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A Saab Story - My 1997 Saab 900s named Garrus

Project cars, modifications or other general showoff

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FrankTheCat

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~4k mile update

PostMon Dec 02, 2013 1:11 pm

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Well the past thousand miles have been rather eventful.

+Did another oil change at ~3250 miles since the first one. Despite using Mobile1 EP the first time, my oil was already really sludged up, probably from crap left over from the previous owner's poor maintenance routines. Closing in on a thousand miles and the oil has barely turned brown. So far so good?

+New head unit! This one has a flaky volume knob, but I got it with the security code, working, for $80 shipped. Now I have all the bass in the world again.

+I got an alignment/wheel balance which cured 90% of my pulling and weird vibrations at highway speeds. Rear axle needed shims to fix the camber, and the jam nuts on the tierod ends were so rusty my mechanic had to replace the tierod adjustment screws in order to even do the front wheel alignment.

+I still get a pretty hard pull to the left at 70mph+, but the steering rack mounting bushings are disintegrating, most likely letting the rack flop (relatively) free when put under highway stresses. An aftermarket solid clamp and brace are in my car's near future.

+I really need to get tires. I managed to do something dumb around a lightly snow-dusted corner I must've driven around thousands of times by now:
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I tapped the brakes to slow down, lost traction on the rear wheels, and did a somewhat controlled 15mph slide (as in, I managed to keep my car pointed forward) right into a very muddy ditch. Luckily I managed to get it out without a tow truck, thanks to the winter mode button and an older guy in a beige Camry who stopped to help push, and I didn't do any permanent damage.

Anyway, things are going relatively good, despite getting significantly worse mileage on winter blend gas (~24mpg) compared to what I got in September (~28mpg,) and my center exhaust pipe starting to leak from the flex pipe.
Last edited by FrankTheCat on Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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FrankTheCat

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  • Location: Foothills of the Adirondacks

Brown Santa Brought Shiny Stuff Part 1?

PostThu Dec 19, 2013 7:57 pm

I apologize in advance for the giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiant images.

A long, heavy box was dropped off by the beleaguered UPS guy at almost 7PM today from Taliaferro Imports AKA GenuineSAAB:
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Inside the long, heavy box was shiny stuff for my car:
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A 22MM rear anti-roll bar (a big improvement from the rusted-to-hell 18MM stock bar,) a solid billet steering rack clamp and brace, plus two two-piece polyurethane steering rod bushings.

I'll hopefully get to installing the steering stuff tomorrow, even though I'm still waiting on the poly bushing for the driver's side of the steering rack from Powerflex (US distributor was back ordered and the one I ordered from the UK will take forever to get here.) The ARB will have to wait until I'm up to the task of cutting off the rusted bolts holding the old one onto the rear axle, which will probably be in the spring when I don't have to roll in melting snow to crawl under the rear of the car.

Stay tuned for more Saabing.
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FrankTheCat

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Fedex Delivered The Rest In A Uhaul Truck??

PostFri Dec 20, 2013 1:26 pm

So the last bit of steering bushings, etc. arrived today in a Uhaul truck driven by a Fedex delivery guy.

It was inside this box, which was wrapped in about ten layers of that sticky black shipping plastic:
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I was kinda concerned I ordered the wrong thing at first...

But here it is, Powerflex part number PFF66-411 for 1996.5-2002 Saab 900/9-3s with the small round steering rack:
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Amazingly the one I ordered from England got here before the one I ordered from PowerflexUSA.

Stay tuned for install pictures and possibly video?
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FrankTheCat

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Steering Rod Bushing Hell

PostSat Dec 21, 2013 5:36 pm

So I tackled removing the steering rod bushings first, thinking it'd be the easiest. Oh boy, was I wrong. Very, very wrong. Astronomically wrong.

Internet told me this should take 30 minutes; I don't know what tools they were using or how small/strong their hands are, but that certainly was not how long it took me.

Here's a 5 step list on how to do this simple job.

Step 1 - Remove the bolt lock washer thing (SAAB WIS says it's a 'spacer??') while making sure not to drop it down behind the engine over and over and over:
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Step 2 - Jam a wrench in there to remove the bolts, realize those bolts probably haven't been removed since 1996 and will probably need a 10ft breaker bar to remove. Proceed to tear apart your toolboxes to find your 3/8" breaker bar in order to proceed.

Step 3 - Try and remove the bushings with pliers for a while (two hours recommended) before realizing you need a gear puller or something. Give up for the day, since it's dinner time and you're frustrated

Step 4 - Buy a gear puller from Sears, and somehow manage to cram it between the firewall and intake manifold in order to remove the old bushings. Cry sweet, sweet tears of victory when you succeed:
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Step 5 - Put the new bushings in and reassemble everything without remembering to take photos. Go on a test drive and be amazed by how much of the rubbery steering feel is gone, and take a blurry picture of the steering rack when you get back:
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All in all, I'm tired and my arms look like they got mauled by an angry cat. But the difference just these $20 bushings made already is mind blowing. I can't wait to feel how my car handles with the steering rack clamp&brace, and a polyurethane bushing.

More to come when I recover a bit from today's events.
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FrankTheCat

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  • Location: Foothills of the Adirondacks

Installing The Taliaferro Steering Rack Brace

PostSun Dec 22, 2013 9:51 pm

So today I put my car back in the garage, put it on jackstands and yanked the front wheels off:
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Then I started unbolting the passenger side steering rack clamp:
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And wiggled the old, worn bushing off:
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Putting the new clamp on was interesting. I had to use a prybar to pull the steering rack away from the firewall, then sneak the bottom of the clamp behind the rack. Eventually I succeeded and started bolting it in place:
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Then I put the brace arm on. This took me the better part of 45 minutes simply because the hole on the fender that you're supposed to bolt it to didn't quite line up. Eventually I strong-armed it into place and got the bolt to go through:
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Smug that I managed to do that in less than two hours, I started unbolting the driver's side steering rack clamp in preparation for removal of the old bushing. This turned out to be a really dumb idea:
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I literally had one click on the ratchet, so removing the top bolt and bottom nut took literally half an hour through the steering rod opening. I couldn't get the bushing off through there, so I had to unbolt the fuse box to get access from the top, and after getting the bushing out by using a wood screw to push it off the rack, I realized my folly.

I ordered the wrong bushing.

Powerflex part number PFF66-411 is for the passenger side, small round part of the rack. I needed PFF66-412, for the flat bottomed large part of the rack on the driver's side. So I wasted an hour and a half removing the old bushing for absolutely no reason.

It took me another hour and a half to put everything back together, put the wheels back on and put the car on the ground. Toward the end, I was cursing furiously.

I also found the PCV cracked in half, and that some asshat had (poorly) kludged it back together with silicone and a piece of fuel hose. That would explain the slight vacuum leak I could hear when the engine was running. I ordered a new one and a new grommet for the valve cover from eEuroparts, plus a new sun visor clip so I won't hit myself in the head when flipping the sun visor down.

Anyway, the results. My car now handles fantastically; the rubbery steering feel is gone, the wheels are now infinitely more responsive to my steering input, and the car doesn't dart/pull at speed anymore. Money and time well spent. I can't wait until the roads are dry and the incredibly thick fog we've had for the past three days lifts, so I can enjoy this new freedom of being able to go fast without the constant fear the wheels might start pointing in a direction I don't want.

Now to figure out if it's the accessory belt or one of the idler pulleys that's squealing...
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FrankTheCat

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A Post-Christmas Present For My Car: A Bag of Plastic Bits

PostThu Dec 26, 2013 1:20 pm

So a box from eEuroparts arrived this morning:
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It contained a headlight wiper kit (because with how salty the roads get around here, and how much night driving I do, I legitimately need them,) two wiper arm nut covers, a sun visor mounting clip, and a PCV kit.

First thing I replaced was the sun visor clip. It's been broken since I got the car, and the annoyance of having the sun visor whap me in the head whenever I put it down finally pushed me to buy a new one. Here you can see the remains of the old clip:
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Came out pretty easily with a T10 torx screwdriver:
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New one went in fine:
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I love when things on my car work properly and don't hit me in the head.

And now for the disastrous PCV:
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I don't know what was going through the head of the asshole who did this, especially considering a new PCV and grommet was a whole $3.50 or whatever.

All fixed now though:
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But the destroyed old PCV was letting crankcase vapors through uninhibited, and causing a nasty vacuum leak. Car runs better now, but I think when it warms up over 32F again I'm going to have to clean the throttle body and IAC:
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Pretty nasty around the throttle butterfly and down the IAC input. Sigh.

And I traced the accessory belt squeak down to the center idler pulley. Once I pull together the cash I'll do a short belt conversion, replace the upper idler with an aluminum one, and replace the tensioner pulley for good measure.
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FrankTheCat

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Cleaning The Throttlebody And IAC

PostSun Dec 29, 2013 1:43 pm

This is what my car's cold-start idle sounded like as of this morning:


The way the idle hunted around like it did lead me to believe the IAC valve was dirty, probably because of the completely destroyed old PCV.

And I was very right; here's what I found when I pulled it off the car:
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The IAC, much like the throttle body around the butterfly, was caked in an oily sludge.

To rectify that, I attacked it with paper towels, throttlebody cleaner, and qtips:
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And then wiped down the throttle body to get it as clean as possible too:
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Now my car idles nice and smooth:


Well worth the less than half an hour of my time it took. Now to see if that improves my gas mileage any.
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FrankTheCat

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Idler Pulley Replacement and Short Accessory Belt Mod

PostSun Jan 12, 2014 5:15 pm

So it was 45F out today, positively balmy compared to the -10F weather I've been used to; perfect weather to put my car in the garage and finally fix the squealing accessory belt.

After fiddling with my floor jack (it keeps eating o-rings,) I put my car up in the air, removed the passenger wheel and got to work. First up was removing the air intake and air filter box from the car so I could get better access:
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Main goal of this job was to replace the tensioner pulley and upper idler pulley, and circumvent the middle idler pulley by running a 10" shorter belt. I'm not sure why Saab put the middle idler in the first place (maybe to give the belt better grip on the PS pump?)

Next step was removing the plastic access panel to the crank pulley, and using a 1/2" breaker bar and an allen key to slack the tensioner:
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Then I fished out the old belt, giving me a bare set of pulleys to work with:
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And here's a shitty photo of the condition of the old belt:
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Judging by the wear and the receipts I have, this belt may or may not have been original. Upper idler pulley was equally destroyed; the bearing was nice and notchy and sounded like it was ingesting itself.

Replacing the upper idler was easy enough, but the tensioner pulley was another story. With only ~3" of clearance between the bolt holding it in and the frame rail, I had to remove the whole assembly to get it off:
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Then I realized the pulley was held on with a T35 torx head bolt, which meant a half an hour trip to Sears so I could spend $10 finally buying a torx driver socket set. Stuck the tensioner in the vice to get the bolt (which was pretty well stuck in there) out. Removing the pulley revealed the bearing had been spitting its grease out for a while; good thing I replaced it:
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I couldn't torque the pulley to 18ft. lbs in the vice, so I just got it as tight as I could and used some blue locktite. Tightening the tensioner back on was a matter of vice grips on an 8MM allen key because I wasn't going back to Sears to get an allen driver socket set too.

Here's the end result:
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And a helpful diagram I drew up in MS Paint for any fellow NG900/OG9-3 owner attempting this same procedure:
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After buttoning the car back up and putting it down on the ground, I was greeted with a completely silent accessory belt. Now all I can hear is a slight rattle when the engine's cold, which I really hope isn't the timing chain. Replacing the chain, sprockets, tensioner and guides requires engine removal, something way beyond my skills and toolkit, meaning a >$500 trip to the mechanic and a very sad wallet.
Last edited by FrankTheCat on Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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FrankTheCat

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Closing in on 6 months and 6K miles; what's cooking.

PostMon Feb 10, 2014 4:05 pm

Not much has happened since I performed the short belt mod. Car has been driving mostly normally, the exhaust slowly getting louder, collecting speeding tickets like there's no tomorrow.

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What's up next? Well:
-I need to replace the center flex pipe, the center muffler and all the exhaust clamps before I get a fix-it ticket.
-I need to drop the oil pan to clean it and the oil pump pickup screen. My cold start oil pressure isn't super good, and judging by the sludge I drained out of the engine when I got the car, $10 the pickup screen is clogging with crud. I'll probably cut the balance chains while I'm under there for that extra 4-5HP.
-I need new tires. The front tires were originally on the rear, and the tires didn't get rotated until the original fronts were halfway worn. Result? The tires are conditioned to the horrible camber the rear axle used to have, and 'push' off of the road crowns, pulling the car to the left very hard above 55mph. I want that behavior gone.
-RUST REPAIR. I swear to Beelzebub I am not allowing another one of my cars to dissolve into iron oxide if I can. Once the weather warms up, I'm hitting Harbor Fright armed with coupons with an intent to buy angle grinders and other power tools.
-Swaybar endlink replacement and urethane bushings. Just another step on the road to turning my pig of a car into a well handling machine.
-Finally installing my 22mm GenuineSaab rear anti-roll bar.

Current wishlist:
-GenuineSaab 6pt front subframe brace.
-GenuineSaab removable hatch brace.
-GenuineSaab strut brace.
-GenuineSaab air intake tube.
-Bilstein HD shocks/strut inserts.
-A better sound system.
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FrankTheCat

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Perhaps a rename to Theseus is in order; more parts to repla

PostThu Feb 20, 2014 4:30 pm

So last week I ordered a bunch of stuff from eEuroparts and TheSaabSite. Here it all is, along with some other things I already had:
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What's in that pile of things to install on my car?
-5.1qts of 10w30 Mobile1 and an oil filter
-Cabin air filter
-Fuel filter
-Passenger/driver tie rods, tie rod ends, adjustment screws, and spring retention plate
-Swaybar endlinks
-GenuineSAAB 22mm rear ARB
-Poly rear trailing arm pivot bushings

Ho boy, do I have hours of incredible fun ahead of me.

Firstly, a bonus image of what color my car used to be, before it got the piss-poor respray it has now:
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I went about replacing the cabin air filter first, since it was technically the easiest thing to do. That necessitated removing the wiper arms:
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Then the outer cowl shell:
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Then the incredibly brittle inner cowl shell, in order to get access to the (incredibly dirty) filter:
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Here's a comparison to show what I mean by incredibly dirty. I was breathing through that.
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All better:
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While I drained the engine oil, I changed the fuel filter, because it looked like this:
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Keep an eye on that screw holding the clamp together. That arsehole made this 15 minute job take ten times longer and at least that much more hellish.

Eventually I got the new one, with new washers, in the car:
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Notice how the clamp now has a shiny new bolt and nut holding it in place. That's thanks to the old one stripping out, breaking the spring plate it was screwed into, and flying off in a cloud of rust flakes when I was removing the inlet banjo bolt. Nothing is ever easy on my car, I swear.

It was worth it though; engine idle is a lot smoother, no more hesitation when I stomp on the gas, and I bet the gas mileage will improve significantly (it did- see below, versus the ~25mpg i was getting:)
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Anyway, watch this space for a post on me replacing all of my steering gear and swaybar endlinks next time it's warm.
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Jonathan

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Re: A Saab Story - My 1997 Saab 900s named Garrus

PostSun Feb 23, 2014 5:29 pm

Frank

I've been. Following your posts for months

Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing your saab story
2008 black c6 z51 with npp m6
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FrankTheCat

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Re: A Saab Story - My 1997 Saab 900s named Garrus

PostMon Feb 24, 2014 1:29 pm

Jonathan wrote:Frank

I've been. Following your posts for months

Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing your saab story


Thanks! :D

It's nice getting reactions to my efforts in dredging this poor car up from the deep end that aren't sighs from my girlfriend*.

Meanwhile in Project Car Hell, I silently pray for winter to end so I can fix my steering and get new tires:
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*not because she's sick of the car (she has a 1997 900S vert that she loves, too) but because it usually means I'm spending money on it when I should be spending it on something else...
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