Question about 2003 Saab 9-3

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Saab 9-3 Turbo 2003 number plate lights not working

I have a Saab 9-3 Vector Turbo 2003 Salon and I have a major issue with my number plate lighting system not working. I tested the voltage going to the light bulbs and it is around 13-14V when the engine runs, however I noticed that when I test for current it is zero, hence why the lights do not work. Also when I apply the multimeter to the positive and negative cables and then plug the lights and boot locking system into the socket from the source feed, the voltage goes to zero (probably meaning a short somewhere). I tested all the cables for continuity from the plug to the lights circuit and they all link which means that the cables from there are ok. I also took a feed using other external cables I made up from the socket before the light socket directly to the light bulbs (closed circuit, which should create a current) and the lights still do not come on. I suspect it's because there is no current somewhere. Does anybody know how to fix or has experience with this as it failed the MOT and the garage is charging me a fortune to fix it. Thanks in advance.

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It seems to be an earthing problem. Check resistance from the non 12V side of the circuit to the earth (remove the bulb and check from the earth side contact), either direct back to the battery negative terminal or any other part of the body metal (i.e. where there is a screw or bolt into the body panel of floor pan?) Doing a continuity check along the wires must point to the fault.

Posted on Feb 08, 2014

  • 3 more comments 
  • Tony Antoniou
    Tony Antoniou Feb 08, 2014

    Hi gordon639,

  • Tony Antoniou
    Tony Antoniou Feb 08, 2014

    Hi gordon639,

  • Tony Antoniou
    Tony Antoniou Feb 08, 2014

    Hi gordon639, sorry about previous message, I wanted to write on next line by pressing the enter button, but instead it submitted the response. First of all thank you for your kind help. I'm a little confused about the earth, positive and negative cables so that i can test resistance. Is one side of the battery connection earth (in negative) and the other positive? Also what do you mean about testing the 'non 12V side of the circuit'? Once I know how to test properly, I will do as you say. I suspected it was an earthing fault, but did not know how to test and fix it properly. What I did temporarily is pass just one cable from the number plate socket to a terminal on one of the stop back lights. Thanks!

  • gordon639 Feb 08, 2014

    Tony - my reference to the non-12V side of the circuit is the earthed side of the bulb holder. You can either check voltage (across two terminals) or resistance (in series). From the earth side of the circuit (which may be a wire going back to a common earthing point, or direct to the metal body in the vicinity of the light), the wire will either go direct to one side of the bulb holder (normally the outside part if it is a normal screw type or bayonet) or via a switch. However the number plate light will be in parallel with the one or both rear lights (on some vehicles, sometimes they are separate feeds so that only one light goes out if there is a problem), so I would assume the switch is on the positive side of the circuit. So measure the resistance (ohms) from any earth to the side of the bulb holder. Resistance obviously should be zero or very low ( a couple of ohms max?). Check the wire from the bulb back to earth as far as you can see. Wiggle the wire around as it could be a break within the insulation. If you cannot see where the wiring goes to within the bodywork, check where the wiring from the side lights go as they will join up to the number plate earthing (negative) wire somewhere. The earthing wires from these bulbs may all be the same colour coding and will join up somewhere. Not sure if I have explained this well but if you understand basic electrical theory then it should not be difficult to follow? Gordon

  • Tony Antoniou
    Tony Antoniou Feb 08, 2014

    Hi Gordon, thanks once again for your detailed help. I understand fully what you said and I will test what you said with my multimeter. I know that if there is a high resistance, then there is an earthing problem. I noticed that the same fuse (same circuit) that connects to the number plate light is also connected to the left hand side rear lights and one of the bulbs on that do not come on too. So you're right to say that on that circuit there is an earth fault there. I had to temporarily link that rear light and number plate light to a working stop bulb (messy stuff with loads of tape and twisting of wires to get my MOT, which finally passed). I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Thanks once again for your continued help, it is truly much appreciated.

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SOURCE: 2003 Saab 9-5 Check Engine Light

Take the car to Autozone, they will read the codes via OBD II for free.  Other parts stores may have the same policy ... call first.   My VW dealer charges $40 to pull the codes!!   I bought a low-end OBD II reader for $50, as the wife and I  both have VWs.

White smoke is usually antifreeze, the most frequent cause of this is head gasket blown or cracked head ... big bucks.  Hopefully this is not you.  Unless the car had a dramatic overheating incident, for most makes of cars, this should not happen until you have over 100K miles, probably closer to 200K.   
White smoke could also be break fluid sucked in from power brake booster.  If it's brake fluid, it will smell very bad.  
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Is there black smoke coming from the exhaust?

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SOURCE: fault with saab 9-3 aero

Hello I have a saab 9.3 SS 04 and had the same problem.

- intermittent wipe doesn't work, at all
- windscreen washers don't work, at all
- "normal" continuous, and fast wipe work, but the wipers
freeze in the middle of the windscreen if you let go of the
control stalk, rather than sweeping back to the resting position
- same "freeze" happens with the manual wipe (push down on the control stalk)

The weird thing is that, this morning, for about 10 minutes, it seemed to fix itself,
partially - the washers started working etc - but the intermittent wipe still didn't work. However not long after that it went back to the symptoms described above.
also if I unplugged my car battery for a minute the washers worked for several seconds but again same problem occurs.

Solution is to replace your wiper motor. its that "simple"
worked for me. The wiper motor has a lot of electronic stuff and seems to control the washer engine.
Good luck.

Posted on May 05, 2009

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