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Welp, I'm gonna have to replace the timing chain soon on my 9-4X. Previous owner didn't change oil often enough which triggered a P0017 code (slackened chain most likely). D'oh.

So, should I drop the cradle from below, pull the engine out the top, or do the chain in situ? Pretty straightforward repair, just time consuming. No rush since this isn't daily driven (yet).
 

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Welp, I'm gonna have to replace the timing chain soon on my 9-4X. Previous owner didn't change oil often enough which triggered a P0017 code (slackened chain most likely). D'oh.

So, should I drop the cradle from below, pull the engine out the top, or do the chain in situ? Pretty straightforward repair, just time consuming. No rush since this isn't daily driven (yet).
I’ve heard of people doing the chains with the motor still in the car (NG 9-5) but I have to think dropping the cradle would allow for a much better working situation. Plus you could fix anything else you see while it’s out (fluid leaks, rust, etc).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I’ve heard of people doing the chains with the motor still in the car (NG 9-5) but I have to think dropping the cradle would allow for a much better working situation. Plus you could fix anything else you see while it’s out (fluid leaks, rust, etc).
For sure, can definitely be done in situ (WIS does not mention pulling engine), but I figure it would be much easier engine out.
 

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It can be done in-situ, BUT....

Not sure how much work you've done on your '08 Aero, but it won't be that different here. Biggest PITA as you probably saw from the WIS - Pull upper/lower intake, pull fuel rail, pull SAI, pull both valve covers, pull accessory related stuff (water pump, tensioner, harmonic balancer), pull timing cover. Many of these steps are space limited, even the SAI is a bit of a PITA (the 9-4X w/2.8 has SAI right....?), especially the rear valve cover, UGH. Now I don't know how I've never looked on that SAI lol, I guess there is so much crap crammed down the front of the 9-4X it's even harder to look than on the 9-3.

Not a fun job with the limited space, but also probably better than pulling the motor. Good chance to check out the heads. Might do a compression check, and decide if it's worth doing more while you're in there.
 

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This is my first post. I’m strongly considering purchasing a 9-4x Aero in the next couple of days. This repair scares me a bit. I have the carfax that shows the oil change intervals. There are a couple of long gaps in the records, but the car looks great other than that. How often does the oil need to be changed in order to avoid this repair? This Aero has about 68K miles on it. I really like this 9-4x, but I need to make sure it can be a reliable daily driver.
 

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This is my first post. I’m strongly considering purchasing a 9-4x Aero in the next couple of days. This repair scares me a bit. I have the carfax that shows the oil change intervals. There are a couple of long gaps in the records, but the car looks great other than that. How often does the oil need to be changed in order to avoid this repair? This Aero has about 68K miles on it. I really like this 9-4x, but I need to make sure it can be a reliable daily driver.
I wouldn’t go more than 5K miles between oil changes, making sure to use the correct viscosity (5W-30).

That said, it’s no guarantee of preventing the chain issue, since the 9-4X was produced on the borderline of when GM finally started hardening the timing components. Thankfully if you do a new replacement timing chain setup, the new parts are definitely hardened and should last for quite a long time.
 

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Thank you, Josh. Should the timing chain need replacement, how much does that typically cost (at the service center)?

In your opinion, is this a common enough problem that it will likely happen eventually to most of the 9-4xs?

I appreciate any advice. I like to drive my vehicles for a long time. If I purchase this, I will intend to drive it for 8-10 years, about 10k miles per year.

Thank you!
 

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Thank you, Josh. Should the timing chain need replacement, how much does that typically cost (at the service center)?

In your opinion, is this a common enough problem that it will likely happen eventually to most of the 9-4xs?

I appreciate any advice. I like to drive my vehicles for a long time. If I purchase this, I will intend to drive it for 8-10 years, about 10k miles per year.

Thank you!
At a full fledged dealership, it’s probably a $3K job. This will either have happened, or will happen, to every 2.8 V6 at *some* point. But, it’s still the only motor I would buy a 9-4X with, no question. And you can tune the 2.8 north of 330 HP pretty easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Might as well document some stuff here! FYI - my local (former) SAAB dealership wanted $5,000+ to do this job. LOL

Parked for surgery:



Box of parts getting bigger:



Exhaust had to come off to get to the stupidly located crankshaft position sensor:



All 3 midpipe to downpipe studs snapped, naturally, they will be replaced with stainless nuts and bolts:



Big shout-out to Jeff (fd3toe46 here) for telling me to inspect the rear exhaust manifold to turbo pipe - notorious for cracking on the flex section. And whaddya know, found a hairline crack. Ordered the Krona replacement from Matt at eSAABparts.com because I don't wanna deal with this again. Crack can be seen in topmost flex:





I also knew I had an oil leak from the bottom rear area of the timing cover and a coolant leak from the water outlet seals going into this project - a few more motivators. Oil and coolant leaks can be seen here:




To remove the crank pulley, rent the "Chrysler" tool from O'Reilly (other chains probably have it too). Tool #67021. It works perfectly:





Camshaft covers removed (along with a crap ton of other stuff):



Ridiculous and infuriatingly large wiring harness:

 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Timing cover removed successfully. Pretty clean in here which I'm happy about.






The rear (right) bank secondary chain had significantly more play in it that the front (left) bank chain. This explains the P0017 code perfectly. As Jeff told me, it's nice to have a mechanical explanation for a CEL code!

Waiting for some more parts so I'll pick back up in a day or two.

Here is the list of parts I'm replacing (so far) - yes, not all of them are necessary but the car has 145K on it so I'm taking advantage of ease of access.

  • Krona flex pipe
  • timing kit (chains, sprockets, tensioners, guides) - Cloyes 9-0753S
  • oil pump
  • camshaft solenoids x4
  • water pump
  • 3 new ignition coils for rear bank
  • front and rear O2 sensors
  • crankshaft pulley
  • belt tensioner
  • 6 spark plugs
  • thermostat/housing
  • coolant T-pipe
  • idler pulley
  • gasket maker for timing cover
  • serp belt
  • air filter
  • valve cover gaskets
  • valve cover insulators x26
  • lower intake manifold gasket
  • turbo studs and nuts
  • crankshaft position sensor x1
  • upper intake manifold gaskets
  • spark plug tube seals
  • water pump seals
  • rear exhaust gasket
  • camshaft solenoid seals x4
  • inner water pump seal
  • radiator outlet pipe seal
  • crankshaft seal
  • mid exhaust gasket
  • balancer bolt
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A few tips:

- Power steering pump needs to be loosened in order to remove one of the timing cover bolts

- To remove the alternator, WIS says to remove the positive cable bolt first. That's insanity and near impossible. Remove the alternator mounting bolts first, THEN remove the cable.
 

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Nice progress! It’s a handful of a job, but you’re smart to take care of a bunch of other small problems while you’re at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Nice progress! It’s a handful of a job, but you’re smart to take care of a bunch of other small problems while you’re at it.
Thanks! It's actually not that terrible of a job if you can afford to take your time with it. If you're trying to cram it all into one weekend (at least my weekends with 2 young kids and a dog), then you're asking for trouble. Probably doable in a weekend if you don't have any other commitments.
 

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A few tips:
- To remove the alternator, WIS says to remove the positive cable bolt first. That's insanity and near impossible. Remove the alternator mounting bolts first, THEN remove the cable.
It says the same thing on the 9-3, and the same approach that you took stands true there as well, although on the 9-3 the alternator, and PS pump are swapped location wise to the 9-4X I believe.

Glad you got it all done! Nice work, there was a lot more space over there than I would have expected!! Nice find on the flex pipe too, how much did the new one set you back?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It says the same thing on the 9-3, and the same approach that you took stands true there as well, although on the 9-3 the alternator, and PS pump are swapped location wise to the 9-4X I believe.

Glad you got it all done! Nice work, there was a lot more space over there than I would have expected!! Nice find on the flex pipe too, how much did the new one set you back?
Thanks! $300 for the flex pipe, which is cheaper than OEM but is definitely the most expensive part that I'm replacing in this job. I don't mind though because the Krona pipe apparently won't crack like the stock pipe.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
New timing kit installed. Note that after rotating the engine by hand after installation, the timing marks will no longer line up - this is normal (but freaked me out initially).






Cleaning timing cover and camshaft covers:



 

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Discussion Starter #18
Krona pipe installed. Really is a work of art and I'm so thankful that Krona decided to make a better version of stock!! ;ol;




 

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Discussion Starter #19
Test drove it tonight - literally feels like a new engine. Buttery smooth and quiet and full power. Couldn't be happier!

If anyone wants to rent the tools needed to do this job, send me an email at [email protected]. Crankshaft rotation tool (I have the one for 9-4X and 9-3), camshaft locking tools, water pump removal tool, timing cover installation pins, camshaft solenoid seal installer tool, crankshaft seal installer tool.
 

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Test drove it tonight - literally feels like a new engine. Buttery smooth and quiet and full power. Couldn't be happier!

If anyone wants to rent the tools needed to do this job, send me an email at [email protected]. Crankshaft rotation tool (I have the one for 9-4X and 9-3), camshaft locking tools, water pump removal tool, timing cover installation pins, camshaft solenoid seal installer tool, crankshaft seal installer tool.
Congrats on getting that done! When is the tune going in? :cheesy:
 
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