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Southern California Saab Dealer Ratings
We've driven a couple of Saabs since 2004. We travel, and since our Saabs are often fleet vehicles we've been directed to a few dealers in Southern California depending on billing weirdnesses with the company that leases and services them for us. Weird for us, but it means we've been to most of them and can report on them all with a common point of reference.
The great news is that any one of them we've visited is good, unlike other brands of cars where there are duds. Oddly, the dumpiest looking Saab dealers tend to be the best.
Here are our observations and experiences as of 2006. They are listed in geographic order: north to south.
General: This dealer is furthest away from us. They are a sister of Saab of Mission Viejo below. We've been there a few times.
Sales: We visited while shopping. The people we met were well informed and helpful. We'll be back next time.
Service: Never had our Saabs serviced there, but when I've been there asking questions or buying parts I've been very, very impressed at how forthcoming they and their technicians are. They know their Saabs. If I was in Orange county I'd use them next time. Their service bays are the biggest, brightest and airiest.
Ambience: A nice, clean Saab dealer. Moderate size.
General: A moderate to small dealership in extreme south Orange County. They are a sister to Saab of Santa Ana above. We use them for our out-of-warranty service.
Sales: Pleasant. We shopped there and met Jim Vickers. Jim is polite, helpful and knowledgeable.
Service: We've had our 2002 Saab 9-3 serviced there for the past 30,000 miles. They do good work. I asked to have the locks and alarms reprogrammed for my convenience, and when I got back my car it was exactly like I wanted: quiet alarm beeps and automatic locking and unlocking. They also took care of stupid little things only I would notice, like replacing licence plate bolts. These little things usually are done as free courtesies.
They do a fantastic job of returning our cars clean. In fact, they were the only people who ever were able to get all the brake dust off the rims making them the cleanest we ever saw. (Tip: I now use a product called Wheel Wax which really does keep most of the dust off, and makes it all come right off easily when washed. Wheel Wax is like magic!)
Their only downfall is that they are popular, and the service writer, Dave Jackson, has more customers to help than he can. Saab of Mission Viejo needs to hire some more service advisors. Because of this it can be hard to get hold of Dave on the phone and we often have to wait for our car to get checked in. The good news is that our car was always completed and ready as promised. Dave is very, very helpful, just that he often has others waiting for him.
Ambiance: Nice, clean dealer in a nice clean location. They have the most pleasant ambience of any of the dealers, mostly because of the location.
CONTINENTAL MOTORS (Oceanside, California)
General: Continental are a small dealer located just blocks from the beach on California's historic Pacific Coast Highway (US Route 101) in the far north of San Diego County. They are also a BMW dealer.
We got our new 2006 Saab from them and they've also done our warranty service. Due to some weirdness in billing our fleet dept. asked us to go elsewhere for after-warranty service. We usually deal with Continental Motors, since they are closest to us and the most helpful and available.
Sales: Mike Lynch is the salesman. He has been selling Saabs for decades and owns some himself. He can answer every weird curiosity question I can invent off the top of his head, like where the engine was made on my 2002 (Södertälje). Mike is the only auto salesman in my entire car buying history who took the time on delivery of our new 2006 to sit with us and cover every detail of how to make things work and why we care. After he showed us every neat trick feature he took us around the block and gave us a full tank of premium fuel, on the house.
We were caught in a freak snow storm in our brand-new 2006. We called from our new Saab and asked if we had snow-rated tires. He knew: we did. That saved us from having to get out in the wet and look. If you're buying a Saab, go see Mike. He seems to be there all the time.
Their BMW side is good, too. They have a salesman who's been selling BMWs there since the 1960s and knows his stuff!
These folks sell the way they should: because they genuinely appear to enjoy the cars they sell. I saw Mike Lynch online posting to a Saab internet board the same Saturday morning I was researching something. These guys should be there when you need them after the sale.
Service: Excellent. They've repaired anything we've been able to break correctly, on time and on the first try. They've also been generous when a warranty has expired. For example, we had the computer lose some digits on our 2002 9-3, and they replaced it under warranty. A little over a year later the warranty on the part expired and the problem returned. I didn't even have to ask: they fixed it for free as a courtesy. I can't imagine better service than this, and they even washed my car at the same time, all for free!
Kenny Tucker is the service manager. He's always easy to get and very helpful.
Ambiance: Trailer park. This is what I meant above about the worst-looking dealers being the best. We were wary at first, and now use them for everything we can. Continental Motors looks like they are working out of trailers, but has by far the most helpful salesperson and an unbeatable service department. The good news is any of the dealers are good, too. In this case Continental Motors is obviously spending its money on helping us, and not on the location.
Marvin K. Brown (San Diego)
General: The largest of any of these dealers. We only visited them once or twice while shopping. They are in Mission Valley.
Sales: We met one new salesguy. He meant well, but was an inexperienced short-timer.
Service: Never had the opportunity to use them. They probably work on as many cars as the other three dealers put together: they are in the heart of San Diego.
Ambiance: Typically clean sales building. Their bland location, and being mixed in with some other brands took away from the Swedish edge the other dealers had.
They are all good. Unlike most other brands, we've never been to a bad dealer.
Continental Motors turns out to be the best. They are the winner. Just ignore the location and outward appearance. They've been there a long time and the funny part is that it's the BMW side of their dealership that looks the worst.
Mission Viejo has the nicest location and does great work, but their popularity makes it hard to get their attention for service.
Santa Ana seems to have a very willing and helpful service dept. I'd use them if I was in the area.
Marvin K Brown isn't where we often go, so we've rarely been there. They are the biggest.
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