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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Window calibration in Saab 9-3 convertible

Situation : the front windows are not closing completely. After they come up, they go 30% again down while the soft-top roof is up. This is the pinch protection and it normally happens, when someone has the fingers in the wrong place (between the glass and the roof).

If this happens without any fingers or other hurdle, the pinch protection doesn't work correctly, it needs a reset and afterwards the windows need to be recalibrated. But the process in the Owner's manual doesn't work. What now ?

Before going to the dealer (recommended in the manual) I've found this advise which worked.

Reason : The pinch protection is going crazy and needs a reset.

Solution : Some advises are saying about disconnecting electricity in the door or disconnecting battery which most people wouldn't like to do and/or don't know how to do. No need for games with cables. It is possible to pull out the correct fuse, which takes the door control module out of electricity. Actually it's easy.

How-to : 

First open the fuse box. To open the case, it must be pushed a bit in direction to the front wheels and than opened as the white part of the picture in shows :

It's the fuse #5 (description in manual : Control module in front doors; Park Brake Shift Lock (automatic transmission)) in the left row, you see the position in the second photo. Pull it out with the orange tool, which you see in the lower right corner of the photo. You will find it on the inner side of the fuse box case.

The fuse is going hard out of the tool, but it is doable without destroying the tool :)

Afterwards I waited 2 minutes and pushed the fuse back to its place.

You should have now the pinch protection after reset. Now do what the Owner's manual says :

1. Make sure the soft top is raised (up).
2. Make sure the doors are closed.
3. Let the engine idle. (running on neutral)
4 Press and hold the soft top button up until a chime ("ding") sounds.

My windows were opening and closing 2 or 3 times. And than everything worked fine. You've spared a lot of time to going for a reset to the dealer and probably a small amount of money.

Enjoy the ride.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

9-3 convertible pics from the web

While browsing around I've found two interesting pictures I'd like to share.

Great photo, wonderful color and wheels. A Saab 9-3 II Aero before september 2007. Really nice. Here is the original picture.

The second one is somehow provocative. I like it, but some people really dislike this red / blue combination of colours. The wheels are nice as well, white interior not so much. Unfortunately I forgot the source, it comes from some forum, this was just seen somewhere parking. As this is someones car, I've retouched the numberplate.

Cabrio ride hint : three countries and wine

Moravia (the eastern part of Czechia) is a very nice and mostly somehow chilled part of the middle Europe. One of the feelings from there is, they don't hurry too much. Some weeks ago we did a trip to the Bata Channel, which is in the middle part of Moravia. This time, we did a part of southern Moravia, which is a well-known wine area as well as the close region of Austria. The trip was a bit longer, here is a map :

It leads through 3 countries, starting in Bratislava/Slovakia, going through the old border cross Lanzhot to Moravia. Breclav, Lednice and Valtice are the orientation and visit points. There is much more in this area, for example Mikulov is a very nice town, so maybe next time. Than the trip leads to Austria, again through a very small local border cross and continues from the austrian wine area direction south-southeast to the river Morava (german : March). And than back to Bratislava.

 You can see it on google maps here.

Cabrio ride hint #1 : the way from Malacky through Studienka to Kuty. Click to see it on the map. It goes through a part of Zahorie full of woods. Watch out, these are military woods, but we are living in a peaceful area, so nothing special. The road is in good condition, most of it is through the woods, around some recreational area and lakes, some villages, most of the time empty from cars.

It looks like this :

The road leads than to Kuty and Lanzhot, the border cross to Czechia out of the highway and continue to the czech town Breclav. Than there are 2 important town names : Lednice and Valtice. In Breclav is a crossroads, with one way to Lednice and the second to Valtice, both towns are around 10km far. You will most probably spend more time in Lednice, so choose this one first.

The whole town of Lednice was inscribed in 1996 on the UNESCO World Heritage List (together with the twin manor of Valtice/Feldsberg) as "an exceptional example of the designed landscape that evolved in the Enlightenment and afterwards under the care of a single family.". Lednice is really beautiful. It's history goes at least 700 years back. Go to look around the palace and especially into the surrounding park. The park itself is huge, very very nice with things like 1000 years old trees, a glass-house full of plants, a minaret, a lake and canal and some tourist attractions. It is a beautiful 2-3 hours stop on a road trip.

Some pictures from the park :

Some practical hints : you can read more about tourist atractions here. Better mind the Onyx restaurant in front of the entrance to the park, it's slow and strange. The restaurant (Zahradni restaurace) down the hill, close to the parking place is much better. And watch out of the cyclists, this is a wine tasting area.

Cabrio ride hint #2 : the alley between Lednice and Valtice. The legend is saying, this was a much favoured place of Petr Bezruč, one of the fundamental czech poets. It is 7.5 km long alley between the fields and a pond, wonderful in good weather. One can feel, what happened there, when no cars existed - walking people and carriages. Behind the wheel I had a feeling to drive slowly and enjoy the environment. It looks like this :

Valtice is a nice and sleepy historical town very good for a next walk, maybe coffee and buying some of the excellent local wines. There are many possibilities for that. Next orientation point is Poysdorf in Austria, there are road signs to it in the town. In the afternoon you can follow also cars with austrian numberplates, which are returning home.

Btw. until now the built-in GPS navigation in my Saab was useless. I do not have slovak maps, in Czechia it doesn't contains Lednice and showed some some very strange roads. Valtice are there, Poysdorf as well. That's why I always have a paper map with me and for all cases google maps in the smartphone.

Cabrio ride hint #3 : Poysdorf - Dürnkrut - Marchegg - Hainburg an der Donau are the main places on the ~90km long austrian part. Starting in one of the austrian wine areas with wonderful roads, small hills and not too much traffic. The towns and villages on the road seemed to be very clean but empty. Where are all the people, are they living their lifes inside of the houses ? Or somewhere in the Easter holidays with children ?

There are many wind power generators around and I realised not the first time how radical these propellers change the character of the countryside. I fully agree with many of the green technologies and renewable energy sources but do these huge things really generate that much of power as they change everything around ? My mother lives on a hill in Bratislava with a view to austrian fields. When I was a child, it was a very flat view, these days I've counted around 90 propellers.

Whatever, for a trip, this is a nice part of the world. The whole ~220km roundtrip with all the stops took around 6-7 hours. It's a nice trip for two as well as for a family with children. Not too long, not too short, with many stop possibilities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Car apps : Audiogalaxy

With the the introduction of the Saab IQon system a support of  Spotify and Pandora music streaming services was mentioned. This is fine for regions with where this services are available but what about the other regions, such as I am living in ?  So I've tried to test a free streaming solution from my home PC to my Android based smartphone. Still in the faith, that the IQon system will offer a one-time payment data plan at least without roaming. The most important things for me were 1) reliability of the music stream, 2) user interface and 3) how much data it transfers, e.g. costs.

There are several applications for music streaming, some are free, some not. My choice was Audiogalaxy, due to positive user comments. Audiogalaxy consists of two parts - server part for the home PC, in my case Windows 7 64bit and a client part for the phone, in my case Android 2.2 on HTC Desire. Installation on both is trivial, however you must register on The logical condition for running the stream is, that  your home computer must be on and not hybernated. At my home PC with two disks the D: disk falls into sleep mode after a while of inactivity. No problem for Audiogalaxy. My only concern here is security, as I have no clue, what the server part broadcasts to the internet and how secure it is.

The user interface is elegant, nice and in most cases logical. It supports playlists, artists, albums and genres based browsing and a mode called Genie, which tries to find tracks in simillar mood as you listened before. What I am missing is my preferred browsing in directories instead  of to be dependent on mp3tags.

The reliability of the music stream is perfect. I've made a simple playlist and been driving first in the city and than out between villages and in the fields. Mostly HSDPA and sometimes Edge connections were available, in all areas without any single hiccup, pause or anything else. Some user comments were speaking about long waiting times between tracks. That was not my case, it played as I would have it stored on my SD card. Also with the "High Quality Audio" option switched on there were no skips. Technically this application works perfect.

The costs of the data transfer are the problem. I've played 6 mp3 songs (192kbps) which had together ~35MB and the transfer was the same 35MB. Total length of the 6 songs was 26 minutes. So no compression or any kind of data reduction technology. Since mp3 is a compression format itself, that is understandable. But that means 1.3 MB (megabytes) per minute and with 192kbps tracks I would ruin my 1GB/month data plan with 787 minutes which is 13.11 hours of streaming. With 320kbps mp3s that would be even 40% less = just below 8 hours.  This is definitely not a solution for me. But for people with unlimited data plan or people which does not have to pay their phone bill, that's a different story. Also wifi networks are fine. But for a car dependent on 3G better not. Roaming is also completely out of the game.

The application itself is great. But the costs to run it are still high. A bigger memory card is much cheaper, at least at the moment.  For the data measurement I've used Network Counter for Android, which seems to be accurate and measures the data by application.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cabrio ride hint : from middle Slovakia to Bratislava

On the way back home from middle Slovakia I've decided with a friend to do a cabrio ride through nearly half of the country out of the highways. The weather was great, sunny, in the hills it started around 10°C (for a Saab cabrio no problem) and than increased up to 20°C in the southern parts.

The whole road looked like this :

The 314 km long trip contains a lot of comfortable roads, nice sceneries and places. It is starting through the hills Polana heading north up to the ghaut and than down into the town of Brezno with a beautiful Low Tatras scenery with still snow in the higher areas. In this first part wasn't too much traffic and it is more for chilling ride than for higher speeds also in respect to the nature around. 

The road 66 to Banská Bystrica is a main road in a very long valley between two mountains, Low Tatras  (Nízke Tatry) and Slovak Ore Mountains (Slovenské Rudohorie). After Banská Bystrica you have to drive direction Bratislava on a highway (R1) and after ~25km turn to road nr. 525 direction Banská Štiavnica (well signed) which is one of the nicest slovak towns. Also the roads around were probably the nicest from the trip. It heads through broadleaved trees, small hills and lakes, many curves, ideal for changing chill and dynamic riding. We've seen many motorbikers enjoying the nice weather on the road as we did. This part was around 40km long and you have to head direction Levice. Through this distance the hills slowly fade away and the more you head to the south the more flatland you will see. 

After you come to Levice, go appx. 10km direction Nitra but than turn off the main road direction Šurany. You'll go through flat fields where already plants started to bloom and many trees around were cherry-trees, which bloom as the first (besides almonds more southly). This is another 40km passage with good roads for a bit quicker driving. 

After Šurany the orientation points are Šaľa, Galanta  and Senec and mainly Bratislava. You will continue through flatlands on one of the main roads in this area heading to the capital. You could alternatively go even more south and go parallel with the Danube river or even going through Komarno border cross to Hungary and continue on the hungarian side of Danube. These roads are also very nice. 

We did the whole trip in about 4 hours. Allowed speeds in Slovakia are 50km/h in town, 90km/h outside and 130km/h on highways. In case you choose a part of these roads, I would recommend the passage around Banská Štiavnica with many many nice places to visit and/or stay overnight. Have a pleasant trip.

I apologise for lower quality photos, these are just cut outs from short videos we did.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Car apps : Ulysse Speedometer

There are several free apps for smartphones available. Ulysse Speedometer was one of them I liked a lot. Here is a small review.

The basic approach of the application is to warn you, both on display and with sound, when you reach a certain speed, which you can define. Although it is a nice feature to have, I can watch the speed by myself, so it has no advantage for me. But there are other useful features which I appreciated and used.

Firstly, it has a really nicely designed user interface, everything what you could be interested in is on one screen - speeds, driven distances and time. And compass plus elevation. It counts daily, weekly and monthly statistics of time and distances, which are available on a "click" or "slide" in the user interface, as if the author wanted to minimes the need for hitting the Menu button.

The compass works perfect with altitude information as a bonus. The UI is nicely designed, you can use it in portrait  and landscape mode but you have to allow the automatic switch in the menu.

The speed accuracy is simillar to other applications such as The Saab Phoenix Application so I assume, it depends on the GPS accuracy and conditions than on the application itself.

The HUD (heads-up display) mode works fine incl. settings of colours, saturation and brightness of the numbers. The application shows the speedwarnings in the HUD as well. The appearance of the HUD on the windscreen depends very on it's angle to the car dashboard. For my Saab 9-3 it was fine. I got the HUD numbers in around 1/3rd from the bottom of the windshield but to keep the sight in front of me clean, I had to place the phone close to the middle of the dashboard.

Since GPS is battery hungry, you have to have also a power cable long enough to reach the phone and does not hinder you anyhow. 

This is one of the nicest apps I had in the car. In order to get full statistics, you dont forget to switch the application on. I am using it on HTC Desire and Android 2.2. You can download Ulysse Speedometer for example from the Android Market or Appbrain for free. It does have ads in it. For me it's no problem.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1865 HP

... was the result standing on the parking place at an evening meeting of the Puppy Hunters Saab fanclub in Slovakia. Some of the Saabs are tuned, some are not. Later came a white 900 which is in the number included as well, but darkness = no picture. This is by far not our whole fleet. Btw. in average it is ~233 hp per car.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Puppy Hunters Saab fanclub : next convertible arrival

A great convertible arrived today into our Puppy Hunters Saab fanclub. Our friend bought a very nice yellow 9-3 Convertible Aero 2.0T from 2005. It has 210 HP / 310Nm and nice 17" wheels.

Here it is besides a 9-3 Viggen :

This is the third 9-3 II convertible in our fanclub. The next is a blue 9-3 Aero 2.8 V6 Hirsch from 2006 and next is mine black 9-3 Aero V6 with Hirsch ECU.

Here they are :

And there are 3 more cabrios in the fanclub : a 900ng, a 9-3 SE 2.0T and one 900 which is "under construction". I hope all six cabrios appear on the next meet in summer. That would be a great collection of Saabs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Car color popularity and trends

Sometimes I go to car dealers just for looking at cars and last months I see so much white color. Also a recent visit at 2 Saab dealers was not an exception. So I started to think and search why exactly white and what is happening.

DuPont releases from time to time an automotive popularity color study, here you can find it for the year 2010. For Europe (relevant to me) it looks like this :

It doesn't look after too much white, isn't it ? I don't know how big is the marketshare of DuPont in the car color shipments. But since this is a third biggest chemical company worldwide with 60.000 employees, these data have relevance and show a big chunk of the colours of new cars.

Now look what happened at the Geneva Motor Show 2011 which was that important for Saab with introductions of PhoeniX concept, the IQon system, the Saab 9-3 Independence Edition, the whole 9-3 Griffin line and Saab 9-5 Sport Combi.

                                                             (a high resolution picture can be found here)

The first five colors are more or less the same but the customer demand is switching to white and in general to lighter colors, the car manufacturers are reflecting this. Is this a real customer requirements trend showed in some data or does someone tries to dictate the trend ? No clue.

Does Saab follow this trend ? Absolutely. Here are the colors for 2011 :

These are the colours available in Germany on the 9-3 Griffin. You can see white, black, grey, blue (Nr.6). No green (which is my favorite color), no light blue and only one red color shade. On the convertible a yellow shade would be nice. But anyway, to put this in perspective, the first two pictures show, why the actual Saab colors on the third picture are as they are.

sources :,,, saabim blog

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Intermediate service stop after 15.000km

15.000km after a last (intermediate pit stop) my 9-3 cabrio required the next one. I would go to service anyway, because the brakes started to produce strange sound as if metal on metal would shuffle - only below 50kmh and with unreduced break power.

All the usual stuff was done, while 7 litres of Mobil 1 Engine oil 0W40 was the most expensive part of the invoice (18€ / litre). But this type is very recommended everywhere, so I've took it. The breaks were a clear message - both rear break pads had to be changed. According to the service book, this is the first time for the car so at ~60.000km it is OK. Costs 63€ for both pads, which is more or less the same price as at elkparts as well as the engine oil price. The whole service stop was 1 day and I got a Saab 9-3 SportCombi 2.0 turbodiesel for the day. Interesting car, nice Fusion Blue Metallic colour and I liked the 2006 dashboard with many buttons and displays. For the 130kkm it had, for a car which was in so many hands, it was in suprisingly good condition. Diesel is lazy, but anyway I am used now to 275hp and this one had 100hp less.

Everything else works fine at the moment. Hopely it stays so.

The two pics below are from my recent Prague trip. A supersmall but safe hotel garage. I was very afraid because the entrance was very small as well, but everything was fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cabrio ride hint : The Bata Channel (CZ)

We did a trip recently which turned out as a nice place for a convertible ride and maybe also a place for vacation - The Bata Channel.

The Bata Channel is named after a known czech enterpreneur in the shoe industry Tomas Bata. It is located in eastern Czechia (Moravia) and it is a ~50km long water channel with small harbours and locks. A part of it is in the waterbed of river Morava and the rest are artificial channels. More photos are located here.

The main and nice part ranges from Rohatec to Otrokovice, where a nice and chilled road leads through villages and towns. In the country side full of small lakes and cultural heritage you can find small harbours but also surprises like for example The Aviation Museum Kunovice (360° panorama link) in a town where many planes were built. The people all around the road were relaxed and positively minded.

There is also a possibility to rent a boat and spend a few days on water. If you were on a canal barge trip in western Europe (France, The Netherlands etc), expect a smaller and simpler version of it and a bit more affordable. From my Netherlands experience, this could be a nice alternative closer to the nature. There is also an 80km bicycle road along the channel and many accommodation possibilities.  The boating season lasts from 1.5. till 28.10.

We did this trip from Bratislava and there is a possibility to mind the highway completely, here is a map. It is going through the western part of Slovakia called Záhorie, through an old and small border cross and than continues on the czech side. For a convertible ride, there is a minimum of roads leading between the fields where so often side wind comes from all directions.

A nice place for a weekend. We will do it again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My first Saab 9-3 Convertible video

I am driving a lot these days and often have my compact camera with me. When the situation allows, I take a picture and also some videos. So I've tried to complete a Saab video, just for fun and a bit for learning. Here is the result :

The majority is shot in my hometown Bratislava, Slovakia. The highway part is on the incredibly bad highway D1 somewhere between Brno and Prague in Czech Republic. And there is also a short bridge part - this bridge over the Danube river is near Hainburg in Austria, very close to Slovak/Austrian border.

The camera is Panasonic Lumix DMC LX-3, a great camera with 24mm wide Leica lens and F2.0 - 2.8 max aperture. The battery holds for ages. Unfortunately LX3 cannot zoom while shooting a video. The next generation LX5 can.

For fixing the camera in the car I still didn't find an ideal solution. I've tried the GorillaPod on 1-2 places in car, it's OK, but it does not absorb vibrations at all. The product is not built for that. Second try was a Cullmann Suction Pod, which is great but has very limited possibilities to fix in the car. Thanks Eva for lending me for a try !

The video was assembled in Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9, which is a nice piece of software.

As a music fan I couldn't decide for the right track. Than I decided for RJD2 - Reality because it's unique as the Saab itself. RJD2 is mainly a smart alternative hip-hop producer, the drum part is a strange hip-hop pattern but the rest is kind of rock. It's not a chart breaker but not pure underground. I like the track a lot. And it's 3 minutes allowed me not to be boring long.

Hopely you like it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New wiper blades and key battery

Recently my wiper blades began to "fade" and were about to change. After a long usage of Bosch blades on my former cars I wanted to try some other brand. I chose Valeo Silencio X-TRM. Good test results (not the best but still very good) and immediate availability on stock were the key things here.

For Saab 9-3 after 2002 the part number UM653 is the right one. They were easy to install, they are quiet and clean perfectly. Clean windscreen is a cool thing :) I will find out about their performance in snowy conditions next winter and about durability hopely in some years. They look ... hmmm modern.

Another thing which started to strike is the remote key. The distances of operation were shorter, sometimes I had to click for open/close twice or more times until yesterday, when I could not open my car at all and had to go the old analog way : to pull the metal key out, open and switch off the alarm. No one cared about the alarm sound.

 The battery should last for about 4 years of normal use.

... says the Owner's Manual. My 9-3 was built 07/07, which is 3½ years. This is OK. The manual also says about the change of the key battery very simple what to do : how to open the key, change the battery and synchronize with the car. The right battery has the number CR2032, the original was from Sony, I've got a Varta. I was a bit afraid about the synchronisation procedure. The manual says :

Unlock the car and insert the remote control into the ignition switch to
synchronize the remote control and car.

I've expected some delay and message from SID but it was really easy - first insert, waiting a second and it started the engine. Nice, no problems. For those of you, who want to see how the key looks from inside, here is a picture.