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  #1  
Old 30th March 2005
MOMO900S MOMO900S is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005                                                
Location: Seattle, Washington
My Saabs: Black '89 900S
Posts: 14
Unhappy New guy with various problems/questions

Hey all, ok well in January(05) i bought myself the saab. Lets just say it hasnt been the smoothest ride since then. I paid 1500 US for it, it had 146k miles on it at the time, the body was pretty straight and it ran well(i had recently totalled my first car, a 240SX). Well im on my way home and bout 2 minutes away the clutch goes(ok ok, i kinda got on the gas to see what she had in her) so she sits for about 3 weeks while i wait on the clutch. Bout mid Feb was when i put in the clutch(me and a friend whos a mechanic/has a shop). After i put in the clutch, thats when it all went downhill again. So now i had my new clutch i figured lets try again with the "speed testing"(no clutch dumps, jus trying to get some idea of the acceleration in the car). Once again on that same road where the clutch died(Ive determined that the road is bad luck, every time i decide to get some speed on that road something gets messed up in my car), i was shifting from 2nd to 3rd while all out accelerating(shifting at 6k), and for whatever reason(i still cant figure it out, though i dont think it was due to me letting out the clutch before completely in 3rd) the transmission ground like noneother(this was really bad too), so i backed off and then put the tranny into 3rd with no issue. But when i came to a hill i had to downshift to 2nd, i went for 2nd and it wouldnt go into 2nd, it was like trying to shift into a brick wall. so i had to bomb it up the hill, praying noone would be in the way, which would slow me down to the point i might stall. When i tried 1st, it went in once and then get stuck in gear(not good cuz i didnt wanna leave the keys in the ignition cuz i couldnt get the car into reverse). The next day 1st all the sudden worked, but 2nd was still no good. So i took the car down to the nearest tranny shop to see what they thought was the problem. I guess the guy drove the car to see if he could get it into 2nd and he did, and when i came to pick up the car he said I had rounded off 2nd gear a little, but with some miles, the tranny would basically reshape the teeth so it would be about normal. About 1000 miles later(beginning of march), the tranny seemed to be back to normal. Then last week the tranny did it again, except now 1st is the problem, the weird thing is it will intermittantly go into 1st no problem, and sometimes it wont go so ill shift into 2nd then into 1st coming from a stop. Shifting out of first isnt too hard but I can feel "roughness" in the shift, basically it will take more effort to get it out of 1st and into 2nd, but its slowly fixing itself. But every once in a while it will for no reason grind while going into gear(it did this before i messed up first) when pulling away from a stop, and the clutch will be all the way disengaged(well the pedal is to the floor). I am wondering if we didnt bleed the clutch well enough(we replaced the slave) would the grinding issue be all the time or sporadic?
Also the guy at the tranny shop said changing the transmission fluid wouldnt be a bad idea(i agree since theres probably metal bits floating around). What i dont get is why saab used basic motor oil instead of dedicated tranny fluid. In my mind, Motor oil isnt going to be as good as say a dedicated transmission fluid, mainly because its not nearly as thick, and i would think since its supposed to be replaced in engines every 3k miles, it would deteriorate with age. I have a feeling the syncros might have something to do with my transmission issues, so i was thinking that mabey something other than standard liquid dinosaurs might be a way to smooth out the transmission. So my question is, can i put something like Redline gear fluid in the transmission? If not, will mabey putting a high grade synthetic such as mobil 1 help a bit? Lastly I was talking to this guy who refered me to an additive which you put in with the standard tranny oil(nothing saab specific though), would that be safe? Also what is the tool to use to get the tranny drain plug out?
Ok, last transmission related issue. My gear shift is pretty out of shape. When in 1st gear, the shifter has almost as much side to side play as neutral. Is there some way to adjust the gates or tighten up the shifter? I know in most cars new bushings will fix this problem, but being this car is a saab, and saabs are built a little weird(like puttin the clutch where it is). So basically is there something i can do myself, without having to get the car on a lift, that i can do (im pretty good with car stuff,and id be comfortable taking the shifter apart if need be)?

Lesser issues:
-The car needs new CV joints i am sure, but i know the inner drivers are prone to going out and they can show the same symtoms...is there any surefire way to figure out if the inner drivers are also shot?(i know the previous owner had one of the drivers done, i think passenger(US) side. Are inner drivers something like CV joints that will wear over time and need replacing after so many miles?)
-The car has a leaking valve cover gasket. Is there anything special i need to pay attention to when i replace it, or anything to look out for that might be a precursor to future problems?
-When i start up the car, mainly when the engine is cold, it will make an intermittant whining noise. I dont think its a belt but i'm not sure. After intially firing, it will do it until revs settle at an idle, then whenever rpms are above 3k. Its more of an annoyance than anything, but ive read about failing pinion bearings with the transmission, and how as they begin to go they make a whining noise. Should i have the car taken in and looked at? The noise goes away after the car has been driven around for 5 minutes(the noise happens even if the car is warmed up, it only stops when ive had the car moving for that time)
-When i did the clutch i didnt replace the pilot bearing, we didnt realize there wasnt one with the clutch kit until we had the car apart, and the old bearing seemed to be good(might have the wrong name for it, its the bearing in the center of the flywheel). Ive noticed that when i have the car in neutral and push in the clutch pedal theres like a quiet wooshing sound that goes away and comes back when i let the clutch back out. Is this because of that bearing or is it normal?
-When i steer the car, theres a louder rushing sound, i think from the power steering pump. The previous owner said the car had always done it. I had the hood open the other day and noticed the power steering fluid was low in the resevoir on the passenger side, might this be the problem?
-The car has really funky handling, basically when I make a hard turn the rear end feels like its going to go, its not so much rolling to either side, but more like the rear rotating out. I dont think that much aside from rear sway bar bushings has been replaced in this car. My guess is that the combo of old struts and some bushings that are shot are causing the sketchy feeling while cornering. Any suggestions?
-The powerband seems really weird, like it will have good pull from 1800 to about 3000 and then the car will noticably lose power from about 3k to about 4500, then power will pick back up. The car used to misfire/knock when i first got it(mainly heavy load at low rpms, also when going from part to full throttle around 3000rpms), but when i did the clutch i replaced the spark plugs with bosch platinum 2+'s and that helped knocking a little and stopped the misfire. But the only way i could get rid of the knocking was to run premium gas. This is a real pain because around where i live premium goes for an average of 2.35 a gallon. But im more concerned with the weird powerband, is there something that could be wrong in the ignition system that would cause power to back off between 3k and 4.5k rpms? Or is this just something about the engines. I need to replace the cap and rotor soon, as i didnt do that when i replaced the plugs, im probably also going to get new plug wires at the same time. Something else that might have something to do with this is the MAF meter. Basically the car would get intermittant check engine light, and idle roughly. I recently got sick of not having intake roar, so i kind of improvised with the K&N cone filter off of my 240sx and put it directly onto the MAF. Oddly enough the check engine light has not come on since then. Basically i want to know if there is something going on in the engine where it might retard ignition timing(if it can do that) to the point where ill notice it when driving.
-Lastly i have some stereo issues. The system is bone stock and the 2 rears are shot. Basically now i have to adjust fade and balance so that all speakers have sound. At moderate volume though the rears will cut in and out for no reason. I want to put in new speakers, but should i also save up a little more and go for a new head unit as well?

Sorry about the length here, but i figured it would be better to condense it into one post rather than be a "thread whore" and make each one seperate...Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks
-Morgan
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  #2  
Old 30th March 2005
ProfZ's Avatar
ProfZ ProfZ is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2002                                                
Location: Meriden CT
My Saabs: 1990 900S 3-door auto. 1988 900S 4-door 5-spd.
Posts: 2,220
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Welcome to SAAB ownership, and to this Forum


To make a start on your car's problems, the best advice I can give you is this:

(1) If you haven't already, get the Bentley workshop manual for this car. It will answer some of your questions right off the bat.

(2) All of the problems/concerns you write about have been faced by a number of members of this site over the years. Spend time searching this Forum, and you'll find many answers and ideas as you go. Then if you're still stuck, post a specific request for advice for each problem area (cooling, trans, brakes, etc.).
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  #3  
Old 30th March 2005
eggsngrits's Avatar
eggsngrits eggsngrits is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004                                                
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
My Saabs: 1991 900 16v Turbo Convertible SE
Posts: 3,229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOMO900S
1. I have a feeling the syncros might have something to do with my transmission issues
2. can i put something like Redline gear fluid in the transmission?
3. an additive which you put in with the standard tranny oil(nothing saab specific though), would that be safe?
4. Also what is the tool to use to get the tranny drain plug out?
5. Is there some way to adjust the gates or tighten up the shifter?

Lesser issues:
6. The car needs new CV joints i am sure, but i know the inner drivers are prone to going out and they can show the same symtoms...is there any surefire way to figure out if the inner drivers are also shot? Are inner drivers something like CV joints that will wear over time and need replacing after so many miles?)
7. The car has a leaking valve cover gasket. Is there anything special i need to pay attention to when i replace it, or anything to look out for that might be a precursor to future problems?
8. When i start up the car, mainly when the engine is cold, it will make an intermittant whining noise. I dont think its a belt but i'm not sure. After intially firing, it will do it until revs settle at an idle, then whenever rpms are above 3k. Its more of an annoyance than anything, but ive read about failing pinion bearings with the transmission, and how as they begin to go they make a whining noise. Should i have the car taken in and looked at? The noise goes away after the car has been driven around for 5 minutes(the noise happens even if the car is warmed up, it only stops when ive had the car moving for that time)
9. When i did the clutch i didnt replace the pilot bearing, we didnt realize there wasnt one with the clutch kit until we had the car apart, and the old bearing seemed to be good(might have the wrong name for it, its the bearing in the center of the flywheel). Ive noticed that when i have the car in neutral and push in the clutch pedal theres like a quiet wooshing sound that goes away and comes back when i let the clutch back out. Is this because of that bearing or is it normal?
10. When i steer the car, theres a louder rushing sound, i think from the power steering pump. The previous owner said the car had always done it. I had the hood open the other day and noticed the power steering fluid was low in the resevoir on the passenger side, might this be the problem?
11. The car has really funky handling, basically when I make a hard turn the rear end feels like its going to go, its not so much rolling to either side, but more like the rear rotating out. I dont think that much aside from rear sway bar bushings has been replaced in this car. My guess is that the combo of old struts and some bushings that are shot are causing the sketchy feeling while cornering. Any suggestions?
12. The powerband seems really weird, like it will have good pull from 1800 to about 3000 and then the car will noticably lose power from about 3k to about 4500, then power will pick back up. The car used to misfire/knock when i first got it(mainly heavy load at low rpms, also when going from part to full throttle around 3000rpms), but when i did the clutch i replaced the spark plugs with bosch platinum 2+'s and that helped knocking a little and stopped the misfire. But the only way i could get rid of the knocking was to run premium gas. This is a real pain because around where i live premium goes for an average of 2.35 a gallon. But im more concerned with the weird powerband, is there something that could be wrong in the ignition system that would cause power to back off between 3k and 4.5k rpms? Or is this just something about the engines. I need to replace the cap and rotor soon, as i didnt do that when i replaced the plugs, im probably also going to get new plug wires at the same time. Something else that might have something to do with this is the MAF meter. Basically the car would get intermittant check engine light, and idle roughly. I recently got sick of not having intake roar, so i kind of improvised with the K&N cone filter off of my 240sx and put it directly onto the MAF. Oddly enough the check engine light has not come on since then. Basically i want to know if there is something going on in the engine where it might retard ignition timing(if it can do that) to the point where ill notice it when driving.
13. Lastly i have some stereo issues. The system is bone stock and the 2 rears are shot. Basically now i have to adjust fade and balance so that all speakers have sound. At moderate volume though the rears will cut in and out for no reason. I want to put in new speakers, but should i also save up a little more and go for a new head unit as well?
Whew. I can't help with all, but I can help with some.

1. Yes, that seems to be a potential based on your description.
2. Yes. I run Redline MTF in mine at the recommendation of my Saab mechanic. There is a running debate on this, but I like it in my tranny.
3. I generally don't like additives.
4.
5. Yes, there is an adjustment on the linkage under the console. Please see the Bentley manual for instructions.
6. Typically, inner drivers give you a 'washboard' effect when accelerating, especially in third gear. You will notice the vibration through the floor/pedals.
7.
8. Don't know from the description whether the noise is with the car at rest or in motion. If in motion, could be pinion. In my case, pinion whine made the tranny sound like the road noise from an 18-wheeler was underneath my car. To me, anyway.
9.
10.
11. The 900 will handle a bit differently than other cars, but generally you can't get the back end to budge in the turns -- the Saab designers went for heavy amounts of understeer. I would check the suspension stuff that you've mentioned.
12. This is not normal for a Saab. Is this a turbocharged car? The turbo controller (APC) (search the board for APC or go to 900aero.com and click on 'TECH' then look at the stuff on the APC) can be adjusted and may cause some of what you are referring to.
13. Again, I would need to know the year and model of your car for exact layout, but many Saab stereos have the amplifier section separated from the head unit. They are usually located under the back seat. The rear amplifier section may go out leaving you with this situation. Call Wasyl at Saabradio.com for advice or ask him if he has a good replacement in stock. If the price is right, stick with stock, if it's not, go aftermarket. Speakers usually aren't the problem, but new ones will be a good upgrade.

The blanks I can't help with immediately -- anybody else? Hope that this helps.
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Last edited by eggsngrits; 30th March 2005 at 09:49 PM.
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  #4  
Old 30th March 2005
MOMO900S MOMO900S is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005                                                
Location: Seattle, Washington
My Saabs: Black '89 900S
Posts: 14
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thanks for the info eggsngrits. The guy who owned the car before me had a service manual, but it is only through 1988...i dont know what exactly the differences are between 88 and 89, but I used it when doing the clutch and it seemed to be spot on. The whining sound happens both at a stop and also in motion, but only around 3k rpms. So its probably not a pinion bearing then because it goes away and ive never noticed any noises like you described. But would i be correct in assuming if it was a pinion bearing it would be pretty much a constant occurance? Also my car is not a turbo, so i dont know why the car runs poorly on anything but premium, not to mention the funky powerband(to my logic a powerband would be weaker at the low end and pick up, not drop off halfway through, my thinking is mabey it has to do with a knock sensor or somthing being tripped and the ECU is retarding timing). The handling actually seems like oversteer, it is really twitchy. I forgot to ask about this issue i am having with the tach/speedometer. The speedometer is getting the old car "shake" from road vibration, is there any way to tighten up the "pointer"? Also the tach has been really bouncy, for example when shifting, when the tach goes to the lower rpm from higher gear it will bounce below and above the exact revs then settle in(kind of a pendulum effect). Also on occasion the tach will drop to 0 for a couple of seconds then spring back to the previous rpms(like on the freeway, to 0 then spring back to 3k), is there anything i can do to tighten up something in the gauge cluster or am i going to have to break out an electrical tester to try and find some short in the wiring along the way?
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  #5  
Old 31st March 2005
eggsngrits's Avatar
eggsngrits eggsngrits is offline
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My Saabs: 1991 900 16v Turbo Convertible SE
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Not much difference between '88 and '89. '89 900S should be 16-valve engine, make sure the manual is for the 16-valve.

Pinion whine is only when the car is in motion, louder and higher pitched as you accelerate.

With the instruments, could be anything. Search the board for answers.
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