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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


On Nov 20th I bought my first Saab, a 1996 900 SE turbo 5MT about 152K. It had been in a collision that collapsed the flange over the rear passenger wheel well and scraped some paint from that door and quarter panel, but otherwise looked good with no body damage or rust, so I went for it as a project car, since the price was right.

What I can piece together about it was that it had several phases of ownership:
1996-1998 original owner, dealer service, 35K
1998-2002 second owner, dealer service 64K
2002-2011 third owner, resident of Longmont, CO, regular service and maintenance
- had replacement starter installed a few years ago.
- had a insurance payout for collision damage in Fall 2010, $3000 payout. This is most likely the accident that scraped and flattened the rear passenger-side wheel well. It looks almost as if a large tire sideswiped the rear right quarter panel wheelwell flange and nearby door is dented and scraped down to subcoat. photo taken on day of purchase:


Upon driving it home, I drained the engine oil and replaced with some Castrol GTX 5w30, and then I flushed the coolant out and replaced with Zerex G-05. It was generating occasional P1171 codes, and while checking vacuum lines found many leaks leaks. Cleaning that up, the long term fuel trim dropped from 99 to 48 to the 30s. However, with the vacuum system tightened up I've had a problem with the degraded AIC valve hose repeatedly tearing while under boost, so I've ordered replacements which should hopefully arrive soon.



The pipe from the intercooler-intake is coated with oil, so I suspect the turbocharger seals are going/gone, though there's no blue smoke visible out the tailpipe per se. The upstream HO2S gives normal looking values, but intermittently drops to 0.01v (via OBD2) making me suspect its wiring.

The battery was on its last legs, and so I replaced it with a group-47 600-CCA one from NAPA parts, along with a universal battery tie-down I had to cut to fit under the hood. I'm still getting intermittent charge system warnings on the dashboard. I've loosened, cleaned (de-oxit chemical) and reseated all the ground and positive lugs I could find under the hood and behind the glovebox, as well as fuse and relay terminals, but am still getting the charge system problems intermittently. I suspect the alternator's voltage controller bushings are probably worn.



I pulled the timing chain tensioner and measured the gap, which was almost exactly 0.4" or 10.16mm. I understand this suggests the chain has not stretched enough to be in immediate danger of failing?

Some interior detailing-- leather cleaner and conditioner, plastic cleaner. Pulled the auto climate control cabin air sensor, cleaned and lubricated its fan, resoldered its thermistor, reinstalled and working.

Parts on order: idler, center, and tensioner pulleys, accessory belt (long), coolant hoses, AIC valve hoses.

Anyway, this is my fun/project car, my goals are basically to keep/restore her to OEM new-like condition, safe, and to keep her on the road.

Comments/suggestions, etc? I'll post updates to this thread as work continues...
 

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I wouldn't worry about intercooler oil unless it is pouring out badly. Over 152k miles quite a bit will accumulate.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Picked up an inexpensive Saab B204 longblock engine with about 125K, 'runs,' with piston knock. The Civic came through as awesome engine hauler, again:


With a cast-iron block, it'll be simplest to disassemble it down to the short block and move it piecemeal. The engine isn't seized and did run, but had a knock. Maybe I'll have a better idea of the damage when I remove the cylinder head and oil pan. At best, I'm expecting galling on the crankshaft from a spun bearing... anyway, this long block also included a water pump, intake manifold and throttle body, and a few other odds and ends.

Tonight, I pulled off the exhaust manifold and turbocharger:





I look forward to comparing this with the turbo in the car now. I'd like to have it rebuilt.

The plan with the Saab at the moment is: replace some idler/tensioner pulleys, remove intake, replace voltage regulator on alternator or replace alternator, new serpentine belt. I'd like also to inspect and possibly swap the turbo, if it looks worse than the one off the 2nd engine, though we'll see...
 

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just a note that turbo is shot. the compressor fins are all chipped up and worn. a lot of re builders just do bearings an seals and bead blast the housings. pull that housing off make sure there is not internal damage. chipped fins a lot of times are due to running no air filter/ dirty air filter. also want to check side to side slop. a tiny bit of up and down is ok as that slop is taken up by oil pressure but any side to side is bad. car looks nice though. if you need anything as far as parts let me know.... i have a whole shed full
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yesterday, spent a few hours working on the car. Drained coolant and pulled off the old radiator hoses, replaced with new ones. Disassembled throttle body from intake manifold, removed fuel rail and injectors, removed dip stick tube, detached intake manifold. Removed alternator endcap and voltage regulator assembly. VR brushes were >10mm, e.g.: not worn out, however internal contacts were oxidized heavily. Cleaned with wire brush, alcohol, and dremel tool. Cleaned more of the exterior to the cylinder head and valve color in preparation for pulling the cover and replacing its gasket.

As things stand, I'm waiting for an order with a new intake gasket to show up before I put it all back together. In the meantime, I'll probably just do more cleaning as well as inspecting the valve train, timing chain, and cams. Took some pics, nothing exciting. More pictures soon.
 

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if you need anything as far as parts let me know.... i have a whole shed full
I have a 99' 9-3 that is the Midnight Blue color. My hood has what appears to of been a chip, that turned into a hole right above the headlight. It's about a 1/2 inch above the lip of the hood, and about 5/8 in dia. I thought about buying one of those hood protectors that cover the area in question as a temp fix, but keeping my eye out for a solid scratch free hood. The rest of the hood's paint looks almost new :( Would you happen to have a near perfect hood the same color? I'm in the Akron, Ohio area.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
*takes back this thread* ;)

A lot of time spent working on the Saab engine this weekend. A lot of cleaning. Replaced coolant hoses, almost all vacuum lines (MAP sensor, fuel pressure regulator, turbo bypass, valve cover vent), also renewed AIC lines to the intake above and below the throttle body. Pulled valve cover, throttle body, fuel injectors, and intake manifold. New gaskets or o-rings in all. One fuel injector is missing a plastic cap, which cracked and was lost while sitting aside in the engine bay.

With the valve cover off, I was able to examine the cam sprockets and a section of the timing chain. Everything looked good, the chain only budged maybe 1/4" up and down in the stretch between cams.

Wound up using both the salvage alternator and the new voltage regulator-- the brushes on the salvage alternator's regulator were worn to stubs. The new voltage regulator didn't help the alternator that came with the car, and so I replaced it with the salvage alternator. The bottom alternator bolt was stripped, had to drill and tap it out. It's back in, finger tight, for now, need to get a replacement. Fortunately, it's accessible behind a panel in the front right wheelwell.

Replaced tensioner and idler pulleys with new parts. New serpentine belt.

Removed the front HO2S. It rattles when shaked. Returned to exhaust, but plan to replace; the removal, examination, and replacement may have put it out of its misery..

The plastic wiring harness on the coolant temp sender broke when removing it from the intake manifold, repaired with gorilla glue, we'll see if that lasts...

Didn't get around to: fuel filter, cabin intake air filter, cabin heater coolant hoses, center pulley (current one seems ok), exhaust/turbo disassembly. (One exhaust manifold stud sheared when I went to loosen it, I stopped there.) Also didn't get around to further disassembly of the 2nd engine block.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
some pics

Here are some photos from this weekend's efforts-- sorry, was too tired/lazy to post them last night:






Cylinder head intake ports after removing manifold:



And before replacing manifold (with new gasket):




left: tired. right: less tired.



after all this:

 

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Discussion Starter #10
The local NAPA autoparts store is trying to find me a replacement alternator bolt; in the meantime, the stripped bolt is back in, finger tight. Took her for a 60 mile test drive last night. Excluding the dead forward HO2S (replacement on its way), everything seems pretty much nominal. Drove her to work today, am still really satisfied with how well everything is working. The engine is a lot quieter as a result of replacing bad pulleys. Idles smooth at the correct target RPM with no misfires. No apparent boost issues. Downhill + uphill round trip avg: 25mpg

Little niggles: possibly tired engine or tranny mount makes the gearshifter hop back and forth a little. There's a intermittently recurring 'pop!' in the OEM radio/CD deck's audio, probably a head unit harness issue, but I haven't investigated that yet. Turn signal column doesn't always stay engaged when signalling a turn. I'm not sure the driver side seat heater is working.
 

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"I'm not sure the driver side seat heater is working"




You'll know within 2-3 minutes if it's working as the seat heats up fairly quickly.
I've been using mine daily and even with a hooded sweat shirt and a jacket over that, I can feel the heat from the seat. If the power seat is working and no fuses are bad, check the harness for a loose/disconnected wire. Check that the switch is good and working too.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Sounds like my driver seat heater isn't working then; reset the motor and heater harness plugs; seat memory is working fine now, no apparent heat when engaged. Will research further with multimeter at some point.

Replaced what was quite possibly the world's nastiest cabin air filter after blowing an autumn or three's worth of dried leaves out of the plenum with compresesd air. The HVAC seems to breathe a lot easier now.


Drove out to Silverthorne and back via I-70, a ton of fun.

Upon returning home, found new Bosche OE HO2S ($70) and NGK BCPR7ES-11 spark plugs waiting in the mail from RockAuto.com. Put copper anti-seize on the threads of all and then Installed. Took her for a drive to the supermarket and noticed sharper acceleration; more torque... Filled up on 91 octane (as usual). Will see where things settle out as the ECU takes HO2S readings into account, but it's feeling pretty good now in terms of how it drives.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Some minor maintenance the last few days. Flushed and bled brakes, replaced fuel filter. Not much else happened on the car itself, especially with the weather, so I've turned my attention to the 2nd engine I bought a few weeks ago.



On the exterior of the engine, I removed the throttle body, fuel injectors and rail, intake manifold, water pump, some coolant hard lines, and the valve cover. The timing chain looked intact.



Acquired an E16 socket in order to de-torque this engine's cylinder head. Once removed, the top end looked pretty much intact and hopefully good for a rebuild.



Perhaps I'll find out why it was knocking in one cylinder when I drop the oil pan off the block. For now, the reason isn't jumping out at me.

 

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depending on how bad the knock is and how long it was driven that way will judge the rebuildable state of the engine. chances are it spun a rod bearing if so and was left running the crank is most likely trashed, and the rod is trashed. good luck though
 

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or do you mean mixture knock?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm not sure, I've never seen it running... :/ Complete unknown inside, but I think you're probably right about the spun bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
It's been about a week since my last update. The SAAB has been driven almost daily, and it seems to be running reasonably well. No new trouble codes or CELs, although I'm still trying to come to grips with how/why it is setting short term / long term fuel trims the way it is.

The lowest LTFT I've seen has been 22. It will often sit around 30, with occasional jumps up to around 50. Every once in a while, it will jump to 99.22 on the LTFT, but usually jumps back down within the same trip. I am at a loss.

Picked up an ELM327 OBDII-to-bluetooth adapter (http://amzn.com/B0051DUVK0) and a copy of Torque Pro (http://torque-bhp.com/) for Android. It is capable of logging OBDII PIDs to CSV format logs along with some GPS-derived data. Initially, I've been visualizing this data using the LiveGraph java-based app (http://www.live-graph.org/).

typical trip: (light green: LTFT, dark green: STFT)


I'm not sure what else I should be investigating to bring the LTFTs under control, I'm running out of places to look for an obvious vacuum leak (perhaps something less obvious, like the brake booster?). I'm beginning to wonder if the fuel system (fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, and/or injectors) is suspect. I hope it's not something really weird, like a poorly-retuned ECU.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The ECU finally did get around to posting another CEL/MIL with a P1171 (Closed loop >25% for more than 20 sec.) Left it around for a while, but nothing was changing, so I went ahead and cleared it. Hasn't come back (but it likely will sooner or later).

According to SAAB's WIS (Workshop Information System, a hideous .HLP-like Windows documentation database provided in lieu of a proper factory service manual), P1171 can be caused by: misfiring, vacuum leaks, problems with the MAP sensor, front HO2S or related electrical problems, a stuck evap canister purge valve, an exhaust system leak between ports and front HO2S (O2 leak in turbo?).

At this point, I'm fairly certain that the front HO2S and connection are good, the MAP sensor is good (correctly reports 10.5 PSI ambient pressure at 8700ft elevation), the vacuum lines are tight, the evap purge valve is good (disconnected the vacuum line between valve and canister, valve opens and closes as it should). I haven't yet been able to eval the fuel rail pressure, injectors, nor possible exhaust leaks between engine and front HO2S (e.g.: in the manifold or turbo itself), nor possible misfires (though it seems to run well). When reset, the trouble code does not come back immediately, but, the LTFTs are still holding around +25 or more. It's really just a minor annoyance and not really a drivability issue per se.

I'm continually amazed at the availability of cheap parts for my SAAB. I'm not sure if it's the age of the mid-90s cars, the brand's sleeper status, or simply the bankruptcy, but with a little shopping around, pulled parts are extremely cheap. Case in point, I ordered another ECU for $55 shipped yesterday. I'm seeing more running mid-90s (GM-era) SAAB turbo cars sold on craigslist for anywhere from $650-1800 frequently here in the Denver region, and even more being parted out.

Happily, the SAAB Trionic ECUs are a "solved" problem in that there's an open-source community built up around retuning/modding it. There's a full editing suite (Trionic5 Suite, http://trionic.mobixs.eu/) as well as BDM/CANBUS interfaces to allow access to the ECU's flash and SRAM. There's a full set of tuning options, including a turnkey stage1 that adds 40hp (going from 185hp/265ft-lb to 225hp) without any powertrain mods.

The suite has predefined adjustments for plug-and-play operation with different turbos and injectors, as well as a clearly-defined set of upgrades for higher stages. It even includes the original firmwares for almost every software revision to the ECU (the hardware didn't really change at all for nearly a decade, aside from a ECU CPU jump from 16MHZ to 20MHZ when OBD-II came along in '96). I'm also lucky that if I get serious, there's a nationally-recognized SAAB tuner right here in the Denver area I can go to.

Anyway, I'm having fun with it and learning a ton by getting my hands dirty on a cheap car with decent power.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
1996 900SE turbo B204L 5MT 5-door, life and times

Minor update. Replaced turn signal / cruise control stalk with an ebay pull, lubricated a plastic tab that interacts with collar around steering column to reset turn signal after turn. Frustratingly, the new one is still occasionally failing to lock into a signal position. I'll have to play with that some more.

In pursuit of the running-lean / rich LTFT issue, I pulled the ECU and scrubbed the contacts with electrical cleaner and steel brush. Reinstalled. I also noticed that the throttle position sensor was at 10% when idle, but when floored to WOT would go to 75-82% somewhat randomly. It'd hold whatever value, but wasn't consistent. Pulled TPS and checked resistance, 2500 ohm at idle, 850 ohm at WOT, which is in-spec. Noticed harness connector looked a little corroded, cleaned with some deoxit and some steel dental tools. Replaced, now WOT goes to 89% open via PIDs. When driving to work today, LTFT dropped to +18, we'll see if that holds.

Ordered a second ECU on ebay, in the process of purchasing a BDM/CANbus interface compatible with the Trionic5 Suite, an ECU editor for this ECU. The plan will be to reflash the 2nd ECU from auto the manual tranny and drop it in and see if anything changes, then if it looks okay, reflash to stage 1. Also want to compare original ECU with original firmware image and see if it's been molested in the past.

Hooking up with a CL parts seller later today to get the following pulls: ignition coil cassette, Garrett T25 turbocharger, driver side front turn signal assembly, exhaust manifold heat shield/cover, wiper arm nut caps. $180 for all.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I wound up buying all but the turbocharger, its compressor blades had damaged leading edges.



I removed the cover of the ignition cassette to examine it, but it's effectively a bowl on the casting with electronics sealed within hard resin. I may test it tomorrow. The ECU is from a 1996 SAAB 900SE turbo w/AT. It is one revision earlier than the stock one in my car, and is clocked at 16MHz instead of 20MHz. It does, however, support OBD-II identically from what I can see. I'll know for sure when I open it up.



I took a drive with it in the car, it was pretty apparently set up differently in terms of how it felt while accelerating, quite jerky on the trottle in 1st and 2nd if the pedal isn't approached lightly when coasting. I think I read the auto has high-speed injector cutoff immediately on a wider RPM band.

After a lengthy test drive, the mixture settled out at the same ballpark LTFT of +30, so I'm fairly sure I have two good ECUs and a mixture/sensor problem elsewhere. One thought is the E10 91-octane may not be ideal for the stock tune? I may try different gas, maybe shell high octane just to see if anything changes. Longer term, I understand there's a 'high-elevation' SAAB OEM b204L Trionic 5.5 ECU sold in non-domestic markets, and I would be curious to compare that tune bin with my stock one.
 
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