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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all

I have a wee bit of a puzzle here.
Briefly 2000 9-5 23t auto.

Belongs to a neighbours grandson who is as mechanical as a bar of soap.
Arrived home on the back of an RAC wagon with a suspected blown headgasket having gone 'poooof' in a cloud of smoke along with water loss.
Water loss (about 3ltrs) but with temp guage on normal and no prior warning lamps.

So, I get asked to look. Fire it up and the smoke is instant and unreal. The turbo is rattling like a banshee. I diagnose blown turbo not HG.

So, I remove turbo and there is little or nothing remaining of the inner shaft impellor etc, It simply rattles freely in the housing. Drop sump and all is clear and nice. Nothing in there that shouldn't be so sump cleaned and refitted.

Fit replacement turbo and button everything up with new oil etc etc etc.

Fire it up and there is a little smoke out the back but sounds ok. Top up water and take for a test drive.
Pretty soon apparent that all is not well. The smoke increases and the car is not overly happy although pulls quite well. In total drive little more than a mile and return. All dash signs are normal with no warning lights or temp guage high.
Engine is piping hot and crackling. Crack coolant resevoir lid and the pressure is very high. ALL hoses are red hot to touch. The coolant hoses to the TB are crackling hot. Pop off the radiator top hose and other than steam is dry, no water flowing at all.
I remove the thermostat believing it may be stuck closed but no it is working fine (since confirmed in a pan of water).
Belt is fine, water pump is making no noise and appears to be fine in the bearing department ( no pulley movement)
No oil in water and no water in oil.
I have run the engine with the thermostat out and the housing off and water runs out of the block but not any great rate of knots. At idle there is minimal smoke /steam from exhaust with no 'antifreeze' smell to it.
Temp guage sits happily on 'normal'
The fans come on but not on high speed, just low speed and not for a great length of time either which is a puzzle.

Headgasket ???
Still cannot say I am convinced but what else could it be ?

EDIT:
I have just had a chat with the owner and he is adament that he has never had to top up water, the car has never shown any sign of water usage or over heating (he has driven around 10k in the car). In his ownership the only warning he has ever seen is 'brake light failure' on a couple of occasions. That scenario is not one of a headgasket in my experience. They tend to weep a bit for a few weeks/months meaning the owner needs to keep topping up rather than simply go 'pooooooof'

One downside for me is that the car is not with me but a couple of miles away at the owners home meaning I cannot just pop out and address an idea. I need to go to the car with something in mind :)
 

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Clogged radiator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Trolhattan.

That is something I need to check. I have sat here for the last hour or so thinking of things to check.
Try and monitor what water flow I have at what point.

Thing is ( my thinking anyway), if the flow is not great from the 'stat housing then there is little water being returned to the radiator in the first place. Would a blocked radiator not be a full rad or at least have a full top hose trying to feed it?

As I understand it, the water coolant feed to the turbo is via the 'stat housing (please correct me if I have this the wrong way round) so insufficient water feed from there may starve the turbo of water cooling leaving oil alone to do the job, leading to the mangled cooked turbo in the 1st instance. The pipework is certainly out of the block just below or at least close to the stat housing.

EDIT:
Just checked the WIS and the water to the turbo is fed directly from the water pump so that feed is something to be checked tomorrow.
 

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Trolhattan.

That is something I need to check. I have sat here for the last hour or so thinking of things to check.
Try and monitor what water flow I have at what point.

Thing is ( my thinking anyway), if the flow is not great from the 'stat housing then there is little water being returned to the radiator in the first place. Would a blocked radiator not be a full rad or at least have a full top hose trying to feed it?
You said the radiator top hose was dry but for a bit of steam wafting out when you removed it which indicates that the system isn't quite full, for one, and that there might be a faulty temperature sending unit giving you false readings ("normal") at the gauge, for another.

You then go on to mention that there are no apparent faults with the water pump, yet when you observed the system while it was open, it had only a moderate flow with the engine running which causes me to speculate that the water pumps' impeller might be damaged, say, deteriorated because PO didn't bother with antifreeze mixture and only put water in the system.

So I suggest the radiator because pulling it, or at least its bottom hose, might give you some insight as to whether or not there is any rust in the system, though that can sometimes be determined by examining the color of the coolant reservoir tank.

That's about all that I can come up with w/o examining the car hands on since you've not reported any signs of leaking coolant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Trollhattan

Fair points of course and it is something to look into as I said. I do know however that the antifreeze levels were as they should be..............reason is, I was the last person to service the car shortly before I sold it to him :)

Tommorrow, I will look into the rad and back flush if I can get pressure hose access ( as I said, the car is not with me).
I will check the water flow from the pump to the turbo too.

Thanks for the ideas, even from a distance all ideas are to be given thought. Sometimes you can be too close and not see sometimes obvious points.
 

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Trollhattan

Fair points of course and it is something to look into as I said. I do know however that the antifreeze levels were as they should be..............reason is, I was the last person to service the car shortly before I sold it to him :)
Well then, that eliminates the whole negligent PO speculation, doesn't it?!

Tommorrow, I will look into the rad and back flush if I can get pressure hose access ( as I said, the car is not with me).
I will check the water flow from the pump to the turbo too.
That is a good idea as well given that you mentioned suffering a turbo shaft failure which, typically, can be caused only by a lack of cooling, be it oil or coolant...Perhaps either of the cooling supply/return lines (oil/water) are clogged with the one indicating an infamous "sludge" issue and the other a buildup of rust?

Thanks for the ideas, even from a distance all ideas are to be given thought. Sometimes you can be too close and not see sometimes obvious points.
Much obliged, just trying to help really, and over here us yanks call that the "fishbowl effect/syndrome", implying that all the little fishy sees is whats in it's immediate vicinity, i.e., the confines of the fishbowl in which it lives, while the expanse of the World and the Universe and all else exists just beyond the bowl.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Trollhattan

To the best of my knowledge there isn't an issue with the turbo feed lines being blocked in any manner. The car has no known history of sludge.
Before I sold the car, I had dropped the sump and found it is clean as a whistle. It then had the full service a 9-5 requires.I do know he has done zilch in the last 10k despite me stressing the need for fully synthetic after 5k :-(

When I dropped the sump last week however for the turbo swap , I was pleasently surprised to see it was still as clean as before, no sludge or anything else that really ought not be there. Not much in the way of oil mind you, that was now in the intercooler and exhaust system :)

This is one of the things that is puzzling me. It apparently was pretty instant failure but the damage pretty severe.
I really cannot get my head round it being a HG in truth.
It does appear however that the turbo failure was the result of a coolant issue. In truth, my 1st thoughts were that the coolant loss was down to the turbo and the water feed had essentially been thrown back through the exhaust as the inner seals of the turbo had gone south.
It now seems logical that it was the other way round.

Coolant issue leading to turbo loss.
 

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Trollhattan

To the best of my knowledge there isn't an issue with the turbo feed lines being blocked in any manner. The car has no known history of sludge.
Before I sold the car, I had dropped the sump and found it is clean as a whistle. It then had the full service a 9-5 requires.I do know he has done zilch in the last 10k despite me stressing the need for fully synthetic after 5k :-(

When I dropped the sump last week however for the turbo swap , I was pleasently surprised to see it was still as clean as before, no sludge or anything else that really ought not be there. Not much in the way of oil mind you, that was now in the intercooler and exhaust system :)
I congratulate you on your practice of proper maintenance on your vehicle, while you possessed it anyway, lol. So few people do and then have so much bad to say about this or that marque when, in reality, all that it is is their subconsciously expressing just how poorly they maintained their car.

Again, kudos to you.

This is one of the things that is puzzling me. It apparently was pretty instant failure but the damage pretty severe.
I really cannot get my head round it being a HG in truth.
It does appear however that the turbo failure was the result of a coolant issue. In truth, my 1st thoughts were that the coolant loss was down to the turbo and the water feed had essentially been thrown back through the exhaust as the inner seals of the turbo had gone south.
It now seems logical that it was the other way round.

Coolant issue leading to turbo loss.
Which brings us full circle back to the potential of rust or some other contaminant in the cooling system.

Alas, the more you talk about your problem, the easier it is to solve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Trollhattan

I do try and keep cars as they like to be kept :)


Regarding the problem, I will look into it further again tomorrow (weather & time permitting) and keep you up to date with what I find.
One of my pet hates is trying to guess the fault and simply thrwing parts at the car in hope. A water pump for example. It is no 5 minute job and the customer is paying so I want to be confident what the fault is before spending my time and his money.
I know he was hoping ( as was I in truth) that the turbo replacement would be the end of his expenditure but it seems not. Afterall, a replacement turbo is not a chicken feed job in itself. Mind you, the shocking state of it did at least prove that the change was required even if it is only 50% of the 'breakdown'
Now to find the guilty party that caused it in the 1st place.

Thanks for your thoughts
 

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Trollhattan

I do try and keep cars as they like to be kept :)


Regarding the problem, I will look into it further again tomorrow (weather & time permitting) and keep you up to date with what I find.
One of my pet hates is trying to guess the fault and simply thrwing parts at the car in hope. A water pump for example. It is no 5 minute job and the customer is paying so I want to be confident what the fault is before spending my time and his money.
I know he was hoping ( as was I in truth) that the turbo replacement would be the end of his expenditure but it seems not. Afterall, a replacement turbo is not a chicken feed job in itself. Mind you, the shocking state of it did at least prove that the change was required even if it is only 50% of the 'breakdown'
Now to find the guilty party that caused it in the 1st place.

Thanks for your thoughts
Don't mention it, and I haven't asked this before and I don't recall your mentioning it, but have you tried pulling the codes from the ECU to see what it tells you about the fault?
 

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My 95 seems about to suffer the same fate, if I don`t stop using it and get it properly diagnosed that is.
I`ve recently started using it again (done about 1200 miles) since having a new turbo fitted after the old one went poooof just like this one/\/\

I recently had a `fill coolant level` warning, which I did, with the correct mixture, but no sign of coolant loss until a day or so later when I noticed a patch on the ground. It was about level with the rear of the offside front tyre and about a foot inboard of the wheel? I checked the reservoir when it was cold and it only took a little coolant (less than a pint) couple days later (today) the warning came on again, so I topped it up again, went to work, 22 mile round trip, came home with nothing untoward noise-wise. After about 3 hours I had need to use it again and straight away I get a rough sounding whirring type noise from inside the engine bay above the offside wheel (waterpump)?
I switch off and top up with coolant again and leave it running (no warning) after about 5 minutes the noise disappears completely. Still getting no warning I take car around the block for 5 minutes or so, stopping now and then with window down to listen, no noise. I drive home, still no noise or warning. When I switch off at home the engine stops with a small but noticeable squeek type noise. I haven`t restarted it as yet. I reckon I have a similar type issue imminent unless I get it seen to fast, and was probably the reason for the last turbo failure?
 

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My 95 seems about to suffer the same fate, if I don`t stop using it and get it properly diagnosed that is.
I`ve recently started using it again (done about 1200 miles) since having a new turbo fitted after the old one went poooof just like this one/\/\

I recently had a `fill coolant level` warning, which I did, with the correct mixture, but no sign of coolant loss until a day or so later when I noticed a patch on the ground. It was about level with the rear of the offside front tyre and about a foot inboard of the wheel? I checked the reservoir when it was cold and it only took a little coolant (less than a pint) couple days later (today) the warning came on again, so I topped it up again, went to work, 22 mile round trip, came home with nothing untoward noise-wise. After about 3 hours I had need to use it again and straight away I get a rough sounding whirring type noise from inside the engine bay above the offside wheel (waterpump)?
I switch off and top up with coolant again and leave it running (no warning) after about 5 minutes the noise disappears completely. Still getting no warning I take car around the block for 5 minutes or so, stopping now and then with window down to listen, no noise. I drive home, still no noise or warning. When I switch off at home the engine stops with a small but noticeable squeek type noise. I haven`t restarted it as yet. I reckon I have a similar type issue imminent unless I get it seen to fast, and was probably the reason for the last turbo failure?
You have a coolant leak...somewhere (possibly from the turbo coolant charge pipe?)...I'd locate that first and then proceed from there, you know, before you blow up another spooler.

Just saying....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Trollhattan

No CEL or visible codes, I havent however put the code reader on ( as yet) to read any codes that don't warrant a CEL. I will do however.

Kiltyarse.
I have to take the owners word that there has been zero history of water loss during his 10k (I don't disbelieve him I will admit) but in your case it is clearly something that needs to be addressed.

I suspect there are endless cases of turbo failure that are only short term rectified by a turbo replacement.
I do however understand how and why that can happen. Not all car owners (nothing Saab specific here) are remotely mechanically minded. A part fails (turbo) so they have part (turbo) replaced. Job done.
Not all mechanics are model specific in their experience (Not Saab specific here either) so simply replace turbo thinking they are doing the job.
But and here is a big but too...................
A Saab specific mechanic tells owner that not only does he need to replace the turbo ( not cheap ) but he also needs to drop the sump, clean out the sludge and possibly replace mains and /or big end bearings etc etc. Oh and by the way Mr Saab owner, I think you also need to invest another £75 in a new breather system
Owner ( non mechnical) thinks.............woah hold the bus here, my turbo has died , now you are just inventing work to 'rip me off' for more money.

Result ?
Job is half done and the 'knowing' mechanic is branded a conniving cheat.

Sad but true and is a scenario almost certainly acted out on the vast majority of 10-15yr old car models
 

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Many thanks! That`s what I was hoping. Can you point me in the direction of said pipe?


#25 shows where the coolant pipe connects to the turbo's bearing housing while #26 shows where the coolant pipe connects to the water pump housing.

Cheers!
 

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Trollhattan

No CEL or visible codes, I havent however put the code reader on ( as yet) to read any codes that don't warrant a CEL. I will do however.
Do it and let me/us know what you find, if you don't mind.

Kiltyarse.
I have to take the owners word that there has been zero history of water loss during his 10k (I don't disbelieve him I will admit) but in your case it is clearly something that needs to be addressed.

I suspect there are endless cases of turbo failure that are only short term rectified by a turbo replacement.
I do however understand how and why that can happen. Not all car owners (nothing Saab specific here) are remotely mechanically minded. A part fails (turbo) so they have part (turbo) replaced. Job done.
Not all mechanics are model specific in their experience (Not Saab specific here either) so simply replace turbo thinking they are doing the job.
But and here is a big but too...................
A Saab specific mechanic tells owner that not only does he need to replace the turbo ( not cheap ) but he also needs to drop the sump, clean out the sludge and possibly replace mains and /or big end bearings etc etc. Oh and by the way Mr Saab owner, I think you also need to invest another £75 in a new breather system
Owner ( non mechnical) thinks.............woah hold the bus here, my turbo has died , now you are just inventing work to 'rip me off' for more money.

Result ?
Job is half done and the 'knowing' mechanic is branded a conniving cheat.

Sad but true and is a scenario almost certainly acted out on the vast majority of 10-15yr old car models
Which is why it is encouraged that the wrench (Saab specific or otherwise) explain, in detail, how each system is interconnected with one another, employing the use of diagrams if necessary.

The downside is that some of your more unscrupulous mechanics seize upon such instances to do just that (not explain not only what went wrong but how) as a form of 'job security', label their customer as a sucker, and use their ignorance of automotive mechanics against them to fund their vacation, new car purchase, child's college tuition...Well, you get the picture.

These are the sort one should avoid at all costs, especially to YOU!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Trollhattan

Heheheheh , oh so very true :)

Mind you, I can count on one hand the number of times I have taken a car to see a mechanic since I passed the tender age of 20.
Over 20yrs of only owning/driving Jaguars, running a Jaguar parts (classic used parts etc ) business teaches you quite a bit :)
99% Saab only now for the last few years is due to the fact my wife never took to any Jag (XJS aside) I owned, preferring the Saab plus my own ill health leading to me closing the business and driving Saab only myself.

But ............all the experience in the world does not give you all the answers. The mind still blanks at times, there is always advice to be taken and lessons to be learnt.

Anyway, time for beer and bed.
Tomorrow is a new adventure
 

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Are you sure the car overheated ? Sounds like you put 3 litres in it . Maybe someone was messing with the car before like changing a thermostat and not checking the overflow filler after it warmed up . Maybe the cooling sys ok . Sounds like a classic case of chunk of weak 9.5 piston journeyed thru the turbo fins .Cracked in two pieces . I'm working on one right now with a cracked piston but no chips off it . Only cracked and clattering . Turbos not making the noise now since its not spinning . That noise you hear now is the piston falling apart because of the con rod and wrist pin attached to the bottom half of the piston pounding against the top of the piston jammed against the surface of the head . Let me know what you find ......
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Saabtrip
With the new turbo in and running there is no noise now.
Having removed the turbo and pipework there was further water loss. It is fair to say that the water I drained out was a little murky but was nothing that really raised any alarm bells for me.
Obviously it should have done :-(
All back together again , total water reqd to fill resevoir was around 4-5ltrs, pretty much what I expected.

The engine runs ok in a mechanical sense. Coolant however is not being pumped round the system, somethig somewhere is preventing this whether it be an internally failed pump or a physical blockage somehwere.
 
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