Saab Story



I have a 2001 Saab 9-5 aero wagon with 120K miles. It runs great except when it refuses to start! This problem began ~ 2 years ago but only occurs occasionally in the spring and fall when the weather is cool(<60F) and the car has been parked for 12 hours or more. No problems in the winter. What’s more, I can sometimes avoid the problem by placing the car in neutral and rolling it (albeit slowing) down an incline while cranking it (it’s an auto transmission so this doesn’t make sense to me). The dealer has told me the problem is caused by the summer gas mixture (I use only brand name 93 octane) and that I just need to be patient, keep trying and the car will catch eventually. They also tell me the car will learn to adapt to the gas mixture as the season progresses. Well, the battery sometimes dies before the car starts and I have spent 5 hours so far this season waiting for tow trucks, etc. Once the car is started for the day, it runs flawlessly. HELP! What is causing this problem and what can I do to avoid it?


To hear an outlandish story about the summer gas mixture tells me that you were talking to a service advisor (writer if you prefer). NEVER put much faith into what most of these guys say. This is not a reflection on the basic type of person they are (many are great guys) but the majority are not mechanically inclined and do not wish to appear to be so to a customer. Therefore, they have a tendency to blab a lot of pure crap.

This may be a fuel pump issue so when was the last time the fuel filter was changed?
Other than that, and considering it could be any one of a number of things, you could drop by a local AutoZone, Checkers, etc. and have them pull the codes for you. They will perform this service for you free and it only takes a few minutes.
Post any results back here for further discussion.

(And a follow-up question. How long does it take to run the battery down?)


The fuel filter was changed 2 weeks ago and I had the problem again yesterday when it was cold and rainy (~50F). Had the car towed home and it started right up this a.m. When it’s cranking it sounds like it’s getting fuel and it’s just as perky as ever when it’s running - I’m a pretty aggressive driver, so I’d notice.
Are you sure they don’t add more ethanol to the gas in the warm summer months? Maybe it’s a regional thing (I’m in northern New England). Do you have any idea why I have never had the problem in the November to March timeframe?


The actually use more ethanol in the winter. I would still bet on the fuel pump. A clogged filter will do about the same, but since you replaced that my fist guess is the fuel pump.

About this [i] I had the problem again yesterday when it was cold and rainy  [/i] sounds like it may be the ignition system.  How old are the plugs and wires? 

You might also want to check to see if there are any error codes stored in the computer.  Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.


Thank you. I will have the error codes pulled this weekend and let you know what they are.

Meanwhile, you seem to know something about the fuel mixtures (“They actually use more ethanol in the winter”) So can you explain the ramifications of eliminating the MBTE in favor of ethanol to engine performance? It may just be coincidence but it seems all my problems began when they got rid of MTBE.


Had them look for error codes but there were none:( Also, after I had the problem last Thursday and the shop told me, “we charged the battery and it started right up”, I asked them to keep it overnight and try it again in the a.m. It started the next morning but they said it had “an extended crank”.

Question: If it were the fuel pump, would they be able to tell if they ‘checked to see if it is holding pressure’?


take a close look at the ignition switch(thats been misdiagnosed,more than I care to mention)most people throw a PCM at the problem.

and the car will never throw a code

just a thought.

and YES it will crank(just never wakes up the main relay)