Saab is promoting itself these days as "the car company that's born from jets" but most Saab owners would prefer that company engineers keep their feet on the ground and focus more on theirs car instead of their airplanes.
While Saab claims to incorporate aircraft-inspired design features such as cockpit-like ergonomics and green instrument illumination, Saab owners report to ConsumerAffairs.com that the gadgets are high maintenance and repeatedly malfunction.
Problems consumers are encountering with Saabs include seat belts, transmissions, brakes, keys, timing belt, radio, the onboard computer, heater, air conditioner, air bag light, fuel pump, oil leaks, engine service light and OnStar equipment.
General Motors Corp., which owns Saab, brags that "the innovative spirit of those early aircraft engineers, including their pioneering attention to safety, continues to be reflected in Saab's unconventional approach to car design."
"Unconventional" is one way to describe it, but many Saab owners say "uncongenial" would be a better description of the customer service they encounter when problems crop up.
Anne of Arlington, Vermont, found dealing with Saab customer service a continuing struggle.
"Now, I am trying to work with customer service to get reimbursed for a towing expense and have submitted a lemon claim. No one from customer service will call me back. Between the hours spent out of work dealing with this car and the frustration of customer service, the only thing I'm sure about is that this is my last Saab," Anne wrote ConsumerAffairs.com.
Since Anne bought her new Saab 9-3 in 2003, the battery and transmission both failed. Saab recalled the seat belts, brakes and keys.
Michelle in Manalapan, New Jersey, is just as frustrated with repeated trips to the repair shop after buying a car advertised as a luxury vehicle.
"I purchased a new Saab in March. Since then my car has been in the shop 6 times. It has received 2 new radios, a new computer and the heater and air conditioner do not work properly," she wrote
Michelle reports the same level of rudeness in New Jersey that Anne encountered in Vermont: "The service department is extremely rude and unhelpful and I have several sarcastic remarks made at me."
In Albany, New York, Ross tells ConsumerAffiars.Com that while he has encountered multiple problems with his Saab9-3, he has even more problems with the Saab dealer.
"At this point the car is parked outside my house and will not go anywhere. I've been to the Saab dealer at least 40 times in the year and a half I have owned the car," he wrote.
Jeff bought a Certified Pre-Owned Saab in Santa Monica, California. He reports that he is fortunate that a warranty came with the used Saab.
"My Saab 9-3 convertible has been in the shop steadily for the past year. At 13 times, don't you think it's a bit ridiculous? Here's the list. The air conditioning goes in and out randomly, the courtesy lights pop out, the car has blown a head gasket, blown a rear main seal, the passenger window cracks going up. There is an oil leak, the turbo pressure sensor cracked, the purge valve goes out, an air bag light emblem fell off, the fuel pump was recalled, the antenna is broken, the grill is peeling, the leather seats are coming apart and Saab won't replace the cup holder."
Suffice to say, Jeff is not happy with his Saab 9-3 and he is not alone. Kelli in Reading Massachusetts says her Saab 9-3 has been nothing but trouble since she bought it.
"We dread the day the 3-year warranty runs out," she wrote ConsumerAffairs.com. "The OnStar equipment was inoperable for months at a time, and went into the shop three times within the first year for service. Eventually they replaced the unit. The car would not restart at a gas station within the first six months or so. OnStar broke down again. The ignition was replaced," she wrote.
"Earlier this year, the side passenger window fell and broke so it had to be fixed. The window was stuck open. Today one of the back windows is stuck the same way. This summer, while on vacation in Maine the battery died suddenly. We jump-started the vehicle but it kept losing its charge. We took it to a local Saab dealer in Maine who replaced the battery and expressed his sympathy and surprise that the vehicle had received so much service."
But Kelli's problems with her Saab 9-3 did not end in Maine.
"The radio system stopped working entirely. Last weekend the rear locks were going up and down all by themselves. These are just the problems I can remember off the top of my head, without looking at the maintenance records."
In Detroit, Donyell now knows his Saab Service manager better than he would like.
"I have a 2003 Saab 9-3. In the last two and a half years this car has been in the shop at least 13 times. Most recently the transmission went out on the car and they had my car for five weeks," Donyell wrote. "I am frustrated with this car beyond means."
Marc understands what his fellow 9-3 owner must deal with in Detroit and Marc lives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
He has encountered "over 15 headlight and taillight failures; problems with the radio preset on the steering wheel; the transmission slips; there is a sulfur smell in the car and the solution offered was to use premium fuel when it is not stated in manual that you must use premium fuel."
Marc asks if we have another moment so he can go through the entire list of problems with his Saab 9-3. "The car has been to the dealer for repair over 25 times and I still have several of the issues and will never receive resolution to several of the issues," he told us.
Saab has built more than 4 million cars and 4,000 aircraft. The name Saab belongs to two unaffiliated companies. Saab Automobile AB, headquartered in Trollhttan, Sweden manufactures cars and is a subsidiary of General Motors Corp.
Saab Automobile USA is the Saab importer and distributor. Beginning in 2007, Saab offers vehicle warranty coverage for five-years or up to 100,000 miles. Based on reports from previous Saab owners, people buying a new Saab are going to need the newly extended warranty.