The FIX: “Service Theft Alarm”

Most if not all older (1999-2003) SAABs experience a problem with their Theft Alarms and as your SAAB becomes older you may experience this same problem. The problem can be seemingly harmless with only a SID (SAAB Information Display) message reading “Service Theft Alarm” or this problem can be more embarrassing as the Alarm will go off without warning (usually in the middle of the night) while your neighbors are looking out their door wondering what is going on and why you can’t shut off your alarm.

Of course this problem can be fixed by merely replacing this unit at a cost of around $318.27, but of course I wouldn’t be saving anyone any money if I always suggested buying a new part… there are always alternatives.

Many have gone about attempting to fix their theft alarm themselves with varying success. The problem seems to be centered around a pair of rechargeable batteries which allow the theft alarm to operate even when vandals disconnect the main battery, but it seems that these batteries are at the heart of this malfunction. In addition to the batteries capacitors may also require testing and replacement.

I found this image over at http://home.jtan.com/~joe/saab/ he has some nice photos of some common SAAB problems.

My solution:¬†Have it rebuilt from these guys: Auto & Truck Electronics out of Rogersville, TN. They offer a Lifetime warranty for their repair service and I have had great success with them. Remove your theft alarm which is located behind the front portion of your Driver’s Side Fender and send it to them for a total repair of around $35.

EDIT 8/18/2010: Auto & Truck Electronics decided to up their price three-fold. If you click the link it is now $110 for this repair. It’s still cheaper than a new one, but now it’s definitely DIY time. You can buy the batteries online and find the resistors too. Use the above picture for details. I emailed ATE and they said the $35 price was “introductory.” L-A-M-E

If you own a 2002 or newer 9-5 you are in a bit of trouble because these units were designed without screws and were not designed to be repaired. They contain the same components, but SAAB wanted you to just replace the entire unit. My solution: Find a SAAB 9-5 being parted out and purchase a bad theft alarm on the cheap… then just send that in. They are all a direct fit.

NOTE: Auto & Truck Electronics also repair many other electrical components and I’ve heard nothing but great things.

EDIT: 7/1/2011… Another great option recently is BBA remanufacturing as found on eBay. I believe the cost currently is around $45 with a lifetime warranty. I’ve personally used BBA reman on several repairs and have been very satisfied with the quality of their repairs.

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18 comments
  1. vyoumans said:

    does this instruction also apply to SAAB 9-3 2001?

  2. Rick C. said:

    Just had the “Service Theft Alarm” show up on my SID (1999 9-3 SE). Reading above I have checked out both companies you list above. My question is is there an issue operating with this unit removed while being serviced?

    • No problems at all. The only this is it will continue to show “Service Theft Alarm’ on the SID.

      • chirs reuman said:

        my car is a 1999 95 and i am having the above problem you mentioned. i don’t care if the alarm works. can I just remove this unit. i don’t mind if the “Service Theft Alarm” shows up. i just don’t want the alarm to go off. it has in the past. thanks.

  3. schnabb said:

    Great advice on BBA Reman. I have four Saab 9-5’s in the family and we have had the Service Theft Alarm issue on three of them – with three of their alarms going off – in the driveway (luckily we live in a very rural area), in the middle of the night, during the day, in the parking lot at the mall or a store – you name it – with people walking by wondering ‘why the h**l isn’t that guy turning his alarm off?’.

    Our regular mechanic – who is a very solid Saab guy and exceptionally trustworthy – has always told me to not bother with fixing it – it will just ‘go away’ after awhile. Well it hasn’t, and I was finally fed up with the issue (after having to get up in the middle of the night – again – to go pull the fuse in my wife’s car to shut down the repeated alarm events).

    So I Googled the issue and your blog/comments were the first link. Went to eBay and found the BBA Reman options. I have not used them before but they appear to be reputable from my research and their feedback on eBay. I’ll be sending in the units as soon as I have a moment to pull them.

    Thanks for the information and keeping the post current. Greatly appreciated. And I will update or re-post after I get the units back and installed to let everyone know how it goes.

  4. VWH said:

    Why not just remove it and forget it? The dealer told me this would mess up starting the car “because it is linked to starter” but no one seems to mention this. I have a 2003 9-5 – this problem started last year, went away over the winter (NJ) and just popped back today. I don’t need an alarm. Meanwhile, my fix is simply not to lock the car, but that has other problems.

    • This is what most people including myself have done. If you hate clearing the “service theft alarm” every time you hop in the car then it’s not an expensive fix. But YES you absolutely can just remove it and have no issues whatsoever except an annoying notification on the SID.

  5. vyoumans said:

    I am about to swap out the second alarm unit. This second one is actually alarming much worse than the original unit. Is there a fuse that I can pull to shut off the alarm int he mean time? SAAB 2001 9-3 hatchback.

  6. nell said:

    i would also like to know if there is a fuse that i can pull to shut off the alarm in the mean time???? x

    • The only true fire way to stop it is to unplug the alarm siren itself, but someone else may have knowledge about a fuse.

  7. Bill said:

    Be careful on pulling the fuse. I pulled mine last winter when the alarm would go off in the middle of the night and then found out in the summer that the same fuse controls the compressor…..almost lost the compressor, maybe from lack of use/lubrication of the seals.

    • Chris said:

      thanks bill. i pulled my fuse but will put it back in periodically to solve the compressor concern. i have read that when you pull the fuse you also lose your a/c, so i will pull the alarm battery and have it refurbished this spring. can anyone recommend a company that can replace the battery?

  8. schnabb said:

    Sorry for the late post – been busy with my son doing an engine rebuild and sub-frame on one of the 9-5’s replacing all the sub-frame bushings, tie rod ends, new roll bars, etc. to add some life to a 170,000+ mile vehicle.

    Pulled the alarm units from two of the vehicles that had been causing problems. Drove them to BBA Reman as they are just down the road from us, and they did the work in just a couple of days, returning the original units refurbished. Reinstalled and no problems since then (6+ months).

    Pulled the unit on another one after it started with the same issues but haven’t bothered with having it refurbished yet. No problems at all with the unit out of the car – just have to clear the “Service Theft Alarm” notification on the SID each time you start the car.

    Pulling the fuse seems to me to be a very short-term workaround for this issue. My suggestion is to pull the unit and leave it out if you don’t care about having the car alarm. Pulling the fuse absolutely will affect the air conditioning. Otherwise BBA Reman seems like a great option to me if you want the car alarm.

  9. Ken Parkes said:

    The kit you gave me worked a treat.
    Thanks very much for your help and very efficient service.

  10. Sandra Owen-Kelly said:

    If I remove the unit do I ever have to replace it? I will still be able to lock the car and use the key fob or no? I just wouldn’t have an alarm if the unity was removed?

    • If you remove the siren and never fix it, it’s no problem! The only thing is you’ll have to hit clear on the SID when it displays “Service Theft Alarm” every time you start up your car. If you ever have access to a TECH 2 you can have it switched to a horn chime when locking and unlocking the car.

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