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conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
1/25/16 1:28 p.m.

The wagon is out of the shop and running great. We got 6" of snow overnight on the 21st so I drove her to work Friday. The trans has a selectable Winter mode that did wonders. Did some snowplowing in deeper ruts but never threatened to lose momentum.

After a new fuel pump, the car continued to run poorly so it stayed in the shop. The specialist diagnosed a massive vacuum leak at the intake manifold. I previously paid the PO to do the job and it'll be the last he touches it since the mating surfaces weren't cleaned and part of the old gasket was left behind. Now put right, the car pulls like crazy again. Slow, she ain't. The only downside to all this hoonery is the $960 bill.

Come to think of it, bad wrenching by the PO likely played a role in several repairs under my ownership. The alternator was likely not fully snugged in place, hence the early charging problems. The new intake manifold was due to tomfoolery with the TB and a broken stud on the old one. An oil leak that was reaching alarming proportions was down to a loose banjo bolt on an oil return line. Seems there is a pattern with the PO being a little fast and loose with respect to gaskets and fastener torque specs. New all-in total is $3,714.72, which I can't really complain about.

XLR99
XLR99 HalfDork
1/25/16 5:14 p.m.

Wow, that's a lot of sketchy! Glad it's all sorted now.

And, I had to look at your profile again. Interesting that I live ~900 mi north, and you have more snow than we do right now!

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
1/25/16 7:01 p.m.

Can you tell me anything about the projector headlight swap you are contemplating for your car? Mine thankfully doesn't have HIDS, just halogen reflectors, but they suck. The shop's best theory is the plastic reflective coating in the back of the lens dulls and oxidizes in the same way the front does. If that's the case, one could go through a shed load of takeoffs before finding a decent set.

XLR99
XLR99 HalfDork
1/26/16 7:24 a.m.

Unfortunately I don't know anything about them yet. Grabbed them on impulse and I haven't done anything with them yet. I got the leveller as well,but neither of my cars has the wiring harness for it. I also need to find a housing for the left as its missing all the mounts.

There are several ads up on Saabnet right now parting 9-5s; the guy with the blue 02 has projectors.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
1/26/16 8:05 a.m.

Pull your lights, bake them at about 250 for approx 20 minutes in the oven. THis loosens the glue between the lens and housing, and it will pull right off with mild persuasion.

polish the inside of the lens, and then wipe clean with a cleaner that will not leave a residue behind (light application of brake cleaner or the like). THen spray with some rattle can clearcoat. It wont last forever, but it will last several years. This practice was very standard with G20 owners (I owned 2 consecutively, and dull lights were a big issue).

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/5/17 8:23 p.m.

Ok. So, the car repairs got away from us. No good would come from looking back over all the receipts from the last 13 months since I might thereby accidentally figure out the exact sums spent on the car. The point where the cost/benefit ratio made any sense passed long ago. Really, the damn thing just made us mad - we got on the stupid side of the fight-or-flight response.

Anyway, our Aero wagon is shaping up to be one of the finer examples extant, or at least the one wearing the most new parts. I'll post a few repairs at a time, not in date order, to recap where we are.

Oil leaks. We had many. Our pro wrench dropped and resealed the sump twice but the car not only continued to leak it progressed to Deepwater Horizon proportions. The rear main had a newish seal but it wasn't installled correctly (more PO hijinks). Also, this engine has a shim-type head gasket or something, which was a new concept to me. When the PO married the replacement engine to the trans, one of the gasket tabs got bent under and wedged in the eng/trans mating surface. Which was also an oil leak. A new transmission mount was a while-we-are-in-there addition. Finally, the front main seal was replaced. This one fortunately was cheap. Our leaks are at last no longer. These repairs were farmed out to the pros.

Climate control. Turned out everything that could be broken, was. We repaired the passenger-side blend door shaft, the air distribution hickey and the recirc step motor. These aren't too hard to access once the glove box is removed. OTOH, the DS blend door was a royal B. Even after removing the hush panel, brake pedal brace and an air director access is very, very limited. The DS inner blend door shaft was broken in two places (!?!). We repaired the typical failure point with a nifty aluminum repair arm and epoxied the hell out of the other, more unlucky, break. The HVAC works properly for the first time probably in years. You have to remove the heater box to install a new blend door shaft and the car is basically built around the heater box. Should our epoxy fail in the future we are looking into whether you can cut a keyhole into the heater box to replace the shaft. Whether this can work depends on what's on the inside of the box in the available real estate. This was a real solution on some Volvos so maybe the transitive property will apply. All hvac repairs were done by us.

Transmission. After fighting an intermittent trans code for a while, we replaced the Transmission Controle Module. A used unit saved some money but we still parted with significant greenbacks to the repair shop.

Entertainment. This was kind of fun. We picked up a BlueSaab, which is being developed collaboratively by Saab enthusiasts all over the world. BlueSaab adds Bluetooth and hands free calling to the stock Harman Kardon audio system. You can build these yourself pretty inexpensively from plans, but you kind of have to build a couple at a time due to the multiples some parts are sold in. A really nice Norwegian living in the US hooked us up with one of his and it works great. We also had a dead subwoofer that was fixed with a secondhand amp and we re-foamed the speaker surround. These were all DIY projects.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/6/17 11:21 a.m.

Sensors and electronic parts. We chased a hard-start condition for some time and there is a persistent CEL pointing to MAF, which led to a number of new electronics and sensors and an ongoing hunt for vacuum leaks. Both the original DIC and a junkyard takeoff were succeeded by a new one from eEuroparts. We put on a brand new MAF and MAP, a new thermostat and a new coolant temperature sensor. We also installed a number of silicone vacuum hoses. We replaced the air cleaner box because the original was cracked and put on a new air filter element under general maintenance. The car also got a new blow off valve and boost controller. Finally, we installed a new fuel pressure regulator and four new fuel injectors. The old injectors were apparently not up to snuff because the new ones brought a big improvement in fuel economy and solved the hard-start situation while restoring idle smoothness. We did all these repairs ourselves.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/6/17 11:53 a.m.

Suspension. The right control arm bushing was a casualty of our oil leaks, so the pros installed a fresh control arm assembly. There was also an annoying rattle in the front suspension. A new pair of chicken legs (sway bar end links) was the solution, and we put them on ourselves.

Seating. Consider this a testimonial for Leatherique. The seats weren't cracked but were getting a little dry and hard with deep creases. It took a couple of days to clean and condition the seats according to the instructions. Consider this one a weekend project if you give it a go. The results were a ten. Our seats are supple now and the creases are smoother and less pronounced. They look as good as any 50,000 mile seats but are actually 182 and counting.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/6/17 6:57 p.m.

Brakes. We had a judder under braking, telling us there was at least one warped rotor. On inspection the pads were down to 30% or so. We put pads and rotors on all four corners ourselves. Later the brake booster developed a squeal that let us know it was on its way out. Pros replaced the booster for us because we didn't care to tackle cracking open the ABS controller and bleeding it on reassembly.

Lighting. We polished the headlight lenses a couple of times but the front of our car still looked tired, so we installed brand new headlights and side corner turn signals. Our lower grill was broken so on went new upper and lower grill inserts. The car seems to have spent considerable time on gravel or dirt roads roads and our fog lamp lenses were hazed and pitted beyond polishing. Rather than replace the fogs with new, we polished the lenses as best we could and freshened their appearance by applying amber lens film. Inspiration here came from the e30 pictured in last year's GRM calendar. All these were home projects.

The new bling highlighted significant rash and rock pecks afflicting our hood and front bumper. In a coming update we will review both remedies. Both? Here, fate intervened unexpectedly, bringing a cloud and a silver lining. More info and pics will follow.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/7/17 5:35 p.m.

Let's catch up with some photos. I mentioned we replaced all the front lamps except the fogs, and the upper and lower grilles. Mid-replacement:

 

The finished result (this was prior to filming the foglights):

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/7/17 5:52 p.m.

The car is looking better but we have some serious paint rash. As the photos show, the car looks good from afar but far from good. Here is what we are working with:

 

 

I'd wanted to try out Dr. Colorchip for some time. But the whole hood needed help. Surely this was just too much surface for the Dr. Colorchip system, right? Turns out, not really. While time-consuming, the results were quite good:

 

In the after pics you can still see evidence of the touched-up chips, especially in the leading edge of the hood where the damage was worst and the chips deepest. These chips are filled in but the light still catches them because the touched-up chips aren't as deep as the original finish. All in all, the appearance was greatly improved and we were happy with the results. I'll use Dr. Colorchip in the future, and will consider hitting anything really deep with some glazing putty first. It wasn't really an option on this car because of the sheer size of the affected area. Our chips didn't completely disappear because the texture was still somewhat apparent, but the improvement was so dramatic we have no hesitation recommending the product. (Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Dr. Colorchip other than satisfied customer.)

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/7/17 6:24 p.m.

Our hood is looking nice but we are still a little sad because all this progress really highlighted how tired our bumper cover was by comparison. The cover is faded, rashed and has some scuffs. Unfortunately, having it refinished in a body shop was going to run us a cool thousand. While we've certainly splashed out the cash liberally on our wagon, a thousand was a few hundred bridges too far. What to do? This gave us the opportunity to try a service that captured our attention a few months ago: mobile refinishing. We perused the "automotive" subgroup of "services" on our local Craigslist and found a couple of candidates, then checked out their online presence and reputation to the best of our ability. A few days later, this happened:

 

We traded a couple of Ben Franklins for a refinished, shiny bumper. Yay! But was the work any good? The work was worth the price paid. When we set the appointment, our tech asked for a pic of the door tag and ordered the correct paint code for our Saab. He masked pretty carefully and sanded. Next he hit the cover with some medium-build primer and wet sanded. After re-cleaning the surface, we got a couple of color coats and a few more of clear.

In all, I would have paid another hundred for more surface prep and a somewhat more careful application of color. We have a run and a small strip of our lower grille accidentally got painted. The worst scuffs are still somewhat visible. On the other hand, you kind of have to be looking for the flaws, and our car, while not new-looking, is improved to a greater degree than $200 would suggest. Our results are down more to the painter than the concept of mobile refinishing. We give the experience and result a qualified thumbs-up. The eagle-eyed will notice our Saab emblem is MIA from the hood in the last shot. The story of why will follow in a coming installment.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/7/17 7:06 p.m.

Here's a small appearance project that anyone can tackle. Notice how our body-side molding looks much darker and richer after the bumper was painted than after the hood was touched up. Our wagon, I regret to say, has seen many an automatic car wash. Over time, the liquid wax from an automatic wash accrues on trim and plastic pieces. The well-known and unfortunate result is a graying appearance that looks far from fresh. Youtube to the rescue. We took a tip from a video and turned an electric heat gun on our moldings. We found it was best to work on the low heat setting taking care not to point the gun directly at painted surfaces or the bumper covers proper. The job took approximately 45 minutes and rewarded us with dark, wet-looking results. Apparently, the heat gun trick can be used to re-plasticize faded interior parts too. From our experience avoid the high heat setting since it can be too aggressive.

acheron64
acheron64 New Reader
3/12/17 4:34 a.m.

I remember doing most of those engine fixes as warranty on brand new 9-5's particularly throttle bodies. Although out this way ECU calibration was a big problem they just wouldn't run on 87 octane :) Nothing beat the 9-3 convertible roof and its dozens of revisions though, it was a mechanical nightmare of motors and stuff. 9-5 was a lovely car to drive, remember the loudest noise in the cabin was the air coming out of the vents.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
3/13/17 9:43 a.m.

Good tip on the heat gun. I wonder if it leaves the resulting plastic any more prone to graying? Perhaps another call to the mobile paint guy - I always wanted to paint the trim on my old cavalier to match the body. My Cruze is mostly painted, but the mirror caps and a few other small spots are black plastic. I have visions of rattle-bombing those spots, but am too chicken lol

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/13/17 4:10 p.m.

We did a couple more projects yesterday, one pretty and one invisible but important. Our cowl cover was showing its age: chalky and brittle thanks to years of UV exposure, and broken on the driver's end. There is a donor in the Pick-and-Pull so we snagged more swag for our ride. The donor's cowl was as faded as ours but in better shape. Each had some broken retaining clips and we combined the two to make a full set. The clips are NLA and were $22 each back in the day - there are 5 so a lot of dough theoretically stayed in our pockets. Taking our inspiration from a GRM refresh of a Miata a few years back, we cleaned the donor cowl and hit it with black bumper/trim paint before installing. The donor piece before painting:

and after a nice coat of black:

 

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/13/17 4:45 p.m.

We recently took stock under the car and found many of our rubber bushings and mounts have joined the dearly departed of perishable parts. We sprung for a fresh set of poly bushings and set out to replace the lower trans mount, sometimes called the torque arm. Here's our starting point. In the bottom of the bracket you can see the rubber bushing has broken and shifted down. The bushing no longer even fills the mount as indicated by the gap on the top side of the mount between the bushing and the bracket. That gap is large enough to drive a truckload of NVH through so a fix is in order.

 

The old bushings are out and new lower bushing is installed. Yay for bench vises and yay we didn't need a hydraulic press because we don't actually own one of those yet.

 

The new top bushing is a two-piece proposition. it bolts into place, which will keep each side where it belongs.

 

Old v. new:

 

We began the re-installation by bolting up the top of the mount. Our old bushings had allowed the engine and trans to sag a little so we had to jack the engine up slightly and fuss with our jack to line up the mounting holes and thread the lower bolt.

Right away, we noticed less shake when cranking the engine and there was less driveline lash when selecting forward or reverse and on gear changes. There's also noticeably less powertrain vibration transmitted to the steering wheel at idle. We'll call this one another success but - spoiler alert - the car needs engine mounts and subframe mounts too. I'm on the fence about doing those DIY. We may try the subframe and see how far we get. The engine mounts are likely getting handed over to a pro.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/13/17 5:39 p.m.

In reply to 4cylndrfury:

The impression I got was you could heat gun over and over if needed. Clearly there is a too-far-gone point, but faded stuff seems to color right back up. Good luck with the mirrors, let us know how you choose to go forward.

XLR99
XLR99 Dork
3/13/17 7:08 p.m.

Interesting tip with the heat gun, I'll be trying that this year.

Regarding mounts, from my experience with them, it makes the most sense to do the motor mounts, at least the rear one, at the same time as the subframe. There were a couple of challenges with mine. Getting access to the rear mount is fun, and getting new rubber bushings pressed into the subframe was also annoying.

Here's the short thread I did on mine: 9-5 Subframe to give you a bit of an idea.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/13/17 7:43 p.m.

In reply to XLR99:

Thanks for the link! I'd read it at the time and forgotten about it since. After reacquainting myself with it, I'm pretty sure it was deliberate, subconscious amnesia.

Have to confess: I kind of don't want to tackle the subframe. Maybe my other half will shame me into trying though.

paranoid_android74
paranoid_android74 UltraDork
3/14/17 6:55 a.m.

Awesome work!

I sure am a sucker for a Saab...

Rusted_Busted_Spit
Rusted_Busted_Spit UberDork
3/14/17 9:16 a.m.

Regarding the front subframe, it takes some time but it is not very hard to do. I put PU in mine and did motor mounts at the same time. 8 months later a lady hit my car and totaled it so when I got my 2nd 9-5 I just swapped the subframes.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/14/17 1:05 p.m.

Thanks for the encouragement. Powar's sale thread reminded me of two other fixes I'd forgotten about.

We wanted to DIY the PCV 7 update. Most of it was easy but we were stumped by the oil "catch box" (forget what it's called) that bolts under the manifold. I could get my fingers on 2 of its bolts but the third eluded me and I was worried I'd never get it back on even if I could take it off. Couldn't see it from above or below, chickened out and had the shop finish the install. We put a new cabin air filter in ourselves.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
3/20/17 2:33 p.m.

So we have a persistent CEL for MAF. Our pro put a smoke machine on it and found a manifold fitting that was missing an o-ring and not much else. Okay, nothing else. His last-ditch guess was a bad purge valve solenoid on the evap system - it takes a hundred miles or so after a reset for the light to come back on. Maybe the purge cycle is the trigger? During a January road trip we hit up a Pick N Pull in Dallas and grabbed the possibly offending piece. The evap assembly is $400. We aren't willing to gamble that kind of scratch with a Jack-high hand so we didn't order a replacement. Good thing we didn't spring for the new part because our CEL returned. Our pro's informed opinion was it was time to use the electrical tape fix - cover the CEL and go on about our business since the car is running fine. We think he was kidding. Unless he wasn't. He's hard to read sometimes. Naturally, this was all the excuse we needed to stay at the table for another hand by installing a nice new performance intercooler and related hoses. Maybe we would find a heretofore undetected vacuum leak. We worked 4 hours Friday afternoon and finished up Saturday morning. Step 1: start taking stuff off the car.

The intercooler was sold as a complete kit with hoses and a new air intake tube.

 

The IC is well-made and fit perfectly. Fitment was a pleasant surprise as the new is 1.5x as thick as the old one. Here's a look at both:

 

The IC included detailed instructions for replacement without pulling the bumper cover. Hooray for pictures with instructions! Things are getting buttoned back up. This hose, which runs from the IC to the turbo was the only really hard part.

 

Fist-bump to eEuroparts for this kit, which went together perfectly. We ended up pulling the driver-side headlight to get at a bolt that was eluding our wrench but in retrospect we might have managed with more wiggling of the AC condenser/IC assembly.

 

We keep finding things that are missing (as Yogi Berra might have said).  There is clearly a bolt hole in the bottom of the turbo compressor housing.

 

Since the Swedes are more clever than our prior owner, we concluded something was intended to go there and we were right. A lower turbo bracket is on order following a quick consultation with the assembly manual. 

In this photo our drop light is partially concealing a sensor on the air intake pipe. The new pieces are sightly more, let's say robust than the stock pieces and the sensor pigtail occupied the same space as the BCV.

 

So we flipped the sensor.   Problem solved.

 

A while-there project was to replace a gasket on the air filter housing that had shrunk to the point of breaking.

 

All finished.  Well, except for a couple of hose clamps on our new MAF coupler.

 

Why did we choose dumb-kid blue? We don't like it either, but months ago when we were replacing some small vacuum lines the only color in stock was blue, so we stuck with it. Given our druthers we would use black. We found a loose clamp on an intercooler hose but the CEL persists. There is electrical tape in the toolbox, but we are going to try to draw to an inside straight and send the MAF back to eEuroparts for testing. The tape fix will have to wait a little longer.

Rusted_Busted_Spit
Rusted_Busted_Spit UberDork
3/20/17 7:08 p.m.

That looks like a nice kit.

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