SAAB 9-3 Key Fob Turned To Mush? Change The Case On The Cheap!


The 03-11 SAAB 9-3 was a great car. Not only did it look incredible at the time it came out, but a lot of amazing specimens can still be seen around the globe. There was one problem with the car, though — the ignition key.

People who own the 03-11 SAAB 9-3 know that the ignition key isn’t all that durable. After a while, it turns into a sticky mess and the buttons are known to fall out at times. For whatever reason, the materials used by SAAB to make the ignition keys weren’t all that great.

If you own a 03-11 SAAB 9-3 we have great news for you. There’s a simple and inexpensive solution for this issue. Even if your ignition key is in good condition, you’ll find some valuable information regarding the SAAB 9-3 key fob in this guide.
saab 9-3 key fob 3
Article updated on 11/29/21. Original publishing date 08/05/15.

How To Change The Case On The SAAB 9-3 Key Fob?

Because the SAAB 9-3 key fob is prone to wearing easily, a simple and inexpensive solution is replacing the case. If you still have your ignition key, and it’s working, there’s no reason to go to the dealer for an expensive replacement. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Get a Replacement SAAB 9-3 Key Fob Case

Before you start any kind of work on the SAAB 9-3 key fob, you’ll need to get hold of a replacement case. The thing you need to know is that these replacement cases usually don’t have the emergency key and badge, so you’ll need to use the ones from your old key.

If you only need to replace the case,  you can get a standalone replacement shell. If you need the electronics as well, you’ll need a replacement fob with electronics included!

Split The Old and The New Ignition Keysaab 9-3 key fob 2

Before you start working on the ignition key, make sure to check the emergency key and/or leave the car unlocked if possible. Before you can use your new ignition key, you’ll need to resynchronize it.

Once you’ve prepared everything start by opening up the new key fob. Insert a flathead screwdriver into the slot found in the middle of the case. Gently work the case until it splits open. Once you open it up, set it aside and open up the old SAAB 9-3 key fob as well.

Switch The Electronics And Battery To The New Key Fob

Removing the electronics and battery from the old SAAB 9-3 key fob is an easy process and anyone can do it. You’ll need a steady hand and a small flathead screwdriver to do it.

We’ve explained how to replace the battery further down in this guide, and it doesn’t require special tools to remove. When it comes to the electronics, you’ll need to be gentle when removing them because they can get damaged if forced too hard.

Using a small flathead screwdriver, gently pry the electronics from the old key fob. Try different angles if you’re having difficulties removing the components. Once you remove the electronics, place them in the same position in your new case. The same applies to the battery. Speaking of which, now is a great time to replace the battery with a fresh one.

Resynchronize The New Ignition Key

Every time the battery is removed from the key electronics, you’ll need to resynchronize the key. Thankfully, this is a simple process and doesn’t require any special tools. All you need to do is put the key in the ignition and turn it to the ON position. As soon as you do this, the key will be automatically resynchronized and working properly. Here’s a video tutorial on how to get this done!

How Do I Change The Battery In My SAAB 9-3 Key Fob?

All key fobs that lock and unlock the car remotely have batteries, and these batteries have a certain lifespan. Depending on the battery manufacturer and how often you use your key for locking and unlocking your car, the battery can be replaced once every 3-4 years.

It’s a common issue not only for SAAB, but all car manufacturers that the battery in the key fob will die, and certain key fob models allow the owners to replace the batteries themselves.

To replace a battery in a SAAB 9-3 key fob, there are a few steps you need to take before actually removing the battery to replace it with a new one. These steps include:

  • Leave the car unlocked while you’re working on the key fob if you can
  • Check if the manual key is working for both locking and unlocking the car

You don’t want to start working on the SAAB 9-3 key fob before you check if you can access the car. If you don’t have a manual key, you can buy a second-hand barrel and key.

Here’s how you can change the battery in your SAAB 9-3 key fob.

Remove The Emergency (manual) Key From The Key Fob

This is a pretty straightforward process. To remove the manual key from the SAAB 9-3 key fob, all you need to do is press the blue SAAB logo on the key fob and pull the emergency key out.

These emergency keys can get sticky if the SAAB 9-3 keyfob isn’t in great condition or if the key wasn’t removed in a while. You’ll just need to put some muscle into it and pull it out either way. Don’t try to pour any liquids on it because you’ll most likely damage the electronic components inside the key fob.

Split The Case Open

After removing the emergency key from the SAAB 9-3 key fob, you’ll be able to split the case open using a flathead screwdriver.

saab 9-3 key fob 1Use the screwdriver gently to slide it in the slot that’s located in the middle. Try to be as gentle as possible because the plastic can easily be damaged with the screwdriver. Just by slightly twisting the screwdriver, the SAAB 9-3 key fob should split. Slowly split the key in half using your fingers.

Replace The Old Battery With a New One

After spitting the SAAB 9-3 key fob open, you’ll have clear access to the battery. All you’ll need to do is pull it out of its casing and replace it with a new one.

The only thing you need to make sure of is to place the new battery in the same position as the old one – writing goes on the bottom. Also, when removing your old battery, make sure not to damage the limiters that hold the battery in place.

After you’ve done this, fitting everything together is very simple. You’ll need to align the two parts of the key fob and push them until you hear a soft click. To resynchronize the key, you’ll only need to put it in the ignition slot.

How Much Does It Cost to Program a SAAB 9-3 key?

If you lost your SAAB 9-3 key fob or there’s any other reason why you need an additional key, going to the dealer will set you back a few hundred dollars.

Just programming the ignition key, without physically making it, costs around $100-$200, depending on which dealer you choose.

Programming the ignition key after a battery change or case change doesn’t cost anything because the process is simple, and you can do it by yourself. The only thing you need to do to program the key is to insert it into the ignition and turn it to the on position.

Where To Find An OEM SAAB 9-3 Key Fob Case?

If you need replacement parts for your European vehicle, eEuroparts.com is the place to visit because there are OEM parts for almost every make and model when it comes to European cars.

The issue that most SAAB 9-3 owners have with their key fob can be easily resolved; you just need to check out our website and find the part you need. You’ll come across an empty SAAB 9-3 key fob case, but also a case with electronics included, so you can have an additional ignition key if you need one.

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