A Saab Story
Boy I'm on a roll. I bring you yet another flip this week. The second weekend in August, 2017, I procured myself a 2002 Saab 9-5. It showed up on Craigslist listed for $500, and had sat for a day or so before my brother suggested we check it out early on a Saturday morning. The car only has 86,000 miles, and was about a 20 mile drive away. We were going to check out the car preparing to either pull it home on a tow dolly, with a tow strap, or fix it and drive it. I really really opted for option 3. If you've ever been pulled in a car before, it can be stressful even when there are no other cars around. Add traffic and high speeds into the mix, and it becomes additionally dangerous, and probably illegal. The woman selling the vehicle had a "mechanic friend" tell her that it was probably the fuel pump that caused the car to stop running.
I generally would trust my dog's opinion on whats wrong with a vehicle over anyone's "mechanic friend," so we did some research before committing to see the car and found that a common issue is the coil pack going out on the car. It wasn't five minutes later that we were looking at the junkyard websites around town to see if there were any Saab 9-5s we could take parts off of. As luck would have it, there was one at our regular go-to scrapyard. We equipped our tow vehicle that morning with a tow hitch that had been sitting in the garage for months, and went on our way, calling U-Haul places around town if they had a tow dolly available for rent. When we finally did find a place that had one, they informed us that they wouldn't rent a dolly to our make and model vehicle.
What gives? Apparently, lawsuits. Lots of them. Whether it was a result of faulty equipment from the factory or the setup process not being foolproof, we could not obtain one. Which left us with the two options: fix it and drive it home, or pull it the long distance. With every minute that passed during our assessment we were spending more and more time invested in the vehicle, which ultimately reduces our final profits in terms of money in + time in (minimize both and maximize the money out). We decided to go for broke and not purchase a tow strap, we headed straight to the junkyard, pulled the ignition coil pack (5 minutes tops) and we were officially $20 poorer. We drive all the way out and finally see the car - it's in relatively good shape given the asking price. We ask if she'll accept $400. Yes she will. Now we're $420 poorer and have one busted car. I swapped the coil pack out while my brother was bantering with the seller, and had it swapped before she even turned around. Being prepared for anything, we brought a pile of tools and a can of starter fluid. She had an interesting reaction when we fired up the engine on starter fluid (she didn't see me use the can). "Woah! You guys got it to start?" Well, technically, yes we did. But it wouldn't stay running. That was the first experience based indicator that there was a fuel issue with the car and not an ignition one. To confirm we weren't being presented with two different problems, we put the old coil pack back in and started it on starter fluid to be sure the old unit was good.
This woman was in an HOA and had to leave town for whatever she intended to do, so we got the car in gear and pushed it out of her neighborhood and onto the side of the highway. It was here that I put my ear against the area where the fuel pump was, and the noise that reached my eardrums was somewhere between unicorns being murdered by chainsaws and a 400 lb anvil crashing through multiple stories of a large building. Looks like the mechanic friend was right after all! Fuel pump was probably about 2% operational.
Back to the junkyard we went, and popped a fuel pump out of the Saab there. Not without getting some gasoline in my eye, but hey, not every flip can be perfect right? Luckily the dude behind the counter acted quick with eye wash saline and I was back out pulling the rest of the pump after about 10 minutes of rinsing. Now we were $450 into the car, and fortunately I still had my vision in both eyes. Back out we drive, again forgoing a tow strap. We were going to make this baby run.
And boy did it run. As soon as we swapped in the fuel pump, the car fired right up and kept on firing. Off my brother took in the Saab, and I followed closely behind in the car I so desperately did not want to have to pull the thing home in.
We parked the car in our driveway, did a quick evaluation, and had it back on Craigslist for $2000 within an hour. The title was clean, it had low miles, and it ran like a champ. If we were willing to take less we received an offer for $1100 that afternoon, but declined in favor of holding out for a bit more cash. We told the first offerer that success is half opportunity - he offered a low price because he saw that we had snatched the car for $500 and had fixed it in less than a day. He felt that since we lucked out that he could get the car for less than it was worth. Wrong. A couple days ago we dropped the price to $1600 and have so far had several people come to look at it, one almost-sure-thing, and many inquiries. We expect to receive about $1400 for the car, not bad for 4 hours (each) and an initial investment of under $500. You win some an you lose some, but this is going to be pretty hard to lose on!
I also recently purchased another salvage vehicle that I intend to part out, but you'll see that one in a future post.