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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I should start off by saying I've never dealt with any top problems

A new-to-me '99 has top issues. Here is the first problem:

When putting the top up, it seems that when the motor engages it makes an awful whining noise and has difficulty

Video (with sound):

https://imgur.com/gallery/2U3GYvJ

By the way I have my finger on the switch at all times in both videos

The first video is raising it

The second video is what happens when it's halfway up. It keeps engaging then disengaging and then maybe re-engaging for half a second and then beeps and I simply have to keep pressing and holding the switch again and eventually it will go all the way down. However, this takes like 10 minutes

The second issue is the latches that secure the soft top cover. They seem to have a mind of their own (on both sides) and I keep having to pry them open/shut to put the top both up and down. Some times I can't even move them, as if something in the system is preventing it from moving. For now I dis-attached one of the lever things that attaches it to the lower part of the assembly so it's easy to engage-re-engage with my finger, but the car won't register that it's latched and therefore it doesn't secure the rear window that latches to the soft top cover

I'm hoping the first issue maybe can be solved with some hydraulic fluid or something? No idea. Just seems like a weird/wonky motor.

The second issue I have no idea where to begin. I can't see down far enough to see the mechanism that controls the latch for the soft top cover.

I should also note that I have someone who would sell me a brand new top with all the motors and stuff for $200, but I have to take it off his car, take the bad top off my car, and install the new top to my car. Is this worth it? How hard is it? I don't mind if it takes a long time, but if it's not as simple as bolting a buncha stuff on I'd be worried about compromising the car or something

Thanks a bunch in advance for any advice!
 

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You are low on fluid, stop running the motor before you burn it out. Likely you either have a blown line or the seals in the rams have failed. Replacement or rebuild of those and fill with the correct amount and type of fluid, run the system a few times to bleed it and top off the level.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
You are low on fluid, stop running the motor before you burn it out. Likely you either have a blown line or the seals in the rams have failed. Replacement or rebuild of those and fill with the correct amount and type of fluid, run the system a few times to bleed it and top off the level.
Thanks for the reply

Will do, won't touch it for now. I'll open it up and see what I see

This guide: https://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=153792 seems like it has some good info describing what to do

Is there an alternative to the 'Saab Hydraulic Oil' which seems expensive? I've just read on some threads people using power steering fluid, jack oil, etc. Any stories of the systems being destroyed by using this stuff? Can't imagine it would do much harm but I can be talked out of it
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I'll probably do that then. I'll mix 3-4 parts Lucas PAS fluid and 1 part Lucas stop-leak

Anyone have any recommendations on the latches for the cover? I just saw a video where they are easy to access and maneuver from the trunk. The new fluid isn't gonna fix that problem, correct?
 

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I use CHF 11 fluid - relatively inexpensive on Amazon. I also use it for power steering. I tried the PS Stop leak on one top with a couple of leaky rams and it did not help at all.

If you can get a working used hydraulic top with good rams, pump and hoses for $200 - grab it! Worth it if you only have to replace one or two leaky rams rather than the whole top. Although removing the pump and hoses is not a quick or fun job.

The rams and the hydraulic lines are like gold. Very expensive for replacements and I don't think anyone rebuilds them (I don't think the ram cylinders can be uncrimped and recrimped to rebuild). If you're friend is in MA, PM me I might be interested.
 

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Saab specs CHF11S for the replacement fluid now theirs isn't available (it is also what is spec'ed for PS fluid so good to have some on hand). You can normally get it online for about $15 a liter, not super cheap but that will be enough to do the top system about 3 times over.

Personally I wouldn't use any stop leak additive, not only does it change the viscosity quite a bit (leading to more stress on the system, CHF11S is pretty thin) but several people have reported either no improvement or things getting worse after a short while.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Saab specs CHF11S for the replacement fluid now theirs isn't available (it is also what is spec'ed for PS fluid so good to have some on hand). You can normally get it online for about $15 a liter, not super cheap but that will be enough to do the top system about 3 times over.

Personally I wouldn't use any stop leak additive, not only does it change the viscosity quite a bit (leading to more stress on the system, CHF11S is pretty thin) but several people have reported either no improvement or things getting worse after a short while.
The thread that I linked provided an anecdote of it actually working for someone, which I almost feel like is enough for me to at least try
 

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I had a weeping frayed edge on one pressure hose. the roof worked but it would deplete the oil reservoir in 20 opening/closing cycles

I tried mixing Lucas stop-leak with PAS to see if it would work for me.

It caused a slight blockage in the cylinder at the end of the weeping line.
This worsened the leakage to the point that a single roof operation emptied the fluid reservoir.

I then bought complete new set of hoses (aftermarket replacements made of higher quality materials) and paid a mechanic to fit them for me. the lucas stop leak was a complete waste of money that made my vehicle worse
 

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I think the leak stop products work by softening and expanding rubber compounds like seals. I was told that it can also cause some materials or very poor condition seals to deteriorate.

If that's true than it might work for mildly degraded seals but it might be a death kiss to very degraded rubber. Since it's going to find its way into everything (pump, hoses, rams, etc,) I get nervous using it unless I think everything is in similar condition and is not seriously deteriorated.

btw, when you refer to the latch issue - are you talking about the 5th bow latches on the underside of the tonnaeu cover which hold the top to the cover - or the latches on each side of the body that lock the tonnaeu cover to the car body in the down position.

The 5th bow latch is an electrical motor mounted to the underside of the top cover and has an electric connector in the boot some people have accessed for testing. The latches on each side of the body to lock the cover down have cables that connect to the tonnau cover lift mechanism in the trunk.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok I think I'm convinced to not use it then. I'm seriously considering buying the $200 top. The guy told me he'd sell me the whole assembly, motors and all, and mentioned that it's way easier to put in, as opposed to either the motors and rams or the top, as it comes out as a whole assembly (?)

Anyone have input on this? How difficult is that?

Also, for the latches, I was referring to the one underneath the cover that latches it to the body. It's malfunctioning. Additionally, I was also referring to the fact that because this mechanism is busted, the latch on top of the cover connected to the soft top won't close properly

How would I go about 'testing' this mechanism? I can't even tell what's wrong with it. It usually never works, and it's a 50/50 chance whether I would be able to put it in the right spot to close the cover. Some times it's easy to move, other times it won't budge an inch
 

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I'm not sure its is easier to install a new top frame and motor, rams & lines at the same time. To remove the top frame you have to disconnect the rams and remove it without any of the other stuff attached. It most certainly does not come out has one whole assembly, not unless you disassemble the rear half of the car completely.
 

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not unless you disassemble the rear half of the car completely.
Remove and jack up trunk lid, screw non-broken 9-3 convertible onto bottom of it.

Other than that method some serious work is involved. That said I would buy a replacement hood mechanism for $200 any day of the week just because there are so many individual parts in it that are worth more than that
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Lol darn. So it won't be easy. But I'm guessing it's going to be somewhat different than replacing just the soft top, or just the motors? Anyone have any helpful tips? I'll be watching videos / reading guides and the WIS to try and get a better idea of how everything goes together
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well here's my situation

The entire soft top seals up okay, but that's because it's been coated in a gallon+ of flex seal from the previous owner. He actually did a decent job, but it still just looks awful. It always looks dirty and grimy and it feels like rubber

If the hydraulics need oil then I assume there's a leak. The latching mechanism doesn't seem to want to work right

I'm assuming it's quicker to list what I don't want replaced...that's why I'm curious about just taking the whole assembly out. But as people have said, that's not as easy as it sounds
 

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Just removing the top itself is not that difficult. The four rams are relatively easy to disconnect from the top after which you remove 2 or 4 bolts and the top can be lifted out. Really only need to pull the back body panels to do that.

The most difficult part is hose replacement as they are routed in sticky taped bundles from the pump up to the top's rams. They are fastened to the body in numerous locations with plastic ties which limits how far you can pull them out without crawling into the boot and cutting the plastic ties.

That's why it's important to identify the individual hoses, ram cylinders etc that are bad. Much quicker and easier to replace a couple rams/hoses vs detaching all the hoses and replacing everything.

If you can access a Tech 2 you will be able to troubleshoot the latch situation. Could be the latch, the connector or one of the top's sensors that tell the TSAS whether or not the top passes the open/close protocol which will allow the latches to be activated.

Flex sealed top? You need to post a picture of that. I don't suppose it is peelable.
 
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