Loyal Saab Owner Dissappointed With Saab 9-5 CPO

Posted on 03. Jul, 2008 by in 2000-2009

Here is a really incredible writeup from a customer who has really been dealt an unfortunate situation from a Saab dealership regarding a certified pre-owned Saab 9-5 that was purchased.

It appears that there is a discrepancy between the 112-point cpo checklist and what may or may not have actually occured with the vehicle acquired.

Update: 8.17.2008

I mentioned back on July third that a Saab customer was dissappointed with a Saab 9-5 CPO he purchased. At this time, I am happy to mention that he has received some good results as of now.

Just got a call from my local Saab dealer. The service manager said he will be sending me a check for the full cost of the front rotors and pads they replaced on my 9-5. They are going to be reimbursed by General Motors. This was all resolved after I sent a letter to GM. If you’re having a problem with GM and believe you’re in the right, I highly suggest writing a courteous, factual letter and sending it to Saab Corporate. It took a while, and I had to keep calling the executive offices for updates once my case had been escalated, but GM finally did the right thing here. Hopefully they’ll get the money back from Village Saab, who was responsible for the error, and hopefully Village will be looking over their CPO cars a little more carefully from now on. A big thank you to saabhistory.com for letting me tell my story!

— Aaron

Please read this very telling writeup below in his own words:

July 1st, 2008 – The Purchase Of A Certified Pre-Owned Saab:

In August of 2007 the wife and I had a baby and decided we needed something bigger for family trips than the wife’s Forester, which we had been using as the “family wagon.” My stepson had just started driving as well, so we figured we’d give the Forester to him and would get a wagon for the wife’s car and the family “tripmobile.”

I had owned a Saab 900 back in the day, and later a 9-2X, and decided to look at prices for a 9-5 wagon. When I found they were within my price range, my only concern after that was reliability (since the 9-2X was essentially a Subaru, I hadn’t been concerned with that particular aspect when I purchased it). Some posts in a couple Saab forums led me to believe that if I made sure I got a car with full records, I was probably OK, but if I was worried about my first “real” Saab in many years, I should go Certified Pre-Owned this first time around.

So that was what I started looking for on the Saab USA website – a late model CPO 9-5 wagon. I was already familiar with Saab’s record of safety and economy, and knew that in the 9-5 we’d have a large, fuel-efficient, safe car to take on family trips, and for my wife to use to cart the newborn around.

I found two CPO 9-5 wagons – a red 2004 Arc and a blue 2004 Arc – at very competitive prices at Village Saab in Acton, MA. They were about $1K above some of the non-CPO cars. The internet sales associate at Village told me between the two of us, I should take the “blue” one because it had more features, and was a “known car.” It had been sold new at Village and had been maintained there, so they “knew” the car and knew it was “one of the good ones.” The “red” one had been an off-auction car with an unknown history.

I asked about reliability, and the salesman told me that Saab has an extremely comprehensive CPO program, and specifically compared it to BMW, mentioning that Saab makes dealers go through much more than BMW does before they can stamp a car as CPO. He said CPO also extended the warranty so if I had any issues, they would be covered.

So I bought the car sight unseen, financed through GMAC, and went up to the Boston area to pick it up and drive it back to NY about a week later.

The first thing I noticed upon seeing the car was that there were two new front tires, some brand called “Multi-Mile” that I wasn’t familiar with. I asked the salesman if it would be possible to get same Pirelli P6’s that were on the back, but he said no. So I figured I’d just purchase four new Michelins when I got home, which I did. It totally transformed the car.

For the next ten months my wife used the car to run errands and visit her family and friends with the baby. We have also taken it on numerous trips up to NH so that my own parents could visit with their grandchild. We raved about the 9-5 to anyone who asked us about it.

In June, the ABS and brake lights came on for the second time in a year or so. The first time, Smithtown Saab (our local dealer) had replaced a rear wheel bearing. I brought the car to Smithtown Saab again to have it checked out.

I was very surprised when I got a call from their service rep at Smithtown who informed me that they recommend I change out the front rotors and pads, as there was a safety issue with the current ones. Someone had installed the wrong sized rotors (too small) and the pads were actually hanging over the edges of the rotors, creating a safety hazard. They said it would be $610 to have it corrected. I asked how they noticed this, and they said it was just something they found while checking over the car.

I called my wife to discuss the financial implications of having the work done, and she noted that if we bought the car certified pre-owned, shouldn’t this have been caught by Village Saab?

Indeed. We had taken the car only once to an independent Saab mechanic and that was just for the normal 60K service. Everything else had been handled by Smithtown Saab. At no point did I have any brake work done at all on the car in the time I had owned it. Village Saab had obviously missed this detail in their comprehensive inspection, so my wife suggested I call Saab and see what to do.

I called Saab customer service, who called Smithtown while I was on the phone and confirmed the details about the incorrect rotors. The Saab customer service rep said she couldn’t guarantee anything, but was “almost certain” Saab would cover this, as it was a safety issue that wasn’t picked up before the car was sold. I figured I’d have Smithtown Saab do the work, as that should make it easier for Saab to verify and for me to get reimbursed – everything through official channels.

Meanwhile, my case was escalated to Saab management. The rep said it would take two to three business days for them to verify everything and get back to me. I finally called today (almost a week later) to get information on my case status, and was told the district manager would call me the following day. The rep reviewed my case and noted that unfortunately, Saab would not be reimbursing me for the $660.83 total for the brake rotors and pads because “Village Saab had noted that front rotors were within manufacturer specifications when the car was sold from the dealership” and that Saab’s recommendation at this point would be to contact the shop that did the brake work.

I asked the rep, “you mean the shop that did the work before I even bought the car?”

The rep asked me, “have you had any brake work done to the car?”

“Absolutely not,” I responded.

I am hoping that when I speak with the district manager tomorrow morning, I will be able to explain my case, as it seems there is a disconnect somewhere. I purchased a CPO vehicle so that I would not have to have a separate mechanic inspect the car for defects before I purchased it. I expected Saab to do that and stand behind it. If purchasers of CPO cars have to subsequently hire someone to go through the car to make sure the manufacturer has actually found issues like this, then all CPO means is basically you’re just getting an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Hopefully I’ll have more info tomorrow morning.

July 2nd, 2008 – The Call To the Saab USA District Service Manager:

District Specialist Jorge Tobar called me a little before 10am this morning. I just listened, hoping that at the end of his “results” would be a reconsideration that Saab would stand behind their CPO status for this car.

He said the case had been escalated, and that once all the research had been done, it was concluded that at the time of the sale, the brake pads were at 65%, and the rotors were the correct size. He recommended I take the issue up with the shop that did the front brake work.

I reminded Jorge that at no time did I have any brake work done at all on the car, and that Smithtown Saab had given me the pads and rotors and it was obvious they had significant wear on them, and that the rotors had dug into the pads all the way down as they wore.

After this, it became immediately clear to me that Mr. Torbin was only there to read off the corporate script, and that he was not going to
stray from his message.

I told him when I went looking for a car for my wife, I had a newborn to think about as well, and knew of Saab’s reputation for safety. The salesman at Village Saab had assured me that Saab’s multi-point inspection was more comprehensive than BMWs, and that I felt confident
after I spoke with him that I would get a safe, solid car that had been completely gone through from front to back. So imagine my surprise when
I bring the car in for repair at the local dealership and they tell me there is a safety issue with the front rotors that the selling dealership hadn’t caught?

He said the dealership had reported that the rotors WERE the correct size at the time of the sale.

I asked him what recourse does a customer have if Saab misses something during their multi-point inspection? What is the point of buying a Certified Pre-Owned car that has had a 110-point inspection or whatever, if you then have to hire a second independent mechanic to make sure
nothing was missed in the Certified Pre Owned multi-point inspection?

Jorge then noted that it had been almost a year since I had purchased the car.

I again asked him what happened if the dealership missed something. Is it now my word against the dealership?

He said unfortunately, Saab will not be able to cover this under warranty.

After this, I just asked for the spelling of his name and his position within the company, and said OK, thank you.

July 3rd, 2008 – My Position On the Certified Pre-Owned Saab 9-5 I bought

Thanks for posting the CPO inspection list for the record. I really wish I had been armed with this when I went and picked up my Saab. The tires on the back were Pirellis, but Village Saab had put two “brand new” Multi-Mile tires on the front (they made a big point to tell me that they were “new”). The CPO list specifically says the tires must be of the same brand. Village should know this.

Also, it says the seat belts must not be frayed or cut. My middle rear seat belt is cut almost in half near the top. Currently it doesn’t matter since we use the middle position for the baby’s carseat base (and use the LATCH system), but before we allow anyone to actually sit there, I’m going to have to change out the belt. Another thing Village could tell easily from a quick inspection, and they missed it.

Clearly, this car did not undergo this entire 110 point inspection. I wonder what else they missed?

I’m willing to let the seat belt and tires go under Caveat emptor. It can be argued that I should’ve known the CPO terms and should’ve argued for what was mandated by Saab.

The rotors though, there is no way I would’ve or could’ve known that the diameter was too small unless I was a Saab mechanic, or intimately familiar with the 9-5 before I purchased one. That, I feel Saab corporate should cover because the selling dealer obviously didn’t hold up its end of the bargain for the premium I paid when buying CPO.

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6 Responses to “Loyal Saab Owner Dissappointed With Saab 9-5 CPO”

  1. Ted Y

    03. Jul, 2008

    Was this the sales guy:

    Joking aside, this is disgusting, just more tarnish on the Saab image. The depth of wear on the pads should be proof enough that that you didn’t have recent brake work done on the car, and that the selling dealer did a poor inspection (or none at all). Saab should either pay up or force the selling dealer to correct the problem. It gets increasingly tougher to support Saab when they have no respect for their own integrity, not to mention the safety of their customers.

    I’m hoping exposure on Saabhistory.com will embarrass them enough to come around. If not, I hope you sue both the dealer and Saab.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryan

    03. Jul, 2008


    I know. This is pretty bad, but the sad part is, is how much the customer had to go through.

    Here’s an opportunity for the problem resolved, using the media to bring these situations to light.

    It’s sad that we have to go this route, but when all other avenues are exhausted, where do you go? The answer in today’s world: The Media

    Reply to this comment
  3. Saabgrowl

    08. Jul, 2008

    Wow…reading that just fills me with disgust.

    I’m sorry to hear of the trouble you have to go through to right a wrong. I hope you stick with it!

    Best of luck to you.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Aaron Clow

    28. Jul, 2008

    Well what do you know. Weeks later, and not a peep from Village Saab or Saab USA. I’m writing a letter to the executives at Saab and will wait until September 1st to make this right, or I will be taking any and all legal steps available to me in order to correct this situation.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Brad

    07. Sep, 2008

    This is actually quite sad… but my Saab experience is far worse.

    While I did get four new Pirilli tires I have had years of headache, heartache and wallet-ache since I purchased my 2003 93 Sedan “CPO”.

    I think I’ll need to write an entirely new post so that I can write down everything but to summerize: bad brakes, the car had been in an undisclosed accident, recalls not performed, bad gas in the tank which the engine to “sludge” or so the dealer claimed… apparently this was a recall item which I had to pay about 600$ for the second day I had the car… Did I mention the first morning I had my new car it wouldn’t start and had to be towed? as well as FOUR other times the car had to be towed because it wouldn’t start.

    The Xenon “autoleveling” headlights were not aimed so it was almost impossible to drive the vehicle at night… I was almost killed a few times… The next time I brought it in I insisted that it be fixed and the service manager called me an asshole. seriously.

    So, this “premium” vehicle has turned out to be not only the worst car I’ve owned but the worst car I’ve ever heard of. I could write pages and pages about how the turbo didn’t work for months while I waited for a part, or about how the seat belt auto tensioners fail or how they won’t replace the faulty onstar unit which cuts out my radio, displays warnings, etc.

    I will create a full seperate article to fill out the rest of the 8 pages I sent Saab… Oh by the way… huge tip… If you send a huge list they can pick out one item on the list and nullify the rest and you cannot call in after that about anything else… so call fifty thousand different times if you have fifty thousand issues.

    I feel like I’ve given up on the damned thing but at least I’ve told as many people as possible not to buy a Saab and to buy anything else instead.

    If your reading this… That is my suggestion. I wish I bought a VW or even a KIA or something… At least I wouldn’t have missed a week of work.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Aaron Clow

    08. Sep, 2008

    I posted a follow up to this on the site, but Saab USA did eventually make good on my front brakes and I received full reimbursement for the amount due.

    I have a pretty detailed VW story as well. Trust me, you’d be no better off with a VW.

    The recall for “sludge” didn’t have to do with bad gas, it had to do with oil changes not performed as required before you bought the car. This should’ve been checked and fixed by the dealer before you ever bought the car. This is part of the inspection/certification process (see Ryan’s excellent post on this here on the site).

    All I can say is that a carefully written, non-hostile letter to GM was what got my issue taken care of. It seems like you have a bad dealer, and I’m sure General Motors would be very thankful if you carefully detailed everything you’ve been through with them. Certainly you never should’ve had to pay $600 for a recall item, for example.

    Other than the issues I posted here about the car (cut seatbelt, different tires, wrong brakes), it has been a wonderful car for my family in the 20K miles we’ve driven it so far, and given that GM made good on its dealer’s mistake, I will definitely be in the market for another one when I either sell my 900 or decide to trade in this 9-5, hopefully when it has 200,000 miles or more on it.

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