Yesterday I took my wife's 9-3 in to the shop for an oil change at the 5000 mile mark. I took the car to Cory Fairbanks Mazda, located in Longwood Florida. The technicians there are a fine group of guys, as they and their bosses always treat me and my cars with respect.
Anyway, given what I had read here regarding the difficulty others have had installing the rivet-nuts, I asked my mechanic Ricky if he would like to install the Genuine Saab 3-point subframe brace while he had the 9-3 up on the rack. I explained the installation proceedure to him (and showed him the instruction sheet), which he instantly recognized as a familiar one, as it was similar to installing aftermarket roof racks on SUV's. He and I (yes, I really helped with the installation) then went about installing the rivet-nuts.
The first rivet-nut was a textbook installation—Ricky widened the hole carefully with a drill, inserted the "tool," I then held the wrench on the modified nut, and Ricky cranked hard on the bolt using a 1/2" ratchet armed with a 14mm socket.
The second rivet-nut was a major ordeal! Even with both of us exerting all of our effort, we simply could not prevent the rivet from rotating when Ricky torqued the bolt. After about half the shop stopped by to offer their opinions on how to deal with this matter, I ended up using vice grips to hold the rivet directly while Ricky cranked on the bolt—what a work-out!
The third rivet-nut went in more smoothly than the second, but not as nicely as the first. By the end, the bolt (part of the "tool") showed serious signs of wear!
Given what we went through, Ricky agreed that this would have been next to impossible to pull off for the home mechanic working alone. It was quite a bit of fun, however, even if I did bust a knuckle!
Having the car on a lift made a big difference, and the right tools are indispensable.
To top it all off, I was not charged for the installation of the subframe brace, which took more than an hour to install. I plan to see Ricky tomorrow before work to give him some under-the-table compensation.
I will report back with my impressions of the subframe brace when I have had more time in the 9-3 to evaluate its effects.
P.S. I tried to attach the installation instructions from Genuine Saab for reference, but it is too large to be accepted.