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Discussion Starter #1
So... recently took car for an alignment. I'm told tie rods are rusted. Need to be relaxed. Also told me rear axel is bent. Are rear axels still available? If so how much does a job like that average ?
 

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Old-fashioned alignment shops typically unbend rear beam axles using judiciously applied hydraulic jacks. It's not ideal but unless the bend is really severe, it's not going to introduce any new issues.

You should ask the shop how the axle is bent, and what their evidence is. (Unless it's obvious if you look under the car yourself.)

Are the rear tires wearing in funny ways?

I doubt it's worth getting a used axle and installing it. New, forget it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Apparently no other mechanic noticed it. He gave me a sheet with measurements on it.. I'll upload it in a few minutes.. he said its driveable but will wreck the tires by cambering them.
 

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You can correct camber if that's the only issue, using shims. Toe can also be fixed if it's minor. Most of these cars have a camber issue IME. They handle better once it's right, but I'd go with Ed: if your tires are not wearing funny, you can choose to ignore it.

As for the tie rods, you can fix that with a little time and a vise. Maybe some parts, probably not. Was he able to do the front alignment or did he say that issue needs to be corrected first? We can direct you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So.. a few months ago i had the car aligned by a local guy BEFORE I had control arms replaced. Probably stupid on my part. That mechanic told me it was rusted where the bolts are. He had to heat it up and replace the bolts or something like that in order to align. After the control arms were done, alignment was way off. Also before I had control arms done, all the tires had awful camber (inner tires were wearing to cord). My saab mechanic thought it was from control arms, and the tires being rotated to front. The rear tires were awful. I replaced all tires and went to do this alignment and got hit with this news.. my saab mechanic isnt open on weekends so I have to wait till monday to even talk to him.. but the alignment shop gave me a sheet with measurements on it.. maybe this will help
270406
 

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First, that tire wear was due to camber in the rear and/or toe in the front. Common conditions.

Second, a question: Is that printout the AFTER results? Or did they just not do it? If it's after, there's no excuse for the front right toe not being corrected. If they didn't do it due to the camber, that's fine.

The rear camber can be easily corrected that with shims from genuinesaab.com. We can direct you. You can also correct the rear toe although a lot of people would ignore it. That's a little trickier, but can be done.we'll go with GS or other aftermarket parts for that too. When they say "can't be adjusted" it actually means "we don't know how to do it". You're basically going to use GM J-body shims... and do a factory approved correction. Most alignment shops just want to turn adjusters.

Does your mechanic have an alignment machine? Or do you always go elsewhere for that? There's going to be some trial and error in fixing the rear, so I'll suggest different directions depending on your answer. Also, are you comfortable with some simple (and I do mean simple) DIY in the rear axle area? There's a step you should take before checking alignment again that will save some hassle in the rear.

Last: Is there an alignment shop around you that has "lifetime" alignment for a couple hundred bucks? The rear has to be tweaked, then checked again for accuracy for best results. The lifetime deal is best for that. I use Firestone.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This was done today at a separate garage called Euro Tire in Fairfield NJ. My saab mechanic (sweet motors in mt. Arlington NJ) said he doesn't do alignments and I had to bring elsewhere, which is how I wound up at Euro tire. . no alignments were completed today. I used a local garage to do the initial alignment back in august. Eurotire just inspected the car and called me and gave this to me when I picked the car up. They wouldnt do a front end alignment because of the rust. He said to replace the tire rods and bring it back. I'll have to poke around. I don't trust the local mechanic (he has kids working for him now and i dont trust them with this car).. his quotes always came out higher than any saab mechanic. I suspect it's because they dont known the cars all that well so it takes longer. I tried another place in august and they said no, car was too old. I suspect euro tire only wants to turn adjusters, and I think that's all most places want to do. Slowly no one wants to do this work. Kind of sad
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Also, I asked the guy at euro tire if this happened because of old age or an accident or I'd this is common.. he said not common this usually doesn't happen... is he just trying to tell me to go away?
 

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The old school places would correct camber on rear beam axles by either jacking up on them from the underside (to make the camber more positive) or putting a chain on them and pulling down (to make the camber more negative).

Does your Saab specialist have a recommended alignment shop? If they don't do it themselves, they should know someone who can do a proper job on older Saabs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The old school places would correct camber on rear beam axles by either jacking up on them from the underside (to make the camber more positive) or putting a chain on them and pulling down (to make the camber more negative).

Does your Saab specialist have a recommended alignment shop? If they don't do it themselves, they should know someone who can do a proper job on older Saabs.
No joke, my saab mechanic pointed me to euro tire. The guy at euro tire had zero interest in helping with the rear. I asked how do I fix this he said "I dunno find a used one possibly" .
 

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That's all BS from people who don't know or don't want the work. The shim process is easy and fixes negative camber. The tie rod adjusters can be cleaned/lubed (least expensive in parts) or replaced (most $ in parts, less labor).

  • Do you have a jack and stands?
  • Are you handy with a socket wrench and maybe an open end wrench?
  • Do you have a vise available?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That's all BS from people who don't know or don't want the work. The shim process is easy and fixes negative camber. The tie rod adjusters can be cleaned/lubed (least expensive in parts) or replaced (most $ in parts, less labor).

  • Do you have a jack and stands?
  • Are you handy with a socket wrench and maybe an open end wrench?
  • Do you have a vise available?
My thoughts exactly. Seems to be a common thing around here in jersey. Oddly enough the local mechanic claims he heated the joints on tie rods a few months ago to do the alignment. He told me he replaced the bolts etc.. maybe he didn't...I have a big Jack my dad used for his van. Long and yellow.. don't have stands.. I'm decent with a socket wrench... could do the open end wrench and how big a vise?
 

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You should buy a pair of jack stands, You'll need to get under the car to prep the rear. Don't do that without having it on stands. Trust me, I know of cases where cars fell. Harbor freight should have inexpensive onces. Two-ton stands are fine.

I'll do a write up tomorrow on how to do the rear shims. There's a TSB (I think it's for the 9-5 but it's nearly identical) that you can use too. .

The vise probably has to be mid size only (to hold the 3/4" tie rod) but fairly firmly attached. How firmly depends on how stuck the bolts are. If the mechanic really did loosen them recently, it probably won't be too much work. You probably want to have some PB Blast on hand and some anti-seize for reassembly.

These jobs are both fairly easy to do and the parts are minimal.
 

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Got some minutes I didn't expect... Here's the rear info: FYI - I'm giving you a lot of detail but this is really easy to do. Aside from jacking the car, you can do this in 15 minutes the second time through. First time might be an hour.

Shim kit: https://genuinesaab.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=56_28&products_id=926
Install PDF: http://www.genuinesaab.com/psi/files2/cambershims.pdf (Don't look at this yet).

First, the shims: The shim thickness in mm corresponds to roughly the same change in degrees i.e. a .9mm shim changes camber by .9 degrees. GS has this info on the catalgo page (above). The optimum camber in these cars is around -1.0 to -1.1 degrees negative camber. You have -2.0 on one side so I'd suggest a .9mm shim there to get to -1.1. On the other side you have -2.4 so we'll put in a 1.2 shim (GS says that changes camber by 1.1 degrees) and a second .3mm shim. That will get you to -1.0.

The Install instructions are for a 9-5 and we get to ignore 75% of what's in there. So take a look at my drawing instead first. Step by step instructions that help you through the GS instructions are below it.

You'll see that the hub has four bolts on the back that go through the brake backing plate, then through a flat spacer, and then into the axle assembly-plate. On the back side of the axle plate there are four nuts, one on each bolt. All you're going to do is to loosen the four nuts, slip a shim between the axle-plate and the spacer, and tighten it back up. That's the whole job in a nutshell.



Here's the Step by step, following the PDF: http://www.genuinesaab.com/psi/files2/cambershims.pdf

0. Break the wheel lugs free on both wheels with the car still on the ground.
1,2,3 - Release the emergency brake handle inside the passenger compartment, jack the car, put car on jack stands, remove the rear wheels.
4. skip this, not needed on 9-3
5. I forget if you have to do this. If you can get the socket wrench on all four hub nuts, you can skip it. The only reason to move the wire is if it's in the way. If so, it just pulls off the hook. You might need to lever the little hook forward with a screwdriver to unhook the cable. Don't do it if you don't need to.
6,7,8 skip, not needed on 9-3
9. Can of compressed air is fine for this if you don't have a compressor. Just get the dirt and stuff off the spacer area
10. Loosen the four nuts. Ignore all the extra noise on this step in the instructions. You might need a "flex joint" on the socket extension for one of the nuts. Get on them firmly and properly... they will (surprisingly) come loose without any hassle. Just do it right so you don't slip and mangle them. No big, they always come loose.
11. Blow out any grime that slipped in between the axle spacer and the hub and the axle
12. Put the shim(s) in at the top. Line them up over the bolts.
13. Tighten up the nuts at the top evenly to just firm. Watch the shim to make sure it doesn't slip. Tighten up the bottom two nuts to firm. Go back and tighten them up evenly in some alternating pattern, then torque them all fully. If you don't have a torque wrench, just bring them up to "nice and tight but I'm not going to snap them off" torque.
14,15,16 skip
17. If you took the emergency brake cable off, you might need a screwdriver to lever the it back on the hook.
18. skip
19. Wheels back on and lightly tightened

Lower the car, torque the wheels, pull the emergency a few time to settle it back in.

All done. Rear is ready for an alignment check. Note that this process is not perfect. You might find out that the alignment comes out a little different than the calculations tell us. In that case, we redo it and adjust as needed you might need to change a shim to a different size.

Also, this won't fix the toe. We can shim for that too, but I don't think I'd bother. See how it comes out after you fix the camber. If it's way off, you can shim for toe also. There are even special comb shims you can get. But, it's probably not needed.
 

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Freeing up tie rods in front. This is also fairly easy, but I'll give you all the grimy details.

The tie rods are made up of an inner tie rod attached to the rack (1), an adjuster screw with left and right threads (3), and a tie rod end (4). The clamp bolts (2) are used to keep the adjuster screws from turning. When they do the alignment, they turn the adjuster screws to make the distance from the rack to the tie rod end shorter or longer. What gets stuck are the adjuster screws in the end of the tie rod or the tie rod end.

Summary: What you need to do to free them up is to remove the tie rods, get the screws out, clean them up, lube with anti-seize and reassemble. It's not a bad idea to replace the clamp screws with fresh screws if you have a good hardware store around (they are a fine thread 8mm and sometimes hard to find).

In a shop, they just replace the tie rods and the adjusters, maybe the ends too. That's some $$$ in parts. You can usually make it all work just by cleaning and lubing.

Note that removing the tie rod end is probably optional... I would do it, but you can probably avoid it as long as they are not too rusty.




Steps:

1. Loosen wheel lugs on ground
2. Jack car using front center jack point and put on jack stands
3. Remove wheels
4, Measure the amount of adjuster showing on each side and record (distance "A" below) for each side. Doesn't have to be perfect since you'll be getting an alignment afterwards but get it as accurately as you can. Also note which tie rod end (4) goes on which side. They are opposites. A photo or marking them isn't a bad idea. The tie rods are also left and right so mark or photo for reassembly purposes.




5. Remove the two clamp bolts (2) on the tie rod ends (4) on each side. (1). They only get torqued to 16# so if they are tight, it's usually corrosion. They bolt from the bottom, so spraying some PB Blast on the top of them where they poke through the tie rod end (and the tie rod) in advance is a good idea. In fact, you might want to do that a couple times starting a couple days ahead if you can.

6. Here's where I'd remove the tie rod end (4). You might be able to do the job without removing the tie rod end. I never tried it but I think you could probably get the adjuster screws out and then pull the tie rod. Maybe. I'll assume you're going to remove it.

You'll need one of these to break it free from the strut: Most autoparts stores sell them: https://www.harborfreight.com/tie-rod-and-pitman-arm-puller-63684.html

Take the nut off (5), fit the puller/breaker, tighten the screw on the pitman breaker, and it will pop the tie rod ends out of the strut arm.

6. Unscrew the tie rod ends from the adjusters. you can usually fit an adjustable or small pipe wrench on the tie rod end where the clamp bolt goes through if they are tight. Also, note that the clamp has a slot down the side. If you drive a screwdriver in there you can spread the clamp and the end will come off more easily. You can also spray PB Blast in the slot before and/or after you drive a screw driver in there.

7. Remove the plate (6) that is over the bolts that hold the tie rods to the rack. It pries off with a screwdriver.

8,. Remove the rack bolts (7) for both tie rods. Don't lose the washers (9) - they tend to stick on the rack and them fall down when you pull the bolts. Grab the plate (8) as you take out the bolts.

9. Grab the tie rods as you pull out the bolts in step 8 above.

10. Clamp the tie rod in a vise and unscrew the clamp screws.

11. Once again, spray some PB Blast in the slot and around the adjuster screw. Again, drive a screwdirver or simplar into the slot to loosen the clamp. Unscrew the adjuster screw. Note that the adjuster screws have left threads on the rack end (and right hand on the tie rod end). Repeat for other tie rod.

12. If you have a wire wheel (especially one on a grinder), clean up the clamp screws.

13. Put the tie rod adjuster screw back into the tie rod. Run it in and out a few times. Then a few times more. Do it until it moves easily. Repeat for the matching tie rod end. Then do the other side.

14. Clean everything up. Put anti-seize on the adjuster screws on both ends and install into the tie rods and ends.

15. Take a look back at the second illustration above and set distance "A". Note that distances "B" and "C" should be the same or at least within 3mm of each other (that's about one turn of the screw. A little futzing will get them right.

16. Installation is the reverse of above. Match left and right components properly. Strictly speaking, you should have new nylock nuts for the tie rod ends. You can pick them up at a good hardware store. Sometimes they are fine thread, sometimes they are coarse thread. I've seen both. If you want to play it safe, pick up a couple in both threads. I believe they are 12mm but check me on that.

WIS has all the torque settings.
 
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