10 Common SAAB 9-5 Problems


The first generation 9-5 was SAAB’s flagship model when it was released in 1997 (as a ’98) in Europe, and 1998 (as a ’99) in the US.  It was the successor to the SAAB 9000, which sold very well by Saab standards, and production continued through 2009, when a new model was released under GM’s supervision.  The final worldwide production numbers of the gen1 totaled just under 500,000 units, and were about half and half sedan/wagon.

[editor’s note – if you are looking for a similar article on the 03+ Saab 9-3, here is the link]

The first generation 9-5 had two drastic changes during its production, the first was a facelift for the 2002 model year, and the second was a major facelift for 2006.  The 2002 model was upgraded to plastic headlight lenses, with Xenon HID’s available.  Subtle stylistic and technical changes appeared all over the car.  2005 saw another subtle facelift, with slightly different bumpers.  In 2006 the 9-5 received a completely revised exterior styling package, with much of the interior being changed to GM sourced parts-bin components.  Other than these few things, throughout the entire run the 9-5 changed little.  Currently, the Saab 9-5 is very cheap to acquire, compared to its $40k+ price tag that it wore new, as well as the 9-5’s aftermarket parts. That means a lot of people that are new to the SAAB market are being initiated with the 9-5. This guide should help people understand some of the most common replacement parts and repairs their car may need to enjoy a well-maintained executive ride.

1.  Sludge.

SAAB 9-5 SludgeThe first generation of the B235 2.3 liter 4-cylinder turbo engine suffered some major oil related problems.  On the 9-5, the PCV system inadequately vented the engine, resulting in sludgy buildup and ultimately engine failure.  This affects model years 99-03.  However, the problem was caught and the 2004 model year had a revised system that fixed this problem.

SAAB released a PCV update parts kit to retrofit early 9-5’s to the newer, more effective PCV.   Nearly all 9-5’s at this point would either have the updated Saab parts installed, or have suffered an engine failure.  Only full synthetic oil should be used in these SAAB turbo engines, and replace the PCV system every few years depending on mileage.  Read more about the sludge problem here: [click here]. The Saab part number for the PCV kit is 101k10053

2.  Blend Door Arm

If you notice the interior HVAC ventilation system on your 9-5 acting up, try this: press and hold the AUTO and OFF button on your ACC system.  This will begin the automatic self-test, and when completed ideally you should end up with 0 – 0.  The number on the left means number of codes, and the number on the right gives error codes if any.  What you don’t want is the dreaded 1 – 08.  This signals a problem with the left side blend door, and usually means the actuator shaft is broken. To fix, use this door repair parts kit numbered BDKIT [click here].   The SAAB dealer requires replacement of the entire heater box to fix this problem, I would say our price is significantly cheaper.  Instructions are included!  Here is a list of other ACC fault codes.

3.  Engine Mounts

Saab 9-5 engine mount partsThe B235-series engine is able to provide a lot of torque, which can be quite stressful to the engine mounts holding the drivetrain in place.  If your car has a jerky knocking sensation when letting off the throttle, it could be excess movement in your engine, which is a sure sign of broken or worn out engine mount parts.  If you have a manual transmission equipped car, take a look at your shifter when you go over bumps, or apply throttle.  If it moves around a lot (a little is normal), that can be another signal of failing engine mounts.  The transmission mount usually goes first, but the rest are all susceptible to failing.  We have all the mounts listed towards the bottom of this page.

4. Misfiring

Saab 9-5 DIC (Direct Ignition Cassette) partsThe SAAB Trionic system uses a coil-on-plug coil pack called a DIC (Direct Ignition Cassette).  This part feeds back data to the ECU on how the engine is performing using the spark plugs as sensors, and is highly prone to failure.  When the DIC part fails, it will throw check engine light codes for misfires, and performance will dramatically suffer.  Sometimes, a catastrophic failure can leave you on the side of the road, which is why many SAAB owners tend to carry a spare around with them in their trunk.  A clue to a fried DIC would be a burning electronics smell in your engine bay after stopping.  Before you replace your DIC, you should replace the spark plugs first.  Bad spark plugs will also cause misfires and poor performance.  The 9-5 uses a black DIC, available in aftermarket 28349955 and genuine 55559955.

The correct sparkplugs for non-aero 4cyl are NGK BCPR6ES-11

The correct sparkplugs for the aero 4cyl are NGK PFR6H-10

The correct sparkplugs for the V6 are NGK BKR7ES-11

5. Throttle body

Saab 9-5 electronic throttle body partsThe electronic throttle body in the 4cyl 9-5 is historically prone to failure.  Clues to a bad throttle body can be surging throttle, especially at idle or in cruise control mode.  The reason for the problem with these parts is the bundle of wires on the circuit board deteriorates and shorts out, due to the amount of heat and wear associated with being right on top of the engine.  The throttle body also contains the throttle position sensors. Those sensor parts feed the ECU crucial data on how to manage the entire engine.

Sometimes poor idle performance can be fixed by simply cleaning the throttle body, which can get quite gunked up from oil from the PCV system.  Unfortunately, the only sure fix is to replace the throttle body parts if the wires are deteriorated and/or shorting.  There are companies that rebuild these parts for the 9-5, but I have heard reports of early failures associated with rebuilt throttle bodies.  The 99-03 9-5 throttle body is most susceptible to failure – the exact part number is 9188186.

6. Radio Antenna

Little known fact that the radio antenna on the SAAB 9-5 is made up of the electrically conductive lines composing the rear window defroster.  These lines can become broken, causing the radio to go instantly static when you hit the defrost button in the morning.  If you’re the type to boot up that radio first thing in the morning as you leave for work, then having to choose between static and vision is a rude awakening.  To fix, first find the broken/high resistance lines with an ohm meter.  You can also take a picture with your phone on that first frosty morning to see which defroster lines aren’t connecting.  Then pick up a tube of conductive epoxy, mask the window off with tape, and reconnect the defroster lines.  Once free from electrical interference, you should be able to use both the radio and the defroster at the same time.  You can use our Loctite 21351 Defroster Repair Kit to repair these traces, along with a roll of masking tape if you don’t already have one.

7.  Window rollers

Saab 9-5 window roller partsBroken window rollers plague SAAB and Volvo owners.  The window regulator part rolls on a track that moves in a scissoring motion to allow the window to go up and down.  All these pivot points ride on plastic rollers that become smooshy and eventually break.  This will cause the window to fall down into the door and cease operation.  Luckily the repair is cheap, just pick up a few of these rollers, take the door card off, and install these replacement parts – our window roller parts kit (000k10004) contains two 4493433(SAAB) / 9152606(Volvo).

8. Coolant bypass valve

Saab 9-5 coolant valve partsMost cars have a valve of some kind that diverts coolant from the engine cooling system, into the cabin, and through the heater core to produce heat on cold days.  The valve on the Saab 9-5 has historically been prone to failure, which can result in all the parts of your cooling system emptying onto the ground.  This valve is a very important part to replace PREEMPTIVELY before this happens.  It is quite cheap, and preventative maintenance might keep you from being stranded on a cold day.  We have a few options of replacement parts, but it’s always recommended to go with the best quality parts you can realistically afford. Check out our replacement 9-5 coolant bypass valves.

9. Fuel Pump

Like the Coolant Bypass Valve, the Fuel Pump is another Saab 9-5 part THAT WILL FAIL at some point.  A failed fuel pump can take many forms, but my personal experience was that of a fail-to-start condition outside of a sandwich shop on lunch break.  The fuel pump is an easy DIY job, so if you come up with some spare dough and your car is getting far along in miles, it’s a good idea to replace this part on your 9-5 before it leaves you stranded somewhere.  We have a few options for a replacement 9-5 fuel pump, but we recommend going with the OES Walbro pump.

Here are the SAAB 9-5 Fuel Pumps that eEuroparts.com carries – cost effective Proparts Sweden 23346423, and OEM Walbro TU301.

Here is a quick video on how to change the fuel pump in 99-06 models.

10. Crankshaft Position Sensor (CPS)

Saab 9-5 crankshaft position sensor parts

The Crankshaft Position Sensor is one of the more mis-diagnosed parts on the SAAB 9-5, as a failed sensor often results in a no-start condition.  The CPS detects the position of the crankshaft (and in turn other engine parts such as pistons, camshafts and valves) so that the ECU knows precisely when to fire fuel injectors and spark plugs.  The main cause of failure for this sensor is the heat from being bolted directly to the engine block.  This results in failures commonly occurring while the engine is hot.  Sometimes letting the engine cool down will allow the sensor to get a good reading once again, and the engine will start.  If this happens, replacing the CPS parts should be in your future. The Saab 9-5 CPS part number is 0261210269.

If you have another SAAB model vehicle and are experiencing any of the issues above, then the repair should mostly be the same and you just need to find the right Saab part numbers for that model. Check out our other parts for any Saab automobile.

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191 thoughts on “10 Common SAAB 9-5 Problems
  1. Larry Modean

    Thanks, we Saab owners need help in keeping our vehicles rolling, and this helps. I have issues that would have been resolved much quicker with this resource.

      • I recently bought a 2008 Saab 9-5 with 20,000 miles. I accelerates great when cold. once it warms up, it hesitates when accelerating, it accelerates very slowly. once it cools down. no prob. till it warms up again! Its diving me crazy! please help!

        • Adam Goral

          This sounds like it could be two things, the DIC (most likely candidate) or the CPS, which is most effected by heat when failing. Both would cause severe performance issues, although a bad crankshaft position sensor would be more likely to cause a no-start. Also try cleaning the Mass Airflow Sensor while you are in there. When replacing the Ignition Cassette, don’t forget to use new NGK sparkplugs and dielectric grease.

        • David Lewis

          Jason, I am having the same problem on my 2008 95. Did you find the cure for your problem? I have replaced the DIC but no help.

    • Ray

      2008 9-5 . It wont blend the hot and cold air. Its either hot as Heck or cold as Ice; do you think its the blend door issue or something else?

      • Adam Goral

        Hey Bea, check the wiring harness going into the trunk, often times the wires between the trunk lid and the body break due to fatigue. When my reverse lights stopped working, this was the reason. I opened up the sheathing and sure enough, broken wires inside. It’s the section that is visible when you open the trunk on the passenger side. I soldered them back together, which was an easy job. If you can’t do the job yourself, ask for a friends help. If your wires are all ok behind that sheathing (which may look just perfect), then we can talk about the switch.

        • Basil R Bhan

          FYI: Correct. However, in the US 9-5 2.3 models the sheathing is on the left “Driver Side”. Wires always break where sheathing “ENTERS” the trunk (Boot in the UK) lid.

          Design problem, I believe, is in binding together (with black sticky tape) of the several wires covered by the rubber sheath. Aesthetically neat but tends to focus stress at the 90 degree angle caused when trunk is wide open.

      • David Ogawa

        On automatics the reverse lights are switched by the NSS (Neutral Safety Switch aka “PRNDL” switch). This is located above the transmission at the end of the shifter cable.

  2. Marcia J. Castillo-Mar

    2002 SAAB 9-5, 2.3 L Turbo 4-Dr Sedan. Issue with HVAC system, could their be a short in the electrical system. Failure to work, hit a bump in the road and on occasion open and shut the front-doors and the warm air expels from the vents. Other times I hear what sounds like valves opening and shutting switching between defrost and heat throughout the passenger area. I am not sure where to look and search for the problem. Additionally, I’ve thought about accessing the air filters through the glove compartment to clean and replacement with new air filters. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. ~Marcia

    Finally, both front seat passenger windows hold a green plastic appearing washer which have broken in the electric windows. Sometime ago I purchased many extra parts for such an occurrence. Any suggestions. I does not appear to be made of stronger metal type materials.

    • Adam Goral

      Hello Marcia, you can help deduce the problem by using SAAB’s onboard diagnostic test. Hold “AUTO” and “OFF” with the car on and it will begin testing all the components in the system. If something is wrong, it will report back with an error. The number on the left is how many errors you have, and the one on the right is the error code currently displayed. Do that and let me know what comes back. As for the window rollers in the electric windows, I can film a short video this week to show you how to replace them yourself with basic tools. Stay tuned, thanks for the comment!

  3. Vincent

    Hi Guys,

    This has been one of the most informative sites on my SAAB that I have ever encountered. I have saved your site onto my Favorites1

    Thanks again

    Regards

    Vincent

  4. Scott

    I have a 2001 Saab 9-5 SE 4 door sedan V6, i have been having alot of trouble with a strong fuel smell and spark plug fouling out. about every 3 days. i take them out and clean them off and it runs fine for a few days then loads up again with fuel. i have look at and cleaned the MAP sensor and check the throttle body for any loose bolts that could cause a leak. Need Help if you can with any advice. I get no engine lights untill the plugs foul out.

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Scott, sorry to hear about the trouble. Something is causing your car to either be running very rich, or your spark plugs to be incapable of adequately combusting the mixture. I have a few questions:
      What type of spark plugs are you using?
      Are the plugs all fouling evenly, or does one bank or the other exhibit different degrees of buildup?
      Are all the vacuum hoses that connect to the fuel pressure regulator in good shape?
      Have you ever cleaned or replaced the Mass Airflow Sensor?
      Does the car come up to temp quickly, or are there problems with it running cool?
      Are there any specific conditions that you think may cause the fouling? Or does the buildup continue in a linear fashion over the course of the 3 days you mentioned?

      Hopefully some of these will trigger a red flag and you can go about fixing the problem. Thanks for reading.

      • Scott

        i am using the NGK plugs. i believe thats what they are called. all 6 plug foul out evenly. i dont see any unusual wearing on the fuel lines. but i will check again. i have cleaned the Mass air flow sensor twice now.( should i just replace it. if there a test for it? ) the car does come up to temp normally, only had the car a about 3 months now so not really sure what normal would be, though it seems fine. i cant seem to figure out why it would be running that rich. can you please list a few reasons that would cause this and then i can go down the checklist of possible problems. i was told it might be the computer telling it to use more fuel. but if that were the case would i not have more problems then that if the computer was bad.

        • Adam Goral

          The issues I listed below will cause a car to run rich. Incomplete or weak spark, bad temperature sensor (if your ecu thinks the car is warming up, it will richen the mixture to warm it up faster), a faulty MAF will cause the ECU to not fully know how much air it is mixing with fuel, potentially causing a rich condition. A big vacuum leak can cause the computer to get false readings as well, and sometimes cause misfires, a bad misfiring condition will cause a flashing check engine light. There is a way to view what these sensors are doing, but that would require an ECU tune in order to display this sensor data on your SID. We offer this ECU service (ask for openSID), but I don’t see it as the appropriate next step in diagnosis. Since this problem has a huge impact on the health and efficiency of your engine and catalytic converter, it might be time to get it inspected by a certified tech.

  5. BK

    With regards to the fuel pump, I believe that my 9-5 2007 (North America) has the fuel pump inside the fuel tank which is not a DIY job and doesn’t follow your sample video.

    I believe the parts are different for this model (2006-2009 NA) from the European model. Just wanted to mention as I’m searching for the exact right pump (I had it in to the shop and the pump was working fine during the diagnostic but it has quit three times in the last month at the most in opportune times).

    • Adam Goral

      Hi BK, the design changed in 2006 to require dropping the tank instead of do a quick change through the top. These changes were accompanied by similar techniques in vacuum hose design and other assemblies (in my opinion) as a grab to force car buyers into dealers rather than local shops or DIY, and make people buy complete assemblies rather than parts. That has the added bonus of making spares cheaper to catalog and stock for car companies. Unfortunately this is the norm now and will only get worse. Let us know if you need help finding a part, and thank you for the reminder.

      • joshua

        Im having problems with my 2004 95. Its not starting. I changed all my vacuum lines and my throttle body gasket. Do you think i need to clean the throttle body itself? I checked fuel pump and fuel lines and it seems ok. I have gas in it also. Any advice?

        • Adam Goral

          See if someone around you is willing to swap direct ignition cassettes to check if it’s ok. That is a common problem that can result in a no-start situation, as well as fuel pump, crankshaft position sensor, or immobilizer faults (in order from most likely to least likely). Hope that helps.

        • David Ogawa

          Monitoring the fuel pump (and pressure) is a good diagnostic.
          The fuel pump should run for a short time when the ignition switch is turned to RUN/ON. This fills the fuel lines and should set the fuel pressure limit switch. After the pump stops, it should start again if the computer sees a continuous signal from the Crankcase Position Sensor. This signal is also necessary to time the sparks. Of course, the CPS requires a turning engine.
          So a lack of spark could be due to a bad CPS or a bad ignition cassette. If the pump restarts you likely have a good CPS.

  6. ernesto leon

    2003 saab aero 9-5 4 cyl, turbo ,doesnt start, spark plugs new, gas filter new, gas pressure good,replace cranksaft censor, still no explossion, i sprayed ether and same thing, i went to the auto parts asking the price for ignition coil around 200 dls. what you guys recomend?

    • Adam Goral

      If you have fuel pressure, a new CPS, and still no combustion or spark, a fried ignition coil pack sounds like the solution. Before buying a new DIC, try to find someone in your area that might be willing to come over and swap them out. If it starts up with the other DIC, you need a new ignition coil pack. If it doesn’t start, your problem is elsewhere. I recommend a genuine DIC. For a little extra money you will end up with a better product. However if cost is a concern we also offer Proparts Sweden aftermarket coil packs for a big savings over Genuine SAAB.

  7. ernsto leon

    thanks for your help , i took the risk buying it , now there is another issue, it starts but i have to keep pushing the gas pedal, i turn the lights and heat on and it shuts off, battery is good, do you think is the alternator? thank you again.

    • Adam Goral

      Because it is throttle related, it could be a problem with the throttle body. In it there is a throttle position sensor that tells the computer exactly how much gas you are giving it. If the sensor is bad, it might not be getting the right reading and could cause your car to stall. The lights and heat problem sounds like it can be unrelated, you need to check all of the main grounds to make sure you don’t have a loose electrical connection or short somewhere. Good luck, this sounds complicated.

  8. Cody

    Hi I just bought my wife a 2006 Saab 9-5 2.3t it is a really nice car but tonight on the way home the heater would not come on it would blow but not hot

    • Andre Miodonski

      Replace the thermostat at the engine. A too low engine temperature is also an indicator for a faulty thermostat.

    • David Ogawa

      Monitoring the fuel pump (and pressure) is a good diagnostic.
      The fuel pump should run for a short time when the ignition switch is turned to RUN/ON. This fills the fuel lines and should set the fuel pressure limit switch. After the pump stops, it should start again if the computer sees a continuous signal from the Crankcase Position Sensor. This signal is also necessary to time the sparks. Of course, the CPS requires a turning engine.
      So a lack of spark could be due to a bad CPS or a bad ignition cassette. If the pump restarts you likely have a good CPS.

  9. John

    Hi, I have a 2003 9-5 Linear wagon. The vehicle has 115,000kms. The problem I am having has me a bit perplexed. On startup and once put in gear at idle it seems to lurch a bit in little hiccups. And then once moving engine runs smooth until accelerator is pushed hard enough for turbo to be fully engaged and then it seems like power kind of hiccups until turbo spools down. I can drive just fine as long as I don’t push engine and thats even at highway speeds of about 70mph, as long as I get to that speed in a slow even progression.
    I did a bit of searching and the only thing that came to mind or seemed to match the symptoms might be a faulty engine mount. Just hoping that someone here has any knowledge of insight into what this might be and a probable fix.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Adam Goral

      Hi John, is the engine running correctly? A hiccup usually signals misfires, but if you are strictly referencing the smoothness of motion then engine mounts do seem likely. Even though your car has very low miles compared to others, the rubber bushings and mounts will still be susceptible to cracking and aging. A simple test is to ask someone to sit in the car while they put it in and out of drive or reverse, and rev the engine with the brakes on in gear (be careful of course). During this you should be able to observe the engine movement. If it looks excessive, it’s probably time to replace engine mounts.

    • Marian

      Probably the turbo by pass valve starts to fail or turbo waste gate lost the clip.Also the “hooter”valve might have something to do.Easiest way to check I it is to apply a vacuum at small pipe where a vacuum hose goes to a small valve at fire wall and check if holds the vacuum

  10. saabscania

    I would like to find a list like this but for the 98-03 V6. Would be awesome.
    Is the throttle body a common problem on the V6 too?
    Thanks

    • Adam Goral

      Fortunately the V6 does not have some of the engine problems that the 4cyls are susceptible to. The DIC’s on them do occasionally go bad however, as well as the turbochargers and throttle body, although not to the extent of the 4cyl. They have timing belts rather than chains, so be careful to replace them every 60-80k miles, and it’s advisable to do the tensioner at the same time.

  11. Bill

    I have a 2001 saab v6 and it ran perfect for the last year, but it sits a lot.
    sometimes i wouldnt start it for weeks at a time, I started it up yesterday and it was smoking oil smoke bad and we drove it 7 miles and all the oil was gone in the engine.
    i think my turbo went. is this right and how do you know which one it is?
    i think the turbos are in the exhaust manifolds. help

    • Adam Goral

      That is a sure sign of turbo failure, and those do fail (we sell them sometimes). They are part of the manifold so you will have to replace it. Before you buy, take the exhaust off of the turbocharger flange and have a look/feel inside. If it’s super oily, that’s your culprit.

  12. Thank you for this site. Quite informative. We’ve got a Saab 9-5 Aero, bought new in 07 (after our first one from 2000 just got a bit old). Love the car, but have some issues. We’ve just done the fuel pump, with the dropping of the tank. Now there is a strange “kick” from the trans (it seems), usually when stopped. It happened a few times, we changed the trans oil, and it was better, but not all gone. Trusted mechanic says its an internal seal in the trans (automatic), and that he felt some slippage at speed when pushed hard. I’m a manual shifting sort so this is all a bit unfamiliar. Does any of this sound familiar, and is there anything to be done?

    • Adam Goral

      The only problems I’ve personally heard of with the automatic trans has to do with the valve body, which does tend to go bad in high mileage examples. That generally is hard shifting rather than slippage however. I recommend going to a dedicated transmission specialty shop to have them listen to it.

    • David Ogawa

      Unless the transmission was fully flushed, much of the old oil remains. The torque converter, heat exchanger and hoses hold much of the old oil during a typical drain and fill. Since you saw so much improvement, I recommend another drain-and-fill or, preferably, a full replacement of the oil.

      A flush is done by splicing into the hoses, and introducing fresh oil as fast as the old oil drains. The engine is running and the transmission should be warmed up first. A complete change in color and transparency often signals completion. However, replacing 150% of volume is enough if the appearance can’t change significantly.

      A rare cause of kick is a failing NSS aka PRNDL switch. You will see the dashboard shift position indicator spontaneously changing between “D” and “N” (or “R”), usually accompanied by a check-engine light.

  13. RdM

    Our 2001 Saab 95 station wagon starter is acting strange. Sometimes the car does not start (you turn the key, but the starter does even engage, as if the relay is not working. You simply hear a fan like noise). This happens after having driven the car a bit, i.e. the car is not cold. Then you wait 15-30 minutes, for example you go and get a coffee at a local coffee shop, and then it will start fine. Any suggestions on what the cause might be?

    • Adam Goral

      I want to assume that the car has an automatic transmission. This is because there’s a device in the shifter that sometimes goes bad called the neutral safety switch, which will cause symptoms similar to what you described. Intermittent no start, no crank, no relay click. The switch is designed to detect if the car is not engaged in a gear, to give the ‘all clear’ signal to the ECU to switch the relays and start the engine. Hope that helps.

      • Ed

        Hi Adam, similar isue has happened to me, The car engages but the engine dooes not start. I have to wait about 15-20 minutes and then it starts and works normally. It has happened about 3-5 times in 5 years. I already replaced the CPS. Do you have ay suggestion to avoid this to happen again?
        Thanks, Ed

        • Ellen M Vires

          I have a 2002 Saab and I’m just wondering what would cause it not to start it’s been running great since I bought it A month ago, but I went to grocery store Sunday came out loaded my stuff and car won’t start please give me some advice on what I can do and won’t cost me an arm and a leg thank you in advance

          • Adam Goral

            When you turn the key to the on (not start), to you hear that familiar buzz from the back of the car? That is the fuel pump priming and if you click it to ‘on’ and you don’t hear anything, chances are the fuel pump is dead. Luckily it is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix, and one of the most common reasons for no start conditions in these cars.

    • David Ogawa

      A Saab with automatic trans that reliably starts cold but sometimes won’t crank when warm – that’s exactly the symptom of a failing NSS (Neutral Safety Switch) aka “PRNDL” switch.

      Well, it’s one of many symptoms of a failing NSS, considering all it does. I just replaced mine.

  14. Fred Izenson

    On my 2008 Saab 9-3, automatic front passenger window does go up but then returns to one half.
    It can be adjusted upward by stopping and starting the window control. Does the window motor
    need replacement or is it an electronic problem elsewhere?

  15. Mandy

    I have a 2004 9-5 arc…having problems with car starting..had alternator checked battery checked ..New fuel pump..New spark plugs new direct ignition cassette ..New crank sensor..still doesn’t crank ..it makes a rapid ticking sound when trying to crank and lights dim then start blinking on and off then when car is off it still dies the ticking sound.

    • Adam Goral

      Have someone check all the main electrical grounds, it sounds like something is making either a very poor connection, or no connection at all. With that check, electrical cables to the starter should also be inspected. If all that is good, the starter may have been the problem the whole time.

  16. Rob young

    Hi my 02 saab 95 petrol auto, starts fine when cold and fine when upto running temp , but if i drive few hundred yards and engine is not at running temp will not start ! Otherwise runs fine once started ?

    • Adam Goral

      This is a common symptom of the Crankshaft Position Sensor, which will struggle to find a signal when hot if it’s failing.

  17. Leo

    Hi, my saab 9-5 2.3t (2008) started making a noticeable “knock” sound immediatelly after starting the cold engine in an early morning. It is even louder when temperature is minus, and softer when its warm. I started noticing this “knock” sound in the winter time.
    Questions: can it be a sign of coolant system releasing the pressure for circulation? Beause the sound is similar to something that becomes released from pressure. Should I look for leaking?

    In the mean time the engine works fine. I refill coolant every since four/five months when the panel warns that the level is low.
    Thanks for any help.

  18. Domingo Ramos

    Hello i have a 2004 Saab 95 2.3t if i just turn the key it starts then shuts off but, if i turn the key and hold the gas down and hold it down, the car will stay on… but, blow black smoke out the back and if its wet or cold outside, i have to keep trying to start it until finally it catches. once it starts it starts for the rest of the day most of the time and i repeat the process in the morning.

  19. 2002 Saab 9-5 arc 3.0t the car cranks and manages to start with some gas but idles rough for like 3-4 secs and dies out taking off the spark plugs and cleaning them with non chlorinated brake cleaner and install them again will make it run perfectly fine again but will roughly idle in a couple of mins of running and would do the same thing what could it be? I personally think it could be fuel pump or pressure regulator but when it does run with clean spark plugs I did notice some white smoke coming from the oil filler cal so idk if the engines compression is flipped…. What could it be?

    • Saabber

      I’ve got an ’04 9-5 2.3t and it stutters sometimes when I’m driving at a constant speed somewhere around 2000rpm. I did the ‘bolt mod’ to see if it was caused by the check valves in the vacuum system, but it didn’t help. Could it be the throtle-body or could it be something else?

  20. Daniel Jones

    HELP !!!
    The car is: 2002 saab .9-5 2.3turbo linear
    The symptom(s) are when first started in the morning, runs fine, until it gets to operating temperature, then it begins to “buck” and “sputter” on acceleration and will stall if you try and let it idle, at which point it will not start, until you let it cool for 10-20 min whereupon it starts right up and runs fine until it heats up and the process begins again !
    Parts That have been replaced:
    Battery
    Alternator
    Water Pump
    Turbo
    Fuel pump
    Oilpan
    Crank position sensor
    Coolant temp sensor

    • Adam Goral

      This sounds like it could be the result of a large vacuum leak somewhere, check the bushings near the brake booster and on the intake manifold where vacuum lines attach. Heat can have affects on vacuum fittings and lines due to expansion and contraction of soft seals and components.

  21. I have a 2002 Saab 95 aero with. 76,000 miles. It was running great until this morning when it stalled at a stop light. I restarted it, the engine was running rough, drove it about 1/4 mile then it stalled and I couldn’t get it started again. I had it towed to my mechanic. What could be the problem?

  22. David Houlette

    Hi, I have a 1999 saab 9-5 4 door sedan. When I am driving, especially when accelerating, I hear a kind of low level knocking on the front right side of the engine (reference is based on me in the driver’s seat). Just had the turbo replaced and other than the knocking sound it’s running good. Any suggestions?

  23. Diana

    Hi I have a 2002 9.5 arc someone hit my bumper at the rear I stopped the car to look at damage but no damage then I tried starting the car it would crank but won’t start had to get it towed home what do you think it may be any ideas please.

    • Adam Goral

      The jostle could have been the final straw for a rusty ground wire, but I think this is the result of a very unlucky day with multiple unrelated issues. The no-start issue is likely to be one of the common issues other drivers experience, including the crankshaft position sensor (which commonly fails when hot, and works again after cooling off), fuel pump, or ignition cassette, diagnosis of these parts are listed here.

      • Adam Goral

        This will have to be checked out by a professional. It can be anything from a severe vacuum leak, an intercooler hose that has cracked, or low fuel pressure to name a few. With correct diagnostic tools, a mechanic should be able to get to the root of the problem quite fast. They will check fuel pressure, spark plug intensity, ignition timing, main power voltage etc… Tell them to buy your parts from eEuroparts.com and thanks for shopping!

  24. Steve Vreeke

    I have a 2006 95. Runs great picked it up new Sweden while I was stationed in Germany. When I turn the wheel sharply left or right I get a brief audible alert but no ifault ndicator alert shows on the dashboard. What could this be?

    • Adam Goral

      When the stability control or traction control kicks on, it will sometimes give an audible ‘bong’. Also, if you use the handbrake while driving it will give an audible alert too. If you disable ESP, does it still do it? There may also be a loose connection in the handbrake switch that lets the car know if the emergency brake is engaged. This is all hypothesis, I hope that helps start the journey to find out what it is. I’m sure your car is fine!

  25. Hello, I just bought a 2001 9 5 wagon 3.0v6 turbo, car seems to want to cut off at times in gear like a manual trans in high gear at low speed. Or like there isn’t any release in the converter. It’s an automatic and also does not reverse. Any ideas before I replace the trans?

    • Adam Goral

      A faulty valve body can cause weird shifting problems, but it is not a cheap fix and likely is about as expensive as a replacement transmission from a recycler. You should take it to a transmission specialist, they should be able to pinpoint the problem and let you know from there.

  26. Alan

    I have a 9-5 2.3t linear that has these 4 lights on traction control, abs, brake and hazard light on and has no get up when lights turn but once car is shut off and I wait 5 minutes lights go off until you make right turn and they come back on and no get up and go.

    • Adam Goral

      Check your main electrical grounds, they may be loose and when you go around a corner the connection breaks and you have an electrical issue. Specifically look at the harnesses and wiring at and around the ABS module, which is a prime suspect for the ‘Christmas tree’ effect, when you have a ton of engine lights on at once (including ABS light). If the problem happens at other times, not just when turning, this module is a common issue with the 9-5, and will need to be replaced.

  27. Blanca Ramos

    I have a saab 2003 aero 95 I have changed the catalytic converter the serpentine belt tensing the motor mount and the ignition coil. It is running,but the check engine ligth came out blinking while driving. My mechanic say that I may need a genuine ignition coil since the spark plugs are the NGK Any advice will be appreciated.Thank you

    • Adam Goral

      Does the car feel sluggish or underperforming? A blinking CEL is specifically the engine misfiring. Although the Direct Ignition Cassette is generally the cause of misfires, there are other things that can cause them as well. A boost leak is a prime culprit, caused by a cracked intercooler or leaks in the related piping. Clogged or bad fuel injectors can also cause misfires.

  28. Derek

    2000 Saab 9-5 front windows constantly break the rollers off, I bought some used regulators, is that a safe assumption or am I missing something?

    • Adam Goral

      Make sure the window is in the track properly and that everything is greased. Look for any way that the regulator is allowed to twist, such as missing washers or spacers, during operation. Other than that I don’t know, maybe someone else has had this problem and can chime in.

  29. Peter M

    Adam,

    Absolutely brilliant article, you have no idea how helpful your information is for us Saab owners, especially since a lot of people are buying them now due to the sticker price. If you have a spare moment I would love to hear your thoughts on two issues that have me completely stumped? I had to change the DIC in my 2009 9-5 because of the issues you listed above. I bought the aftermarket version first because it was half the price but it only lasted about 3-4 months. I ended up replacing it with the OEM version after it failed but there was a time period of about 4-6 weeks that I drove it not realizing that the DIC had failed. It’s my understanding that the engine was most likely running too rich or too lean during that time period (4-6 weeks) due to the ECU not getting the right info from the sensors. By the way I only run premium 92/93 fuel in this Saab and I use fuel injector cleaners like Chevron Techron on a regular basis. Could I have damaged or ruined my Catalytic converter during that time period before the new OEM DIC was installed? The reason I ask is because I’ve been getting the dreaded P0420 Cat/converter code for the last few months. I have reset the code at least 10 times but it always comes back on after 150-200 miles. A couple of shops have told me that the Cat is probably shot, although the car seems to run fine. I’m just shocked that a Cat converter could go bad so quickly, the car only has 68,000 miles and it’s an 09! Love to hear your thoughts on this. Also, this is my first Saab and I know that they are a slightly different animal in comparison to American/Japaneese manufactured cars, but I’ve always thought that the car has a overly strong vibration in the cab during idle. Do all Saabs vibrate like this during Idle or is this a sign of worn out motor mounts at 68,000 miles? Thanks again for your time Adam, I can’t tell you how much I Appreciate all of your wisdom and knowledge!

    • Adam Goral

      Unfortunately, it is true that driving a prolonged period with a misfiring engine will cause your catalytic converter to fail. The catalysts in the pipe are very sensitive, raw gasoline does a lot of damage due to the chemical nature of the device. However, this might not necessarily be your problem. An O2 sensor, or related wiring can also have this effect. Good luck, I hope you don’t have to replace the cat, especially on a Saab so fresh!

    • David Ogawa

      You may have worn Subframe Mounts causing the cabin vibration at idle. My mechanic applied a prybar to the subframe to show me how loose they were on my 9-5. The engine and transmission mounts connect to the subframe. When the subframe mounts sag far enough, subframe vibration is coupled directly to the chassis. A loose subframe also worsens handling.

  30. Peter M

    Adam,

    Thank you for getting back with me so quickly, I really appreciate it! This is my first Saab and I know that they are a slightly different animal in comparison to American/Japaneese auto companies but I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of vibration inside the cab during idle or when it the car is in gear. Is this a common Saab idiosyncrisy or is this a sign of bad motor mounts?

    PS: I’m not very good at fixing and replacing auto parts so I usually take my Saab to a local mom and pop repair shop due to the Saab dealership operating like they’re the Mafia when it comes to repair costs ha ha. However I found out that there’s some kind of federal warranty law that requires auto manufacturers to replace bad converters if they’re less than 8 years old and have less than 80K miles! So I’m hoping to be able to get it replaced for free but I’m still a little suspicious due tongue fact that they typically charge $1500 or more to do this repair.

  31. Ian mallon

    Hi there I have a Saab 9.5 vector, 2010 model I keep getting service steering column, and car won’t start, it is an automatic, any help would be great, the car has only done 32’000 miles thanks

    • Adam Goral

      There are a number of steering and ignition related components on the steering column, and if the 9-5’s of this body style are anything like the same generation 9-3’s, there is a very complicated unit that occasionally goes bad. Although I don’t know the answer to your question directly, being that you are in the UK it would be best for you to take it to a dealership with a techII scan tool (GM). They will be able to plug it in and pinpoint the solution quickly with ease. We can only sell items like these for US market cars.

  32. norm

    i have a saab 9-5 v6 3.0 ARC that has no spark. i replaced the camshaft sensor. I pulled the front coil pack open it and see small cracks. are cracks common in coil packs? the car ran fine without any problems before it stop starting. no misfiring or anything other than at stop up it would start up and shut off. after several attempt it would always start. please provide any advise…

    • Adam Goral

      Cracks in a DI cassette are a definite sign of a stressed out unit. It’s not a sure fire sign that the car won’t start, but it would be a good idea to replace it if you have a new CPS and no spark. Also check and make sure anything else isn’t awry like a ground strap or battery cable that’s fallen off.

  33. Danno

    Recently purchased a 2000 Saab with a little over 100,000 miles and 3.0 Turbo engine. Was on the highway doing about 70 mph when all warning lights and chimes went off car continued to run strongnand all options including radio and AC continued to run as normal. Also speedometer registered 0 Mph. Pulled over turned engine off and all went back to normal. Same thing happened a bit later however before turning off road all went back to normal. Also when starting engine I get a message that SID is not programmed could this be the issue or is it something else. Hopefully it’s a simple fix. BTW, what do I do to reprogram SID.

    • MAG

      This is most likely the ABS controller. The speedo measures speed from the left rear ABS sensor. I had the same problem. I pulled the electronic component from the ABS system (behind the battery up to 2001) and sent it to BBA Reman for repair.

  34. Norm

    hello everyone ! my saab 9-5 3.0 v6 starts and shut off. I have a new cps, good BPV, DIC’s , spark plugs, Vac lines and everything i can think of. any possibilities of what it could be?

    • Doug

      I’d be thinking fuel pump. I had a 2000 2.3 that would start and run for 10-15 sec then die and and not restart for 12-24 hours.New fuel pump fixed it. in my car was easy DIY under the back seat.

  35. Anthony

    Hi Adam.
    Thank you for your very helpful information.
    I have a Saab 9-5 2009 with 127,000 miles on it.
    in the last 3 weeks I have had a check engine light on. The car runs fine but occasionally will come to a stop when taking a turn, but restarts without a problem, it’s only happened twice in the last 2 weeks.
    I took it to my mechanic and of course he wants to check everything and anything. I’m not really sure that the fellow knows what he’s looking for.
    Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Adam Goral

      This is a tricky one, and no the mechanic does not know what he’s looking for…but he has a few ideas. If he is good at what he does, he will be able to find the problem by poking around, as although this is a weird one, the problem should appear upon close inspection. He will most likely go through all the main grounds and wiring that controls systems vital to the car running starting at the battery. It could be as weird as a loose fuel pump connector, bad vacuum seal, or a short due to rubbing in the main harness somewhere. Jiggle all the things with the car running and try to get a response.

  36. MADELINE

    we just obtained a 2003 9-5 3.0l turbo, drove it a week or so the check engine light came on. Drove it to work, noticed it took a couple of tries to start in the morning and at lunch, about 3 hours later when leaving work, the car would not start. It will turn over and the self-check says ok but just will not start. Any ideas? Never had a European car before, have no idea about operation or maintenance. Where can i find an owner manual and maintenance guide? BTW – your web site is VERY informative!

    • Adam Goral

      European or not, it’s a common misconception that these are different because they are a Saab. The engine is a GM engine, the chassis is a GM chassis, the brakes are GM. The actual differences are minute, with interior and exterior design, stereo and other small details with engine management. It’s a world car, like so many others these days, so don’t let the lineage scare you. With that out of the way, if you have a check engine light on with a code, you should procure a code reader and plug it into the port under the steering wheel before doing anything else. I will guess it is a misfire code (because other no-starters like the fuel pump or CPS don’t throw codes), which points to a failed ignition coil pack, part number 55561133. These are the Achilles heel of these cars as they get old. Always ask if the coil packs have been changed when buying a direct ignition Saab, or assume you will need to replace one.

  37. Anthony

    Saab 9-5 2009 with 127,000 miles
    Hey Adam.
    it seem that the Saab needed a turbo blow off valve $72.70 for part and the throttle bore needed to be re-set. $ 260 later I have it back. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  38. Susan

    Adam – thanks for the great article! Have an ’02 9-5 Aero and its throwing off a check engine light and won’t communicate with the T2 or others. Engine also seems to be missing. Got a new battery and problem resolved, than came back (same thing happened when tech disconnected the battery). Also smell some exhaust in the cabin. Any ideas? Many thanks!
    Susan

    • Adam Goral

      Can you get a code off the check engine light with a standard code reader (ie autozone or similar)? It is quite peculiar that a techII wouldn’t be able to communicate with the car. This signals something might be wrong with a main control unit. One thought, now this is a long shot, is that you have some type of parasitic drain caused by a loose electrical connection. This might have lowered the battery level to a voltage that causes the ECU or other module to act up (they really hate going even a hair low on voltage), which is why the new battery fixed it, but only for a short time. First have someone check that the voltage coming off the alternator is around 14v, then check the voltage coming off the battery to make sure it’s around 12v. If it’s even a little less, it might be causing strange things to happen. As for the exhaust, does the exhaust note sound any different, you probably have a hole somewhere. The flex pipe in the engine bay is a prime place to start, and is in stock. http://www.eeuroparts.com/Cars/SAAB/1204/2002-9-5-Aero-2-3L-4-Cyl-16-Valve-Turbo/1015/Exhaust-System/

      • Susan

        Thank you! Could the spark plugs be the problem? Replaced them recently but don’t think they were genuine Saab. Not quite sure which one is the flex pipe – do you happen to have a part number?

        • Adam Goral

          Your car does require the right set of spark plugs to run correctly. They don’t have to be Genuine, but your 02 Aero will take NGK PFR6H10 spark plugs (Genuine Saab will be the same NGK plugs). The flex pipe (intermediate pipe) is here http://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/5116/Intermediate-Pipe-4898037/ but you should find the leak before installing parts of course. I am just saying this is the most common places for leaks to start on these cars.

  39. Susan

    Me again. Tried the auto-off and got a 1 – 21 code. Driver’s side vents blow warm air when ac is on – was told by prior tech the box was broken. Thoughts? Wish I could bring my car to you – but do buy my parts from eeuro!

    Thanks – Susan

  40. j cullen

    Hi Adam, Ive got 99 9-5 4CYL Turbo. i enjoy the car & all its comfort. Its newest thing is the alarm going off after I lock the car with the key. looked in manual & says consult dealer for re-setting of alarm. can you help me out with this issue. is it as simple as disconnecting battery so the system will re-set ?

    • David Ogawa

      The alarm module has internal cells that allow the alarm to continue even after the main battery is disconnected.

      The Lithium battery voltage is tested at regular intervals when armed, thus the noise when they fail. You should also see “service alarm” notifications long before this. The two Lithium primary cells inside as well as the larger electrolytic capacitors are overdue for replacement.

      To my knowledge alarms are not available as new OEM. Your alarm module can be professionally refurbished. I rebuilt mine.

      Be careful about buying Lithium cells for SAAB alarms. A very large batch of cells were assembled with solder leads around 2008, and are already near the end of their service life. Their terminal voltage should be 3.0 Volts when new.

      Your SAAB mechanic can configure the car to ignore a disconnected alarm (using a Tech II).

  41. Ed

    Engine/trasmission mounts
    Hi Adam, I have a 2001 9-5 2.3t. I can feel a hit when the car stops abruptly or change gears and accelerating. I replaced the front (driver side), left and right mounts but still no change. Do you think the rear mount can cause that abrupt movement? I know there is a lower mount for the manual transmission. Does the automatic transmission has any similar mount? Also I saw you sell a torque arm mount, can you tell me where this goes?
    Thanks

    • Adam Goral

      Hi Ed, Generally when one engine mount goes bad, the rest are soon to follow. The rear lower mount definitely does break, it is designed to limit back and forth movement of the engine to counter the axial rotation when torque is applied to the wheels. Have someone pop the gas pedal with the brakes on and watch for excess movement. A torque arm is a type of mount with a long bracket to limit the axial motion in the opposite direction. https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/6824/Auto-Trans-Mount-Driver-Side-5230693/ is the lower auto trans mount/torque arm.

  42. Ed

    My 2001 9-5 2.3t, has the check engine light on. The code is P1312, and the message in the OBD is¨”Oygen Sensor 1″, but as far as I know that code has to do with the DIC and/or spark plugs. Can you help to clarify?
    Thanks

  43. My 2007 Saab 9-5 has a problem with the coolant tank. I have to add coolant sporadically. My mechanic could not find any evidence of a leak with the pressure test and visually. The temperature gauge never rises and I never see any “wet” spots beneath the car when parked. Help !!

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Vincent, do you smell coolant when you are driving? Visual leaks are very hard to find, especially since water evaporates quickly on a hot engine. If you have changed the heater bypass valve (explained in the blog, by the way), you might be looking at a leaky headgasket.

        • Adam Goral

          The bypass valve can occasionally blurp out some coolant at certain pressures and temperatures when it’s failing. It’s a relatively easy job and a good way to rule out the #1 cause of 9-5 coolant leaks, but generally you will catch a whiff of the maple syrup antifreeze smell when it does. If you have a leaky headgasket, small amounts of antifreeze can get into the combustion chamber without mixing with oil, and be burned in the exhaust. A very large leak will cause white smoke out the exhaust pipe, but a small leak will be virtually undetectable except for slowly disappearing coolant.

  44. Nick Rodriguez

    My 2004 Saab 9-5 2.3t is not starting after it was running fine for the longest time..get home from a long drive a few hours later won’t start..cranks and cranks wants to start so bad but it just won’t turn over..battery was just replaced along with the coil pack and spark plugs..car did the same starting problem before coil pack was replaced after car started and ran no problem and now it’s happening again any help??

  45. Adrian Reynoso

    Hello and good morning. First of all I would like to thank you for this super informative site. I have tried to find such a gem to no avail for some time now.

    I own a 2003 9-5 AERO 2.3t with about 265, 400. The other day I was driving to work like normal. Went to gk get lunch and the car wouldn’t shift out of 1st. Almost like if it was a stick shift and was thrown in to neutral. I got an esp light. But it is no longer there. The car sat for the weekend, and now won’t even shift in to gas at all. Any ideas? Please help. I am in love with my saab and would hate to get rid of it because I can’t find out the issue.

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Adrian, can you check and see if the linkage is connected the transmission. If you look down onto the top of the transmission, you will see a neutral safety switch. It will look like this:
      SAAB 9-5 Neutral Safety Switch If it fell off you will get sudden loss of shifting ability. If the linkage is operating fine, and the transmission dipstick has fluid in it, I would tow it to a transmission shop. If you are describing loss of forward drive and not a shifting issue, check your axles as if one broke, the car with the open differential will not move forward.

  46. Anthony

    My 03 Saab 9-5 linear wagon has a strange creaky noise coming from front of the car on both sides. The noise occurs when at a stop and I accelerate. Also on turns but more noticeable when gradually accelerating. I replaced torque rod arm, rear engine mount, and both sway bar links. Is this a sign of bad subframe bushings or control arm bushings or something else? I still need to replace the other 2 engine mounts but not sure if they would cause the noise I’m hearing

    • Adam Goral

      Groany creaky noises, especially when cold, are a sign of slightly shrunk bushings due to the rigors of…well, being a bushing for a long time. Big squeaky creaky noises when going over big bumps are often falsely diagnosed as strut mounts (although sometimes worn out strutmounts can cause similar noises). I find the sway bar bushings are the squeakiest, because the sway bar acts by twisting like a torsion spring, and rotates inside the bushing a little bit. Spray some high-pressure grease on the bushings and see if the noise changes, and while you are under there, check out the subframe bushings and play in other suspension components like control arms by prying on them with a big crowbar or prybar. Good Luck!

  47. Devon Burkert

    Hello, I have a 2004 Saab 9-5 aero. Have had it for almost a year now. I was looking through many of these comments to see if it answered the issue that I have. I’ve read many many comments and articles stating many things but I must be sure. Within the passed 3 months I have replaced the alternator twice, battery, tie rods, coolant pump, serpentine belt and vaccuum hoses for turbo and turbo controller (idk the exact name) either way a lot of money has been spent in a little amount of time. To get to my point, finally had everything fixed and got CEL light to go away. She (Saab) was running fantastic after replacing coolant pump and vaccuum lines for about a week. Now you start the car, runs beautifully, no noises no lights no issues. You will drive it for a while until it’s fully warmed up, and will drive perfectly. After it warms up though (symptoms start randomly after warming up) but when you go to give it gas, not WOT, but like half throttle, between about 2000rpm and 3-3500rpms. She will start to sputter, or twitch. Rpms don’t seem to jump, just don’t want to accelerate. I have to put it to the floor for it to downshift so it can jump above 3-3500 rpms and then it will take off. Its hard on the car and Makes it very difficult to drive normally. When the sputtering starts, you can barely notice it, but after a few minutes it gets worse. I would love to hear what you think about this. Cause I’ve heard everything from throttle body, catalytic convert, o2 sensor, bypass valves, DIC, crankshaft sensor, turbo, coilpack and a few others. I don’t have the money to be buying and replacing all that to find the problem. I’d really love to figure this out before it ends up breaking or ruining something else. There is a lot of talk about this on the Web but no one can say for sure what the problem is. All I can say is that out of everything I’ve read, the o2 sensor seems to be the culprit. Thank you for your time and your very helpful information. Normally I can just read other comments to diagnose any issue with my saab but this has me stumped. Oh and to add, when sputtering, there is no CEL light blinking or flashing. It just stutters and kinda twitches until it’s over 3000rpms. Tiny amount of throttle doesn’t do it either, only in that midrange it will sputter.

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Devon, sorry about your running issues. If you have already been completely through the vacuum system making sure there’s no significant vacuum leaks, and have made sure you don’t have a tear in an intercooler hose or other hole to cause a large boost leak, this is surely a sign of a DIC going bad and misfiring. How do your spark plugs look? Sometimes even if it is performing terribly, for one reason or another it won’t throw a CEL. One test is to swap an ignition cassette out with a friends to see if the issue resolves. If you don’t know anyone, try asking in a Facebook group or Saab forum. It’s a great community and there is always someone around that is willing to lend a hand. I have witnessed your issue first hand multiple times, and every time it ended up being a direct ignition cassette, with or without a check engine light. Good luck!

      PS, about the alternator twice..OUCH. That is not a fun job on these cars.

  48. Devon Burkert

    Yes, this car has definitely hit some nerves along the way but I absolutely love the car when it’s running properly. She is completely spotless, not a spec of rust or corrosion on anything. I really thought it was going to be fantastic, and it has been but these last few months have just been rough. But either way, thanks a lot Adam for the advice. I was afraid of that, it being the DIC that is. But as far as you know, that’s the most likely culprit of this sputter. Also, does that explain why it only happens after it is at full running temp? I replaced the spark plugs not even 2 months ago and the old ones didn’t look too bad (for never being changed). Besides replacing it with another one, DIC, is there any other way of testing whether or not the one I have is bad? Again thanks a bunch for getting back to me so quickly. And hey, I’ll take replacing the DIC over some other things haha that’s for sure.

  49. Devon Burkert

    Oh crap, one more thing, if I don’t replace this right away and continue to drive on it. What will end up happening?thanks again!

    • Adam Goral

      If the sputter is indeed a misfire, driving around can damage other components, yes. Most specifically the catalytic converter, which is a sensitive catalyst that does not handle the chemical reaction well with raw gasoline (which is coming out of your exhaust due to the fact your plugs aren’t firing right). I’ve heard of bad misfires damaging other electronics such as control modules, but not on Saabs specifically. The best test is simply swapping it with a friends and seeing if there’s a change, something I always do before putting in a new DIC. Other than that, random misfire CEL codes and unburned fuel in the exhaust are other sure signs of a bad ignition coil. If you do get another DIC, be sure to keep the one you have in your trunk, as a spare is ALWAYS a good idea.

  50. David

    I have a 2001 Saab 9-5 the shifter does not always stay in Park have a hard time removing the key eventually I get it to go and stay in park with the emergency brake on an take key out car drives fine

      • Aida

        Hi I had a question my daughter has a 2001 Saab 95 turbo wagon 4 cylinders it runs but sometimes while driving trans shifts perfect but sometimes when she is driving rpms goes up but car doesn’t want to go passed 40 with pedal to floor

  51. Aida

    Car has been sitting for 2 years just put it on road this week thought it was old fuel but I put new fuel can any one tell me what can be wrong thankd

  52. George

    I have a 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon with an annoying issue. The radio will shut off and come right back on during hard cornering, turning while accelerating quickly from a stop, and sometimes over fairly large bumps in the road. I have also noticed that the ACC will shut off at the same time. There may be other items that momentarily shut off as well (I think I may noticed the odometer display shutting off), but it is difficult to notice everything while driving. I have also experienced the ABS, TCS, & Brake lights all being illuminated when I first start the car, sometimes. I can start the car many times without these lights coming on. When they do come, I can shut the car off, restart and the lights will go off. I mention this because I do not know if the radio and warning light issues could be related. In an effort to fix the radio problem I have already cleaned the ground points under the battery, cleaned the ground point on the transmission (I also ran a second, larger ground wire from under the battery to another point on the transmission), cleaned the ground point at the thermostat, cleaned the ground points behind the radio, checked the radio wiring for cracks/cuts, checked the tightness of the ground point near the fuse box in the dash, cleaned and tightened the battery connections, had the battery load tested at the auto parts store, and cleaned the bulkhead connector. I have also wiggled the battery cables as well as the before mentioned underhood ground point cables with the car running to see if the radio would shut off. It did not. I would appreciate any ideas you may have regarding where I may look next to identify the source if this issue.

    • Adam Goral

      George, you’ve already gone through the things I would have recommended, and then some! This sounds like an extremely frustrating issue. The ABS, TCS lights sound like a separate issue, but as you know it is exceedingly important for these units to get proper voltage and an overall system voltage fluctuation can cause intermittent issues in all associated control units. Does the engine or other main running system shut off when you are experiencing this short (it really sounds like a short somewhere), or is it just the dashboard related function like radio and ACC? The DICE module (dashboard integrated central electronics) controls a large number of things in the dash, is located near the fuse panel in the dash on the driver side. How to go about diagnosing it is up to you, as it is a component that requires a dealer programming with a tech2 to replace.

      • George

        The engine stays running when the radio shuts off. I have also noticed that the headlights stay on as well.

        At one point I thought that maybe the battery had an internal problem that would cause an momentary short. As I thought more about that battery, I decided that the problem would be more widespread if the battery itself had an issue. Although, I could hook up my voltmeter to the battery while my son drives and see if there is a voltage fluctuation at the battery when the radio shuts off.

        I have not yet checked the DICE unit. I wonder if it could have a loose connection or other wiring related issue? I will investigate it next. Thank you for the reply.

  53. David

    For the 9-5, I would add the potential for a catastrophic brake failure if one of the small vacuum line valves downstream of the brake booster servo unit fails through heat, age and wear and tear. The valves become very brittle with time and a related recall was issued for the 9-3 but not the 9-5. These lines should be renewed at an appropriate time interval. or you take the risk of losing up to 80% or so of your braking capability. This definitely applies to vehicles with an automatic transmission from 2005 up at the very least. My manual 9-5 has a similar but more robust system than the automatics.

    • Adam Goral

      Wow I have never heard of this happening, thanks for pointing out something to keep an eye on as it makes sense. The power brakes require a lot of vacuum to function properly.

  54. Jessica

    We have a 2003 9-3 convertible. In the last 5 weeks it has died while driving 4 times. We took it in after the first 2 times it died and they found vacuum leaks which they repaired, after getting it back, it has died 2 more times. Each time has been after about 10 minutes of driving. Took it back in-vacuum leaks are fine. Crazy thing is it wont throw a code-engine light wont come on. They cant seem to find anything wrong with it. Any suggestions?

    • Adam Goral

      Has it ever had a fuel pump done? This sounds like either a fuel pump or a crankshaft position sensor. CPS would be a good first start, and fuel pump second because it’s a little more involved of a procedure and has more cost involved.

  55. Adrian

    Great list. Hats off to you. My question is I noticed that the recirculation feature of the ACC does not work. I did the recalibration function and error codes 11, 13, and 21 have been reported on different occasions. Any ideas?

    2002 9-5 Aero

    • Adam Goral

      Thanks Adrian, let’s figure this out. Those codes are 11 (Stepping motor, air-mixing flap, RH – no mechanical contact with flap), 13 (Stepping motor, air distribution flap – motor jam), DC motor, air recirculation flap – open or short circuit. Sounds like you might need a stepper motor! It is located on the right side of the heater box, and is accessible behind the glove box which is simple to remove. Actually getting to the motor might be a little more of a hassle, but I have confidence in you! Here’s a snippet of the alldata instructions to help guide you along. https://www.scribd.com/doc/221791/Recirculation-Motor-Saab-9-5 once the motor is out, see if you can get it to respond with 12v battery power. If it’s dead, that’s what you need. We have both Valeo as well as Genuine Saab. We also carry both link arm if yours is broken, good luck in your hunt! (PS, if these new motors are out of your price range, check out our buddies at epartsland.com or goldwingsaabparts.com for a good condition used unit)

  56. Arslan D.

    Help please..!
    Engine not started..
    2001 2.3t aero/sedan(automatic trans.)

    NEW DIC-NEW CPS-NEW Fuel Pomp-NEW Spark Plugs,ALL CHANGED.
    But the engine is still not working..?It is not clear when to start or stop.The engine is not usually warm.
    OBDII no fault.Excellent performance when started.No power loss.But it’s not clear when the engine will stop.There are no signs in the past.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Adam Goral

      With an automatic transmission, the Neutral Safety Switch is a part located on the transmission. The switch/sensor detects what gear the transmission is in based on position of the gear selector. When it goes bad, the computer can’t tell if the transmission is safely in neutral (park) and will not allow the car to start. Generally this will not cause the car to shut off when driving though. Check all your main electrical connections for frayed wires or bad grounds. Specifically look around the battery and alternator area where the highest current grounds are connected. If shorts happen here the car may shut off suddenly. Massive air leaks like broken intercooler hoses and vacuum lines can cause the car to stall, but generally is more predictable.

  57. Matt Brunton

    Hi Adam, wondered if you or anyone else reading had an opinion on the following:
    Car is a Saab 95 (station-wagon), 2 liter turbo, 2005 model.
    The fault is non-starting – turning the key you get the “standard” dash lights come on: check engine, warning, oil, etc. Then, nothing. However, some things do work, the fuel pump starts and I hear a click from what I presume is the starter relay.
    I believe it’s one of the following items at fault:
    1) starter solenoid
    2) Neutral safety switch
    3) Starter relay
    4) Ignition switch (beneath the key cylinder)
    5) Immobiliser
    The fault has gradually gotten worse over the last two months, such that now it rarely starts first time. In the early days of the fault occurring, the car would perhaps start after holding the key in “start” for about 7-10 seconds.
    I’m at a loss, any suggestions would be gratefully received!
    Regards, Matt

  58. I have 2003 saab automatic 9-5 2.3t. I replaced the ignition switch because radio and chime would stay on when I removed key. I had to insert and remove key until radio and chime would stop. at that time I could lock car. I still have the problem with radio and chime when key is removed from new ignition switch. any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks.

        • Adam Goral

          That is generally the cure for this problem, the TWICE unit is what controls these functions, I hope at some point it didn’t get wet which is the leading cause of TWICE malfunctions. Sorry I couldn’t be more help, I would ask the question in the Saabcentral forums or start a Facebook thread in an experienced community of Saab fanatics.

    • Adam Goral

      The TechII scan tool is able to diagnose issues with the parking assist sensors. Find a GM dealer or Saab independent shop with the ability to plug in this specific tool to further diagnose issues with the Park Assist (SPA) system.

  59. alex prado

    i have a 2001 saab 9-5 wagon im not getting spark to the plugs all it dose cranks but dont start i was told that it might be the crank sensor or that i need to reprogram the key it hard for me to get someone to check it because i live i mexico its super hard to get a mechanic that know how to work o saabs can anybody help me out or where can i get a crank sensor or no what else can i check with out having to buy parts that are hard to find here in tijeana mexico please

    • Adam Goral

      Hey, how do you know that you have spark? To test the DIC is a specific process where you have to ground all the plugs. No starts, as mentioned in the article, are generally caused by a few things, most likely the fuel pump or DIC. CPS or Neutral Safety Switch (if its an automatic) are also key factors in a no start. Any Chevy/GM dealer or mechanic should be able to work on your Saab if you need extra help. I do not think it is your key. Have you been experiencing any misfires or have a check engine light on?

  60. GeorgeH

    My 2001 95 auto estate suddenly started to emit clouds of white/grey smoke, turbo gauge on dashboard only moves a tiny bit when revved up. I presume turbo is faulty – can you confirm please as to replace it is about £500+. Thanks. GeorgeH

    • Adam Goral

      that is a quintessential turbo failure. To be absolutely sure, pull off one of the turbo intercooler hoses and check the turbine for shaft play. If its a loose oily mess, the turbo has failed. If the turbo is dry and tight, you may have also have had a headgasket blow, resulting in coolant or oil pouring into the cylinder and being burned off.

  61. george kwong

    I have a 07 9-5 Aero Auto. My issue is the shifter has about an inch of play while in park and drive. Sometime I think I’ve shifted back from drive to park but it still in park. Is this a common problem and what is the fix?

    • Adam Goral

      Take a look at the Neutral Safety Switch located on the top of the transmission down below and next to the battery, and have someone wiggle the shifter handle. See if you can observe any play in the pivot joints where the shift cables attach. Often times the bushing wears out and it will cause this play. Here is a thread that describes repairing the end with a Saab 9-5 window roller: http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=264257 Although I am not exactly sure how they did it, it seems like a good trick. If you find out that it is the bushing on the end of the cable, and you do fix it using the green window roller, please take a photo or two and let me know 🙂

  62. Claudine Kirby

    Hi, my 2006 SAAB 9-3 couldn’t start last Thursday so I had it towed to my mechanic. It turn out to be fuel injector issues. He replaced fuel injector on cylinder # 1 WWHICH IS PART # 832-11207 and four spark plugs. He uses NGK part # 3764. I picked up the car today and it is running fine but the engine light is still on. I took it to get the oil change and the gentleman scanned it and said that the error codes indicate fuel injector issues. This is a bit stressful because I just paid $350.00 for the repair. Should he have changed all fuel injectors?

    • Adam Goral

      What code are you getting exactly? I don’t think buying more injectors is a good idea. Throwing parts at a problem isn’t a good way to solve it, although all 4 fuel injectors can be had brand new in Genuine Saab for around $200 for the set. The ECU on the Saab 9-3 (this thread is for the 9-5 by the way, different car different engine) sits on top of the engine which heats it, and when it’s on the fritz it can cause weird problems with the fuel injection. ECU’s are common to replace on this generation of Saab with the 2.0 GM ecotec engine. If it comes to that, we sell rebuilt ECU’s here, and they would need to be married to the car with a GM tech II scan tool that most shops will have. https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/52666/Engine-Control-Module-ECM-Trionic-8-ECUSAABT8/ See what your mechanic says when you take it back with the check engine light back on. Be reluctant to replace more injectors knowing the ECU is a common failure point on this engine and we sell a ton of them to people reporting issues similar to yours.

    • Adam Goral

      A blinking CEL indicates a massive misfire. If you’ve replaced the spark plugs and DI Cassette, then it’s likely you have a large vacuum leak. Check to make sure the vacuum hoses, specifically around the brake booster and intake manifold, are all attached and not broken. A hole anywhere in your intake system after the turbo can cause big boost leaks and that will cause misfires and stalling. So start at your turbo and follow the pipe down through the intercooler, and up to the throttle body, making sure along the entire way that there isn’t a hose blown off or a seal blown out.

  63. Jill

    Hi there, my 95 has a really unbalanced engine – it is shaking very hard. My mechanic has checked the engine mounts he can reach and assumes the problem is with the one he cannot reach. Due to the cost of further investigation I have been advised against. What do you think the chances are that a faulty mount is the problem.

    I have also notice the engine losing power for a short time during motorway driving.

    • Adam Goral

      It sounds like you may need a second opinion from a different mechanic, I’ve never heard of anyone diagnosing a car like that. It’s hard to say what it is just by the description, but this sounds to me like multiple compounding problems. Regardless, to avoid additional damage you should have someone look over your 9-5, especially in reference to the belts, engine mounts, and looking out for misfires.

  64. Steve Smith

    Hi, I’ve never owned a Saab, but love working on European cars. I purchased a 2005 9-5 Arc wagon in beautiful shape, running for $600. It was out of coolant, and when I added some, it leaked under the turbo. I checked the heater bypass, but it had been replaced. It ended up being a freeze plug in the turbo body. The water pump was shot too. I plugged the turbo hole, replaced the water pump and added coolant, but now the radiator leaks ( no problem), but under the driver side of the car, there’s a rubber grommet, where the coolant comes flowing out. I cant find any info on what this could be. Something from the heater core? Thanks so much, I really want to get this car on the road, so I can get some Saab experience! Thanks for the GREAT articles you provide.

    • Adam Goral

      That’s interesting. This is why you are supposed to flush your coolant, your entire system seems compromised due to lack of maintenance. It sounds like an AC drain (hard to say without a photo, and I can’t find anything on a diagram), but the fact that there’s coolant pouring out of it is a bad sign. Does the car have working heat?

  65. I have a 2007 95 it started to lose power and run rough and smelled like something was burning so I got to a parking lot and turned it off opened the hood and oil had sprayed out so let it sit for about an hour when I started it again it idled rough and had no power still so I got a ride home and looked into what it might be it all sounded like it was the pcv so we changed the cranckcase breather hose w/pcv valve and that didn’t fix it so I found this artical and was wondering if u could help me PLZ

  66. Hello,

    I have a 9-5 sedan(1999) and i want to buy an other TWICE control Unit(with the key of course) because mine was damaged by water which lead my car to a no start condition.

    So,my question is: Is it necessary to buy a TWICE Control Unit with exactly the same number as mine?(mine has 50 42 239)

    I highly appreciate your help

  67. Corian

    Hey Adam!

    Last night the check gearbox light came on together with the engine warning light on my 2000 9-5.It’s hard to drive away from a full stop now,i have to manually put it in 2nd gear because it feels like it’s burning out the gearbox if i leave it in drive.Gearbox also wont downshift like it used to do and i feel like the engine is down on power.
    Strange thing is,this happens 5 minutes after starting the engine.Within those 5 minutes thr gearbox functions normally(even though warning lights are on)but after 5 minutes the problem is back.
    I checked the oil level on the gearbox and have also tried pulling the gearbox related fuses for a couple of minutes.
    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • Adam Goral

      The gearbox light is a good thing, it means you can plug it into a TechII scan tool and it will tell you the fault code that is triggering this issue. I have a feeling it is the neutral safety switch, aka transmission range switch. If the ECU doesn’t know what gear the transmission is physically in, it freaks out and goes into limp mode. I assume it knows this from crosschecking speed and RPM data. Any GM dealer should have a TechII, as well as some local Saab guys, but you must ask specifically.

  68. Heather hagerman

    I have a 2003 saab and I’m having problems with the heating and the cooling it barely wants two come out of either one of them plus my boyfriend took my battery out about 3 months ago to put in another vehicle for an hour and when he put it back in my car it’s telling me that it needs a four digit code my radio want work without it is supposed to be married to my car and I don’t know who to call about that I’ve called GMC places and they say that they don’t specialize in Saab does anyone know the code or who to talk to thanks

  69. Steve Gilmour

    Hi,
    I own an ‘08 95 Tid auto. Love it. However…for 2 years it has tripped to limp mode almost every time I start up and management light is constantly on (I have noticed that it doesn’t happen as readily in cold weather), I turn off, start up again and it resets. I can then drive it normally. However at cruising (generally 65-70 mph) it intermittently runs a little rough occasionally getting real bad though like its choking. I have to slow to 50 or pop it in neutral and give it some revs, then pop it back into drive and it seems to remedy the issue till next time. I’ve had it in to a garage, performed smoke test, they told me it was ‘swirl flaps’. Got the air intake manifold replaced (£800)…no change(I think they were after my money,grrr). Iv cleaned the throttle body and EGR myself, better performance but both the limp mode and choking at high speed issues continue. Can you help? Thank you in advance for any advice you can give. Steve

    • Adam Goral

      I’ve never actually seen one of these in person so I have no experience. However, if these have an electronic throttle body it might just be bad. It sure sounds like it’s throttle body related and if you have already cleaned it….it might just be bad. How does your cruise control work? Bad? Well?

      • Steve Gilmour

        Hi, thanks for your reply. Yes it’s electronic throttle. My cruise control still works fine. I’ve yet to take the car on a longer journey since I cleaned the throttle/egr. I’ll do that and use the cruise and let you know how it gets on. Thanks

  70. Steve Gilmour

    Hi again. So the throttle body and EGR clean has definitely made a difference to the performance and I’ve reclaimed a few horses. The throttle body was gunked (I was scraping it out with a flat screwdriver) and the EGR heavily sooted. The juddering at cruise remains though, as does the limp mode on start-up. 2 additional things I’ve observed though which may help diagnose my issue are 1. When I floor the accelerator up to 70mph I regularly experience the juddering, and 2. I’ve now experienced (4 or 5 times) surging in the revs at low speed when I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator. Hope this helps. Again, sincere appreciation for any help and advice. Steve.

  71. Dave

    2000 9-5 2.3t 98,000 miles, solid check engine light P1303 code, confusing code for a single issue but both oxygen sensors are new, plugs are new. DIC or catalytic converter? Car will stutter/hesitate with hard acceleration, struggles starting, your thoughts would be appreciated

    • Adam Goral

      How did the spark plugs look when you changed them? This code is for a cylinder 3 misfire which could be a few things. A problem with the injector or an air leak is possible. You can tell if the cylinder is running lean or rich by the way the plug looks.

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