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after 1992

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Changing SAAB key fob batteries:
NG900 & 9000
9-3 (9400) to 2002

Kit required:

  • small philips type screwdriver (type 1 and type 1A key)
  • drawing pin (type 2 key)

Materials required:

  • Battery (see 'identifying battery type' below)

Estimated time required:
5-7 minutes

Procedure & rationale

The official SAAB service schedule states that at every service the key fob batteries must be checked or changed as required. When cars fall out of the dealer network as they get older, this simple procedure tends to get overlooked. Usually -when 9-3 or 9-5 owners least expect or need it- a message appears on the SID "Change key fob battery".

Owners of NG900s or 9000s with the optional SAAB alarm/immobiliser were less fortunate: if the fob didn't unlock the doors, it was time to change the batteries!

Initially, the author wondered whether readers might not feel patronised about instructions how to change key batteries and key care in general but one owner landing on the doorstep unexpectedly waving a white flag (!) triggered a change of heart which was reinforced by the awful story which is recalled in the next section.

Best practices

A patrol for one of the major breakdown recovery organisations here in the UK told us that many drivers take very little care of their keys, chucking them around, dropping them down drains or just letting the batteries go flat. One of our close friends and neighbours lost BOTH family cars after a millennium style burglary, after bold thieves used a fishing rod through the front door letter box to lift the house and car keys from the hall table. If that wasn't bad enough, a plasma TV, iPod, stereo system, various mobile telephones and much else was taken - all wheeled away in the family cars during the night. To have both one's cars stolen is bad enough but to have the family home and key possessions taken too is an awful experience.

Change key batteries at least annually (SAAB dealers will -probably- change these for you for about £8 (check first!)
Use only quality batteries (Panasonic, Sony, Maxell etc)
Make sure you have a spare key (SAAB dealers will assist if you don't but you will need proof of ownership)
Put keys down gently and make sure they cannot fall down drains or into buckets of water or puddles etc
Get into the habit of storing your car keys in your home where intruders would not find them quickly or easily
Dispose of used batteries responsibly

Leave a key battery change until it becomes an emergency
Remove a key transponder battery until you have sourced a replacement
Chuck keys around (Mercedes keys are easily damaged btw - not funny at around £150 a pop)
Get your car keys wet or immersed in water
Leave your car keys in plain sight of your front door (or anywhere else obvious)

If the key transponder fails to unlock the car without warning either of the following conditions may be true:

  • The signal may be blocked or disrupted by the proximity of a mobile telephone mast
  • The vehicle battery may be completely discharged (even if the dashboard mounted LED is flashing)
  • It may be the wrong key! (with >1 SAAB here, it happens frequently!)

Identifying the battery type

NG900/9000 key fob (alarm/immobiliser was an optional extra)

Application: SAAB 9000 & NG900 with optional SAAB security system
Description: 2 button black plastic transponder
Battery type: CR 2016
Quantity: x2







9-5 key types


Application: first generation 9-5 (Type 1 & 1A key) 1998-2001
Description: 1 piece key and transponder (key blade released by button). This arrangement was superceded in production so that by mid 1999, there was a similar shaped transponder (type 1A) but the key was no longer part of that transponder.
Battery type: 3v Lithium CR 2032
Quantity: x1

Application: second generation 9-5/9-3 (Type 2 key) 2001 on
Description: a far neater solution that dispensed with the need for a bulky separate transponder..
Battery type: 3v Lithium CR 1632
Quantity: x1

Changing SAAB NG900 & 9000 batteries

Fit the batteries with the + terminals uppermost

This is quite easy. Simply prise the transponder apart (carefully) at the key ring loop to remove the separate battery cover.

Pop out the old batteries and install the replacements (type CR2016), ensuring that both are fitted with the + side facing upwards.

Refit the cover by pressing firmly. With the car in range, you need to press BOTH buttons for around 10 seconds after which the red light stops flashing. Finally, press the left hand button to complete the resynchronisation procedure.

Job done or as the Meerkat on the TV would say: "Simples!"


Changing type 1 key batteries (key type 1 and 1A)

Retaing screw is hidden in a recess at the keyring end







This is pretty straight forward stuff: use a small Phillips type screwdriver to undo the single retaining screw concealed within the recess at the top of the key fob transponder (at the key ring end).

With the screw loose, the top of the transponder can now be lifted away. Slip out the single battery carefully and replace.

Finally, with the car in range, arm and disarm the alarm by pressing the button at least five times to re-synchronise the transponder with the car

Changing the type 2 key battery

The type 2 key fob transponder is a different proposition from the earlier type. The key fob transponder case has a pop out section that is retained by a plastic catch that can prove hard to depress and many will be found to have been secured with Superglue or similar adhesive. There is a definite knack to undoing these keys and it would not be exaggerating the case to say that some owners have become exasperated when trying to do the job themselves.

Use the access hole to depress the retaining latch on the cover

We use a heavy duty drawing pin to depress and push away the catch before opening the cover to remove the battery. Pop out the old battery and install the new one, making sure that it is properly located behind the two retaining heels before replacing the cover. With the car in range of the transponder, you now need to reset the key by pressing the arm/disarm buttons at least 5 times.


More key transponders coming soon! Compiling and editing this article absorbed much more time than was allocated in the schedule and further photographs will follow in due course. (R.Whiteman, Editor. 6th August 2009)

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