NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,157 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Saab 9-3 Owner Comments

problem #15

Sep 012009


  • 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 #14

Jul 252010


  • 90,108 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saab 9-3 convertible. The contact was having an unrelated repair performed at the dealer when he was advised that the vehicle was in need of additional repairs. The dealer recommended having repairs to the engine and service brakes. The repairs were not performed. The contact located two recalls for the repairs recommended by the dealer (NHTSA campaign id numbers 04V540000 (engine and engine cooling) and 05V236000 (service brakes, hydraulic: Power assist: Vacuum: Hoses, lines/piping, and fittings). The dealer advised that that contact's VIN was not included with either recall. The manufacturer was contacted and advised they would speak with the dealer to determine if the repair needed was associated with the repair listed in the recalls. The contact was unsure if his vehicle was included with the recall or not. The failure mileage was 90,180.

- Hollywood, FL, USA

problem #13

Jul 012010


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saab 9-3. the contact started the ignition and applied pressure to the accelerator pedal, followed by an extremely slow delayed response. The vehicle traveled approximately 10 mph. The failure occurred intermittent which progressed to an engine stall. However, the vehicle would restart after stalling. There was a recall under the NHTSA campaign id number 04V540000 (engine and engine cooling). The manufacturer was notified and they informed the contact that the recall expired and were unable to honor the recall defect. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was 70,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- West Hartford, CT, USA

problem #12

Oct 182008


  • 73,000 miles


2003 Saab 9-3 SE conv (73K mikes at time of incident while driving 65 mph on highway car suddeenly quit running direct ignition cassette failed and ruined catalytic converter and O2 sensors Saab forced to recall this part up to year 2002. My 2003 is old Saab body style with defective di cassette. Part number on cassete is from the 2002 and earlier model years.

- Webster, NY, USA

problem #11

Oct 102006

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 64,000 miles
No warning or signs of anything wrong... one day I am driving down the highway and taking an exit, when my car stalls out on me at 90km and hour, I almost hit the guard rail. This has happened 7 times in the last month where my car has stalled out on me. This happens when I am in neutral and depressing the brake. I took the car to Saab for service, and they said nothing is wrong with the car and let me drive it home. Tonight I almost killed a child on a bike as I slid to a stop after my car stalled on me again. I do not understand how Saab can let someone drive their car home when reporting such a serious problem. Please contact me as soon as possible!

- Hamilton, 00, USA

problem #10

Jul 132005

9-3 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles
2003 Saab 93 fails to accelerate from a stop in a timely manner. Delay can be as long as 5 seconds before reasonable rate of acceleration is achieved with light or heavy application of the gas pedal. Can occur when turning or in straight line acceleration. Only occurs in very hot weather (phoenix, summer). In normal weather, auto exhibits typical, slight turbo lag, but nothing nearly as severe as this condition. Auto did not exhibit problem during its first summer in 2003, but was serviced in 2004 for same condition. Updated engine control software was loaded and slight improvement resulted. This time (2005), car was again serviced with updated engine control software, but absolutely no improvement resulted. This is an extremely hazardous condition, and requires exceptional care while driving. I consider it an accident waiting to happen, and have warned several individual at the servicing dealer, kachina Cadillac/Saab of htis. Per Saab's owner's manual instructions, I am contacting you. I have contacted Saab directly today after dealer failed to rectify the problem, was unresponsive and seemed completely uninterested in doing any anything to correct this extremely unsafe condition.

- Gilbert, AZ, USA

problem #9

Apr 012005


  • miles


2003 Saab 9-3 vector has problems with sunroof, front passenger seat belt, alarm system, gas cap, side view mirrors and the board computer. ** answer required***. the onboard computer could not be fixed after 3 service visits, until finally the vehicle was recalled and exchanged for another. The gas cap would not close properly, the alarm system went off inadvertently, the side view mirrors would adjust themselves after the consumer turned the vehicle off. The cd player malfunctioned. The seat belt light came on even when there were no passengers. The front spoiler is falling apart.

- Laguna Beach, CA, USA

problem #8

Feb 132004

9-3 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 15,000 miles
The consumer was able to remove the key from the ignition switch while the vehicle was still running. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The dealer replaced the ignition module. The repairs worked fine for two weeks, then the problem recurred. The fuel pump was replaced, the fog and head lights would go out once a month, the traction control was not working properly, the seat belts did not recoil to provide security for the passengers, the clutch pedal did not have the proper pressure when applied, the engine would not "spin over, " there was a blown fuel pump fuse, the driver window was inoperative, the sunroof deflector did not collapse when closing the glass causing the glass to re-open on it's own, the driver door panel did not fit the flush to the door panel, the radio and the onstar feature did not work.

- Columbus, GA, USA

problem #7

Feb 192004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Wanted to give an update. After 2 months of waiting for Saab to respond to my lemon law filing with an attorney, I have been able to get rid of my 9-3 linear. Car still has hesitation after they have claimed to have repaired the software problem. Transmission is now slipping, onstar malfunctions once a week, and have a rattle in the dash board. Saab is fully aware of all of the problems. Just wanted to give others the confidence to fight them on the problems of the engine stalling.

- La Verne, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 092004

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,500 miles
Leased 2003 Saab 9-3 arc on 9/26 and this is my second complaint (10051379) and I still have not heard from Saab customer care regarding their fixing the loud right rear rattling/knocking noise. I have called numerous times with no call back. I now have two more problems... the car hesitates, sputters and almost stalls... the dealer increased the idle and that was the fix... I do not feel safe when starting off from a stop or driving in stop and go traffic. Also the transmission is shifting hard between gears between 10 and 30 mphs... it started a few days ago and is becoming more prevalent as each day passes..both these problems along with the loud rattling/knocking noise from right rear that dealer says is normal tell me that this car has problems that Saab doesn't want to deal with and that is not right.

- East Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #5

Oct 192003

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles


This is my second complaint. I had originally filed complaint 10041666 a few weeks ago. Now the problem with my Saab stalling has become worse. I was travel in traffic, when the vehicle stalled while in traffic. The engine stalling caused me to rear end the vehicle in front me. Which in turn caused a four car accident. There were no injuries reported, but now my problem is much more severe. I have contacted Saab about this problem (much like I did the first time) and noting is being done to help me. I am now stuck with a defective vehicle that stalls all the time, and is as far as I am concerned totally useless and a huge safety problem. The accident caused over $15000 in damage to my Saab alone, along with deployment of the air bags. I am really surprised that I was not killed or severely hurt in the accident. The NHTSA needs to step up to the plate and help out all the Saab 9-3 owners here... these cars are not safe, and the represent a very large problem just waiting to happen.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #4

Oct 172003


  • miles
My 2003 Saab 9-3 has stalled 3 times in traffic. Took it to the dealer and they came up with nothing. Car is in shop right now and will see if anything is found but I doubt it. Saab customer care is oblivious to problem. This is a potentially life threatening problem. Seems to happen while cruising in traffic at speed under 30 mph. Car completely locks up and will not start until pulled off the road, turned off and turned on again.

- North Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #3

Apr 282003

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,912 miles
Vehicle stalled while accelerating. Lost power steering and power brake assist. Could have easily caused an accident if I hadn't been able to stop safely. The car started with no issues after the stop.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #2

Mar 292003

9-3 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 31 miles
Engine stalls while stopping or coasting to intersections. 4 indicents of this to date and vehicle has under 2000 miles. Dealer service has twice said they found no problems and there is no software or updates to address the problem. Running recommended octane fuel (premium).

- Oregon City, OR, USA

problem #1

Apr 302003

9-3 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,800 miles
I just bought a 2003 Saab 9-3 about a month ago and it has approx. 1800 miles on it. I was driving home from work and suddenly lost power steering followed by complete power. Luckily I was on a back road and pulled over safely. If I had been on the highway there may have been a different outcome. I feel that this is a very big safety issue.

- Beverly, MA, USA

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