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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Saab Central!

I have acquired a 1988 Saab 900i with 218K km on the counter.

I am experiencing a few problems with it. First of all, I have a coolant leak in the passengers footwell (I live in Australia), and the AC blows hot air at all times, and I am unable to turn it off. This could be a blown heater valve, yea? How much would that cost to fix at a garage?

Secondly, my idle is rough and seems to be low... is that the Heater valves fault too?

And thirdly my Automatic shifter feels very loose and is very easy to switch between gears without using the engagement switch, and it struggles to stay in Reverse. Is that a serious transmission problem, or just some loose link somewhere?

Most of all, how much will all of that cost if I were to fix it in a garage? I have no mechanical knowledge at all.

Thank you for your future support.
 

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The heater valve shoudn't be too expensive to fix....perhaps 2 hours of labor plus the part. They sell the part on eeuroparts.com and others have them. In the meantime you can bypass the valve, remove the two hoses at the firewall and join them together with a short piece of pipe.

I don't think the valve is the source of your idle problems, start by getting a tune up, i.e. plugs, wires, distributer cap and rotor and go from there.

Others will have to chime in about the shifter but it sounds like an adjustment problem.

Welcome to the forum!
 

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Hi, abartas,

the leaking coolant will very likely be a screwed up heater control valve, but it could also be improperly tightened hoses TO the valve. Since you're in Australia, I'm assuming the steering column is on the right hand side, therefore it'll be much easier to gain access to the valve. I had the same problem, but the valve itself was fine, it turned out to be the hoses. Is the leak directly on the carpet or is it just soaking the carpet from underneath?

I agree with turbo1992 about the idle, but a good idea might be to run the engine at idle, disconnect the idle control valve, Air mass meter, and throttle position sensor, to see if they change the engine's rpms/ running condition.

About the shifter, I don't have an automatic so I wouldn't know, but I've heard that these shifters are flimsy and in most cases its a matter of adjustment/tightening..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think it may be both with the cooland. It was definitely leaking from the top, but I have a rubber floormat and didnt bother cleaning it up. On the next day I looked under it, and the whole carpet was soaked. The rubber floormat could have let it through, or it might also soak from underneath.

Another AC problem I noticed is hissing when changing the settings of it. Not liking the idea of something more in the AC being wrong.

And as to the idle, I think it might be related to the Alternator being on its last legs. When I turn the car on, the battery symbol lights up on the dash, but turns off when I touch the accelerator pedal. I had a look at it, and it is very wobbly. I heard that it might not be supplying enough power to the EFI, therefore the rough idle?

As to the alternator, sometimes the car starts up straight away, and other times it takes it a good few cranks before it turns on. Also, once the idle drops too low and stalls it, the battery and oil lights come on. Otherwise the oil light stays off. I hope this is enough to make a diagnosis on whether its a dodgy alternator, or not.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Also, the exhaust is expelling water and a little mist. It's winter here in Tasmania, and its a possibility that it might just be condensation that gathers in the exhaust system over night. The water has no real smell, however after running the engine for a few minutes there is a little wet patch under the exhaust pipe, and thats what is worrying.
 

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Also, the exhaust is expelling water and a little mist. It's winter here in Tasmania, and its a possibility that it might just be condensation that gathers in the exhaust system over night. The water has no real smell, however after running the engine for a few minutes there is a little wet patch under the exhaust pipe, and thats what is worrying.
If you have a catalytic converter installed, this is not uncommon. you also have several moisture traps in the exhaust system that will hold moisture until you blow it out by running the car. these are the mufflers, any place that can cool down faster than the rest of the system, and the converter, if installed.
 

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Also, the exhaust is expelling water and a little mist. It's winter here in Tasmania, and its a possibility that it might just be condensation that gathers in the exhaust system over night. The water has no real smell, however after running the engine for a few minutes there is a little wet patch under the exhaust pipe, and thats what is worrying.
Normal.
 

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I agree- the hissing is normal since the system is actuated by vacuum servos.
The condensation is also normal in my opinion. If there's no antifreeze in your oil, it's unlikely that it's a leaking headgasket.

About the leaking coolant I'd recommend buying 2 screw-type clamps and putting them on the ends of the hoses where they attach to the valve. This will insure they don't leak. Tighten once before and after engine warmup.

Once again, unplug the connectors to the various ECU actuators/sensors one at a time to isolate the problem. It might be from the alternator, but if its wobbly then it needs to be tensioned and perhaps the bushings replaced.
Today I found that if you unplug the blue component between the injectors, the idle will become very rough, so that might be your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I recorded a vid of the issues. Now, I think it was the hardest time to get the car cranked, because generally it starts straight away. And the oil lamp never came on before. Seems like the car is deteriorating just by standing in the driveway :(

Anyway, hope this gives a better that words explanation of what is going on. Cheers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz3jv7l3cW8
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I decided to record a video to provide a better than written words explanation of what seems to be going on here. By the way, it was the hardest start ever! Usually the car turns on first or second crank. This was overkill! Hope this vid gives you guys a better perspective . Cheers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz3jv7l3cW8
 

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I'll give you some kind of answer when I get back to my house as I'm out of state- for now check all you sensors and valves, also grounds.
 

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1. When starting up from cold, try pumping the throttle hard to see if that helps. If it does, then it's definitely a rich mixture (too much fuel entering cylinders). If not, then maybe a bad spark, and it even kind of sounds in the video like its running on 3 cylinders. Check all spark plug/distributor connections with the ignition OFF, otherwise you'll zap the sh*t out of yourself.
2. Get yourself some clamps and tighten them up. You can attach two for each hose if the problem persists as I have. It's very simple.
3. If the air always blows warm, then it might be a disconnected rod for the heater valve. Very simple to fix.
4. Is your coolant level lowering? Does the oil in the engine look milky? If so, then it's a head gasket.

So overall, it looks like you've got a Saab in a great shape and in need of a few adjustments, nothing more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
1. Usually giving the throttle a nudge when cold solves the problem. Either way, I decided to check the connections to the spark plugs by unplugging one spark at a time and trying to start her up. Seems like all sparks were working, since the car didn't fire up at all with at least one disconnected. However I must have damaged one of the leads, because now the car will not start at all (Well I got her running once - on two cylinders and a very strong smell of fuel around). I have ordered new leads through my auto parts store. At the same time I have decided to change the spark plugs, while I'm at it. Today I pulled out the first one and found it covered in thick black liquid, that smells like fuel... From my research it seems like I have an oil leak somewhere in the engine? :S I haven't looked at the other sparks yet (going to do that when the new leads arrive), but is this something to worry about?

2 and 3. I have now bypassed those two hoses with another piece of hose - problem solved.

4. Coolant level seems to be stable now and the oil is not milky. However when I checked the engine oil today (After many failed attempts to start it), it looked black, thin and had a very strong fuel odour... Also very concerning... Could that be due to the many failed starts yesterday, the fuel has leaked through from the cylinders to the oil sump? Either way, the car is going through a thorough oil and filter change this coming weekend.

Overly it seems to be in good condition. The exterior and interior are in great shape. However mechanically it seems like it needs a sh*tload of work. Oh, And did I mention the power steering is almost dead too? :p
 

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Well that oil problem you speak of doesn't sound very good. If the plugs were covered by black liquid then they were probably fouled, hence the bad idle/starting. It sounds like you have an engine in need of some oil control; it might be a head gasket leak into the cylinder, or in the worst case scenario a blown piston ring. If it's the head then you're ok since its relatively easy to fix, but if its a ring then we're talking about an engine overhaul.

It's also possible that you have crappy check valve for the PCV.

I recommend possibly a compression check, then making sure all spark plugs are creating good, properly timed spark.

In general first change the oil, sparkplugs etc. If the car runs good for a few days/hours, then deteriorates, its probably the rings.
 

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don't forget one thing!

you may have a leak in your heater core. The housing it sits in will dump fluid into that area. That's more likely than a bad heat valve. A bad heat valve leaks on the drivers foot
 

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Yes, but he's in Australia- the "passenger" sits where the heater valve is on western cars!

Besides, he said he fixed the problem- I guess he won't have heat for now..
I've had my heater hoses break many times...
 

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oops

oops! As for the fixed part I just couldn't read all those posts...whew! In any case anyone who pulls the core out to replace a heater valve is crazy not to have it serviced as it's a pain to do!

Now, can you answer my post about the check engine light??

KM
 
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