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A Saab Story - My 1997 Saab 900s named Garrus

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FrankTheCat

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Rust Hasn't Been Sleeping, Just Chugging Adderall.

PostSun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm

So last Wednesday, I was driving back from night classes at college. I got as far as leaving the parking lot, when I started hearing a weird rattling noise. It's not unusual for all the crap I keep in my trunk to rattle, especially given how bumpy the roads are right now, so I payed no mind to it.

Then I got on the highway, and it got louder and louder. Eventually I got concerned enough to pull off the next exit, and into a McDonald's parking lot. What I found caused me to release a stream of obscenities:
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The reason I was so pissed off, is one, I was told this had already been repaired when I got the car, and two, I checked the shock towers 5 months ago and they were fine. All of this rust damage occurred between then and now.

I've spent the past couple of days trying to find a shop that will touch my car; seems most guys are too afraid of liability if a repair fails when they're not dealing through an insurance company. Eventually I got someone over to come look, so I tore apart my trunk to give better access to the damage. That meant removing the seat backs and all the trunk liners/insulation:
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Which left me with this:
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So here's a closeup of the passenger side shock mounting point. Unlike the driver's side, this hasn't been repaired, but the rust seems worse than it is. The metal is all solid up until the hole where the shock ripped through, which seems a bit strange:
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Unfortunately the driver's side is nice and rusty now. Seems the road salt just wicked right up through the perforations in the pigeon poop welds around the patch:
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Tomorrow I find out if the shop I found, which is a 40 mile drive away, will take it, and how much the repair will cost. Hopefully not too much. ;-;

Also pulled apart the front of the car to remove the broken fog light, repair the headlight wiper, and properly attach the blinker:
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The car looked about as angry as I am about having to pay to get the shock mounts fixed instead of buying tires and getting an alignment. Anyway, the headlight wiper now works properly and the blinker is attached without tape (but still needs to be replaced.) Need to find a replacement fog light, too.

Hopefully I get my car back on the road and buy new tires asap. Currently at the whim of friends and family when it comes to rides, which sucks bawls.
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FrankTheCat

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The First Trip On A Flatbed; Hopefully The Last, Too.

PostFri Mar 14, 2014 4:22 pm

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Gone until roughly next Wednesday, when I'll have a bill similar to the following to pay waiting with the car:
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Looks like I'll have to pray over my tires until June. I should probably start a "Save Private Garrus" fund at this point.
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FrankTheCat

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Scarred But Alive

PostFri Mar 21, 2014 8:33 pm

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Finally got my car back today; here's the final bill:
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Better than I expected!

Here's the results:
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They even fixed the hole in the floor and some of the surface rust on the driver's rear inner quarter panel:
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Buuut the cheapness came at an [expected] cost:
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Once it gets warm enough I'm going to fix that, and the rust on the rear fenders:
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Still baffling why my car is completely rust free forward of the rear seats. From the rear seats back, rust is popping up like acne on a greasy forehead. Hopefully I can stop it and fix it before it gets worse.

Anyway, while putting the interior back together, I decided to put the speakers where they're supposed to be. Took me an hour and a half of using visegrips and hammers to get the mounts back into shape, thanks to the nicompoop that tried to put them in with visegrips and hammers (and gave up,) in order to get them in:
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When I tested the wiring by blasting Pendulum, I realized why the rear speakers seemed so quiet; they're both blown. Sigh. YET ANOTHER THING TO ADD TO THE LIST.

All back together:
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Just need to get some generic black carpet to cover the gaping holes the aforementioned nincompoop put in the hatch cover. Add that to the list, too.

Oh and side note, this always makes me giggle:
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Now that I have that out of the way, here's the lineup of things to do:
-Install all the parts I have in the garage
-New tires
-RUST BANISHMENT
-Fix the exhaust leak
-Drop the oil pan and clean the oil pump pickup screen

/post
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CraigB

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

PostMon Mar 24, 2014 9:08 am

Take those shocks out and wire brush the crap out of the area, put some sort of rust convertor on it, then seal it with paint and undercoating. Or you just may end up in the same boat.
CraigB
I have an irrational fear of anamorphic armadillos.
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FrankTheCat

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

PostMon Mar 24, 2014 8:01 pm

CraigB wrote:Take those shocks out and wire brush the crap out of the area, put some sort of rust convertor on it, then seal it with paint and undercoating. Or you just may end up in the same boat.


It's been way too cold to paint anything (sub-freezing) as of late, so my hands have been tied. Thankfully some 50-60F weather is forecasted for this weekend, so I intend to hit Harbor Fright with some 20% off coupons, and the hardware store to arm up on stuff to stop the rust. Also need to replace pretty much the whole exhaust (save for the cat and muffler,) and install the pile of parts I've put off thanks to my disdain for splitting my knuckles open on freezing cold rusty metal, while I have the car on jackstands.
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CraigB

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

PostWed Mar 26, 2014 7:47 am

I understand not wanting to work outside when it's cold. The weather is starting to be more spring like here, so I'll be out busting my knuckles on warm steel. :lol:
CraigB
I have an irrational fear of anamorphic armadillos.
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slingbladde

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

PostSat Mar 29, 2014 10:50 am

Hi new here and want to thank you for taking the time and effort to post pics and everything you are doing to your Saab. I bought mine last year at this time and have the exact model except mines red. I got lucky and bought it off a mechanic and paid 1500 on the road. I appreciate all the work you are doing on this car as I believe it is one of the best cars I have ever driven. Mine has 263000kms on it and running strong except for the same as you waiting for the better weather to come to start on body work. Please continue as I have learn so much from your experience and hopefully I can post some of my experience with this model so I can return the favour. Keep up the great work.
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FrankTheCat

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Exhaust Work Pt.2

PostSun Mar 30, 2014 5:35 pm

slingbladde wrote:Hi new here and want to thank you for taking the time and effort to post pics and everything you are doing to your Saab. I bought mine last year at this time and have the exact model except mines red. I got lucky and bought it off a mechanic and paid 1500 on the road. I appreciate all the work you are doing on this car as I believe it is one of the best cars I have ever driven. Mine has 263000kms on it and running strong except for the same as you waiting for the better weather to come to start on body work. Please continue as I have learn so much from your experience and hopefully I can post some of my experience with this model so I can return the favour. Keep up the great work.


Thanks! It's gratifying to find people other than myself appreciate the work I do on my car, especially when it's inspiring to them. I've learned a lot in the past 6 months, the number one thing being don't buy a $900 Saab that's been sitting in tall, wet grass for months. :lol:

But if you need help figuring anything out, let me know. I've had my hands inside pretty much everything but the engine at this point (and it won't stay that way for long.)

Anyway, onto more wrenching.

Aka, more rust flakes in my eyes part two.

I replaced the muffler right after I got the car, but I knew I'd have to address the flex pipe and resonator at some point. The car steadily got louder through December and January, and by the end of February I was instinctively taking my foot off of the gas every time I saw a cop. Then my mom borrowed the car last week and suggested that I fix it before I get a ticket.

So I jacked the car up and crawled underneath to inspect what was wrong:
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Resonator was rotted out (and original!), and the flex pipe had been bastardized by the same group of apes that must've done the rest of the 'repairs' I've found on my poor car. I ordered a new flex pipe, resonator and clamps from eEuroparts, and goddamn, even with the free shipping it got here in two days. o_O

Yesterday I crawled under the car to fix it.

The muffler wasn't 90% iron oxide, so I pulled that first:
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The easy work ended there. The clamp holding the flex pipe to the resonator was seized solid from 16 winters worth of road salt, so I had to chisel the (thankfully) extremely thin clamp holding the flex pipe to the cat off. But then when I went to drag the whole assembly out of the car, the pipe over the rear axle got jammed between the heat shield and axle. Put the hacksaw to use to solve that problem:
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Then the rusty mess came out easily. Bonus shot of the paper thin clamp I managed to pull off after snapping one of the bolts:
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And I got the shiny new exhaust in place:
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90% of the leaks fixed, and the muffler finally fits right (after 'tweaking' the mounting legs with a BFH.) The slip joint between the resonator and muffler leaks still, but that's because I forgot to order a third clamp and had to reuse that one. I'll order a new one and replace it when I install the new rear anti-roll bar and axle pivot bushings.

Additionally, I think my car gained a few HP now that it doesn't have to exhale through that bastardized flex joint. To make it clear why, let's take a closer look at this piece of art:
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Looks like instead of spending $90 on a new flex pipe, they went to the parts store, bought a generic flex joint which was half an inch too small, and booger welded it all into place. I'm honestly not surprised at this point.

I wanted to tackle some rust abatement this weekend, but the April weather has hit early, and it's done nothing but rain. All I've managed to do besides the exhaust on my car, is finally do the short belt mod and replace the idler pullies on my girlfriend's 900 'vert. Also found all the valve cover bolts on her car were loose by 1/4 to 1/2 a turn after I noticed it was weeping oil. Strange.

Hopefully this week it'll clear up and be 50F and sunny like it's forecasted to be, so I can cross some stuff off my list:
-Install the growing pile of parts in the garage
-New tires and an alignment (since I'm replacing the tierod ends)
-OPERATION DESTROY ALL RUST 2014
-Drop the oil pan and clean up the gunk
-Valve cover gaskets and distributor oil seal
-Do something about the pitiful sound system
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FrankTheCat

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De-sketchifying My Steering

PostTue Apr 01, 2014 1:10 pm

So I've known for a while my tierods were tweaked, and the tierod ends had torn boots and on the verge of failing. Thank the heavens Saab used GM parts for the steering; even with swaybar end links, when I ordered the parts the total was ~$100 shipped. But that was in December, and it's been too shitty weather-wise to install them since. I was also waiting on money to get new tires and the wheels re-aligned after I replaced half the steering componentry.

Yesterday, it was 50F and sunny, and I had money for tires, so I set to work.

Firstly, I played the 'get the car up into the air without a jack that can go high enough unless it has cribbing' game, which took way longer than it should have after I broke my 'custom' pinchweld protector and had to use the jacking point on the nose. I decided to do the steering stuff first, and surprisingly it was a breeze. I had gotten a balljoint spreader from HF last month, and boy did that make my life easy:
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Other than having the driver's-side tierod end pop out of the steering knuckle explosively, scaring the shit out of me and dropping the balljoint spreader on my foot, the job went pretty easily. I just eyeballed the toein with a piece of string, since I was just going to drive the car straight to the tire shop afterward, and I didn't trust copying the settings of the tweaked old tierods. It was close enough to drive straight, though.

I forgot to take a picture when I had the wheels off of the new tierod stuff in, but here's what it looks like after driving back from the tire shop:
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Much better.

Then I began the grueling process of removing the old swaybar end links.

It took me an hour each side just to get them off. The threads holding the links to the swaybar were so rusty, I had to hold the link from spinning with channel-locks, and use a breaker bar to get the nut off, forcefully recutting the threads with excruciating slowness. When I finally got the driver's side one off, I had to resist the urge to fling it out into the woods as hard as I could:
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The new ones, however, took all of 15 minutes to put in:
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So today I went to Sears, got new tires, and an alignment for $525.

I got Cooper Response Touring tires, since they were only $5 more a tire than the Falken Ziex's, but have wayyyy better tread life. I'm happy with them, after abusing them on my favorite road in the world on my way home:
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Alignment, unsurprisingly, was pretty off:
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The car drives straight and true now. No more pulling and following every crack and crown in the road. Unfortunately at some point in the past, probably after the tierods got tweaked, someone reset the steering wheel center in the wrong place. Now I need to pull the wheel off the steering wheel hub and reset it properly:
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And as soon as I got home from my hoon drive, the rear suspension bushings started squealing to let me know they need replacement. Good thing I have brand new poly replacements waiting in my garage with my Taliaferro rear ARB.

So:
-Install the rear suspension bushings and ARB
-OPERATION DESTROY ALL RUST 2014
-Drop the oil pan to desludgify the oilpump
-Audio upgrade
-New shocks, struts and stanchion arm bushings
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FrankTheCat

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On NG900 Suspension Adjustment Improvements

PostThu Apr 03, 2014 12:07 pm

Foreword: NG900 means 1994-1998 900's excluding the 1994 convertible, and OG9-3 means 1998.5-2002 9-3's.

So I noticed after putting a little over a hundred miles on my car, that even though the car tracks straight and has much tighter steering, there's still a few oddities. For one, I can feel the rear axle 'trailering' and pushing the front wheels around. That I can solve when I get the gumption to put in the new poly rear suspension bushings. The other thing was the steering wheel not centering properly between '10 and '2 near center. As far as I know, the wheel auto-centering behavior is governed partially by the camber, but mostly by the caster.

On the NG900/OG9-3 (GM2900 platform cars,) the only adjustable steering angle is toe-in. The camber is set by the hub/strut, which is non-adjustable (period, on the NG900; the OG9-3 has a two piece strut which allows for an aftermarket camber adjustment mod-- more on that later,) and the caster is set by the stanchion arm and more importantly, the stanchion arm bushing.

So let's look at that alignment report the Sears guy gave me again:
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The caster on my car is ~2° off on both sides, which easily explains why my steering isn't centering/slightly off center.

I crawled under my car to check, and yep, looks like the stanchion arm bushings are original. I'm not ruling out the stanchion arms themselves being bent, since I'm pretty sure my car made like the General Lee at some point, but urethane stanchion arm bushings were only $20 each from eEuroparts, versus $75 for new stanchion arms:
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Given that, I ordered two stanchion arm bushings, the spring sleeves, and subframe bolts. I also got new front corner lights, an antenna mast to sate my mom's need to listen to NPR while borrowing my car, and a new exhaust clamp so I can seal up the mild exhaust leak.

Once that order comes in and I install the new bushings, I'll bring my car to Sears to get the alignment rechecked (6 month warranty.) Hopefully, that'll cure the caster (if it doesn't, I'll check the stanchion arms themselves and replace as-needed,) but the camber will most likely still be off on the RF wheel. It is possible to fix that, however.

The suspension on the NG900/OG9-3 is almost entirely the same; the only differences are the springs, spring seats, struts and hubs. You can basically swap OG9-3 hubs and struts right into an NG900 (as long as it's not a Viggen hub; they have different driveshaft splines afaik,) which allows for two things. One, you get better aftermarket spring availability. Two, you can install an aftermarket camber adjustment mod, since the hubs and struts are bolted together, unlike on the NG900 where they're cast as one piece.

So it looks like next time I'm at the pull-a-part, I'm getting a set of 9-3 hubs and struts for my car, along with the list of other bits I need. Then I can order a camber bolt kit and a camber gauge.

As for adjusting the caster manually, the only option is an aftermarket adjustable stanchion arm (I think Sellhom makes one, but their site is entirely in Swedish :lol: .) For people like me, that's wayyyy out of price range; I have to play rusty legos with old car parts. :lol:

That's all for the front wheels only, though. For the rear wheels, the alignment is pretty much completely non-adjustable; if it's off, you probably need a new axle. So NEVER EVER JACK THE CAR UP USING THE AXLE YOU SHITHEAD. You can adjust the camber by using shims, but good luck finding an alignment shop that'll touch that.

EDIT:
Disregard my misbelief that the OG9-3 has two piece struts. It doesn't. The NG9-3 does.
Last edited by FrankTheCat on Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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FrankTheCat

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What's That Smell? - An Interruption In Our Scheduled Progra

PostSun Apr 06, 2014 6:28 pm

So Friday evening, I was driving down to see my girlfriend for the weekend. I had just pulled onto her street, and was about to park, when the SID made a pathetic effort to ding, displaying COOLANT LEVEL LOW. Sniffed the air; yep, I can smell some ethylene glycol, alright.

Opened the hood after I parked and found coolant EVERYWHERE. The culprit?
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Ah, the dreaded heater hose split of doom.

I called up NAPA, Advance Auto, AutoZone, Pep Boys, and O'Reilly to see if any of them stocked the heater hose kit. Nope; closest thing was the heater hoses from a Ford Aerostar/Ranger, but Pep Boys wanted $30 for one hose. eEuroparts had the whole kit for $20 shipped, so I ordered the hoses to my house, and set about ghettoing up a fix.

We had to go food shopping anyway, so an extra stop at the hardware store was made for some RTV, silicone 'stretch seal' tape, shop towels and nitrile gloves. Also picked up an extra gallon of coolant from wallyworld.

I pulled the distributor cap and the power/trigger cable to it for more access, pulled the hose clamp off, and cleaned all the coolant residue off the hose:
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Then I slathered the shit out of the damaged area with the RTV, and let it cure over Saturday night:
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And then I had my girlfriend (since her hands could actually fit down there) wrap the hose in silicone tape for an extra layer of protection:
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Ride home was mostly uneventful; just had to stop halfway to refill the coolant overflow bottle. The new set of hoses was already here when I got home (that's one-day shipping!), so hopefully tomorrow I can install them along with some other parts (front corner lights, stanchion arm bushings, new exhaust clamp, new antenna mast.)
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FrankTheCat

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Either I Have Shitty Sockets Or I'm Insanely Strong

PostMon Apr 07, 2014 7:32 pm

BECAUSE I KEEP BREAKING SOCKETS ON MY CAR. I broke THREE today while trying in futility to remove the rear ARB bolts.

Anyway.

Some previous owner of my car put E-Code front corner lights and tail lights on my car. Unfortunately the passenger corner light got replaced with a DOT one at some point, and the driver's side one got all it's mounting tabs smashed off when the teenage driver who had the car before me got in an argument with a traffic cone. That one was held in with duct tape and some jerry-rigged piece of bent sheet metal:
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So I got new E-Code replacements for both sides, but inexplicably, they had the hole for the parking lights molded over. Would explain why these were on clearance and $15 cheaper than the DOT lights:
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To remedy that flaw, I dug out my great-grandfather's hand drill and a 1 1/4" drill bit that must date back to the 1910's, and drilled the hole back open:
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After filing in the slots for the locking tabs on the bulb holder and a little more clearance for the bulbs to fit through, the parking lights fit perfectly:
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Looking much better now that all my frickin' lights match and aren't falling out. Just need to get all the tape residue off of the driver's bumper and fender:
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Also replaced the antenna mast. The plastic cord for the old one broke into three pieces, so I had to take apart the motor assembly and fish them out. Then it was just a matter of (carefully) shoving the new antenna in:


My mom was ecstatic that she can finally listen to NPR when she borrows my car.

And finally, the heater hoses. This job was a massive pain in my arse. Access to the heater core hose barbs was limited to a 5" wide gap between the cat and the front subframe, from underneath the car. To make matters worse, the old hoses were absolutely fused solid onto the hose barbs. I had to use a box knife to slice them lengthwise, and a screwdriver to pry them off. Took three hours to succeed:
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Managed to drain only ~1 gallon of coolant in the process. All I did was cut one of the hoses to the heater core and let the excess coolant drain out into a bucket, since my radiator doesn't have a drain valve:
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Finally, an awful picture of the new hoses in place:
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After putting a little over a gallon of coolant back in, I have no leaks, hot hot heat, and the smell of ethylene glycol burning on the exhaust. #winning

Also discovered that like my girlfriend's 900, all of my valve cover bolts were loose. And I hit a porcupine on my short drive to get the thermostat to open. And somehow I tripped an SRS code so now I have the SRS and warning light on, which is just awesome.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.
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