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.