Date: Sun, 5 Nov 2000 01:51:01 +0100
From: "Andy" <>
Subject: A new gearbox or just new spark plugs?"

A new gearbox or just new spark plugs?" You're going to love this one. Remember! Always ask a second opinion. It may save you a fortune. A few years ago, my SAAB 9000 CSi had then about 180 thousand km, driving slowly in the city traffic I have felt a slight stutter in the engine while it was shifting from the first to the second gear. This is an automatic transmission type ZF 4HP. At first I didn't pay much attention but then it became stronger and stronger and I started getting worried. I have called SAAB. They told me that at 200 000 km I should prepare myself for a new gearbox. I was shocked! What!? These things are supposed to run half a million with no sweat! And then the chap at the other end mentioned the price: DM 7000.- I almost fainted. A three years old car. First, a major crankshaft defect and now the gear box?! I wanted a second opinion. I went to a SAAB garage in Neu Isenburg. They told me, they'd have to diagnose it. I was asked to wait in the lounge. Almost one hour later the mechanic came with the bad news. I had to pay DM 300 for the test. They have changed the transmission oil and told me that they saw the particles of worn out break rim (?) in the oil and this meant that the gearbox was worn out and would have to be overhauled. The price tag was DM 5000.-. Well, look at the bright side of it: it was DM 2000 less then for a new one. Next day I spoke with a friend of mine and he told me that he knew a garage where they specialise in automatic gearboxes. I have called the workshop and they told me, they have overhauled gearboxes for sale and if Id bring my car they'd take out mine and install a new one for DM 2500.- Wow! Within just three days I have saved DM 4500 .- Not bad. But wait! There's more. Next day I went to see a mechanic at a small garage in Schwalbach, near Frankfurt a/M. He was in the past listed in the SAAB manual as an authorised service but later SAAB had opened their own big salon and damped the him. Well, if you're ever looking for and expert that can tell you what' s wrong with your car just by listening to it, he's the one. So we went together for a test drive. He drove around for 5 minutes, tried this and that and listened. We came back and he just changed the spark plugs and charged me DM 20.- Yes! That was it. Now, 130 000 km further my SAAB is still doing OK (as for a SAAB) and only sometimes I wonder if then in Neu Isenburg, if I had agreed to leave my car to them for an overhaul of my gearbox, would they have bothered to take it apart or would they just put in new sparkplugs? Or perhaps, once they would have "fixed" my gearbox and found out that problem was still there and they only needed to put in new spark plugs, would they have told me? So, remember! Always ask a second / third / fourth opinion. Andy S. Wojtas,

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