By on August 6, 2015

Seth writes:

Sajeev (and your evil twin)

OK, you asked for it so here goes: I have an 2005 saab 9-3 5-speed convertible that is having issues.

I use it as a summer car. It is my third saab so I am use to some weird stuff. Last year, I parked it for the winter and everything worked. I lost my garage space for the winter so I had it under a car cover. When spring came my SID (Saab Information Display) did not work. I know the SIDs in previous generations were an issue but not on this model. As a bonus, my CD player also died, but the radio still worked even without its display.

So I get the SID replaced — really the only reason was so I could see radio the current station — by an independent Saab mechanic, but now the radio does not work. The indie said the amp is bad. The Saab amp setup (I have a 7-speaker, 150W ARC sound system, I think) is fiber optic and a PITA. He checked the fuses and said they are fine. It seems odd the radio does not work the minute the new SID is in. I can replace the amp, but it’s a 4-hour drive one way to do so and I would prefer not to kill a day to find out it was something simple.

I checked the board but it seems I have the one in a million issue. Got any ideas? And no Panther advice, please.

I will have garage space from now on and I do not mind getting the amp fixed. I love the car but a radio and a working SID would be nice.

Sajeev answers:

This thread suggests you check the amp and wiring for water damage. Not a bad idea, and there’s also a conversion harness for eliminating OnStar if your old connector is damaged by liquid.

I suspect your Saab indie mechanic is right: the amp’s internal guts are indeed dead and you gotta replace it. If you doubt him, get a shop manual and follow the diagnostic yourself. Sometimes a book, a multi-meter and a lot of spare time is worth it. But I’d probably stick with your trusty Saab mechanic’s advice.

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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17 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Saab SID, the Dead CD Stereo!...”

  • avatar

    Here’s what I would do if any of my factory units go bad: Go to Best Buy and buy an aftermarket CD/Radio/Bluetooth/USB player with a faceplate surround that will match the dead space in your dash, that is if your car can do without a factory unit.

    If not, get another car, because this thing will eventually bankrupt you or nickel & dime you to death!

    Best wishes on your quest.

  • avatar

    I agree with Zackman, just replace it all with aftermarket components.
    But I would not use Best Buy. They have lost their focus for car audio systems. They have fewer choices and their technical knowledge is low.

    I would suggest that you surf over to the “Crutchfield” website and see what you can find. Next contact their customer service. They have the best customer service out there for car audio systems.

  • avatar

    Can you put the old SID back in and see if the amp works? Maybe you received a DOA SID. I don’t believe the amp is bad and would at least try the old SID (or another new one) before calling it.

  • avatar

    Purchase a XM radio they’re cheap these days. Remove the ash tray and mount it there or got to your local audio store and have them do it. It can also be removed and used elsewhere for your seasonal driving.

  • avatar

    He may have simply plugged the connections in wrong – IIRC, you can plug in the fibre optic cables the wrong way around. Or maybe the radio power isn’t plugged in. I would go through all the connections carefully. Or the problem was not the SID in the first place. But these amps are well known for dying. Could just be coincidence.

    One really amusing post on the Saab Forum back in the day was from a guy who bought one of the first of these, took it to a big box store for a Kustum stereo install, and was wondering why there did not seem to be any copper in the “wiring” to the amp that they cut… In theory, the fibre optics are a nice idea – immune to interference and all. But in practice it was a mistake they corrected in ’07. That GM standard headunit may have looked like it was out of a Cavalier, but it worked.

  • avatar

    id go crutchfield, and DIY. not a big fan of a lot of aftermarket stuff, but maybe you could find something from blaupunkt that wouldnt look like a glowing wart.

  • avatar

    Not all aftermarket stuff is bad! The Kenwood I put in my truck has variable colors. You can make it stay at one color that matches factory dash lights. Everything else is black. No odd, fake looking metallic face or anything.

    I agree. The factory units can be very expensive or difficult to repair or replace. Go aftermarket unless you are -very- fond of the stock system. I have a Toronado. Trofeo with the Bose system. For what it costs to fix the Bose system, I could replace every single component and still have some cash left over. Guess which one I chose? It sure isn’t the $500 Bose wants to fix four amps from the 80’s.

  • avatar

    I have to give you credit for attempting to repair your audio system, aftermarket stuff just never works right for me.

    Its hardly ever due to bad aftermarket parts, moreso past owners that have no clue how to properly wire up or install speakers.

  • avatar

    Funny to see how people do not read the previous comments.

    You cannot simply put some aftermarket stereo set in a pre MY2007 SAAB 9-3.
    There are some who got it going, but it would have been simpler to put the original stuff in.
    In this 9-3 the stereo is modular. A SAAB dealer must have replacement items (not necessarily new ones).

  • avatar

    I second the suggestion to check the connections first. Fiber audio (fiber anything really) is super sensitive to dirt and dust. The connectors have to be cleaned with special paper and 99% alcohol, or if you can find one, a 1 click cleaner (probably SC “Standard Connector” type), or cletop type cleaner. You’ll need to clean both the connectors and the ports on the equipment for the best results. Also check to ensure that the connections are not crossed on any of the equipment. Audio connections are simple and need separate transmit and return cables, if they are crossed then the transmitted information ends up in a dead end in both directions.

    As we say in telecom… Always check the physical layer first. If you had someone mess around under your dash and replace equipment, I would wager that it’s crossed cables or dirt that is the culprit and not the amp.

  • avatar

    As Albert noted, you can not drop an aftermarket receiver in a pre 2007 9-3 without rewiring the entire audio system (from power to speakers), and then you will lose things like the turn signal beepers, which are routed through the sound system.

    Most likely, as your Indy said, the problem is the amp, which is located under the front driver seat and is subject to corrosion.

    You can get your amp fixed or a refurbished replacement from

    I got the amp in my 2006 9-3 repaired several years ago, and it is still working fine.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Had an 06 Saab 9-3. Owned it nine years. The entire stereo — tuner, amp, CD player — crapped out two years into the ownership experience. Went to the Saab dealer. His response: “Just about all of ’em do that sooner or later.” And the entire unit was replaced. At least ours quit while under warranty. Interestingly, the problem started when it was cold outside before it completely and finally puked. A car from Scandinavia that can’t take the cold. Only GM could manage that.

    Yours is not an uncommon occurrence for this make-model. Sorry. It sucks.

    Try this “”

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