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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I have a Manual 2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T that I bought in 2010 from southern State's and had imported into Canada.

I am having a problem with acceleration and I think its related to cold whether. And, I am writing from Canada eh ;ol;! So its -23 celcius today where I am (FML why do I live here :roll:). I will provide as much information as possible, so that you are hopefully able to help me.
Keep in mind we only have one Saab Specialist in my city. Also keep in mind, I LOVE Driving this car and baby it as much as possible.

Last winter as the cold approached I got my car serviced (including oil and spark plugs). Almost immediately afterwards, the engine light started coming on. I also started noticing that during acceleration the car would drop power. Took the car to the mechanic who indicated that his ODBII suggested a problem with pedal sensor. So, I got pedal replaced. Solved the problem, but it has returned again this year. I am starting to think it is something else. Certain days the car will not exhibit any problems, seemingly at random. Other days it can be as bad as next to no acceleration off the start. I could have my foot to the floor, but the car won't rev higher than 1000 and will slowly accelerate. Then in 3rd gear there is a sudden thrust or two.

Few things I have noted:
- wasn't a problem the winter beforehand.
- some saabcentral sites suggested a switch to hotter spark plugs and/or regular gas (manual suggests 89, so i switched down to 87) for people who have had similar problems (but they didn't indicate a pedal sensor problem).
- other websites suggest a fuel pump problem.
- it seems more prevalent at certain RPM bands (i.e. 2000-2500rpm)
- at 100-120km/h even with cruise control on I can see my tachometer (RPM gauge) drop and pick up 250 rpm randomly.
- there don't seems to be any problems while I am going over 120km/h.

Let me know if there is additional informtation I can provide. My mechanic, isn't sure either. He is suggesting another pair of pedals, but they are $200 + install, not a yearly thing I want to get into.

Your help and time are much appreciated!
 

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Do you notice any difference when your engine is warm vs. cold?
Any codes?
What spark plugs were put in?
Were they gapped correctly?
 

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I think you would be better off running higher octane than 89, forget about 87…

There are many threads that the cost savings over lower octane fuel is basically negated by worse gas mileage.

Does Canada use the same octane rating system as the US?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When I get driving and the engine warms up, the problem still persists. Codes suggest pedal sensor. I can't remember the exact number of the error (it was last year).

Yes, Canada (51st state of america, and possibly 52nd if you guys get puerto rico first) uses the same octane rating system. We have 87,89, 91, and at some stations 94.

I don't think that it actually is a sensor problem because with the clutch in, or car in neutral there is no problem revving. Its only when you start to pull the cluth out. A good description is the way you would feel if you tried to accelerate off a start from 2nd (its doable, but holy hell is it slow) and no matter how hard you push on the accelerator, car isn't going to accelerate any faster. Another example, if I rev to 3500 or 4000 rpm and drop the clutch, car drops to 1000 rpm and slowly accelerates.

Again, after 2500 rpm or so, there is some of "bucking", but not as bad as pre-stalling. When this is happening, I can see the tachometre moving around (varying 200 to 400 rpm), and this occurs in every gear.

The mechanic here in Ottawa is very good with old saabs, not sure about these GM made ones. Not sure which Spark plugs he put in or about gapping.

People behind me are always pissed because my acceleration is that slow. its embarrassing. lol.
Ashwin
 

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Definately find out what plugs where installed and at what gap like Diggs asked. AVguy is right to, use the higher grade fuel.
Get it scanned again and see what code(s) come up. Once you get that info let us know and then we can probably help you out a bit better ;ol;
 

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I'm having the same problem, not sure if it's cold weather induced, but did start when it got cold.

I'm skeptical that octane is the problem. The manufacturer rates it for 87 octane and it notes in the owners manual that if you are driving aggressively or under load (hills) you should go with higher octane. This makes sense since the ECU is monitoring knock and dials back the timing as needed. That will give poorer performance, but allow 87 octane fuel. The _only_ thing higher octane does is suppress knock... it does not give better fuel economy. [1] [2]

Cold weather is unlikely to have much of an effect on knock in a warm engine, but if it did it would retard it. [3]

All that said, I have been putting 89 or 91 in since it's new (to me), and I like to push it a bit, but still experiencing the same problems as you.
 

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You will get better mpg with premium gas because your ecu is setup to run on premium gas. Your car can run on 87 safely, but your performance and mpg suffer. Regular cars that are meant to run on 87 won't see any improvements running premium, but cars meant to run on premium will. What you "cited" was cars designed to run on 87...
Quoting from that exact article... "To wrap things up: no, you won’t see a power or fuel efficiency increase by running high octane fuel in an engine that has been tuned and designed for Regular gas"

Check your plugs and coils. Check vacuum hoses as well, could develop a small leak with the cold thin air
 

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Ok, I'll have to measure that on the Saab to verify. I've tried it on my Explorer and Honda Civic with no difference to mileage.

Thanks for the pointers, will check those.
 

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Do everything you've been told to do so far. The diagnostic scan hopefully will show something up. It could be so many things, boost leak? Do you hear any noises louder than normal?
Vac leak.
MAF sensor.
MAP sensor.
Throttle body.
And so on. Maybe try another garage? Not saying your saab guy is useless but sometimes another person might have some other ideas.
 

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You are at -9 Fahrenheit which is cold certainly but the manual for the 2.0 says to use 90 octane. Mostly we have 87, 89 and 93 locally.

Now I know my wife constantly puts 87 in her 09, 2.0 and we have been near zero for the past week or so on and off and there has been no change in performance at all.

I thought I heard of some fuel additives for up north called Heet or something and my guess is that it is not a matter of octane but a matter of vapor pressure if anything .. ok .. fuel contamination is a consideration too.

Altitude and temp are two variables that allow the gasoline to become a "gas" and vaporize.

One other thing is the way the electronics are responding. During our cold spell both her car and mine, an 08 and an 09, have each had the dashboard light up with all kinds of dire messages and she even called me from along side the road last week and I had her turn it off and then back on and sure enough the error lights all went bye-bye. Except for the one telling me that the cold ate my Xenon bulb which it did. My guess is that something has (due to the cold), screwed something up.

Suggestion before you go nuts or spend lots of money. Do you have a pal with a heated garage, or a garage where you could warm the car up with perhaps a few kero heaters or a salamander (portable propane).

After the car is warm and toasty, start it and see if there is any difference.

Of course I don't have to warn a Canadian of running a car or any combustion device in a garage where monoxide can kill without odors. Sorry for the "mommy" in me coming out but twice when I was doing phone duty I had usually older people call about not feeling well with a headache and twice had the local PD and fire respond to find an improper use of a heater. Lucky they didn't die but we lost an old couple last year when the power went out and they ran a generator in the garage.

It's just a wacky thought but if it is temp related that should tell you. Another poster mentioned gap .. hmmmmm? You mentioned "old Saabs" and things like that but then wouldn't GM cars all over town be having problems or with electronics, any brand since there are common suppliers throughout Europe ... like Bosch and such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Guys.
Thanks for the responses.
@arwak: My car has never had starting problems on the start.
@AVguy: My manual says 89 for best performance. I put 94 on my last fill up as you suggested, but it does nothing to negate the problem. On my previous fill up (when I was using 87) I put in some fuel injection cleaner. I normally use 89.

@Diggs: I have a new mechanic now that is going to look into it on Friday. I will let you know exactly what error codes come up and also if there are any knocks etc. registered. Last year when this was happening there wasn't a knocking issue.

@nkrptd: I am going to try new spark plugs for starters and find out exactly what was put in my car previously.

I have been reading some articles about plugs. Does going OEM, vs. 3rd party matter as long as they have the same markings/model and are gapp'd properly? Would I be better off with a specific plug for my car? And, what type (copper, iridium, platinum) plugs would you guys recommend?

In response to heat. I am fairly confident that as it gets warmer outside the problem goes away, suggesting it isn't a engine problem. The thermodynamist (i made that up) says that perhaps something that isn't insulated and doesn't warm up on it own is expanding due to the cold weather and causing this problem. Or, in the case of the spark plugs, its possible the spark being generated isn't strong enough.

I guess its possible that I am having the same problem from one year to the next but the cause is different, but I highly doubt it since all the symptoms are the same.
However, just to reiterate, if its cold outside, the problem persists even if the engine warms up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@Daz944. I will check it out and let everyone know. Absolutely no weird noises. Just simply no transfer of power. Engine can rev to 3-4000rpm and it would still take me 10-15 secs to 100km/h. Things only start to come back alive by the time I get to 3 or 4th gear.
 

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I have a similar problem but to a bit lesser degree. When it's below freezing outside, mine also is quite slow to accelerate off the line and then once it's moved about 250 feet or so it gets the same surge in power like everything is back to normal. It doesn't really seem to be engine related though, more so transmission. Engine starts right up, sounds and revs just fine, it's just very sluggish accelerating in first and second gear and even going into Drive - I have the 5 speed automatic. The transmission fluid only has ~10,000 miles on it, transmission about 122,000 now. I have new plugs (gapped properly for my tune), engine oil, always run 93 octane in it, MAF is clean, air filter is clean, no engine codes, etc.

Here's the best analogy I can think of: When pipes freeze in your house, and you thaw them out - that few seconds before they start flowing again the water trickles and then all at once opens up and flows normally. That's exactly how it feels with the transmission - like the fluid is partially frozen and then once you get the car moved a few hundred feet it quickly lets loose and acts completely normal. Not a big deal, just pretty strange.
 

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I'm not a mechanic, but I had similar symptoms on a Nissan. Plus some kind of surging. They replaced the MAF sensor and fixed it immediately.
 

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I had a 2000 95 that caused me a lot of grief. I remember that a similar issue disappeared after changing my CPS. My issue was not temperature related.

Hope it helps.

I'm having the same problem, not sure if it's cold weather induced, but did start when it got cold.

I'm skeptical that octane is the problem. The manufacturer rates it for 87 octane and it notes in the owners manual that if you are driving aggressively or under load (hills) you should go with higher octane. This makes sense since the ECU is monitoring knock and dials back the timing as needed. That will give poorer performance, but allow 87 octane fuel. The _only_ thing higher octane does is suppress knock... it does not give better fuel economy. [1] [2]

Cold weather is unlikely to have much of an effect on knock in a warm engine, but if it did it would retard it. [3]

All that said, I have been putting 89 or 91 in since it's new (to me), and I like to push it a bit, but still experiencing the same problems as you.
 

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Sorry, it was a while ago. Must say that the KW Saab dealer was not very helpful - once towed to them, they were unable to read the code. They had no clue what to do and of course the car started behaving for a while.

I read the forum and took an initiative to have the CPS changed, but they refused to do the work just because they could not diagnose it. I bought CPS from them and had a small time garage replace it. The part was $180 and labour was only about $60.

The car behaved well until the turbo went :-(

Did you get any codes with the issue?
 

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It's the fuel, but not the way you think it is

I had a very similar problem with my 9-5 the last couple winters. I too, tried all the stuff you see listed here... CPS, throttle body, different octane gas, plugs. A whole lot more. Finally after the second winter of crappy acceleration, sputtering, and outright stalling (rare, but crazy annoying), I finally took it into the dealership. $90 to scan it with the Tech II, and $90 to flash the computer for Midwestern gas. I had bought the car used, and it was previously driven in New York. Different winter blend gas in Michigan. I strongly suspect you have the same issue. Get it tuned for your region's gas blend and you'll get rid if the issue.
 
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