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2006 9-3 Aero SportCombi (V6, 6AT)
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Discussion Starter #41 (Edited)
First post of 2020 and it’s a repair related one!

While running errands last week, the SID popped a “Low Coolant” warning. I was about 20 minutes from my destination, so I continued driving while monitoring the temp gauge. Upon arrival, I noticed a sudden burst of steam/smoke billowing from under the hood. I shut the car off immediately, popped the hood and noticed coolant squirting out from one of the hoses coming from the upper coolant expansion tank (I think it is part #12842478…it is the hose that points toward the front of the car and is the one closest to the turbo). From my initial inspection, it simply looks like the hose has failed at the hose clamp.


In this picture, you can see a stream of coolant coming from one of the hoses.

Considering the known issue with Saab coolant reservoirs, I decided to not go with an OEM replacement and spend the extra money on the welded aluminum tank from GenuineSaab. It’s definitely more than I wanted to spend, but there are some benefits. Obviously, the strut tower brace is a nice bonus, but I’m mainly happy to see the kit come with a radiator-style cap.

I tried reading through the “Ultimate Coolant Thread”, but it’s sort of messy with facts/opinions and I can’t really find a super definitive answer. So, I plan on using Pink OAT coolant that is suggested for Saabs from 2001 and on (says on the container). From what I can tell, there is currently Orange coolant (Dexcool maybe?) in there right now. I topped off the expansion tank with distilled water so that I can run the car for a minute every morning to keep fluids cycling/battery charging, but I plan on draining the coolant when I do the expansion tank install.

I still have to watch some tutorials on the actual process, but I don’t imagine it will be too difficult. If anybody has done this repair before (especially with the GenuineSaab tank) and wants to chime in with any helpful tips, please feel free.
 

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Discussion Starter #44 (Edited)
I just finished replacing the coolant expansion tank and hoses! I spread the work out over two days. On Saturday morning, I started by draining the coolant via the petcock located on the bottom of the radiator. I had a monumentally difficult time getting it open.



The trick is to keep wiggling it to loosen up the o-ring inside. Make sure to not pull it out all the way! I was only able to get it out 1/8”. The stream was slow, but the coolant eventually drained after 30 minutes. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the old coolant was coming out perfectly clear. According to my records, the thermostat was changed (and coolant flushed) at 165K miles.



While the coolant was draining, I went to work removing the expansion tank. The top hoses were easy to remove, as was the level sensor connector.



The lower fill hose wasn’t difficult to remove, but the information online (youtube, forums, etc.) wasn’t sufficient in explaining that step. Initially, I thought I was supposed to remove this metal ring:



But this little metal locking clip is what you need to remove:



After finally removing the tank, I was able to see some significant buildup on the fill hose connector.



On Sunday morning, I started off by test fitting the new tank. It fit well, but I noticed that I bent the lower seating bracket while removing the old tank, so the new tank didn’t fit perfectly, but it was secure enough.






There was some damage to the shielding holding the level sensor wires, so I re-wrapped them in electrical tape and secured the connector as far from the downpipe as I could. I was able to conveniently lodge it next to the brake fluid reservoir.



While test fitting the tank, I noticed that the new OEM hoses were far too long for the new tank, which now sits much closer to the return tubes. As a result, I decided to trim the hoses. Note that the hoses have different end diameters. The larger end fits on the expansion tank and the smaller end fits over the tubes. I only trimmed 1 cm off the expansion tank end of the right-angle hose. I trimmed 1 cm off the expansion tank end of the other hose (the one that should be straight) and 1” off the end that fits on the return tube. I used a q-tip to apply the tiniest amount of WD-40 to the flanged ends to make the rubber hoses go on easier.



I used an SAE size 4 (1/4" to 5/8") hose clamp for the smaller ends and an SAE size 6 (3/8" to 7/8") hose clamp for the larger ends.

I made sure to save the drained coolant to know exactly how much I needed to replace. While filing up the tank, I noticed some water leaking out from under the car, but I’m 99% sure it was from the overflow hose. I took the car on a test run and everything seemed to be ok! No coolant leaks and no temperature spikes. I will continue draining and replacing coolant with distilled water until the system is entirely filled with distilled water. Then, I will replace with new coolant. Or maybe just replace with fresh coolant since it came out so clear?

And here is the finished product:





I think the new tank looks great! I will have a follow up post for the strut tower brace.
 

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Discussion Starter #47 (Edited)
Looks good, did you decide to opt out of getting the strut brace with it? Hopefully it's been smooth sailing since the install.
I need to do this soon as well :(
Here's a quick update that'll answer 04_maine aero and Whiplash:

Since the install, I only had one "self administered" hiccup. The rear fill hose was not seated properly and fell off in spectacular fashion in a parking lot. The car was parked and I was in a store when the hose fell off and dumped coolant all over the downpipe. I came out to it smoking and leaking. I can only imagine how it looked to bystanders. Hilarious.



It is tricky to see if the clamp is properly seated in the channel, but one trick is to push the hose as close to the tank as you can get it, then pull it away a bit. Sometimes this allows the clamp to settle easier. It worked for me anyhow.

Since Friday, I haven't had any coolant related issues. The initial 20 minute test drive produced some significant smoke as the leaked coolant burned off, but my drives over the weekend have been uneventful.

This morning, I test fit the strut tower brace that was included in the kit from GenuineSaab. To me, it seemed like it's not going to fit.


Maybe there is more room for adjustment than the bolt heads make it seem? There are new bolts included with the kit. Has anyone had a similar problem with their strut tower brace?

Overall, I'm liking the new expansion tank.

Also, I did notice that my brake fluid reservoir cap is cracked, so I'm going to order one of those.
 

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Really enjoyed this thread! Thank you for sharing. I am going through a similar process now looking to get back into Saabs again after I sold my 06 Aero about 5 years ago.

I have been searching for an 07+ Aero Convertible with manual transmission to have as a second car for about a month now. If I end up getting one, I might do a similar write up on here of its journey as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #49
Really enjoyed this thread! Thank you for sharing. I am going through a similar process now looking to get back into Saabs again after I sold my 06 Aero about 5 years ago.

I have been searching for an 07+ Aero Convertible with manual transmission to have as a second car for about a month now. If I end up getting one, I might do a similar write up on here of its journey as well.
Thanks! I have always enjoyed these "build" threads, so I figured I would start one. I have found it to be super helpful in documenting all of the effort I put into this car. Good luck on your Saab search!
 

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Discussion Starter #50
Update:

Just want to document some maintenance. Oil change at 190,525. Mobil 1 0w40, Synthetic. Mann filter w/ O-ring.

In addition, I drained 1.5 gallons of coolant/distilled water and replaced it with DexCool. I had been filling the coolant reservoir with distilled water as I worked through the expansion tank install and wanted to thicken the mixture up, so to speak. Since my last update, the coolant level and temp have remained steady. I've been happy with the GenuineSaab aluminum tank. And I still need to do the strut tower brace!

Also, I replaced the cracked brake fluid reservoir cap.


Continuing Issues:

Rough Idle: Occurs sporadically, but always on cold start. It always normalizes after a short drive. No codes.

Failed Cold Start: Happens about once a month. Turns over like it wants to start, then dies. Always starts and runs fine the second time. I always listen to make sure the fuel pump primes, which it does.

High-Pitched Whine: It really sounds like something electrical, not a belt/pully/tensioner. The noise sounds like an old TV but way, way louder. It's very unpleasant. It occurs at creeping speeds and almost always goes away after I reach 5 mph. It doesn't taper off either, it just stops abruptly. Sometimes it will start again, then stop.

These issues don't affect drivability, but I would like to fix them at some point. They might indicate something more serious failing in the future and I want to catch that if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
So, this post is brought to you by jabtn2. I had been holding off on installing the GenuineSaab front strut tower brace because I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the way the “test fit” went a couple months ago. If you look at my previous posting, I was preparing to install the brace and decided to test fit it over the OEM strut tower bolts. To my eye, it looked like it wasn’t going to fit. The bolt heads didn’t line up perfectly with the mounting holes on the brace.

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across jabtn2’s build thread (go check it out! He’s got some awesome content that is way more involved than anything I’m doing here). Jabtn2 2006 Aero SC build log

I noticed that he also has the GenuineSaab brace/coolant reservoir and I decided to reach out and ask him a question about fitment issues. It turns out that he experienced the same thing I did…the brace didn’t look like it was going to fit, but ultimately it fit fine.

So, on to the installation! First off, I did a bit of research on whether or not I should jack up the front of the car to install the brace. I opted to not do this in order to keep the suspension under load. Not sure if this makes any difference. I just wanted to prevent the upper strut mount from moving because there would be only one bolt holding it in place.

To prep the brace, I removed some burrs that had been left inside of the mounting holes. They were preventing the washers from sitting flush:



The provided bolts seem to be high quality. Notice the difference in length. I assume this is just to account for the added height of the brace. The OEM bolts take a 13mm socket while the new bolts take a 6mm allen key. I wasn't able to use a torque wrench, but did my best to get somewhere between 14 lb/ft and 20 lb/ft:



Installed. I really need to refurbish the turbo side of my engine cover! :




Initial driving impressions are always hard to judge given that you are "hunting" to feel a difference. Overall, I think I was able to feel something. The car seemed a bit more eager to turn in and I felt that it was easier to hold a line on longer sweeping turns. I didn't do any aggressive driving, so I can't comment on "limit" handling. I will say that I did notice a bit more creaking from the rear suspension while going <5mph. There was a little of that beforehand, but the tighter front end may have aggravated any existing suspension flaws. After the initial drive, I re-tightened the upper strut bolts.

Don’t flame me too hard for not noticing this sooner, but it looks like one of my grounds is frayed. I’ll do some research to find what it’s grounding and find a solution:

 

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Discussion Starter #52
Rim progress update:

Just received materials for painting! I'm still not quite finished with the sanding, but I'm getting close. A few more hours with 240 grit and I'll be in good shape to shoot the filler/primer. I was planning on making a quick pass with 400 grit, but the can says that 80 grit is sufficient (since it's a filler too), so I might skip the 400 grit stage.

One additional annoying task is removing the wheel weight adhesive. I am using acetone and elbow grease and it's still taking quite a while.

After looking at the Duplicolor wheel paint I bought, I am starting to think I will use a different silver. I might go with the Duplicolor GM silver for body panels (Saab might have used GM paint in this era right?). I feel like the color I bought is too dark. I really like how the OEM silver is brilliant, light and almost "white". I know this is a long shot, but does anyone have experience with either color?

 

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I actually used Rust-Oleum's version. The color is called steel, which is a terrible name:


It's definitely not steel - it's more of a bright aluminum. Finished with the same brand wheel clear. I think it came out great, looked no different than stock finish. Pics taken at dusk.

 

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Discussion Starter #54
Thanks Swedespeed7! They look great. I can see a little bit of metallic flake in there too, which I want as it mimics the factory finish. The Duplicolor paint I currently have doesn't look like it has much flake in it. You have a killer wagon!
 

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Thanks Swedespeed7! They look great. I can see a little bit of metallic flake in there too, which I want as it mimics the factory finish. The Duplicolor paint I currently have doesn't look like it has much flake in it. You have a killer wagon!
Yep, definitely a little flake in it. The clear coat really brings that out. And thanks! I actually sold it last spring after we bought our 9-4X Aero. The 9-3 Combi was an awesome car for us. 6 speed manual mated to the 2.0T was lots of fun too.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
Just wanted to drop some recent pics/updates for the thread.



Also, we recently picked up a couple kayaks and I've been really happy with the way the car has been able to accommodate this new hobby. This is the first wagon I've owned and I can confidently say that I'm now a wagon-er for life!



Last week, I took my project ALU50 rims in for straightening at a shop. I wanted to make sure they were good to go before painting to avoid any unnecessary surprises that the repair process might leave behind. I did have a couple questions about TPMS sensors and tire choice for the new rims:



Pictured above is a valve stem on my current tires (the contrast is terrible, sorry). After looking at the Saab manual, these are the non-TPMS stems which makes sense considering my car is a 2006 (I think they were a legal requirement in 2008?). I was hoping someone would confirm my assumption. I would much rather save the $ and put it towards tires.

Lastly, I had a couple questions for you guys on tire size/brand for the ALU50s. I'm debating between 225/45s (what I currently have on the car) and 225/50s (somebody recommended them on an old thread). From what I have read on other threads, the 50s should make the car ride a bit better, but sacrifice looks/performance to a small degree. Furthermore, the selection of 50s seems way more sparse compared to the 45s, so that's a negative right off the bat. Also, not sure about the size difference affecting the speedometer, but I would imagine that both sizes would be within an acceptable tolerance.

I will be running summer performance tires as I live in San Diego, CA. Currently looking at: Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, and Continental Extreme Contact Sport. Any opinions?
 

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willtheyfit.com to see speedo impact

i vote michelin. stick with 225/45 imo
 
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Yeah I would stick with the 45 series tire. The 50s are usually winter tires. TPMS was optional for your year but sounds like your car wasn't optioned otherwise you'd have a warning light. Stick with the rubber valve stems. For summers, I've had great experience with Hankook Ventus V12 Evo2. Much better than the Conti Extreme Contact DW in my opinion. Can't beat the Pilot Sports - those are the best tire ever created. But I think maybe a little overkill for the SAAB.
 

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Discussion Starter #59
I had a “left low beam failure” warning pop on the SID last week. I did a bit of research and decided that I would just replace the bulb first before going the more expensive and invasive routes. Additionally, I had noticed that the bulb had be blue-ing for a few months now, which I think is a sign of failure.

Left is the working passenger side, right is the bad driver's side. I replaced both for consistency.


I was able to access both headlights from behind without having to remove the bumper. The driver’s side is much less accessible and you will need to remove the secondary fuse box, the washer reservoir filler tube, the battery cover and the battery compartment air intake. The passenger side requires you to remove the air intake box/filter only.

Driver's Side:



I purchased DMEX D2S 6000k Xenon bulbs, they fit fine and worked during the initial test. I will take the car on a real test tonight to see how they look. I hope the 6000k isn’t too blue. I was debating between the 4300k and 6000k options. I knew the 8k would be too blue for my taste.
 

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Ahhh back when I had my older Aero I used a website for bulbs that was great, dtmtuning I believe which doesn't' appear to be around anymore but remember getting in there. Never liked changing the bulbs, my wife drove a lot for work and would burn her headlights out quickly with the DRL's. Good to see another update on this!
 
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