evening at the Summit Restaurant. You must send Skip a $10 deposit by June 19. if you wish to attend the dinner (off the restaurant menu) His address is: 20220 80th Ave SE, Snohomish, WA, 98290. See you there!
For those of you who would travel further, The National SAAB owner's Convention will be held this year (August 7,8,and 9th at (Columbus, Ohio. Advance Registration is required by July 1. (We have the Forms).
The official newsletter of the SAAB CLUB of NORTH AMERICA, Nines offers a Treasure-Trove of SAAB Lore and Goings'on, Information, and opportunities for helping you to Enjoy your SAAB. If you're a Do-It-Yourself'er, you'll find Technical Articles and Mail Order opportunities for discounted parts a'plenty. Sometimes I am amazed at the bargains offered to SAAB Club Members and Newsletter Readers. If you want to help yourself with your SAAB Care, Subscribe to Nines... A year's subscription costs $29.00 ($25.00 renewal).
We have Subscription Forms at the Shop, stop by anytime.
SAAB Leadership Travels in High Circles...
Still think SAAB is a small, obscure company overshadowed by Detroit Giants, the Japanese and Other European and Worldwide manufacturers? Robert Eaton, outgoing Chairman of the Board of SAAB Automobile AB, will become the Chairman of Chrysler Corp. upon the retirement of Lee Iacocca. Eaton will be succeeded by Louis Hughes, a former GM Canada, GM Europe and Opel Executive and Engineer. The uncertain news is: In light of SAAB's merge with GM, will SAAB remain the Unique Swedish Marvel that it has always been, or become another GM / European / World Wide Look-Alike/Drive-Alike in the 'Automobile Revolution' of the 90's. The Good News is possibly manifold: SAAB will have the money to remain at the forefront of Automobile Technology; especially in the area of Safety engineering. Other benefits may include better availability of Parts and Service Nationwide, and who knows, in the future, Saabs may be built in America! I think, if given the tooling and incentives for quality, the American Builder could build the best Saabs ever.
Early SAAB design was spawned by aircraft engineers working in small factories using 'back-road' test tracks and fine tuned by success or failure on the European Rally Circuit. Their methods were far less grandiose than American Manufacturing, or German and English efforts, (certainly not close to Japanese manufacturing efficiency), but were instrumental in the innovations Saab has come to be known for.. Saab construction and design has always reminded me of how an engineer / hobbiest would build a car in his home workshop if given the time and money. Though current economics do not allow manufacturing with the man hours-per-vehicle of the past, SAAB continues to break new paths in automotive technology.
Saab 9000 Safest Car in Sweden...
For the second time, the Saab 9000 has been named the safest car in Sweden by the Folksam Insurance Company, Sweden's largest automobile insurance provider. In its latest study of over 26000 road accidents between 1985 and 1990, the 9000 demonstrated a very low incidence of head and leg injuries-- three times lower than average for head injuries and eight times lower for leg injuries than the average car in Sweden. Amazing, considering Volvo's are built like WWII Tanks!
Exploding Seatbelts ???
Part of Saab's success in Passive Safety (protecting passengers in accidents) has been it's seat belt technology. In the Saab 9000, (USA model ) there are pyro-technic charges built into the seat belt pretensioner assy located in the body wells behind the front doors which instantly tighten the seat belts in event of collision, pulling the front seat occupants tightly into the seat and preventing the 'Whiplash' we see with crash dummies in TV ads. The Pretensioner tightens the belt approx. 4" in event of a forward crash exceeding 11 mph.
Also in the 9000 model there is a steel cable reinforcing the body by connecting the right and left body sections together, so that in event of head on collision, the body is prevented from folding outward, thus controlling how the impact is absorbed by the entire car and protecting the occupants within, also decelerating them at a life saving rate. (This is what a crash helmet does for your head ). Today's Saab is truly more than meets the eye!
And the Crash Dummies were Alive !!!.....
Mike tells me of watching a program on Public Television a few months ago in which two Saab 9000's were crashed Head-On at 35 mph with two people in each car, all of whom were uninjured! Slow Motion Photography later showed how the 9000's 'exploding seatbelts' tightening on impact and pulled the passengers securely into their seats, preventing any personal contact with dash or windshield. Most amazing to me was the fact the Testing Lab could find four people to undergo the Test, even in a Saab. Though the impact forces would not have exceeded those of a 35 mph crash, because both cars were of equal mass; the closing speed of the two Saab's was 70 mph!
Saab 900 Energy Absorbsion...
A good friend of mine was recently hit from behind while stopped in his 900 by a young man in a pickup. Bill's Saab was totaled (actually bent the entire Saab aft of the rear axle), but he was uninjured and even the trunk area was not invaded by the impact. I was also impressed by the fact that the other driver was uninjured, considering it was a Courier Pickup; I believe the Saab's ability to absorb energy on impact actually saved both drivers from serious injury! ( my opinion only).
Safety First... But Oh, wouldn't it be fun...just once....
Safety has always been our foremost concern when working on our customer's Saabs, as most of you know. I have to admit some envy however, of my friend Chris in Moscow, ID, who recently went to Germany and was able to drive a Saab 9000 on the Autobahn at... 150 MPH !! Evidently, certain sections of the Autobahn have different lanes, each with a minimum speed limit; the only way these kinds of speeds could be manageable for a mixed speed highway. Other sections have speed limits in the range of 120-140 Kph (75-85 mph). An adventure of this sort would require "Z" speed rated tires, an absolutely perfectly running 9000 with excellent suspension, a driver with skill and a pocketbook to match...... or one with....unusual brains. Chris...really??
Saab 900 Rated Best in Serviceability... (quoted from Nines, Apr.'92 )
I was amazed to hear it from a domestic magazine... but Popular Mechanics Magazine, (Apr.'92) rated the Saab 900 best in Serviceability, comparing with 14 other mid-size family sedans. The comparison tested front-drive, four doors for best value and performance, including popular models such as Ford Taurus LX, Honda Accord EX, Nissan Stanza SE, and Toyota Camry LE. Popular Mechanics: "We were also thoroughly impressed with the ease of the 900's routine service functions, which led all others in our serviceability index." Nines: "All 1992 Saabs benefit from reduced maintenance frequency to lower service costs, lessen customer inconvenience, and reduce hazardous waste."
But We Don't Agree with everything they say....
It is true that the 900 is a real 'sleeper' in the maintenance department; it is intelligently engineered for maintaining its service life and in general, a joy to work on. This model is definitely easier to work on than the 9000, and in many ways, even the 99 models. Observing Saab's service ideology over the last 25 years, however, I believe the move toward 'reduced maintenance frequency' is motivated by marketing strategy more than achieving the worthy goals of reduced maintenance costs and generating less hazardous waste. In the late 70's, Subaru made headlines with its Low Maintenance reputation and overnight, many manufacturers, including SAAB, revised their service recommendations to reflect a "lower maintenance cost" without any redesign whatsoever. Today, the notion of Ultra-Low Maintenance is based more upon a 'pseudo-leasing' mentality of recycling the car buyer into a new model every 60-80,000 miles. If everyone could afford to subscribe to this method, (as I understand is mandated in Japan), we all would be driving safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly motor vehicles. We would probably be recycled eventually into electric / natural gas vehicles and automobile-generated pollution would begin remarkable downturns if practiced worldwide.
The problem is, however, that only a few of us can afford that new $30K model even once in a lifetime, so we become part of the second-hand market where maintaining a safe, reliable and environmentally compatible auto depends directly on how well the vehicle was maintained in the earlier part of its service life. All of us have probably experienced "lemon-sickness" after purchasing a used car, only to find later that it had been poorly maintained and will now require considerable funds to put it back in shape. Even if the repair shop 'gets rich' repairing the ailing vehicle, it is never the same, it seems, and all possibly, for the lack of a little more TLC by the previous owners or their service shop.
Of course, there is a lot to be said for 'not touching what isn't broken', because an inept or careless service technician may cause more harm than good to your four-wheeled 'baby'. I truly believe that 30-50% of the repairs we do are brought on by poor maintenance or repair work somewhere in the Saab's past. But timely, conscientiously applied maintenance aimed toward the well-being and longevity of the Saab can offer the owner and second hand owner a wealth of options that the throw-away mentality does not afford.
For instance, Saab no longer recommends changing Gearoil in the 9000 and late 900 models. These models don't even have drain plugs for changing this crucial oil. The gearbox generates metal particles which are impacted into other bearing and gear surfaces, shortening the life of a transaxle by as much as 50%, I estimate. The Gearbox will likely not give the first owner any repair bills if he or she trades the Saab in at 80,000, let's say. But if the first owner keeps the Saab for in excess of 100,000 miles and then finds that newer models are too expensive for this year's budget and would like to keep it one or two more years, or would like to pass on the older Saab to a teenage son or daughter, the need for a transaxle overhaul may come at just the wrong time, effectively destroying these options. And of course, the second hand owner would gladly have paid the extra value added to the Saab for having had the oil changed five or six times in the Saab's early life for a total lifetime cost of $75-$100. We have found ways of changing Gearoil on all late model Saabs.
As to environmental concerns of generating hazardous Waste; nearly all lubricants and fluids are now recycled. (More Later). I've also found that far more 'Customer Inconvenience" is experienced from breakdowns and major overhauls than from preventive maintenance.
As to lowering "Service Costs" by reducing maintenance routines; I do agree that sometimes, the cheapest way to own a car, is to watch your gas mileage, (which is the best indicator of engine systems changing or failing), to change oil often, and just 'drive it into the ground', replacing only what breaks or wears out. However, this is not the best way, in my opinion. People who buy Saabs usually do so for safety, reliability, and to own a vehicle which maintains its driving enjoyment and "new car feel" over a long service life. None of these components to a good ownership experience can be maintained without comprehensive, individualized servicing to the car and the complex systems that contribute to these facets of Saab quality. In short, I have observed that for the first year or two, you won't notice a lack of maintenance; but after that, the quality of the 'Drive' does deteriorate without proper TLC.
Visa / MasterCard Now Accepted!....
We are finally set up to accept Plastic Money. For all others we are offering a 3% discount for Cash or Check. Please let us know in advance how you intend to pay so that we may adjust your bill accordingly. Thank You!
Did You Know... Technical Tips
Pay Attention to that Leaky Tire!
We recently found a supposed chronically leaking Tire to be a Fractured Wheel Rim! What the owner thought was only a nuisance actually could have turned into a disaster from a failing Wheel Rim. We all get used to adding air to that one tire occasionally; though very unusual, maybe that 'leaker' should be dismantled and have the Wheel Rim Inspected for Fractures.
Before Changing the Battery, Turn the Radio Off...
Microprocessors in modern radios will be damaged if the battery is removed and replaced and the radio is left On.
Amsoil May Actually Work...
A recent Engine and Transaxle Overhaul for Saab Friends in Newport, Wa, revealed unusually little wear in Transaxle bearings at 100,000 miles. The Saab, a 1983 900 turbo, had had its Transaxle oil Changed with Amsoil ever since new. We were amazed at the generally good condition of internal components. For those of you who would like to try the same oil, pick up 3 qts of Amsoil 10-30 and we'll be happy to replace your existing gearoil. Just as Important, to prolong transaxle life in your Saab, drive gently in the lower gears. The lower the gear, the more gently you should accelerate while developing speed; conversely, add more power as you shift to higher gears. Fifth gear (fourth gear in early 99/900's) is your strongest gear. As to Synthetic Oils in Engines, I still believe frequent oil changes are the secret to long, smooth engine life, and synthetic oil is a little expensive for a 3000 mile oil change. Many would disagree with me. I've seen engines using synthetics with mixed results, ranging from extraordinarily little wear on components to engine wear and failure in excess of the norm. Because of their resistance to 'coking' , synthetic oils are great for TurboChargers, however.
Clean your Injectors and Valves with 'Real' Injector Cleaners...
Unfortunately true, most 'Injector Cleaners' on the market are only Alcohol. As we have discussed before, there are many drawbacks to alcohol mixed with gasoline, and I don't believe these 'cleaners' do a suitable job of cleaning either. Of late, we have become aware of a line of products from Germany, produced by Lubro-Moly. I am extremely impressed with the power of their injector cleaner and intake valve Scrubber. (Intake Valves in Saabs sometimes develop heavy caked carbon on their undersides which restricts flow of air/fuel mixture into the cylinder and can cause low power at high RPM as well as unstable idling.) The cleaners are very expensive ( $8.95 for "Jectron" injector cleaner and $6.00 for "Ventil-Sauber" valve scrubber ) but well worth the expense on an annual or semi-annual basis. Next time you're in for service, remind us to install these products into your fuel and see if you agree with our findings.
Hot Weather Tips and Checks....
Did you know that the engine in your auto is regrettably only 20% efficient for converting energy to mechanical work! It's True. 1/3 of your gasoline dollar goes right out the exhaust pipe in the form of heat. Only 1/3 of your fuel's energy is spent on overcoming Friction and Air and Rolling Resistance and accelerating you car down the road. Finally, your cooling system must dissipate another 1/3 of your fuel's wasted energy to keep the engine operating at a cozy 190 - 210 deg. F. No wonder Engine Overheating is a common phrase in our language! What are the essential components to a reliable cooling system?
(WE at SAAB Specialists commonly Test the Pressure Cap while it is installed in the car, thus insuring the system holds the pressure necessary. ( We call this our "O-ring Test" ) Many Coolant reservoir caps do not fit the reservoir perfectly and therefore do not hold the pressure required to 'Stop the Bubbles'!)
(99 Owners please Note: American Pressure Caps need modification before being fitted to Saab Cooling Reservoirs. They do not effectively Seal Pressures inside Cooling systems because of dimensional differences in the European Caps and Domestics. )
Come By and let us show you how to safely perform your own 'Whoosh' Test to quickly test Pressure Integrity of the Cooling system.
Other common failures are the cooling hoses located above the Turbocharger on 900's due to the extreme heat.
We have had nearly no hose failures on the 9000 models, though time may reveal weaknesses.
Air Conditioner not working so well ?...
The AC system should be switched on weekly throughout the year to maintain circulation of system lubricants. (In winter time, the AC helps to defrost your windows in combination with heat). If your AC system does not feel cool enough for comfort, stop by and we'll check the temperature of the vent air (should be 40-45 deg. F.) and check for the need of charging the Freon.
It May be the Heater Valve...
There are two kinds of '87 and earlier 900 Owners.... Those who have replaced their heater valve and those who will be changing their heater valve. Yes, sooner or later, early Heater Valves invariably fail to shut the hot water OFF, and can make summer driving miserable. Here's how to test your Heater Valve. Select the Small Horizontal Arrows on the Ventilation Selection Knob with the Fan on #2. Switch Heat "On" with the Temp. Control Knob for a moment, then "OFF". You should feel the heat coming through the the Outer Fresh Air Vents in contrast to the cooler air coming in from the Center Fresh Air Vent. Within a minute or so, the temperature of the air coming through the Side Vents should match the air from the Center Vent again. If not, your Heater Valve is allowing hot water to circulate through the Heater and will make your AC system seem ineffective. The later Heater Valves are greatly improved with few failures.
Get more for your Oil Change Dollar....
Instead of looking for the cheapest way to change your oil regularly, let a SAAB Specialist give you more for your money. Oil Changes are actually a Hassle for us, taking up valuable Hoist time, and having to dispose of the Waste Oil and Filters in accordance with Washington State requirements. But there is not a better and more cost-effective way of monitoring your Saab's condition by performing a "Quick Lower Inspection" with the Oil Change, inspection of various fluid levels, components and Systems under the Hood, and Test Driving your Saab, checking for problems a 'Quicki-Lube' Tech. may not recognize, or that you may have not noticed as one who drives the car every day. Like failing Eyesight, sometimes you just don't notice problem signs when they come on slowly. Probably the best bargain we offer; an oil and/filter change with Lower Inspection, under Hood Inspection and Test Drive can usually be done in less than an hour of shop time.
Change that Power Steering Fluid Every Year, Please, or "Morning Sickness" may result....
Like the Transaxle, Power Steering systems shed millions of minute metal particles into the PS oil. These particles will imbed into the Nylon Seals which are a crucial component to Power Steering Control Valve. The Nylon Seals, imbedded with metal abrasives, will in turn will actually wear into the aluminum Housing causing grooves that allow the high Pressure fluid to escape back to the reservoir. This results in uneven and erratically assisted steering, usually more noticeable when the system is cold, and thus the term of endearment, "Morning Sickness". This is not a Saab invention, but a GM steering Rack used in many other makes and models of autos. Though not common knowledge, the Power Steering actually has a great deal to do with how the car handles in general. If you are driving straight ahead, and the road surface tends to pull the car to the right or left, the Power Steering senses this pull and actually corrects without you ever even feeling the correction. So.. change your PS Fluid annually and keep your Saab ;driving like a SAAB. Our Replacement Steering Racks are rebuilt with a steel sleeve installed into the Control Valve Housing, and in this way, are 'better than new'. They are also guaranteed for life.
Attention, 99 / 900 FastBack Night Drivers ...
The Tail Light Lenses on 99 / 900 FastBack Models are notorious for attracting dust to the inside surfaces of the lens and severely limiting the brightness of the Tail, Signal, and Brake Lights. Earlier models are "Under-Lit" even when clean, so removing and cleaning the Lenses may increase your visibility to other drivers considerably. Call us if you need any help or advice on cleaning your Tail Light Lenses.
How to Test your Shock Absorbers....
I have to admit uncertainty when reporting on Shock Absorbers on Some Saabs. There are so many types of Shock Absorbers on the road today, that what feels worn out in one model, is actually Ok in another. The fundamental function of the Shock is to prevent the tire from bouncing like a basketball down the road. Most shocks do this pretty well. High Performance shocks are also expected to greatly influence body roll and handling. Since we are not able to bounce your tires, we 'Bounce your Bumpers' to partially evaluate your shocks. First, put your Knee on your bumper and pump the bumper vigorously up and down. If the Bumper follows your knee with no delay, the shock may be worn out. A good shock will 'annoy' you, because it never quite keeps up with your knee. If the vehicle keeps oscillating more than once after 'bouncing the bumper', the shock is almost certainly worn out. Next, comes the Test Drive. Here, Driving 'Touch' is hard to describe, but a good shock will control the Body Roll and Pitch, especially on turns with undulations in the road. Recovery from Swerving is also important. Lastly, we inspect shocks on the lift for worn bushings and leaking Hydraulic Seals. If your Shocks pass these three tests, we say they are 'OK' on our General Inspection Check List!
The Joys of Driving an Older Saab...
While driving a customer's '76 99 home one evening on a Road Test, it came to me that notwithstanding the obvious advantages of Airbag and ABS ( Anti-Lock Brakes ) Technology, driving and older Saab can be a real Joy. It's usually paid for, and already had its painful "First Dings". While there may be a few concerns of reliability on certain components, if the Saab's Use is matched to it's age, many more safe, reasonably priced and enjoyable miles can be had. The key is moderation. An old car is much like my body, I think; I have to take care of it more than when I was 20 or 30. I can't abuse it without paying a price in some way. An old Saab cannot be revved to the RPM it once could be revved, or accelerated as fast, but if driven gently, with a little patience, 200,000 miles are not uncommon. With this mind-set affixed while driving, I find driving an older Saab more enjoyable than a new one sometimes. Driving is not such a rush to get to point 'B', and that in turn makes the experience a little more 'laid back' and enjoyable. Also, being able to 'hear' the road and wind noises; not being so insulated from all of your senses being able to detect your movement is a fine trait in an auto, not a shortcoming. Current trends of manufacturers competing for total quiet to impress you of how solid their vehicle is built actually detract from total awareness on the road. Saab has always endeavored to engineer "responsive feedback" to the seat of your pants and that is one reason Saabs handle differently than so many other vehicles. Research has found that stroking a pet can lower your blood pressure; who knows, maybe someday they'll say the same thing about Driving an Old Saab....
Saabs for Teens!....
As a parent of four and honorary uncle of countless other teenagers whose parents are my friends and customers, I can unequivocally recommend a Saab for the Teenage Driver in your family. Except for a somewhat restricted rear visibility, the Saab is an easy car to manage on the road; it gives the driver a good feel for road surfaces, especially on ice; the front wheel drive and handling are excellent, and it will absorb enough energy in a collision to save lives. We have occasion to buy an older Saab from time to time, which for the current owner, is too old to keep for a family car. However, the quality of some of these older Saabs is such that dismantling them for parts alone is a waste of a good safe car, especially in light of the other options afforded a teenager's budget. There is no question in my mind that a Saab is a much better "Crashworthy" choice than most Japanese and European compacts, Volkswagens, and Domestics.
So, SAAB Specialists will be refurbishing these older 99's etc. as time goes by, with the following policy. We will pass the car along to the new owner for whatever salvage value we have paid, and charge only $15 per hour for the time we spend putting the Saab in good condition. All parts replaced will be sold at current list price. The prospective buyer will be able to examine all of the repair and refurbishment records and Notes on the car's condition and we will offer a 30 day 50/50 guarantee. Currently, we are refurbishing two 1978 99's, and possibly a 1980 900 Turbo. If you're interested, let us know.
Confessions of a Saab Specialist....
"Why is it so expensive to service and repair my Saab?" Though not verbalized often, seeing this question on people's brows is not an uncommon experience for me. So I thought I'd try to answer...
Like most of you, I am a penny-pincher. I enjoy getting a bargain. I don't particularly like to spend large amounts of money fixing anything, especially when I have to hire someone to do it for me. Worse, I get downright mad if I feel I've been 'ripped off' or BS'd, or have been treated less than responsibly by any service provider who tends to my needs. Having said that, I admit being embarrassed when I hand a bill to our customer and explain the charges. The "Farmer" in me is asking the same question you might be asking: " why does it cost so much..." And yet at the same time, I know the great work we have done, the many hours we have spent on the vehicle's needs, and the often exceptional bargains we have provided in parts costs. It is strange for me to feel uncomfortable when logically, I should be feeling very proud of what we have done for our client.
When I first started servicing Saabs in 1966, the average 6000 mile servicing cost approximately $30 including tax. If a problem arose with that hard-working little two-stroke engine, Saab would usually give the customer a new one, free, just for good PR.
Then the V-4's came, and an average servicing rose to $75. Then the 99 arrived with the 70's and the American Dollar lost value overseas and $100 servicings became normal. Prices never went back down. As the cars became more complicated, with added safety, comfort and performance features, servicing costs increased right along to $200, then $300 and more. Today, most servicings range from $200-$600 depending on whether it is an annual, bi-annual, or 4 year servicing (60K). Even so, we often find the need for further repairs, such as an oxygen sensor on a 16 valve model costing $140, or a water pump replacement, or brakes and rotors which sometime drive the bill up even higher. That's the Ugly Truth: It is Expensive to Maintain your Modern Saab... Though we invariably seek the least expensive way for the repair or service that does not compromise quality, some of this expense is also due to our trying to be extremely thorough, for your sake. Your safety, and the reliability of the Saab in certain situations cannot be measured in dollars. Our major servicing costs are often more than a Saab Dealership's, because we usually perform two to three times the work and number of service routines than ( in my opinion ) the "Skimpy" recommendations Saab outlines. This, we have found, saves you money later.
For example, if you come in and request a 90,000 mile service, we try to review the records of the 60,000 service done two years prior to make sure all routines and part replacements were done that should have been done. If the 60K was left incomplete, the recommendations at 90K are not effective. In many cases, we find significant omissions, though are always very pleased to find another service shop doing the thorough work we strive for. In addition, there are many other routines and lubrications we have learned to perform that prolong the life of crucial parts, that if not serviced early on, will fail later. Usually, these failures will be attributed to 'normal wear and tear' by industry standards, but my experience has led me to believe otherwise.
For instance, if we take the few minutes to inject grease into your suspension ball joints every two years or so, the ball joints will simply last indefinitely, whereas by industry standards today for 'low maintenance' vehicles, Saab included, ball joint replacement costing upwards of $250 is considered normal. So we try to save you that expense. This is only one of many, many examples by which our experience has taught us to do the best job we can possibly do for you. But this type of comprehensive care takes time, and costs money. It would be great to return to the 60's as far as operating costs go, but in truth, today's cars are better in important ways and maintaining them is far more involved and costly.
Many of the costs are also reflective of the costs of operating a business today. We have to answer to the EPA and DOE regarding the hazardous waste generated from servicing a car. A Freon recycler, for instance, costs upwards of $2700 and we will only use it a few times a year. Employee taxes and insurance, a myriad of other business taxes and expenses, Liability Insurance... the list is unbelievably long. The risk alone assumed by us in working on your Saab usually outweighs the monetary gain we realize, but that, of course, is the risk all service business must deal with. For this 'old fashioned' mechanic, whose ethic has always been to give a dollar ten's value for a dollar's pay, the question we are forced to ask when working on your Saab is not "How much profit are we making".... but rather: "Are we charging enough to meet our operating expenses?".
High repair costs are not exclusive to Saab either, as you might recognize. High costs surround us in every facet of daily living. Some cars are indeed relatively inexpensive to operate, up to a certain mileage or age. I don't believe any auto designed to offer what Saab offers, however, is cheap to operate. And the quality of 'Drive' you receive, in most cases, is directly related to the quality of service you receive. In any case, we at SAAB Specialists are proud of the fact that the first thing we consider when serving your needs is simply this: "What is the best way we can help you take care of your Saab..." Please note as well, that we are always willing to work within your budget for any of your needs, and to help you to spend your valuable dollars in the most effective ways possible.
Thanks for reading! Please Drive Carefully. Until next time, we remain, sincerely;
John, Dan, Mike and Chris
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