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OnlineHelp, Mechanic
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 3423
Experience:  Mechanic
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2001 SAAB: starting problem..start every..cold weather

Customer Question

Here's the deal....For the past 1 1/2 years I've been trying to correct a starting problem in my 2001 SAAB 9-5 AERO. I will try to be very specific on what is happening.

The car will start every morning in hot or cold weather. However, it may or may not start after driving the car for a small period of time. I can drive to work or to the store, but when I come out after 10- 15 minutes the car may or may not start.

I've noticed this is only in warm weather months. The car started fine all winter long with no issues. It only does this when the weather is warm or hot.

I've been told it could be the neutral safety switch. However if you put it in neutral, it still will not start. Then I was told it could be the ignition switch which I replaced yesterday and it still wont start.

All the dash lights come on. There is no crank when you go the start position. You can hear the whine of the fuel pump. Sometimes I can hear a low grumble nose when trying to start the car. HELP!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
Hello and thank you for choosing Just Answer.

Is this an automatic or manual?

What does the car do when you attempt to start (cranks, turns?)
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Automatic Trans
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
Thank you.

And when you attempt to start what does the car do? (Nothing?)
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
It does nothing. No crank! All the dash lights light up...but no crank or start. You can hear the whine of the fuel pump but thats it
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
Thank you.

Either the neutral safety switch is bad (manually selecting neutral does not bypass this) or the starter is getting hot.
Here is what I would suggest. Get a voltmeter, drive the car and wait for the condition to appear. When the car does not want to start get the voltmeter out and have someone attempt to start while you are checking the voltage at the starter. If you get 12v at the starter but the starter does not turn, the start is bad/getting hot.
If you do not get 12v you need to check/replace your neutral safety switch.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Problem is...I never know when this is gonna happen. It might happen today but not again until a week or two. This is my daily driver. I need a car. I need to know what it the problem is instead of taking it in time after time. We do not have a SAAB shop in Evansville IN. the closest on in in Louisville and they want to keep it until the problem starts again.

Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
I understand, but in order to be conclusive you really would have to check if the starter is giving you the problem or if the safety switch is not transmitting power.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Why is it warm weather related? This doesnt happen when it's cold. And what experice do you have with SAAB's?
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
The warm weather can effect both the starter getting hot and not starting and the safety switch. With the starter getting hot the weather is a obvious factor, with the safety switch the warm weather would cause rubber to expand and cause bad contact.
I have been working on SAAB's numerous times in my shop. I also have ASE certification.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
So, based on what I've told you... if you had to chose between replacing a starter or the Neutral Safety Switch...which would it be?
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
I would change the starter and put heat shield on it just in case, but it's a hard call since it could be either or.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
How much for a starter? Neutral Safety Switches are $300.00
Expert:  OnlineHelp replied 8 years ago.
$150-$200 depending what store you go to.