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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks,

Just discovered all my top lifting cylinders are leaking. The level in the reservoir is a little below minimum, I`ll top it off when I got the right fluid, but the cylinders should be replaced or fixed eventually. What options do I have? The new cylinders are very expensive. Can they be renewed? How difficult is it to replace them? Any luck with used ones? What`s the recommended fluid to be used? I found this on ebay:

Thanks,

Greg
 

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Dexron 3 ATF works better with leaky cylinders - its within the spec envelope, cheaper,thicker and leaks out more slowly. Just drain the reservoir before filling with it.
 

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the leaky cylinders didn't happen over night, if it sat for a long time the seals are dry, using an oil with a seal conditioner to swell them back up would be an option.
 

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I used Top Hydraulics a few years ago (2017). Klaus Witte of Top Hydraulics was great to work with and delivered as promised. At the time, I wasn’t in any position to do it myself and farmed it out to my indie. With Top Hydraulics you can renew yours or trade them in as a core. Any way you slice it, this isn’t a cheap repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Guys for the responses. I also did some research and came across this lengthy thread here:

In a nutshell, leaks can be stopped, at least for a while, using leak stoppers added to the fluid, as suggested by multisaabguy. The seals allegedly can swell and regain their elasticity thus they will seal. It also works because the fluid gets thicker. Some commenters report it worked for them, for some didn`t. Klaus Witte also chimed in, saying this is not a solution and will cause additional damages to the seals and the pump (obviously). Other commenters contradicts this statement clearly based on their experience.

I`m leaning toward the additives now, till I can find a perfect set in the junkyard or I go with the renewal option. The latter is not a horrible choice actually, it`s $600 for all the 5 cylinders. Considering this is an 18 year old car and I bought it for $800 puts it into a different perspective though.

Any current experience on leak stoppers?
 

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2000 93 Vert Auto : 2001 93 Vert Manual
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I am about to do my second set of hydraulics on my second Saab. On the first convertible I replaced the hoses only, but I have two pistons that have a slow leak (I have to replenish the fluid every 3-4 months). The second car has leaks in the 4 pistons that I can see and it will need new hoses.

If it has not yet been done, you will also need to get new hoses. The ones that came in the car have a black coating over a white material and they deteriorate over time. They fail catastrophically and when one blows you will know it. There will also be a lot of fluid coming out of your car by the back tires. You will need to be familiar with how to work the top manually to get the top back up. Been there, done that.

The least expensive place I have found for new hoses are from Cabriolet Roof Hoses. I have have these in one of my Saabs and am close to ordering a set for the other Saab. A complete set of 10 hoses is around $400.
Saab 9-3 Convertible First Generation (1998-2003) Hydraulic Cabriolet Roof Hoses

One thing I do to help monitor my leakage is to fold up a paper towel and drape it over the connection of the hose to the piston. While the paper towels need to be changed frequently, it gives me a good indication of how bad the pistons are leaking - they do not all leak at the same rate.

I have tried a few used pistons and without exception they have leaked worse than the ones in my car. After switching pistons with no success, I decided that used pistons are not worth the effort. I have a set of 5 pistons that I am going to have rebuilt by Top Hydraulics before I start my repairs, that way I can do everything over a weekend.

There are also some very good instructions on the replacement procedure on the Top Hydraulic site. I would not have been able to do the project without those instructions.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, those instructions on their website are indeed pretty well made, I downloaded the pdf just in case. I thought the electric roof operating mechanism of my previous NG900 is a PITA, but this hydraulic system is apparently a much bigger one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think I`ll try the CHF11S plus Lucas stop leak combo now and see how far I can get with that.
Thanks for all the input.
 

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Lucas stop leak didnt work for me, at all. I had a pinhole leak in one hydraulic line. The stop leak formed a bung behind the leak across the line... and the line burst.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I’m sorry to hear that. You mentioned in another post that you used ATF in the lines and that didn’t mix with the stop leak. Maybe the lucas blocked the line because it wasn’t mixed?
 

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yeah, I tried mixing lucas stop leak into both ATF and CHF in lemonade bottles, afterwards ... From both it precipitated out after about 10 days. i still recommend using ATF instead of CHF in these systems, but wont recommend stop leak
 

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I would recommend using something with "stop leak" built in power steering fluid has about the same viscosity, I've found that the lucas is pretty thick and with these very thin lines may build more pressure than you want. Changing the lines is a thread for another day.
 

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I replaced all the rubber O rings in my daughters 2004 9-3 2 years ago. Her top would not go up or down and I noticed that the hydraulic fluid was squirting out from most of the pistons. I refilled the hydraulic tank located in the trunk with different fluids that have been recommended here on the forum with little success. When the O rings are shot, no amount of stop leak will make thing work properly for any length of time. Replacement pistons for the top cost more than the car is worth, so I decided to try to fix the pistons myself.

I took the pistons off and carefully cut off the ends of the pistons and looked at the rubber O rings. They were all shot and needed to be replaced. I took one of them to my local Advanced Auto store and found a pack of similar looking O rings for about $4.99. I bought them and replaced every original rubber O ring with the new ones from Advanced Auto. I reassembled the pistons and put them back in the 9-3 and refilled the hydraulic reservoir. After cycling the top about 10 times to get the air out of the lines and put more fluid in the tank, the top worked perfectly with absolutely no leaking.

Its been over 24 months and 2 summers and she has not had any problems with putting the top up or down and when I last checked the level of fluid in the tank, it was at the same level I last filled it.

It took me about 30 minutes to replace the O rings in each piston and put it back together again (took me a whole Saturday afternoon), but it only cost me $4.99 (plus tax) and a can of CFC hydraulic fluid (I also got this at Advance Auto). I think that if you have some mechanical skills and determination, you could replace the O rings yourself and save a lot of money.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I replaced all the rubber O rings in my daughters 2004 9-3 2 years ago. Her top would not go up or down and I noticed that the hydraulic fluid was squirting out from most of the pistons. I refilled the hydraulic tank located in the trunk with different fluids that have been recommended here on the forum with little success. When the O rings are shot, no amount of stop leak will make thing work properly for any length of time. Replacement pistons for the top cost more than the car is worth, so I decided to try to fix the pistons myself.

I took the pistons off and carefully cut off the ends of the pistons and looked at the rubber O rings. They were all shot and needed to be replaced. I took one of them to my local Advanced Auto store and found a pack of similar looking O rings for about $4.99. I bought them and replaced every original rubber O ring with the new ones from Advanced Auto. I reassembled the pistons and put them back in the 9-3 and refilled the hydraulic reservoir. After cycling the top about 10 times to get the air out of the lines and put more fluid in the tank, the top worked perfectly with absolutely no leaking.

Its been over 24 months and 2 summers and she has not had any problems with putting the top up or down and when I last checked the level of fluid in the tank, it was at the same level I last filled it.

It took me about 30 minutes to replace the O rings in each piston and put it back together again (took me a whole Saturday afternoon), but it only cost me $4.99 (plus tax) and a can of CFC hydraulic fluid (I also got this at Advance Auto). I think that if you have some mechanical skills and determination, you could replace the O rings yourself and save a lot of money.
Wow, thanks for sharing this, I thought the cylinders can only be disassembled in a machine shop using a lathe or similar because the tubes are crimped, I read that somewhere. If it`s that easy to take them apart, I`ll just go with a new set of O-rings. You don`t have the type or size of the rings so I could find them online, do you?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I would recommend using something with "stop leak" built in power steering fluid has about the same viscosity, I've found that the lucas is pretty thick and with these very thin lines may build more pressure than you want. Changing the lines is a thread for another day.
I would only add something like 10 percent or less of the leak stop and only if it mixes well. i don`t want to increase the pressure to blow up my 18 year old lines... the car was sitting for more than a year, so the O-rings may have gotten brittle, and perhaps there is a slight chance that the leak stop might cure them for a while so they can seal. I`ll give it a shot first before taking the whole thing apart.
 

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Any details on your process of opening up those pistons? I’m sure a lot of us are interested.
"I took the pistons off and carefully cut off the ends of the pistons and looked at the rubber O rings."

Yes, tell us moar!

Also... on the fluids... the stock Saab fluid and CHF fluids are very thin and maintain that viscosity across a very wide range of temperatures. I can't say that the extreme specs they have are absolutely needed with the Saab pump and cylinders , but the engineers went out of their way to get a relatively obscure fluid in there. Later they did say you could use CHF, but CHF is hardly akin to standard PS fluid, ATF, etc.
 
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