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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

Thanks in advance to anyone who reads this and I apologize for the length- there's a lot going on here.

The car: 1999 Viggen with 210k miles on Koni springs and struts. Suspension components last replaced ~150k+ miles ago.

The goal: fix the listed issues below and hopefully restore the ride quality.

The issues:
1) Clunk from front passenger side corner over bumps

I believe this is a failed ball joint. I plan to replace the control arms and am wondering if anyone has experience with the new machined controls arms being offered by Nick at GS. I found one other thread on the forum where someone had installed it on their subframe but had not put it on the car yet- unfortunately there was no follow up discussion on whether it was worth it over the normal control arms with poly bushings. Additionally, it would be great to hear whether there are additional considerations when aligning the car. Not sure a slight performance increase would be worth needing to go to specialized alignment shops.

2) Clunk when starting from a stop

I believe this is failed stanchion arm bushings based on another thread (post 19). I plan to replace the old bushings with oem parts, not poly.

3) Overall harsh ride, especially small bumps in the winter

I'm guessing this comes with the territory of lowering springs? Wondering if anyone has any insight on this. Would really like to make the car a bit more tolerable in the winter.

4) Larger bumps can sometimes result in a horrendous crash sound in the front suspension

Again, not sure if this is inevitable with lowering springs or whether it's indicative of worn out components like the struts, or bumps stops needing to be replaced. (I read on Platonoff that Bilstein fronts don't use bump stops, is that the same for Konis?) The struts don't appear to be leaking and they seem to be functioning normally, but I can't imagine they are performing optimally with so much mileage. Would appreciate people's opinions on whether it's worth replacing the struts in pursuit of greater ride comfort. Additionally, I would lean towards replacing the Koni struts I have with Konis again, but I don't really take advantage of the adjustability, so would like to know if anyone has had a chance to compare the ride quality against Bilsteins (I assume B8's would be the right choice here).

5) Clicking when turning while coasting (no clicking while turning and accelerating / decelerating)

Im pretty sure this is the outer CV joint, but I just replaced this one 40k miles ago, so I'm not sure why it's going bad on me so soon. Additionally, I can't seem to find these in stock. Does anyone have a source for this part or preferably a remanufactured axle so that I don't have to rebuild it myself again?

Current Part List:
  • GS Control arms
  • Tie rod ends
  • Struts (?)
  • Strut bearing (?)
  • Bump stops (?)
  • Strut mounts
  • Stabilizer bar links
  • Stabilizer bar bushings
  • Stanchion arm bushings
  • Outer CV Joint

Thanks for your feedback!
 

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Some of the noises and bad ride may be coming from failed strut mounts. I went through similar problems with my 9-5. Since the strut mounts are covered so it's impossible to see what's going on, you can start by jacking up the car enough to get the front wheels off the ground, stick a sturdy shovel under each wheel, and try to lift the wheel up. There should be little motion (until you break the shovel, anyway). If there is some motion and then a lot more resistance, the strut mount is toast.

I found the yellow adjustable Konis gave a very nice ride in my not-lowered, not-sport-chassis NG900. However, I also left them at the softest setting. If they have failed, hopefully you have receipts and can get them warrantied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Ed.

Unfortunately, the previous owner installed these struts a thousand years ago and didn't include the receipts in the folder of records he gave me when I purchased the car from him.

For your shovel test, wouldn't that compress the spring first? Or is the idea that the shovel would not provide enough leverage to compress the spring, so the only thing that would allow motion to occur would be a failed strut mount?
 

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The shovel won't really compress the spring, at least not significantly.

I did this test, and one side (where the noise and bangs were coming from) had a couple of cm free-ish play; the other side did not. I then parked the car on level ground with no stress on the suspension, undid the strut mount bolts, removed the cover, and replaced the bolts. (I am not sure if the 9-3 design allows this.) Then I jacked up that side, and the strut dropped down as the wheel came off the ground. So, bingo, basically.

I just had both mounts replaced, and not only are the bangs gone, the car is not as harsh over cracks and small bumps. There are still some small mysterious noises, but what do you expect of an 18 year old car with 269,000 km?

If you drive over a speed calming speed bump (the 15 or 20 MPH kind) at at around that speed, does the car corkscrew or porpoise? If it just goes over without a lot of body movement (other than to go over the bump), I would say that the Konis are still working okay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, I tried the shovel test and I can see the top of the strut moving up and down a little bit in the center of the strut mount. It's not very egregious, but I'm also not putting that much force on the car, so I assume that movement indicates a worn part?

As far as the struts themselves, I feel like the performance of the car is not compromised. I can't think of any speed bumps I've taken in this car at above 2mph given the rest of the suspension issues, but mid corner bumps are no problem.
 

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Yeah I was the one on that thread that bought and installed the control arms. I think it is one of their most cost effective items on the store. Yeah it’s pricey, but it’s a one time purchase. You can buy the replaceable ball joints from moog I think.

Regarding the effectiveness, I think the changes I did made a world of difference. I did eibach springs, bilstein b8s, machined control arms, and poly rear stanchion arm bushings, poly motor mounts, and poly steering bushings (fwiw). Now, I get absolutely no wheel hop. I can clutch drop and the wheels spin very smoothly.

I don’t know how much is the arms though, versus the rest of the components. I just think it’s a good deal cause the ball joints are replaceable. And camber adjustment. If you are into stance or racing and all that. Just remember you need 16s with the control arms.
 

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Yeah, sounds like the strut mount is bad. On my 9-5, we first replaced the ball joint on the noisy (right) side. It was worn and actually had up and down play. I think the damage was from the strut mount being loose and the bangs putting more up-and-down force on the ball joint than it's designed for.

The mount should really be there to absorb vibration, and move around minimally, maybe when you hit something that is enough to bend suspension parts otherwise. Any easy movement means they're toast. So just taking care of that might make a big difference. I really enjoy driving my 9-5 after the mount replacement and a good alignment.
 

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I've had Konis die in less miles. I wasn't particularly hard on them and I run them on lean settings. But, they are very particular on the warranty: You have to have the original receipt and a current registration with the same name on it or they won't replace them under warranty. It's impossible to tell if they are bad (short of an oil leak) until you get them out.

Definitely do the bearings. Short money to make sure they are OK. Bump stops will come with new Konis. The GS arms aren't much more than other replacements... and they are less than Saab original. Plus, you get the camber adjustment and replaceable ball joints.

FYI - another ball joint check: Jack the car, suspension hanging. Put a large lever between the control arm and the bottom of the strut/knuckle. Careful around the boot! Pry. You'd be amazed how much play you might find in the ball joint itself. You have to pry - the sway bar tension will keep the control arm tight and feeling OK unless you get a lever in there.

Lever can also be wrangled between the control arm and sway bar to "pull down" on the control arm. Since the strut/knuckle is a fixed length, prying down on the control arm will show you any play in the ball joint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@ BobSaabit. How do you test the struts once they are out of the car? Based on my research and talking to one of Koni's technicians, my sense is that my struts are fine, but I'm skeptical that they would last 150k miles without needing replacement.

Also, any idea why the CV joint might have failed so early on me?
 

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Well, if there is someone with a shock dynamometer in your area, the shocks could be competently tested. Good luck with that, even if available I wonder how expensive that might be.

Assuming the shocks don't easily move in and out, making gurgling noises, you can't tell a whole lot.

Again, easiest test is to find those gentle-ish speed bumps in traffic calmed neighbourhoods, and go over at the max permitted speed, e.g. 20 MPH (it's 30 km/h around here). No noises, no corkscrewing, no flying up or bottoming out, shocks and struts are probably okay.

Konis can fail early, but they can also last a long, long time. Assuming yours are working properly, I don't think there is any better replacement you can get. But you can get worse.
 

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@ BobSaabit. How do you test the struts once they are out of the car? Based on my research and talking to one of Koni's technicians, my sense is that my struts are fine, but I'm skeptical that they would last 150k miles without needing replacement.

Also, any idea why the CV joint might have failed so early on me?
My experience is that you pull them out and they have zero resistance in either direction. It's usually very obvious once they are out. Saabs almost always pass the old-school "bounce test" IME. But, with Konis, there is an additional test you can easily do as they are adjustable.

Open the hood. On top of each strut is the Koni adjuster. It's right in the center of the big bolt that is the top of the strut rod. If you don't have the official Koni adjustment knob (most guys toss them in the trunk or spare tire well), you can use a pair of pliers or small adjustable wrench to make the adjustment. GENTLY turn the adjuster all the way to the right (clockwise). That's the softest setting.

If it hasn't been turned in a while it might sort of break free at first, but then it should take minimal pressure. Don't use a lot of torque. The Koni adjuster is a plastic tool that withstands maybe 5# of torque.

Bounce the car with both Koni's adjusted to full soft. Then turn both adjusters back counter-clockwise (left) two full turns. Bounce the car again. If it doesn't feel significanty different... almost improbable to bounce and stops almost immediately when you let go... the struts are dead.

Don't know about the CV... except that if it was Chinese made... we haven't had a lot of luck with them. The only other thing that knowingly kills them is a bad boot.
 

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Suspension clunking in most of the NG series of cars is typically caused by failed upper strut mounts and loose subframe bolts.
The ball-joints usually have to be at the point of coming apart to influence clunk in these cars.
I'm also finding more and more non-Viggen cars with incorrectly shimmed (from factory) differentials.
Over time as things have settled, the differential support bearing races have begun to shift toward the side plate on the left side.
It is now showing up in some high mileage 9-3s.
The result....a wobble in the drive cup on the left side of the transaxle seen as a shimmy in the rear and sideview mirrors.
I've had to re-shim two of my own cars in the last year.
It is not the inner bearing sleeve in most cases, though that can cause the same symptoms.
Check that as well.
 

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Suspension clunking in most of the NG series of cars is typically caused by failed upper strut mounts and loose subframe bolts.
The ball-joints usually have to be at the point of coming apart to influence clunk in these cars.
I'm also finding more and more non-Viggen cars with incorrectly shimmed (from factory) differentials.
Over time as things have settled, the differential support bearing races have begun to shift toward the side plate on the left side.
It is now showing up in some high mileage 9-3s.
The result....a wobble in the drive cup on the left side of the transaxle seen as a shimmy in the rear and sideview mirrors.
I've had to re-shim two of my own cars in the last year.
It is not the inner bearing sleeve in most cases, though that can cause the same symptoms.
Check that as well.
You rebuild these?
 

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Suspension clunking in most of the NG series of cars is typically caused by failed upper strut mounts and loose subframe bolts.
Good advice. I just fixed a suspension clunk that was caused by a loose subframe bolt. I thought it was torqued down, but I guess the thin metal shell of the rear stanchion arm bushing was destroyed and producing so much friction on the bolt that I thought it was tight, but it wasn't.
 

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I know I'm late to this forum post. Stranger66's part list is very complete - but based on my own experience I'd like to highlight 2 potential items you might want to consider.

1. Inner Tie Rod washers might be worth looking at if the inner tie rods are old. GS sells some replacement washers - or you could add new tie rods - which of course will have new washers.
2. Chassis Bolts (or hexagon screws) that intersect the control arms etc: eg: 4645156, 11103801, might be worth adding for safety and peace of mind.
 

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You can also get inner tie rod bushing kits at just about any auto parts stores, at least in the US, for usually less than $20. They're shared with a few other American cars that use the same odd inner tie rod arrangement. They really tighten up the steering, but the downside to these is that they'll only last a couple of years before they get out of round and sloppy. They're relatively easy to replace, though, and they're cheap, and you shouldn't need an alignment afterwards. The interesting thing is that even though there are quite a few different companies that sell the kits, they all seem to use the same US-made RAMCOA bushings.
 

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Is it possible to fix the shimming without a rebuild? I'm guessing the tranny needs to come out and you'd have to spend some time with the dial gauge, etc?
There does not appear to be a step that the support bearing race goes up against, so tap that in until it lightly contacts the cone with an applicable-sized cylindrical driver.
Do not go too tight or the bearings will fail rather quickly.
measure the cap depth from the spacer contact area to the flange.
Measure the back of the support cone to the edge of the opening on the transmission.
Subtract the first measurement mentioned above from the second.
That'll give you the air-gap you need shims. Don't forget to subtract the clearance from that number.
 
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