NHTSA — Electrical System: Ignition Problems


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,942 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.

2001 Saab 9-3 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2001 Saab 9-3 Owner Comments

problem #8

Mar 012006

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 75,800 miles


Without warning, the vehicle would not re-start once turned off and the key taken out of the ignition. I was unable to turn the key to re-start the vehicle and also heard a "thunk" sound when attempting to start the vehicle which originated directly below the inserted key. I was able to get the vehicle to the dealership where they diagnosed and corrected the problem under certified used vehicle warranty. The problem was diagnosed that the ignition mounting screw/bolts had "worked themselves loose" and cause the housing to unseat. The problem was corrected by re-installing the bolts. The problem is noticeable if you have a standard-shift vehicle (not an automatic) and are able to shift directly from neutral to reverse without needing to lift up on the safety mechanism near the shifter knob. The dealership advised me that the problem is not uncommon however the greatest concern was that when I drove the vehicle to the dealer I was unable to easily shift into gear and had noticeable difficulty shifting out of reverse.

- Gibsonia, PA, USA

problem #7

Jun 242005

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,488 miles
1) I stopped at home on the way to another appointment. There were no indicators that anything was wrong with the car. When I returned to the garage about 30 minutes later, the car would not start. It made no noise and gave no indication except it was mysteriously completely unable to start. The lights would still turn on, so it was not a battery. I paid to have the car towed to a Saab independent repair shop. Luckily I was not driving the car when it stopped working; it was a complete fluke I had stopped the car for a few minutes. It had started fine the other 3 times that day. 2) the car would not start. It was 2 months out of the 4-year warranty. Luckily, I was at home and was not injured. 3) when the repair shop checked the car, they said the ignition cassette failed and had to be replaced. They replaced it. The car now starts. However, it is an expensive part and should not have failed so soon. I have only about 40,000 miles on the car. I have read statements from other Saab 9-3 drivers that the ignition cassettes on their cars failed while driving, which lost them control of the car in bad situations. This is extremely dangerous and I consider I had a close call.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #6

Jul 262005

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,700 miles
Direction ignition cassette failure. Car suffered complete loss of power, without warning, while traveling at approx 65 mph.

- Wayne, PA, USA

problem #5

Apr 012005

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Dic failure direct ignition cassette failuer di cassette failure. Those are the terms I've heard for this problem that affects all Saab in the model years 99-04. I have a 2001 9-3 convertible and it lost power all of a sudden because of a defective part that is in every single Saab for many years. Losing power at high sped is not only inconvenient, but dangerous and frightening. Saab needs to be forced to recall all Saab and replace the di cassette with one that works. Please order this immediately. It is a safety issue affecting thousands of cars. Thank you.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #4

Dec 062004

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 24,000 miles
I own a 2001 Saab 9-3 and wish to alert you to a problem with the Saab direct ignition cassette. A discussion on www.saabnet.com informed me that the failure rate of this part is apparently 100%. the di cassette can go at any time and cause the engine to suddenly stop in traffic. It happened to me on a rainy day as I was taking my elderly mother to her doctor. She had had hip replacement and spinal surgery, and had great difficulty getting into the tow truck cab. (she died two months later, not related to this incident- but she was frail). My car's warranty had expired and it cost $600 to have to di cassette replaced, not counting towing expenses and other hardship. Apparently Saab knows this is a defect, and it is potential safety risk waiting to happen.

- Oaklyn, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jan 152005

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 61,550 miles
Complete loss of engine power while traveling at 55 mph on limited access highway in left lane. Loss of power was due to direct ignition cassette failure (electrical failure in engine ignition system).

- Shelton, CT, USA

problem #2

Oct 162003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
At 75 mph on a major highway, my car simply shut down, engine would not restart. Had to coast across three lanes of busy traffic to get to shoulder. Car would not restart, burning electrical smell and smoke came from engine. Car was towed to dealership, where failed the cassette was diagnosed. Is still in shop 4 days later. Check engine light has been coming on for 8 months, have been told repeatedly by Saab that it's because I am not tightening the gas cap enough. Check engine light was on, as usual, but I ignored it, as it's on half the time I drive the car. Dealership seemed to know immediately that the cassette was blown. This defect needs to be remedied. Very dangerous.

- Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

problem #1

Sep 152002


  • miles
While driving and without warning vehicle shut off completely. Losing all power, resulting in no steering, brakes etc, . contacted dealer.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

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