2004 Saab 9-3
3 Defect Investigations from the NHTSA
NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 Saab 9-3
The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2004 Saab 9-3, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:
INVESTIGATION: SEAT BELT RETRACTOR
NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE09048
Component(s): Seat Belts
Summary: ODI has received eight complaints of front seat belt retractors breaking on model year 2004 Saab 9-3 vehicles.a common failure scenario involves the driver hearing a noise and the belt suddenly losing tension.a non-functioning seat belt increases the risk and severity of injury in the event of a crash. General Motors initiated a recall in May 2004 (04V226) to replace both front seat belts because of a similar problem in 25,355 model year 2003 and 5,980 model year 2004 Saab 9-3 sedans.the retractors contained an automatic tensioning system (ats), a design feature and mechanism to enhance occupant comfort by reducing shoulder belt pressure.investigation found that the cable in the ats mechanism was damaged during the supplier's manufacturing process.the failures occurred when the cable broke. Recall 04V226 did not cover model year 2004 9-3 sedans manufactured after September 30, 2004, and before May 10, 2004, which incorporated modified ats manufacturing processes.the current investigation finds that the ats on the drivers' seats on the post-recall population is failing prematurely.this is a different problem than the manufacturing defect that led to the original recall.General Motors now will recall the balance of 2004 Saab 9-3 sedan driver seats with the ats feature.not all 2004 9-3 seat belt retractors are subject to recall.the retractors on 9-3 sedan passenger seats, due to their less frequent use than drivers' seats, do not have the same risk of premature failure as those on the drivers' seats.Saab will replace the passenger side retractors for 10 years from new vehicle date of sale under a special coverage program.model year 2004 9-3 convertibles have a different seat/seat belt design and construction.Saab 9-3 vehicles manufactured on and after May 10, 2004, do not have the ats feature and therefore are not subject to this problem.
INVESTIGATION: Front Suspension Coil Spring Fracture
NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA08026
Component(s): Suspension:Front:Springs:Coil Springs
Summary: To date, ODI is aware of 142 non-duplicative complaints related to the alleged defect.In addition, ODI is aware of 2,626 subject vehicles with one or more warranty claims related to the alleged defect.In total, ODI is aware of 2,714 unique subject vehicles that have experienced one or more front suspension coil spring fractures.ODI is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the alleged defect.The engineering design and testing data supplied by GM, along with the frequency of consumer complaints and warranty claims related to the alleged defect, tends to support the position that, in general, the coil springs that fractured on many subject vehicles did not achieve the expected service life.However, in regard to the subject vehicles, a front suspension coil spring fracture itself has little safety consequence, as evidenced by the minimal impact on vehicle ride and handling and by the number of drivers who were unaware of the failure condition for some time until alerted by service personnel.The ratio of tire punctures to coil spring fractures appears low and there are no reports of crashes, deaths or injuries related to the alleged defect. A safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.The agency will continue to monitor this issue and will take further action if warranted by the circumstances.See the EA08-026 Engineering Analysis Closing Report for more details.
INVESTIGATION: FRONT SUSPENSION COIL SPRING FRACTURE
NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE08051
Component(s): Suspension:Front:Springs:Coil Springs
Summary: On August 28, 2008, the Office Of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a preliminary evaluation (PE08-051) to investigate alleged front suspension coil spring fractures in certain model year (MY) 2003-2004 Saab 9-3 vehicles sold or registered in "salt belt" states.(note: For purposes of this investigation, the "salt belt" includes Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin).subsequent analysis of data provided by General Motors Corp. (GM) has led the Agency to expand the scope of this investigation to include all MY 2003-2006 Saab 9-3 vehicles sold or registered in "salt belt" states. To date, ODI is aware of 53 non-duplicative complaints and/or field reports that allege coil spring fracture in the subject vehicles, including 23 alleging the fractured spring damaged a tire, with 16 of those involving a tire puncture.analysis of warranty data provided by GM identified 1,218 claims paid to repair subject vehicles that experienced the alleged defect, of which 138 vehicles also suffered damage to the adjacent tire and of those, 79 vehicles experienced a tire puncture.ODI is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the alleged defect. GM made several design changes to the coil springs and/or mcpherson strut assemblies used in the subject vehicles in an apparent effort to address the alleged defect condition.however, GM maintains that the subject vehicles remain well controlled in the event of tire puncture, that the rate of tire puncture incidents related to coil spring fractures is low, and that the alleged defect does not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.accordingly, this investigation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA08-026) to further study the safety consequences of the alleged defect.