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2001 saab 93 won't start at night. (cleaned up)

background: not a car person… have commuted by bike or bummed a ride from the wife for years now. started working for a company 25 miles away that requires a good bit of on site work & my wife is 6 mos preggo… obvious solution, get a decent cheap car to get back and forth without bothering her or taking ours. done.

last week i found a nice older (2001) saab, for a good price from a dealer with good ratings on the web, got carfax, drove it, had it checked out by a 3rd party mechanic, etc. etc. great car… bought it cash.

it’s important to note that in CA, you have 2 days to return a car sold ‘as is’, before it becomes your problem, permanently (so long as you pay the dealer an extra hundred bucks or so). probably also worth noting that i bought a 3rd party ‘warranty’ that’s more like an insurance plan against mechanical problems up to1500 bucks or something.

anyway, thing runs like a dream, until night falls… seriously. it’s like a werewolf car. second night: friday, it was kind of slow to start at night, so i took it into the dealer saturday. they were completely accommodating, gave me a loaner and ran a full inspection on it… presumably because i could still return it at this point. no detectable problems, so they send me on my way, guaranteeing to fix anything that comes up.

that same night, we got stranded at the movie theater; it would not start at all. starter was working, battery is a champ. just won’t turn over… giant pain in the ass, had to find a tow truck that could fit unto a parking garage etc. and had it towed to the dealer. and left a rather annoyed voicemail.

i get a call in the morning, wondering what the problem is, as the car started up without any hesitation. big red flag: the dealers are shady, right?

they run some more tests, and find nothing mechanical, but come across a relay switch that’s a little buggy. shouldn’t be the problem but might as well fix it and see, the car relies on it’s electrical system a lot. they need to wait until monday to buy the part. annoyed as fuck at this point. so i pick it up monday, and since fixing that switch, it’s started up all day perfectly… they even tried it @ 9pm with no problems… they haven’t even been able to see it not start.

i pick it up monday, runs great, try to run to the store at 9:30 pm: won’t turn over.

call a tow truck first ting in the morning, call the dealer all pissed off, he’s like ‘really sorry, we have no clue… bring it now while it’s not working so we can diagnose the problem’… tow truck shows up around 9:30 am, and it magically turns over. take it to a gas station mechanic on the way to a dealer, and it starts 10/10 times, not bad noises, smoke or hesitation. like someone flipped the on switch on or something.

so i drop it off and am starting to think it’s got to be related to temperature or moisture (their dealership is 10 miles east, and desert-y, i live a few miles from the coast), or some kind of electrical issue related to night sensors or something, and demand they keep it overnight, and keep a mechanic there until it won’t start. they do… the owner personally claims that he stayed super late and tried to start it after midnight… and that it ran perfectly.

so i pick it up again thurs. (6th time at the dealer in a week), runs beautifully, but i know absolutely for certain it’s going to break down when it gets dark. the owner says to call around 8, before they close and if it’s not starting, he’ll pay a mechanic overtime to come and run diagnostics at my house (to remove location/temp/moisture differences from the equation). starts fine at 8, call him and let him know its a waste of time to come out, it’s completely dead again at 9:30p.

call yesterday morning, and get the idea they just think i’m nuts, and lying, or have buyers remorse or something… and the owner says he’s goind to bring a portable diagnostic tool home with him, gives me his cell phone number, and tells me to call if it doesn’t start. runs beautifully to/from work, again for errands… check it at 9:30. nothing. won’t start. he comes out, sees it, no bad codes returned to the diagnostic machine… so apparently it’s not electrical.

wtf? this isn’t normal.

So you have a werecar. Not unheard of. Just be gentle waking up the naked eastern european sleeping in your driveway. I’d wear gloves.