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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys

I have been reading through a lot of posts and have learned a lot about SAABs in the past few months. What is worrying me alot right now is the issue of timing chains and balance chains wearing down and destroying the engine. This is the first SAAB i've ever owned and I have not listened to the engines of other ones but Im not sure what this "death rattle" should sound like. Is it really pronounced? I know at idle the engine is definitely not quiet, and if I were to describe it I would say it sounds kinda like a sewing machine. The car has 168,000 miles on it, but it has had regular maintenance. Should i worry about the timing chain and the balance chain or is it just a rare occurance with neglected engines? This issue is really scaring me because I really like my car but I cant afford to put in 3000 dollars worth of work because of broken chains. Thanks again for everybody's insight!

Lawrence
97 900se
 

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if you have ANY doubt as to when the chain/guides/idlers were last changed, get it done.

It *MIGHT* cost $800 if you have a local saab guy do it.
everything stays in the Car, they "only" have to remove the wheel, guards, valve-cover, and side-panel to get to the pulleys/chain.


A stitch in time saves nine!
 

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Unfortunately I seem to be one of the exceptions to the 150k rule of thumb when it comes the the timing chain. My timing chain tensioner is extended past the limit, and the chain noise is now audible. Not "slapping" against the guides like I heard on older cars, but the noise is there. I am not sure why checking the tensioner is not recommended from 90k miles on, but it is not in any regular maintenance schedule. Last thread I read and posted in:

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47213

You should really go by the tensioner extension, not by sound, and not by how tight is seems when you take the valve cover off.

Someone with a lot of experience might be able to tell by sound or feel, but you can inspect measure the tensioner... Took me about 45 minutes total, including taking off the air box and the upper idler. Anyone who has done it before should be able to get it out, inspected, and back in minutes.

Not sure about the balance chain, or how critical that is. I do know some people remove them.
 

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Does anyone have a diagram of the balance-shaft operation?

On DSM's, one shaft is run off the crank, and the other by the oil pump.

Are both of the Saab shafts driven off their own independant sprockets?
or are they integrated like the DSM ones?

Does removing them require an old non BS'd 9000/900 timing chain?
 

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Bottom line, if you are losing sleep over it, take it somewhere and have them look at it.

However, personally I think you are being paranoid.
In the 2+ years I have been coming to the board nearly daily I have seen MAYBE 5-6 people with the 4 cylinder Saabs have any problems with any chains.

The SERPINTINE BELT needs regularly serviced, but if that breaks on you, you will only be stranded...not repariing a blown motor.

Engines make noise. Older engines make more noise. A faint little tick-tick-tick-tick-tick is NOT all THAT unusual.

A friend of mine spent literally $500+ trying to diagnose the tick-tick-tick-ing in his old 1990 Volvo. He quieted it down just a bit with new belts and pulleys...but it was still there. You could still hear it only at idle. That was 12 months and 35,000 miles ago.

Relax. Enjoy it. And take it somewhere if you are really concerned.
$50-75 for an inspection will be worth the Saab's weight in gold if it takes the worry from your head. :cheesy:
 

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I think I agree with Cleve. A "sewing machine" noise doesn't sound all that dire, mine kind of sounds like that. Still, checking the extension of the tensioner and/or taking it into a SAAB guy can't hurt if it will put your mind at rest. With 161 K, you're an NG pioneer, althought the c900's have similar motors and their timing chains were quite happy for 200K or more. Of course they didn't have balance shafts.
 

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G96nt said:
Does anyone have a diagram of the balance-shaft operation?

On DSM's, one shaft is run off the crank, and the other by the oil pump.

Are both of the Saab shafts driven off their own independent sprockets?
or are they integrated like the DSM ones?

Does removing them require an old non BS'd 9000/900 timing chain?
DSM ??

BS ??

According to my parts book, two coaxial chain gears are used..

It is my understanding that the timing chain can have a master link removed,very carefully, and very carefully( by an "A" level mechanic), be removed and replaced with a new chain..
A mechanic or not, this should be do-able for less than $250, maybe $300...

BTW, a strange thing about the parts book;a non-AC serpentine belt set-up is shown, belt part number is 43 59 063, but, of course, is not the short belt..
 

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DSM = diamond star motors (turbo eclipse/talon/laser)

BS = balance shaft


I saw some pictures on thesaabsite, but I really cant tell if you can just "skip" the pullies
 

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There is a diagram of the balance shafts and chain on the Saab EPC CD.

Haynes has directions on how to fit a new timing chain with a master link.
 

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G96nt said:
Does anyone have a diagram of the balance-shaft operation?
eeurparts.com has diagram of the chain systems under their 'engine timing' part.

PMI said:
Took me about 45 minutes total, including taking off the air box and the upper idler.
Why did you pull the upper idler? Maybe its a turbo thing, but I only found it necessary, for the N/A setup, to pull the air intake piping.

I did recently read that a failing upper idler pulley will give a metalic sound, which can be misinterpreted as a timing chain clang. When I get a chance this week I'm going to pull the serpentine belt and run the car, see if my sound is still there. Something is making noise, but it's a constant noise (does change with engine speed), but not a clanging or slapping. Then I will move onto the master link timing chain change if I find it to be necessary. Perhaps do a write up about it. Since that post that someone linked to, I haven't done anything just because I think I was being a little paranoid and the necessary time to complete the timing chain change just hasn't been available.
 

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Slaab4life said:
Why did you pull the upper idler? Maybe its a turbo thing, but I only found it necessary, for the N/A setup, to pull the air intake piping.
To see better. You can do it w/o the pulley, and not touch the serpentine belt. I took it off to make sure I did not drop anything when I took out the cap and spring. It would probably take a mechanic 15 minutes.

Make sure the tensioner housing is tight. It takes a lot of torque because of the size of the thread. Haynes says 47 lb, and I would not doubt it. Mine leaked a bit when I first put it back, and I had to take it out and do it again.

My tensioner was at the end. Until then it takes up the slack and you don't hear a loose chain. Even now, the chain does not have a huge amount of slack. When we had the cover off for another reason, the mechanic who looked at it tried to pull it up with his fingers. So did I. There was no obvious play in the chain. No wear on the sprokets.

Took someone to explain it to me really s-l-o-w-l-y before I understood why you look at the tensioner even if the chain looks fine. I bet there are cars sitting in junkyards with broken engines, and the owner never even knew why it happened. Why bother to pull the head for the $400-500 it would cost to find out - to post your engine broke and your car is junk?

Same with the oil pump pressure regulation valve and piston. I had to read that a couple times on sn before I understood why you look at it.
 

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G96nt said:
if you have ANY doubt as to when the chain/guides/idlers were last changed, get it done.

It *MIGHT* cost $800 if you have a local saab guy do it.
everything stays in the Car, they "only" have to remove the wheel, guards, valve-cover, and side-panel to get to the pulleys/chain.


A stitch in time saves nine!

This apply to the balance shaft timing chains as well? I was always under the impression that those are an engine out job. But I recall reading that somebody figured out a way to do it with the engine still in.
 

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fabric said:
This apply to the balance shaft timing chains as well? I was always under the impression that those are an engine out job. But I recall reading that somebody figured out a way to do it with the engine still in.
The timing chain (the one driving the cams), can be replaced with the valve cover off only. The old chain is broken, and a new "open" chain is fed in from the top. The master link is closed, and that's it. That will be my first step, simply because it is easiest. It is not the best way to do it because I cannot replace or inspect the chain guides for wear. The sump should really be removed first to look for pieces of the plastic chain guide.

The balance chain is completely under the timing cover. Removing the cover while the engine is in the car is difficult because there is very little clearance. I saw online that it can be done, but not sure how.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Haha sorry I've been really busy with midterms and what not. If you all dont know im a student at UC Davis. In regards to the timing chain, I'm going to try not to worry too much about it. A good Saab mechanic went over the car and said that they did not see any indications of the chains going bad in this car. If I need to though, I suppose I could take out the balance chain for safety, as I hear it isn't really necessary. Thanks for everybody's input, it has really enlightened me about this subject. Also, I have come to learn that cold weather starts and driving really affect the chains lifespan. My car has always been in california, and with the warm weather, im sure that the chain has many more miles to go.
 

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Upon reading of reported timing chain/guide failure and the work or cost involved with changing has gotten me concerned as I am a college student who has no money and I live off campus so I absolutely need my car daily. I bought my 2000 9-3 in 2005 with 80,000 miles on it an the PO used conventional oil and claimed he changed it faithfully every 3,000 miles (no reason not to believe him, I have had no surprises with the car)
Day one of owning it I switched to mobil 1 10w-30 with oil changes between 4k-6k miles. There were deteriorated pcv hoses (most likely due to sludge) that I changed upon getting the car. I now have 130,000 miles on the clock and love the car, no major issues ever. I updated to the latest pcv system about 20k miles ago with good results reducing oil consumption. I blot and check the oil at every change and it is dark, but never any particles that can be seen.
Ever since I bought the car the engine was very sewing machine like in sound, not rattles or metalic; just sounds like an engine with a timing chain. I am also comparing this to my Opel with solid lifters and a timing chain (much louder than the saab) So I am apprehensive of this progressing into the death rattle. I have not dropped the oil pan to check/clean up sludge yet, nor have I checked the timing chain tensioner. I plan on doing that this coming weekend. But with the car running and operating flawlessly I don't want to lose it over something like a timing chain or balance chain.
The main cause for concern is while the car is running (hot or cold) I can hear the tap tap tap tap inside of the car, not very offensive in sound, but I can still hear it. On a couple occasions of hard driving which is quite seldom I have heard a metalic squeal at around 4500 rpm under hard acceleration, I attribute it to the turbo charger as it immediatly silences if I back off the gas and upshift. Could that be something chain related?
 

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mine makes a slight squeal under hard, fast shifting. Cant find anything wrong, so I assume it is just random mechanical noise.
-Cm
 

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Not to say that one should not have the time chain checked out, but for about a year I put up with a constant ticking sound heard at idle; it turned out to be the EVAP purge valve on it's way out.
 

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I just starting my car and I looked for the EVAP purge valve and believe I found it, if it is in fact the valve on a rubber mount towards the top of the air filter housing. It made no noise what so ever while the car was running, nor did it tap with vibration as I would expect it to. I listened around a little more and the majority of the tapping sound it coming from the center of the engine maybe between cylinders 2-3 at the cylinder head level, though maybe as far back as the intake manifold (where I initially expected such a thing as the EVAP valve to be) is there any thing attached to the intake manifold that is a rapid action valve that may make a tapping sound on a 9-3?
 

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jordan said:
I just starting my car and I looked for the EVAP purge valve and believe I found it, if it is in fact the valve on a rubber mount towards the top of the air filter housing. It made no noise what so ever while the car was running, nor did it tap with vibration as I would expect it to. I listened around a little more and the majority of the tapping sound it coming from the center of the engine maybe between cylinders 2-3 at the cylinder head level, though maybe as far back as the intake manifold (where I initially expected such a thing as the EVAP valve to be) is there any thing attached to the intake manifold that is a rapid action valve that may make a tapping sound on a 9-3?
You're probably hearing the fuel injectors around that area.

BTW, the EVAP purge valve comes and goes - it doesn't run all the time.
 
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