Intermittent Electrical Interruption - '95 Saab 9-5

We love our car, it runs great, and everything works … most of the time. Sometimes electrical things don’t work, though. It’s all or nothing. Either we have power windows, turn signals, windshield wipers, and cruise control or we don’t. It might be off when you start the car and mysteriously come on while you’re driving. It might be on when you start the car and mysteriously go off while you’re driving. Or it might be anything in between. It doesn’t seem to matter if its sunny or raining, hot or cold, start or restart. The dealership told us the ignition needs to be replaced to the tune of ~$1000!, but behavior smacks of a loose wire. Is there an easier = cheaper fix? I don’t want to take the center console apart unless I’m confident I’m barking up the right tree…

The areas you mention having trouble are controlled through the ignition switch power so the dealer may be correct about the ignition switch being the trouble. Try moving the switch slightly when the trouble happens to see if you can make things work. Before taking anything apart the location of the problem needs to be identified first. If you work on this yourself I recommend you get service manual and a test light probe to test with. These things will save you time and money.

We’ve tried jiggling the switch, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Neither does stopping and restarting the car. But if the loose connection is inside the switch, having it replaced is sounding like the way to go. Thank you!

There is no such vehicle as a Saab 9-5 for 1995 model year. The first year that the 9-5 model was made available for the U.S. market was 1997 as a 1998 model year.

Are you referring to a 900 or a 9000, as those were the only models produced for that year.



LOL, you’re right, it’s a 2005 Saab 9-5, thank you.

While pondering this situation let me ask this. Are the windows/wipers/turn signals/cruise the only things acting up or does this also include lighting problems, engine running problems, etc.?

I know that it also includes the lighters or I guess it’s not pc to call them that anymore, but, you know, the thing we plug our phone charger into. As for anything outside the vehicle, I can’t really say for sure. The headlights still work so I never thought the running lights might behave differently. It’s clear it’s all the auxiliary stuff that goes, all the important stuff keeps on keepin’ on. No engine problems either. Nothing truly important in other words (unless you count the wipers in rainy Seattle important…)

I do not have a wiring schematic for this particular model of SAAB so I’m going to theorize a bit (a.k.a. guessing some) and the '05 instead of a 95 threw me off.

From my very hazy memory it seems like SAAB routed, or used to, those items you mention through the same fuse. Maybe in inspection of the fuse blade ends for corrosion or burning in the plastic would be in order.

SAAB also generally routes all of the electrical items (except the main starter motor battery cable) through a junction terminal. There are a number of wires routed from this terminal and if there is an corrosion or scale anywhere in that stack of wire ends it’s possible for certain things to be inoperative.
At one time those items you mention were fed from the same wire lead at that terminal.

This junction terminal is usually located near the battery on the fender, etc. and is located under a small plastic cover. Pop the cover, remove the nut, and clean all wire ends along with inspecting the fuse for any damage.
This may or may not be the problem. As I said, I don’t have a schematic for this model but at least those things are very easy to inspect and service if need be.

I do not believe the ignition switch is the issue here; which is what I’m assuming is being mentioned for a grand. Ouch.

I agree, same fuse, but it’s clean. I’ll look for the junction terminal. What I’m afraid of is finding it’s not the end of the wire under the hood but rather the end under the dash / center console i.e. the ignition switch. I hope you’re right! And thank you!

Your best investment to help you solve this problem is to get a factory service manual. You can get others and usually get by with them but you will never regret getting the best one available. Even if it costs you several hundred dollars the investment is well worth it in my book. Check Ebay for a manual. They can have some great deals at times.

I totally agree with your statement that the trouble smacks of a loose wire connection somewhere. I would install a small test light to the ignition switch power lead that ties to the areas you mention and monitor it while driving. If the light goes out with the trouble then you know the ignition switch is the fault. The wire drawing in the service manual will show you where to search for other possible trouble areas if the switch is ok.

The junction terminal is usually located close to the battery positive terminal.
The heavy main battery cable will not run to this terminal but heavier wiring (10 gauge, etc.) will. There is usually a small plastic cover (1 X 2 inches, etc.) over this terminal.

Aye and there’s the rub. If I could access the ignition switch, I would replace it myself.

It could be just a lazy return spring in your ignition switch. Next time these things go out, try turning the switch left to the run position.

Super suggestion, thank you!

Update: Inconsistency turns consistent. There is electricity in drive, no electricity in reverse. The electricity in drive is selective. The windshield wipers work, but not on all settings. The horn doesn’t work at all unless the car is not running i.e. it works if the alarm is tripped. The radio works normally. The exterior lights don’t work in reverse on the default factory setting, but they do on the manual setting. Clearly the issue is not the ignition switch. Is this a computer issue?

I don’t think it is a computer problem. The trouble may be due to a bad chassis ground though. Try running a temporary jumper from the negative battery terminal to a good ground point on the chassis. See if that changes things. If it does then clean the battery to chassis grounds.

After reading some more online, I’m pretty sure it’s the DICE unit, “If many items such as: daytime running lights, windshield wipers, power windows, and turn signals, stop working at the same time there could be a problem with the DICE unit. Sometimes these problems are intermittent. Check the DICE unit and ignition relay.” This according to the SAAB FAQs. Anyone care to weigh in on this? Thank you for your suggestion though.

Nope, it wasn’t the DICE unit…

I am having the exact same problem!! However, I have a 1994 Saab 900 s 2.5 v6.

I’ve been searching high and low for someone who has had this issue and it’s driving me crazy. The inconsistentcy is now consistent. Typically, this problem would occur as soon as I reversed, now it will happen at the most opportune times.

I tried turning the key to the left and sure enough most of the “auxiliary” electronics returned, but the rear defrost would not work. Once I pressed it though I could hear a clicking sound.

My concerns are of course that this is an ignition switch issue.

Was your issue resolved, and if so please let me know - this is driving me crazy!!



Our issue was resolved, but not by replacing the DICE unit unfortunately. That would have been the cheap fix so by all means try that first. In the end, we had to have the ignition switch replaced and it cost ~$1000!!! It wasn’t the switch itself that was faulty, that’s why I wasn’t buying it as an explanation until I learned the switch has two components to it, an electrical portion and a mechanical portion. The mechanical portion worked fine, the electrical portion kept getting shorted out every time we shifted into reverse because of the proximity of the shifter to the ignition switch. Good luck!