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  1. #1
    Saab Fan
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    22 Jan 2012
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Stumped on Parasitic Battery Drain, Key Barrel Not Responsible

    I have a parasitic battery drain . If I leave the battery connected, it just goes flat in a few days. At first I thought it was the old battery but it's not. I got a brand new battery a few weeks ago, same thing happened. I tested the voltage, both the new and old battery are fine. It's not the alternator, I get 14+ volts when the engine is idling. So now as an interim solution, I leave the battery (neg terminal) disconnected when parked overnight.

    When I turn off the engine and remove the key, I can still turn on the radio. I think this must have something to do with the battery drain. I looked around on the internet for a solution and thought it could be a "stuck" ignition key barrel. I took the key barrel out and gave it a good clean yesterday to make sure that it springs back properly every time, it does, it works great. Put the key barrel back and I can still turn the radio on after removing the key . I can also hear a buzzing on the driver's side of the dashboard when the battery is connected with everything turned off and the key removed. The buzzing goes away when i turn on the radio (with no key in ignition).

    I haven't installed anything new to the car. I've had a battery problem for a few months now, at first I thought it was a weak battery. But lately, it seems to be something else that is draining the battery faster than ever. As I said, even the brand new Bosch battery was drained in 3-4 days when I left it connected (I don't drive the car every day). All the electrics in the car works fine, with the exception of 2 of the door courtesy lights, and the bonnet alarm switch is disabled. I wouldn't have thought those items would be responsible for the battery drain anyway.

    Any idea anyone what it might be and how to go about troubleshooting and fixing it? From what I've read on the internet, it looks like fuse pulling would be the next thing to try. Would appreciate your comments and advice as always.

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    Last edited by juze; 10 February 2012 at 12:51.

  2. #2
    mdb99@bellsouth.net
    Oh! I Get It Now Mike Brennan's Avatar
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    21 Aug 2010
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    Williamsburg, Va. and Cedar RIver Mi.
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    01 95 Aero and Wagon, 09 93 Combi and an 08 95 Combi
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    Is the key cylinder popping up when you pull the key? Report back if it is, if it is not then you need to remove the key cylinder and clean it. I has to pop up when you pull the key. If it does not the car is not being shut down.

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  3. #3
    Saab Fan
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    22 Jan 2012
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brennan View Post
    Is the key cylinder popping up when you pull the key? Report back if it is, if it is not then you need to remove the key cylinder and clean it. I has to pop up when you pull the key. If it does not the car is not being shut down.
    Yes, it pops back nicely all the way up. I took the key barrel out to clean it yesterday.

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  4. #4
    Saab Nut Brad Lauzze's Avatar
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    17 Aug 2011
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    2011 9-3 Aero XWD Performance by Hirsch
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    The radio will always be able to turn on with no key in, mine does it and I believe it is set to shut off after about 25 minutes. At one point we had an '03 Linear wagon doing something similar, it ended up being the amp under the seat which we discovered through a sort of process of elimination disconnecting one component at a time (SID, radio, amp, ACC, etc) and checking what the draw was after each component. The buzzing noise from the dash makes me think that maybe the amp is staying powered up and feeding one of the dash speakers? Just thinking out loud, but anything is possible I guess.

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    2011 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD Performance by Hirsch "Wolffe"

  5. #5
    Saab Fan
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Lauzze View Post
    The radio will always be able to turn on with no key in, mine does it and I believe it is set to shut off after about 25 minutes. At one point we had an '03 Linear wagon doing something similar, it ended up being the amp under the seat which we discovered through a sort of process of elimination disconnecting one component at a time (SID, radio, amp, ACC, etc) and checking what the draw was after each component. The buzzing noise from the dash makes me think that maybe the amp is staying powered up and feeding one of the dash speakers? Just thinking out loud, but anything is possible I guess.
    The radio can be turned on any time without key I don't think it turns itself off. Everybody (from what I've read in other forums) seems to think that the radio should turn itself off when key is removed. The buzzing seems to me to be radio related, it's interesting you mentioned the amp, I'll look into that.

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  6. #6
    Saab Fan
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Just looked, also looked for amplifier related battery drain on the internet, sure enough, other people have had the same symptoms and problem. Thanks for the clue Brad.

    Apparently the amplifier draws 300mA, which accounts for the rapid drain. I managed to locate the amp, it's on the passenger foot well pillar behind the carpet. The buzz is definitely coming from the speakers/amp. I pulled fuse #13 (amp) and the buzz went away. Also tested battery voltage with/without fuse #13, it read 12.39v without #13 and 12.34v with fuse #13 in, no key in ignition. I have a hard time unplugging the connector to the amp. Didn't want to break anything so just left it as is. It looks to me that the amp and connector are the original factory installed unit, never been touched.

    I'm a little further along but still at a loss as to what to do next. Now, as an improved temporary fix, I can unplug fuse 13 instead of disconnecting the battery.
    I would disconnect the connectors and clean them with an electronic contact cleaner. But I'm reluctant to disturb anything because the stereo and amp do work as is. It would seem to me that it is what is supposed to be turning on and off the amplifier that is not working properly. Would that be the relay? How would I go about checking that? Others who have had the same problem managed to cure it by replacing the amp. That sounds like an overkill to me. I wouldn't want to do that without exhausting other options first, but at this point I don't know what those options are.

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  7. #7
    Saab Fan
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Ok, just read about relays. Narrowing it down now to the amplifier.

    I've figured how to remove the amp and disconnect the connector if I have to (push tab on top then swing out at right angle). I managed to find pin diagrams for both the connector to the amp and the head connector to the radio. Looking at the owners manual, I don't see any relays in the fuse boxes for the amp or audio system specifically.

    Does anyone know where the relay is for the amp? Would the relay be inside the amp? My instinct is to test the relay for the amp first. My understanding is that the relay actually powers the amp on and off. Would it be worthwhile unplugging the connectors to the amp at both ends (one to amp, the other to radio) and cleaning them with an electronics contact cleaner and putting everything back together? I'm wondering because the connectors were never touched so i don't see how they could have caused the fault in the first place.

    This is what I get now that I believe is draining the battery:

    ignition off and radio off: buzz => amp is powered on thus draining battery
    ignition on or radio on: no buzz
    fuse #13 removed: no buzz, amp off

    For now, I'm leaving fuse #13 out and the neg terminal to the battery disconnected.

    Brad, how did you solve the battery drain problem after figuring out that it was the amp? Did you replace the amp?

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  8. #8
    Saab Nut Brad Lauzze's Avatar
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    17 Aug 2011
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    2011 9-3 Aero XWD Performance by Hirsch
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    Well that's a tough question to answer. At the time, the customer had just dumped several thousands of dollars into other repairs on the car just a week before she had the problem with the amp, and decided she wasn't putting anymore into fixing the issue. So she just had us disconnect the amp and remove it, after that she sold the car and a few months later (just as I was leaving Saab,) the car came back with a parasitic draw (someone had re-installed the amp.) I'll call my old boss later this morning and see if he ever did figure it out.

    As a side note, what amp is in the car? Is it the black Harmon Kardon box? If so I have a known good spare in my inventory that I can send you. You're welcome to plug in and test to see if it fixes the issue.

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    2011 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD Performance by Hirsch "Wolffe"

  9. #9
    Saab Fan
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    2001 9-5 Wagon 2.3T
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    Thanks Brad. It is a black box so I think it is a Harmon Kardon. I'll clean the connectors to see if it makes any difference. I'll PM you about the amp. Thanks for the offer. I really appreciate it. For now, I leave fuse #13 out and the battery seems to be holding out well when I leave it connected.

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  10. #10

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    12 Dec 2012
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    Saab(s)
    2005 9-3 Arc
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    juze, what did you end up doing to fix the issue? My Saab experience the same issue. thanks!

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