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NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2003 Saab 9-3 (Page 1 of 2)

3.0

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,744 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Saab 9-3 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Saab 9-3 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #35

Dec 042015

9-3

  • 158,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2003 Saab 9-3. while driving approximately 30 mph, smoke emitted underneath the hood. The vehicle was maneuvered to the side of the road. The contact mentioned that smoke emitted from the battery compartment. There were no flames visible. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the failure was contributed to the electrical system. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 158,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #34

Oct 082015

9-3

  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saab 9-3. after the vehicle was started, the steering wheel lock warning light illuminated and the doors of the vehicle failed to lock. On another occasion, the ignition key failed to move into the on position. A tow truck operator stated that the vehicle could not be moved because the wheels were locked. The vehicle was restarted; however, the contact stated that the failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- 11572, NY, USA

problem #33

Aug 212014

9-3 4-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
Driving steady pace, sid fades out, radio shuts off, gauges turn off, and engine shut off. Pulled over and white smoke came out from engine bay. It was from the solenoid on the starter. I got a new starter and the battery was dead. I then bought a new battery and the same issue occurred. I had to charge the battery up to 100% to get the car started. The alternator was fine so my belief is there is an open circuit somewhere in the car. Just recently the same situation happened again, starter motor burned up and battery drained.

- Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #32

Aug 302014

9-3 4-cyl

  • 109,560 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

As I was driving in the middle lane of the 3 northbound lanes of U.S. 23, the engine suddenly stalled. I was going about 62 mph. I activated my emergency flashers, shifted the automatic transmission to neutral, and shut off the ignition key. I then turned the ignition key to restart the engine and it restarted. This is about the 5th time this has happened in the past 5 months. This vehicle should be included in gms ignition recall!!!

- Chillicothe, OH, USA

problem #31

Mar 292014

9-3 4-cyl

  • 102,545 miles
I was driving and the car shut down 2 times while driving. I did some research and it is a know problem that the ignition switch on the 2003 Saab 9-3 causes stalling and lock system failures. If fact at one point the ignition switches were back ordered for this problem. This is a sporadic problem and comes and goes.

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #30

Feb 092011

9-3 4-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
The vehicle will become almost immobile in first and second gear (manual transmission). Once in third gear, performance is back to normal. If driver is not aware of situation (cruise light off is only indication if cruise control system is turned on), driver can easily get into bad situation as car will not perform as usual (very significant degradation of performance). All that is needed to reset problem is to turn the key off and restart the engine and the condition will go away for as little as 10 minutes or up to as much as 2 hours of driving. It is suspected that this problem could be associated with the air mass sensor as replacing air mass sensor with used part, problem disappeared for several months. This condition could cause a serious safety issue if driver is not aware and tries to make a quick maneuver involving tight traffic (left turn when performance is paramount). Whatever this condition is that the electronics/engine controls is/are entering is unacceptable and this problem needs to be corrected by the manufacturer in a recall.

- Nevada City, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 072011

9-3 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The Saab will intermittently fail to start. When the key is turned in the ignition, all electrical components operate as designed, however the car will not turn over. This is not a battery or starter problem. The car does not make any cranking sounds or starter clicks. Rather, there is no engine turn over at all. After waiting for 30 - 60 minutes, the car will start as if there was no problem whatever. The issue appears to be the neutral safety switch. There is no electronic diagnostic test for this problem. The problem is not "recreatable." It is 100% unpredictable as to when it will occur. A search of the internet for "Saab 9-3 (or S900) intermittent start" will return thousands of posts from drivers describing the exact same problem. Fixes include pouring water or snow on top of the nss, drilling a hole in the dashboard and running a by-pass switch to the starter, and replacing the nss. Dealership will try to replace starters, batteries, ect and claim they have not heard of the nss problem.

- Niceville, FL, USA

problem #28

Sep 012009

9-3

  • 85,000 miles
Vehicle was stalling during acceleration, then fuel pump had complete malfunction.... after replacement, engine has always run poorly and almost always stalls during acceleration. Replaced ignition coil, and it didn't fix problem. I have talked to 4 other Saab 9-3 owners for this model year and 2004 and every one has the same problem.

- Greenbay , VA, USA

problem #27

Mar 012011

9-3

  • 65,300 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saab 9-3. the contact stated that the fuel gauge and message display board was defective. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who refused to make repairs. The manufacturer was not contacted and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 65,300.

- Holbrook, MA, USA

problem #26

Feb 052011

9-3 4-cyl

  • 131,000 miles
Passenger and I were driving and activated both front heated seats on the highest setting. Soon after, both of us detected a burning smell and immediately shut off both heated seats. Upon arrival, we exited and visually observed a small burn mark where the passenger's left shoulder would be. It burned through the leather and singed the hair of the passenger. The burn mark is about the size of a nickel and we can no longer use the heated seat function.

- Eagan, MN, USA

problem #25

Oct 012010

9-3 4-cyl

  • 76,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

1.) all the wiring issues started occurring since Feb 2009- currently. 2.) my 2003 Saab 9-3 linear wiring is dysfunctional causing many wiring/electrical issue failures to occur throughout my vehicle. -my alarm will go off whenever it wants to while I am at work or at home so I had to unplug my horn (which is dangerous and could cause an accident since I can't use my horn to warn people of an accident.) -also, on my display unit shows "a red no pressure" for my passenger side seat seat which has me always having to leave it buckled when no one is in the car in order for the distracting light to go off. - my radio worked fine until my back amp completely quit about 1 month ago for no reason. I never play my music load and do not use base and to get this fixed will cost me over $900. - the electrical issues have also affected my electrical windows as well. I will be driving and put my window down and it will not go back up and stick to wear I have to stop on the side of the road to manually pull it up with my hands. 3.) I have taken my vehicle into two different dealers to have them find out what the core issue of my wiring/electrical problems are and they both came back and told me that they hooked my vehicle up to the computer but they can't find what is wrong with it" this is very odd because I know it's not my imagination and it seems like each week, something goes wrong "electrical" and the fact they can not find the source is a little ridiculous considering it's a Saab dealer" there is something seriously wrong with my vehicles electrical system in order for it to be having this many issues within a years time.

- Perry, MI, USA

problem #24

Oct 032008

9-3

  • 62,000 miles
Was on my way to repair shop for an onstar malfunction which knocked out my entire sound system, including warning buzzers, etc....while on the freeway I thought I had been invaded by aliens the car could barley drive then all the warning lights and malfunction lights started flashing on my computer screen im lucky it didn't cause an accident I could not control the car I could not roll down the window, could not get the car from drive to park, could not steer, shut it off and it wouldn't start again without a jump. Battery had been replaced no more then 6 months prior. It apparently was the alternator. It is a hazard when it malfunctions due to no control of the car. I have had more problems with this car for 62,000 it shouldn't have so many breakdowns and malfunctions I have owned it for a little over a year and have had many different malfunctions ie. Gear box malfunction, transmission malfunction, temp malfunction, airbag malfunction and the latest onstar malfunction which has affected my entire sound system, the cd player had to be replaced the amp went bad had to have a new thermostat the window arm had to be replaced (driving and the window just fell into the door I am surprised it didn't shatter, the Saab logo on the trunk lost all the color, the door handles are peeling and fading as well as the interior parts. Battery died, ashtray broke had to have replaced broke again but no warranty and too much to replace. The brake caliper had to be replaced brake pads worn out too soon, tire tread worn before its time. Everytime part was needed it had to be ordered way overpriced took over a week to get parts on top of that shipping and handling charges apply. This car is unreliable deeming it unsafe as far as I am concerned still owe 9,000 but with all problems not worth a dime. I have disabled people in car alot can't be sure about their safety not good and now no onstar not upgradeable, even still onstar malfunction light is on no sound system.

- Windsor, CA, USA

problem #23

Jul 072008

9-3

  • 27,821 miles
I brought my car in to the dealership because I received a safety recall notice. The car was working completely fine before I brought it in, but I figured I should take care of this recall item (the fuel pump retaining tabs - recall id# 12866). When I went to pick up my car after they performed the necessary service, the car was making a lot of noise and shaking significantly. The mechanic reassessed the vehicle and told me that my ignition discharge module has an internal fault. The dealer has offered to repair the car for $996.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #22

Jul 272007

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
2003 Saab 93 linear - heating/air condition blower motor component failure. Power driver window regulator component failure. Dealer replacing both parts. The transmission has slippage when accelerating at lower shifts after coasting at slower speeds 20 to 30 mph or hard spring to next gear from stop, very similar to complaints already recorded. Dealer has previously updated the software to correct and now suggests new value body or complete transmission.

- Clawson, MI, USA

problem #21

Mar 072007

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles
Wednesday March 3, 2007, my 2003 Saab 9-3 linear sports sedan (automatic transmission) with 61,000 miles on the odometer was at a traffic light waiting to switch from red to green. Once the light turned green, I depressed the accelerator to proceed across the intersection. The initially accelerated to 20 mph and ceased to accelerate. I noticed that I was slowing down and steering had become heavy, I glanced at the tachometer and it showed that the engine had shut down but the electrical systems were functioning. I coasted into a parking lot and attempted to restart the engine. The engine would not start for over 15 minutes. The electrical system was running, onboard diagnostics showed ok, but the starter would not engage. After the interval of no starts, the car started. The car was brought to the dealership and diagnostic codes indicated that the ECM needed to be reprogrammed. Dealer provided no real explanation for failure. Within 3 week period, vehicle had been in for fuel system failure and replacement. Prior to that repair the car had 60K service performed on 12/13/07. The vehicle is current on all repairs required by prior recalls.

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #20

Mar 192005

9-3 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 75,000 miles
Vehicle computer began to malfunction. Vehicle computer no longer works. Shows odd data on display screen locks may not work. Window may not work causing a serious safety problem. Unable to tell whether airbags would be affected.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #19

Jul 172006

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
The day prior I was driving and the car would not accelerate immediately. The next day my wife was driving with our newborn and nephew to the mall when all of a sudden the car would not accelerate on a busy street. The fastest it would go was 20-25 mph. There is only have 37K miles on it and take good care of it. This had happened also on May 1 and the customer service agent said that the computer software had a error and that they were downloading new software. He said he was familiar with this problem and that it has happened a couple times to other drivers. This seems like it would be a case for recalls. This incident could have been more severe if the car had been rear-ended.

- Trabuco Canyon, CA, USA

problem #18

May 012006

9-3

  • miles
2003 9-3 linear. Requesting follow up status on memo, dated 3-26-06. The vehicle engine would not shut off although the key was removed from the ignition. The vehicle had several brake problems. The vehicle hesitated slightly when moving. When braking the vehicle would jerk and skid. The brakes grabbed which caused the vehicle to stop quickly. The alarm was very sensitive. Everytime a bus or truck passed the vehicle with the alarm engaged it would sound. The dealer said there was not way to adjust the sensitivity of the alarm. The windows were off track. The steering wheel seized when the consumer was driving on the highway. *****

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #17

Sep 152005

9-3

  • miles
Brake pads & rotors, seat belt, battery replacement, tire, transmission, sunroof malfunction.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #16

Nov 062003

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The lease on this vehicle began on October 6, 2003. It has had multiple electrical issues starting less than 30 days after delivery. Most recently, September 11, 2005. I have been stranded three times and had to have the car towed twice. Each time the onstar did not work because of electrical malfunctions. We no longer have any confidence in this vehicle and if we owned it we would sell it. Problems include but are not limited to: * cd player stopped working and was replaced within first 30 days of lease. * brakes replaced within first 60 days of lease. * onstar computer replaced within first 60 days of lease. * vehicle computer updated within first year of lease. This left me stranded and almost required a tow due to inoperative transmission but, the vehicle eventually shifted into limp mode before the tow truck arrived allowing us to drive it to the dealership. * vehicle computer updated again within first year of lease. * onstar computer repaired again within first year of lease. * door handles faded and replaced within second year * parking break stuck and vehicle required a tow within second year of lease. * engine immobilizer malfunction requiring another tow of the vehicle within second year of lease. We were told that the battery abruptly died. * trip computer must be reset after gas is added in order to show correct distance to empty. * miles between oil changes seem incorrect. We are at 27000 miles and have only had one oil change. The dealership continues to tell us to wait until the computer requests the service.

- Beavercreek, OH, USA

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