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2008 Saab 9-3 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2008 Saab 9-3 based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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14
Known Problems

2.0L engines may become low on engine coolant with no cause found for the coolant loss. Our technicians tell us than in some cases the engine block may require replacement due to porosity.

A well-documented and well-known issue with the Saab 9-3 built between 2003-2011 is harsh shifting from the 6-speed automatic transmission, and slight slippage between gears. This has been noted as hesitation to accelerate, especially from a stop.

Mainly, software issues have been to blame for these mishaps, but mechanical malfunctions related to shift solenoids and the valve body have also been major causes. Finally, the automatic transmissions in these models are sold as ‘sealed for life’, yet the transmission fluid does not seem to last the complete service life of the vehicle.

Correction of these issues often requires a simple software update, meaning the vehicle only needs to be plugged in, and the transmission controller receives new programming meant to fix these drivability concerns. In cases where this does not correct concerns, the transmission must be removed, inspected, and repaired, possibly requiring a complete rebuild.  

 

To mitigate these issues from escalating to a full transmission rebuild, many technicians recommend replacing the transmission fluid at regular intervals, yet the manufacturer has never offered this guidance. 

The thermo contact in the AC compressor can fail, which means the compressor may fail to engage or disengage.

A knocking noise while turning and/or a banging noise when driving on rough roads may develop in the front suspension. This type of noise is commonly caused by a front strut thrust bearing damaged due to water intrusion. Our technicians tell us revised thrust bearings are available to correct this concern.

If the ignition switch is turned to the "lock" position when the vehicle speed is over 5km/hour, the ignition key cannot be removed from the lock cylinder. This is not a defect, but a normal design feature. In order to remove the key: Turn the ignition to the "on" position, wait several seconds, turn ignition to "lock" and remove the key.

The anti-lock brake system (ABS) and/or traction control light may illuminate. This can be caused by corrosion in the (ABS) wire harness connector at the right front wheel speed sensor due to water intrusion.  Corroded connectors should be cleaned or replaced as necessary to correct this concern.

The direct ignition cassette can fail causing the engine to die while driving, and/or it will crank but start. Diagnosis may also discover trouble codes for random misfires.

The fuel pump check valve may have failed if the engine requires more cranking before it starts. The check valve is a one way valve that maintains the pressure in the fuel lines so the engine is easier to start after it has sat a while.

The Check Engine Light may come on because the electronic throttle body has failed. Other symptoms include loss of acceleration, a high idle or failure to return to idle, and difficulty starting.

With reverse gear engaged, the parking assist may not function correctly. Our technicians tell us updated parking assist software is available which can correct this concern.

On two wheel drive vehicles the electronic stability program (ESP) Off light may be illuminated storing a trouble code C013108 with no apparent related problem. Our technicians tell us reprogramming the control unit with updated software should resolve this issue.

The license plate lights may not work due to corrosion caused by water intrusion into the light assembly. Cleaning the corrosion and resealing the lamps to prevent water entry should correct this concern.

A high or low beam failure may be indicated on the instrument panel display even though the lamps are working properly. Our technicians tell us reprogramming the control module with upgraded software may remedy the problem.