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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Haven't posted in years.

2008 9-5 Wagon in very good condition. 145,000 miles. New high end tires, new paint job after I had the dog leg rust repaired with the Orio Saab weld in inserts, and the engine and transmission are very strong. The interior is in VERY good condition. The bottom has been treated with wool wax for years. I posted a pic. She is a beauty.

I have had the car 2 years and would hate to let it go. The AC took a dump about 8 months ago.

I brought the Saab to a national chain because they had a 0 interest financing offer so I decided to get an estimate. They want $4,000 for a new compressor, condensor and evaporator plus hoses with labor. They are saying the compressor is 1200 bucks and I am looking on eeuroparts and it is about half that. Most of the parts don't seem outrageous but these shops don't know where to look. This shop also says it will take weeks to get the parts. I order from esaabparts all the time and its quick. And there are plenty of non-OEM parts that will work just fine

They put dye in it last week. I used my own UV pen and can see that the compressor at least is shot.

Is this one of those things they just quoted me high on because they don't want to work on it? I live in St. Louis so the Saab community here doesn't exist. Ecotech did Saabs back in the day but they didn't list Saabs anymore on their website. Should I try to get a second opinion?

I can keep the car without AC as I use it mostly in the winter. The heater is deathly hot. If it is less than 2 grand I would do it, but 4 grand...

What is the value if I try just to dump this? I plan on being a very honest seller. I don't need this car at all. I have had it 2 years and have driven it like 3,000 miles. It is my 2nd car and I don't even drive my primary one much. I bought both cars when I didn't WFH. Now that I do, my primary car only has 15,000 miles on it after 3 1/2 years.

Any advice and help is greatly appreciated.
 

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I'd take it elsewhere. It's highly unlikely it needs everything, unless the compressor failed catastrophically releasing metal fragments into the system, you may just need a new compressor. Are you seeing dye leaking out of the front seal of the compressor?

Replacement compressors for your car seem to cost about $300 on rockauto.com. I bought a 9-3 estate last year and the AC wasn't working, I tested the system, found that the condenser was leaking, replaced it, and recharged the system, and it was fixed for less than 200€.

Do not recharge the system without adding sufficient replacement oil, placing it under a vacuum, and adding the precise amount of needed refrigerant! The modern AC service systems do it all automatically--use one if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd take it elsewhere. It's highly unlikely it needs everything, unless the compressor failed catastrophically releasing metal fragments into the system, you may just need a new compressor. Are you seeing dye leaking out of the front seal of the compressor?

Replacement compressors for your car seem to cost about $300 on rockauto.com. I bought a 9-3 estate last year and the AC wasn't working, I tested the system, found that the condenser was leaking, replaced it, and recharged the system, and it was fixed for less than 200€.

Do not recharge the system without adding sufficient replacement oil, placing it under a vacuum, and adding the precise amount of needed refrigerant! The modern AC service systems do it all automatically--use one if you can.
Thanks for the reply. The front seal of the compressor is leaking like a faucet. I can see the dye all over there. I knew it was bad before i brought it in because on visual inspection I could see and feel the leak before the dye. They recharged the system last week and added oil and it was quite cold for a few days. Sat in my garage for a few days, then it blew hot. I took it back yesterday so they could trace the dye. The compressor didn't make any unusual noises. I hear the clutch go on.

I may take it to a place I know that has worked on Saabs in the past and the main guys are still there even though don't proactively advertise for it. At least with the dye already there, I can get an estimate. I don't mind driving a car without AC...my dad, old geezer RIP said "I survived 70 years ago without AC!" LOL.
 

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I agree with Steve. In my experience, air conditioning is effectively a subspecialty of auto mechanics. My independent mechanic for example, farms out all the AC work to his designated AC specialist. That’s worked for me over the years. Lots of auto mechanics profess to know what they’re doing with the AC, but the results are often short-lived and disappointing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I agree with Steve. In my experience, air conditioning is effectively a subspecialty of auto mechanics. My independent mechanic for example, farms out all the AC work to his designated AC specialist. That’s worked for me over the years. Lots of auto mechanics profess to know what they’re doing with the AC, but the results are often short-lived and disappointing.
That is an interesting prospect. I will snoop around. I just feel like a place that works on Saabs won't think they are working on a Citroen or some car that parts are impossible to get. Maybe the AC specialists will better understand that the parts that I need are not Saab specific. I don't need OEM stuff, I don't care about that.

I do know that these Saab guys in STL treated me well about 10 years ago but since I moved its about 30 miles each way.

I've never had a car where the engine and transmission were fantastic and the car was structurally and cosemtically this good but the cost of the repair made you ask if it was worth it. I just paid for a 2nd key for God's sake LOL.

I've also never had a car I didn't need but kept because I liked it. The wagon is so useful. I just had 13 40 pound bags of salt for my pool in the back.
 

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Four thousand is obviously goofy, there are few Saab related shops in St, Louis but as mentioned an AC specialist is a good way to go.

 

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Just a thought: if you are reasonably handy you can swap out the compressor yourself. It sounds like the system is empty so there is probably no refrigerant to recover.
1. Swap out the compressor yourself and check the Oriface tube for any chunks of metal (I.e. the remains of the compressor).
1a. If the oriface tube is full of metal parts, you are probably looking at a bigger repair as I’m not sure how you ever get all of the chunks out of the system.
2. If you don’t find any metal, borrow a vacuum rig from AutoZone or advance auto parts and try to pull a vacuum.
2a. If it holds a vacuum, then you can take it somewhere and have them bleed and recharge the system and run a function test.
2b. If it doesn’t hold a vacuum, keep looking for the leak and then you at least know what other parts you may need (condenser, evap, drier, etc…)

You can at least bound the size of the problem with this method. And then make a more informed decision about whether to abandon the project
 

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Remove and replace compressor (add appropriate amount of oil), remove and replace receiver dryer.
Have the system leak test using nitrogen (charge with 100 psi) and see if there are any leaks on gauges.
These older R-134 system always have small leaks.
Have this done by an appropriate HVAC shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just a thought: if you are reasonably handy you can swap out the compressor yourself. It sounds like the system is empty so there is probably no refrigerant to recover.
1. Swap out the compressor yourself and check the Oriface tube for any chunks of metal (I.e. the remains of the compressor).
1a. If the oriface tube is full of metal parts, you are probably looking at a bigger repair as I’m not sure how you ever get all of the chunks out of the system.
2. If you don’t find any metal, borrow a vacuum rig from AutoZone or advance auto parts and try to pull a vacuum.
2a. If it holds a vacuum, then you can take it somewhere and have them bleed and recharge the system and run a function test.
2b. If it doesn’t hold a vacuum, keep looking for the leak and then you at least know what other parts you may need (condenser, evap, drier, etc…)

You can at least bound the size of the problem with this method. And then make a more informed decision about whether to abandon the project
Kyle Pancis on Youtube is a huge Saab guy and has an hour long video on how to swap out the compressor. I plan on wtaching it. I may do it but its so hot out right now it sounds miserable.

I would imagine even if there were metal chunks everywhere replacing the tubing isn't that expesnive. I looked at a schematic on esaabparts and its straightforward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
One can buy the complete AC System as Brand New parts for less than 1500 $.. Often Much less.
Find a less greedy shop.
My dad would do this for constructions jobs he really didn't want. High price and if they said yes, he would do it. I get the feeling this shop didn't want the work. Which is fine. At least the dye is in there for the next shop.

I don't understand "its a Saab..." It is a car. They are not repairing an exotic and almost every part is available pretty easily.

I had the windows down today driving and it reminds me of my high school. POS old Volvo and the AC never worked when I had it, and looking back I didn't even care that much, and I lived in LA County where it was very hot.
 

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Haven't posted in years.

2008 9-5 Wagon in very condition. 145,000 miles.
Is this one of those things they just quoted me high on because they don't want to work on it? I live in St. Louis so the Saab community here doesn't exist. Ecotech did Saabs back in the day but they didn't list Saabs anymore on their website. Should I try to get a second opinion?

Any advice and help is greatly appreciated.

RPM care care in Brentwood (on Manchester) just fixed my AC on my 2008. I had leaking O rings and the system needed a full recharge / leak test.
Total bill was around $750 after a coupon.
They specialize in European cars.
They are not the cheapest, but I've been going there for years with my old Subaru and now my 9-5 for the past 9 years.
They have always been very honest with me, even taking me back into the shop to show me stuff on my car.
They owner even called me personally to discuss my concerns when replacing head gaskets on my old Subaru.
They know I do most of the work myself, only bringing them the stuff that is beyond me, as well as state inspections. They are cool with it and actually enjoy that I know my stuff.
Just remember that they are humans and that European cars are very quirky.... meaning that don't expect that any shop will be 100% perfect. Once in a great while it can be hard to diagnose a problem and it takes a couple tries.

They have some old "beater" loaner cars they will usually let you use if the job takes more than a day. I got a 9-3 Aero to drive around for a couple days.
 

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I've also never had a car I didn't need but kept because I liked it. The wagon is so useful. I just had 13 40 pound bags of salt for my pool in the back.
This describes my Saab ownership experience perfectly, lol.
I hate the amount of money it takes to keep the car in top condition, but every time I think about selling it, I take it for a nice long drive and instantly change my mind.
Saab's are also starting to become somewhat of a novelty.
I've had people start to approach me now out in public because they think its a cool looking "space car" as one kid described it.
 

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1. Swap out the compressor yourself and check the Oriface tube for any chunks of metal (I.e. the remains of the compressor).
1a. If the oriface tube is full of metal parts, you are probably looking at a bigger repair as I’m not sure how you ever get all of the chunks out of the system.
There's no orifice tube in this system; it uses a thermal expansion valve instead. It's mounted against the firewall on the pipes leading into the evaporator.

Oil from the compressor shaft is a good sign that the compressor is leaking and needs to be rebuilt/replaced. These compressors generally don't shower the system with metal bits unless they've been run without oil for some time. Those bits get caught up in the condenser and receiver in any case, should that happen.

I'd also pay close attention to the condenser as they develop pinhole leaks over time. Those can be maddening to chase as UV dye in the oil may not make it through the pinhole leak. You need a sniffer to find those. At least the condenser is pretty easy to swap out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
RPM care care in Brentwood (on Manchester) just fixed my AC on my 2008. I had leaking O rings and the system needed a full recharge / leak test.
Total bill was around $750 after a coupon.
They specialize in European cars.
They are not the cheapest, but I've been going there for years with my old Subaru and now my 9-5 for the past 9 years.
They have always been very honest with me, even taking me back into the shop to show me stuff on my car.
They owner even called me personally to discuss my concerns when replacing head gaskets on my old Subaru.
They know I do most of the work myself, only bringing them the stuff that is beyond me, as well as state inspections. They are cool with it and actually enjoy that I know my stuff.
Just remember that they are humans and that European cars are very quirky.... meaning that don't expect that any shop will be 100% perfect. Once in a great while it can be hard to diagnose a problem and it takes a couple tries.

They have some old "beater" loaner cars they will usually let you use if the job takes more than a day. I got a 9-3 Aero to drive around for a couple days.
I’ve been to Ecotech but it has been 10 years. I don’t know if Misha is still there. He was good. I have heard good things about RPM as well.. Thanks for the reminder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There's no orifice tube in this system; it uses a thermal expansion valve instead. It's mounted against the firewall on the pipes leading into the evaporator.

Oil from the compressor shaft is a good sign that the compressor is leaking and needs to be rebuilt/replaced. These compressors generally don't shower the system with metal bits unless they've been run without oil for some time. Those bits get caught up in the condenser and receiver in any case, should that happen.

I'd also pay close attention to the condenser as they develop pinhole leaks over time. Those can be maddening to chase as UV dye in the oil may not make it through the pinhole leak. You need a sniffer to find those. At least the condenser is pretty easy to swap out.
yeah, I don’t mind having to swap out all of that stuff if it’s affordable. It’s amazing the price difference I’m just seeing between compatible compressors. This place wanted to charge $1200 for the compressor. That’s insane.
 

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If you need help fixing this issue, i am a saab enthusiast & do mobile repair as well as work from my garage. I have the vacuum pump & guages. Ive done this repair to my last couple og 9-3's in the past. Im about 50 miles south of the arch but i do come north frequently
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This describes my Saab ownership experience perfectly, lol.
I hate the amount of money it takes to keep the car in top condition, but every time I think about selling it, I take it for a nice long drive and instantly change my mind.
Saab's are also starting to become somewhat of a novelty.
I've had people start to approach me now out in public because they think its a cool looking "space car" as one kid described it.
that’s funny, I actually had the mechanic that worked on it asked me if I was going to sell it. He has a 9-3 SS and he knew what it was. I think if it were up to him he would have worked on it but I don’t think his manager wanted to deal with it.

my kids love this car. And here’s the kicker. My daily is an Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio and they like the Saab just as much. Probably because my son knows when he turns 16 there’s no way he’s going to be able to get behind the wheel of the Alfa. I’m probably going to give him my wife’s old XC90 and he goes dad, I don’t want that car, it’s big and slow. I said exactly, that’s why you’re getting it
 

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Under the hood the evaporator is probably the single Saab specific a/c component. Find another shoip or better yet investigate the offer above. A.C repairs are the highest profit center area of work for many shops, such as yours.
 
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