2001 saab radomly won't start or even turn over

Asked by maverickjohnson Sep 21, 2011 at 09:35 PM about the 2001 Saab 9-3

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 2001 saab  won't start sometimes or even turn over. All the gauges and the radio come on but that's it and now my buttons on my key won't even work and there is a dinging sound that won't go off while the door is open and the light doesn't dim ON when you pull the key out of the ignition ( it used to do this) Any ideas of what is going on?

26 Answers


Hi there, Firstly, does your car start well first thing in the morning? If it does, fine. But then if it won't start for the rest of the day, say after you have done your groceries and then this issue happens...like intermittently Well, if that is the case, it could be due to your neutral safety switch being faulty.(ebay sells some used ones) I used to have this problem on my 2001 9-3 Intermittent no start problem - you turn the key to start, all of your interior/exterior lights work fine but nothing happens. 5, 10, 30 minutes pass and then it starts. The neutral safety switch sits onto the top of your transmission and lets the car know if it is in park, neutral, etc. If it doesn't think you are in either P or N, then guess what, no electricity gets to the starter. Try cycling your gear selector a bunch of times to see if you can then get it to start in either P or N. Chances are it may work some times. But it gets real frustrating, especailly when you are in a hurry. And believe me that's when it relly won't start. Another trick I learn't and with much sucess is to pour water over the neutral safety switch and then get in and start your engine, it'll surely fire. I do hope this will help you. Cheers.

53 people found this helpful.

Im having this exact problem now with my 2006 9-3. Ive had it back to the dealership 3 times and they have replaced $3,000 worth of parts. Guess what.....still happening.

20 people found this helpful.

its the neutral saftey switch , its a default apparently in our saabs, where if it gets 2 hot under the battery somewhere it wont start, i live in florida the way i learned to start it was to turn key, then put the gear up and down from park to the other end then press gas and it will suddenly start its a royal pain, I want to sell mine its falling apart, the florida weather everything is cracking falling off, I just over it, i want a scooter sell my car for parts, im tired of wasting money after money on a car thats only done 88,000 i mean really??? a toyota or a many cars go on forever ive had nothing but trouble I paid 6900 for it and now its a mess, Im very depressed. just dont even want to look at it.now i hafve 3 new problems the past 3 weeks, CRAZY??

17 people found this helpful.

WOW donmcut if you looked it up online you could have saved the 3k, its a known problem with our saabs, i wish you knew b4 , but mecahnics dont care most time they just want our cash...I said most not all their are very nice 1s 2, but find me one in florida....lol

10 people found this helpful.

Sometimes the DIC connections get corroded if not installed correctly, like mine. I'm a N00B, but if I scrape the connections it works again.

7 people found this helpful.

It was the neutral safety switch in my 9-5.

9 people found this helpful.

Its the neutral safety switch 4-500 bucks for the part. Just replaced it on our 2001 Saab 9-3 ..

13 people found this helpful.

I had the neutral safty switch dis engaged and it's been fine until now! It's 90 in Ct. And it won't turn over!

7 people found this helpful.

Have 201 9/3 se convert. Love it. 216,500 on it. Have replaced averthing. Battery, battery cables and Bosch starter. Works great until it gets hot out. Start ok in morning drive to McD for coffee then leave to start and it won't Worked every day this week until Sat. Tried several times on Sat even late Sat night when it was cooler. Tried 8:am this morning after a cool night. Started right up. Will take to shop in am and let them now about this problem. Love this car. Bought it new

10 people found this helpful.

I have Saab 9-5 2.3 turbo it just deid when was drive down the road now it won't start at all can anyone help please

21 people found this helpful.

Had anyone had any problems w the gas gauge not working? I've searched for a fuse or relay online and through parts stores they can't seem to figure it out either. When the computer says refill fuel now I get topped off at 5-6 dollars every time.

9 people found this helpful.

Where exactly is the neutral safety switch found.

73 people found this helpful.

Put battery in wont start

5 people found this helpful.

I also had this problem for years -- starts fine sometimes, other times nothing in 2001 turbo convertible. Drove me crazy. I'd give it a break for 10 or so minutes, and it was good to go again (not fun if you're in a hurry) .Here's what I learned: The Saab has a really complex electrical system: when the amplifier (which is connected to the CD/radio) starts to go bad (due to age or moisture) it sucks the battery dry. The amp can be on the fritz for months or even years before it finally kicks out altogether. Here's the solution: 1. Disconnect the amplifier and get a decent stereo (or use an iPod/iPad) -- in the convertible it's in the kick panel in the passenger side; in the other models it's under the driver's side seat. 2. Get a new battery -- the one you have has likely been badly battered the bad amp. 3. Go about your merry way -- it'll start every time. How can I say this with confidence? I realized my battery was over 5 years old -- when I replaced it, the Saab started every time. Then, I blew out the 16-year-old amp during a beautiful fall day. Bought another amp on eBay and installed it. Went shopping -- car wouldn't start! Removed amp. Installed a new Kenwood radio from Best Buy with JBL speakers from Crutchfield. NO PROBLEMS EVER! This problem of not starting nearly sent my beautiful Saab to the junk yard: I'm glad I took the time to figure out how to fix it. Oh, and the new stereo --- unbelievable! If I had known that the amp was such junk I would have done this years ago.

14 people found this helpful.

2003 Saab ran fine went shopping came out nothing. Won’t crank over. Had friend try jumping nothing. Sat for 2 hours then all of a sudden it started. Got it home. Started this am ran for 15 was fine. Turned off tryed starting n nothing. Could it b a bad battery

16 people found this helpful.

G 'day this happened to me just once !Went out buy milk , parked came back key in no respo oknse.People tried to help nothing ,R,A.C Q.he said it's most likely a sensor ,either can shaft or crank shaft. Was not expensive as Saab parts go.lHad no problem since,Hope it helps.

4 people found this helpful.

I have a 2002 Saab 93. After replacing the neutral safety switch, crankshaft sensor, spark plugs, fuel filter and battery it still with not start. what have I done wrong or am missing

9 people found this helpful.

Try replacing the direct Ignition coil cassette, if that has be replaced then it's your neutral safety switch.

1 people found this helpful.

I have the same problem but with a manual transmission, so presume this wouldn't be the neutral safety switch. any other options?

3 people found this helpful.

My 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero Wagon shares many of these symptoms and it took me a fresh battery (not it), several times getting stranded, an OBD2 scanner and some patience to figure it out. I traced my issue to a CAN bus failure that also periodically affects the instrument cluster when driving. My problem seems rooted in the wiring harness and connector that feed the antilock brake module. When I lose connection while driving, the instrument panel lights up like a Christmas tree and when it begins to respond again, I have a check engine light (CAN bus failure) and traction control failure. I suspect that the failure on the bus communicates an abnormal signal to the ECU which bricks the car via anti theft system when it occurs at startup. Same symptoms: wait for an unspecific amount of time and it starts with a diagnostic code U0212 (Lost communication with steering column module) stored on the ECU. My fuel gauge hovers around Empty which points to fuel pump shutoff by the ECU. I suspect a bad connection although I haven't ruled out electromagnetic interference or a ground issue on the bus which has a few poorly twisted pairs. Try this: turn ignition to on like you are attempting to start the vehicle. If it starts, GREAT! If it doesn't, and you note an issue with the fuel gauge, lower the driver's side window so you can hear the instrument panel chime from outside the vehicle. Pop the hood with the key still set to on and poke around the connector and wiring harness associated with the ABS module that is located between the firewall and the battery box. If you hear a chime, turn off the ignition and try to start again. The crazy thing is that I was ready to replace the column integration module based on the diagnostic code when it seems to be associated with the harness under the hood...Euro-gremlins. I'll keep gathering data and report back.

8 people found this helpful.

This happens to me intermittently since I bought my Saab. There is a common problem with the security settings and the battery in the security system. They get really weak really quick and if the battery is weak in the security system it puts the car in neutral safety mode hence why it won't turn over but the electric comes on. If you replace that battery you shouldn't have any problems going forward. If you're in a rush and trying to get it done quickly temporarily what I do is I flip a bunch of switches like the lights mirrors windows lock the car walk about 30 feet away unlock the car and try and turn it over. It tends to work most times I've never had it fail just sometimes takes a few tries

2 people found this helpful.

I was having intermittent start problems with my 2001 9-5. After being stranded one time too many I decided to troubleshoot the problem myself. Narrowed the fault to a bad NSS (Neutral safety switch) located just below the battery shelf in the engine compartment. Ordered online and replaced the part. Haven't missed a start since. From reading similar threads this seems to be the main culprit. Hope this helps

7 people found this helpful.

Hey Harlan. My 06 aero is having the same problem. Thinking it's the abs module itself. Any luck with yours?


Bvd1118-Seems like a wire harness wiggle test brings it back for me. I'm waiting for a harder and more permanent failure before I replace the ABS module. I haven't ruled out ground faults and loops yet but I do have an intermittent left turning signal fault that could be related to a dirty ground. I poked around a bit with a multimeter and I need to mess with the ABS module some more and clean the grounds. Right now, I can live with an intermittent issue that can be "fixed" with 30 seconds of wire wiggling.

2 people found this helpful.

I pulled the abs module and re soldered all the connections. It seems I had a bad connection somewhere that was causing the issue. There is a youtube video online covering this. 1000 miles later and no issues have reemerged. Beats having to buy a new abs module!

Same issues - in my case, the fix was the Crankshaft Position Sensor - a $19-$30 part - labor is around $85-$125

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