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  #1  
Old 31st March 2012
Offcamber1 Offcamber1 is offline
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Default Advice needed: Towing with 2000 9-3 SE

After a 11 lay-off due to a divorce and subsequent child support, I am getting ready to go open wheel racing again. I found a rolling chassis formula ford (uses 1600cc Pinto motor) in Connetticut and will need to go fetch it sometime before memorial day. I did not buy my 9-3 with the intention of towing, but just for grins I googled Saab 9-3 towing capacity and came up with an astonishing 3500 pound limit! The race car and trailer weigh about 1600 pounds but will weigh substancially less than that for this 2600 mile trip since the race car currently has no motor or transaxle.

So questions:

Anyone out there have experience towing with their 9-3?

I presume I should add an external trans cooler first, right?

Given the power of the car, tow with the auto trans in 3 to keep from stressing the trans?

Any other advice??????

I should probably point out that the car only has 251000 miles on it, uses no oil, no leaks, and is in very good mechanical condition.

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.

Kip
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  #2  
Old 31st March 2012
AZR Racing AZR Racing is offline
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only 251k? lol.... my 97 just peaked 201k the towing capacity is high yes. but what you need to look into is tongue weight. i was looking at hitches back in the day and alot of what i was was tongue weights of 250lbs. which would throw the majority of the weight on the trailer making the trailer weigh (fully loaded) almost as much as the car. which at highway speeds could get ugly.i would stick to towing small single axle lawn mower trailers, or maybe a small boat. and keeping the trans in 3 (correct me if i am wrong havent owned a swashbox in years) keeps the car in 3rd gear, not what i would call efficient for towing or at all easy on the transmission. i would leave the towing to the truck and the hauling the people to the car
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  #3  
Old 2nd April 2012
EdT EdT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offcamber1 View Post
After a 11 lay-off due to a divorce and subsequent child support, I am getting ready to go open wheel racing again. I found a rolling chassis formula ford (uses 1600cc Pinto motor) in Connetticut and will need to go fetch it sometime before memorial day. I did not buy my 9-3 with the intention of towing, but just for grins I googled Saab 9-3 towing capacity and came up with an astonishing 3500 pound limit! The race car and trailer weigh about 1600 pounds but will weigh substancially less than that for this 2600 mile trip since the race car currently has no motor or transaxle.
You should look at your owner's manual. Saab North America specified 1000 lbs unbraked and 2000 lbs braked for 900s, and I'm pretty sure that it's the same in the '99 9-3 owner's manual that I have.

Haynes takes a UK-centric view and says that 900s can tow 1500 unbraked/3000 braked.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to try this with the hitch that mounts to the bumper and spare tire well....you'd want the Class 2 hitch that attaches to the frame on either side. The Draw-Tite version stays out of sight (except the receiver, of course) but it's been long-discontinued. You would likely have to scrounge a used one, then get the requisite Grade 5 or 8 carriage bolts for the installation.

A Class 2 hitch is rated up to 3500 lbs which is where you may have gotten your info, but just because the hitch bar and ball are rated for 3500 doesn't mean that the car's chassis, powertrain, or brakes can handle a 3500 lb trailer!

There may be information in the owner's manual about automatic transmission settings when towing. (The weight limit is not broken up by transmission type.)

I can say that my 900 pulled a 500 lb trailer without any issues. (It's a 2.3NA/manual trans) We'll see how it goes with heavier loads. Obviously brakes are more of an issue than structural integrity when we're talking 1000-2000 lbs. If you take it easy, keep the speed limit down, avoid rush hours through major cities, you may get by pulling 1500 lbs on an unbraked trailer, when you equip your car with a proper Class 2 hitch. For a long trip like you are proposing, that would require a lot of planning, and flexible time.
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  #4  
Old 9th April 2012
EdT EdT is offline
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Well, I pulled a trailer last weekend which must have been well over 1000 lbs. Chassis and brakes had no problems handling the load. Acceleration wasn't the greatest, but it's not a turbo.

One thing to note is that even if the trailer is "only 1500 lbs" you may be tempted to chuck stuff in your car, like a trailer spare tire, tool kit, etc etc. Avoid this temptation. You want to travel as light as possible overall, and weighting down the tail of your car with stuff in the trunk, and then having a tongue load, isn't ideal.

If you don't have a hitch, now I recall that 9-3s had a different hitch from 900s. I haven't checked if any 9-3 hitches are still available parts numbers. If the 900s went obsolete a few years ago, it's just possible that 9-3 are still around.
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  #5  
Old 9th April 2012
Offcamber1 Offcamber1 is offline
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Default Thanks for the input

Ed,

Your points about proper loading are well taken. Back in the early/mid 1970s my brother and I used to tow his Formula Ford and later his Formula Atlantic Brabham all over the midwest from Detroit with his 1972 Saab 99e. That car had the 1885cc single overhead cam motor and a standard transmission. Loading was crucial but we usually kept the trailer weight to less than the car towing and had the load balanced to about 125 to 150 pounds. Not ideal, I know but the car did just fine.

My concern with my 9-3 is primarily with the Turbo motor and the auto transmission. I did tow once with a Chrysler Lebaron Turbo and after one particularly frisky run we pulled into an IHOP and lifted the hood. The turbo was glowing red!

Thanks again,

Kip
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  #6  
Old 10th April 2012
EdT EdT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offcamber1 View Post
My concern with my 9-3 is primarily with the Turbo motor and the auto transmission. I did tow once with a Chrysler Lebaron Turbo and after one particularly frisky run we pulled into an IHOP and lifted the hood. The turbo was glowing red!
The '99 9-3 manual says nothing about the engine or turbo. It does have a section on automatic transmission, of the generic "if the gearbox overheat light comes on, pull over" and also guidelines for gradients and hot weather.

You sure would want to keep the load as light and aerodynamic as possible, not speed, and plan a route that minimizes hills and avoids travelling through urban areas in rush hour. Plus choose a time when it's cool.

The Chrysler 2.2 which is likely what your LeBaron had was a pretty weak engine in non-turbo mode; as I recall it was 98 HP; the turbo made it 150. And depending on what "frisky" is, I wouldn't want to generalize from that car to your Saab. Plus, I pulled the hitch from a '95 turbo convertible (albeit with manual trans).

If your car has a hitch on it already, then you can test the towing. If you can tow without sending the turbo beyond the white zone regularly, then I would say you'd be okay....but that's just me talking.

Anyone else do towing with their car?
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Old 10th April 2012
AZR Racing AZR Racing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offcamber1 View Post
Ed,


My concern with my 9-3 is primarily with the Turbo motor and the auto transmission. I did tow once with a Chrysler Lebaron Turbo and after one particularly frisky run we pulled into an IHOP and lifted the hood. The turbo was glowing red!

Thanks again,

Kip
This is 100% normal with almost any aggressive run with a Turbo car or truck. Loaded or not.


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