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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new here, pretty despondent, due to my horrible decision to buy a 2004 Saab Arc convertible, recently. I knew it wasn't running, paid 1000 for it, knew it was a gamble, big mistake. The first issue was the car not starting, all electrics out. My gamble was based on that, I was taking a chance it was a dead battery. Maybe more involved than just that, but thought okay, worth the chance. Tried jumping it, some electrics slowly came to life, but never enough for the starter to make a noise. I bought a new battery at AutoZone and replaced it. My fiancee and I put it in and after a few tries. I turned the key and got the "immobilizer failure" message on dash. I turned the key to off position and tried starting again, nothing from starter. But after about third try, boom, it starts. We are overjoyed. But then the clutch won't go out into gear. Motor sounds great, but clutch will not budge, and the entire time, all of the electrics are going on and off every three seconds, except for the air conditioner and fan and radio. All dash guages blinking every three seconds. I turned the motor off and investigated. I try to start it up, and getting immobilizer failure message and non starting. Starter won't turn over. I notice the yellow battery cut off switch, my fiancee pushes it, and the car starts. But electrics still cycling every three seconds, all warning g lights on and off. Long story short (too late I'm sorry) I have it towed to a Volvo repair shop. They said clutch shot, new one needed for 1600.00. I expected that, fine. But what really frustrated me was they had no idea about the electronics. They have same on and off issues I had, able to start it every third or fourth try. But the repair guy said before he looked at it he had the needed Saab 2 scanning tool to tell the codes. He tells me when he calls me about the clutch that he can't pull codes because of the flashing guages going on and off not allowing reading. I asked if he was using the Saab diagnostic tool, and he said not the exact one, but something equivalent and should pull codes. I've lost hope in him. I have to decide to pay for clutch fix and pray someone else can use right Saab tool or at least help figure out the electronics issue. This is a Volvo repair shop, I'm kind of stunned that they have no clue how to pull codes from a Saab. Does any one have any idea what the electronics issue could be? Maybe the cut off switch cable? Can I remove that?
 

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I'm new here, pretty despondent, due to my horrible decision to buy a 2004 Saab Arc convertible, recently. I knew it wasn't running, paid 1000 for it, knew it was a gamble, big mistake. The first issue was the car not starting, all electrics out. My gamble was based on that, I was taking a chance it was a dead battery. Maybe more involved than just that, but thought okay, worth the chance. Tried jumping it, some electrics slowly came to life, but never enough for the starter to make a noise. I bought a new battery at AutoZone and replaced it. My fiancee and I put it in and after a few tries. I turned the key and got the "immobilizer failure" message on dash. I turned the key to off position and tried starting again, nothing from starter. But after about third try, boom, it starts. We are overjoyed. But then the clutch won't go out into gear. Motor sounds great, but clutch will not budge, and the entire time, all of the electrics are going on and off every three seconds, except for the air conditioner and fan and radio. All dash guages blinking every three seconds. I turned the motor off and investigated. I try to start it up, and getting immobilizer failure message and non starting. Starter won't turn over. I notice the yellow battery cut off switch, my fiancee pushes it, and the car starts. But electrics still cycling every three seconds, all warning g lights on and off. Long story short (too late I'm sorry) I have it towed to a Volvo repair shop. They said clutch shot, new one needed for 1600.00. I expected that, fine. But what really frustrated me was they had no idea about the electronics. They have same on and off issues I had, able to start it every third or fourth try. But the repair guy said before he looked at it he had the needed Saab 2 scanning tool to tell the codes. He tells me when he calls me about the clutch that he can't pull codes because of the flashing guages going on and off not allowing reading. I asked if he was using the Saab diagnostic tool, and he said not the exact one, but something equivalent and should pull codes. I've lost hope in him. I have to decide to pay for clutch fix and pray someone else can use right Saab tool or at least help figure out the electronics issue. This is a Volvo repair shop, I'm kind of stunned that they have no clue how to pull codes from a Saab. Does any one have any idea what the electronics issue could be? Maybe the cut off switch cable? Can I remove that?
You need to find someone that can read an electrical schematic especially the Ignition/Starting system, sounds like to me you have some sort of grounding typroblem. I have a 2001 Saab 93 Turbo and gave no problem reading codes with an OBD II code reader. Make sure your Engine Light turns on with your Ignition in the ON position, your Engine Lught must TURN ON with Ignition On. If not you have a communication problem wit main CPU and you better check powers and grounds that connect to your main Engine CPU. Has the vehicle been sitting for a long time outside ? If so I would do a quick check underhood for electrical cables have not damaged in any way, also possibly a Rodent. In addition, check relays, fuses etc for proper function, but once again you need a schematic and electrical/electronics troubleshooting knowledge or take it to someone that does possess these skills!!
 

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You don't say where you are - if you tell us, someone may know of a shop in your area that knows how to work on Saabs. In my opinion, you need someone with the specific Tech II scanner and knowledge of Saabs to properly diagnose your problem. Volvos were made in the same country, but they are not similar cars. Don't forget this was a $40,000 car when new, and when you get everything properly sorted, it will be a wonderful car once again. With only $1,000 invested, you still have some money to spend. I also drive an '04 Arc convertible, and just finished a glorious 4000-mile round trip with it. This is my 7th Saab, and they are amazing vehicles.
 

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One more thing just came to mind - that "battery immobilizer switch." That was not stock to the car - I wonder if that might be part of the problem? I'd be tempted to take that out of the loop and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jfran, thank you so much for replying with your advice, I really appreciate it. I agree with your view that 1000 for the car not bad and certainly allows room for a little more money to fix it. I created this post when I was pretty down, didn't do the best job of describing the issues. Now that some time has passed and I've accepted my situation, I want to try and describe the issues better. The car was only sitting for a few weeks without running. We first tried jump starting it with my truck. This only resulted in some dashboard items coming to life, including the check engine icon (I believe this is the engine light you referred to?)- but no starter activity. I pulled the battery and replaced with new one. That resulted in the car starting after a few tries. But each time I would try to start it, I would receive the immobilizer failure try starting again message. But, it did eventually start. Also, when attempting to start, I would receive a momentary message on dashboard of "checking", for about two seconds, then it would go blank, as if the checking failed. But the car did start. After it started, that checking message issue continued. Since the clutch was shot, I was unable to drive it, but the " checking" cycle problem continued. But the engine continued to run, sounded great. I turned motor off, decided to change key fob battery. Upon restart, same issues. The starter wouldn't even try the first few tries, still getting the "checking" cycling problem, but the car would eventually start. But now on SID I was receiving "key fob battery low" message, which I was not receiving before fob battery change. Strange, becar it was a brand new fob battery, even checked expiration date. I investigated further by turning the SID button. I could only get two options, alarm and radio. Within alarm, it gave option for full alarm or door. No other options showed on SID. Interesting that you mentioned the battery cut off switch. I too considered that, but I believe that is stock to the Saabs, right? The yellow button you push on the black box? I don't believe it was added by previous owner. I could be mistaken. Anyways, since I first created this post, I have an update from the Volvo shop. They say after research, they believe it is the ignition switch module. They have not installed new one yet, but it is on way. They pulled old one and found coffee spillage, etc. on the ISM. I am hoping this is the issue. But after doing my own research, I worry it could be the body control module, because the strange electrical issues seem to fit. However, I've also read a bad ISM can cause weird gremlin-like electric issues. Regardless, replacing ISM seems needed anyway, so fingers crossed it will fix it. They showed me pictures of the old clutch- the plate was mangled- no wonder I had no chance of getting it into gear. Jfran, I am in Grants Pass, Oregon. I am also near to large cities Medford and Ashland Oregon. I appreciate any advice, very thankful.
 

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Unfortunately, I am far from an electronics expert in these cars! The blinking dash lights and the "Checking" message do seem to indicate that power is being interrupted somewhere. One note on the key fob - I changed the battery on mine once shortly before having a problem diagnosed at a Saab shop, and the mechanic noticed right away that when I replaced the battery, I had accidentally bent one of the tabs so it wasn't making contact. He told me this happens all the time. You might take your fob apart and examine it carefully for that. I'll be curious how the Volvo dealer will make out with this ISM change - I was under the impression that to change out a module you had to have the proper GM Tech II tool to marry the parts to the car. I wonder how they'll do if they don't have the tool? It's good that you live in the Northwest, which is strong Saab country. If this ISM change doesn't work, I think I'd be tempted to rent a tow dolly somewhere and take the car to Portland to a real Saab shop.
And no, the battery immobilizer switch was not stock to the car. If it looks professionally done, it's probably fine. I only mentioned it as I always try to eliminate the least expensive fixes first! Keep us posted on your progress!

P.S. Check out the Saab Club of North America, the various Saab groups on Facebook, and another online forum similar to this one that seems to be read by more Americans - SaabCentral. I'm sure you can find some Saab fanatics close to your area. Good luck!

John Francis
Rolla, MO
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you JFran. I will keep you\all posted on the result of the ignition switch module replacement being done by the Volvo shop. The ignition switch module is a plug and play part, meaning no tech 2 or any device needed for programming. So, hopes are high this will fix it, as this shop does not have the tech 2 device. Also, we may just be talking about different things, but I'm almost certain the battery cut off switch on the positive cable (black box w\yellow button) is a stock feature on this 2014 arc 2.0 convertible. I say this because the original drivers handbook shows this item. In a different thread, it was recommended a person disconnect or bypass this cut off switch, as it could have been the reason his\her car was having starting a electrical issues. I believe Saabs reasoning for this switch was in case of an accident, one could press the yellow button and cut off the battery. Yet another feature installed in the name of safety that possibly prevents the owner from being able to use the car. Maddening. But, I do love Saabs, understand it goes with the territory. I also have a 1980 triumph tr7 spider I'm slowly fixing. In the short time I've owned this computerized Saab, it sure has made me appreciate the simplicity of the mechanics of a triumph. With the triumph, I at least have a prayer of fixing it with basic tools and a Bentley manual. But again, apples and oranges- and I do appreciate all the modern features a running (fingers crossed) 2014 Saab 9-3 offers. Thanks for the help, much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just a update. The Volvo repair shop installed a new clutch and ignition switch. I knew the clutch was bad, expected that. I was really hoping the ignition switch would fix the weird electrical problems. It hasn't totally fixed the issues, but there is some improvement since new ism installed. I now no longer get the endless cycle of Sid message "checking" then having all electrics come on for about 3 seconds, only to lose all electrics, then receiving immobilizer failure message on sid. Now, the car starts right up most of time, but the only electrics that work are the blower fan and blinkers. So, I basically have half a car for a repair bill of 3600.00. However, I am thankful the car can be driven, but no instruments working is not good. I again asked the mechanic why he can't get a reading on the error codes. He said it is because one of the headlights won't stay on long enough. I'm completely confused by this. I just told him to wrap up the bill and let me know when I can pick it up. I never knew a possible drawback to this 2004 9-3 was no one being able to figure out what the problems were. I thought they may be too expensive to fix, but never imagined a respectable mechanic in a Volvo shop would be so stumped by a car. I can't even throw money at it to fix it, even if I had it. So, looks to be a short trip fun car, if I'm able to manually lower the top. Guess I will fill it with gas, check all fluids and hope I can find someone in Southern Oregon who has experience with this generation of saabs. Or maybe a Volkswagen mechanic who works on this era of computerized cars?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I know there's information on tnis , but can someone at least tell me the steps I need to take to add a second key? If this one key stops working, my half car is a no car. I can order any new key fob for my year of saab, then find a locksmith or mechanic with the right equipment to synch it? And they need my one working key to do so? I appreciate any help.
 

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Congratulations on getting at least half a car - that's a definite improvement. To add a key, you'll need someone with a Tech II. Hopefully, that person plus the tool will also be able to figure out the rest of the problems. Good luck!

John Francis
Rolla, MO
 

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I'm new here, pretty despondent, due to my horrible decision to buy a 2004 Saab Arc convertible, recently. I knew it wasn't running, paid 1000 for it, knew it was a gamble, big mistake. The first issue was the car not starting, all electrics out. My gamble was based on that, I was taking a chance it was a dead battery. Maybe more involved than just that, but thought okay, worth the chance. Tried jumping it, some electrics slowly came to life, but never enough for the starter to make a noise. I bought a new battery at AutoZone and replaced it. My fiancee and I put it in and after a few tries. I turned the key and got the "immobilizer failure" message on dash. I turned the key to off position and tried starting again, nothing from starter. But after about third try, boom, it starts. We are overjoyed. But then the clutch won't go out into gear. Motor sounds great, but clutch will not budge, and the entire time, all of the electrics are going on and off every three seconds, except for the air conditioner and fan and radio. All dash guages blinking every three seconds. I turned the motor off and investigated. I try to start it up, and getting immobilizer failure message and non starting. Starter won't turn over. I notice the yellow battery cut off switch, my fiancee pushes it, and the car starts. But electrics still cycling every three seconds, all warning g lights on and off. Long story short (too late I'm sorry) I have it towed to a Volvo repair shop. They said clutch shot, new one needed for 1600.00. I expected that, fine. But what really frustrated me was they had no idea about the electronics. They have same on and off issues I had, able to start it every third or fourth try. But the repair guy said before he looked at it he had the needed Saab 2 scanning tool to tell the codes. He tells me when he calls me about the clutch that he can't pull codes because of the flashing guages going on and off not allowing reading. I asked if he was using the Saab diagnostic tool, and he said not the exact one, but something equivalent and should pull codes. I've lost hope in him. I have to decide to pay for clutch fix and pray someone else can use right Saab tool or at least help figure out the electronics issue. This is a Volvo repair shop, I'm kind of stunned that they have no clue how to pull codes from a Saab. Does any one have any idea what the electronics issue could be? Maybe the cut off switch cable? Can I remove that?
This may lead to no where but how about the fuses?
 

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Ok let’s start with the good news, the clutch was required and the key switch is a very common problem that does not require tech 2 programming. Sounds like you need to stay away from the Volvo shop because Saabs and Volvos have nothing in common at all. A good Saab guy with a tech 2 can diag this easily. The battery switch makes me concerned right away as these cars are very picky on a good battery and solid clean voltage. I know as I am a tech with my tech 2 and have worked on both my 9-3s for 16 plus years. Please get a tech 2 diag and let us know here and we will be able to help. Don’t throw any more $ at it until you get the tech 2 readout. And adding a key with tech 2 is a simple ten minute job and yes you need one working key, don’t lose that one key. Best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the replies guys, much appreciated. Sorry for length of posts, I am too wordy at times. Steel and DC, appreciate the advice. I spent a day pulling all fuses and replacing them- none pulled were bad but replaced anyways. So I've been driving this 9-3 daily and next to my old triumph tr7, most fun I've had driving a car. I love this car. And I haven't even dropped the top yet. So weird, the engine drives beautifully. But still same probs with electrics. When starting, Sid reads checking for about 3 seconds, gauges light up and read correct, but then all gauge lights go out and gauges stop reading, their needles go to zero. This cycle continues over and over. Yet, during all of this, the engine shows no ill effects, runs like a champ. The radio and CD always work. Sid will show alarm options, radio display will sometimes show full options, sometimes nothing. Sometimes alarm sounds. The two headlights seem to flicker on and off in rhythm with the gauges. The headlight bulbs are very loose, previous owner did not care for this car - but I will. How anyone could be so careless with this beautiful machine, ill never know. Yes, next goal is to find a local shop with tech 2- I know I need readings. Another thing I noticed, when making any electric selections on dash panel, I hear a whirring mechanical sound in steering wheel. Not always, but sometimes. My girlfriend drove it and used the adjustment on steering g wheel- right when she lowered the wheel the alarm sounded, as if loose connection, etc. Immediately pushed steering wheel up and alarm stopped. My feeling is I'm driving it anyways. The gauges flicker on for a moment and that is enough time to read gas, etc. The motor seems unaffected. It would be a dream to fix this electric issue. I've considered just pulling the cim and reconnecting it, in hopes there is a bad connection. Considered same for the ecu, seems accessible. I only wish the bcm were as accessible, because symptoms seem like bcm issue. Or maybe the TWICE unit I've read about. Anyways, we just got the manual top lowering bit in mail and will be dropping the top and cruising to the Oregon Coast. Precautionary measure, I've taken to pulling negative battery cable each time parked. Every time I do that, it starts up on first turn. As long as I keep eyes on oil and gas, no reason to believe the motor will suddenly give up. Also, I have a slight tear in the positive battery cut off switch connection casing. No wires look compromised, but I electric taped around the black box to stabilize, leaving the tiny view window and yellow button accessible. I wonder if replacing the positive cable and the cut off switch that goes with it would help? Maybe the cycling over and over is due to an inconsistent connection with cut off switch? I didn't see an obvious way to pull just the cut off switch though. sorry for length again, but difficult to explain these odd symptoms without being detailed. I appreciate everyone taking time to help. If this car dies, I will look for another- that's how much I've loved driving it. Half a Saab more fun than a full anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One more thing guys, my only motor concern is whether the radiator cooling fans are coming on, and when they should. I can't seem to see if they are coming on, I believe they arent. But I don't drive this car hard and weather here in Oregon very cool. The gauge reads almost dead center and progresses to center normally, I believe. Do the 9-3 fans typically come on only in hot weather, idling?
 

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So, yes, first, would delete the battery switch… and the fans do come on after a good drive.

As for the BCM it would be a better first guess then the ECU since you are not having engine running issues. The BCM is under the drivers side “kick panel” and is cheap used. It may well be the next logical issue with most of you symptoms. The BCM controls lights and many of the things you list. I do think I remember that the new BCM needs to be set by the tech 2 to work correctly however. Wish I was not on the east coast would love to hook up my tech 2 and check codes and reset some of the modules for you. Btw, any indication of water in the drivers side floor and side panel area?

But, I would feel much better giving you advice with a tech 2 read first.
.
 
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