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So this past Friday morning like every day I stumbled out to my garage at oh-dark-6:00 am to start up the Saab and head to work.... and I was greeted with this:

me: turns the ignition key (like I have done thousands of times before)
wagon: lights on dash, acts as normal, starter doesn't even begin to turn.
me: Doh! Stupid car. :confused:

So using my tremendous all-powerful brain I went through the quick steps to see if I could fix the aforementioned stupid wagon before admitting defeat and going in to tell my wife that I would be taking her car (her brand new Honda Pilot) to work with me. I load tested the battery, checked all my connections, checked resistance to the starter from the battery and at long last checked the battery in the remote... and everything checked out normally.

Okay, so where to buy a starter in Phoenix, Arizona (aka "the land of no Saabs)?

I checked the dealership.... $250 and three days... Autohausaz.com.... $150 and three days.... Napa..... $177 and three days... this ain't looking good for me for having my car back for next week!

So off we go. Pulling the starter off of one of these cars isn't a difficult job, just one that you need to be prepared for and know the pitfalls for in advance. Removing the starter for the first time for me was about an hour and a half exercise from the time I opened up my tool cabinet until the car was put back on the ground. The reverse (installation) was a mere 30 minutes and with some luck that removal time would be probably lessened with a few handy hints (read below):

1) Disconnect both positive and negative terminals of the battery (10mm), unbolt battery from the tray and then place battery someplace not on the cold concrete floor. Batterys for some reason don't like the cold concrete floor and soon find themselves discharging their "volts" and will over extended periods of time find themselves completely flat. After removing the battery and finding a decent place for said storage remove the plastic battery tray underneath (10mm), clean tray, armor-all tray and clean mounting bolts since nobody will ever see any of this stuff when the battery is in place! Oh and don't forget to dismount the fusable link piece dealie that mounts to the driver's side of the battery tray and tuck it carefully down to the driver's side without breaking wires.

2) Find the three bolts (10mm) that hold the underhood fusebox that sits between the battery and the ABS controller and pull that fusebox to the side to create more room for a later step.

3) Jack up the front of the car, block the rear wheels, tell your spouse or significant other that you are now crawling underneath your car. Ask them to check on you about every 15 minutes and if they don't hear swearing coming from you it may be good to call for an ambulance. Hang a drop light down into the area underneath the throttlebody so that you can see the two bolts that hold the starter onto the back of the bellhousing. I found that intially it was easier to access the lower bolt (16mm) from the bottom and it also gave me a perspective of where the wire loom to the starter might run as well as just a better understanding of how the starter would ultimately come out of the car.

4) Now from the top peer from the driver's fender view down and across at the bolt holding the top of the starter to the bellhousing; it is probably semi-important to note that the bottom bolt is threaded into the bellhousing like a stud and the top one is a bolt that threads into the starter and it is an 18mm bolt that is about 40mm long. I used a gear wrench and inserted it from the firewall side with my hand reaching under the ABS controller and underneath the wiring that feeds to the CPS unit and quarter turn by quarter turn... take the bolt out. This is tedious work at best and believe me, this is where I created most of the damage to my knuckles this week.

5) Once you have that particular bolt out and resting in your Special Bolt Place it is time to remove the connections to the starter. At this point the lower bolt (stud) on the bellhousing is supporting the weight of the starter and you can reach the wires either from the top passenger side or from the bottom, your choice. It is probably easier from the top side but ultimately you are going to lower the starter to the ground. There is a 13mm bolt holding the positive terminal on the starter from the battery and a 10mm bolt holding the "exciter" or "trigger" wire onto the starter sylenoid... so be careful. There is also a big black wire tie that holds the loom onto the starter and you will need to cut that as well.

6) After you get those wires disconnected from the starter it is time to just gently wiggle the unit away from the bellhousing and free it from the car. It might take a gentle tap with a rubber mallet or BFH tool if you prefer to get it motivated.

7) The next step was the best one for me; I used the internet to find a local alternator and starter rebuilder and found one not five miles from my house. I dropped it off at 4:00 on Friday afternoon and he called me at 9:30 am on Saturday after replacing the brushes, lubing the moving parts, repainting the base and body of the starter and replaced the frozen sylenoid.. all for $59.00. :)

The installation is the reverse process and while you have the chance to do so check your connections for cleanliness.
 

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Very nice writeup. I was just thinking the same thing as Stipud about there not being hardly any starter failures. Just your bad luck I guess!

Not that you'll have to do this again any time soon but I removed my starter this past spring when I changed the oil pressure sensor. I did not have to remove anything at all from the engine bay to get the top bolt out. Just used a series of sockets and extentions and it came right out. It was in tight though!
 

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Excellent!
It is people who know and take the time to post it, as my main reason for coming to read here.
I might not have an immediate need, but the reference and time you put into it is very much appreciated.

Great stuff!
Regards,
CSE_20
 

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Sweet Post!

Sorry about your knuckles. I use latex gloves and they help a small bit, but just to take the edge off of impacts on sharp components (no pun intended) and make my cleanup easier.

I usually start with the BFH though. Does not really help the job get completed, but it lets me get my mad on first and then I don't get so frustrated later. A 20lb short-handled sledge called "Thor, God of Thunder" does a wonderful job of loosening things up when called upon.

Thanks for putting this together.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
cse_20 said:
Excellent!
It is people who know and take the time to post it, as my main reason for coming to read here.
I might not have an immediate need, but the reference and time you put into it is very much appreciated.

Great stuff!
Regards,
CSE_20
Thanks guys I appreciate the feedback! The beauty of a site like this is that the community is small enough to take care of one another and allow one another to learn from each others mistakes... and that is very cool.

Truth be known I own (along with three other partners) a very large website/community for Volkswagens and while part of it has that same "help each other out" feel the newer car communities within it are filled with some bad stuff... so in many ways coming here is like a breath of fresh air. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A small post-mortum follow up to my repair a week after it was performed.

Everything seemed normal and worked fine up until yesterday morning when I went to travel to my local auto parts store.. when I smelled burning oil. I got the car home and let it cool down and lo and behold the oil pressure sensor which is located almost directly above the starter was leaking oil down the back of the engine block and directly onto the second catalytic converter.

After doing some reasearch I have found that it is common for these switches to go bad and leak shortly after the alternator is changed just due to the movement of the wiring harness. I went ahead and ordered the part from my local auto parts place and for $20 it would have been easier to change the part when the starter was replaced. In order to replace it you have to remove the starter and then remove the sensor with a 24mm wrench. The unit is shaped like a bolt with a small black cap covering the end and a thin wire coming out of it. This wire is attached to a harness that is adjacent to the wiring harness that attaches to the starter so if you are in the process of doing the starter please save yourself the headache and do both at the same time. :)

Lesson learned, the hard way. :eek:
 

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Thanks for this, without the catchy title I would have never opened the thread! I know it's been a while since this thread was posted, but would like to express my gratitude as it helped me install a new starter in my 9-5 tremendously. Only difficulty I had was that my remanufactured starter from Autozone had three bolts instead of only two on the original. The positive from the starter bolt was significantly larger (the one with the 13mm nut), but the other two were similar sizes. When I installed the ground wire on the smaller one of the two, the starter just made a whirring noise. When I swapped it to the other one (10mm nut), the starter, well lack of a better word, started! Thanks again. ;ol;
 
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