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Saab 9-5 fuel tank sloshing/thunking

ertadcertadc Posts: 5
edited March 14 in Saab
This topic has been created to provide a forum for
the many individuals who have posted over 200
comments in the Sedan-Saab 9-5 section on a saab
design defect which is not represented to new car
buyers. The thunk occurs when the fuel tank is 1/2
to 3/4 full and can be loud. Sometimes it feels
as if the vehicle was hit from behind.

I hope this forum serves to remove the fuel tank
issue from the Sedan topic list, and it also serves
to inform new customers of a prospective purchase
problem (they can then ask questions to the dealer
before they purchase the vehicle).
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Comments

  • ertadcertadc Posts: 5
    My goals are twofold and only twofold in posting
    information about the fuel tank problem:

    1) Try to get saab to fix this so-called
    "laughable" fuel tank problem for its existing
    customers who care. That probabably means
    redesigning the fuel tank and offering a
    replacement tank to those that want one, or finding
    a less costly fix. (If certain customers do not
    care, that's fine--less worry for saab). Saab
    should be doing this anyway for the 2001 models.

    2) Make sure that new customers do not purchase a
    new 9-5 without the knowledge of the fuel tank
    problem. If they like the car and do not care
    about the fuel tank problem, then there is not a
    problem for these customers, so why should saab
    care if they know about it. Unfortunately, if new
    customers find out after the fact, and they happen
    to be very bothered by it, subjectively speaking,
    that is a problem that saab has to
    address. I would guess that about 100 prospective
    owners of a 9-5 visit this site every day for
    information. That's about 36,500 a year.
    As I stated above, if you object to wanting to
    allow new customers to make a more informed choice
    and a "fair" choice, I would certainly like to hear your opinion. I personally think that addressing my second point will force saab to address my first point. In the end, all of us are hopefully better off, and maybe we can sit around and talk about the nice features in the 9-5, compared to the competition, in the future.

    I agree that my approach is not always fun to hear
    for many, just as the fuel tank thunking noise is
    not fun to me and others, but I think that saab is
    already getting the point in many ways. The 9-5
    leases are being more subsidized than any other
    competitor's leases right now for a reason, and its
    not to create a "new" market for a car that has
    already been on the market for two and a half
    years.
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    The fuel tank problem is a serious one that saab should address. So far, it has done nothing, and new customers continue to complain in numbers. Hopefully these posts will serve to inform new prospective customers of the problem and force saab to act to fix the problem.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Can someone tell me why this is a "Maintenance and Repair" topic? I don't see how it fits. It's not about a component that wears out, goes out of adjustment or breaks. These are the things we maintain and repair, not sloshing gas tanks.

    If I don't get a good explanation this topic will be frozen and I will ask you to start this discussion over in Sedans where I think it belongs.

    Thanks. Your host, Bruce

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    FWIW, there is an easy fix to this, just put some sponges made from a gasoline resistant material in the tank. Not too many....maybe 5-10% of the total volume.
  • ertadcertadc Posts: 5
    Please take this up with Alex in the saab 9-5 Sedan section who refuses to put this in his section. I told him that this was not a maintenance or repair issue, but instead a sedan issue. He refused nonetheless. Obviously, this issue has to go somewhere as it has drawn over 200 responses in the last two months. I would like it in the sedan section, so please lobby for it. Otherwise, please keep this posting topic open until one of you agrees where it belongs.

    Regards,
    Ertadc/Saabber
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    OK

    It can stay here.....

    Your host, Bruce
  • ertadcertadc Posts: 5
    This site will allow all to take note of the fuel sloshing issue, and it will allow new customers to make informed decisions regarding their purchase. In addition, it will provide a discussion of saab's progress in proposing a reasonable solution to the problem.
  • anonymousanonymous Posts: 314
    My Saab dealer got in a kit andf fixed the tank in our 99 9-5 about three moinyths ago. They appoarently put a fuel-cell type of foam in the tank.

    It definitely worked
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    If you really had the problem fixed, and you agreed to lose 3 gallons of fuel capacity by having the foam essentially fill places where the fuel would normally move to, why not further describe the issue???

    How long did your car have to sit with saab? A week, two weeks? What did they do?

    I am suspicious that no one has ever mentioned that they had the fix on the other site that had 200 posts, but now someone "anonymously" comes forth to claim that they had this procedure done.

    Actually (in remembering), someone on the other site (who was not anonymous) stated that they had the fuel tank reduction/fix done, and it did not work, but they still lost the 3 gallons of fuel capacity. To be honest, I dont know whether they too were just making up the story to make saab look bad.

    Please feel free to add more information on your "fix" of the problem, and your willingness to let saab take a total of 4 gallons (with the initial change in the fuel tank) from your fuel capacity to make the fix. That's 100 miles of driving range, compared to the 1999 models.
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    The "anonymous" post is not the fault of the poster. It is some kind of as yet unresolved software glitch. :-)

    Maybe the poster will come back and answer your questions, but please understand that he or she did not make the post "anonymous" on purpose.

    Pat
    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • ertadcertadc Posts: 5
    It's nice to see the site here to inform new customers of prospective fuel tank problems with the 9-5. On the regular "sedan" site, this issue drew a lot of talk about safety issues. There is no conclusive answer to the safety issue, as no one knows what a few gallons of fuel sloshing/thunking around will do in a rear end collision which reaches the fuel tank. Ford Pinto issues? Hopefully not.
    In the end, each new customer should ask questions to their dealer before making a purchase decision. If the dealer waives off your problem, or gives you an uninformed answer to try to make you drop the issue, pry further.

    Saab does not want everyone to know about this problem, because, at the very least, it will affect the resale value of the vehicle to a customer several years from now that doesn't want to buy a "thunker."

    Be careful in making your purchase decisions, and good luck to all.
  • kismetgbkismetgb Posts: 1
    Hello, I am thinking about buying a 9-5 but have quite frankly been put off by this thread (yes, I will tell the dealer). Does anyone know if Saab are going to have fixed the problem on the year 2001 model?

    Does the 9-3 experience the same issue?

    Thnaks in advance
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    No the 9-3 does not experience the same problem.

    I have heard Saab stating that they were going to try to fix the fuel tank problem for the 2001 9-5 models, but don't count on it. Right now, they can't even figure out what to do with the current models, and they blame the changes on the U.S. government which made them address emissions issues. All the other manufacturer got it right, except saab.

    I am glad one more shopper was not deceived into buying the car and then getting the "thunk" noise upon braking every time when the gas tank is between 1/2 and 3/4 full. I now use the thunking noise to keep track of how full my gas tank is.
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    The sloshing and thunking takes place when the fuel tank is 1/2 to 3/4 full. The Thunk feels as if somebody hit you from behind. The sloshing is a constant nagging issue. Saab blames the problem on changes it had to make to comply with U.S. emissions issues, and it refused to fix the problem in a satisfactory way. Instead, it has offered a fix which puts foam into the gas tank and removes 2-3 gallons of capacity (they already took out a gallon capacity in making the original change). It is clear that Saab does not want new customers to find out about the problem, because they will not purchase the vehicle. At the same time, saab will not fix the problem because they are already losing a lot of money as a company, and cannot afford to deal with customer support issues.

    As stated before, ask questions to your dealer, and don't settle for evasive answers. Ask to test drive the vehicle with the gas tank a little less than 3/4 full so you can see the problem yourself. Once you drive the car home, its too late if the Thunking annoys you all of the time. It should be noted that this problem does not affect cars manufactured in early 1999 before the fuel tank changes were made.

    Hope the information is helpful, and I hope Saab "volunteers" to fix the problem before it sees its 9-5 sales plummet further (which explains why it is so aggressive in leasing the 9-5 just to get the cars on the road).

    Regards to all.
  • trttrt Posts: 1
    Just want to say thank you for all of the helpful information about this 9-5 snafu. I've never owned a saab and I've been considering buying one...but I'll be more cautious now when looking at the 9-5. Thank you and I hope that this gets straightened out for all of you current owners.
  • I bought my new SE in May - it appears to have a built date of 01/00. I have yet to hear a slosh or a thunk. (and after running on a DTE once of 0 miles, it did take near the fuel capacity when I filled up)
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    First, the problem affects all cars built after mid-1999. It is a tank design change which affects all models.
    Second, the problem only arises when the tank is 1/2 to 3/4 full. Some have reported on the "sedan" site (other than me) that it feels as if someone has hit you from behind. My tank feels that way sometimes in certain braking situations, and in other situations, the thunk is less distinct. Sometimes, I cannot hear the thunk at all if the radio is blasting. Depending upon your driving and braking style, you may improve or worsen the situation.
    Third, the design change already took out a gallon of capacity. Saab merely changed the sales brochures to reflect the one gallon loss, so yes, you did get the published fuel capacity which is one gallon less than some 99 models. If you try saab's so-called fix to the problem, which means putting foam in the tank, you will lose another 2-3 gallons capacity (you will lose your car for up to a week), and there is no guarantee that the fix will work.
    Saab has openly acknowledged the problem, and has published the technical bulletin with the inadequate fix to the saab service technicians, so you are lucky if you don't notice the issue.
    For any new buyers, test drive the vehicle with the fuel tank in the "affected" zone. As a side, ask your saab dealer to put the tires at the normal 33-35 psi instead of covering up the rough suspension by deflating the tires to 28psi for test drives.
    Good luck to all.
  • smeilssmeils Posts: 1
    I am seriously considering buying a 9-5 sedan. However,I am concerned about the thunking gas tank. I have not test drove the car yet. Is this thunking a noticeable problem or is it a minor issue. If you had another chance to buy a car would this thunking keep you from buying the 9-5?
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    You have to test drive the car to recreate the issue. I leased the 9-5, so I don't have to worry about reselling the car to someone who doesn't care about the noise.

    The thunking is very noticeable without the radio on in certain braking situations. It literally feels like someone hit you from behind. The first few times I was stunned. Now that I am more use to the thunking, it is just a mild annoyance. Some have stated that they have never felt the thunking, others have stated that it really annoys them. If I had another chance to lease another car, the thunking would have gone into the leasing equation, and I might have leased another car which is more quiet. I certainly would not buy a 9-5 (as opposed to a lease) under any circumstances--this is for other reliability concerns as well such as reports of the car stalling while traveling at 40 mph for no apparent reason. With the subsidized leases from saab howeever, leasing is a viable option if the thunking/sloshing does not bother you. This all of course is just my opinion.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    So far we have two(2) complaints about the thinking. Yes a cataclysmic problem indeed! All 9-5 owners are horrified! I suppose when you say "a number of owners are upset" this is what you're referring to? :)

    I thought the foam in the tank was a fuel-permeable foam, so did not reduce fuel tank capacity by even close to three gallons.

    dave
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    There is a technical bulletin put out by saab on the issue. It takes a lot more than two complaints to cause that. Saab refuses to fix the problem by redesigning the tank. Who pays? New customers who are deceived into making a purchase only to regret that purchase later when they learn about the Thunk-thunk noises upon braking.

    I hope new customers are aware that there are several here with personal and possibly corporate agendas who may not want new customers to have free information about a $35-40k purchase. This site is here to improve discussion and debate. Customers should take this information and make their own decisions after asking educated questions to their dealer. We have aleady heard on the Sedan site that some dealers lie about this issue even though there is a Saab technical bulletin on point. Those are hopefully the dealers you want to stay away from. Hope this helpful for all.
  • saabbersaabber Posts: 84
    It should be noted that the foam fix requires 2-3 gallons of fuel tank capacity.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I thought I saw on saabnet that the foam was porus and would "soak up" gasoline, so that reduction in tank volume would not be equal to it's 2-3 gallon volume.

    Airplanes do this, so maybe they could bum some of the foam off of their airplane division. ;)

    dave
  • I have owned my '99 Saab for about 6 months and have 4000 miles on it and have been extremely frustrated by another gas tank issue. My "Check Engine" light has come on roughly 7-8 times since I bought the car. The light indicates a pressure problem/leak in the gas tank that is highlighted after getting gas. So I have had the car in to the dealer 7-8 times to have the light checked out, gas tank swapped (once) and every few weeks the light comes back on. Dealer continues to say there is a pressure leak in the gas tank......this is extremely frustrating to have to bring the car in every few weeks to have it looked at and have the "check engine" light turned off. Frustrating enough to regret the purchase.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    After 3 failed repair attempts for the same problem they are required to releive you of the car. This could man giving you another one, buying it back, etc. Perhaps if you are annoyed enough, you'd just want them to buy it back anf get something else.

    You might find this page very useful.

    http://www.defect.com/biblio.htm

    dave
  • I posted your problem on the regular Sedan site, and people are starting to give some very helpful suggestions (around # 365). I hope they help.
  • The sloshing and thunking takes place when the
    fuel tank is 1/2 to 3/4 full. The Thunk feels as
    if somebody hit you from behind. The sloshing is a
    constant nagging issue. Saab blames the problem
    on changes it had to make to comply with U.S.
    emissions issues, and it refused to fix the problem
    in a satisfactory way. Instead, it has offered a
    fix which puts foam into the gas tank and removes
    2-3 gallons of capacity (they already took out a
    gallon capacity in making the original change). It
    is clear that Saab does not want new customers to
    find out about the problem, because they will not
    purchase the vehicle. At the same time, saab will
    not fix the problem because they are already losing
    a lot of money as a company, and cannot afford to
    deal with customer support issues.

    As stated before, ask questions to your dealer,
    and don't settle for evasive answers. Ask to test
    drive the vehicle with the gas tank a little less
    than 3/4 full so you can see the problem yourself.
    Once you drive the car home, its too late if the
    Thunking annoys you all of the time. It should be
    noted that this problem does not affect cars
    manufactured in early 1999 before the fuel tank
    changes were made.

    Hope the information is helpful, and I hope Saab
    "volunteers" to fix the problem before it sees its
    9-5 sales plummet further (which explains why it is
    so aggressive in leasing the 9-5 just to get the
    cars on the road).

    Regards to all.
  • I phoned the service mgr. of Saab, Santa Ana, CA. Regarding fuel tank sounds, he said it occurs in only a small minority of the 9-5 cars they sell, and the foam fix-it does work. He said no known problems with ECU (electronic computer unit?). Is this info. to be trusted, or is he just putting out the company line? I wouldn't want to pass up getting the car, simply for a small statistical chance of a problem. Please advise and opine.
  • My 9-5 wagon had the ECU fail about a month ago - promptly and cheerfully replaced, but the service manager stated that there had been problems with the ECU, but that the more recently installed chips had not been failing. Apparently, early replacements failed , probably annoying owners. The problem should be fixed in current production models.
  • I have had my 95 for about 4 months and 10,000 miles and I have never never heard a noise from the fuel tank. I love the car!!!!
  • I have heard some say that they do not hear the noise and others say they do. First, this is a design issue which means every 9-5 has the same tank, and every 9-5 has the noise. The amount of noise you hear will probably vary based on your driving habits. Do you brake hard? Do you stop quickly in reverse? My 9-5 has the noise all of the time when the tank is between 1/2 and 3/4 full. I usually hear the noise first, and then I look at the fuel gauge to confirm that I am at the thunk point.

    To those that do not have the noise, that's great. To those that may work for saab and may post here to cover up the issue (as it appears that we seem to have 80% of all service technicians denying the problem, even though their own confidential saab service bulletin confirms the problem and describes it as something rolling around in the trunk), that is deceitful. I have to assume that out of all of these posts, there are many saab salesman and technicians hopping on to the internet during a slow day.
    For those that have reported the problem, I commend you for standing up to saab to make them fix the problem with a new tank design.

    For prospective customers, ask questions, test drive the car, and if the dealer denies what is in a confidential bulletin, go to another dealer, and tell the first dealer why. By the way, ask the dealer to inflate the tires to 35psi in the test drive (instead of the 28psi to hide suspension issues) so you can really feel the car's handling.

    As for ECU issues, I can state that I have personally felt bucking several times. Others have reported random stalling. On saabnet, someone posted a message called "is there anyone out there who does not have an ECU issue?" There were a few that said yes to be fair.
    Hope this is helpful. Take the information for what it's worth and compare it to those stating other things to make up your own mind.
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