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Discussion Starter #1
The Remote range in our cars is terrible. I've always assumed it was due to the design having the antenna buried down low. in the body Sort of like trying to listen to a radio in a basement, the waves are stopped by all the steel of the body shell. Holding the remote up high would always get better response... radio waves were making it over the sides of the body shell.

FYI - A few years ago, a couple enterprising gents extended the stock antenna in a 3d/5d to the roof area. They just used a single wire hooked to the end of the stock unit and ran it to the B pillar and up above the headliner. I wasn't expecting it to work well since the antenna wavelength would be very wrong the way they did it, but they reported great results. Not applicable to a 'vert.

While poking around in the console yet again, I decided to try something. There's actually a lot of spare lead to the remote antenna unit from where it comes out of the harness about halfway back on the console so it can get where it sits in the end cap. I routed it in the opposite direction, running the cable through the clip that the ignition wires run through, along the right hand side of the shifter, and up behind the center console. There was enough cable to get the antenna module about to where the console turns upright. I pulled the antenna wire up and taped it in place with (what else) duct tape to the back side of the console. It made it up to about the ACC level.

Just that small increase in height, perhaps six inches at most , at least doubled my remote range. I'm now good for 35-50 feet in initial tests. Before I was in the 10-25 foot range with the remote held high to get even that.

I think the next step is to harvest a couple connectors and move the antenna unit itself up into one of the A pillars or perhaps into the trim above the windshield. Or maybe just the underside of the dash would be enough to get a great range.
 

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Very interesting! I've noticed how bad the range is on mine. Seems like I have to be right outside the door to get it to work, even with a fresh battery in the remote. I'd be quite happy with a solid 40 ft range.

Looking through the Haynes manual, removing the ignition switch immobiliser antenna sounds like the only tricky / delicate part of removing the console. If I mess with it, I'll be sure to disconnect the battery first after my vacuuming under the seat adventure that set off the SRS light... haha.

I read a posting where someone swore they increased the range by simply removing a fuse for the obsolete OnStar system which may have caused interference. I see no mention of a fuse for that system though. After some searching, the fuse may be located in the harness that goes to the module, which is located in the trunk, on the right side. Interesting theory.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Naw, my On-star has been disconnected and removed from the car for years. Didn't make it any better. (FYI - you should disconnect it - if you get in an accident it will continually try to call home, never connecting, until your battery is dead).

Center console is easy to work on, although it's not a bad idea to disconnect the battery as you'll be playing around in the area of the main SRS controller. But, I've done this many times and never set off the SRS as a result.

Here's every detail you need to know:

  • Remove rear seat ashtray or cover panel if you don't have the ashtray
  • Take out torx screw bottom center; pull up and remove rear console cover
  • Look in the rear of the console and you'll see the remote antenna. The module is just flopping around in there. The antenna may be clipped to some holes in the rear of the console (9-3) or just floating in there (ng900). Unclip the antenna wire from the rear of the console if needed.
  • Remove two 10mm nuts holding rear of the console to floor
  • Twist key key cylinder cover/antenna 1/8" clockwise and pull up.
  • Push in clip on cover/antenna connector, disconnect connector, put unit aside
  • Stick a finger in the hole around the key cylinder and pull up. The cover for that area of the console will come off
  • Remove threaded torx screw in front of console (revealed when you took the cover off).
  • Pry up the interior light switch from console, lever up connector clip, disconnect and put aside.
  • Pry up the window switch pack using a 1/4" screwdriver in the slot on the front side of the switch. Put masking tape on the driver to a avoid scratching the console
  • Pull the switch up and squeeze the connector anchor clip at one end. Lever the connector out (other end is like a hinge). Remove switch and put aside.
  • If you have rear seat heaters, push or pry the switch up and disconnect it.
  • Lift the rear of the console up and over the rear seat heating duct. It may help to move the seats to a different position.
  • Continue to lift the rear pulling it back a little as you do. There are clips on either side of the console were it meets the front part of the console (only 1/4" long, they just line it up, nothing holds them in). Pull the console back a half inch to get them disconnected.
  • Pull the console up and off. It's a little tight between the seats, but it will come out.
When you reassemble, make sure you:
  • line up the two "clips" on the front edges of the center console behind the edges of the front console. These tend to slide back out as you work to get everything in place. Just check before you start putting screws in that they are in place. The front console will be able to move a fair amount so you can push it around to get things lined up.
  • Make sure you feed the wires for the interior light switch, the window switch, and key cylinder antenna through the console holes or at least where you can grab them with pliers as you lower it into place.
  • take note of how the emergency brake brushes are clipped in underneath the console while you have it out in case one disconnects during the console install
  • If you decide to leave the remote antenna where it is instead of moving it to the front after getting in the, make sure it hangs out the rear of the console as you put it in place.
  • when you re-install the rear cover of the console, make sure the air duct hooks up to the air duct on the rear cover. It's hard to not do that, but take note of the connection.
That's from memory... I might have missed a small step but likely not. I've been in there way too many times.
 

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Wow... that's thorough. I think I'll print that out for future reference. Thanks!

Makes sense about unplugging the OnStar. I assume you can just disconnect the module and the controls for it as well? I have a spare panel blank to put in its place.

Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, basicaly you just pull the two on-star cables out of the box behind the right side trunk panel. There's a TSB, and looking back at it I see it's got the same procedure I wrote out above... I could have saved some typing :) . The TSB also has you snipping the offending control wire from the SRSbox connecter. I don't think anyone does that part.

I don't have a TSB number since the PDF I have was dumped out of AllData. But, if you can't find it in the WIS, PM me an email address and I will send it to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Phase II antenna update:

TL, DR: I took an antenna unit from a junk car along with about a foot of the wiring/plug that plugs into it. My antenna is now located under the dash, above the SID area.

Details: I moved to the next step. I used some u-pull scraps to extend the antenna up to the top of the dash using plug-in wiring.

There don't seem to be any plugs that match the connector that plugs into the antenna unit, so I turned the spare antenna unit a "plug". The plug is attached to a stock chunk of wire with the normal antenna plug on the other end. So, I can plug my existing vehicle wiring into the new "plug" and get another foot of extension to move the antenna further up.

Step 0 - Go to the u-pull and get an antenna unit from under the console. Get as much wire that connects to it as you can. That will be about a foot unless you want to pull the driver's seat.

Step 0 - Sourced parts




Step 1 - Unit opened. Unsolder the 4 connector pins from the circuit board.


 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Step 2 - Strip the end of your sourced cable. Tin. Cut to 1/8" and solder to pins of removed connector:

Note 1: marking the colors before starting dissassembly with a piece of tape as shown is a good idea

Note 2: The white wire isn't needed. It's actually dead ended inside the harness a few inches up.

Note 3: I suggest shrink wrap on the wires before soldering.




Step 3 - Shrink wrapped:

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Step 4: Cut a small slot in the old housing to allow your new wire to pass through. I just snipped with diaganol cutters

I wrapped some spare Saab sticky wire wrapping tape around the shrink wrapped section. Sourced from the antenna lead being scrapped.



Step 5 - Snapped together and ready for installation:

 

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Discussion Starter #9
Step 6 - Note that my antenna wire had already been pulled the other way in the console so the stock connector was in the area next to the shifter. See post 1 in this thread.

I plugged the new "connector" into the stock cable. I ran the cable built above up trough the console and beside the radio and cupholder (I did have the cupholder out to ease working the wire up. It's already back in for this photo).

New antenna wire was pushed up above the heating duct as a final step so that it's sitting just below the dash pad:

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Testing? Haven't done it yet as my car is in the garage. I will be out in some parking lots today and test the range. I will report back later today or tomorrow on how well it works.

If it's not significantly better, I will redo the job with a longer cable soldered between the connector and plug so that I can locate the antenna up in the "roof" area above the mirror. Stay tuned.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Today's testing shows some more improvement but I was hoping for "works from 75 feet away in any direction without holding the remote abnormally high" - you know, like most every other car :- ) . I don't think it's there yet. I'll test a little more tomorrow but I think I'm going to have to take it to the top (literally... extend the wire so the antenna can be at roof height).

Stay tuned.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Effective range seems to be 30-35', which is 2x to 10x better than before depending on the day and the direction of the wind. I'm going to try to execute the roof (inner windshield molding) option tomorrow. It's occurred to me that there may be a declining value in antenna placement due to a longer wire dropping more of the signal before it gets to the twice. Measuring that or designing an amplifier is beyond my equipment level and skill set... so we'll just see how it goes brute force style and go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Woohoo! Big change tonight. I added some cable and routed the antenna into the area above the windshield (only tall thing in a 'vert) and placed it in a center spot that has an opening in the sheet metal to the rear. It's running horizontally.

From the left and right side, my range is 60 - 90 feet most of the time - as long as you are willing to hold the remote at shoulder height. From the front, it's 60 feet. Same rule on shoulder height.

Oddly, from directly in back of the car, response is terrible. The terrible zone extends out in a pie shaped area about 30 degrees off each rear corner. This seems counter-intuitive as the rear direction is the only one in which the antenna is actually completely exposed with no sheet metal shielding it. My new theory is that perhaps the sheet metal actually helps by picking up the signal and then radiating it inside the car, where the antenna sees it. Other than that, I have no explanation. Before I button it all back up, I'm going to try hiding the antenna completely in the sheet metal and we'll see if rear reception improves.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
And, the winner is...

I tried the extended antenna in a lot of different configurations. Vertical, horizontal, circular, U-shaped, L-shaped, behind steel, outside of it. Some worked better in some directions, some better in others.

The winner is running down the A-pillar right behind the plastic trim i.e. a 45 degree angle.
That gives me about a 50' range in all directions. You still have to hold the remote up high for extended reception. I'm good with this solution.

The only bad news is all this testing has triggered the "Service Theft Alarm" message when I start the car. I think that means my batteries are dead. I didn't think they had anything to do with the lock/unlock process, so maybe it's just mad at me for excessive use. If it keeps coming on, I'll have to dig into the Tech II for the alleged "use horn" option for the alarm system... then get to replacing the batteries and caps.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Wrapping it all up... you 3d/5d guys will have to innovate a little as you won't have the same sheet metal as the 'vert, but you'll get the idea.

I ran the long extension cable I added under the glove box and up to the A-pillar. You see it in the yellow protection sheath coming up the front of the pillar. It's the gray wire once it leaves the sheath but it changes over to a Saab-wrapped wire once it gets to the top. (FYI - I used a 4 conductor "security system" wire from Home Depot for the extension cable. It's a good gauge, stranded copper, and comes in a sheath).

Once I got to the top, I took a turn into the windshield frame. The Saab Antenna module/circuit board is in there. I trimmed off the two anchor hole tabs at the ends to fit it in easier. Those tabs don't even get used in the stock location so off they came.

The wire feeds out of the module and comes out a hole at the top of the A-pillar. Its a little hard to see it in the photo, but it's taped down the outside of the A-Pillar with black tape at the prescribed 45 degree angle. It's thin enough that the A-Pillar cover fits right over it.
271296
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just realized I left the photo out of the final post. It was a bit of work, but I had some work to do in the console as well as on the A-pillars (although that was a no-go) so I tied it in to "you're going to have it all open anyway".

But, the poor remote range on these has bugged me for a couple decades now. I hope the solution works out in the field. My testing has been in an open lot so avoid a dirty test, so we'll see what happens in day to day operations.
 
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