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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, this is a pretty crappy way to join a forum but here goes.

Let me preface this by saying I'm in no way a gear-head or mechanically adept. I'm part of the wimpy generation that doesn't do their own mechanical work.

I'm the proud owner (perhaps until now!) owner of a 99 Saab 9-3. I've had it since October, and haven't had any issues till now.

Yesterday, I was driving for a couple of hours on an errand. Just as I started the car on the way back, I noticed that my drivers windows didnt go down. I pulled over, restarted the car, and tried the window again and it worked. I thought it was weird, but I was about an hour away from home, so I didnt really have a choice and drove home.

Today, I went to start the car to switch parking sides (I live in NY, so don't necessarily drive that often, but have to switch sides every couple of days). The car let out a giant wheezing noise when i cranked the keys. Turning the key a little bit back again, made it sound more normal, but this has never happened before. Tried it a few times, weird wheezing sound like a cat is stuck in the engine, goes off again.

Some of the electrical elements had also stopped functioning....the windows didnt work, wipers didnt work, signal lights didnt work. and the headlines only seemed to work when it was in daylight mode.

Any idea what this could be? Is this just a sign of the battery dying, or something else? I did manage to drive it around the block, but it definitely didn't seem as sprightly as usual. I'm not sure I can drive it anywhere, as not having lights or signals is not a safe way to drive (then again, most NY drivers seem to forego either or both of these anyway).

Again, my apologies if this is a rudimentary problem and I sound like an idiot. After 9 years of living in a city without a car, my mechanical skills are all but gone (if they were even ever there).
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Not sure if this helps, but there are no unusual messages on the SID. The display seems to be working fine....although I didnt try the stereo itself.
 

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So, the key gets stuck in the IGN position, and you have to manually return it to the ON position? Sounds like you might have a sticky ignition switch, which is a pretty common problem due to the location of the key(stuff easily falls in to it).

If it is sticking, the starter is remaining engaged while you're driving, which will definitely make a weird sound and could be affecting the function of your other electronics. I'm pretty sure one of the computers in the car ceases operation of the windows, lights, etc while the starter is engaged to make sure it is supply with the proper amperage.

If this is in fact the case, try getting some graphite spray lubricant, made specifically for key barrels, and spray a bit in the key hole.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks neverendingninja. I'm not sure that's quite the problem though, as it's not necessarily sticking, and the wheezing starts as soon as I turn the key (it does go away once I turn it back to ON). I'll have to double check though how much, if any, it's sticking.

Could a belt be any issue here?
 

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So, the key gets stuck in the IGN position, and you have to manually return it to the ON position? Sounds like you might have a sticky ignition switch, which is a pretty common problem due to the location of the key(stuff easily falls in to it).

If it is sticking, the starter is remaining engaged while you're driving, which will definitely make a weird sound and could be affecting the function of your other electronics. I'm pretty sure one of the computers in the car ceases operation of the windows, lights, etc while the starter is engaged to make sure it is supply with the proper amperage.

If this is in fact the case, try getting some graphite spray lubricant, made specifically for key barrels, and spray a bit in the key hole.

Good luck!
Thanks neverendingninja. I'm not sure that's quite the problem though, as it's not necessarily sticking, and the wheezing starts as soon as I turn the key (it does go away once I turn it back to ON that's the starter remaining engaged - it then disegages when the key is turned back to the on position [which it should do by itself]). I'll have to double check though how much, if any, it's sticking.

Could a belt be any issue here?
I second what neverending... said. If the starter is remaining enganged it will most certainly make a noise like a cat is stuck in the engine, and it would also account for lack of lights etc.
 

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You really shouldn't have to turn the key back to ON. Once the engine starts, you should just release the key, and it will return back to ON. You might try using a little oil in the clyinder to see if it helps. But the ignition switch is comprised of two parts. The top lock cylinder section and the bottom electical contact section. Maybe someone will post where the return spring is. I suspect it's in the lower section... Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I took a look again this morning, and I think you guys might be right after all. The key cranks all the way to Ignition, but doesnt come back, and the whining goes away once I manually do it. The electrical was back on again too.

So it looks like it might be the starter at fault here....I'm going to try to find some lubricant and give that a shot. I would assume there might also be some form of spring mechanism in there too that might be shot.
 

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I'd be very careful when starting the engine because you can burn up the starter if the key sticks on too long, but you can also strip some teeth off the flywheel which will require removing the transmission to change... Ron
 

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^^ what he said.

Just take care of the sticking ignition and the problem should ge away. It's not the starter at fault here, it's doing what it's supposed to. It's the ignitions fault for staying in the start position which is causing the starter to try to start the car when the engine's already running. Since the starter operates in the opposite direction of the flywheel, some problems could definatly be caused. Least of which might be a burnt out starter, as Ron said. Good luck, hopefully the fix will be as easy as lubing the ignition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all help guys. I bought some graphite lube over lunch, and I'll definitely give it a shot and see what happens when I get home. Here's hoping!
 

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Myabe.. unhook the battery and keep working it while lubricating the switch. This way you arent jamming the starter drive into the flywheel repeatedly until it frees up All you need is a 13mm wrench, unhook the negative (black) terminal on the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry for the late update, I've been away for the last week.

Unfortunately, the graphite spray didn't do the trick. I had to take it in to the mechanic and he confirmed it was the ignition switch, which then had to be replaced. Fairly small part, but definitely not cheap....funny how a GM part for a Saab is almost $100 more than it was for the Audi/BMW.

Thanks again for all the help on this, at least I know how some graphite spray to keep all my other keyholes lubed up!
 

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Sorry for the late update, I've been away for the last week.

Unfortunately, the graphite spray didn't do the trick. I had to take it in to the mechanic and he confirmed it was the ignition switch, which then had to be replaced. Fairly small part, but definitely not cheap....funny how a GM part for a Saab is almost $100 more than it was for the Audi/BMW.

Thanks again for all the help on this, at least I know how some graphite spray to keep all my other keyholes lubed up!
Ugh. Wish I had seen this post earlier. I had the EXACT same issue. It didn't need to be replaced. Just cleaned. It takes about 30min to remove the cylinder from the car and remove the electrical part of the switch from the barrel. After that a bit of CARB cleaner and some light oil will fix it. (my G/F dumped her coffee on the center and it got in the ignition)

And NEVER EVER put graphite in the ignition lock. The second any moisture, coffee, soda-pop, etc gets in it graphite turns to mud. Mud=bad.
use oil, it coats the parts and any liquid ingested by the switch will mostly run out under the center console.

(A small drill to remove the (2) rivets post holding the electronics to the barrel will be needed as well as.. umm... I believe I used (2) self tapping #0 screws about 3/8" long to reattach the barrel to the electronics)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the note Kowalsker.....definitely would've been something to try if I knew about it earlier.

However, even after the new ignition AND a new starter.....I'm still having a few issues with starting. There are no electrical issues anymore like there were before the replacements, but every once in a while, when I start the ignition I get the wheezing sound without the motor catching, and it takes 3-4 starts to get the motor going. It's somewhat random (about 1 in 5 driving sessions), so it's somewhat hard to replicate. After talking with the mechanic on the phone, he thinks the cause might be that the flywheel itself might have worn down in parts, which is why it doesn't catch sometimes.

Does anyone have an idea how complex/expensive it is to replace a flywheel? While definitely concerned about it, as long as it starts, I don't necessarily want to throw too much money at the problem. However I might be selling the car within a year or so, and am not sure how much of a red flag this is to a potential buyer (if I was looking at this car, and this happened, i'd probably walk away pretty quickly!). Otherwise, the car looks and drivers great.....it's just this nagging starting issue that is unresolved.
 

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When I was in my teens, my dad bought a one-year-old Mercedes from a neighbor. This car had a strange intermittent starting problem, where sometimes the starter would just click, and other times it would make strange noises.

They had to replace the flywheel, and my dad showed us the old one, which was toothless in a roughly 3 inch area around it. Once the flywheel had been replaced the problem never came back.
 
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