Jim McGuire is someone I’ve known for a while through social media and from comments on SU. For as long as I can remember, he has been talking about his dream car, a 2008 9-3 and it HAD to be Laser Red.
Through his endless searching, he finally found one and we had planned for him to write about his fantastic adventure. He was beyond excited and started posting on Facebook about his upcoming travel to pick up his dream car and putting up photos like the one below from Turbo Nines with text that just said simply “soon baby soon”.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out so well on this big adventure. In my eyes Jim did everything right, he contacted Saab friends in dealerships and found out the history of this vehicle with tools such as Carfax.
Even when doing things right, there is nothing like touching said car and seeing it in real life for yourself. For Jim, that meant a flight and an hour long drive to the dealer from the airport.
Some dealers purposely oversell a vehicle and some give you the honest facts. I have a sales person who works with me that received an out of town call the other day and the guy on the other end asked what he would rate it out of 10?
To me this vehicle was at least an 8 out of ten but my salesman told the person on the other end that it was a 6 out of 10. When the customer arrived, he bought the vehicle on the spot and thank the salesman for not over selling the vehicle as he had been to a few other dealers that day that had. The problem with a salesman’s word is that he may truly believe he has a 10 out of 10 vehicle but to you it may be a 6, we all have our own way of gauging this though as I said, Jim really seamed to take every precaution that I myself would have. So here is Jim’s story.
Three years ago I began my search for a 2008 9-3 Aero in Laser Red. My preference was red with parchment interior, transmission was negotiable but it had to fall into the right price for the condition. I looked locally but never seemed to locate one so I expanded the search regionally.
I finally came across what I was looking for at a Buick/GMC/Caddy dealer in Indiana. The mileage was more than I wanted it to be but from the pictures it looked like a winner! I contacted a friend who assisted me in having its warranty work (IRIS) report looked at. Between this and the Carfax the Aero got two thumbs up! Next I contacted the dealership who offered it for sale and the salesperson was more than accommodating in sending me many pictures and answered all my questions truthfully, so I thought.
I had asked the salesman to give the car a very thorough look as this was not only a car I desired but a early retirement gift to myself. This coming August I will hit my 20 years mark in the military and while some people go for a Harley-Davidson or BMW, I only wanted a 5 year old Saab.
After some discussions and many questions I placed a deposit on the car and made arrangements to fly out and drive it home. In the mean time I prepped my 2007 Aero for sale in order to make room for the new arrival. While I was getting details ironed out with a potential buyer I was both excited and fearful of selling this car. This was a great and reliable Aero and I would be buying one which would need to prove itself to me.
Once the deal to sell the 2007 was done and the car was gone, I became very excited! This is when the emotions for the car began to override the logic. Little over a week later, the day arrived.
After very little sleep I woke at 0300 and boarded the 0545 flight out of Philadelphia headed towards Indianapolis, Indiana. The dealership had a car and driver waiting for me when I arrived and we made the hour long trip to Kokomo. As soon as we pulled in, I saw it there, all shiny and glistening in the 11 o’clock sunshine. I was so happy to have finally made it to the car I have been looking for. Sadly, it didn’t take long before this day would turn into a nightmare. My “Magic Carpet Ride” turned into “Highway to Hell”.
As I walked around the car little things began to surface and bother me. I noticed that the rear passenger side bumper had been impacted at the corner. It had been pushed in and then pushed back out, leaving some creased paint and warped bumper. We haggled the price down a bit, or as he said ” the very best price” to help offset the damage.
I was still disappointed that the salesperson missed this. The passenger side seat has a very small slice in the cushion as well. Small but I noticed it right away. Funny how the salesman didn’t. The brakes looked questionable as the rear rotors were scored rather deep and the pads were thin. The front rotors were just resurfaced but these pads looked thin as well.
Wrapped up in the high emotion of it all and suffering from lack of sleep I chose to ignore the gremlins as we went for a test drive. The car was smooth, plenty powerful but the road noise was terrible. I chalked this up to rough pavement but something inside said to me it was more than that. The interior had a rather offensive pineapple / coconut aroma. Sure it’s a small detail but it bothered me. The scent was very powerful as if it was there to cover another smell.
When we returned I began to work through the SID and noticed the settings were all at default. To further raise my suspicions, the MPG was at 9.2 or so and the service indicator was —, everything pointed to a battery disconnect or a system reset. Another small detail was the windscreen had a service decal for the oil change. This showed that the 9-3 was just serviced but with 5w30 synthetic not 0W40 as specified. All of these details concerned me but yet I still charged on blindly, letting emotions win the game. I kept telling myself “ just fix it later, Red is so hard to find”. These “fix it later” items were adding up to a total cost far exceeding the value of the car.
I bought the car, signed all the documents but was still not as happy as I should have been. It was around 1 o’clock when “Christine” and I pulled out onto the road to begin the 415 mile trek towards Pittsburgh PA. I would spend a few days with my parents before finishing the journey towards Philadelphia.
7.6 miles into my trip.. RED ALERT!!! SID indication!!! “TPMS system failure, contact service.” My heart sank. I knew it could just be a TPMS sensor but this was the final gremlin to bite me. I spun the car around and drove it right back to the dealership. Once in the service bay the adviser came out and we discussed the SID notice and the road noise issue.
A failure of MY part during the walk around was to actually look at the tire tread when all I did was a reach and feel. I had asked the dealer beforehand if the tires were good, naturally he said yes and like a fool I trusted it. The service adviser said that the tires were severely cupped and should be replaced. Needless to say at this point my blood began to boil. My anger was not only at the salesman, but at myself.
I was mad because I knew my desire to own this Red Aero had got me into a pretty good jam. I asked to have the sales manager involved and explained the whole situation. At first they offered two new tires if id pay for the second two. I rejected that offer and they came back saying they would replace all four. By this time I had a pounding headache from everything and walked outside. I had made a few phone calls to friends and family looking for advice but in my heart I already knew what to do.
I walked back inside and calmly ran down the list of things that were not disclosed prior to my arrival. I further explained that the deal, the whole car buying experience was ruined and nothing could make it right. I expressed with great disgust that I no longer wanted the car. Surprisingly and without much protest they agreed to a full refund. It took around an hour and a half of calling my bank to cancel the loan and to deal with title issues since I just signed for the car.
Once all of this was done and I had all of my money back I began to look for flights back home to Philly. It was already close to 4 pm and in horror I saw the cost was close to $800 and that was if I could get a flight in time for that night. The pounding headache just kept thumping and thumping and I was not thinking clearly. My phone buzzed and like a gift from the heavens I received a text which suggested to get a rental car and salvage the trip as best I could. This was a excellent idea!!! One phone call later I was on my way to the local rental place and for less than $400 I would drive off heading east in a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Road food, coffee and some tunes from my MP3 player kept me trucking on into the night. After 19 hours of flying, buying, getting rid of and driving, I finally arrived at my parents house exhausted but confident I made the right choice.
While this was a hard pill to swallow it did teach me a very valuable lesson to not let emotion take the place of logic. Before I signed the papers and handed over the check, something was pulling me away but I chose to ignore all of the warning signs. I was in deep, I was already there and didn’t really make a solid back up plan to come home.
Pictures, CarFax and what appears to be a good salesman paint a nice picture, but unless you’re there to see it in person, buyer beware. I’m not bashing all salespeople but long distance buyers have a unique risk and many more details need to be looked into before starting the journey towards your “new to me” Saab.
Now as they say, STUFF happens but really Jim had done all he could short of touching the car himself and as a dealer we have all had unexpected things happen. My suggestion to anyone looking to buy out of town is to have someone check it for you or check it yourself if possible but when not possible, you truly are relying on someones word and their thought of what is a clean car. So as Jim says it is a buyer beware. To dealers out there, when someone is from out of town don’t ever oversell thinking they will just take it because they have travelled so far, it doesn’t happen like that. The dealer didn’t know that Jim had family out there but he does and I can bet that they won’t be buying from them which in the end is a reflection on that dealer.
I teased Jim constantly about his misadventure and will probably continue with that as that is what friends do but I really feel your pain and frustration here especially after selling your perfectly good Saab you had at home. Thankfully he still has an 06 combi at home.