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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My 9-3 has been great except for the a/c, which has been a constant source of problems - especially compressor units. I've been told I need a new compressor, but 1. "Genuine" compressors are expensive, and 2. They're crap and they break easily. [I'm not interested in arguing that point, so don't expect a reply!]
I was wondering if there are any good aftermarket compressors that will serve as a replacement? Failing that, is it possible to use a compressor unit that was designed for an Astra or a Vectra? I know you can use Astra and Vectra parts for certain things in brakes and steering, is there any chance an Astra or Vectra a/c compressor fits a 9-3?
 

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What happened to the first compressor? Did it implode and leave a bunch of garbage/metal flakes in the system. Need to replace a lot to fix that. Compressor wise, I've done junkyard and new china on different Saabs with no problem.

I'm not going to argue a point about compressors, but it seems that if you have constant problems with the a/c, perhaps a new mechanic would be in order. I have 45 years experience turning a wrench on restorations.
 

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I'd second that - you should see a compressor replacement once, maybe twice in a car's lifetime. The T5-motored cars usually see well over 100k on a compressor. Anything more frequent suggests something is wrong - belt tensioner, system pressure/oil, etc.

Any compressor with a similar body will fit - it's usually the pulley and head that varies from car to car.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe I'm turning into a grumpy old man prematurely, but just about every Saab I've been in (or owned) has had problems with the a/c. Ah well. Anyway, my a/c is still going, but the compressor's letting out a nasty noise. Mechanic said it might be the inner bearing giving out (iirc - I've no idea what makes up an a/c unit).
Jvanabra, does that mean you can take the pulley and head from one compressor and fit it to most others?
LEP3, are you saying you've bought new Chinese compressors that have worked out fine? If so, are there any you can recommend?
 

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Not "most" others but probably others. I dont know what body the car uses offhand, and I dont have one to check. To be clear, it would be the same compressor, just from a different application to hopefully save a few bucks on the purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I figure a compressor for a much more common car would be cheaper - Saab generally carries a premium, at least so it seems here in Oz.
 

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Well I figure a compressor for a much more common car would be cheaper - Saab generally carries a premium, at least so it seems here in Oz.
Agreed.
Which engine do you have?

I don't know what brand is OEM for the Saab but I do know that there are reputable after market brands that fit such as Sanden and Nissen.
Some of the brands from China are actually well known and are reliable. With our dollar the way it is it might be better to buy from China possibly through Paypal and Ebay for extra security.
Amex is great for that sort of thing too.

The problems we Saab owners in Australia face is lack of knowledge and parts = expense.
I come across this quite a bit with my Touareg as well.
I was recently quoted $2,800 to repair my AC, I ended up replacing a $36 part.
I've had my BMW so long now that I can get parts for it cheaper than for my SS.

Before you break out the wallet, try taking the clutch and pulley off and see if the problem is there in a removable part.
 

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As for longevity, I did have to replace the A/C compressor in my NG900 at 45K under warranty but it was definitely the exception. Most go 80-100K IME... and then it's the external bearing in the pulley that goes, not the compressor itself.

You can replace the bearing along with the eletctric clutch. Kits are available to do it. Ebay has them... look for a guy out of Pennsylvania, USA. The nice part about that is you get to leave the system charged and once the bearing is changed, you're ready to run. However, it is a PITA to do the job due to limited access.

Pull the serpentine belt off and wiggle the A/C pulley. Usually you can find the play if it's bad. OR, get a mechanic's stethoscope and listen to the bearing when it's running - usually it's obviously noisy when it's bad. Check the water pump and other pulleys while you're in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Cheers Bob, will try that, though I'll have to look for someone here in Australia for kits! ;-)

Flash, I've got a 1999 9-3 with a 2.0 litre turbo, and my engine number starts with B204E. Was thinking of the Chinese route if you can actually recommend a brand. Otherwise, if it's the external bearing, and not something that requires degassing the a/c and taking it apart, I might be able to make use of a dead spare I've got lying around, and combine a few parts.
 

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Cheers Bob, will try that, though I'll have to look for someone here in Australia for kits! ;-)

Flash, I've got a 1999 9-3 with a 2.0 litre turbo, and my engine number starts with B204E. Was thinking of the Chinese route if you can actually recommend a brand. Otherwise, if it's the external bearing, and not something that requires degassing the a/c and taking it apart, I might be able to make use of a dead spare I've got lying around, and combine a few parts.
Definitely look at swapping the clutch and bearing over first.
Luck you've got a spare to experiment on.
 

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With a compressor out of the car: if you're lucky, just take the nut off the shaft end, grab the pulley, and it comes right off. If you're not lucky, you'll need a puller to get it off. Caution when pulling - those arms from hub to pulley wheel are thin and you can bend them easily. Note the angles and such before you start pulling. If it bends, just gently correct after install.

There are some shim washers under there. Don't lose them. You'll need some at reinstall to get the clutch to work right. If you can use a pulley with the bearing installed already (old compressor) then you can probably just use the same # of shims.

If you have to install a new bearing then you'll need to play with that a little. The bearing is pressed in/out with a press. There are some other details that are important in that process, so post if you're going that route. We can save you some pain.

If you need a new bearing (i.e. both yours are bad) ... The bearing is a standard size. You can source it on Ebay Austrailia, etc. If you search the "A/C bearing pulley" threads here you can find the specs for it. They've been posted a couple time. I think Jeremy knows them off the top of his head. ALSO, IMPORTANT:

If you need a clutch (mechanical part and electromagnet), I think I have one, but shipping to .au is a lot last I checked. So check locally first. If you're stuck, I can help you out but a local source is definitely more economical.
 

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If you need a clutch (mechanical part and electromagnet), I think I have one, but shipping to .au is a lot last I checked. So check locally first. If you're stuck, I can help you out but a local source is definitely more economical.
It's almost certain that he'd be able to get a new part here cheaper than the cost of freight.
I looked at some clutch/bearing kits, they're reasonably priced as they're not a Saab part.
 

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As for longevity, I did have to replace the A/C compressor in my NG900 at 45K under warranty but it was definitely the exception. Most go 80-100K IME... and then it's the external bearing in the pulley that goes, not the compressor itself.

You can replace the bearing along with the eletctric clutch. Kits are available to do it. Ebay has them... look for a guy out of Pennsylvania, USA. The nice part about that is you get to leave the system charged and once the bearing is changed, you're ready to run. However, it is a PITA to do the job due to limited access.

Pull the serpentine belt off and wiggle the A/C pulley. Usually you can find the play if it's bad. OR, get a mechanic's stethoscope and listen to the bearing when it's running - usually it's obviously noisy when it's bad. Check the water pump and other pulleys while you're in there.
(y)

This man speaks the truth. I did this on my 2000 9-3 a year ago. Not a fun place to work, but it beat draining and recharging the system.
 

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It's almost certain that he'd be able to get a new part here cheaper than the cost of freight.
I looked at some clutch/bearing kits, they're reasonably priced as they're not a Saab part.
Definitely agree it's a better path. Freight is a killer now.
 
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