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  1. #1

    Join Date
    23 Oct 2018
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    Saab(s)
    2003 9-3 Vector
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    Electrical gremlins and Immobilizer Failure.... help please!

    Hi fellow Saabers! I could really use some help with the following....any guidance would be greatly appreciated. The dash shows an Immobilizer Failure. That could mean several things, so let me tell you the specific symptoms....

    Vehicle: 2003 9-3 Vector, 85k miles

    Key symptoms:
    - "Immobilizer Failure" displayed on dash
    - Power door locks aren't functioning (from the key or from the door controls)
    - Recurring sound near the driver's fuse box: Sound comes on for 10 seconds, then off for 5 seconds. And repeats in that pattern nonstop. Occurs when the car is turned on or off. See link below for video. The only way I can get it to stop is by disconnecting the battery. I think it might be the BCM or a short nearby, but I'm just guessing.
    - Headlight controls aren't functioning: lights stay on, even when the light switch is turned to off
    - Secondary dash lights stay on indefinitely (even when car is turned off)
    - Interior cabin fan not working (may or may not be related, as that stopped running a week before the immobilizer failure and above symptoms)

    Other info:
    - The engine still turns on, so it doesn't seem like an ignition issue. Some of the other electronics (power windows and radio) still work.
    - I thought it could be the battery, but I checked the voltage, and it seems to be fine (11.9 volts with engine off, and 14.3 with engine on). Correct me if that's not within an acceptable range.
    - Not relevant: the headlight leveling error (as seen in the video)....that's been an error for a while now, and it's not related to or as pressing as the current issue.

    Where I need help:
    - Any thoughts on what this could be? A short (location?), the BCM, anything else?
    - Any guidance on how to precisely diagnose this? I realize I'll probably have to connect a tech 2, but I'm trying to minimize my costs (so would like to avoid multiple visits to the shop).
    - Also, if you know of any good Saab shops in the San Francisco bay area that really know their electrical systems (and won't charge me an arm and a leg), I'm all ears.

    Videos:
    - Description of recurring sound
    - Overview of symptoms

    Thank you so much!

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  2. #2
    Bruno
    Saab Addict swisssaabist's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2016
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    Saab(s)
    9-5 ARC Wagon 2002 2 t auto engine B205E
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    I can't do more for you than indicate you to download the WIS you can find there http://saabworld.net/showthread.php?t=33310


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  3. #3
    Saab Owner Digger's Avatar
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    28 Oct 2016
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    2006 9-3 2.0t SportCombi
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    The sound is a chattering relay and it's going to take some poking around to find out if it is the cause or a symptom. Since the fuses are easier to get to than relays start by pulling Fuses 7 & 9 to narrow things down a bit. That gets the BCM part way out of the equation and let us know what happens.

    Like Swiss suggested, download the WIS, the wire diagrams can save you hours of tail chasing disassembly.

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  4. #4

    Join Date
    23 Oct 2018
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    2003 9-3 Vector
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    Thanks for the quick replies, gentlemen!

    I'll try the fuses, though I might try the battery first. I misspoke earlier....it's 11.9 volts with the engine off and 14.3 with it on. The 11.9 is pretty low, but would that cause the kind of problems I'm describing? Particularly that chattering relay sound?

    I'll get the battery fully recharged and see if that fixes the issue. Will keep you posted.

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  5. #5
    Bruno
    Saab Addict swisssaabist's Avatar
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    9-5 ARC Wagon 2002 2 t auto engine B205E
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    when engine running your numbers must be from 14.3 to 14.7 so that's a little low, battery current must be from 11.7-9 to 12.7-9

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  6. #6
    Saab Owner Digger's Avatar
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    2006 9-3 2.0t SportCombi
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    Quote Originally Posted by VinceM View Post
    Thanks for the quick replies, gentlemen!

    I'll try the fuses, though I might try the battery first. I misspoke earlier....it's 11.9 volts with the engine off and 14.3 with it on. The 11.9 is pretty low, but would that cause the kind of problems I'm describing? Particularly that chattering relay sound?

    I'll get the battery fully recharged and see if that fixes the issue. Will keep you posted.

    I have seen this kind of thing before in other cars and the 11.9 is more a symptom of continuous current draw than a cause. Best to start by pulling and checking one fuse at a time to narrow down the circuits you need to chase.

    This car has 3 fuse panels and multiple computers, so don't rule out the ridiculous as possible causes, it could be something as simple as a shorted contact in a relay, or as bazar as a bad tranny switch. Be methodical and note every time pulling a fuse changes a symptom.

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  7. #7

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    23 Oct 2018
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    2003 9-3 Vector
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    Thanks Digger! You were right....it wasn't the battery. Got that fully charged, and that didn't solve any of the issues.

    Pulling fuse 9 did make a difference though. It stopped the BCM (at least I think it was the BCM) from making that recurring chattering sound. A new sound replaced it....a softer set of constant clicks. Sounds like a broken relay or potentially a short causing that relay to misfire. I'll take a look at the wiring diagram this wknd.

    Happy Friday!

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  8. #8
    Saab Owner Digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VinceM View Post
    Thanks Digger! You were right....it wasn't the battery. Got that fully charged, and that didn't solve any of the issues.

    Pulling fuse 9 did make a difference though. It stopped the BCM (at least I think it was the BCM) from making that recurring chattering sound. A new sound replaced it....a softer set of constant clicks. Sounds like a broken relay or potentially a short causing that relay to misfire. I'll take a look at the wiring diagram this wknd.

    Happy Friday!
    Wiring diagrams don't always tell you what you need to know, or even where to start looking when you chase a computer amplified problem. A dozen years ago I pulled seats, carpet and trim panels out of a Ford chasing what had to be an intermittent shorted cable bundle that killed the radio when the back up lights were on. It took me all day to find the problem in the transmission switch and another day to put the car back together. A few years ago I did virtually the same thing chasing down a radio memory problem in a Chrysler, what sounded like a clicking relay turned out to be a circuit breaker and the radio memory problem was actually caused by a bad engine compartment light connection.

    Pull all of your fuses one at a time until you kill the new click and then look at you wire diagrams and everything that gets power from the same feed. Factory service manuals are written to repair new cars, ten years on the road can cause problems never considered possible when the manuals were written.

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