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I haven't been so angry in a long time.

I spent an entire holiday weekend fighting my 89. The heater valve was bad. While doing disassembly to get to the valve, I discovered the dash lights didn't work; bad connectors on the instrument cluster, d a broken wire; and the heater fan motor switch broke (requiring surgery to put it in working order).

Once I got to the bad heater valve -- after fixing all of the above -- not to mention a satanic stripped screw holding the speaker grille down -- after all of that, I discovered the bolts holding the valve were corroded. In the most awkward position, I removed the bolts 5-15 degrees per wrench movement. My hand cramped many times just getting the allen wrench on the bolts; many times the wrench dropped, requiring me to slither out, find it, and to reassume The Position.

After ALL of that, including a careful installation of the o-ring seals using silicone to hold them in place, I started the car.

The coolant went right out onto the carpets I had just steam cleaned. I bought the car from a colleague who claimed all the car needed was a clock and A/C repair. I've since been repairing things all over the car -- including these two items. This is the straw that made me go ballistic. I was so mad, here are just SOME of the things I did:

  • Removed the satellite radio I placed in the car.
  • Removed all of my belongings in the car.
  • Threw in the trash some brand new parts I bought for the car
  • Prepared to donate the thing to a charity.
A nice gentleman then informed me that I shouldn't be angry -- a heater valve could be replaced in 30 minutes.

30 minutes!?
Thirty minutes?!

So, my question to this forum is this: Who has ever seen a heater valve replaced in less than an hour? Anybody? If (and I know it can't be done) if you've seen it done, how did the person(s) do it? I'm curious.

Siggy
 

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I did mine in about 2 hours. Not much more. Did all the work thru the speaker grill and under the kick pad. It's a pain, but not the worst job I ever did.
 

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there are 3 kinds of people i find who drive Saabs.
1)people who just drive them to get from A to B and think they are good cars do the trick but can be annoying.
2) People who hate the cars and think they are horrid worthless junk (more common for NG models)
3) people who find Saabs as a way of life and don't mind all the wonderful quirks that may consume an entire weekend.
i just spend $430 to fix my A/C, that is the biggets repair bill i have ever paid. but now she blows cold and i love the car even more. i'm deling with dash light issues, noisy pinion bearing, possible knackered c/v axle, tires that are wearing and the list goes on. but i love the car and want to fix it all! don't ask why, i simply can't drive another car! so yeah for you the ongoing pain of the heater valve annoys you but, for some they don't mind and sopme people could be talented enough to do it in very little time. it comes down to how much you love the car and what you are willing to give up to drive it, either money or time or both. these are not the cheapest cars to own and drive but they are very reliable!
 

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I dropped the core in order to change the valve in mine.
took around 1hr 45mins start to finish.

I'm pretty sure if I had to do it again I could easily do under 1hr.

CN
 

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Sadly EVERYTHING onna Saab has a 'learning' curve.
As in you have to struggle against the most ridiculous awkward and complex problems to fix something.. learning as you go.. and once thru the Current Ordeal.. realise that you could do it much faster/better 'next time'.
A very strange addiction.. some suffer for years, others v briefly.. you almost got away :)
 

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As CN said, undo the 4 screws on the cover of the heater matrix, the whole thing drops down allowing much easier access.
 

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john-w said:
As CN said, undo the 4 screws on the cover of the heater matrix, the whole thing drops down allowing much easier access.
Not to mention that it gave me the opportunity to clean out the core
wich was covered in old antifreeze, and wipe off the inside of the core housing as well. Quite a mess.

Once the Core is out it literally takes 10 minutes to replace the valve.

Siggy, you never mentioned what valve you used, hopefully it was an original
Saab part as the other ones are of low quality and will fail dast.

CN
 

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Discussion Starter #8
comfortablynumb said:
Not to mention that it gave me the opportunity to clean out the core
wich was covered in old antifreeze, and wipe off the inside of the core housing as well. Quite a mess.

Once the Core is out it literally takes 10 minutes to replace the valve.

Siggy, you never mentioned what valve you used, hopefully it was an original
Saab part as the other ones are of low quality and will fail dast.

CN
I learn a lot in this forum. Thanks to all of you. I got my valve at an outfit known as the Saabsite. It was the Sweedish OEM valve. I mention them because I only have positive things to say about them.

I was so mad -- and people that know me know that you could pee on my foot and I wouldn't get angry, I'm very easy going -- but I was so mad I called the Saabsite. Moist antifreeze that had leaked onto the carpet was still on my hands while I was dialing! To their credit, they were professional and wanted to take care of the situation.

I've built engines for porsche 914s and every manner of VW, and Ford trucks and cars. I've been around cars forever. The Saab is unique. Have you ever been straining to install a part, skinned a knuckle or thrown a wrench and asked yourself:

"What the hell were these people THINKING of when the designed this?"

There are two attributes of any car that are important.

1. How would a driver regard the car? It's performance, looks, comfort, efficiency and all the things that go to how it moves and behaves while the wrenches or dealership repair advisor are out o sight.

2. How would a mechanic regard the car? Especially if the driver is the mechanic. This also goes to the kind of maintenence and repair experience an owner of the car has.

Guess where the Saab falls with respect to those attributes. In my humble opinion, you could go to any street, restaurant, or office and ask people their opinions about Saabs and 90% of the negative comments will be about the repair and service problems that a mechcanic or owner will have. Whether the cost, availability, or frequency (perceived or real). And if the person is DOING the work, it wil be about things like that heater valve. Why, oh why, why, why doesn't Saab see this? What are they smoking?

Saab sells cars based on the driving experience, their aircraft building lineage, and Euro mystique (well warranted because Europeans do make great cars). But people are not too dumb to see that there's a cost that comes with it. I rant because these are great cars that could be so much more if someone decided it's not enough to get A+ grades in diveability and D minus grades in the repair experience.

I do love Saabs, but I wouldn't take a new Saab even if it was gifted to me. I'd rather kiss a rattlesnake than buy a new Saab without a 35 year extended warranty and a transponder that dispatches a pack of starving lawyers to my GPS coordinates whenever the check engine light coes on. :cheesy:

Sorry for the rant. I couldn't help it.

I borrowed a 4mm allen wrench on an extension and will re-try the repair.

You've all confirmed what my common sense tells me -- that job can not reasonably be expected to be completed in under 30 minutes. For a careful mechanic who takes care to do things in control, I'd say an hour -- minimum, and that assumes someone is practiced and that there are no stripped torx heads or other problems.

Siggy
 

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I'm sure that every vehicle has some jobs on it that are a total Pain to do!

If i get that worked up about them, its time to take a break and go do something else for a bit!. Come back to it, and when you do finally get it done it feels pretty good!

I feel a similar way about disconnecting the clutch linkage on my 99's. That also involves lying/sitting upside down in the drivers seat with your head round the pedals and furkling around in the dark where you cant see.. and then when you drop your tools you have to get all the way out and then start again. :evil:

I've never had to do a heater valve on any of my saabs yet :D
 

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Siggy said:
I haven't been so angry in a long time.

<snip>
...A nice gentleman then informed me that I shouldn't be angry -- a heater valve could be replaced in 30 minutes.

30 minutes!?
Thirty minutes?!

So, my question to this forum is this: Who has ever seen a heater valve replaced in less than an hour? Anybody? If (and I know it can't be done) if you've seen it done, how did the person(s) do it? I'm curious.

Siggy
In my experience, nothing that involves working on your Saab takes thirty minutes, with the remarkable exception of the decision to postpone the work until tomorrow. ;)
 

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Siggy

SAABs are easy to work on really, work on a modern car, you will want to stop the world and get off, trust me you will fine, go and have a whisky and chill mate


ROB BEARD
 

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Discussion Starter #12
rob beard said:
Siggy

SAABs are easy to work on really, work on a modern car, you will want to stop the world and get off, trust me you will fine, go and have a whisky and chill mate


ROB BEARD
:cheesy: Great post, Great post. It was inspiring.

Well, I removed the valve last night. It was the o-ring. I picked up new o-rings from Saab today and was told that the problem is the procedure I used. To replace that valve, you SHOULD remove the heater core and bolt the valve to the core to be sure of the seal. You can even leak check the assembly by walking it over to the open hood, hooking up the disconnected coolant hoses and starting the engine. 100% certainty! That made sense, and I would caution anyone seeking to replace that valve to do a little extra work to remove the heater core.

Which get's to the subject of engineering design. O-rings are static seals. A properly applied o-ring design is when cylindrically shaped objects are mated. In this case, Saab used on o-ring to seal planar surfaces. Gaskets, or grommeted o-rings work best on flat planar surfaces, not o-rings. There's a larger surface area to seal and there is minimal chance that the o-ring will be unseated from it's groove. Trying to install that valve through the speaker hole easily can result in the o-ring being dislodged and the installation is blind -- you can't see or feel an unseated o-ring. Saab states the best method is to remove the heater core -- that way you KNOW the o-ring is seated properly.

To be clear, I even used silicone to hold the o-ring in place and it still came unseated. Anyone attempting this job should take notice -- you'll save an hour by installing through the speaker grille, but there's a good chance that the use of that method will result in a leak, and believe me, you won't like that. I know I didn't feel my best about the results.

Siggy
 

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Siggy said:
:cheesy: Great post, Great post. It was inspiring.

Well, I removed the valve last night. It was the o-ring. I picked up new o-rings from Saab today and was told that the problem is the procedure I used. To replace that valve, you SHOULD remove the heater core and bolt the valve to the core to be sure of the seal. You can even leak check the assembly by walking it over to the open hood, hooking up the disconnected coolant hoses and starting the engine. 100% certainty! That made sense, and I would caution anyone seeking to replace that valve to do a little extra work to remove the heater core.

Which get's to the subject of engineering design. O-rings are static seals. A properly applied o-ring design is when cylindrically shaped objects are mated. In this case, Saab used on o-ring to seal planar surfaces. Gaskets, or grommeted o-rings work best on flat planar surfaces, not o-rings. There's a larger surface area to seal and there is minimal chance that the o-ring will be unseated from it's groove. Trying to install that valve through the speaker hole easily can result in the o-ring being dislodged and the installation is blind -- you can't see or feel an unseated o-ring. Saab states the best method is to remove the heater core -- that way you KNOW the o-ring is seated properly.

To be clear, I even used silicone to hold the o-ring in place and it still came unseated. Anyone attempting this job should take notice -- you'll save an hour by installing through the speaker grille, but there's a good chance that the use of that method will result in a leak, and believe me, you won't like that. I know I didn't feel my best about the results.

Siggy
I have done quite a few of these valves.

Remove the bottom knee guard from under the dash, you will have to remove the console first, 6 screws,

the knee guard is held on by 3X 10mm bolts, 1 behind the ash tray, and 1 in either side of the inner wing. covered in a lump of gew, remove the bottom piece of plastic underneath the steering column, the knee guard then literally falls out.

After this you could actually lick and kiss the valve if you so wished to do so,stay calm brother

rob beard
 

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Discussion Starter #14
rob beard said:
I have done quite a few of these valves.

Remove the bottom knee guard from under the dash, you will have to remove the console first, 6 screws,

the knee guard is held on by 3X 10mm bolts, 1 behind the ash tray, and 1 in either side of the inner wing. covered in a lump of gew, remove the bottom piece of plastic underneath the steering column, the knee guard then literally falls out.

After this you could actually lick and kiss the valve if you so wished to do so,stay calm brother

rob beard
LOL! :D

Calmness shall visit this work as a fog gently meandering through a green valley. :cheesy:

And since you've said that, I will restate the point for the benefit of some Saab backyard mechanic doing a heater valve replacement years from now: There are many people -- even web postings stating that the heater valve can be installed through the speaker grille. You'd be taking a foolish and unnecessary risk to follow that advice. Take out the heater core and assemble the heater core and valve as a unit. The benefit of taking a shortcut through the speaker grille -- 1 hour of time (maybe less) -- is not worth the risk: Hot coolant all over the shoe your wife will be using to assist you up into the tow truck with! :cheesy:

Siggy
 

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Never had to do the heater valve yet, but can see that it might be somewhat awkward. Not that bad - until you discover that the bolts holding the valve to the core are well stuck. Took me half an hour to get the valve off a core I'd been given - and that was already outside the car!

All cars have the couple of insanely annoying jobs though.

Skoda Estelle for example: Clutch release bearing. Time to change the actual bearing? All of about three minutes...if you didn't need to take the whole blasted engine out first that is. Reckon with proper planning and all the right tools it can be done in a day though.
 

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Siggy, you're right about replacing the heater valve by removing the entire heater matrix. I had to do this twice on our 1990 900S, because the first (cheapo) valve I bought lasted maybe 3 weeks:evil:

As far as working on the 900 goes, all I can say is that I've worked on a few modern Japanese cars (Honda, Toyota) for friends--and the SAAB is much more DIY-friendly. The suspension, brakes and exhaust alone are much easier to work on than on most cars.

And remember that the 900 was a technically sophisticated, well-equipped, premium automobile in its day, not some dumb-as-dirt disposable offering from the Big Three or Japan, Inc.:)
 

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Actually, there are several jobs on the Saab are annoying. Ever do a crank pulley replacement? How 'bout a cabin fan motor? I've finally resigned myself to the fact that just about every time I open the hood I'm gonna have to at least pull out the intercooler-to-intake hose.

On the other hand, I had a 1981 Honda Accord that apparently required the engine to be removed to change the starter motor. I don't know what tool was required to change the spark plugs on my 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo - they were like 45 degrees below horizontal, way up under some overhang of the valve cover. Then there was the 1976 Datsun where I had to take off front bumper and everything else in front between the fenders just to swap radiators.

The one exception was my 1974 BMW 2002. Everything was so-o-o-o obvious and logical on that car. I didn't work on it too much, but I hardly cracked the manual, either. I always thought you could send that car to a stone age tribe and they'd be able to figure out the principles of the internal combustion engine.

Despite the annoyance factors, the c900 has two major things going for it: 1) Almost everything is do-able and, especially, understandable for DIY, 2) It's really forgiving.

Forgiving? I drove well over 100 miles per day for the first two months I had it on balljoints that were pretty much flopping around in their sockets, six months on rear shocks that were completely shot, once hit a pothole that separated the bead on my right front tire and didn't even know for sure until I made a left turn into a gas station to check it out. Oh, and the blowoff valve was completely non-functional for 17 of the 18 months I've had it - BTW, what a fun difference that made! One of these days I should really replace that steering rack.

That said, the heater valve really sucked. It took me close to 8 hours, although I also removed the driver's seat and restrung it. The real time-suck was the under-dash vent thing. The manual (Haynes) didn't really touch it and it had a bunch of cheapo screws and I was lying on my back with the seat track jabbing me and couldn't see what I was doing. Then there was refitting the knee panel. It just didn't want to get back into it's place. Like most of these things the core of the job itself was a breeze - access was the issue.
 

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smckinley said:
Actually, there are several jobs on the Saab are annoying. Ever do a crank pulley replacement?
I think any of the jobs that are hard because they are at the back of the engine should be cancelled out by the clutch being so easy! I reckon i could swap the clutch and get it all back together and bled up in an hour or so by now (i'm well practised...). On my other car it still takes a day or so however many times ive done it!
 

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Siggy said:
There are two attributes of any car that are important.

1. How would a driver regard the car? It's performance, looks, comfort, efficiency and all the things that go to how it moves and behaves while the wrenches or dealership repair advisor are out o sight.

2. How would a mechanic regard the car? Especially if the driver is the mechanic. This also goes to the kind of maintenence and repair experience an owner of the car has.

Siggy
smckinley said:
Like most of these things the core of the job itself was a breeze - access was the issue

Hi there,

Siggy, I can feel your anger ....................but I guess your anger is because you have a great enough love for the car that most of us seem to be bewitched by.;)
Can I add or pose a third option to the attributes list...

3. Character!

I did as much as possible with the '86 EMS in the 6 years I owned it. Power steering rack was close to the worst I've ever endured, crank pulley, drive shafts, cv joints, ball joints etc are all inconvenient and difficult but I keep in the back of my mind the notion of how often do I need to perform the tasks. When the pinion bearing went, I took the engine/gearbox out and let a mechanic do the box. In the meantime, I stripped the whole dash out to reseal vents, tighten mounts, overhaul various items etc including the heater core and valve. Sure I went over the top but the reduction in rattles and noise and better heating and ventilation was worth it. Problem I've got now is how much I miss the car!
Always the way with your first love......................

Like smckinley says, easy fault to fix, difficult job to complete.

Cheers.




You get to work on Porsches too? :cool:
 
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