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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

A few months ago my '04 9-3 started acting a little funny for a short period after start up. Originally thought that it was due to the cold weather, but now it's nice out and it's still going on.

Basically, here's what happens. I start the car up and I feel some shaking (like the engine is having a hard time). If I watch the tach I can see RPMs start jumping around between the range of 1100-900ish. It moves up and down a while then levels off just over 1000...

When I put the car into drive (or reverse) after that I can feel the "struggle" again and the RPMs resume jumping for a few seconds. Sometimes during the jumps it dips too low and continues down to 0 as I stall out (I'm not moving yet).

If I get into drive without stalling (9:10 success rate) I feel major lagginess and spurtiness in the performance. If I accellerate, for example, the car will move forward, then start lagging (immediate lower accelleration), then suddenly it'll burst forward at a higher rate of accelleration. All the while the pressure on the gas pedal being held constant. Somtimes it will do this a few times.

After a few minutes it's all gone and everything behaves normally for the duration of the trip.

On Monday (April 3), I took the car to the dealer to do an annual check-up, fix a few minor problems, and take at a look at this issue. They said it wasn't a problem and could be from cold weather (it stalled that morning and it was nice out). They said that it was normal for a car to have these issues for a few minutes after it was started...

I definately know it's not cold weather and I'm experiencing these issues on good days too (today is 74 F and I got non-stall RPM bumping).

I think the "few minutes" thing is BS, too, because my car didn't start doing that until a few months ago and no car that I, my relatives, or my friends ever owned (excluding beater cars in high school back in the day) ever required someone to sit around for a minute or two before driving the thing.

Today, I noticed that the 'Check Engine' indicator in the dash was illuminated. No indication of anything in SID, though. Not sure how long this thing has been on, but I'm assuming the engineer would have seen it on Monday had it been on during the check-up.

Anyways, I have another appointment to drop my car off tomorrow (April 7) and having seen that indicator illuminate will force them to take me seriously this time.

I was wondering though, if any of you have had problems similar to this in the past and might have any questimates as to what may be wrong? Perhaps something in the fuel system... like the pump?

Thanks for your time and help!

Stan
 

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eisenb11 said:
On Monday (April 3), I took the car to the dealer to do an annual check-up, fix a few minor problems, and take at a look at this issue. They said it wasn't a problem and could be from cold weather (it stalled that morning and it was nice out). They said that it was normal for a car to have these issues for a few minutes after it was started...
Stan, sorry I can't help from a mechanical point of view, but if you tell me who it is I'll personally smack them upside the head for you. :roll:

If they say a new car like this is "supposed to be experiencing problems" they are not taking you seriously. Sounds like they didn't even check to see if there were any codes thrown (engine can throw codes without the CEL). Now that the CEL is on there DEFINATLY should be a code.
If the dealer has Caddies in there, they are used to & numb to people coming in & complaining about little things ("my seat's too hard/soft/color doesn't please me") and learn very good dismissive tactics.

I would suggest going in there with the CEL lit (if possible, tell them that the car is still under warranty, and that the engine is saying something is not performing to spec. Detail all the info you've posted so they understand it's not something you found yesterday & are not bringing this in on a whim, but rather with some data that backs up what you're saying.

#$&*! dealers.

My 900 does the same thing...but it's 11 years old. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Haha thanks Viscious. Didn't catch the person's name but I believe she was the garage/service manager over at Glassman's on Telegraph.

I could see them ignoring complaints about "my chair is too hard/soft" but complaints about "my car is stalling" isn't something to take lightly! :)

They do have my original complaint on file and know that this the second time I'm bringing the car about it... hopefully they'll actually take a look at the car to see what's wrong.

As you said, this time (at least it's the first time I noticed) the indicator is up so they definately should have some codes to look at.

Dad thinks it could be a fuel pump (guess it could be anything though)... I'm a computer software engineer so I have no idea what any of this stuff means... :p

Stan
 

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This could be so many things. It sounds like the car was going into limp mode intermittently. Often this means the ECM has lost communication with a sensor, meaning the sensor is bad and there is no "real" problem.

You are fortunate to have a CEL. That, hopefully, will point to the source of trouble. Sometimes sensors have to fail multiple times until the ECM considers it "official," and throws a CEL.
 

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My car randomly stumbles at idle in drive. My RPM gauge doesn't seem to be affected though. Of course Saab can't find anything wrong with it. :roll:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi all:

Just got back from dropping the car off at the dealer. Hopefully I'll get a call in a few hours with more information. I've no clue what's wrong, but I'm rather curious about it, though!

ctrlz:

Thanks for the info! Yeah, I'm pretty lucky that the CEL is on because it simplifies things - it definatively means there's something not happy in there.

Without the CEL on, Saab Service was more than inclined to give the "sitation normal - all ok".

Daggs:

Doh, sorry to hear that... hope everything gets figured out. It's hard to get stuff fixed when the problem is random/irreproducable.

Stan
 

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Discussion Starter #8
CHUCK85122 said:
spark plug or is cables?:roll:
Ding! Ding! Ding! Looks like we have a winner!

Just got a call back from Saab Service and it sounds like fuel fowling. They said there were deposits on my spark plugs that was causing my engine to misfire.

Was told they swapped out the plugs and that all is good now. Guess I'll find out for sure after a few days, but that was the only code getting thrown around (which set off the CEL).

I use premium, so it looks like I might have to change gas stations if they're they've got bad stuff/gunk in their gas.

Stan
 

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If you drive lots of short journeys, that could foul the plugs up. A good hard drive once in a while does wonders for burning off some of these deposits.

Try and use fuels with decent detergent packages - I always avoid supermarket fuel and get either Shell, BP, Mobil, Esso etc. One of the oil companies premium products. Favourite at the moment is BP Ultimate.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Aero_Adam:

Aye, I work about 2 miles away from home, hence lots of short trips all the time. Sounds like this can be a recurring problem for me then?

I estimate that it took around 10 months for me to get the plugs fowled up to the point where there was a noticable problem.

Aside from a hard drive now and then and uber gas, are there any other preventative measures I can take to keep this from recurring every 10 or so months?

Thanks,

Stan
 

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Not to be a stick in the mud, but wasn't there a guy who eneded up having his car bought back by Saab citing the reason "Driving habits not compatible with this car"?

Driving habits being short drives?

(Glad you got a response & resolution from the dealer though!)
 

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^ yes, and I find that crazy.. of course, I live 1 mile from work and would in a heart-beat have Saab buy my car (so I could get a new one)
 

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I had the exact same symptoms and got the exact same diagnosis & remedy (no CEL). I'm usually pretty religeous about feeding 89 octane at all fill-ups, and I stick to major brands of gas. Mine started doing that around month 4 or 5; I don't know how plugs can be fouled that fast. She's been acting strange lately, too, so I hope that issue hasn't come back.

Seems like a load of garbage to me that this would happen. I guess misery loves company though -- glad I'm not the only one who had this happen.
 

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Get out there and give the car a good run once a month - that should remove any deposits. I know that fuel varies greatly from country to country, but no amount of additives will prevent the plugs fouling if the engine is not fully warmed through.

No car would stand this kind of driving long term. I don't know whether the fact that Saab's are turbocharged means they run a lower compression ratio than everyone else and maybe suffer more?

Some years ago I was working with a Subaru Impreza WRX STi type Ra (succint name) and that would foul it's plugs on a weekly basis if you didn't give it a good caning. The Subaru dealer actually recommended that as a remedy....

In the UK, I tend to run 95 Octane minimum (can't get less readily) and typically us 97 / 98 RON depending on brand. Fuel is expensive here but at least it is the good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
From what I understand, short 1-2 mile drives isn't good on any car's spark plugs (and other things as well).

Called my dad up last night (retired GM guy) and he also mentioned the "burn off" solution. Said that once every week or two to take the thing out for a nice drive to get the gunk out of there.

He also mentioned that it might be in my best interest to get oil changes more often because of the wear & tear of those frequent short trips.

Guess living 2 miles from work has its bad aspects as well...

Stan

Added:

Oh, I believe the premium gas I've getting here is from Mobile and rated at 93 octane.
 
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