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Discussion Starter #1
Oil leak is getting worse, and I can't delay any longer. Car has 210k miles, but I think I can do the job myself. Couple of questions:
  • any good vids on this job? Step-by-step descriptions?
  • details about timing chain (loosening or ??)
  • type of head gasket to use: paper or metal? (I've been told paper is better, and metal ones leak)
  • good source for gasket and head bolts
  • other things to do while head and peripherals are off? I'll be doing the rear motor mount, but is there anything else?
Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
 

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With all due respect...but are you talking about the valve cover gasket (easy) or head gasket (hard - not DIY if you haven't ever timed an engine...)? Very different jobs, skill level and tools needed.
 

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Download the Saab WIS (Workshop Information System, the maintenance manual) - there's a link on here somewhere, for the step-by-step from the horses mouth.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
With all due respect...but are you talking about the valve cover gasket (easy) or head gasket (hard - not DIY if you haven't ever timed an engine...)? Very different jobs, skill level and tools needed.
I understand why you ask. Always good to start at the beginning. The car has overheated a couple of times, and it's a HEAD GASKET leak, confirmed by my mechanic. I'm thinking of asking him (he's only a couple of blocks away) to oversee my work and help with a couple of the key things, like re-positioning the timing chain. The car is very used, but tranny is still good, and I'm thinking if I can stop the worsening oil leak I might get another 20-30k out of it.
 

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OK, before you go through all of the work to do the head gasket make sure that's where it's leaking oil. The most notorious spot for an oil leak on the B235 variants is the 3-way joint between the block, the timing cover and the head. The most relevant spot is right below teh timing chain tensioner where it bolts into the head. I'd hate for you to do the head gasket only to find out that the real issue for an oil leak is the timing cover since you're going to be doing a lot of the same work again. I did it once, hoping that it was the HG. it wasn't.

To determine this you first have to clean the engine. Get a can of engine cleaner and spray the engine pretty good, it has to be hot. Then take yourself to a self-service car wash, preferably when no one is there if they frown on such stuff. (my two local ones don't care if I wash engine parts) spray it down really good around the head, on that joint. Stick the wand into the hole where you take the tensioner out and blast the hell out of it. Now go home.

let the engine run and start searching for signs of oil. if it's leaking as bad as you say it'll be easy to find. Get your garden hose out and clean intermittently until you figure out where it's coming from. you'll need a good flashlight as well and maybe an inspection mirror.

If it's the timing cover/head/block joint you'll likely see a puddle start to form right under the timing chain tensioner and then it'll run down the front of the timing cover. you can see it from the right side of the car by looking under the wishbone . And if that's where you are leaking the first suspect is the O-ring and tensioner oil seal. They are easy and cheap so replace them and hope/pray that's your issue.

If it's elsewhere see if you can get as close to where the oil is coming out to see where it is. It may take you days, clean, search, clean, search.... to figure it out but that'll be time well spent A head gasket job is a big one.


If it's the timing chain cover you have some big decisions to make. You're doing the head gasket anyway but to do the timing cover seal you have to take the timing cover off. This is not trivial with the engine in the car. I personal contend that on an automatic I can pull the engine, do the timing cover and head gasket, and replace the engine in less time than you could do the job with the engine in the car. Others disagree. But I digress. But if you've got the timing cover off you are going to do the head gasket and you may well want to do the timing chains since you're up there in miles. I'd also consider doing the main and rod bearings while you've got the engine out. easy to do, not horribly expensive and your car is getting up there in miles.

If it' the head gasket you can doit with the engine in the car. A couple of things to remember:

  • the valves stick out below the bottom of the head, and no matter what at least one or two are open at all times. DO NOT set the head down on its face or drop it. you'll bend the valves and then have a lot more work
  • If the car was overheated you're going to have to take the head to a machine shop to get it checked for flatness and possibly get it planed. you probably want to do that anyway.
  • now is the time to replace all of the studs that hold the exhaust manifold in place. if you break one now either you or your machine shop can get them out easily. Once back in the car it's much, much more work
  • The head is heavy and the timing chain guides are plastic have someone help you lift the head off/on so you don't break something. if you break one you're doing the timing chain job. (see above)
  • It helps if you can pull the studs out of the turbo to take the exhaust manifold off, unbolt the nuts then put two nuts on there and lock them against each other and pull the studs. then taking the manifold is a lot easier. or you can pull it on the head (which makes it heavier, see above)
  • don't bother with the tool to take the fuel rail off of the hoses. just pull the injectors out (two 10mm bolts hold the rail to the head) and flop them over on the windshield. they'll stay there until you put them back.
  • the bolt that holds the intake manifold to the head on the end by the bullies is a real pain to get in/out. Take the chain tensioner out and work through that opening, it's the easiest way.
  • anaerobic sealant across the top of the block and around the timing cover top on that notorious joint.
It sounds like a daunting task. no doubt that it's a big job, but if you take your time it can be done. good luck
 

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It sounds like a daunting task. no doubt that it's a big job, but if you take your time it can be done. good luck.
No kidding, the time you spent putting this post together is exhausting enough for me.

I can pretty much do everything on a car to keep it going/get it going better but I chose to have my Indy do it for $1500.00 all in machine shop costs, parts etc...money well spent about six years ago.

Good luck Gofarther (this handle reminds me of the old Billy Connolly comedy skit about sending little kids into the freezing cold North Sea), it will be a fun job.
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FWIW - read this thread. On the second page is a video and photo of where mine was leaking. It was definitely the timing cover, as you'll see later in the thread when the engine was out of the car on an engine stand

 
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