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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry in advance for the long post. I purchased my 2001 9-5 2.3t three and a half years ago with 109K miles. My daughter now uses it for college - about 250 miles away. The car had very little previous maintenance history available. One of the first things I did was to install the PCV update. Then I dropped the sump and found the pile of sludge. Everything was cleaned out including the strainer of course and I reinstalled the sump using anaerobic sealer as directed. I have used synthetic oil exclusively since that time.

I have performed lots of other maintenance tasks, but especially in the last several weeks. My daughter had described the classic symptoms of the head bolt re-torque issue: very rough running first thing in the morning (water inside a cylinder?), weird cooling system leaks (exhaust gases over-pressurized the cooling system?) and significant oil leaking down from the head/block area. However on her trip home before the re-torque could be done, the oil light flickered on at highway speeds, and it went off as the RPMs dropped. She stopped (good girl!) and we had the car towed home. I was almost ready to write it off. A great car, but what you want for your daughter is safety and reliability. I did start it briefly and heard the scream of the oil pump trying to suck oil through the strainer, so I dropped the sump again. This time the strainer was completely clogged with little black particles. I collected all of it in a coffee filter and soaked it in mineral spirits for a day. Well, everything basically dissolved and there were no metal shavings, etc. Good news! So I cleaned it all up again and reinstalled. The head bolt re-torque corrected ALL of the other issues. All head bolt were looser than I thought they should be, but bolt #10 on the re-torque diagram was barely finger tight! Engine now is running very well with 136K on the clock.

So here is what I am thinking: Would it be safe to use mineral spirits to clean the strainer without dropping the sump? If every few years during an oil change I poured in about a quart of mineral spirits (should be enough the submerge the strainer) and let it sit for 24-48 hours, then drained it very well and refilled with new oil - would this be safe? My recent experience tells me it could clean the strainer out, and it would sure beat dropping the sump. The only thing that might be compromised that I can think of is the o-ring on the oil tube. Thoughts?

I really am grateful for all that I have learned on this forum over the years. And I still love the car!
 

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Looks like you have now sorted what was a neglected Saab.
Having done the PCV update,sump drop(x2) and assuming future regular oil changes I wouldnt worry any more or do anything else.

Why do you think there is more sludge in the engine?

Did you take the rocker cover off the car and look at the top of the engine?
 

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you might be able to get away with using mineral spirits in the sump, but I don't know if I would trust something that I can't actually see with my own eyes. You know by Principle that it should be spotless, but what if it will take longer to dissolve inside the sump? How can you be sure that it's totally clean without visually inspecting everything?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't know why there was more sludge/crap clogging the strainer 3 years after having cleaned it previously. I was quite surprised. Yes, the engine internals are all coated with a dark film. Maybe it is that stuff slowly breaking away that accumulated in the strainer. The mineral spirits option seems like a reasonable preventive measure - but I've not seen it discussed before. Some have even discussed perforating or even removing the screen itself and let the filter catch the crap. I am definitely not ready to do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
turbojohnny, I agree that I couldn't be sure if everything dissolved. However, I don't know if sludge is accumulating unless I look either, and dropping the sump is a bit of a pain.
 

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turbojohnny, I agree that I couldn't be sure if everything dissolved. However, I don't know if sludge is accumulating unless I look either, and dropping the sump is a bit of a pain.
I agree with that, I'm going through this with my girlfriend's 9-5. It would be nice if there was an easier way, especially if you have to do it multiple times.
 

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I have another idea. What about some kind of an adaptor attached to the oil filter base housing that would force a solvent back to the oil pan and out the drain plug hole. Flush then with engine oil. Just a three beer thought on a rainy Friday afternoon.
 

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Nothing is going to beat taking the pan off and seeing with your own eyes. I don't think a scope would see well enough directly under the strainer.
IMO if you're determined to find a "cheat", pull the oil pump and flush a bunch of solvent with some compressed air directly down the pickup tube and hope to flush it all out the drain plug (and I'd only maybe trust that on a pan that I had previously inspected.)
 

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there was someone a while back that modified the pan, cut a hole in it and then made a piece that screwed into to cover the open hole. If you know someone at a machine shop that might be an interesting way to deal with it.


I've gotten good enough to get the pan off and back in a couple of hours so doing it again is really no big deal.
 

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there was someone a while back that modified the pan, cut a hole in it and then made a piece that screwed into to cover the open hole.
ABCSales was the name of the company but I don't know if they have made or sold any of these in the past ten years. The owner's name was Bobby Bright IIRC, no idea if the company still exists.

Unfortunately I found the attached information on the 'net saying that Bobby died in 2011.

http://www.andrewsautohaus.com/volvo-saab-subaru/article/ArticleContent.php?page=181
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all of the replies and discussion. Obviously there are many ways to think about the sludge management problem. Most include dropping the sump. I agree with unclemiltie that it isn't a huge deal, but when all you have is a carport and jackstands, it is not the most pleasant exercise, especially in the Winter. I also liked the backwash idea by pushing solvent from the oil filter area, but I would be concerned about leaving solvent in the oil pump itself.

So my main question remains largely unanswered. Beyond the potential ineffectiveness of pouring mineral spirits down into an empty sump in order to soak the strainer and dissolve the crap, are there any real RISKS involved as long as the solvent has been allowed to completely drain out before adding new oil?
 

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So my main question remains largely unanswered. Beyond the potential ineffectiveness of pouring mineral spirits down into an empty sump in order to soak the strainer and dissolve the crap, are there any real RISKS involved as long as the solvent has been allowed to completely drain out before adding new oil?
The risks of the spirits being pumped through the engine are minimal after you've drained and put oil in. Although I'd be tempted to change the oil twice after doing this just to make sure. (i.e. fill it up, turn it on, let it run for a minute or two and then change the oil again)

The risk remains that it doesn't do anything to relieve the clogged strainer. Would probably be an interesting experiment to get a few clogged strainers and soak them in spirits for a while and note the results. If you consistently get 80% or above clarity then this is worth it.

Someone who has access to a bunch of junkyards and an afternoon could probably help by just plucking a bunch out (or a saab shop that sees these things regularly could do the experiment)


It *IS* an interesting thought though. But I think that If there was a really high chance that pouring something into the empty crankcase and letting the car sit for a day Saab may have opted for telling the dealers to do that instead of pulling sumps and checking engines. But hey, stranger things have happened.
 

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The risks of the spirits being pumped through the engine are minimal after you've drained and put oil in. Although I'd be tempted to change the oil twice after doing this just to make sure. (i.e. fill it up, turn it on, let it run for a minute or two and then change the oil again)

The risk remains that it doesn't do anything to relieve the clogged strainer. Would probably be an interesting experiment to get a few clogged strainers and soak them in spirits for a while and note the results. If you consistently get 80% or above clarity then this is worth it.

Someone who has access to a bunch of junkyards and an afternoon could probably help by just plucking a bunch out (or a saab shop that sees these things regularly could do the experiment)


It *IS* an interesting thought though. But I think that If there was a really high chance that pouring something into the empty crankcase and letting the car sit for a day Saab may have opted for telling the dealers to do that instead of pulling sumps and checking engines. But hey, stranger things have happened.
i agree. Thinking about it, some of this sludge is brutaly tough stuff, but if the solvent is strong enough, filling the sump letting it sit and percolate away, and then draining it out and doing a two oil change dump like you suggest would be an elegant way to avoid a lot of work. I totally support your idea of trying it out on a slave slugged up oil pan rescued from a junk yard.

let us know how it works out. PS I used a purple degreaser on some Honda engine parts ( not sludged but varished) and I was impressed how clean they came out. But I was able to agitate with a brush. Not dropping the pan means no chance of that.

interested in the results if someone does this.
 

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I dunno, I can't see it working, sludge is such a 'mish mash" of various components that in my experience no one chemical or process cleans it. I've used acetone, carb cleaner, varsol, gas, elbow grease on a scrubby pad etc etc...

You need something to deal with the broken down PVC rubber, something to deal with the coked and cooked oil, something to deal with the actual varnish and something to deal with the various broken down components that are the residue of the worn out oil itself.

To put something in there that could potentially make the varnish come off in flakes would just be inviting even more problems.

Add to all that the fact that each of the sumps that I have dropped (albeit only four) have had different sets of conditions based on past history of service/abuse so I find it hard to imagine there would be one simple or easy fix for the variety of conditions I came across.

I'll ask my local indie if he can save me the next screen he pulls and swap it for the spare one I have and see what soaking does.
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I dunno, I can't see it working, sludge is such a 'mish mash" of various components that in my experience no one chemical or process cleans it. I've used acetone, carb cleaner, varsol, gas, elbow grease on a scrubby pad etc etc...

You need something to deal with the broken down PVC rubber, something to deal with the coked and cooked oil, something to deal with the actual varnish and something to deal with the various broken down components that are the residue of the worn out oil itself.

To put something in there that could potentially make the varnish come off in flakes would just be inviting even more problems.

Add to all that the fact that each of the sumps that I have dropped (albeit only four) have had different sets of conditions based on past history of service/abuse so I find it hard to imagine there would be one simple or easy fix for the variety of conditions I came across.

I'll ask my local indie if he can save me the next screen he pulls and swap it for the spare one I have and see what soaking does.
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I don't doubt there are many scenarios where this method would be ineffective. However, having dropped my sump a second time in 3 years, this time due to an audibly clogged strainer, I found that everything literally dissolved in mineral spirits. So I am considering this as a preventative measure every few years to avoid or at least reduce new accumulation. I recall the first time that I dropped the sump in 2012 after purchasing the car with 109K miles on it, it was more difficult to clean the strainer. Too many years of neglect I suspect as I am pretty confident that this was the first time it had ever been cleaned.

The general consensus seems that no harm will be done, so it seems like it is worth pursuing in my case.
 

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I actually think this is not a bad idea, but I personally would be hesitant to run any strong solvent through my sump without knowing exactly what effect it would have on the rubber o-ring on the strainer. Some solvents can destroy rubber in no time.

However if you experimented on an old strainer o-ring, or any plain rubber o-ring first (ie soak it in whatever solvent you plan to use and see if and how long it takes to break down), and were satisfied that it was worth the risk, than I would say go nuts and make sure you tell us all if your experiment was successful.

Axeman74
 

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I like the idea of the inspection plate/window. When I had my motorcycle I had a clear clutch cover on it, purely for asthetics. Something g similar would be cool.

What is the pan made of? Is it steel? Could it be tapped? Or is it aluminum that generally don't like small holes being tapped.
 

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the pans on these cars are aluminum, and it isn't exactly thick enough to tap a hole in. you would probably only have two or three threads to hold on to.
I don't like tapping aluminum, unless it has a lot of material and is for an insert. Will have to think about this inspection window some more....
 
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