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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2002 9-3 SE. I need to replace my timing cover, and I wanted to know if it's possible to remove and replace the timing cover without completely pulling the engine. If it is possible, how do you go about doing it?
 

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I have a 9-3 Viggen that I am just starting in on. I was 1 9-5 guy and did my entire balance/timing chains and guides with the engine in the car. 9-3 looks to me as it has more room to do what you want to do.
 

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Search for posts on replacing timing chain without removing engine. If I recall you disconnect mounts, drop subframe, remove sump and then use a jack or brute force to push the engine/tranny assembly over. Wedge something between the engine and fender to hold it and you might have room.

It might be difficult to properly clean the block's mating surface and then get a good bead of sealant for a good seal. The locating dowels can also pose a problem. If you are not pulling the head, you probably need to remove the locating pins so you can position the cover under the head and raise it up to fasten - otherwise it can be difficult to install without damaging the head gasket where it meets the timing cover.
 

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There's definitely room. I've done it twice. The second time, I was taking the timing cover off of a parts car, and didn't care what I was doing with things. I found out completely by accident that if you remove both front motor mounts and let the engine drop down a bit and sit on the subframe, the timing cover comes off with room to spare. When I did it on my own car, I supported the engine and transmission on a pair of jacks and pushed the engine to the side using a pry bar between the body and the timing cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
By undoing the right engine mount, and jacking the engine up or down, I was able to the cover off. There's not enough room to fit a ratchet with a torx socket onto the torx bolts without manuvering the engine around. There's also a much greater risk of stripping one of the torx bolts out, than there would be working on the engine out of the engine bay. I'm not sure why Saab chose to use torx bolts for applications like this. A standard hex head, or a socket head bolt with a washer seems like a better way to go.

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<snip>...I'm not sure why Saab chose to use torx bolts for applications like this. A standard hex head, or a socket head bolt with a washer seems like a better way to go.

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It doesn't do anything for the end user, but Torx fasteners are used (by Saab and in general industry) because they are the best choice for automated assembly. They "fixture" better than hex or socket head fasteners. This applies to both internal and external Torx.
 

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I bought a high-quality Bondhus Torx key to remove the timing cover bolts. For extra leverage, I used whatever size socket fit the hex stock they used to make the Torx key, and attached a long extension to that. It worked perfectly. I had used a lower quality Torx bit on another car which didn't seat properly, and I stripped out one of the bolts which caused me weeks of grief. Lesson learned! Don't cheap out on tools when you're working with something that's so difficult to access.
 

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I bought a high-quality Bondhus Torx key to remove the timing cover bolts. For extra leverage, I used whatever size socket fit the hex stock they used to make the Torx key, and attached a long extension to that.
This is a great move, and I too like those Bondhus tools. I use a similar approach with an Allen key for the transmission plugs - an Xmm box wrench on the shank of the key.
 

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I took an impact gun to my timing bolts with a Harbor Freight bit. Only had a problem with one of them, but got it out and replaced it. Although, I did take the engine out and probably had exceptional leverage.
 
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