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  #1  
Old 19-08-11
Matt Lord Matt Lord is offline
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Default Strong Gas Smell While Driving, Many Other Problems

Hey, first post on SaabCentral

I have a 4cyl 1999 Saab 9-5 SE. I currently have many problems with the vehicle. The alternator is dead, intermittently takes a while to get going after pressing on accelerator, brakes making a terrible grinding noise, rapid loss of oil but with no visible leaks, and a really strong gas smell while driving.

I am working on getting the alternator replaced asap but funds are so tight. I also plan to replace all brakes tomorrow by myself. Why I loose oil so quickly I have yet to figure out. I had thought that the acceleration lag I am having was related to the DI cassette and spark plugs so I went ahead and replaced both of those (and yes I put the correct NGKs in), but that didn't seem to help. The thing that is really bothering me right now is the gas smell though. You can only smell it if the windows/sunroof are open so I dont think its the cabin gas smell problem that other people have. I thought it may have had something to do with the fuel filter so I replaced it but that did absolutely nothing to help the smell.

The only modifications that I have made on the vehicle is a cold air intake from Scosche.

If any of you kind people can help me with any of these problems I would be very thankful.
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  #2  
Old 19-08-11
Joby Joby is offline
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Is the Check Engine Light on? Have you gotten a red oil light? Any strange sounds--tapping, humming, whining, rattling, knocking? Do you have the latest PCV update and have you dropped your sump to check for sludge? Those are the scary questions, so deal with them first (and check out the threads stickied to the top of this forum for answers to the last two if you don't know them).

Assuming you are sure it isn't the sludge issue...

How are you driving it with a dead alternator? And how are you sure it's the alternator and not the battery or a loose belt? Because not having enough juice could cause most of the issues you're describing, aside from the oil. If there's not enough spark to burn all the gas, you could be smelling it from the exhaust and engine, especially, and it could definitely cause slow acceleration, and could make the DIC seem bad. Check your tailpipe for soot or gas or a gas smell.

Also, what did the plugs you took out look like? Did they have dry soot on them? Did they have wet oil? Soot would mean it's running rich (like mine) and would explain the gas smell, and if the alternator or battery is bad, it could be part of that fix.

Those are just guesses. There are several things that could explain the sluggishness. Are you sure it's not in Limp Home Mode? Plus, check broken vacuum lines or messed-up turbo valves. The gas could be something in the evap system, and I know nothing about that. You've checked for broken lines and bad fuel injectors, I take it?

The oil could be part of that, or separate. Basically, it has to be going somewhere. If it's not dripping onto the pavement when you park (and check for that), then it's got to be burning through the exhaust (check for smoke), or blowing out while you are driving. If your plugs were wet or you are smoking, then it's burning through your engine. If it's not, lift it up and look for something wet underneath, all the way back your undercarriage. If you find oil there, trace it back to the front--oil will blow backwards, not forwards, so look for the last dry spot and first wet spot and work your way up.

There are ways the turbo can fail and send oil into your engine or your inlet pipes (check the big hose for oil at the throttle body--it should be dry inside) and cause you to slow down, too. That's not my strong point, though I imagine when mine fails I'll learn all about it.

So, first, be sure it isn't sludge or a clogged PCV system (search the forum to see how), and if you aren't sure, don't even crank it until you are. Second, check any lights (you can buy a scanner at Walmart for under 60 bucks, and off the web for much cheaper, or you can have them scanned free at Autozone). Write the codes down and come back here, if you have any. Third, if you know the alternator is bad (and you are sure the car isn't knocking or the oil light isn't on), replace it and see what all goes away. You'll lose the codes if you disconnect the battery, so get the codes first. Then, whatever is left, you can start diagnosing separately.

And, everyone here knows more than me, so listen to them first.
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  #3  
Old 20-08-11
Matt Lord Matt Lord is offline
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Thank you for the elaborate response! I got my car back today after paying my mechanic $550 to replace the alternator. It fixed the gas smell problem as well as all the power issues i was having. Also the acceleration problem has faded, it could be due to the highest grade gas I am now putting in it and the changing of the fuel filter that seemed to have been the original. Now I am getting long cranking times when starting the car and a squeaking noise coming from the engine while the engine is on. What could be the culprit of these two problems?

Also I still have not been able to diagnose the oil loss problem.....no visible leaks, oil smell, or smoke.
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  #4  
Old 21-08-11
Joby Joby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Lord View Post
Thank you for the elaborate response! I got my car back today after paying my mechanic $550 to replace the alternator. It fixed the gas smell problem as well as all the power issues i was having. Also the acceleration problem has faded, it could be due to the highest grade gas I am now putting in it and the changing of the fuel filter that seemed to have been the original. Now I am getting long cranking times when starting the car and a squeaking noise coming from the engine while the engine is on. What could be the culprit of these two problems?

Also I still have not been able to diagnose the oil loss problem.....no visible leaks, oil smell, or smoke.
Squeaking could be bad, or nothing. Is it a rhythmic squeak, or a steady squeak that gets louder as the engine revs? The latter could be bad. The former might just be a belt or the belt tensioner.

Are you getting a check engine light or any trouble codes? Those are helpful.

Longer cranking times could be a dirty throttle body, a failing DIC (especially if it was operating below peak power for a while), a dirty MAF, a leaking vacuum hose or bypass valve. Is it idling smoothly or rough? Does the idle surge? Have you cleaned the throttle body or MAF lately? Also, check your air filter. I bought my Saab about six weeks ago, and immediately changed the air and fuel filters, and as with yours, both seemed to be original. Not pretty, and they made an immediate difference.

The oil, though--I'd worry about that first. Most important question for oil loss--do you have the latest PCV update? Second, and not less important, have you ever dropped the oil pan to check for sludge? Does your oil light ever come on at idle? The old PCV systems lost a lot of oil, so the PCV 6 update is important.
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  #5  
Old 21-08-11
Matt Lord Matt Lord is offline
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My mechanic said that he had checked the pulley tensioner or something like that while he was replacing the alternator, and said that they would need replacing soon and to let him know if a sound coming from the engine gets any louder. I am guessing this is the sound/squeak he was talking about?

I think the long crank time may have something to do with the new battery I installed while the alternator was bad. I installed the new battery so that I could drive the car until I got the alternator replaced because the old battery which by the way was the original 12 year old battery, had died along with the alternator. So I am assuming that since the battery has had to work so hard for an entire week and had to be jumped at least 3 times, it could have weakened it or maybe the cold crank amps are messed up?

I have never dropped the oil tank to look for sludge. If I knew how to do that I would, I guess a little searching would help. What would it mean if there was sludge in the oil tank? And about this PCV Update....i've seen stuff about it a couple other times while looking for a solution to this problem but have never found anything explaining what it is really and how to install it.

I believe the previous owners were college students and they lived up in Colorado where the car was for at least 10 years. I think they neglected to do any major or even some minor precautionary updates on the car. I myself am a college student as well but I actually care for my car and love it and want it to have as long of a life as it can so I do my best to fix it up.
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  #6  
Old 21-08-11
Joby Joby is offline
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This is all about the 4 cylinder cars from 99 to 02. If you have the six cylinder, none of this applies.

Here's the latest PCV update. Look at the pictures of oil filler neck and the plastic hose inlet on the most recent one, and make sure yours looks like that. If not, that's where your oil is going, and you could be contributing to sludge buildup.

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=82999

The sludge builds up for a lot of reasons, but basically poor oil maintenance made it worse. The cars are supposed to run on full synthetic oil. The cars build up sludge in the oil passages in the engine, and sometimes the sludge breaks up and clogs a pickup screen in the bottom of the oil pan. This shuts off the oil supply, which causes the engine to seize up, and basically have to be replaced. Sometimes the first symptom is the death of the engine. Sometimes the car burns up more slowly, starting with a flickering oil light, then progressing to knocking or grinding noises on startup, then different sounds depending on what was sludging up. Basically, if it's unusual and gets louder when you rev the engine, it's bad. The timing chain can break, the bearings can starve and start burning up, and it can totally destroy your engine. There's also the matter of a weak oil pump that fails too often, so basically, check your oil often and don't ignore the oil light or any strange sounds (though I think your squeak is the tensioner).

There are two ways to check for sludge. One, the easy way, is by taking off the valve cover. There's a picture halfway down here to show a worst-case image of that, plus some good discussion of what to do: http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=214829 .

The harder but better way is to remove the oil pan, clean the pickup screen (preventing the instant death type of clog), and replacing a few o-rings. http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=64002 , http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=110597 .

You can google "saab sump drop" and find several sets of explanations, or if you are too busy, you can get a mechanic to do it. It will take you all day, it will take him two or three hours, but you won't be sure what he did. If he isn't a Saab mechanic, print out some pictures and tell him what you want done and what the problem is, because if they don't work on Saabs they won't know what you want or what to warn you about. If you can find a Saab specialist, you're better off.

Those are the two scary things you need to know, and do as soon as you can, especially if the previous owners didn't take care of it or keep service records.

If you do it yourself, follow instructions religiously, especially the parts about replacing all three o-rings and ESPECIALLY the part about using an anaerobic gasket sealant. You'll be tempted to buy whatever the guy at Autozone says to use--I was and did--and you'll regret it immediately, when your oil light comes on because the silicone sealant clogged your screen--I did. Ask me what I've been doing today and tomorrow. Go ahead, ask. I'm dropping the oil pan for the third time in a month to replace two o-rings I missed the first time and to see if I've already destroyed my bearings, since my oil light is coming on at idle now. Follow instructions!

BTW, my local Autozone didn't carry the anaerobic sealant, but Advance Auto Parts had it on the shelf, so hit the parts store web sites and see what they have in stock (or call if you're old fashioned). Or just order from Eeuroparts.com or some such website.

And good luck. They are great cars, once you are past that phase. I hope--I keep screwing myself up and never getting past that phase.
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  #7  
Old 21-08-11
first-saab first-saab is online now
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The fuel smell can be a result of a leak at the valve on the fuel rack on top of the engine. Its a standard tire valve that can clogged and needs cleaning. I had this problem and just replace the valve with a standard tire valve. A cheap fix.
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  #8  
Old 21-08-11
Jssaab Jssaab is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by first-saab View Post
The fuel smell can be a result of a leak at the valve on the fuel rack on top of the engine. Its a standard tire valve that can clogged and needs cleaning. I had this problem and just replace the valve with a standard tire valve. A cheap fix.
Also chekc the fuel line on the fuel pump ( on top of the gas tank) You can inspect it by lifting the back seat, the round cover on the fule pump.

Known problem the clips break there is a 3 dollar part from Saab to fix it
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  #9  
Old 23-07-12
el-cid el-cid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by first-saab View Post
The fuel smell can be a result of a leak at the valve on the fuel rack on top of the engine. Its a standard tire valve that can clogged and needs cleaning. I had this problem and just replace the valve with a standard tire valve. A cheap fix.
Old thread, I know, but I just had to say that this is why I love this place. I've been having a semi-intermittent fuel smell inside the cabin in my 9-5 wagon so I figured I'd search here. I probably never would've thought of this or at least not without a days worth of fuel-line chasing. I pulled off my engine cover and lo and behold, the cap for this valve was pretty wet. I pulled off the cap and the valve was full of raw fuel. I pulled out the valve core and I think mine actually may just have been loose but I figured since I was there I'd just replace it. For future reference, it's a short Schrader valve (there are short and long, and Presta valves too); swing by your local bike shop and you can probably pick one up for next to nothing.

Thanks again!
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  #10  
Old 23-07-12
blackls1ttop blackls1ttop is offline
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^^^ fuel valve and tire valve may look the same but are not. the rubber seal may melt away real soon. go to the automotive junkyard and remove a few good working used valves from a couple cars. they should all be the same spec. or look for a new one rated for fuel use.
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  #11  
Old 23-07-12
el-cid el-cid is offline
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Originally Posted by blackls1ttop View Post
^^^ fuel valve and tire valve may look the same but are not. the rubber seal may melt away real soon. go to the automotive junkyard and remove a few good working used valves from a couple cars. they should all be the same spec. or look for a new one rated for fuel use.
Aha, good to know! The valve I put in there today was very similar but didn't have an internal seal, just the one where it screws into the boss. I'll keep an eye/nose on it in the meanwhile and try to find the proper replacement item.
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Old 23-07-12
el-cid el-cid is offline
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Another question since we're here; what does that valve do? Is it for bleeding air out of the fuel system? Obviously the valve couldn't open by itself unless there were vacuum internally.
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  #13  
Old 23-07-12
charles.waite charles.waite is offline
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Originally Posted by el-cid View Post
Another question since we're here; what does that valve do? Is it for bleeding air out of the fuel system? Obviously the valve couldn't open by itself unless there were vacuum internally.
Its probably there to bleed fuel pressure out of the fuel rail so you can work on the fuel system without getting blasted by pressurized fuel or to attach a fuel pressure gauge for diagnostic purposes.

My Audis have the exact same schraeder valve on the fuel rail.
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  #14  
Old 23-07-12
el-cid el-cid is offline
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Originally Posted by charles.waite View Post
Its probably there to bleed fuel pressure out of the fuel rail so you can work on the fuel system without getting blasted by pressurized fuel or to attach a fuel pressure gauge for diagnostic purposes.

My Audis have the exact same schraeder valve on the fuel rail.
That makes perfect sense, thanks.
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  #15  
Old 23-07-12
blackls1ttop blackls1ttop is offline
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no, the system bleeds itself, notice there is 2 rubber lines going to the fuel rail area. the port is for servicing. checking the pressure for fuel, injecting a liquid to clean injectors. some new cars dont have that port any more.
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