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  #1  
Old 11th January 2007
jrbean jrbean is offline
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Default How difficult is it to replace upper Steering Column?

My SAAB has developed a very wiggly steering wheel. I've seen lots of threads where people recommended replacing the upper steering column, so I purchased a used one, and looked up the procedure in the Bentley manual.

It didn't look too bad until I actually looked at the car and saw where the u-joint to separate the upper and lower halfs is-down against the firewall, under the alternator.

I don't think I can even get my hand down there. Is there a trick to releasing that u-joint? Can you get to it from the bottom of the car?

I'm about to drop my car off for some other work. I was going to do this one myself, but after looking at that I'm thinking about having this done also. Am I making this too hard?

Thanks,
John
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  #2  
Old 11th January 2007
AUSSIE900 AUSSIE900 is offline
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john ,

Wrong joint , the one you need to undo is inside the cabin ( well in australia it is ) not sure what happens LHD , guessing similar .
There is universal joint inside the cabin , Remove the Knee roll (see the faq's ) , will start to become clear .
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  #3  
Old 11th January 2007
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AUSSIE900 is correct, it's all inside the cabin. I didn't think it was too hard to replace the whole upper column at all. However, I had already taken the knee bolster off.

My column had a broken weld in the collapsible 'webbing' portion which made it feel just awful and unsafe to drive... my wife would've freaked had she needed to drive it. It bugged me but I figured as long as the u-joint was still attached, even if the whole thing came off I could just steer with it in my lap. Or over the passenger seat. Or up near the ceiling.

Be careful when you take it off, there are some funny spacer/washers on the (upper, I believe) big bolts. A little tricky to get those back in there when putting the new one on, too.

-TH
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  #4  
Old 11th January 2007
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Watch out for the airbag as well, you need to disarm that as well to be safe.
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  #5  
Old 11th January 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goge
Be careful when you take it off, there are some funny spacer/washers on the (upper, I believe) big bolts. A little tricky to get those back in there when putting the new one on, too.
There's a trick to re-fitting those:

Put bolts into brackets on the upper steering column assembly
Put spacers in place
Wind a small elastic band around the bolt to hold the spacers captive
The assembly now has all the bolts and spacers loosely held in place
Get all the bolts started
When you tighten them, the elastic band will disintegrate

This technique can be used on many inaccessible washers and spacers.
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  #6  
Old 11th January 2007
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Thanks Jim, that refreshed my memory: there were some little o-rings on the threads to hold the spacers on while installing... definitely helpful.

-TH
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  #7  
Old 14th January 2007
jrbean jrbean is offline
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Default Replace an SRS column with a non-SRS?

Thanks for all of the great hints! I see everything that everyone pointed out. Can't wait to try to get that dash pad back on!

Before I actually started, I realized that the column was a pre-airbag column. I looked at the unit under the dash, and compared it to this one. Looked close enough, so I figured I'd make it easy on myself and buy the matching steering column. I would have liked to keep the airbag, but it had actually failed a year or so ago, and according to my mechanic even if I did fix it there is nobody in town with the right computer to clear the code.

From what I can tell, however, there is something subtly different about the 2 columns--I can get the bolts that face the driver started, but I can't seem to get the ones that go up from the bottom started. Also, the top edge of the bracket that holds the stalk seems to be too high, and is colliding with the upper column cover.

Anyone ever tried this? Am I not trying hard enough? Did I not genuflect toward Sweden enough times before starting this project?

Thanks!
John
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  #8  
Old 15th January 2007
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woywitka woywitka is offline
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Removing an airbag from a car is illegal, you can't "un-aribag". Selling the car in future would be difficult.

A Saab dealer can clear the code, and can't you just unplug the battery for a half hour?
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  #9  
Old 15th January 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woywitka
Removing an airbag from a car is illegal, you can't "un-aribag". Selling the car in future would be difficult.

A Saab dealer can clear the code, and can't you just unplug the battery for a half hour?
Used to be a $10,000 fine for removing the SRS.
The car would fail a state inspection if there is one where you sell it.
Code cannot be cleared except with the correct SRS diagnostic tool.
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  #10  
Old 15th January 2007
jrbean jrbean is offline
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Default SRS Column on the way

Luckily, I found an SRS column, so the fine should not be an issue. It should be here tomorrow.

Our SAAB dealer here in Huntsville, AL is fairly new, and doesn't have parts or tools to work on the old SAABs. I dropped in one day to try to order a part and he recommended I do what he does and order it from the dealer in Birmingham, AL.

Luckily, I have found a very good local mechanic with experience working on these, and a more liberal view of using used parts than my "normal" mechanic. He told me that I would be surprised at the number of really nice European cars driving around Huntsville with black electrical tape covering the SRS light.

John
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