2002 Saab 9-3 - 251,000 miles

I am looking for a honest, (if there is any such thing) mechanic to help me keep my 2002 Saab 9-3 running. I am currently experiencing a loud noise while the car is idling. I went to Ray’s Import - 1322 College St. Murfreesboro, and found him to be very arrogant person not willing to help. This is my only means of transportation and I cannot afford a car payment at this. Does anyone have any recommendation/suggestion?

I’d post this question on several Saab forums, and I’d see what is near you under ‘Mechanics Files’ (at the top of this page). What state?

Most likely the OP is residing in Tennessee…

Click below, it shows Saab service centers in Murfreesboro and the next closest.


Likely the timing chain tensioners have worn out. They make a loud clatter at idle when that happens. It won’t be cheap.

With 250,000 mile on this car. I suspect that Ray knew what was wrong and may have been a little rude…wondering why you want to put that much work into the car.
Maybe it’s a rust bucket, maybe there’s much more to repair. We can’t tell.

It could be something simple though. Like a heat shield on the exhaust rattling.

It does sound like the tensioners and if you’re willing to spend $1000 on the parts and labor…go for it. Check out the link that @Mustangman left you.


Based on the way the complaint is worded, maybe old Ray was justifiably irritated.

Methinks a video playback of the conversation could put a different spin on it.

Can you describe the noise?

Looking for an honest mechanic is not really a good way to start a thread here. Just reading a few threads will show that there are quite a few competent mechanics that post on this forum.

I too thought about it being a little over the top.

Maybe she walked in and said "Ray, I know all you mechanic’s like to overcharge and cheat people out of their hard earned money, but would you have any idea of whats wrong with my car. All this while ole Ray is watching through the corner of his eye at a black poodle peeing in his vegetable garden.

Ray probably said, we can make an appointment and get the car on the lift and find out what is making the noise. It will only be $xxx for the diagnosis!!!

The OP may feel that Ray should have just gotten down on the gravel…slid under…and done it all for free. No tools …no lift…pay for what???


A quick search shows a very clean and professional looking facility. While BBB carries no legal weight it can be an indicator of how a business is run due to complaints filed and the BBB there shows none.

Wonder if I oughta let Ray know about this thread on his contact page and hear the rest of the story…

A shop doesn’t succeed by being arrogant and refusing to help.

I’d need a more detailed description of the noise or perhaps a video clip of it to hear it myself.

But without more info, I’d recommend spending the $100 or more for inspection/diagnosis of the noise and then if need be, further inspection of the rest of the vehicle to determine if the repairs needed for the noise are justified given the condition of the rest of the car.

It could be a couple hundred dollar repair for something simple like a belt pulley, or could be a several thousand dollar engine overhaul. Or anything in between.

At 250,000 miles your car has exceeded its expected lifespan and is on borrowed time. Keep that in mind when making decisions. In no way do I mean to be rude or snarky, but your financial condition has nothing to do with the mechanical condition of your car.

This is near impossible to help you with this problem. We cant hear the noise and have no clue where it is coming from… It could be as simple as an exhaust component rattling on you… Could be a bearing in an accessory component… a bushing a belt…

“Noise” isnt helping us much. Try to tell us WHERE bouts its coming from… Does it increase in speed with more RPM’s? Does it change while in gear if an Automatic? What does it SOUND like? Use your imagination…WE DO…

Let us know or record it and play it to us…we like Engine Music


This is George Russell, the owner of Ray’s Imports. I’m writing this to provide the rest of the information; The other side of the story. You be the judge. Yes, I had to send this customer to the dealer. There are 2 types of customers for me, ones I can help and the ones I can’t. I seem to help 97% of the people that come through my doors. (Check cyber world for verification). The other 3% start off with " I am looking for a honest, (if there is any such thing) mechanic" and for me this strikes a nerve. I guess I take this to personally, because i’m a 2nd generation technician turned owner. What’s bothers me the most is I did help this customer on Friday. And have diagnosed the issue with her car. She has been to my shop 3 times, but has only been charged half an hour of labor our of all 3 visits for a total of $52.00 with tax. The first visit was driveway diagnostics. Sprayed some belt dressing on the belt, Applied pressure to the serpentine belt tensioner, and attempted to stethoscope the timing cover. There was way too much noise, I said we needed an appointment to finish diagnostics. She said she would get back to us. No charge that day, we weren’t finished. She showed up out of the blue for the 2nd visit, and we were too busy that day to help her. (She’s a waiter) Again, I suggested an appointment. Once again, she’ll get back to us. She called in Friday, and we took her in. My lead mechanic, this time brought her car into a bay and pulled the drive belt. Started the car with the belt off and while using a stethoscope, he isolated the noise to the timing cover. So now we have a definitive answer that the noise is coming from a from the timing chain. So I went to waiting room window and explained the problem to her using a diagram. I also explained she was looking at thousands of dollars’ worth of work, that I won’t do (specialty tools, SAAB is bankrupt, and parts are hard to get) and the car has such high mileage and that there is no telling how many more issues we are going to run into trying to do deal with the timing chain. So like a good doctor, I gave her the bad news. Also like the good doctor, charged to tell her the bad news. I guess this time and it’s a first for me, not enough kid gloves (I’ve been actually been accused of being to nice). When dealing with technical parts of an engine, I always try to explain the issue in the most simple form. I am sincerely sorry if that came off as arrogance, I was simply trying to help the her understand the severity of the problem we have with this car. And since there is a trust issue that seems to have devoleped long before dealing with me, I reccommend the Dealer.
Thanks for reading this,
George Russell
Ray’s Import Auto Repair

George, you’re taking this way too personally. For most of us here, this isn’t our first rodeo. We realize that there are two sides to every story.

I realize that you must have freaked out when you saw the name of your shop, and I understand why, but your best approach is to let it go and move on. Keep taking these situations personally and you’ll end up in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. I’ve been there… twice. The people are nice, but trust me… you do not want to end up there.

Sincere best.

George, I second TSM’s advice. You did the right thing, the poster just didn’t want to hear the bad news. That is why I didn’t make any comment about the mechanic or the shop, just directed the poster to a Saab specialist with the guess that it sounds like the timing chain and that it would be expensive. I correctly suspected you were not the problem.

Saab ownership takes special dedication these days. It is not a car for the average consumer anymore (if it ever was).

I would recommend your shop to anyone in the Murfreesboro area just for the honesty. Keep it up!

Ray can count me as another vote in support of his position.
I took a dim view of the OP’s statements from the outset, and what Ray posted certainly has the ring of truth about it.

Unfortunately, some people don’t deal well with bad news, whether that is in regard to a vehicle that has already exceeded its design life, or in regard to the cost of the repairs needed to keep that used-up vehicle running.

Referring the OP to the Saab dealership did not constitute “failing to help her”.
This is tantamount to bringing a cancer case to a GP, and then claiming that the GP would not provide help because the GP provided a referral to an Oncologist.

Frankly I am glad that Ray’s Import gave their side of the story. I do feel sorry for the next place that has to deal with BlackPoodle.

Anybody and everybody who is unable to resolve her car problems cheaply and on the first attempt will be likely smeared by her as…dishonest…or a thief…or some other characterization that is probably not accurate.

@RaysImports George, you did the best you could. My wife has a number of single friends who often seek my advice with car issues.

Like the lady in question, they often have either “orphan” cars or vehicles they bought cheaply because of high mileage or they were dogs to start with. Most don’t know they need to have the timing belt changed if the car is so equipped, and get very upset when they are stranded on the road when it breaks.

I warn them beforehand if their vehicles are due for a costly repair, and mention several trustworthy shops and what they might charge. Sometimes only the dealer can do the fix.

As one of my service advisors used to say . . . “Sometimes, the customer IS the problem”