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conesare2seconds Dork
4/17/17 1:33 p.m.

In which we replace our worn upper engine mount. This is a surprisingly easy fix and can be accomplished in less than an hour. Here's the old, collapsed mount.



Support the oil pan (the "sump" for the Europhiles among us) with a jack and sturdy piece of wood. We were fresh out of wood but the nice people at Home Depot gave us some 2x6" scrap for free. We were very grateful.



With the pan supported, remove the perimeter bolts from the upper engine cradle and the central nut from the upper engine mount.



Next, remove the cradle. This is a great time to polish a weathered cradle but we skipped that part.


A quick side-by-side shows a pronounced difference in height between the old and new.


Bolt up the new mount.


Very slightly raise the engine before attempting the reset the cradle. You're compensating for the sag in the old mount and re-aligning the bolt holes.



We are all buttoned up now. There is a perceptible reduction in NVH at startup, acceleration and idle. Our car is getting back to its smooth self as Trollhattan intended.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 4:48 p.m.

Because we are meticulous - not really, it's just mild OCD - we are always on the lookout for the little things on our project Saab, especially little things that could strand us or lead to expensive failure down the road. This little fix is neither, but we were chasing a rattle. Saab used nifty rubber isolaters for the air box, a power steering line and elsewhere. The rubber portion is bonded to a steel mating surface which secures a threaded section(s) and a nut. We noticed these needed to be replaced when we changed the ail filter housing gasket and when we installed the upgraded intercooler. These pics show the new isolaters in place.


conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 4:58 p.m.

Back on p.2 we showed a pic of the turbo in which it was pretty clear we were missing a brace. Here is what we had, or more to the point, what we didn't have:


We installed a nice new and thankfully inexpensive brace.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 5:22 p.m.

Recall our blend door is broken and in a very inconvenient way. We previously installed an aluminum piece that fixes the most common fracture of the blend door arm but naturally ours had to be broken in a second place as well. A previous installment mentioned we'd epoxied a repair and were hoping for the best. Hope springs eternal in the human heart, but it doesn't long endure when used in place of a proper repair. Our blend door arm worked for a month or so before again going kaput. Unwilling to foray into a dash removal, we decided to go all-in on the Band Aid and duct tape approach. In Praise of JB Weld Or Quicksteel in this case. The idea became to strategically reinforce the thin, stressed area of the arm where it had previously broken. Because this assembly rotates and is in close proximity to other parts of the blend door in certain places on its arc of travel, space is limited. The reinforcement needed to be strong, light and thin. We toyed with the idea of sistering the arm with a popsicle stick and epoxy but eventually settled on PVC and Quicksteel. We located a PVC junction with an outside diameter that approximated the curve of the broken arm, and sectioned a piece for the repair.


Next step: use a small amount of epoxy to encapsulate and reinforce the broken arm.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 5:32 p.m.

We hoped to use a modest amount of Quiksteel to bond the broken arm to the reinforcement (whoops, there's the hope part again).

Once the reinforcing epoxy cured, we slipped the arm back in place and used more Quiksteel to bridge the reinforcement and re-join both ends of the arm. It looks like a lot of epoxy but once it cured we tested fitment and found everything cleared.


conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 7:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, this repair wouldn't last. The epoxy failed during testing. Maybe we rushed the curing or maybe the PVC could have been longer. At this point we had been working on the repair for a couple of hours, a substantial portion of which was spent upside down with our head next to the pedals, peering at the darkest corner of the dash with not enough light. Tempers were strained and patience was wearing thin. My other half was unwilling to quit and regroup. This is the most fraught point of any project - reason and measure get pushed aside and frustration and brute force are often the next tools in the kit. We reached for the Quiksteel.



Horrifying, ain't it? So, it isn't pretty.



Actually, ugly isn't a strong enough word. It's a kludge. Worst, if this doesn't work we are well and truly berked because we have encapsulated the arm in epoxy. Good thing we are comfortable with being walking examples of "what not to do".  Except.

Whether by luck, sheer quantity, the tender mercy of providence or in spite of it all, the world's ugliest repair worked. Blend arm in action So far this mess has held for three months. Don't be like us. But if you are like us, try to be lucky as well.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 7:30 p.m.

OK, this post is going to go light on the pics because frankly they are still triggering migraines, sleeplessness, bad breath, irritability, anxiety, constipation, catatonia and anhedonia every time we are reminded of the waking nightmare that was the lower control arm bushings.

But I shouldn't exaggerate. We were already irritable.

Our suspension is tired. One of us watched a few youtube videos and became convinced the suspension was DIY-able. What better way to start than to rent a ball joint pressing tool from the parts store and have at the front lower control arms? We ordered Powerflex bushings and had at it. Well, almost. We also purchased a ball joint removal tool, which we didn't need because the ball joints don't press in, they are held in with a long bolt. Figuring they would come in handy in case things went south (spoiler: things went south; they didn't come in handy) we grabbed the control arms and bushings off another 9-5 in the Pick-n-Pull.




Then we put our car up on jack stands and pulled our control arms. Thus ended the easy part of the project.



The front LCA bushings weren't that bad. The rental tool pushed out the old 1-piece bushings pretty well. The Powerflex are 2-piece and were very easy to press into place. Skipping ahead, here is the result.


conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 8:01 p.m.

Then we entered the this-berking-sucks phase of the project. Just for fun the 99 rear LCA bushing sleeves are different than the 02s and our bushings would only work with the 02 sleeves. Fair enough, except that we'd already pressed the bushings out of the 99 sleeves. All right then.



Use. The. Right. Tool. For. The. Job.

I'll spare you the suspense and skip straight to confirming the ball joint press, though capably demonstrated on the internet as a serviceable tool for this application, isn't. No one rents a bushing pressing tool. Not any more.  You should go ahead and skip forward in time past all the drama and frustration and get a press from Harbor Freight.

If you are feeling masochistic or sensible you might reasonably say to yourself: "I will avoid the hassles of the wrong tool and save the press $$ and pay a shop to press out my bushings when the time comes" and you will be forgiven for thinking this will work. Instead this will happen:



The shop will not want the job but they will take it grudgingly. And because they don't want the job they will give it to the newest FNG to do. Naturally, he will ruin your bushing sleeve. The one that does not interchange with the 99 sleeves. The one where you have to order a new sleeve and wait for it to arrive.

The other interchangeability gotcha is the LCAs. The '99 MY LCAs are supposed to be identical to the '02 MY LCAs except for the ball joints. We wanted to use the jy LCAs because they were in nicer shape than ours. No problem then, we were using new ball joints and they would just bolt right up. Wrong. If you're observant - we weren't - you noticed the diameter of the ball joint bolts is larger on the 02s than the 99s. We'd installed the LCA before putting the ball joint on so the LCA had to come out. The bushings had to be swapped to the old LCA.

BTW, we cheated on the rear LCA bushing. The sleeves are only available with either rubber or polyurethane bushings already pressed in. NFW were we pressing out any more bushings, not even with our nice new press. So we ordered already pressed-in poly bushings.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/24/17 8:17 p.m.

TBH the suspension has been a drag. It was above our level of experience and the tool situation was bad. Because there are some lingering hard feelings about the LCAs we are still on the fence about the next step. Our wallets and our hearts say we can do this. Our heads are still sorting out the experience and are less sure. Behold:


conesare2seconds Dork
5/29/17 9:38 p.m.

So the front struts weren't all that bad of a job after all. This video was a great help. We sprung for an upgraded spring compressor and it was money well spent. We chose Koni FSD struts and shocks. If we drove a sedan we would have gone with slightly lower springs and Koni sports but they are not compatible with our wagon. We even called eEuroparts to confirm it was a no go. The FSDs look like the best choice for our stock springs and ride height. Que sera, sera - the car isn't going to the local autocross anyway, we just want some control back. This was our starting point.



And out of the car.




Compressing the spring:



And removing the top nut. An O2 sensor socket (not shown) worked a treat on the nut while our hex key held the center.


Hmm, absolutely no rebound.



Even left alone for a half hour, nothing.


<img src="Memes.com" />


The bump stops have had it, too. What, are these things original to the car?




Old, crusty strut mount and bearing v. new:




New corrosion plates are in, spring is rotated into position, all ready to reinstall.


Waitasecond. The strut mount won't bolt up. What gives? Closer inspection:



The OEM strut mounts are threaded, the replacements are not. We recompress the spring and swap the old mount in. The new hardware transfers over fine. A little work left buttoning everything back up and we will be back in business.



The other side didn't take 20 minutes from go to finished. We don't plan to pay a tech to replace struts on our cars after today; it's too easy with a good spring compressor.  We will handle this job ourselves going forward.

The spring compressor has already paid for itself at shop rates, from here on out it's all savings. A shakedown drive confirms the struts are installed correctly. We no longer have an overly harsh compression over bumps and holes followed by a flaccid ooze as the springs do the rebound work, the motions are properly controlled now.

Bonus purchase: new rubber wheel chocks from HF to replace the sketchy plastic ones we never really trusted.


The0retical SuperDork
5/29/17 10:03 p.m.

I missed a couple updates apparently.

WTH how do you lose a turbo bracket?

How are you liking the Powerflex bushings? Normal urathane NVH or is is a bit more forgiving?

Keep up the good work. I'd like one of these at some point.

759NRNG Reader
5/30/17 10:12 a.m.

What brand was that spring compressor?.....twisting your own wrenches always results in a satisfaction known to but a few.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/30/17 3:42 p.m.

In reply to The0retical: The PO did an engine swap as was less than methodical about putting everything back on the engine. We keep finding little things that we are without, such as the battery cover, wiring harness covers on the cowl, the exhaust heat shield and etc. The Powerflex bushings may be a little harsh but noise and vibration are no problem. I might have better insight if our suspension wasn't so tired before they went in, though.

In reply to 75NRNG: It's an Amazon special mfg in PRC but seems to be well made. Nice tight tolerances. Can be purchased here. It's gone up $5 since 05/10/17, interestingly.


4cylndrfury MegaDork
5/30/17 3:59 p.m.

Congrats on finally getting the suspension back in order. BTW, how damn gratifying is it when you go over that same pothole that typically makes you cringe on worn out suspension with the new stuff, and youre met with no death-wobble, but instead a controlled dip and a muffled thwump in place of the clattering gong that you had before? Its pretty a-berking-mazing if you ask me. Most gratifying work you can do to an older DD in my opinion.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/30/17 4:00 p.m.

Inspired by success, we tackled the rear shocks this morning. The pictogram assembly instructions from Koni were inscrutable but we got some help from the eEuroparts product page. Removal of the old shock was straightforward. Big props to Saab for putting all the shock hardware outside the car - no removing interior bits to get at the top nut or leaning into a trunk (looking at you, VW).

This nut wasn't too crusty. A little penetrant and persuasion from an electric impact eased it off.




Mocking up assembly to make sure we understand how everything goes together.



One down, one to go.


The other side was a little nastier.


We're noticing a pattern with our bump stops and rubber bits. The dust cover tops were crumbling.


Everything went back together fine.


A couple of notes here: we had to nibble at the inner fender liner with some snips to clear the top rear bolts without taking the liners out and our muffler is clearly in its last days, so that will go on the to-do list.

The car finally rides like it's supposed to. We have finished all the bushings up front except the sway bar. In the future we will tackle rear bushings and subframe mounts.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/30/17 4:10 p.m.

In reply to 4cylndrfury:

Thanks! And agree wholeheartedly. It's like a different, newer car.

The0retical SuperDork
5/30/17 4:15 p.m.

In reply to conesare2seconds:

Interesting I deleted my reply by accident....

It's funny you mention the hardware being readily accessed from outside the car. 3 series Mazda owners do nothing but complain about it. I personally loved it since interior panels always rattle when I put them back in no matter how careful I am. Suspension makes such a huge difference in the way you perceive older cars it's sort of amazing how badly you can be gaslighted by it wearing out.

Interested in what you think of the FSD's over the Yellows, despite you mentioning yellows not being available for the car.

conesare2seconds Dork
6/6/17 12:35 p.m.

Small update: we replaced the tailgate struts. One day it was fine, the next it wasnt. The darn thing is heavy so new struts were in order.

No pics because there isn't much to it: use a trim tool to remove the d-pillar molding and some trim at the rear of the headliner, disconnect the rear courtesy light, remove two small covers and two retaining clips (rotate 90 degrees to unlock them) and drop the headliner a bit. The old struts come off easily if you loosen or remove the retaining bands and the new ones snap into place.

Position the rearward end first but don't fasten it, then fasten the forward end and move the tailgate up or down a little to position the rearward end and clip it in place. The whole thing took maybe 45 minutes but could be done in much less now that we understand what does and doesn't need to come out. We removed some extra trim and just snapped it back in place.

The0retical, I don't have a reference point for the Koni Yellows, unfortunately. After a week of riding in and driving the car the strongest impression is the FSDs never seem to put a foot wrong. They handle big dips and traffic humps well and potholes can seem to disappear. My guess is the FSD isn't as good as a Yellow for pure sporting like track or autocross but it's a great shock for something that is also driven on the street. They're way more controlled than a regular street shock, I think.

conesare2seconds Dork
9/3/17 3:28 p.m.

I'll undertake a photo restore as time permits. Meanwhile, here's a look at a quick project anyone can do: an underhood cleanup. A clean car is faster, right?

This shows what is possible in a half hour or so and is a cleanup, not a true detail. The pics show a few things I missed tbh. Our Saab is black and this Spring's pollen really showed up on the finish.

Tools needed: commercial degreaser in a spray bottle, a soft body brush, a small soft or tapered brush if you have one, microfiber towels, distilled water in a spray bottle and a shine dressing if you want. I use Super Clean degreaser and Stoner Trim Shine aerosol. Trim Shine is available in a spray bottle but I find the aerosol easier to use. It's a water based product that leaves a nice pop without too much gloss or sticky residue.

What's next underhood? Our aluminum bits are weathered and oxidized and won't shine up with Mother's metal polish. I've got steel wool and sandpaper and will deal with them in the future. Also, the factory crinkle finish on our valve/cam cover is banged up. We have a replacement on the shelf but had to first source some extended star bit sockets to reach the recessed fasteners.

conesare2seconds Dork
3/9/18 3:48 p.m.

No updates but the car has gotten its share of love and attention over the past 6 months.  Most recently, we installed an all-aluminum radiator and related coolant hoses and replaced the two rearward bushings on the front subframe.  Both were done on Sundays when it was 35 degrees and about to rain. 

For the subframe bushing swap we used a new technique shown on the eEuroparts YouTube channel.  Put the car on jackstands, loosen the subframe bolts, cut the old bushings out with a hole saw drill bit, insert the new bushings and jack the subframe back up, popping the two-piece urethane bushings into place.  The rear bushings were relatively easy.  The middle bushings are on hold because they are up in the wheel well area and we didn't think we could get enough slack in the subframe to slip new bushings in.  We will tackle this after the weather improves.  The front bushings aren't typically replaced.

The radiator was a bit of a misadventure - it is dimensionally a little thicker than the old one (leaking at the plastic end tanks like they all eventually will).  Getting the transmission cooler hard lines into place was a challenge because of the angle of approach.  I was deathly afraid of cross-threading the fittings, and the chances were good given the extra lateral stress from the now-slightly-out-of-alignment hard lines.  The cooler lines have banjo bolts at the radiator and use copper/rubber seals.  The project verdict turned from "great success" with no initial leaks to "great depression" when the upper cooler fitting began leaking after the fluid warmed up.  Our trusted independent mechanic replaced the oil seal with another copper one but had the same experience we did.  A softer aluminum seal solved the problem.  It turned out the threads for the trans cooler were tapped slightly off perpendicular and the aluminum seal smooshed better than did the copper.

For the coolant hoses, we replaced all but the lower radiator hose with new silicone.  The old hose went back in because no amount of pre-softening with a heat gun would make the new hose pliable enough to pop on its fittings.  Temps in our unheated garage were probably our undoing here.  On the plus side, when replacing the heater bypass and throttle body hoses, we found loose vacuum lines to the FPR and coolant bypass valve.  Refitting both didn't erase our persistent CEL but a cold no-start condition was rectified.  The car required two tries to start at temps below 40, probably down to the FPR line. 

Another job we farmed out was the rear suspension bushings, replaced in late Fall.  Armed with a Harbor Freight press we were eager to christen, we chickened out after figuring out the hub had literally no bushings that could be pressed out at something like normal angles.  The Saab man used all his special adapters and even made a tool to complete this one. 

Here is a pic of the car today.  We had the windows tinted over the summer and had the wheels professionally refinished to a custom hypersilver slightly darker than most.  Wheel refinishing was a little more than I wanted to pay ($150/wheel, $100 would have been nicer) but the mobile tech had first-rate equipment and did a nice job. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/9/18 4:10 p.m.

This thread makes me mad that my 9-5 was smacked by a pine tree. angry

Need some parts? laugh

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
3/9/18 8:50 p.m.

This thread makes me mad that Photobucket broke the internet 

conesare2seconds Dork
8/11/18 1:06 p.m.

We put on a new turbo, cobra pipe and full 3" stainless steel exhaust last weekend. 

So, a few months ago we accidentally dropped a very small hold-down piece on the cobra (intercooler pipe) while working on the radiator.  We looked everywhere and fished around with a magnet for a good 20 minutes but couldn't recover it.  We figured it was laying somewhere underhod and finished up the job.  After driving the car a few days, our turbo got a lot louder than it had been, but there was no smoke and it still made boost.  Our mechanic friend's good advice was 'turn up the radio and count your blessings" but after a couple of months what was left of the hold-down turned up in the intercooler hose, letting us know it had made a three pointer into the hose port of the cobra.  It was well worn down, telling us it had given the impeller hell while it was down there. 



A rusty muffler led us to put on a direct-fit cat-back exhaust earlier this spring.  It was an ok piece but the finisher was ugly.  Between the funny-sounding turbo, a used cat, the plain-jane exhaust and an itch to go a little faster, we decided to go with a "Stage 3" tune as specced by eeuroparts, adding an open air filter, ECM tune, upsized cobra and big exhaust from the turbo back, plus an uprated FPR and new plugs.  (We previously installed a bigger intercooler and throttlebody pipe.)  This combo is supposed to be good for 50 welcome hp and is as far as you can safely go on stock engine internals.

For reference, the intercooler and intake pipe:


Out with the plain-jane exhaust:


The new hotness:


Old v. new:


The new stainless cobra:

Comparison (yeah, the new one is upside-down compared to the old.  Oops.).


New and shiny going in.  This is in progress, not fully buttoned up.



Still fitting the exhaust in place:



Once all the fasteners were tightened up, the underhood appearance was updated with a new IC hose supplied with the cobra:


The Krona exhaust is loudest at idle, really.  It has a lower tone than most 4-cyl big exhausts and is super mellow and surprisingly deep under acceleration.  Thankfully, it is very quiet under light load and mostly goes silent at cruise. 

Coming up: pics of the ECU swap. 

conesare2seconds Dork
8/11/18 6:06 p.m.

The ECM is under the passenger side cowl.  Step 1: remove windshield wipers.



The proper tool for the job is a battery post puller:



The ECm is under this rubber boot. 



There are a couple of hard-to-see fasteners.  Liberate the ECM from its hiding place.



New ECM, yo. 



Different plugs are specced, as well as a FPR.  All the goodies are in place.  Put the tools away brah, let's see how she runs. 


XLR99 Dork
8/12/18 11:29 a.m.

Looks like some nice hardware!!

Ironically, I saw this right after disconnecting the engine harness on my wagon - I spent like 10 minutes trying to pull the 'connector' apart where those arrows on the harness are just inside the cowl area.  Then I looked at the shop manual.  Stupid hurts...frown

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