Saab 9-3 (9400) Frequently Asked Questions 1999 - 2003
We have seen some issues with Dash lights going out and other issues with instrument cluster gauges working intermittently. The cause of the dash lights going off while driving is typically an issue with the rheostat going bad but could also be caused by an issue with the clutch circuit board depending on which lights are actually going out. We have also seen failures with the electronic circuit board on the back of instrument cluster causing strange problems with the gauges working and then not working. If you see issues with the tachometer, speedometer and fuel gauge then replacement of the electronic circuit board on the back of the cluster is the likely repair.
Thanks to stefan schwing for contributing to this FAQ!
After about am hour i have narrowed the flickering guage problem to a cold solder joint on the dash cluster. the cluster consists of two boards, the one with the problem is the smaller of the two( where the main plug is
connected. look for resister # 13 it has a R13 next to it. carefully resolder this resistor and your problems will be solved.
Thanks to Matthew for contributing to this FAQ!
I recently had a problem on my 95 900se with the instrument lighting flickering and then going out completelty. It turned out to be the rheostat/ dimmer control, I dissasembled the switch and cleaned all
connections then reinstalled and it works fine. This is a good place to start as it is easily accesible and can often be fixed without spending money.
Thanks to Jay for contributing to this FAQ!
I had this problem on a 1995 car when I bought it not too long ago, thought it may have been a loose wire or a bad ground connection after
reading up on it but couldn't fix it, combed the net and scratched my head a lot, I'm not a mechanic or an electrician but I said I'd have a look
before I leave it in somewhere early next year, pulled the clocks out, checked the wires, ran a new ground off the cables at the back, it was
still broken...bought a second hand set of clocks...all works perfectly now, looks like I have 30000 more miles on it with the new clocks but as
long as they are working I'm a happy man....fingers crossed.
Thanks to James Lovelace for contributing to this FAQ!
I had this problem occur with my 1996 900SE. At first, I could hit the cluster and pop the lights back on. After a couple of months, hitting it was no longer a fix. After I broke the top two cluster mountings, I broke down and removed the dash insert to see what I could find. At first, I thought a wire in the clip was loose. After cleaning the pins and the females in the clip, the problem still persisted. I went looking then for "R13". With no issue there and no other leads, I decided to stop the project and put it all back together. When reassembling the cluster assembly, I looked at the grounding plates and found that where the large silver plate fits against the board's plate, there existed some odd corrosion. After wire-brushing the spot and reassembling with a little
dielectric grease between the plates, everything works really well. The lights are brighter and I even got my "shift-up" light back.
Thanks to Stephen Rush for contributing to this FAQ!
I have a 1995 900s that also had a dash light issue. After reading the above contributions, I removed the rheostat switch that controls the
dimming of the dash lights. I had read that is was difficult to remove but found a small flat screwdriver that popped it right out. After pulling the switch out, I noticed that when I pulled the plug as if to remove it , the lights would operate. So I took two round wooden toothpicks and and slid them between the connection of the plug and the switch. The dash lights came on, The dials for the heat lit up as well as the fog lamp switches. I broke off the ends of the toothpicks, popped the switch back into place, Voila, dash lights fixed. Thanks for all your suggestions that led me to the rheostat.
NOTE: we still recommend replacing the switch as this is likely only a temp fix.... :)
Thanks to Robert LaPorta for contributing to this FAQ!
Sometimes the strange dash light behavior can be caused by a faulty ignition switch. I had similar problems, switched out the switch, and everything went back to normal.
Thanks to Jim Nie for contributing to this FAQ!
Many strange electrical problems in the NG900/Pre '00 OG9-3/Pre '00 9-5 can be traced back to a failed ignition switch. Depending on which circuit of the switch is at fault or how failed the circuit. The primary indication is that multiple unrelated devices show difficult to diagnose solutions. To isolate the ignition switch prior to replacement note all observable anomalies, then verify voltages of all fuses when the fault occurs. A partial failure often results in less than battery voltage present on the affected circuit.