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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #1
Went to grab some kebabs with my friends and right before going home my power steering pump started making a bunch of noise and my power steering got much weaker.
So i pop the hood and step out of my car to take a look at my engine bay only to find a huge mess.
Somehow my power steering system sprung a leak right at the power steering pump area and shot all the fluid right on the serpentine belt, which then sprayed the fluid everywhere.
Behind the car was a huge streak of fluid and a massive puddle underneath. Fluid in the reservoir looked frothy, probably because all of it got dumped out and air started mixing in.
So my friend towed me to his garage and we took a look at what happened. My first guess was that the rubber hose on the high pressure side split and sprayed the fluid out.
We couldn't see any obvious cause for the leak so i had my friend start the car while i looked under the hood.
I couldn't see any leakage, but maybe there was not enough fluid to build pressure anymore, so i poured more fluid in.
Started the engine again and yet again there was no obvious leak. The frothy fluid was beginning to clear out so i poured more in to fill the system.
Started the engine again, still no leak. Power steering pump stopped making noise and the fluid cleared up completely.
Turning the steering wheel full lock would not spring a leak, revving the engine would not spring a leak also.
Power steering works fine now, i drove home and there's no fluid leaking anymore.

What the hell happened? How could so much fluid get dumped out on the ground yet there's no obvious leak anywhere?
 

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My NG900 suddenly started leaking at the pump shaft seal. Yes, it was a mess.

You have to wipe everything up and add fluid and see if it's still leaking there.

I think the leak fixed itself briefly, but I pulled the pump and replaced the shaft seal anyway. Later, I put on a junkyard pump that was in much better shape.

My serpentine belt shredded itself a week after the leak. The belt wasn't particularly old. I would recommend changing it, or at least having a spare on hand in case. (I changed the belt in a hardware store parking lot; fortunately I had already purchased a spare, and I had tools with me--really only need something to work the tensioner.)
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #4
My serpentine belt shredded itself a week after the leak. The belt wasn't particularly old. I would recommend changing it, or at least having a spare on hand in case. (I changed the belt in a hardware store parking lot; fortunately I had already purchased a spare, and I had tools with me--really only need something to work the tensioner.)
Big yikes, mine has a new fancy-pants Continental belt, i'll pull it out tomorrow to clean it but the fluid has probably already soaked in, bummer.
I tried washing it off a little with oven cleaner (some really aggressive stuff) in hopes that it would break the fluid up before it could soak in. The oven cleaner doesn't seem to eat rubber so i'll give the belt another spray.
Also, i drove over to my friend's garage today to pick up some undercoating spray and didn't notice any leaks.
Would a bad shaft seal make the power steering pump dump all the fluid in a couple seconds and then fix itself?
 

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One thing I've found with Saab problems: When they go away by themselves, they always come back at the most inconvenient time. Might just work just getting a used pump that's dry and swapping it.
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #6
One thing I've found with Saab problems: When they go away by themselves, they always come back at the most inconvenient time. Might just work just getting a used pump that's dry and swapping it.
Actually this pump came from my old NG900 because the OG9-3's was whining alot.
Sucks to be putting the old pump back in again.
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #7
I didn't have a replacement belt so i took the old one off to clean it.
Surprised me by how slippery it was and also how flexible it was, somewhere between wet noodle and a rubber band.
Not sure if it's supposed to be like that.
After cleaning it became very grippy, like a new tire.
 

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I didn't have a replacement belt so i took the old one off to clean it.
Surprised me by how slippery it was and also how flexible it was, somewhere between wet noodle and a rubber band.
Not sure if it's supposed to be like that.
After cleaning it became very grippy, like a new tire.
Yeah, that super grippy thing means that some of the surface has worn off. It's not a real good sign.

In the old days of plain V-belts, there was a product called "belt dressing" that made a slipping belt stickier. However it was not a permanent fix.

You should take a look at the NG900 pump to see if its pulley lines up with all the other pulleys, especially with the belt off or loose. If the pulley is being shoved in or out by the belt, then I can see an old shaft seal getting unhappy.
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #9
My mom asked me to drive her around and in the process i've found that the pump only leaks when the engine has warmed up and the steering wheel is at full lock.
I kept checking at every stop and only after having to make my way out of a tight corner did i notice a little bit of fluid in the engine bay, not much though.
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #10
I was planning on swapping the old power steering pump back in today but as soon as i woke up i was met with the sound of raindrops smacking against my window.
There go my plans for today.
 

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'96 SAAB NG900 SE (R.I.P.), '99 SAAB 9-3
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Discussion Starter #11
Swapped the old pump back in and much to my surprise it's not making any noise.
After a quick test drive i didn't notice any leakage so let's hope it stays this way.
 
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