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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
year = 2002
model = Viggen sedan
engine = 2.3L HOT
mileage = 83,000 miles

Hi, friends. Just when I think I'm capable of doing things myself, I learn that things are more complicated than what I'm capable of. :roll:

problem = since early April, difficulties starting; and it has become progressively worse since then.
symptom = up to 5 attempts needed to have successful start. This occurs in the morning, when leaving for work. At this time, the engine is cold, after the cool night's rest. The colder the night, the tougher the start.
recent changes = Since early February, I've had to park the car outdoors (after 13 years of keeping it in a garage). This winter was very harsh; so, I thought it's possible the 5-year old Energizer battery has worn prematurely.

attempts to resolve this issue:
1. changed the spark plugs, as these were original. The car drives a little smoother now, so that was a good thing to do anyway. Problem not solved.
2. Voltmeter always indicated 12V, even on the old battery, but I don't have a cold-cranking amps (CCA) testing tool. So, I changed the battery, as it was possible there wasn't enough CCA. Problem not solved.

Other info:
- I don't notice any electrical problems once the car is on, or when I'm driving.
- Upon returning home from the office, after about 8-10 hours of rest, the engine starts with the first attempt.
- The sound that the engine makes: appears to be "turning over" (I think), but it doesn't "catch." [Okay, I'm not sure I'm using the right terminology for this.]

What to do? Do I need to test for spark? If so, how do I do that? Do I need to change the distributor cap? Fuel filter? I haven't had these parts changed yet, and I haven't the experience; but I'm wanting to learn.

Help me, Obi-Saab Kenobi...
 

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There is no dist cap on these cars, they have what is called a direct ignition cassette (DIC). This is the device you removed in order to replace the plugs. These are not cheap. Do you have a check engine light on (cel), if so get the codes read if you can.
What plugs did you put in?
Have you filled back up, every April and oct my 2002 viggen runs funky when we switch back and forth from winter to summer gas, visa-versa. Takes about 2 weeks before starting returns to normal.
Do not put your foot on the gas peddle when you start it.
If you car is starting, it is getting spark and gas, but that does not mean its getting enough of each.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
lms, I haven't at all changed gas stations or the type of gas I'm filling up with. I fill up once per week at Delta Sonic with premium gasoline (93 octane). My fuel economy remains unchanged since before the problem started.

The "check engine" light is NOT on. [The air bag light is on, but that is a separate matter that I need to post about.]

The new sparkplugs that I used are same as stock: NGK "Laser Platinum" PFR6H-10. Changing the plugs appears to not have had any effect, for the better or worse. (And my fuel economy is unchanged since before the plugs were changed.)

I've *never* touched the gas pedal in starting the car. Only the clutch is fully depressed, and most times, the brake, too.

How does one confirm if there is sufficient gas and spark to start the car? And how does this deteriorate over time? Is this because the Direct Ignition Cassette wears away over time (like a distributor cap does)? What should a replacement cost? I can't even seem to find one on the usual auto parts websites, let alone price it.

There is no dist cap on these cars, they have what is called a direct ignition cassette (DIC). This is the device you removed in order to replace the plugs. These are not cheap. Do you have a check engine light on (cel), if so get the codes read if you can.
What plugs did you put in?
Have you filled back up, every April and oct my 2002 viggen runs funky when we switch back and forth from winter to summer gas, visa-versa. Takes about 2 weeks before starting returns to normal.
Do not put your foot on the gas peddle when you start it.
If you car is starting, it is getting spark and gas, but that does not mean its getting enough of each.
 

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I'm with lms on this one, I think it's the normal change of season. My Vig does it too, every spring and fall, has since I bought it 13 years ago. Don't know why they're so sensitive to the change of grade in the gas but they definitely are. This spring has been long and pretty cold, too, which could make the problem last longer.
 

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'02 9-5 Aero Wagon, '88 SPG, '02 Viggen Vert, '01 Viggen 4dr, +Triumphs & MGs
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The DIC is an important part - and can age poorly - usually go 80-100K miles. There is a whole thread on here about getting a saab OEM manufacturing one for about 180 from autozone (search saab dic autozone). ALWAYS get saab OEM manufacturer (SEM) not the cheaper chinese ones. Tons of threads on this.

Also try to go the non platinum route - as they are also known to cause issues - try the NGK BCPR-7ES's and they are a cheap and excellent replacement. Cures some cars

I just had this exact issue on my viggen - changed plugs, cleaned throttle intake, checked and replaced the vacuum lines (going to the bypass) and this ended up curing my hard start.

Fuel pressure you can check at a fuel pressure port on the intake manifold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you, jakejm79, lms, stevbd, and Flashheart for your posts with suggestions, answers, and comments.

The rough start was already mostly gone (possibly with warmer weather or possibly due to engine now accustomed to the gasoline), but this weekend, I committed to replacing the fuel filter. Having done that, it would appear the problem is fully resolved. I guess the true test to fully diagnose whether the fuel filter was to blame would be replace the new battery with the original battery.

If the gasoline type is to blame, then I won't know until next season.

And, as for the DIC, I will have to review the other threads to determine whether it's time to swap it out.

It is, of course, possible that a combination of the above four issues was what truly caused my starting problems.
 

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Am I reading your post correctly, in that your battery is 5 years old? As a rule of thumb, batteries are only good for 3 years...
 

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Am I reading your post correctly, in that your battery is 5 years old? As a rule of thumb, batteries are only good for 3 years...
I can see that in a hot climate like Australia. Here in Canada (and across the lake in Buffalo) five years is reasonable and ten years on OEM battery is not unheard of, assuming reasonable care--mainly not running the battery low during the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Here is a status update... I hope it helps someone in the future.

I've had a week of smoother starts, and I had even put the "old" battery (the five-year old one) back in. Granted, the car complained a little more this morning, as it was slightly chilly overnight, but at least I cranked the engine only once.

Therefore, I hypothesize that the root cause was the fuel filter, definitely not the battery, and likely not the DIC.

(I'm still debating as to when to pull the trigger on buying a new DIC.)

Thanks, everyone.
 

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Ditto on that - have a spare.

Thanks though on the follow up - always great to see the post case review!
 
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