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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

Well I own a 1998 Saab 900S, with a 2.3L non-turbo engine. It's been a great car, bought it last year and has had no problems.

Today, this morning, I started it up and started going. The battery symbol on the dash came up, and started chiming that "Ding dong" chime from the SID... but it dinged and dinged and dinged, it repeated nonstop. Also, the red triangle with the exclamation point was flickering. I got on the highway, and as the engine went faster the chime went away, the triangle disappeared, but the battery symbol remained but was only seemingly half lit, faded substantially. As a test, i took it out of gear on the highway and then it all came back, bright battery light, the triangle, and the chime.

When i got off the highway and onto some smaller, slower roads it all came back, and when i parked at work and turned off the ignition, when i tried to restart, it would not catch. Also, the ABS Brakes light came on. After work, i came out, and the car started right up. I revved the engine for about 5 minutes, and went on my way. Immediately, the same things started happening. I didn't even get a quarter mile when my radio turned off, followed by my windshield wipers slowing and then stopping, my lights going off.

Then, my engine became unresponsive. I would have it out of gear and foot to the floor, and the engine would waver between 1 and 2k RPMs, and then finally i pulled over, switched on my hazards, and shut the car off.

I had some people try to jumpstart the car with no success. Now the car doesn't even crank when you turn the key, just a couple flickering lights on the dash. I left it there, and am deeply concerned at this point.

To me, it sounds like the alternator. It has been extremely wet and rainy here in New England the past couple days, lots of puddles and downpours. I don't know if it's relevant.

Anyway, could someone shed some light? What happened? What should I do next? To me, it sounds like the alternator. Thank you for any help. I love this car, and have put some work into it already. I bought it for only about 2700, but i love the car far too much to let it go, if it is even that far gone. I just don't know. Thank you
 

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Try a new battery. If it's totally discharged, it won't start from a jump.

You might also try charging it, but if it's toast it's toast.

Last time I needed a replaced my battery was after the old one crapped out with no warning (at least none I had picked up on). It was un-jumpable but would crank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The battery looks great, not saying it couldn't be the problem but it looks fairly new. I will look into the battery, is there anything else that could be the problem?
 

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What is the voltage aceoss the battery terminals? A battery might look great but have less than the required volts inside.

It does sound like the alternator though. Be glad that the serpentine belt didn't fail and you overheated the engine... Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The temp remained in the normal, and I shut it down within 2 minutes of the throttle control going... so hopefully i didnt do any damage? I wouldn't even know. And I don't know the voltage, i would check but I'm nowhere near the car at the moment, it's a couple towns over, still sitting there in the rain.
 

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You really need a digital volt meter (DVM). Harbor Freight has them for less than $10, but I don't see any close to you. Lowes and Home Depot also have inexpensive voltmeters. A DVM can be used to test AC and DC voltages as well as Ohms - for testing light bulbs and other continuety testing... Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, that sound pretty useful. I'll have to pick one of them up. Now my question is, what should I do with it now? Is there a chance that it's just really wet from all the rain and puddles and it needs to dry off? Should i bring it to an auto shop?
 

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Take a fully charged battery with you when you go back to the car.

Even if the alternator is bad, perhaps you'll be able to get back home (or to a shop) just running on the battery. At the least, it will help diagnose where the problem is at.

Ron makes a good point about the serpentine belt. My alternator completely seized when it went, so I wouldn't have been able to drive the car. If such is the case with you, you're stuck with a tow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I should buy a new battery, plug it in, and see if gets drained or not? Is this the sort of thing that a regular mechanic can do, or do I have to hunt for a good saab specialist?
 

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First step for me would be to undo the battery cables, thoroughly clean posts and cable ends, and tightly reattach the battery cables.
 

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Bring it to a shop. Sounds like a battery or alternator issue.
This decision depends on your mechanical acumen and DIY skills. A multimeter is, IMO, a must.
Has this vehicle received regular professional care?? This , if positive, will make things easier.
 

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So I should buy a new battery, plug it in, and see if gets drained or not? Is this the sort of thing that a regular mechanic can do, or do I have to hunt for a good saab specialist?
Any B level mechanic can do this..But watch out for parts replacers and those without any training.
Why not just DIY.?
 

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This decision depends on your mechanical acumen and DIY skills. A multimeter is, IMO, a must.
Has this vehicle received regular professional care?? This , if positive, will make things easier.
Agreed. If it's only a battery issues, why take it to a shop.

Grab a good battery, hook it up and give it a shot. One 10mm open end wrench ought to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This decision depends on your mechanical acumen and DIY skills. A multimeter is, IMO, a must.
Has this vehicle received regular professional care?? This , if positive, will make things easier.
You know, i don't really know. I bought it at 110,000 miles a couple months ago, its currently at almost 114,000 and its been a few months. I didn't get really any service documents with it, it's a solid car. Very clean in the engine compartment, runs smooth, nothing broken with it. Also, it was sort of an impulsive buy... I was in the office of the owner of the auto repair shop selling the car, and a family came in the door who had previously tested the car and was ready to buy it. He asked if I'd be taking it, and I said yes. I felt terrible, but I had already come out far in hopes of buying a different car and blah, long story. But no, no documented professional care.
 

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If it's the alternator, you might want to take it to a shop.

I had horrors replacing mine. Not for the weak of heart.

Though some have had no problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A friend of mine noted that it might just be wet. I do remember going admittedly too fast through some rather large puddles on my way home. The biggest ones were less than a half mile from my house. It's been raining nonstop, and there's been a lot of flooding around here.
 

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My 1st guess would be a bad battery. Aside from that and. based on your description, my money is on the alternator diodes being shorted internally. So, pull your battery and take it to be tested. If the battery is good then chase all of your wires down, look for corrosion and tighten the connections. Then, put a charged battery in it and connect the positive cable only. Then lightly touch the neg cable to the post and see if it arcs significantly. If so, I tend to believe that your alternator diodes have gone bye-bye.

If you are interested....There is a large cable that runs from the battery to the alternator diodes (internal to the alternator). This cable is a 1-way street ONLY. When the car is off or idle current flows from the battery to the car's electrical system but is not allowed to flow into the alternator. Diodes (think of them as electrical check valves) will not allow current to pass from the battery to the alternator. Once the car is running and the engine's RPMs reach a level where the alternator is producing more voltage than the battery has to offer then current can flow FROM the alternator TO the battery and thus the rest of the electrical system. This keeps the battery charged and powers the car in parallel to the battery. If, at any time the alternator slows down and is producing less voltage than the Battery has to offer the diodes will again keep the battery from draining into the alternator and the battery will power the car's electrical needs. If the diodes short internally then power can flow from the battery to the alternator which is basically a dead short to ground. Symptoms would be similar to a bad battery because the battery would quickly drain anytime the alternator was producing less voltage than the battery had to offer.

Not saying this to slight you in any way but it sounds like you aren't really electrically-inclined. And, while a volt meter is an excellent tool it is only useful if you know what to look for and how to use it. I have seen people take a new DVM and try to read current flow iwth it on a battery pumping out 500 amps. The new DVM didn't last long. Don't start throwing parts at it. Test, retest then buy parts. Pull you battery and take it to an auto parts store for a stress test. Believe it or not Walmart will actually run a 30min stress test on it that will tell you with 99% certainty if it's bad or not. Most parts houses simply do a trickle test and will give false "positives" when the battery is really bad.

Good luck with your cart and let us know if you have any other questions.
 
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