Somebeach Reader
3/27/20 7:42 p.m.

Recently got this Saab 9-3 on a trade. 


The ad stated:


1200 OBO or Trade


Brand new-

* Turbo "STIGAN" not a cheap China

* Tail lights

* stage 3 tuned ECM by mps

* DO88 larger intercooler and hoses

* 3 inch turbo back exhaust

* Magnaflow muffler

* Tires *1200 miles on them*

* Emblems

* Intake

* Boost controllers

* Oil cooler

* Front shock bearings

* Sway bar end links

* waterpump and timing chain guides

* Thermostat and housing

* Rear window motors

* Coolant lines

* Intake, throttle body and all exhaust gaskets

* Valve cover gaskets

* Performance igntion coils and spark plugs

Interior is mint.

Everything works as it should


* Front window motors

* Windshield, has small crack along bottom. unless i do it.


The guy said it had a new head gasket. When i first started it up no white smoke, but the oil seemed a little milky.


Fast forward a week start it up to pull the check engine codes to start looking into the hard starting and rough idle issue. Cranks about 15 times, fires up and then a bunch of white smoke, then maybe 2 mins later no real smoke to speak of and it is idling seemingly ok.



So i pop the cap of the radiator expansion tank, no bubbles but fluid looks pretty dirty and there are wafts of "smoke" coming out of the tank.



My plan was to part it out and use the engine for challenge purposes, but if the head gasket is blown my plan to to part it out, and keep the "upgrade parts" Turbo, intercooler, coils, injectors.


So any way it isn't the head gasket? If there is a chance that it is not, what is the best way to test? 





Somebeach Reader
3/27/20 7:49 p.m.

Also if anyone knows any parts on these that are more valuable than others to part out let me know. 

Blunder New Reader
3/31/20 7:14 p.m.

It could be the ecu going bad. Does it smell like fuel when its smoking? There is a "driver" in the ecu that goes bad and it causes the injectors to dump too much fuel in the engine causing the rough start and white smoke. 

Kingkong Reader
4/1/20 8:04 a.m.

For part out purposes, the DIC if OEM is worth good money. The aftermarket parts are too since they are few and far between. I think the LCD screens if they all work. If it has air-cooled seats, you could get more money for those.

dean1484 MegaDork
4/1/20 9:17 a.m.

So it has cold start issues?  When did the soft valves happen in these car. I know it was the 2.0 turbo.  My 07 has the problem. Hard to start when it is cold and it is cold out (winter time). During the summer it is usually ok. Cranks a bit longer but always starts. The idle is a little rough until it warms up. Once warmed up it runs fine.  The white smoke is from un burnt fuel typical of this problem

Do a compression test on it when cold and or a leak down test. 

Somebeach Reader
4/1/20 11:58 a.m.

In reply to Blunder :

Thanks, I didn't know unburnt fuel was white smoke too, I will check that out. 

Would this throw a code? The codes I have are p1343, p0037, p0300, I will have to check my laptop when I get home to see the code descriptions. 


Somebeach Reader
4/1/20 11:59 a.m.

In reply to Kingkong :

I was thinking the DICs stopped with the older versions of the 9-3? 

otherwise good advice thanks. 

Somebeach Reader
4/1/20 12:00 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

I was going to buy a kit to do the tests. If suspecting a head gasket would you start with the leak down or compression test? 

Robbie MegaDork
4/1/20 1:30 p.m.

I'd start with whichever tester you already have, otherwise the leakdown you can watch for bubbles in the coolant I think.

Good score on that car!

Robbie MegaDork
4/1/20 1:34 p.m.

I think there is a strong chance it's ignition related. Performance coils? Misguided at best I think. How are the plugs?

The "smoke" out of the coolant could be just seeing evaporation, you're boiling water after all.

Yes, white smoke can be misfire too.

Kingkong Reader
4/1/20 2:37 p.m.

In reply to Somebeach :

I might be thinking of the 2.3 in the 9-5.

dean1484 MegaDork
4/1/20 2:54 p.m.
Somebeach said:

In reply to dean1484 :

I was going to buy a kit to do the tests. If suspecting a head gasket would you start with the leak down or compression test? 

Compression when cold then on the cylinders that are low do the leek down.  IT will tell you if it is intake or exaust valve issues or if it is a headgasket.

Somebeach Reader
4/1/20 6:04 p.m.

In reply to Robbie : 


i am happy to hear there is a chance that it might not be a head gasket, I ordered a leak down tester so I will start with that .

I'll have to pull the plugs when I get a chance.

It also has a very poorly done "cold air intake". So I also wondered about air leaks around the MAF. 

Somebeach Reader
4/1/20 6:17 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

Thanks. I think I will start with the leak down test. 

Blunder New Reader
4/2/20 7:23 p.m.

You would get codes related to the boost solenoid at first and eventually codes for all 4 injectors. It's a come what common problem. The boost solenoid or one of the injectors will start to develop too mich resistance and it causes the injector driver in the ecu to overheat and eventually burn out. 

Somebeach (Forum Supporter)
Somebeach (Forum Supporter) Reader
4/11/20 4:25 p.m.

Leak down test results, 3 cylinders 0-2% leakage. 

4th cylinder was tested. (I think #3)


Bubbling in the coolant overflow. 

Our Preferred Partners