Melted Ignition Cassette

2000 Saab 9-5 with 100k miles recently died. Trusty, reliable mechanic says the “ignition cassette melted.” Quick search reveals that the part sells for about $260 retail. I’m assuming several hours of labor to install, rewire, etc. Three questions:

1. Any guesses on how much the repair will ultimately cost?

2. Why does the cassette melt in the first place? Obviously, something got real hot. Is it something dangerous?

3. Fix it or get rid of it? We’ve spent $4k on repairs on this heap of metal in the past six months, btw. It just seems to keep costing more money.

  1. More than I would want to pay.

  2. Resistance and arcing caused the melting. Yes…vehicle fires start this way.

  3. Sell and and don’t look back. Invest in a more reliable vehicle.

Missileman summed it up very well, I think.

All I can add is the comment made by my brother’s trusted mechanic when my brother came to pick up the Saab after yet another major repair.

The mechanic said, “There’s just one thing that I don’t understand about Saabs”.
My brother replied, "Really, what’s that?"
The mechanic blurted out, “Why they bother to make these damned things”.

Thanks, missileman. Exactly the responses I was looking for, from somebody with the right credentials.

Thanks, VDC. Agreed. Don’t love this car. Fortunately, buying another Saab doesn’t appear to be much of an option.

DIC failure is a chronic SAAB problem. It’s literally a 10 minute repair, including 5 minutes for coffee. Consider replacing the spark plugs with the factory NGK ones, while you’re at it. Your mechanic should not charge you more than 1 hr labor to diagnose and R&R. Good luck.

Here’s the upshot. We replaced and repaired it. Mechanic said it was NOT a safety issue; we had an exceptionally wet spring in New England (such that residents of certain areas that were declared disaster areas even got extensions from the Feds on filing taxes!) Mechanic said water got into it; the water overheated and that’s what caused the melting. He spoke to the people at Saab; they’ve had several reports of this happening this year.

He got the part from a scrap yard, costing us nothing. The repair came to about $500 for labor. We did it simply because we HAVE to have two cars. To rent a car for a week or so while we went shopping would have cost that much anyway.

We’ve worked with this mechanic for over ten years on many cars; he’s honest and fair. I really pushed him on the safety issue – talked about my young children – he has young kids, too – and he assured us it’s fine.

With all that said, we will probably either put the car on Craig’s List or donate it to charity within the next two to three months. Just trying to figure out what to get and where to get the best deal.

Thanks to all for your responses.

ok, folks, This is a Direct Ignition Cassette and yes, there are / were some problems with the DIC in the internals. Saab does this so that there are NO spark plug wires, this unit fits directly on the plugs and has separate ignition circuit for each cyl. The 4 cyl has one 4 and the 6 syl has two 3s. There were / are recalls on these, but not for the 1999 model, don’t know of when year they went to.

New ones cost about $300 or so and yes, it does take about 1-2 mins to replace. Remove the top 4 torx screes, remove the cable, remove the unit, put the new one in and repeat in reverse.

$500 for labor is OMG, but used ones should cost about $100 to $200. The newer replacement ones seem to last pretty long.

It’s literally a 10 minute repair, including 5 minutes for coffee

yes, it does take about 1-2 mins to replace

We’ve worked with this mechanic for over ten years on many cars; he’s honest and fair.
The repair came to about $500 for labor.

Assuming all of the above are correct, then he’s also one of the most expensive mechanics on the planet with regard to labor charges. That free module wasn’t cheap when you factor in what he charged you to go get it…or perhaps a re-assessment of the fair and honest part is in order…

Seriously?!? $500 in labor only to replace a DI cassette? I’ve done that in 5 minutes, on the side of the road, and I’m a female with limited car repair experience. It’s as easy as can be. Saabs have long had problems with DI cassettes…many of us carry a spare (hence the side of the road repair ;)). When my husband goes to junk yards looking for parts for his truck, he keeps his eye out for recently arrived Saab 9-5s and grabs the DI cassettes for me, there are two spares in the garage right now ;). Did this with my previous 9000 too.

You most certainly need to revisit the “fair and honest” assessment of your mechanic.