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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've got this 00 9-3 that's got me tearing my hair out. Below freezing this car starts terribly. Cranks for about a minute, then starts and runs perfectly and continues to run great all day. Problem has gone from intermittent to basically any time it's below freezing. Before I got this car someone else replaced fuel pump and filter, dic and plugs, cps, cts. I replaced the check valve and double checked fuel pump install (which was shady), same result. No cel or stored codes, and I only get about 1 min. of diagnosis time on days below freezing. Any ideas?
 

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Since the fuel pump etc were replaced, maybe it was not done right? Any way to check fuel pressure during cold starts-does you car have a schrader valve like mine does? Maybe the check valve is not seated properly??? Pinch fuel return line shut while engine is running, sometimes this is will reseat the valve if this is the cause.
Don't forget the fpr, maybe there is some crap stuck in it.
What kind of gas are you using, seriously as some have switched from one station to another fixing the issue?
Maybe the engine coolant temperature sensor, but not sure if this would cause slow cold starts.
Also, don't forget the simple things like dirty injectors. Buy a bottle of techron fuel system concentrate-big bottle, don't follow the directions, dump it into a half tank of gas and drive the piss out of it. You might get lucky.
 

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I agree with Ims, get a cheap fuel pressure gauge. Hook it up before a cold start in a way so you can see the gauge from inside the car. The problem with my old 900, is that there is no shradervalve, maybe the 9-3 is that way to? In that case its a bit trickier. But I think you need to know what your pressure is, during that minute while it's dead, before you can continue a faulttracing that is meaningful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
yeah, my gauge shat and I'm waiting on replacement. For grins I tried a fuel rail and injectors, then an ecu with the same results. Checked compression, #3 was the lowest with 170lbs and the rest were all 180lb. The days it doesn't start it pops briefly with the first crank then proceeds to basically flood itself (which leads me to think fuel pressure is there). Always starts eventually then runs perfectly, zero codes. Supposed to be too warm the next few days for it to fail. As much as my first thought was fueling, I think I'm going to throw the dic in the freezer and see if the car starts
 

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It could be your Direct Ignition Module (Cassette) - the red guy

Your symptoms sound like my car. I also thought all the usual stuff: weak battery, fuel pump etc. But I believe I was wrong (BZZZZZ!!!!). See my post/thread in this forum:

(FROM "Direct Ignition Module: Cold Starting Problem w/ 900SE Turbo):

I have posted some of this information in another thread called "cold starting issues" but people seemed to miss my point or ignore it. So I am starting a new thread that has to do with a cold starting issue concerning the Direct Ignition Module (or "cassette").

Warming up the "Direct Ignition Cassette" (DIC) seems to help a cold start issue:

With my NG900 (1996 900 SE Turbo), whenever the weather gets cold, the car would crank, but not start. I would crank over and over again, but the car would not start. This is true as long as the engine temperature is cold on a winter day. But this gets progressively worse as I battle the starting issue, so that even on relatively mild days, the car will not start. At the moment, if the engine temperature is a least 25-deg Celcius or higher, the car will start with no problem. But, if the engine temperature is lower, it will have trouble or not start. Even charging the battery would not help (the battery seems fine).

Over time I realized that as long as the engine is warm, the car will start. So, on a cold day when the car would crank but not start, I would pull the Direct Ignition Cassette (the red guy on top the engine) and take it inside my house to warm up. Sometimes I'll even warm up the DI cassette on top of a kerosene heater to get it nice and warm (almost hot). After installing the warm cassette into the cold car even on the coldest days (teens or twenties F outside) the car starts right up with no hesitation! What is going on?

I bought a new Direct Ignition Module about a year ago which totally solved this problem. With the Old DI unit intalled, the car would not start. But with the new DI unit installed, it started right away flawlessly like a new car. BUT, less than a year later (ie. just as winter arrived in Virginia), the new DI unit started behaving like the old one, with cold start issues. To this day, I can heat either DI cassette with a kerosene heater, and the car starts fine.

Please note that if I heat the DIC up, install into car and start, the engine runs smooth like a new engine. But, if I am not at home and cannot warm up the DIC, and if the weather is not TOO cold, I might be able to get the car started after cranking the engine 40-60 times until the engine temp gets up to about 24-30-deg Celcius. Once I do get the car started, it idles rough up until the temp reaches 50-deg Celcius, and (like magic) the engine idles smooth 50-deg Celcius and warmer.

My question: WHAT IS GOING ON? IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT MY CAR THAT IS CAUSING THE DIRECT IGNITION MODULE TO PROGRESSIVELY GET WORSE? WHY DOES HEATING UP (warm/hot) THE DIC HELP?

Note that my car uses resistive spark plugs, NGK BCPR7ES which I replaced twice in the past two years with proper gaps.

Also note that I never press on the gas/accelerator pedal during starting car. You are not supposed to do that with these modern fuel injection cars.

One other issue with the car that may or may not have a hand in causing the DIC to get worse or the cold start issue itself: The check engine light comes up whenever the car idles for a few minutes. Code P1171 (lean mixture) comes up. If I clear the code while driving on the highway, the check engine light does not come back on, even if I drive eight hours or more! Once I start city driving (start/stopping and idling) the same check engine code comes up within a couple to few minutes.
 

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After reading cville's reply, maybe heating up the DIC is a quick way to find out whats wrong with your car, serics1. Also, most car's wont turn on the fuel pump relay, if there is something wrong with the ignition system, to prevent filling up the cylinder's with unburnt fuel.

I have been testing electronics for 5 years, and there is a lot to write about this if anyone is interested. I could probably write 25 pages about this, But I try to make a short version here.

You can actually buy IC-circuits that are guarantied to work during certain temps. A full range circuit is guarantied to work within -40Celsius to about maybe +150 Celsius (don't remember exactly the high value)and they cost more, the broader temprange they have.

High temp can destroy a circuit, low temp normally just make the circuit "die" and when the temp goes up, they "come back to life".

It should be forbidden to mount electronics ON an engine, because high temp and vibrations are, together with overcurrent, the only things that destroys electronics. But it save's assembly line mounting time and copperwires, so we will see more and more of the electronic's mounted on the engine. Truck diesel engines have had their ECU mounted on the engine block for years, and Volvo for instance cool the ECU by letting fuel pass by inside the ECU.

SAAB DIC is probably constructed duriing the late 1980:s, and at that time they used mostly hole mounted transistors, IC-circuits, and capacitors, and things like that. I seen the soldering crack around a leg for a transistor (as an example), because of vibrations. You can see it in a microscope that the tin has no connection to the leg when it's cold. But when it's heated up, the leg becomes slighty thicker (everything expands in heat) and wow, suddenly you have a connection again.

Modern constructions use mostly surface mounted electronic's, and this way of soldering the circuit's, to a board, are more resistant to vibrations, and of course quality goes up, as the years go by, and the engineers learn more.

So it's not strange that SAAB had so much problems with the DIC.

As an example of what you can do, if you feel like doing wild experiments, I can tell you that I had a Chevrolet Lumina, with the ignition control module and 3 ignition coils mounted UNDER the exhaust manifold. The former owner always carried a new coil with him, beacuse he had changed like 6 coils during 13 years of ownership. After I bought it and changed 3 coils and 1 control unit, I got so tired of the problem, that I removed the coil pack with control unit, and mounted it on top of the radiator. (still a hot place, but not as hot as the exhaust maniford) It worked perfectly for 4 years, and is still working I think.
 

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I had the same cold start problems with extended cranking times usually on the first start of the day, until the weather started warming up a few weeks ago and the problem has noticeably decreased. I also just got a check engine light recently, and pulled a P0340 code, which seems like an indication of a DI cassette that is having troubles... I'm changing the plugs first, but I'm afraid it very well could be my DI.
 

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Well, this has just started to happen on my viggen, but my head gasket is fine, I hope.
Replaced the temp sender, nope. New gas/techron, nope; new plugs, nope. I have the same issue where it will only do this when it's under 48 degrees and I can smell the gas so I don't think it's related to the fuel system. If I could I would like to get a blow dryer out and heat the DIC up to see if it is indeed this, the problem is that I park my car in the street, no extension cord could reach. Maybe I will pull it tonight and take it inside.
Doesn't seem like anyone replaces the intake temp sender, so I'm going to try that.
 

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sorry to dig up an old thread, but I wanted to add into this, mine was doing all this, I replaced my VCG (standing oil in the plug valley) and replaced all my head bolts, the car now starts much better (but still not perfect) so I see a new head gasket being needed in the near future.
 

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Well, this has just started to happen on my viggen, but my head gasket is fine, I hope.
Replaced the temp sender, nope. New gas/techron, nope; new plugs, nope. I have the same issue where it will only do this when it's under 48 degrees and I can smell the gas so I don't think it's related to the fuel system. If I could I would like to get a blow dryer out and heat the DIC up to see if it is indeed this, the problem is that I park my car in the street, no extension cord could reach. Maybe I will pull it tonight and take it inside.
Doesn't seem like anyone replaces the intake temp sender, so I'm going to try that.
Since this thread was updated I'll update my condition which went away. I'm convinced it was the transition from winter gas to summer and visa versa here in Chicago.
 

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For the T7 guys, clean your MAF/AMM. Snowsaab was having some cold start issues and it turns out the MAF/AMM was just dirty. Cleaning it brought it back to normal.
This, and what a difference in throttle response.:th_MySaab900Like:
 
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