What Happens If Saab Runs Out of Gas?

Saab 9-3 fuel pumpSaab 9-3 fuel pump

One reader of Boston Herald had a big problem with his Saab. This problem can happen to anyone, so it is interesting to hear what kind of consequences can befall,  if your Saab runs out of fuel on the way.

Could it really cost $1,100 to fix Saab that ran out of gas?

Question: I had my 5-year-old Saab towed after it ran out of gas. I was told the car now needs a new fuel pump, which will cost $1,100, because that’s what happens to the Saabs when they run out of gas! Sound crazy to you? GM offered $2,500 off a new GM car. Suggestions?

Saab ran out of gas
Saab ran out of gas

Answer: The significant question is this: Did the car actually run out of gas or did the fuel pump fail? Until this question is answered, I’d hesitate to replace the pump, or the car for that matter.

It’s never a good thing to run out of gas. Besides the issues of inconvenience, location, danger, frustration, etc., it’s a bit hard on the vehicle mechanically. Modern fuel pumps are located inside the fuel tank and are cooled by the flow of fuel through them. Allowing the pump to run empty can generate heat that can lead to shortened fuel pump life.

Most fuel injection systems will run the fuel pump for a couple of seconds when the key is first turned on to make sure the system is pressurized for a fast start. Listen for this. If, after adding fuel to the tank the fuel pump doesn’t deliver fuel, have the shop confirm whether the pump is running or not.

They can also test fuel pressure and flow by disconnecting the fuel line under the hood and operating the pump with a diagnostic tool. If the pump still doesn’t run or deliver fuel, it’s probably bad.

Ironically, the emergency test to determine if the fuel pump is bad is to pound on the bottom of the fuel tank with a rubber mallet while cranking the engine.

If the vibration from pounding starts the pump and the engine fires up, drive to the shop to have the pump replaced.

Saab 9-3 Fuel Pump Replacement

If you broke down the fuel pump, you can use this DIY video tutorial. The manual says to remove the fuel tank to get to the pump, but it can be accessed from the top with some cutting.

Saab 9-5 Fuel Pump Replacement in 4 minuts

A quick DIY runthrough on how to change the fuel pump in a SAAB 9-5 99-05. The fuel pump is an OES Walbro TU301 and the tool used to remove the retaining ring is part number 8394462, both in stock at! The whole job should take around 2hrs at a consistent pace. Make sure to have your bucket ready to avoid spilling fuel. Three Tips if you are doing this job before the pump has failed:
1) Wait until the tank is almost empty.
2) Run the car with the fuel pump fuse removed to relieve pressure in the lines.
3) Before restarting the car with new pump installed, prime the pump by turning the ignition on and off a few times while checking for leaks

Source: BH

1 Comment

  • The fuel pump relies on petrol to lubricate the pump bearings as well as cooling them.
    With the C900 and 9000 models there was a cover in the boot floor to allow access to the pump. Obviously the bean counters at GM decided that this was too expensive!
    After some years the plasticiser leacehes out of the components and they can become brittle and snap. Once you have access to the top of the pump, it’s a good plan to pour a kettle of very hot water over the ‘plant-pot’ to soften the plastic parts a little.
    When trying to pull out the fuel line connectors, don’t be tempted to grab them by the fuel line elbow. As the plastic is brittle, they will most likely snap. From memory they are around £12 each and not streightforward to reconnect to the fuel lines. Us a pair of point nose pliers pull squarely upwards on the cyindrical part that fits into the pump.

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