SAAB 9-5 Code 08 Fix

The heat stopped coming out of the driver's side (left) on my 2000 9-5 wagon. The cabin would get warmer, but the air blowing on my legs was cold. A brief internet search lead me to several forums that suggested that my blend door actuator was not working. They also pointed out that the 9-5 has a self diagnostic feature for the ACC (automatic climate control) system. The test is simple; start the car, then press "AUTO" and "OFF" at the same time. The system cycled through several gyrations then came up with 08 on the display. This indicates the left hand blend door is not working.

The blend door is activated by a geared stepper motor that rotates a shaft through about a 45 arc. The stepper motor shaft is restrained to 45 by a stop arm on the shaft. The problem is the stepper motor is somewhat stronger than the stop arm and after a while the arm breaks. Once the arm breaks the motor has enough power to break the shaft that drives the blend door. Bummer. The original fix was to replace the entire heater box. Buzz on the internet is this was like a 15 hours of labor. Some clever guy figured out that you could fix the problem with a piece of PVC pipe and a new stop arm. Since then the state of the art has improved and there is a lot known about this failure. These websites give lots of useful details on fixing the code 08 problem:

My goal with this page is not to write the definitive repair procedure, but to add to the information that is already there so that it will be easier for others to fix their cars. In short, reinforced versions of the stop arm and shaft are available in both plastic and aluminum. The plastic SAAB parts are the cheapest.

  • 12765865 Insert, Sleeve (repair part for shaft)
  • 5334701 Lever, HVAC (reinforced stop lever)
I used the Saab parts. The new stop arm is shown above along with my broken one. The people selling the aluminum parts say the plastic ones won't last. The Saab parts fixed the problem with my car and made it through the test drive. Time will tell how well they last.

Things are tight under the dash and it helps to know the tools that you will need before crawling under the steering wheel on your back.

  • T-25 driver to remove the lower dash panel and diagnostic connector
  • #2 Phillips drivers (stubby and long)
  • 6mm socket wrench with various extensions and drivers (to remove the stepper assembly and elbow)
  • T-10 driver to remove the stepper motor from the assembly

Dissasembly is fairly straight forward although akward under the dash. Remove the stepper motor assembly, then the elbow. From there you can see the stop arm and the blend door shaft. My shaft was OK, only the arm was broken.

I simply put the new stop arm on the shaft and put things back together. One of the issues with the reassembly is the stepper motor shaft will not be lined up with the blend door shaft and you can't get the motor back in. Others suggest that you can simply force the stepper motor into position by rotating the shaft. This did not seem like a good idea as a great amount of torque would be required to overcome the ears. I did the alignment differently, I took the positioner assembly apart as shown below. Two 6mm screws hold the cover on then two T-10 torx screws hold the motor to the housing. Once the motor is out you can rotate the shaft with ease. I simply took the gear box without the motor and rotated the shaft until it could be installed on the heater box. You can take the positioner off without rotating the shaft and the put the motor back on without loosing the shaft in position. Very easy.

Positioner assembly with cover removed.

I found that the indexing for the shaft illustrated by others for the aluminum shaft repair was different than what was needed for the plastic Saab parts. The two pictures below show the shaft in the proper position for reassembly. I put red paint on the end of the shaft to highlight the tab on the shaft.

Shaft in position for reassembly

Shaft with arm installed to show position

Everything went well. It took me about 2 hours to make the repair with all the head scratching, searching for advice on the Internet, taking pictures and running back into the garage for tools. I bet I could do the job again in about 1/2 hour. The bottom line is I have heat again. I hope this page helps you if you have a code 08 error.

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