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My 99 9-3 has developed an oil leak over the past 2 weeks, took it in for an oil change today and asked if they can see where its coming from while its on the lift. The note says the oil is pushing up out of head on the top of the engine and leaking down. I know zero about cars but that sounds like a head gasket problem? Its not blowing smoke, there is a slight reduction in power when driving but other then the oil leak things seem fine. Repairing it myself is out of the question and its $90 for the shop to tell me if its shot. Could it possibly be something not crazy expensive or is it safe to assume the car is about ready for the junk yard? Its at 220k, I've owned it for about 3 years, prior owner did not baby it. My last 9-3 went to 300k before I sold it and I still see it driving around town and I expected this one to too but I can't afford a $2500 repair, especially on a car worth $600. My dad will look at it Wednesday, something about a bolt? Oil didn't look milky or anything just 1/2 qt low (I filled it up 2 days ago). No overheating that I'm aware of, just replaced the thermostat which had been stuck open so engine never warmed up, now need to replace the coolent sensor too as that works when it feels like it now but never registers overheating. I was hoping the car would last till end of the year to buy new during the end of the year car sales.
 

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Usually water leaks from bad head gasket.
Check valve cover rubber seal. Do not overdo it. Tightening torque is only 8Nm.
 

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Usually water leaks from bad head gasket.
Check valve cover rubber seal. Do not overdo it. Tightening torque is only 8Nm.
Its something like this right? https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/43041/Valve-Cover-Gasket-0892930/?gclid=CjwKCAjwxt_tBRAXEiwAENY8hY0iCwB-RL2uFTb5Amnr4REF9INkheLvIQTo3t5FldnV9hN6nwP47BoCgbIQAvD_BwE

I remember replacing that one on my 1st 9-3 myself, was easy. Took a while but we did several things that day. Thank you! You've made my day! Will go check it out in a little bit once its warmer outside, 10F is to dang cold!
 

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Fix oil leaks from the top down...which means, start with the valve cover. Clean everything well and monitor afterwards to see if you have any other leaks.

Where is the oil leak? The round plug on the driver's side of the valve cover is notorious for leaking (I made an aluminum plug with o-rings to replace it...they are also available commercially). There are many places that coolant can leak, but very few places where oil can leak from the head gasket.
 

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I agree with Mimmi, the head gasket would not be my first suspicion. Before taking the valve cover off, suggest spray it all around with de-greaser, brush it, and hose off. Or carefully pressure wash it ensuring you don't aim at anything electrical.
The oil leak will show up better on a cleaned engine. The leak Boxer-Moto mentions used to be the distributor fitting on earlier versions. The rubber coating on its plug shrinks and leaks. After removing the cam cover you would see the bridge-shaped retainer, which is difficult to remove, as the bolts are so tight. My mechanic broke a couple of bits trying to extract them. If you succeed, the new plug is only a few $ or I suppose you could refit the old, with appropriate sealant around it.
 

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You don't need to remove that bridge to remove the plug... just put a screw in it and pry it out, then tap another one in with a big deep socket and a hammer. I have never removed that bridge ever, across dozens and dozens and dozens of Saabs.
 

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You don't need to remove that bridge to remove the plug... just put a screw in it and pry it out, then tap another one in with a big deep socket and a hammer. I have never removed that bridge ever, across dozens and dozens and dozens of Saabs.
In principle I totally agree...but, I'm also hard-headed and got sick of that thing leaking. I was working with a spare head, so had little risk (and easy access with a drill press if needed).

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Obviously, that's a far better solution, but at the same time I've never been particularly upset at replacing the VC gasket and plug at ~8 year intervals.

Of course, in a few years those plugs will be NLA, so I bloody well hope you're prepared to step up production! :D
 

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Of course, in a few years those plugs will be NLA, so I bloody well hope you're prepared to step up production! :D
I am a hack machinist and my lathe is more than 70 years old...not much chance of production from me. Someone in Europe is cranking them out with a CnC, though.

I've been taught to be very sparing with things like sealants. When my head gasket was leaking, I (desperately) tried a re-torque with new head bolts...and, of course, a new valve cover gasket. My sparing application of sealant on the plug started leaking again within a week, or so. THAT'S when I moved all the crap away from the lathe and had at it with a slug of aluminum and a couple silicone o-rings. I swapped heads and everything is bone dry five months later.
 

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One thing I love about modern motors is less gaskets & sealants, more space age o-rings. :D

I have an XR4Ti and they suffer from perpetual thermostat housing leaking. A brilliant builder (RIP David Godfrey) had aluminum housings cast & machined them to seal with an o-ring. Just brilliant. They never leak!
 

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I did a long time ago. And a few Alfa 75s.

Right now the only other '80s car is a Fiero GT. :) I have my Reagan-era FF/FR/MR bases covered. :)
 

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Hi, I’m pretty uncomfortable to be posting on an auto page.. but have big desire to fix the things in my 2001 9-3 that I can. I was also told I have a leaking head gasket tho it is oil leaking and dripping on to my drive belt and corroding it. I would like to try this mentioned gasket switch but looking at the engine today
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that hose connection just popped right out, seems broken..could this be my leak and what is this 😳 really appreciate it
 

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You may wish to start your own thread, but the long and the short of it is that external oil leaks from a head gasket are not likely. What you've posted suggests the issue is that your PCV system is worn out and needs to be replaced. There are numerous parts involved - cost is around $100 and a reasonable shop would probably charge you an hour's labot to replace everything. Some shops might mark up the parts prices, so you could be anywhere from between $200 and $300 IME.
 

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You may wish to start your own thread, but the long and the short of it is that external oil leaks from a head gasket are not likely. What you've posted suggests the issue is that your PCV system is worn out and needs to be replaced. There are numerous parts involved - cost is around $100 and a reasonable shop would probably charge you an hour's labot to replace everything. Some shops might mark up the parts prices, so you could be anywhere from between $200 and $300 IME.

I appreciate it, will look into that. Sounds good so far :)
 

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When you replace valve cover seal, re-tighten (check) head bolts.
I want to tighten or maybe replace my head bolts, I would have done it by now but my son broke my torque wrench using it to loosen his front hub nut.

I have a set of BMW M20 engine head bolts that I didn't end up using, they are the same size as the Saab's but about 2 or 3 mm longer. Do you think they would be ok?
 

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I'm putting on my flame proof suit.

I often use silicone as a sealant, I'll do things like glue the rubber cam cover seal on with silicone or lightly coat one side of a thermostat housing as much to keep the gasket still and in place as for sealing ability.
The trick is not to use too much and lightly assemble the parts after the silicone has gone firm but not set then torque up when it's set.
Permatex even has a sensor safe product that cures without acetic acid.

Some manufacturers even assemble parts using silicone and no gasket, the diff housing cover on some Fords for instance.
 
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