Saab Check Gearbox & Check Engine Light On?

In all likelihood it’s just the connection between the sensor that sits in the middle  of the shifter and the automatic transmission.  This sensor will cause the Check Engine and Check Gearbox lights to come on simultaneously. Your Saab will also drive really slow and you’ll probably be afraid your transmission went out or is about to go out or that you blew a gasket.

Most likely not.

This sensor is filled with a heavy grease and sometimes on hot or cold days the grease gets fudged up.  When the contacts aren’t touching it sends a signal to the on-board computers that something is wrong in your transmission and this puts your car into “limp mode”. No turbo, no 4th gear, no high performance settings. Congratulations, you now drive a very slow Yugo.

Changing this sensor could cost you over $500.

Try this instead:

  1. Start car
  2. Put into drive (with foot on brake)
  3. Turn off car
  4. Turn key to the on position but do not start it
  5. Move the shifter from Park to 1st gear (up and down) about 5-10 times at medium speed
  6. Turn key to off position and Start, or Turn to off, remove key for a few seconds and replace it and start 

What you are doing is cleaning the sensors and also increasing the viscosity of the aforementioned fudgy grease in the sensor. The lights should go off and your car should be restored.

Good luck.




on “Saab Check Gearbox & Check Engine Light On?
15 Comments on “Saab Check Gearbox & Check Engine Light On?
  1. Hey Don- glad it worked.. you now have 3 months to a year before you’ll need to replace that part. If I were you i’d start shopping on ebay for it now. Sooner or later it will be doing this check engine thing several times per day, which becomes maddening and isn’t good for your engine.

  2. You should have received one of those $500,000 MacArthur Genius Awards. I’ve had this problem on and off for 4 years and I’ve just always relied on time to heal the problem. Thanks so much! But what part isn’t good for your engine?

  3. Thank you so much, we just moved across the country and just did not have the money for a car repair this month. You saved the day with this tip. I can not begin to express how grateful I am. I have a 99 Saab 9-5 Wagon, would you mind telling me the name of the part so that I can start looking the part up to buy it.
    Thank you a million times over.
    Best regards,
    The Very happy Brandon’s .

  4. A huge Thank You, Andy!!! Your 6-step fix worked a treat on my 2003 9-5 Vector. Had several goes, and had to slide shifter back & forth about 30 times in all before the lights went out. But it worked… many thanks!!!

    One other thing you might be able to help with. When in Sport mode, my car’s always had the problem when I kickdown of the gears ‘dragging’ (feeling like they’re slipping – not sure what the expression is in the US). At first I thought it was just turbo-lag, but definitely seems to be the autobox – but only when in Sport.

    I bought my car with 70km on the clock, but the previous owners had been neglectful with oil changes from about 50km to 70km. In the 25km since I’ve owned it I’ve had two engine oil & filter changes, and the sump strainer removed & cleaned-out. I’ve also had the gearbox oil & oil cooler changed & the gearbox ECU reset. That eased the problems in Sport a bit, but not for long. In normal auto mode everything is fine – it’s just in Sport that I have a problem.

    Do you think the autobox has basically ‘had it’, or is there a relatively inexpensive fix you know of?

    Many (and grateful) thanks,

    Malcolm in the UK

    • Hey Malcolm, it’s my understanding that sport mode merely changes the shifting points and pressure in the transmission. For whatever reason, your car doesn’t like this. My best advice would be to keep it out of sport. There’s a guy named Walter Wong in Los Angeles that you could call or email who would definitely know and offer you free advice, he’s probably one of the worlds most experienced Saab technicians, check him out here:

  5. Andy, Thanks for the insight. I still have the lights on but the car is definitely not in limp mode. I took it out and used the manual shift through all gears worked normally. also used regular auto mode. It also worked normally.. However the Engine Mil and gearbox limited performance and contact Saab dealer lights are still on. Does this mean it is a false positive?

  6. My 2010 Saab 93 displays the limited performance light and will not move except after the car has set for 15 minutes the car will go for about thirty seconds and then nothing. I checked the fluid and tried the procedure you have recommended.

    This car has low miles,13,000 and the fluid appears normal. The car was flooded, in hurricane Sandy.

    Any ideas?

  7. Hey. My 2000 saab goes into Limp mode when my car is idle for a while. & if I turn it off I’d have to wait like an hour before it’ll turn back on. I tried the shifting method mentioned above to see if that was the case but it wasn’t. Help !!

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