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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

After years of wrenching on my 2001 9-5, thanks in every way to this forum, my Saab has reached its end of days.

While on the highway at heavy-traffic speeds, smoke started billowing out of the hood. I pulled over and grabbed what I could from the cabin. A fire-truck happened to be in the vicinity, and managed to get the fire out in about 10 minutes. Fire never made it to the cabin, but it did its work under the hood.

Anyhow, I've towed it home and will probably part it out before I scrap it, but in the meantime I was trying to figure out what happened:

There was a trail of fluid from the highway to where I stopped, so I assumed transmission or engine oil leak, but both are still full. In fact the only fluid that is empty is the brake reservoir (because the reservoir melted!).

I've posted some pictures in my OneDrive just in case anyone feels like being a detective. It looks like most of the fire damage was near the rear of the engine, but the fans also melted.

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=3C2A000E6E0223F8!183&authkey=!ADeTvUO0BzutnoU&ithint=folder%2cjpg

I should state that when I first pulled over, I had the lapse in judgement to open the hood to take a peak at everything, and the flame was relatively small. If I had a fire extinguisher in the trunk, this would have been no problem.

At any rate, thanks for the years of help. Best of luck to the rest of the community.

-JD
 

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Sure looks like an electrical fire and not a fuel fire. (that would have been much worse)

It's hard to figure out electrical stuff since the fire and melting insulation makes more stuff short and more fire sources.


But I do agree with you that it's probably beyond salvage at this point, you'll spend more than it would cost to replace it by far!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for taking a look, guys. I guess I hadn't even considered electrical. Is that common? What's the typical chain of events? A short catches some sludge on fire? My engine bay wasn't squeaky clean, but it wasn't drowning in oil either.

But it looks and seems probable. Thanks again. It's really nice of you to offer your thoughts.
 

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Electrical fires seem to be pretty rare in these cars, but I knew of a girl around here who had a beautiful 9000 Aero with every performance modification you could imagine. I saw it a couple of times, and it was impressive. Her car burned up in an electrical fire, and I imagine its engine was clean enough to eat off of. There's enough combustible material in the engine compartment to burn without any exposed oil or sludge. That's really too bad that your car had to go that way, but thankfully no one got hurt!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Couldn't agree more, Jeremy R. I've never even seen a car fire, let alone been in one. Not for the faint of heart. I was happy enough to have remembered my phone and wallet before the bad***** firefighters took an axe to the hood. RIP Black Bear.
 

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Thanks for taking a look, guys. I guess I hadn't even considered electrical. Is that common? What's the typical chain of events? A short catches some sludge on fire? My engine bay wasn't squeaky clean, but it wasn't drowning in oil either.

But it looks and seems probable. Thanks again. It's really nice of you to offer your thoughts.
Generally you get a short that heats some stuff up, the plastic insulation starts to burn, more stuff shorts, gets hotter, and then plastic continues to get consumed.

fuel fires are very explosive and burn a lot of stuff.

I couldn't see in the photos if the fuel injectors were still there. That's where fuel fires go so if they're still there I would be certain of an electrical fire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I couldn't see in the photos if the fuel injectors were still there. That's where fuel fires go so if they're still there I would be certain of an electrical fire.

Yessir, they're still there. Nice to have some closure, thanks for the intel. Found a scrapper to come haul her away and give me 200 bucks. Not so bad.
 

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Many years ago I was driving my sister's Toyota Corolla, little car. When I parked outside supermarket I walked passed the front and noticed flame from the front brake. The fluid is quite flammable. Tube must have leaked it onto the disc. In my case the fire didn't spread, but it flared about a foot at one point. I actually blew it out because I was desperate. I like the comment about the extinguisher and we should all keep one in the boot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When I had the luxury of my 1990 Jeep YJ, I ALWAYS had an extinguisher attached to the B Pillar. That gas-hog used to keep me white-knuckled every time it was hotter than 90F outside, but it never caught fire. Go figure that my Saab would burn up before the Jeep.

Looking back at everything, I'm pretty surprised a small extinguisher isn't standard issue for all trunk kits. Sad that it took these circumstances, but it will be from now on.
 

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If you own an old car an extinguisher is a must. In fact in many judged car shows you MUST show your extinguisher in order to be judged.

I have one in the Volvo, never thought to get one for the other cars.
 

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Thanks for taking a look, guys. I guess I hadn't even considered electrical. Is that common?
Electrical fires seem to be pretty rare in these cars, but I knew of a girl around here who had a beautiful 9000 Aero with every performance modification you could imagine. I saw it a couple of times, and it was impressive. Her car burned up in an electrical fire, and I imagine its engine was clean enough to eat off of. There's enough combustible material in the engine compartment to burn without any exposed oil or sludge. That's really too bad that your car had to go that way, but thankfully no one got hurt!
I actually never would have thought electrical until unclemiltie said it. I don't think it's very common, but what do I know haha
Electrical fires in Trionic cars are relatively rare, but not completely unheard of. Complaints of engine fires were notably higher for V6 Trionic 7 engines over four cylinder.

NHTSA Action Number : PE05017
NHTSA Recall Campaign Number : 2 recalls found (View)
Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s): SAAB / 9-3 1999-2002
SAAB / 9-3 CONVERTIBLE 1999-2002
SAAB / 9-5 1999-2002
Manufacturer(s) :
SAAB CARS USA, INC.
Component(s) :
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION:MODULE


ODI opened PE05-017 based on 35 reports of alleged engine stalling due to the failure of the IDM "cassette" on the subject vehicles. All complainants reported that the engine shut down suddenly without warning and most reported that the vehicle would not restart. In 3 incidents, the complainants reported smoke and/or fire resulted from the IDM failure. During PE05-017, additional failure data was identified as noted in the failure report summary above. The complaint data represents incidents where the complainants alleged a stall or fire. On September 13, 2005, General Motors (GM) notified NHTSA of a safety defect on 95,081 MY 2000-2002 Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles with 4-cylinder gasoline engines and 8,117 my 2001 9-5 vehicles with 6- cylinder gasoline engines (Recall 05V-399). The notification stated that "certain vehicles within these populations may experience overheating and burnout of the isolated gated bipolar transistor (IGBT) within the IDM due to increased susceptibility to electrical loads. Overheating of the IGBT occurs most often at engine start-up for both a 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engine, but it may also occur while the engine is running. When the IDM fails on a 4-cylinder while it is running, the engine may stall without warning, with no ability to be restarted. "When the IDM fails on a 6-cylinder engine while it is running, the driver will initially experience reduced power and rough operation because the engine will only be running on three cylinders. The check engine light will flash. If the driver continues, unburnt fuel in the exhaust can cause thermal damage to the catalytic converter. The engine may stall and not restart. Thermal damage to other underhood components and the underbody may also result from prolonged driving." The recall population encompasses 84% of the stalling and fire complaints (215 for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines and 36 for vehicles with 6-cylinder engines). The 36 months in service (MIS) stalling rates for each model year of recalled vehicles with 4-cylinder engines were all greater than two percent. Although the 36 MIS stall rate for the recalled my 2001 vehicles with V6 engines was lower, at 1.3 percent, these vehicles also had the highest rate of confirmed (open flame verified) fires at 62 per 100,000 vehicles. GM will instruct owners to bring their vehicles to a dealer for IDM inspection and replacement, if necessary. Consequently, this investigation is closed. ODI will monitor the effectiveness of the scope and remedy of GM's action and take further action if warranted.
 

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Now, I do apologize for bringing up a thread from 3 years ago, but I could not help but chime in about my '97 Saab 900 S. I was driving to work on Sunday and I heard a slight bang and smoke started to billow out underneath the hood, It melted the brake fluid container, but I think it may have been related to the battery wires being frayed and they may have made contact with the hood liner. I got the fire put out within about 2 minutes. I went to local store near where my car was and I put it out with an extinguisher. The engine will NOT start and i think it was seized as it got part of the engine in flames as well. I am sad to see her go, but it reinforced my upgrade to an '08 9-3
 
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