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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My 1999 9-3 s MAY need a new head gasket.
If I were to do the job myself, what are the other items I should replace at the same time? Gasket sure, Stretchy head bolts? seals? timing chain? tensioners? Anything else?
I'm trying to ascertain the potential cost of my (almost) new '99 9-3 2.0t S. It had the tinyest seep from the head gasket, which shouldn't be a problem for the Roadworthy Inspector, but if he's playing silly hardball, I may have to do the head gasket. It's immaculate in every respect. I'd just hate to see it go to landfill if I can't get it Roadworthied for registration.
The P.O. had overfilled the oil by 2.4 litres - I think that's what started the seep. I'm hoping it will settle down.
 

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Having met some nice & sometimes strict roadworthy and customs inspectors in the ACT, QLD, and prior to that NZ - with my 9-3, Astra and Forester, I understand your concern. However The inspectors are probably more worried about the oil leak and the potential fire it can cause than your head gasket status. That's my understanding, however if its a shop that doing the ticket - they could be trying to create some extra work on the side <potentially>.
Some places sell the kits needed for a head gasket change: eg Parts for Saabs in the UK, or Saabwreck in Melbourne for example. Best of luck.

https://www.partsforsaabs.com/index.php?cPath=105_316_116_312
 

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Where is it leaking/seeping oil? Oil leaks are VERY rare from the actual head gasket. Much more likely is the valve cover, the chain tensioner, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes I'll go out and see if I can find anything to clean this morning. Bear in mind that this is hardly noticeable, not a leak really, if anything the merest seep. Certainly not a fire hazard. And I'm not at all sure that it's still happening. The PO had overfilled it, I sucked 2.4litres of excess oil out of it so it could have been caused by excess pressure in there. Because it's owned by a friend, I've been able to borrow the car for over a week, so have been able to put about 700ks on it and the oil level hasn't moved. (THX for the parts link Mort).
 

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That's a LOT of excess oil. I would not be surprised if it leaked with that much overfill.

If there really is a leak and it is from the front left corner of the motor, a head retorque may solve the issue without changing gaskets and other parts. Common malady on these cars and usually recommended regardless. Only cost is for a set of headbolts. This is especially true on T5 motors. A photo of the leak would help us diagnose it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A photo would not even show it. just a smear on the left front (looking towards the front of the car) of the block, (to clarify, it's on the battery side) just below the lower manifold bolt - it's like a small 3/4" square horizontal rough cast 'shelf' in the top of the block. I wondered also if it could be seeping out of the little union directly below. This looks like an oil-pressure switch or similar.
Bob are you suggesting re-tensioning the existing headbolts, or replacing them with new bolts? -(Advice much appreciated mate).
 

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Post a photo with your finger pointing at the spot. We can probably advise on what might have leaked.

Yes, there's a TSB on retorquing the headbolts one at a time due to a manufacturing issue. Sometimes the left front corner one is at like 10# of torque. The usual result is oil leaks externally and sometimes coolant leaks external or internal. Best to do it to avoid headgasket damage before it happens, if possible.

The Saab procedure says to only replace the ones that don't tighten (i.e. continue to stretch) when you do the TSB procedure. These are TTY bolts. I did that the first time I did a retorque and it was very, very uncomfortable when a couple of them didn't tighten up. I was visualizing snapping a head bolt and turning my one-hour job into twenty hours. So, the second time I did one I just ordered a new set ($50 usd) ahead of time and replaced them one by one. Much better.

TSB: https://www.genuinesaab.com/psi/files/headretorque.htm
 

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A photo of the place where you're seeing oil would definitely help. Leaks aren't common on that side of the engine. They're far more common on the timing side. The one common leak where you're reporting one is the rubber-coated metal plug that seals up the distributor hole on the side of the cylinder head. Oil can leak out and pool up around there if the leak is bad enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here's a pic, the pointer goes to the point where the oil seeps to. Yes it's near bolt no.10. There's no problem with the cylindrical plug on the end of the head.
It is looking very much like new bolts and re-tension is needed. The dilemma is if this doesn't work and I end up needing the head gasket done, I'm in too deep financially.
I'm putting $600 worth of front struts on it today, which will be wasted if the 'man' won't pass the Inspection. I will do the headbolts if I keep the car.
270098
 

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My opinion is that if it's not a functional problem, don't mess with the head bolts unless you're fully prepared to do the head gasket. Probably nothing bad happens, but maybe something does and that head needs to come off. As the ancient Mayans said, "Don't start none, won't be none."
 

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If it's just a small leak down there, before your inspection, just clean the oil off with a small brush and a little gasoline. It will look perfectly clean, and I can't imagine that anything noticeable would leak out on the way to the testing station.
 

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Classic location for the loose/stretched head bolt problem. I'd do the retorque. Easy job and $50 for the bolts... $25 for the valve cover gasket on top. One hour job with some basic tools (need a good torque wrench and a E16 external Torx). Change out the round rubber plug in that end of the head if this is a manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think that's what I'll do Bob. Today I ran into town and around - a couple of hours, had the new front struts fitted - MUCH better. Got home, no oil leak.
With luck it'll be like this on 'Inspection day' Monday. If it passes I'll buy it, then later, I'll re-tension the headbolts at my leasure.
I'll keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
What's this switch for? It doesn't seem to do anything. No reference to it that I can find in the owner's manual. And what does the chrome 'S' badge signify near my side indicator. (Sorry if this should be posted somewhere else, -didn't seem to require a whole new topic) Saab 93. 2.0 2000.
270107
 

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That's a switch blank. If your car had heated rear seats, there would be a real switch there.

The "S" badge just denotes the trim level. S was the base model, and SE was the higher trim. The SE added things like leather seats, automatic climate control, larger alloy wheels, and a very slightly lowered suspension.

There's also supposed to be a combination cup and coin holder that goes in the recess behind the emergency brake handle.
 
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