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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2008 9-3 sedan 2.0t that started loosing coolant on the way to work. It hasn't overheated, but when I got it in the garage when I got home, I had a milkshake looking dipstick.
Since I didn't see a stream of coolant anywhere under the car, I assume it is either being burned in the combustion chamber (unlikely as it wasn't blowing smoke out the tail pipe) and the compression yielded good on all cylinders (~180-195 psi in each cylinder, cold), or leaking some other place inside the engine.
Traditionally, leaking coolant and milky looking engine oil indicates a blown head gasket between the coolant jacket and the oil passages. I'm wondering if there are any other possible causes that I haven't thought about to cause this issue.
Final question, if it is the head gasket, which cam lock blocks do I use? Apparently, the greens ones are not correct. However, that is the set that I bought. Is there any issue with using those? (Do they just not fit?) If the silver ones are correct, where do you buy them? I've not found anyone in North America selling them.
 

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I think you need the blue ones for the 150hp engine.

I have a set for rent if you need them.

I read somewhere that the turbocharger or the oil cooler could be a cause for the cross-contamination between oil and coolant. I would check those first before tearing the engine apart.

You could also use a coolant pressure system check to see if there is a leak in the coolant system into the oil system.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Turbo and oil cooler were the other options that had been suggested to me as well.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to test for that?
Assuming that I pressurize the coolant system, and it does leak, how do I determine where the leak is? Any of those three places (head gasket, turbo, and oil cooler) all lead back to the oil sump and crankcase.
Is there a way to isolate either of those components before I pressurize the system?

I thought I read on here that the blue ones were for the older engines (pre-2006). I’ll happily rent them from you if that’s the ones I need. The one I have says it is for the 150/170 HP engine, but the European models.
 

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Turbo and oil cooler were the other options that had been suggested to me as well.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to test for that?
Assuming that I pressurize the coolant system, and it does leak, how do I determine where the leak is? Any of those three places (head gasket, turbo, and oil cooler) all lead back to the oil sump and crankcase.
Is there a way to isolate either of those components before I pressurize the system?

I thought I read on here that the blue ones were for the older engines (pre-2006). I’ll happily rent them from you if that’s the ones I need. The one I have says it is for the 150/170 HP engine, but the European models.
Is yours a US market car? Only had 210hp 2.0T (big T) in 2008 (or the V6 of course)
 

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See the other thread... It really cannot be the turbo and still have a working turbo. It's likely the oil cooler. You could bypass the oil cooler temporarily to verify. Just hook the two coolant hoses together. Be aware this could result in an oil leak.... Through the broken core and out where the coolant used to be, so plan accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok. Yes, US market car. I thought it was the 210 hp version but as I said, I couldn’t find anyone selling one. I did find a guy renting one on eBay. No idea how that works but he’s my fall back if I have to do the head gasket.
There has been no reduction in performance from the engine at all. Turbo is performing well and boost looks good.
I feel like the oil cooler is more likely the cause. The oil cooler hoses are in terrible shape and swollen from oil exposure. This was attributed to the leaking vacuum pump and power steering pump that I fixed when I got the car. I was already planning on replacing these hoses anyway. A new cooler is $88 bucks from rock auto, and significantly easier to do than the head gasket.
The plan for this weekend is to bypass the oil cooler and see what I can figure out. It should be cold enough that I don’t need the oil cooler if I need to drive it in that configuration. I am curious to see if oil comes out of the coolant holes on that cooler when the engine is running. That may be the smoking gun for the diagnosis, but I don’t really want to risk pumping all my oil out of the engine.
I could also try a pressure test on the oil cooler. It should be designed to hold at least 15 psi from the coolant system.

I’m not sure which specific thread you are referring to (“see the other thread”), but I’ve read through all of them on here I could find before I posted this. Nearly every one of them questioned the poster if they were sure it was the head gasket. I gather from those responses that the head gaskets rarely fail on these engines.
Additional info in case anyone cares (and I realized I didn’t mention this before), the car has approximately 150k miles on it.
Thanks for all the feedback so far.
 

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I am inclined to suggest testing the oil cooler. Not the first time that I read an oil cooler failed causing cross-contamination.

I do have all 4 of the cam locking blocks for rent. But you can cross that path if you do indeed identify it’s the head gasket.


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I have a 2008 9-3 sedan 2.0t that started loosing coolant on the way to work. It hasn't overheated, but when I got it in the garage when I got home, I had a milkshake looking dipstick.
Since I didn't see a stream of coolant anywhere under the car, I assume it is either being burned in the combustion chamber (unlikely as it wasn't blowing smoke out the tail pipe) and the compression yielded good on all cylinders (~180-195 psi in each cylinder, cold), or leaking some other place inside the engine.
Traditionally, leaking coolant and milky looking engine oil indicates a blown head gasket between the coolant jacket and the oil passages. I'm wondering if there are any other possible causes that I haven't thought about to cause this issue.
Final question, if it is the head gasket, which cam lock blocks do I use? Apparently, the greens ones are not correct. However, that is the set that I bought. Is there any issue with using those? (Do they just not fit?) If the silver ones are correct, where do you buy them? I've not found anyone in North America selling them.
I had an oil cooler failure which produced the same results where I had chocolate milk for oil and good compression in each cylinder. It actually happened several months after replacing the head gasket. I thought that I had done a bad job on the head gasket. Turned out that the head gasket was just fine. To fix it, I used some head gasket sealant that I added to the coolant. It took about a week of driving it before the leak fully sealed but has held strong for over 2 years now.
 

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I’m not sure which specific thread you are referring to (“see the other thread”), but I’ve read through all of them on here I could find before I posted this. Nearly every one of them questioned the poster if they were sure it was the head gasket. I gather from those responses that the head gaskets rarely fail on these engines.
Here you go:


I think the B207R is the first common Saab motor to have an oil:water oil cooler, and they are just getting the age where the oil coolers fail. I think this problem hasn't come up all that much in Saab-land. For most other European cars, this is a pretty common failure mode. I've replaced many Volvo oil coolers that have failed in this way, but they started using them in the '90s when Saab was still using oil:air.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Following up after checking some things this weekend.
I rented/borrowed a pressure tester from O'Reilly's and put the system under pressure. It did not hold pressure with the oil cooler attached, so I bypassed it (looped a new hose back onto the other connection) and tested again. Unfortunately, it is still leaking pressure down without the oil cooler attached.
I looked at trying to isolate the turbo coolant lines, but I didn't see an easy way to get both of those hoses. One is easy and is right on top at the front coming out of a tee. The other one goes lower and I couldn't see the end while I was tracing it out.
I'm worried that I'm going to have to take someone up on renting their cam lock blocks.
Any other suggestions for possible leaks that are NOT the head gasket?
 

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Is it possible to use soapy water to check for leaks while the coolant system is under pressure?

Would you be able to use a stethoscope to listen for a leak thru the oil system?

I am unsure if any of the above will work as I am just throwing it out there.

Any chance you can pull the spark plugs to make sure coolant is also not going into the combustion chamber?


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
We’ll, the craziness of the holidays are over and I’d like to get this Saab back on the road. It’s been sitting with about half of the engine bay out on the garage floor for almost a month now.
I saw some posts in other model year forums that a re-torque of the head bolts could fix a leaking head gasket. Is there any application of that to the 2.0T in this generation?

I’m pretty much resigned to tearing it down to replace the head gasket.
Is there someone with the silver cam locks willing to rent them to me?
 

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We’ll, the craziness of the holidays are over and I’d like to get this Saab back on the road. It’s been sitting with about half of the engine bay out on the garage floor for almost a month now.
I saw some posts in other model year forums that a re-torque of the head bolts could fix a leaking head gasket. Is there any application of that to the 2.0T in this generation?

I’m pretty much resigned to tearing it down to replace the head gasket.
Is there someone with the silver cam locks willing to rent them to me?
Did you replace the oil cooler?

I do have a set of cam blocks that I can rent out.


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I’m going to replace the oil cooler since I took it off and the gaskets need replacing, but the cooling system still leaks down without the oil cooler attached to the system. I don’t think it is the cause of the coolant loss.
 

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Well, if pressurizing the coolant system with the oil cooler bypassed didn't solve the leak, given you had coolant in the oil, it seems like a failed head gasket. You could try an exhaust gas test to see if combustion gasses are getting into the coolant, which is another sign of a head gasket failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, if pressurizing the coolant system with the oil cooler bypassed didn't solve the leak, given you had coolant in the oil, it seems like a failed head gasket. You could try an exhaust gas test to see if combustion gasses are getting into the coolant, which is another sign of a head gasket failure.
That would have been a great test to do before I drained the coolant and disassembled most of the upper end of the engine. I think I'm too far into this for that kind of test at this point.
 
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