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Saab NG900 & OG9-3 Performance, Mods & Tuning Covers Tuning & Performance modifications for the Saab NG900 (1994 to 1998) & OG9-3 (1999-2002) & '03 Convertible

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  #1  
Old 07-02-04
99Saabnut's Avatar
99Saabnut 99Saabnut is offline
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Default Saab newbie, 2 questions

OK, I have had my Saab for about 3 months now, and I am seriously in love... I grew up on beemers and Volkswagons and always loved the feel of German engineering, but this thing is just a step beyond in my book... So now we come to my dilemma:

For starters, so we are all on the same sheet: My new (to me) Saab is a 1999 9-3 SE 5 door, in Scarab green and beige interior. It is fully loaded and runs well, although it has just shy of 143,000 miles on it. Now, I couldn't get the maintenance records for it when I bought it, so I am currently working on a full maintenance sweep of every major system in the car... Once this is finished, I plan on making some changes, and I expect to have about $5K to play with.

So my two questions are:
1. What size tires fit on an Se in the 17 and 16 rim sizes? I plan getting new tires, but haven't decided to go to 17 inch rims or stay with my 16's. Either way, I need to know what tires will fit...
2. What would you consider the 5 best modifications for performance, for around $5000. Sway bar, steering brace, suspension, engine upgrades, etc. What would the top 5 be to raise the overall performance level of the car?

Please keep in mind that I am not trying to build a track car here; I just want to maximize the performance capabilities of my daily commuter car (for now, anyway... )

Thanks in advance for everyone's help with my two questions...
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  #2  
Old 08-02-04
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Jeremy R. Jeremy R. is offline
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The recommended tire sizes for 17" and 16" wheels are 215/45R17 and either 205/50R16 or 205/55R16. The 9-3 came with both 16" tire sizes, so you can choose a slightly cushier ride or a little bit better handling.

If I had $5000 to spend on that car (and I'm sure I've spent that on mine), then I'd go with the Saab Sport Exhaust, Viggen Rescue Kit, lower springs, 17" wheels, and best of all, an upgraded ECU. These won't make it a track car, but handling will be much, much sharper, and you'll have some more grunt so you can keep up with all of those 250 hp cars on the road these days.
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  #3  
Old 08-02-04
Tweek's Turbos Tweek's Turbos is offline
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$5gs is a healthy amount. I'll tackle this one later this morning after I do some stuff and work, and think about what I'd get.
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  #4  
Old 08-02-04
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Thanks for the input Jeremy, and I look forward to your answer as well, tweek!
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  #5  
Old 08-02-04
SteveL SteveL is offline
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The first thing I would do is take $30 and join WASSAAB - the washington, DC saab club.

Unfortunately I wouldn't have the best infor perf mods fro your car, since I'm not much a T5 car tuner, I've never had one to tune (I believe 9-3's got T7 in 2000). You'll find lots of godd advice on this board though.

But you'll want to take care of some of the chassis issues. Steering rack clamp, brace, springs, shocks, brakes, sway bar (not necessariy in that order).

I would definitely work on the intake and bigger downpipe, cat and exhaust. This includes a higher flow and better cooling intercooler. Once the engine can breath a little better, go for a turbo upgrade, I'm looking at a td04-19t upgrade on my Viggen. Then to match the extra flow into the engine you want to get more fuel (bigger inj., FPR).

And last but definitely not least - ECU tuning to match. Unfortunately, all this will probably run over the $5k amount - but will get you some crazy power and torque numbers. We're looking at well over 300hp at the crank - I'm pretty close to 300hp in my Viggen now.

Email me if you want any contact info for any vendors that I've dealt with.

-Steve
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  #6  
Old 08-02-04
Tweek's Turbos Tweek's Turbos is offline
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Ok you were thinking 17s, so lets throw some nice rubber on them.

Figure -$1500 for a nice set of 17s with Potenza SO3s

Leaving us $3500. Figure -$600 for stage 3 ECU

2900, -$900 for Full JT 3inch Exhaust with sport cat.

$2000, -$100 for Rear sway bar,

$1900 -$100 for intake and filter, -300 for some nice gauges,

$1500, -$376 or whatever for Crossflow intercooler and hoses.

$1150, Um, -$300 I think for Steering rack brace.

$-650 for a set of adj Konis?

That sounds like a good start. Prices are darn close estimates. These also don't include installation, but the exhaust, ECU, Gauges, Sway bar, Wheels, and from what I understand steering rack brace are all super easy installs.
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  #7  
Old 08-02-04
tonydean tonydean is offline
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Default upgrades

so, 5k huh...
Suspension wise I'd do the rear sway, shocks and springs, poly bushes up front, rear strut tower brace and chassis subframe brace.
Engine wise, for everyday street purposes, cross flow IC, intake, downpipe and exhaust, rising rate fuel pressure reg, larger injectors, man. boost control, last and most importantly an ECU tuned to maximize it all.
This in my estimation will produce a perfectly streetable and very aggressive daily driver...c'mon people lets hear some comments and /or contradictions!
tony
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  #8  
Old 08-02-04
Tweek's Turbos Tweek's Turbos is offline
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Tonydean, my contradiction is how can you do all that for $5gs?
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  #9  
Old 08-02-04
tonydean tonydean is offline
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Default price breakdown

5 grand...
rear sway ~125
Shocks and springs ~700
poly bushes ~250
subframe brace ~100
rear tower ~200

suspension total ~1375

IC ~500
intake ~100
downpipe and exhaust ~900
RRFPR ~279
injectors ~179
MBC ~50
custom ECU ~1000
engine total ~3008
GRAND TOTAL ~4383
I can quote sources for prices upon request..Truth be told i didn't know if it could be done for 5G, but after researching, it turnes out to be possible!
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  #10  
Old 08-02-04
tonydean tonydean is offline
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Default price breakdown

5000-4383=617
I just realized I didn't budget wheels or tires..so the remaining 617 could be put toward that pupose :lol:
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  #11  
Old 08-02-04
Marky Marky is offline
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Default Re: price breakdown

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonydean
5 grand...
rear sway ~125
Shocks and springs ~700
poly bushes ~250
subframe brace ~100
rear tower ~200

suspension total ~1375

IC ~500
intake ~100
downpipe and exhaust ~900
RRFPR ~279
injectors ~179
MBC ~50
custom ECU ~1000
engine total ~3008
GRAND TOTAL ~4383
I can quote sources for prices upon request..Truth be told i didn't know if it could be done for 5G, but after researching, it turnes out to be possible!
always keep in mind that not every article available for Saab will make it better.. Why the h... would you use an uprated ecu with a manual boost controller? Why do you need an RRFPR and other injectors on the original turbo? Stock injectors are good almost up to 300hp, the same goes for the intercooler. I wouldn't add poly bushes up front to my list of the originals aren't worn out, I still havent figured out if i made the right decision fitting them.

Here's my list:

- Maptun stage 3
- adjustable koni's and eibach springs
- rear sway bar
- 17"wheels with potenza so3 tires
- steering rack and brace

and maybe the viggen ic and a better air intake, although this aint necessairy.

Marc
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  #12  
Old 09-02-04
tonydean tonydean is offline
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Default list

I added the injectors and RRFPR because it's just plain safer to run more fuel when you run more boost...the idea was to build a reliable daily driver, so if the boost gets turned up, even once and a while, you run the risk of leaning out the engine. As for the MBC, I guess you wouldn't need one with the ECU upgrade, my mistake.
tony
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  #13  
Old 09-02-04
Tweek's Turbos Tweek's Turbos is offline
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You got me Tony :wink: , to be honest, you over priced things like the Intercooler (I assume its the VIC kit) and the Rear sway. I don't know, even with 16s, I would hate to see the rims and tires $675 got me
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  #14  
Old 09-02-04
Marky Marky is offline
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Default Re: list

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonydean
I added the injectors and RRFPR because it's just plain safer to run more fuel when you run more boost...the idea was to build a reliable daily driver, so if the boost gets turned up, even once and a while, you run the risk of leaning out the engine. As for the MBC, I guess you wouldn't need one with the ECU upgrade, my mistake.
tony
with the right software your engine won't run lean, if trionic detects the engine is knocking, it will adjust fuel, boost and ingnition timing to prevent this. Adding an mbc means that trionic CAN'T adjust the boost level anymore to prevent knocking!

I'd say leave the tuning of the engine over to the specalists (maptun, hirsch, sqr and Nordic) and buy a complete upgrade, instead of experimenting yourself. In the end it will save you a lot of money.
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  #15  
Old 09-02-04
tonydean tonydean is offline
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Default upgrades

The idea behind the larger injectors and RRFPR was so that when you went to the ECU tuner, you would have the capability to run more boost without leaning out the engine. For example, if with stock injectors you can run up to 15psi and then have the ECU pull back timing or whatever it does to compensate for sensing the engine knocking, then you should be able to run 20psi on larger injectors before the ECU safeguards limit performance.
I was thinking of having a reputable SAAb tuner program the ECU, the reason I left that until last was so that when they did the reprogramming they could take into account all the upgrades and make it all work together in the most effective way possible. (custom job)
Tweek your right, 617 isn't much for wheels AND tires...but it's a start

PS i like the discussion this thread has started!
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  #16  
Old 10-02-04
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Default RE: 2 Questions

OK, thanks to everyone, that is a lot of good info...

Couple questions I have now about the info you all presented:

1. What exactly is an RRFPR and an MBC?

2. What is the sub-frame brace for? I can guess, but I want to be sure I have it right...

3. As this is still a commuter car, what effect will all the engine mods have on my gas mileage? I don't mind a little loss in that, but I don't want to drop the mpg way down and not be able to afford to drive the car everyday when done...

and 4. If I lower the suspension with a new kit (eibach or equivalent) will that effect what wheels/tires I can fit without rubbing/hitting anything?

You guys have been great, thanks again for all the great info!
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  #17  
Old 10-02-04
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mike saunders mike saunders is offline
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Hi there,

The RRFPR is a rising rate fuel pressure regulator, which changes the fuel flow rate based on the demand from the engine. It's recommended for most mods over 250 hp and absolutely essential for extreme applications.

And rigfht you are: The sub-frame brace...braces the sub-frame! And this helps handling by adding more rigidity to the car. This is especially important during hard cornering. This should be done in conjunction with, or after, the rear anti-sway bar upgrade, which most folks praise as the easiest and most effective bolt-on improvement for handling.

The suspension mods won't affect mileage, but the full package of engine mods discussed above (ECU, 3" downpipe, cold air intake, etc..) will DEFINITELY change your mileage. You'll get slightly better gas mileage under normal driving as the improved breathing increases combustion efficiency, and you'll have worse gas mileage when putting the hammer down. So, when you need it to be a mild-mannered commuter car, it will sip gas like your Aunt Mabel driving to church....but it will eat rice when asked!

You can fit 17-inch wheels with a 50 series tire. Viggens came with 17s and 45 series tires, but most folks have found better success and straighter rims with the higher-profile tires on our lovely, butter-smooth North American roads. I believe the Viggens are about an inch lower than the stock 9-3/900, so you're probably in luck. (Remember: those ultra low-profile tires were made for the track, not for the real world. I say put some rubber between you and the road...)

Also: Your question was both excellent and timely. I'm planning the same set of mods to a 97 SET, so we're in the same boat!
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  #18  
Old 10-02-04
SteveL SteveL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike saunders
Hi there,

The suspension mods won't affect mileage, but the full package of engine mods discussed above (ECU, 3" downpipe, cold air intake, etc..) will DEFINITELY change your mileage. You'll get slightly better gas mileage under normal driving as the improved breathing increases combustion efficiency,
That's true, I can back that claim up. I took a trip back home to NY from MD in my Viggen. I set the cruise at about 74mph. I averaged 34 mpg for the trip. This is with my modded Viggen that's pushing 300hp. You can't beat that.

But when I start getting on boost and putting the hammer down - gas mileage goes way down.

-Steve
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  #19  
Old 10-02-04
Marky Marky is offline
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Default Re: upgrades

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonydean
The idea behind the larger injectors and RRFPR was so that when you went to the ECU tuner, you would have the capability to run more boost without leaning out the engine. For example, if with stock injectors you can run up to 15psi and then have the ECU pull back timing or whatever it does to compensate for sensing the engine knocking, then you should be able to run 20psi on larger injectors before the ECU safeguards limit performance.
I was thinking of having a reputable SAAb tuner program the ECU, the reason I left that until last was so that when they did the reprogramming they could take into account all the upgrades and make it all work together in the most effective way possible. (custom job)

Hello Tony,

I can see where you are going, but actually I don't really understand why you should go that way. Tuning the engine is not only about boost! You need to see it as a whole. Also the package you present won't live for long, I still don't understand doing all those mods on the original turbo. It is too small for being reliable at those boost levels. An a stage 3 the injectors and the rrfpr will be a waste of money, if you want more power, then use that money for a bigger turbo and updated software (stage 4)

Keep in mind that the orginal garrett gt17 turbo is only efficient up to 210 hp. It can handle more, but then you'll notice it will run out of puff above 4k rpm.

The reason why a custom ecu is advisable is for when you took another route along the way (different turbo, etc) and to save you costs. If you still haven't bought anything, the most obvious choice is to take a complete package, which has been tested for quite some time. Your custom ecu will... just be custom, you'll be the tester...

The rrfpr is a popular mod in the classic 900, but if you aren't aiming for 300hp+, it will be a waste of money on the ng900/9-3. Even then, the map sensor will need replacement before the rrfpr.

Marc
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  #20  
Old 10-02-04
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mike saunders mike saunders is offline
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Hey Steve,

You may want to give Bo Engstrom a shout about your latest ECU mod. Based on what he told me about the latest Viggen/T-7 tweaks, you'll probably love the numbers. He and Frank from SQR are going to be in Massachusetts over the weekend and might be hard to reach. They're doing a "mass tuning" event at a tech shop in Billerica...
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