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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I had not one, but two cars towed home. Add to that the BMW that has been a hangar queen for six months, and that means that for the first time in my life every car I own is broken at once.

The first car was our trusty old Oldsmobile wagon, which blew a heater hose on the freeway a few miles from home. So after getting towed home we piled the kids in the Saab to go get a few feet of heater hose, and even closer to home the engine started to miss badly, and the temp guage shot up alarmingly. I pulled over, didn't see anything alarming except for a little steam from the coolant reservoir cap, but when I went to restart it we were shrouded in sticky sweet white smoke. Ick. We called the same wrecker we called that morning.

I've only had this Saab a few weeks, and it has been running great up to now, so I haven't had the usual amount of time to lurk and read up on tips for major operations like replacing a head gasket before I needed to. Any tips on special tools or materials or tricks with a twin cam head? I've got a Bentley manual, and they're usually very good at describing procedures. I figure I'll order a gasket set, and some new hoses and spark plugs while I'm at it, then set to work next weekend. It looks like a couple of days and evenings of work.

Scott
 

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The Bentley has some good information on this and another useful site is www.townsendimports.com . We had a good thread on this on the old forums - I'll see if I can dig it out.

Matthew said:
I made sure to bag and tag everything, unless it's an obvious part like a manifold. When removing an assembly, such as the timing chain tensioner, I put all the parts in a small freezer bag, drop in a label and seal it with a cable tie. This keeps everything clean and free from dust, and you know exactly what's been taken off the car. Helps on reassembly too, since you know how much is left to refit.

Make sure you have loads of time - rushing the job almost guarantees failure, especially if this is the first time you've done the headgasket job. Borrow a car to use while you do the job if you can.

Always use new head bolts. Sure, stretch bolts can be reused but new ones are only £1 from EuroCarParts so I'd replace them everytime.

Make sure you order the gasket and thermostat from your Saab dealership. With just about everything else, you can use 3rd party products, but not these two.

If the head's badly coked up, it's worth getting it properly cleaned by an engine shop. If the car's overheated, the head may have warped and will need to be checked for straightness - again really a job for the engine shop.

If the head is warped or pitted and needs skimming, it'll need to be stripped down. An engine shop can do this for you, but make sure you keep all the valves, springs, hydraulic tappets, valve spring seats, collets, spring tops identified and put them back where they came from.

Buy a can of carb cleaner. It's great stuff, smells good and will remove all traces of greasy gunk that'll foul a new gasket.

Buy several large plastic storage boxes. When you remove an assembly, bag and tag it and then put it in the box. This ensures you know where all the parts are, and they're in clean boxes.

Find someone who is willing to help you. Lifting off the head can be tricky, especially is you leave the manifolds attached - this makes the head heavy and it'll probably need two people to lift it cleanly off the block.

I needed assistance when bolting the head to the block during the final torquing sequence. You have to use a torque angle gauge, but another person must hold the gauge so the whole thing doesn't rotate with the socket - you'll see what I mean when you buy one.

Tightening the cylinder head bolts can be hard work - I used two different torque wrenches for the first two sequences (45ft/lbs and 65ft/lbs on my '88 T16) and then a two-foot breaker bar for the final 90-degree sequence. Remember that torque wrenches are most accurate in the middle of their range.

Clean the tops of the pistons, and the bores but smear clean oil around the bores before you put the head back on. This will help to bring cylinder compression back up when you fire the engine again, and it'll prevent the bores from corroding if the head's peft off the block for a while.

That's all I can think of right now - a bit of a rambling and disjointed post though. Feel free to ask questions.

The most important points are: take your time, do your research thoroughly, ask questions and don't use cheap parts for critical items. HTH,
Matthew said:
Pictures are useful, but even more useful is to attach labels to all hoses and wiring. Use masking tape wrapped around the hose/wire. Put a label on each end so you know where each endof the hose should go. On a T16, there are loads of hoses. You'll be grateful you labelled them up when you reassemble the car.

There is a tubular bracket which supports the end of the inlet manifold. It is attached to a bolt on the underside of the throttle body (where the body joins the manifold). When refitting the inlet manifold, just start the bolts to hold the new gasket in place and then fit the bracket. Start the bracket's bolts and then tighten the inlet manifold bolts fully (16 - 20 ft/lbs), then tighten the bracket's bolts. The reason for this sequence is that if you tighten the inlet manifold bolts fully, the bracket won't fit.

A couple of other points for those carrying out this job on turbocharged cars:

If possible, avoid removing completely the metal pipe that drains oil from the turbocharger to the block. It fits into the block with a thick o-ring. It's [email protected] design - Saab should have used a bolt fitting with gasket, or the same type of fitting used for the EGR pipe. Townsend suggest removing the pipe to replace the o-ring if it's perished. However, the fitting is so tight, it's a [email protected] to refit. If you absolutely must remove it, then make sure you refit it while the head's off the block - it'll give you greater space in which to apply pressure. As I found out last evening, refitting it with the head and exhaust manifold fitted to the car is a real pig.

There are quite a few metal piped and rubber hoses that lie beneath the inlet manifold. Make sure you have all these in place before you refit the manifold, otherwise you'll find yourself having to remove it again and again.

Don't remove something unless you absolutely have to. Given assistance and a head that hasn't warped, it is possible (I think) to do the whole job without removing the inlet or exhaust manifolds or the turbo from the manifold. This will save you lots of time.
Matthew said:
Some more thoughts on this.

Make sure you've got all the tools you need before you start. A full set of spanners from 10mm to 20mm in 1mm increments is needed, and sockets too. A 26mm deep socket can be useful for undoing the radiator drain plug, and you'll need a 21mm (I think) spanner for the EGR pipe fittings. An E16 Torx socket is needed for the head bolts. A wobble bar will come in handy, as will a set of Torx bits and holder. You'll need to turn over the engine manually on the crankshaft bolt (turn it in the same direction as engine rotation - anticlockwise), for which you'll need the 2ft breaker bar/ratchet and 30mm socket. I find a 1/4 inch sq drive socket set useful, particularly for the hose clips - a 7mm socket is much cleaner than mashing up the clip with a screwdriver, and you'll have more torque.

A trolley jack will be required to lift up the engine when you remove the RHS engine stay that supports the cylinder head. Use a piece of wood when lifting the engine.

Replace any rusted bolts/nut with stainless items, and use copper grease where applicable - it'll make removal easier next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow! Thank you

Guys, thanks deeply for this information. I've started my list already, and I'll finalize it at work in the morning when I order.

It also looks like I get to buy a new socket for the inverse Torx screw heads for the head bolts I'll be buying. And I get to borrow a friend's cherry picker.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Gaskets

I'm looking at the diagram of gaskets available for my 16V, and I'm wondering just which gaskets I should order today. Clearly, I need a head gasket, but are the valve cover gaskets pretty hardy or should I buy new ones?

I'm hoping to leave the manifolds on when I pull the head, so I shouldn't need new intake or exhaust gaskets. Are any other gaskets likely to be too crispy after 180,000 miles to reuse?

Or should I just pop for the whole $65 gasket set and not worry about it?

Edit: I forgot to ask about the alignment tool mentioned in the Bentley manual. They mention a special tool number, but also mention that a wooden dowel will work as well. What size dowel should I get, and how hard/strong a wood should it be?

Scott
 

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If you'se buying the gaskets from the Saab dealer, give them the chassis and engine numbers so they can supply the correct gasket. Some motor factors might be able to cross-reference the engine number to the gasket set - you really need to talk to whoever you intend buying the gaskets from.

Strongly recommend you buy all you parts from www.eeuroparts.com. They're inexpensive, know Saabs and have been used by many folk on these forums with no problems. They also offer free shipping.

If you really do leave the inlet and exhaust manifold on the cylinder head, then you'll need a helper when you lift the head off the block. Lifting the head on its own is enough, because of its weight and you're leaning into the centre of the engine bay. An engine lift might be useful, and a bit more elegant.

The dowel suggested in the Bentley book is used to correctly align the head when lowering it back onto the block. You push the dowel into one of the block's head bolt holes, and then lower the head onto that. Then you know the head's in the correct position, all you have to do is rotate it slightly until the other bolt holes line up.

Tom Townsend recommends that you use an old head bolt, with the head cut off. I don't favour that because you risk gouging the soft aluminium mating face of the cylinder head on the hardened steel bolt.

When you get the head off the engine, measure up one of the head bolts. Then buy dowel that's the same length but smalelr in diameter - you want the dowel to be a snugish fit in the bolt hole, but if it jams you'll have to lift off the head again!

Just a note about my recommendation above to use stainless bolts: if you replace a high-tensile steel bolt with stainless, you must make sure the new bolt is also high-tensile. Most aren't, and you'll be better off buying new high-tensile steel bolts.

One very important note: buy genuine Saab (made by Elring) headgasket. The aftermarket types just aren't upto quality.

As for cam cover gaskets, well I have had trouble getting aftermarket gaskets to seal properly. Genuine Saab (Elring too?) cam cover gaskets seal fine, and you won't need sealant (a bad idea and unnecessary with a proper fitting gasket IMO).

Phew!

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I often use www.eurocarparts.co.uk because they let you select your car make/model/year and then only display parts for that vehicle so you [in theory] cant order the wrong parts... They also tell you who each part is made by so you can choose whatever you want be it genuine, OE manufacturer or otherwise!
 
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