Your Saab Specialists in Spokane

             1211 E. Francis - Spokane, WA  99208 - (509) 487-3308 **(see bottom of pg)






Winter, 1996-1997

SAAB Specs.



Swedish Motorcar Service

( formerly SAAB Specialists of Spokane )

E. 1211 Francis

Spokane, WA 99207

( 509 ) 487-3308

From : john, mike, and dan ...

Greetings ! SAAB and Volvo Friends;

Thank You for your trust and patronage this past year, and for the past many years in Spokane....

I hope that in some small way this Newsletter conveys our appreciation for allowing us to be your "Swedish Motor Car doctors", and to be a part of your family in a small way, just as you are a part of ours.

I feel personally blessed to enjoy our little niche' at Swedish Motors, working primarily on Saabs and a small number of Volvos. There isn't a morning that goes by that I am not reminded of how fortunate I am to have a trade that I enjoy, working with my sons, Dan and Mike, repairing cars we believe in, and serving people whom we genuinely like. So, speaking for all the Lippis', when we say thank you, we really mean Thank You!

When coming to see us, Go Around the Block first, please

For Safety's Sake, if traffic is heavy, and you're traveling east on Francis to see us, turn North at Nevada and go around the block. Turn right at Lyons and right again at Perry, then right again, back on to Francis. That way, you'll be on the north side of the street and going with the flow of traffic when pulling in. The police have not ever ticketed anyone we know of for crossing the double-double yellow line divider, but if there is an accident, the one turning may be implicated in the blame. We have seen many rear end collisions on eastbound Francis traffic stopping to cross over to the north side of the street. None of our customers, thus far, I'm happy to report.

If you are coming in from Coeur d'Alene or the Valley, you might try

taking Argonne north from I90 over the mountain and turning left at Bigelo Gulch Road, which becomes Francis at the intersection of Market. Just continue several blocks until you see our sign on the right side, one block before reaching Nevada.

Lippis Family News.....

This year is my turn to be the Big News...1996 was just about the best year of my life, I think, though it had a pretty shaky beginning. In December of '95 I went in to the doctor for a checkup, since year Half Century was coming up, and as much as I preach about preventive maintenance, was feeling guilty for not having had a 'major servicing' myself for over a decade.

Thinking I was going to be run through some kind of assembly line procedure, I had decided to take charge of the checkup and in my own way control what was important and what was not. Filling in the medical history questionnaire, I left out embarrassing details about not being able to sleep through the night because they would find out I had a "TB" (Tiny Bladder). When the nurse went over the questions, I had nothing to report. When the doctor came in, however, he surprised me with his yellow note pad and willingness for a long, detailed interview on a day when at least a dozen patients were waiting to see him. The man's sincerity and attention to detail impressed me so much that I admitted being less than honest on the questionnaire. "Just to be sure" he said, his instincts led him to prescribe some special x-rays of my urinary tract using radioactive dye.

A few days later we opened the x-rays together and saw some ominous shadows in my left kidney. A specialist was referred and I thanked Dr. Collins for his skill and attention to detail in my behalf.

The Urologist I was referred to happened to be a friend and customer, Dr. Fred Hollon. A CT Scan later verified the worst and within 2 weeks I was in the hospital for removal of the kidney, which is the only treatment for this cancer. Within 6 weeks everything I was feeling pretty normal again. It's difficult for me to draw any profound meanings from my experience. Emotionally, the whole affair came and went so fast it's hard to realize I even had cancer, because I was never ill with it. Recovering from the surgery gave me a good insight into the courage of real cancer patients who undergo surgery, then chemo- or radiation therapy, (which I did not have to endure) and continue to try to win the struggle, despite the sickness and weakness they may be plagued with. These folks are truly heroes, in my book.

The reason for this long story is to encourage you all to have that checkup you've been putting off, and to give the doctor all the details, however insignificant they may seem to you. I was fortunate to have told everything to Dr. Collins, or the lucky x-rays may never have been ordered, and I would certainly have a more serious problem to deal with sooner or later. ... And when was your last checkup, friends?

Motorcycle Fever...

My small encounter with cancer has actually been a liberating experience for me, putting some things in a different perspective than before. Among others, my work ethic has also become my 'play' ethic; and that is, Don't put off until tomorrow what you can enjoy today!

Some of you may have noticed pictures of us on our motorcycles in the store. The boys and I have enjoyed trail and sport riding together ever since they were tiny little guys. We rode our first "crotch rocket" (modern sport bike) last year and were immediately hooked. We soon found it unsuitable for public streets as sport bikes are thoroughbreds devoted to speed, so we went to a high performance riding school and became involved with road racing.

Since that time we have gone to over twenty race weekends in Portland and Seattle, and had quite an adventure! Dan had the best results, finishing ninth overall in the northwest in his class. Mike also discovered he had a talent for racing, but had some bad luck with a couple of horrendous crashes. No serious injuries, this father is very happy to report. For me, it was living a 35 year dream of being a competitive amateur motorcycle racer come true. We've met many fine people in the sport and plan to continue the adventure next year.

Other Lippis members...

Stacey is doing well in her sophomore year at Gonzaga Prep and made the National Honor Society. I like the school for its no-nonsense attitude toward learning. Stacey is 15, smart and graceful; she uses a world-class smile to great advantage with her dad, and takes care of filing at the shop.

Matthew is in his 3rd-4th year as a Chemistry Major at University of Idaho, has made the Dean's List and won a Fellowship last summer to study Nuclear Chemistry at San Jose, CA. It was sponsored by the Dept. of Energy to attract new chemistry students to this field of study. Only 50 were chosen, nationwide. Since his junior year in high school, Matt has taken responsibility for his life and has succeeded in school by working hard. I admire him a great deal and we are good friends.

Mike enrolled in college this year and is taking a full load while working. He's aiming for a degree in engineering and to someday make big money!

Anne is still commuting to Kootenai Hospital for her work, and recently passed 240,000 miles in her 1983 Saab 900 Turbo. Many of those miles were also accumulated driving to and from quilting stores...most happily for her family and friends, I might add! Santa brought her a new 1987 900 Turbo with only 130,000 miles and we are presently overhauling the '83 for sale to the next lucky owner!

The newest member to the Lippis Clan is Sam, our six month old Golden Retriever, whom you might see occasionally at the shop. We've never had a dog as smart, affectionate or 'people-wise' as this one. Goldens are truly an amazing breed. Thanks to the customer whose name escapes me for recommending Goldens as one of the best!

Excellent Swedish Cars for 50 years...

1997 is Saab's 50th anniversary. Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget was actually formed in 1937 to provide aircraft to defend Sweden's neutrality during what became W.W.II. The first hand built Saab was built in 1946; the model "92". It was first marketed in June of 1947.

The new generations of Saab and Volvo have some outstanding models to choose from. Volvo's FWD 850 is proving to be a 'Keeper' from what we can observe. Of our customers driving them, there have been very few problems.

Saab's new generation 900's and 9000's are doing well with only a few problems with the V-6 model that I've heard of. ( More Later).

Happy Birthday Saab!

Saab was named Best Buy... again for the fourth year by Consumers Digest, a 1,250,000-circulation magazine. Competing in the "Luxury Car" category, the 900 line included the "S" and "SE" models, 3 and 5 door and Convertible models. Since its debut in Nov.,1993, the Saab 900 has won more industry and consumer accolades than any model in Saab's history.

Saab sets 40 International Speed/Distance Records...

Oct.,1996: Talladega Speedway, Alabama. Box-stock 900's covered a 25,000 mile distance non-stop, except for a scheduled oil, filter, and spark plug change, with only three repair stops ( a radiator and 2 CV boots) caused from stones thrown up from the track by another car during the eight-day trial at top speed. A silver 900 turbo covered the distance at an average hourly speed of 140.7 MPH.

Best Lap times were: Saab 900 T: 148 MPH; 900 V-6 at 147 mph; and a normally aspirated 2 liter 16 valve at 129 mph. These are the same Saabs you would buy off the showroom floor with the exception of roll cages and 6 point safety harnesses added for the endurance event.

The drivers were not all professional drivers either. Two teams were assembled; one was composed of Saab factory drivers, but the other, by rotating groups of over 100 automotive journalists. All together, six cars logged 38,000 laps at the 2.6 mile course.

The record attempt was overseen by the International Automotive Federation (FIA) who sealed the engines and transmissions of the cars involved immediately after they came off Saab's assembly line. A Saab 9000 had previously held this record for the past ten years.

SAAB and VOLVO SAFETY Records Continue ....

An IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) study based on the federal government's Fatal Accident Reporting System from 1990-1994 found that the Saab 9000 to have the lowest fatality rate among 153 different make/models of 1990-1994 cars, wagons, trucks and sport utility vehicles. Volvo 240 models also did well in the study.

The 94-95 900 5 door Saabs also did well in another report (Highway Loss Data Institute HLDI) showing "best" among all mid-size sedans for injury loss, with a 44% lower average injuries than the mid-size average.

In sharp contrast, drivers of GM's Geo Tracker and Chevy Corvette died in accidents at 3 times the average rate, while drivers of larger cars and vans had lower-than-average death rates, the study found.

The insurance industry-funded study also found that "small passenger vehicles" have a clear problem with safety as a group.

Teen Drivers, Deathtraps,

and Misleading Safety Standards...

Unfortunately, these "small passenger vehicles" found to be the most dangerous in the insurance studies are the models with which many parents outfit their new Teen Drivers, who in turn are also the most likely to be involved in an accident, because of their inexperience. This amounts to double-jeopardy for the teens, in my opinion.

We know the cars as compacts and sub-compacts made in Japan, Korea, Italy, the U.S., and other countries. They're cute, and seemingly affordable, but they disguise their poor crash-worthiness and the true costs of a serious injury.

Parents shopping for their son or daughter's first car need to consider how the car's structure would protect their child if it were hit by a full size car or truck. These larger and heavier vehicles are predominant in our area, and are significant factors in collision outcomes.

Most safety tests run cars into concrete barriers, not other vehicles. A smaller car, because of it's smaller mass, may pass the federal safety tests just as the heavier models, but it will not fare so well colliding with a heavier vehicle, if the heavier one is in motion as well. Since most traffic accidents involve collisions with other vehicles -- not walls -- the smaller, lighter, or lower vehicle is almost certain to receive more serious damage than the larger one. If the smaller car is hit by the larger car or truck, it can literally be crushed by the heavier vehicle's mass, or run over, and all the crumple zones, air bags and the like may not protect the people inside. The physics of the matter can be harsh, even though the larger vehicle may also be more energy absorbent than a stone wall.

Older, more affordable Saabs and Volvos are hard to come by, and usually cost more than the usual "first car", but the safety issue is also an important factor in ultimate costs. This is another important reason to take good care of the family Saab; so that it can be passed along to the kids!

For shopping comparison, a '78 Saab 99 Hatchback has a gross vehicle weight (GVWR) of 3810 lbs. Its load capacity is 930 lbs, leaving a net vehicle weight of nearly 2900 lbs. This would be a good number to shop for. The GVWR is listed on the driver's door post ( B pillar) of most cars. Along with the overall size, weight, and safety equipment (such as shoulder harnesses vs. seat belts ), a trip to the wrecking yard to see what your prospective model looks like after a collision would be educative, as well as providing a sobering awareness for the young driver in the family. Calling an auto dismantler (such as Spalding's ) for their judgment as to how a particular model holds up in collisions might also be invaluable.

There are many possibilities in any given accident, and nothing is certain as far as injuries go. That same full-sized pickup truck that might protect the driver in "x" collision may not do well in "y" roll-over, for instance. The insurance studies point in clear directions, however.

On the other side of the question are people who mistakenly assume that all vehicles are equally "safe" because they pass federal safety laws for that given year. This is an absolute falsehood, if not nonsense.

Whatever brand or type of vehicle you choose to buy, the safety statistics are in your favor with a mid-size to full-sized vehicle. And with used cars and trucks, the larger model will not usually cost any more than the compact model. For example, a used Ford Taurus may not be any more expensive than an Escort, or a Chevy Lumina over a Saturn or Geo, or a used full-or mid-sized pickup over a mini-truck. Consumer magazines will have other safety reports, usually available at the library. From my perspective of 30 years, a Saab is worth waiting for. Parents and Teens: Good Luck with your choices!

Crash Moose Dummies Used to Improve Saab Safety!

Believe it or not, Saab and Volvo use "Moose-Dummies" to test for collisions with these 1200 pound animals. One of our newest customers, Dave Hunt, was seriously injured and came close to being decapitated after hitting a moose with his VW Rabbit. (the roof folded backwards into the seats, but Dave had evidently ducked or slumped at impact) Dave had been nervous about driving the small Rabbit and had actually purchased a 1980 Saab 900, but unfortunately was not driving it at the time. After the accident, he and his friends researched the subject and found articles and a study showing that Sweden has the highest moose population density in the world and Saab and Volvo are considered the leaders in designing autos able to withstand these types of collisions.

Another article also gave advice for avoiding injury hitting the large animal...which I assume might be applicable to horses, deer and cows as well... "Don't speed at dusk and at night (their coats do not reflect light, and are nearly impossible to see); they are unafraid of headlights and will not run, but forage and are likely to be on the roads in spring, summer, and early fall. When a collision with the animal looks inevitable, aim for the hind quarters." The article doesn't explain, but it seems logical that the animal may move forward at the last moment and out of your way, OR, at least the impact would spin the animal around instead of lifting it off its legs, right into your windshield. The articles cited growing deaths from these accidents and called for better auto construction following the Swedish lead to avoid injury... which of course is what Saab and Volvo have already been doing, thank you.


Maximize Your Front Wheel Drive Advantage on Ice...

I'm not pretending to be an expert driver, so consider these suggestions with caution and use your own good judgment !

Also, these techniques are for Front Wheel Drive ONLY! I have acquired them driving Saab's, but I assume them to be helpful on other Front Wheel Drive vehicles such as Volvo 850 etc.

The problems with FWD... Front Wheel Drive is known to be superior to rear wheel drive for handling on ice, but it has two basic problems requiring special driving techniques to maximize traction.

(Problem #1) It's relatively easy to go and go fast, but no additional stopping power is had from FWD. In fact, FWD can mislead your sense of traction limits because it so very easy to achieve highway speeds on surfaces you could barely stand on.

Without ABS (Automatic Brake System) the front wheels can easily skid while braking. Worse, once skidding, the steering is reduced to zero.

The good news is that unlike RWD, you can apply a small amount of power to the front wheels while braking and keep the wheels turning, increasing your stopping and turning power if done properly.

(Problem #2) The second FWD problem is steering on ice. Presumably, this is the advantage of FWD, having the drive wheels "pull" the car around corners. But only modestly powering around a street corner on slick, packed snow or ice can cause the front end to "wash out" and severely understeer. Ironically, you nearly need to go more slowly than with a RWD car to avoid drifting dangerously into the other lane. Therefore, one must give up the FWD 'advantage' around ultra slick turns... unless you own a very late model Saab with Traction Control (TCS) or employ a better driving technique.

The answer to both problems is basically the same, and simply involves applying power while braking, or applying the brakes while powering around turns. In each case the front wheels will be kept turning and prevented from locking up from braking, or spinning out of traction while turning. The amount of brake and power applied requires some practice, but you'll find immediate results. You don't have to find an icy road to practice at first, but later you'll want to hone your skills on one.

For braking, I prefer using my right foot (size 11) for operating both the throttle and the brake. I put the brake pedal in the middle of my foot and slide my toes over to the throttle. The main force is on the brake pedal with just enough power to keep the wheels turning.

DO NOT disengage the clutch while braking, but if you feel you have more control, you can be ready to release by resting your foot on the clutch pedal. With a little practice a fine touch can be learned.

For steering, the method is much the same, but with a little more emphasis on the throttle. Use the brake to keep an even load on the wheels which will prevent spinning and understeer. The more brake you use, the more the car will tend to pivot off of the back axle, up to a point where the back end will skid or slide out (severe oversteer).

I've found that using my left foot for the brake pedal works best with steady power around the turn. If done properly, the Saab will seem to pivot on the rear axle, while the front end turns sharply, much like oversteer, but with more control.

After you get the basic movements down on dry pavement, find an open parking lot on an icy day and experiment. Someday, if you find yourself going down an icy hill or driveway see how much additional traction you can have by applying the throttle lightly while braking.

With studded tires, you'll be able to slow the car down to a creep on a surface you couldn't walk on. The same goes for turns. Just go slowly and use a light touch until you have a good feel for what is happening. I think you'll be pleased with the results and have a little more fun driving on ice as well. Good Luck!

Expert Advice About WINTER TIRES...

I talked to Greg Galinski of G&G Service, Hubertus, WI (414-628-1716) about winter tires. Greg has raced Saabs on ice for decades and runs an ad in "Nines" selling Gislaved and Nokian Hakkapeliitta.

What is the best winter tire for ice and snow? That depends on what your needs are. The best in Wisconsin isn't necessarily the best in Washington. There, they have deep snow and salted roads, so ice is not the problem it is here. Greg recommends studs tires if encountering sleet or frozen rain more than 4 times a year, but that's in Wisconsin where they heavily salt the roads. Here, they are certainly appropriate on our unsalted, icy streets and highways with black and white ice.

Which brand is best? That depends also... Gislaved Nordfrost II is an excellent highway tire, has hydrophilic rubber (softer when cold), and is quieter than previous models. It is not the best Deep Snow tire, but an excellent choice for our area. This is the brand Saab usually supplies.

Nokian 'Hakkapeliitta' tires (the word means winter tire) are also hydrophilic and have 4 models. The "10" is an excellent Deep Snow tire, but is a little "squirmy" on the highway, is studdable and a bit louder than others. The "NRS" T-rated is best for ice, studdable, with aggressive siping which also causes some noise. Their "H" rated tire is M&S rated, not studded, and an excellent handling highway tire. Greg says this is the one dealers like to install for its good looks.

As to the Bridgestone Blizzak, Greg says it is an excellent ice tire, but lousy in snow (Bridgestone won't even call it a 'snow' tire). It has porous rubber on the outside of the tread for 6/32", which gives it its excellent ice properties, but this layer of rubber only lasts 6500 miles, then is back to normal rubber. Greg rates it "super squirmy".

I've seen another model by Toyo, called the "Observe", which one of our customers has enthusiastically endorsed. It is a non-studded snow tire, with deep, small tread blocks. Might be worth a try.

What's the best all around tire for our climate if you travel the icy roads and highways? Greg says the Gislaved Nordfrost II is probably the one. Whatever you do, MOUNT WINTER TIRES ON ALL 4 WHEELS. If you use All Season tires, have them SIPED for better traction on ice..

Starting Tips for Cold Weather....Here are several items that often affect how your car starts in cold weather...

(1) Park it in the garage or employ a Block Heater.

(2) Push the clutch pedal in while cranking.

(3) If it doesn't fire up within 3 seconds, try opening 1/4 throttle while cranking. No results, open throttle full. No results, try idle again. Repeat. Try not to crank for more than 3-4 seconds at a time.

(4) Even a fuel injected engine can become flooded from excessive cranking. If you suspect flooding; remove the fuel pump fuse, charge battery if necessary, crank over with throttle wide open until it starts and then dies. Replace the fuse and try again.

(5) In extreme cases you may have to replace the spark plugs.

(6) Never, never, NEVER ... "Bump Start" your Saab 900 using Low or Reverse Gears !! You may break the transaxle Pinion Housing. Use second gear. Do not Bump Start Backing out of a driveway. If an emergency, and you must use reverse, engage the clutch GRADUALLY.

Some suggestions to avoid further problems...

(1) Use a lighter grade of oil in winter (10/30 ) Also, new oil works wonders for starting old engines, by improving compression and vacuum.

(2) Replace the battery if it continually corrodes cables. Clean Cable Terminals and Battery Posts. If battery has become totally discharged more than a few times (leaving lights on etc) it will not be reliable in ultra-cold weather, especially if its 4 years plus old.

(3) Make sure Battery Water is full and Alternator Belts are sufficiently tight. (with engine turned OFF, test for belt slippage at alternator pulley; call me if this procedure is unclear to you).

(4) Are the Fuel filter, air filter, Spark Plugs, Distributor Cap and Rotor up to date? Regular doses of fuel injection cleaner good insurance.

(5) If you only do short trips in winter, let the car warm up before driving, if possible.( this will keep battery charged and the oil moisture-free ).

d f More Winter Topics d f

Use the AC to Defrost your Windows...

It sounds contradictory, but engaging the AC compressor while defrosting your windows does a much better job, even if your car is not warmed up. The AC system dries the air that is blowing across the windows and removes the moisture inside the cabin. The heater will then warm the dry air, defrosting much more effectively.

Climate Controlled cars such as the Saab 9000 do this automatically on startup, regardless of temperature. Whatever you do, DO NOT use the "recirculation" feature of your ventilation system in cold or rainy weather, for it will force the moist air inside the cabin onto the possibly cold windows and cause immediate fogging, possibly blinding you!

Another benefit from using the AC in winter is that the AC system will last much longer if used regularly, Try to use it once a week or more if possible, even if for very brief periods.

Gas Line Antifreeze No Longer Necessary.....

I've read statements to the contrary, but I strongly DO NOT recommend Gas Line Antifreeze (Alcohol) to be used in fuel systems in Washington state during the winter. Since Winter Fuel already has 10% ethanol, you've got about all the alcohol your engine can tolerate. Unless you have a specific problem with a known amount of free water in your fuel system, more alcohol will just complicate matters.

If you want to add anything to your fuel, add a good quality Fuel Injection Cleaner such as Lubro-moly or Redline or Techroline; the cheaper brands are nothing but more alcohol.

Engine Idle Problems most common with 16v 's....

A common wintertime problem for 16 valve Saab's (and many Volvos) is that of stalling and poor idling while the engine is cold or warming up, but the symptoms usually go away after the engine is warm.

Here's what's happening, usually...

The 10% alcohol in our winter fuel effectively "leans" the fuel mixture, so that '70's and early '80's model cars (usually domestics and cheaper imports) with worn emission systems will pollute less carbon monoxide.

This is in effect, a legislative 'tune up', through the gas tank, but it can cause problems with sophisticated fuel injection systems that are not normally part of the wintertime CO problem. ( electronic fuel injected systems with oxygen sensors ) In these systems, the fuel mixture is precisely controlled by a computer that is programmed for gasoline, not gasohol. Until the oxygen sensor warms up to recalibrate the system, the engine will run too lean. This may take from one to several minutes. Owners with automatic transmissions often suffer the most from this problem if they are trying to move before the engine is warm.

When the engine stumbles from the excessively lean mixture, all the computer knows is that the engine speed is dropping. Since it does not yet know the mixture is too lean from the gasohol, the computer can only respond by giving the engine more air to increase idle speed; just the opposite of what is really needed (more fuel! ).

This additional air often makes the situation worse, either stalling the engine or causing it to surge upwards, then back down as the computer struggles to adjust the idle to a steady speed. Very Late models sample the fuel and can adjust to gasohol, but mid-80's to mid 90's cars have this little problem with gasohol. Once warmed up, they work fine, and in most models, it's only a minor inconvenience.

However, if the engine is not tuned perfectly, has old or too heavy engine oil, dirty fuel injectors, or engine vacuum leaks that further lean the mixture, the problem can be very pronounced.

Short of reprogramming your computer, which is possible if we send it to RPM Motors in Portland, our best cures have been the following...

(1) Making sure there are no vacuum leaks to the intake system.

(2) Cleaning the Fuel Injectors.

(3) Making the proper adjustments to the Automatic Idle System.

(4) Adjusting the Air Mass Meter to a richer setting for idle when cold.

(5) Making sure the oil is fresh and of a lighter, winter grade, and the engine is tuned properly with fresh spark plugs.

When these items are all taken care of, idle problems and stalling in 16 valve Saabs usually subside.

Stalling when turning or going up hills may be another problem...

One other symptom worth mentioning is when engine stalling only occurs going around turns or up hills when the fuel is low. Many models of Saab and Volvo have Fuel Pre-Pumps in the gas tank that transfer fuel to the main fuel pump. If the pre-pump fails, and the tank is full, it will usually run reasonably well. But if the fuel is low, the main pump will be starved and the motor may stall or barely run for lack of fuel.

One way to make it back home or verify this problem, of course, is to fill the gas tank and try it out.

81-82 Saab 900's & Others Run Out of Gas in Wintertime...

If your 81-82 900 has a starting, stalling, or running problem in wintertime, fill the tank immediately. The Gas Gauge Sending Units in these models are chronically defenseless against the ethanol in the winter gas, and the sender may stick in any position, telling the gauge that you have fuel when you don't.

This is good procedure for any motor vehicle. The best way to avoid running out of gas on any car is to reset the odometer and fill up at regular intervals, ( 200 miles in winter, since gasohol affords less miles per gallon). Even later models' fuel senders occasionally stick, possibly stranding you.

Rear Window Defrosting....

If your electric rear window defroster grid does not work, there is an aftermarket kit available to install yourself . Check with auto parts stores.

Frozen Handbrake Cables on 9000's in Winter

Some 9000 owners have experienced Handbrake Cables freezing and sometimes locking the brakes in cold weather. We think we have a less expensive cure than cable replacement. The weather protective boots at the end of the cables tear with age and allow water in, which freezes. We have learned to thaw them out, drain the water, pressurize a lubricant into them and replace the defective boots.

Brush the Snow away from your Tail and Brake Lights

as well as your windshield, side glass and mirrors. Wiping the dirt off of Headlight Lenses will increase their brightness on streets dramatically. Keep an old towel with your snow brush.

Headlight Care...

Higher Wattage Headlight Bulbs for '87 and later cars... If your Swedish (or any other) Car uses the popular "9004" headlight bulb, there is a higher wattage version which will improve visibility, especially on those black, rainy nights. ( standard 9004 is 65/45 watts, high and low beams; Hi Intensity bulb is 100/55, respectively) They cost approx. $20 each.

Headlight Aim...

Other drivers will give you a clue, by continually blinking at you or never doing so. Proper adjustment is crucial to good visibility.

Find a convenient wall with at least 25 ft of level ground next to it. A garage door with an evenly planed driveway is fine; it doesn't have to be absolutely level, but have an even incline up to the door or wall.

With the normal amount of equipment in the trunk (weight), measure the height of the center of the headlight lens from the ground, and mark this height on your wall or garage door.

Turn the High Beams On. ( Do Not Start Engine!)

The center of the each beam of light illuminated on the wall should point straight ahead and at the same height as your lenses. Adjust!

Dim the Headlights and you should observe the beams drop and go about a foot to the right.

Headlight Guards for 1987 and later Saabs and Volvos....

Headlight Lenses cost upwards or $180 these days and a rock kicked up by the truck in front of you will put a hole in them or fracture them outright. The rain will enter and ruin the inside reflective surfaces. For $55, you can buy adhesive Headlight, Park Lens and Fog light lens covers which will protect them all. For about $25 we'll put them on for you!

ABS... Use it or lose it!

A recent study aired on the news revealed that many people driving cars with ABS (Automatic Braking System) don't know how to use them properly and have no better safety records than those using standard brakes. The news story stated people with ABS incorrectly "pump" the brakes cautiously so as not to lock the wheels.

The best way to use ABS is to just step on them and allow the computer to do all the work. If a wheel tries to lock up, you will feel an aesthetically unpleasant thumping in the brake pedal along with a knocking noise. This is what it's supposed to be doing, so don't let it bother you. The best way to get used to the brakes is of course, is to practice on a slick parking lot or road away from traffic. A dirt road or wet highway might do as well. Do some practice panic stops and see how well they work. There are indeed amazing, and their only disadvantage beside their high cost might be from being 'rear-ended' by another car unable to stop as fast as you!

Dual Braking System Methods...

In low traction environments, older braking systems require a lighter, more sensitive touch to the brakes to prevent skidding, and pumping the brakes to both test them and test the traction before your stop is appropriate.

In the unlikely event you should lose your brakes on any car ( either ABS or Dual systems), pumping the brake pedal may do no good. You must push the pedal nearly to the floor to engage the backup operation of the brakes. You'll think the pedal is actually on the floor, but that's where it needs to be to apply pressure to the other side. This applies to all vehicles.

Flash Camera Best Insurance for Protecting Insurance!

If you are involved in an accident, getting the police to investigate is next to impossible unless there is an injury or traffic is tied up. So the only way you might have any evidence to show your insurance investigator or a judge is through a few pictures. The disposables and inexpensive pocket models are great for this. Just make sure to carry one with flash in case of nighttime use. Pop it into your glove box, and you might have something even more valuable than a policeman's report to record evidence of the other driver's fault, (of course!) his vehicle and license plate, damage to your car, the position of the vehicles after the collision, which lane, what corner etc. Here's a case where a picture may be worth more than a thousand words!

Engine Oil Blended for Winter...

We have successfully used 15/40 wt. engine oil Summer and Winter for the past 10 years. But not after last winter! It was simply too cold and 15/40 was a bit too heavy for cars left outside, especially. So this year we are blending our oil. During Nov - Dec. we will have a mixture of 10/30 with 15/40, and later in January, straight 10/30. Then, as spring approaches, back to 15/40, which gives the best engine protection. The 10/40 weights aren't a good choice, unless they're synthetic. It has a poor balance of oil and polymers, and most oil engineers do not recommend it.

Phone Numbers to Keep Handy.. Here are the phone numbers I refer you to the most, and are very good resources for your Swedish Car.

Swedish Motorcar Svc. 509-487-3308

T&T Towing Service 509-489-5900

(Best prices for our customers; great service)

Precious Metal Auto Body; N. Market St. 509-467-5755

(Joe Polowski; Great Body Shop; reasonable, honest )

Enterprise Car Rental 509 489-6115 (close by)

Expert Wheel Alignment Spokane 509-328-7593

( Tom; Mgr.; experienced; good work; inexpensive )

SAAB Consumer Relations ... 800-955-9007

Jaremko Saab, Spokane (Local Dealer) 509-924-6242

Barrier Motors, Bellevue (Dealership) 800-437-6760

RPM Motors, Portland (Independent) 503-285-6552

Scandia Autosports, Seattle .. (Indep.) 206-789-2819


If you've just washed the car or driven in rainy weather, the moisture may freeze in your locks. Spray a water-displacer such as WD-40 in the locks to remove moisture. Saab 99's and 900's with the ignition lock on the floor are especially susceptible to melting snow and moisture that later freeze; spilled coffee and soda that later congeal, and grit falling into the lock and jamming it. (See later article on Preventing Starter Failures by cleaning your ignition lock )

Put the spray nozzle of the water-displacing lubricant ( WD-40 etc.) directly into the lock and cover with a towel. The spray will force debris back out of the lock, possibly freeing it. Use a lock graphite powder occasionally in all locks to restore them to smooth operation.

Getting the most from your Swedish Car...

Getting the most from your Saab or Volvo requires more than oil changes and a tow truck (when something breaks), or a 'vacation trip look over' when your mechanic hasn't seen you in years.

Folks who try to save money this way are actually cutting their car's useful life span in half, as well as canceling their best insurance for avoiding expensive failures.

Considering the cost of a new Saab or Volvo, doubling the service life of any vehicle amounts to considerable savings in "cost-per-mile, and preserving other qualities such as reliability, optimum safety, performance, handling, and gas mileage only makes good sense. After all, these features are 'what they bought the car for in the first place'!

Of course we are all guilty of neglecting some things in some ways, whether it's our car, our health, or our VCR; sometimes there just isn't time or money for it all. Juggling all the necessities requires organization and a balance of priorities.

A balanced approach to automobile maintenance should also involve more than simply handing over the "coupon book" to a service writer and having the "xx" mile servicing done without the benefit of discussing the particulars and service history of your car, assuming some of this info will also get to the fellow actually doing the work. This brings us to the pros and cons of dealership servicing.

Dealership service is an essential ingredient for servicing brand new cars because no one else has the franchise support to deal with late-breaking upgrades, recalls, warranty repairs, etc. Repair-wise, I think their service is usually good, especially if they sell only European imports.

Saab and Volvo have successfully developed a competent service network in the past decade, which is a great improvement from the past, and a country-mile ahead of the "one-wrench-fits-all" shops that may transform your well built Swedish Import into a '70's-kind of generic-car, complete with shocks, struts, brakes, mufflers, and clutch that all eerily remind you more of your parents' Ford Fairlane or Chevy Bel Aire -- when you were a kid!

Dealership maintenance by the book is also adequate for your new car the first few years, but it is not aimed, in my opinion, at preserving the same level of performance (elegance) at 60,000 miles and beyond that a newer car affords. So if you plan on keeping the car a long time, you'll want to be more effective than what the service book provides for and what most dealerships provide. You'll want to add certain items to the 30,000 mile servicing, even though you still may be within the warranty. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SERVICE YOUR CAR AT THE DEALERSHIP TO MAINTAIN THE WARRANTY. Performing the book minimums is all that is required.

Like most auto manufacturers, Saab and Volvo straddle a fine line between maintaining their product's reputation for quality, without gaining a reputation for being too expensive to maintain. So logically, there are areas in the book that can be improved upon if you want to target the best maintenance for the longest service life, or best performance of your car.

In addition, a good service plan has to account for differences in geography that the book does not provide for. In Spokane we have grit in the air and temperature extremes not found in other areas, so additional air filter changes and a bi-annual thermostat replacement is called for here that might not be necessary elsewhere. Other variations may be in driving needs, such as long trips, or short city commuting.

Routine MAINTENANCE Cycles..

Generally speaking, proper care of any auto consists of replacing important fluids, filters and parts, and making inspections, lubrications and adjustments at regular intervals, depending on the service life of each item. Since each of these items may come due at different times, different combinations of items form service cycles, hence the words "oil service, minor service, major service".

These cycles repeat and overlap throughout the life of the car, and are usually built around the Oil and Filter change, which repeats every 3000-3500 miles. Below is one way of looking at this system. Several of these items are not included in your service book, but are important, nonetheless.

( 1 ) Change your oil and filter and check the battery, belts, fluids, tires/pressures and lights-service every 3000-3500 miles. Use a high quality oil filter (Saab, Volvo, or Mann) and for the 3 warmest seasons, 15/40 oil. Winter 10/30 is OK. We discount this service approx. 33% so that we will be competitive with Lube Centers and you will not have to risk having your Saab or Volvo worked on by unskilled or unfamiliar personnel. Neither will you have to succomb to "free inspection" ploys by generic service shops for the express purpose of selling you other repairs. We see the aftermath regularly and often find the repairs to be substandard or unnecessarily extensive; and rarely completed at a "bargain price". People mistakenly assume a specialist is going to be more expensive, but the opposite is nearly always true. A specialist is more efficient.

( 2 ) Whoever changes your oil, try to have a Swedish Car Specialist do the service at least every-other oil change, (6000-7000 miles) so that a competent inspection can be performed. This will insure that many important externally visible components to the engine, transmission, driveline, cooling system, suspension, steering, brakes, tires and exhaust are monitored. This is your best insurance for avoiding unnecessary failures (and repairs), such as Axle Joints (CV's) brake rotors and other specifics to Saab and Volvo too numerous to list. Many owners "Summer-ize" and "Winterize" their cars at this time. Cost is usually $50-$65, including a road test. Quicki-Lube centers are not suitable for this service.

( 3 ) Once a year, or every-fourth oil service (15-45-75,000 miles), some larger "Annual" items of maintenance come due, such as Power Steering Fluid change, Transaxle Fluid service, Engine Air Filter, Spark Plugs ( some models can go 2 years ), and Engine Systems Analysis on the oscilloscope . Review the service records or Maintenance Worksheet at this time to see what is due and perform whatever repairs are needed.

( 4 ) Every-Other-Year, (30-60-90,000 servicings) the same "Annual" servicing is repeated, but in addition, other "Bi-Annual" items are performed, such as Brake Fluid change ( extremely important ), Clutch Fluid, Coolant and Thermostat change, Fuel Filter, Cabin Air Filter, and Spark Plug replacement.

( 4b ) Saab V-6's and nearly all Volvos have Engine Timing Belts that must be changed every 35K ('94-'96 Saab V-6) or 65K ('97 Saab V6), and some 45K, or 50k miles, (Volvo, resp. ) Very Important!

( 5 ) Every Fourth-Year (60-120,000 mile service), the same "annual" and "bi-annual" servicings are repeated, and other items are added: Drive belts are replaced and Water Pump replacement on certain models should be seriously considered for reliability's sake.

( 5b ) There are some service items only done once in the life of your car, or periodically at higher mileage's. These vary with different models, but include Lubricating the Ball Joints, Tightening various suspension and steering nuts and bolts, Retorquing the Cylinder Head Bolts & inspecting the camchain, Replacement of the Camchain and Balance Shaft Chain (2.3L), and Testing or Replacement of the Fuel Pump, among others.

( 6 ) Low-Mileage-Drivers... If you do not drive 15,000 miles a year, certain fluids must be changed according to years, not miles! These include changing the Oil and Filter at least every 6 months, and Flushing the Brake Fluid, Clutch Fluid, and Coolant every two years to prevent expensive corrosion damage. The Air and Fuel Filters should be changed at least every two years also.

(7) Other Repairs... Periodic repairs and replacements such as Brake Pads, Axle (CV) Boots, Mufflers, brake and clutch Hydraulics, hoses etc. are monitored and replaced as needed. This is why inspection by a specialist is crucial at least twice a year, and best done every oil change.

That's it in a nutshell. A good preventive maintenance plan for your Swedish car is simply a matter of tracking about 25 service items.

It takes a little organizing to get started, but this is a much more effective method of tracking your car's service history and it includes all the extras not found in the 'book' that are needed for a long and happy life in car-terms. The coupon service book can still be filled out, for warranty and trade-in purposes, if you wish, but the real record-keeping should be kept on a worksheet like the one included in this newsletter or a computer.

Service Items Not Found in the Book...

The current Saab service booklets call for an Oil Change/Inspection Service every 10,000 miles, with "optional" Oil and Filter change every 5000 miles in between, and with a major service every 30,000 miles, with an optional annual automatic transmission oil change for what they call "severe service", which is defined as driving in "dense city traffic".

(1) The optional Engine Oil and Filter change should be done every 3000 miles. A 5000 mile oil change might suffice with a new engine but at 30,000 miles, a 3000-3500 mile oil change is better.

(2). The 'optional' Automatic Transmission Fluid Change should be done every year or 15,000 miles without fail. Since it is only specifically listed in the book under 30K servicings, you must remind the shop servicing your Saab to service the automatic trans.

(2b) Manual Transmissions should have their Gearbox Oil changed at regular intervals, at least every 30,000 miles using only high quality synthetic oils. Currently, Saab does not even have a provision to change the oil, (we have to siphon it out) and recommends only engine oil to be added as a top-up measure. There is a warranty conflict here, as Saab might dispute the use of synthetic oils in the gearbox because there are many different brands and Saab has not spent the time testing them all.

(3) The Air Filter should be changed annually in our area, because of the excessive grit in the air.

(4) The Power Steering Fluid should also be changed Annually.

(5) The Engine Thermostat should be replaced with the coolant every two years. It's service life is shortened because of our temperature extremes and its failure can cause serious engine overheating and damage.

(6) The Clutch Hydraulic Fluid should also be changed every 2 years, along with the Brake Fluid (which is in the book).

(7) The Cylinder Head Bolts on 4 cyl. models should be tightened at 60,000 miles and Camchain checked or replaced at 100-120,000 miles.

(8) Many folks drive less than the average 15,000 miles per year, and consequently, some service items such as Brake Fluid and Coolant, which should be done according to age, instead of miles, are long overdue by the time the proper service interval comes due. Since automatic braking systems have extremely expensive components (the master cylinder costs over $2000; the ABS assy. $2600) it is extremely important to flush the brake fluid Bi-Annually to remove moisture from the system. This is another important reason why our method of service and record keeping does not rely on the coupon book; for it has no provision for low mileage driving.

So, if you plan on trading in your car at 60K, you can suffice by only following the book minimums, but if you plan on keeping your Swedish car longer, or if you already drive a higher mileage Saab, follow our system. It works best, and many years have proven it!

Study the "Maintenance Worksheet" included in this newsletter. It outlines the most important items and provides a good place to organize and record important service, and oil changes. You can audit your own records and begin by filling out the column marked "Miles or Date Last Done". This service plan can be employed at any time, no matter how many miles are already on your Swedish bundle of joy!

Saab V-6's... A mixed Bag?

My impressions of the V-6 engine thus far are mixed. We serviced a '94 900 with V-6 and Automatic Transmission, and it was simply perfect, I thought at the time.

Sure, replacing the spark plugs was a major job (changing the back three cylinders' plugs every 35K requires removal of the intake manifold ); and the coolant thermostat was part of an expensive assembly that was feasible to change only if it failed, so we can only hope that its lifespan is many times longer than traditional stats.

What a sweet driving car, however. It sparked hopes that the GM influence on Saab, with its well-financed, modern technology will make up for the fact that the new 900's & 9000's look suspiciously like they came from the same injection mold all the others are using.

Then we did a buyer's inspection on a '95 900 V6 with 5 speed transaxle. Ouch! I first thought something was wrong with the transaxle, from all of the driveline noises I heard while test driving. After much investigation, we found that this model had a cable operated clutch, and the cable was transmitting the noises into the cabin. So nothing, exactly, was wrong, but actually, everything was wrong! GM was too cheap to install a hydraulic clutch? Yes, the cable might be less trouble and certainly simpler, but talk about elegance lost! This wonderful little Saab sounded like a Chevy Pickup Truck...a new one, granted, but definitely of the "GM" variety.

Saab probably put the fix on this noise already, but our little peek into the possible future of what was once a 'Swedish' car, was disheartening to me. Any of you who've ever driven a 3 cylinder Saab Monte Carlo 96 know exactly what I'm talking about. I have to admit, however, that I felt the same misgivings with every Saab model change in the last 30 years, so it could be simply Automotive Evolution, which is inevitably a good thing.

For the time being, however, I think that the four cylinder, 16 valve engine is best. It's nimble power and weight matches the car and partly defines the Saab uniqueness. Luckily, it is still available in all models.

'94 -'95 Saab V-6 Engines may have trouble with Timing Belt...

Some early V-6 engines have had some problems with the camshaft timing belt and Saab has a repair campaign out to replace the belt, pulleys and seals involved with the DOHC engine. The campaign is free, but I understand that you have to arrange to have it done; that this was not an automatic recall. It's very important to have this work done on your '94 or '95 900, because if the belt fails, the engine will be destroyed from the valves colliding with the pistons. As a follow up measure, Saab will continue to replace the belt for free at the 35K, 65K, and 95K mile servicings if done by an authorized dealer.

Due to the importance of these timing belt changes, we recommend that earlier V-6 owners have their major servicings done at the dealership to avoid paying to have the belt replaced.

1997 models require that the belt be changed only the 65000 mile service, and is still free if done at a dealership, so we would be happy to do the 35K and 95k and later servicings.

To insure all V-6 owners get the best maintenance possible, the additional service items that we offer could be done at another time. These items are outlined in the preventive maintenance plan we discussed earlier. It's a little inconvenient this way, but it will insure the best maintenance; and your Saab is worth it!

Saab Camchain and Balance Shaft Chains Important Maintenance after 100,000 miles

While the useful life of many engines is considered to be approximately 100,000 miles, Saabs are only in the middle of their service life at this mileage. This is one reason why it pays to have a better-than-book service plan early in the car's service life; so that other major components of the car (such as the Transaxle) will last as long as the engine.

If the engine has been properly maintained (see "...Items Not Found in the Book") and not driven abusively, only a few of its major components should need special attention during the second 100K. One of these is the Camchain. It should be inspected for wear at 100K miles.

( 4 Cyl. Camchains con't... )

Some Camchains look good at 140,000, while others are nearly worn out at 100,000. I think their service life is inversely proportional to how often you change your oil, but the only way to know for sure is inspection.

On 16 valve engines, a new style camchain tensioner must be installed to enable measurement for wear. 16 valve chains in 2.0 and 2.1 Liter engines can be installed for about $300. 1985 onward 8 valve engines can likewise be repaired inexpensively. Older models are much more involved and costly, and we often recommend replacing the Head Gasket at the same time.

Later Model 2.3 liter engines have a balance shaft chain in addition to the camchain, and we've heard reports of having to replace sprockets as well as the chain, so this might involve major work, but not nearly as major as a destroyed engine from a broken chain! Inspecting the camchain makes good sense at 100K miles!


This is the 6th annual "Saab Specs'" published (since 1991,) and in that time, we have accumulated quite a batch of "Technical Tips" ! Each year I have new ones to write about, but also have a problem not printing the old ones! There are many tips I'd like to share with new customers who have not read all the issues, and many others that I think are "classics" and would be worthwhile to include each and every year.

Unfortunately, duplicating the Tips each year would transform this newsletter into a booklet, too expensive to mail, and too lengthy to read casually. It's already approaching the marathon category as it is!

Therefore, when some of our other projects are complete, we will reprint the Technical Tips from all past issues and combine them into one... Tip-e-saurus, we'll call it for now. If you want one, just stop by and pick it up for the cost of copies.


Nines... If you are a do-it-yourself Saab owner, or an enthusiastic owner who wants to stay informed, NINES is the magazine for you. The Official Newsletter of the Saab Club of America, an annual subscription costs $30. Stop by for a subscription form or call them at 218-729-0826.

New Headliner Repair for 99's and 900's

Fallen headliners in older 99's and 900's are not uncommon. We have recommended using "Dritz Twist Pins" available at upholstery shops and Fred Myers ( Stock # 602; Prym Dritz , Spartanburg, SC 29304) to hold up a sagging headliner, at least until you have time or money to replace it.

Inland Auto Upholstery (Roy) will usually replace the headliner, sunroof and sail panels for $285 +tx, but you have another option, if you are willing to spend a Saturday and $100, including shipping. Trollhattan Motors Inc. of Bellevue, MD, sells the whole Headliner Kit, complete with cloth, adhesives and full instructions. Their phone is (410)-682-4688 or 1 800-32-TROLL. Thanks to Rick Otteson for the tip.

Check your Brake Fluid Warning Lite! Any Saab or Volvo without ABS equipped systems rely on a switch in the brake reservoir cap to alert you if your brake fluid is low, which could mean a serious leak in the system.. We often find these switches inoperable; and they should be checked regularly. Here's how...

(1) Clean the area around the brake reservoir cap with the cap still tight on the reservoir. ( a damp towel or small amount of water works best)

(2) Unscrew the cap and lift partially out of the reservoir, keeping it in a vertical position. This will simulate a "Low Brake Fluid" condition.

(3) Turn the ignition "ON" without starting motor and observe the "LOW BRAKE FLUID" light on. If not, it won't warn you if it is low.

Sometimes the reservoir cap switches can be cleaned, but most times, they'll need replacement.

Newer models like the 9000 go through an automatic audit sequence that you can observe after starting the motor.

Observing your "Brake Fluid Lite" May save your Starter...

Most 99 and 900 Saab Starters fail because the ignition lock does not return to "ON" ("Drive") position after starting the motor, keeping the starter engaged while the engine is running. Destruction takes about a minute and replacement cost of the starter is $350 - $450 !.

On older models, the problem used to be the anti-theft device. A small hairspring would break and the device could jam the key in the start position, and if the driver noticed it, they were unable to unjam the key before the starter was ruined.

On later models, however, the problem is usually spilled coffee or soda, and other fast food debris or dirt finding its way into the lock. In time the liquids will congeal and the lock becomes too stiff to snap back to the "D" position after starting. In winter, melted snow from gloves finds its way into the lock and later freezes causing the same problem.

(1) Be aware of the Ignition Lock rotating back to the "On" position after starting.

(2) After Starting the engine, observe that the "Brake Fluid" lite, located right-most on 900 instrument clusters, IS NOT ON. Notice that this light is momentarily lit while you crank over the engine, so it becomes a good check to make sure the starter is not engaged from a stuck lock.

(3) See earlier article on Lock Maintenance.

FACTORY KEYS..... CHEAP! Tired of breaking those brass keys that the local lock shop supplies? GOOD NEWS! Through the courtesy of Barrier Motors on the coast, we are able to get Saab steel keys custom cut for you. 900 keys cost $13 incl. freight overnight; 9000 keys are $16-$19 but take over a week. All we need is the last 8 digits of your VIN number. ( A letter followed by 7 numbers ) You're Welcome!

Keep Your Freon !! Keep your Freon system as long as possible on your older Saab or Volvo. There are no laws requiring that your refrigerant be changed. Don't let anyone sell you an R134a refrigerant retrofit just because freon is being phased out. R134a will leak worse than R12 and you will not help the ozone by removing it from your car.

Once manufactured, all of it will eventually end up in the atmosphere anyway. There are better refrigerants already on the market which are totally compatible with your old R12 system requirements, unlike R134a!

Steering your Saab with the Throttle? Worn Bushings is Why...

Saabs with high miles may have one or more worn front suspension bushings or joints that can affect the steering and stability of the car. One telltale method of checking them is to accelerate, then decelerate on a level road. If the vehicle drifts ever so slightly to one side on acceleration, then drifts to the opposite side on deceleration, chances are your steering or suspension could use a little repair.


We hope that you found the Winter Driving tips worthwhile. Here are excerpts from last year's summer newsletter.

Stop the Bubbles! Pressure Cap ESSENTIAL...

Without a good pressure cap, holding approximately 14 psi (pounds per square inch), tiny bubbles form in the cylinder head near the exhaust valves, where the heat is greatest. (identical to the bubbles forming on the bottom of a pot of hot water just before it boils) These bubbles in turn insulate the heat generated from being absorbed by the coolant and 'hot spots' quickly form, eventually causing damage to the cylinder head and valves. These bubbles also circulate in the cylinder head and because of surface tension, actually wear the aluminum out like an abrasive!

Occasionally, when checking under the hood of your Saab, and ONLY if it is WARM ( NOT HOT! ), loosen the pressure cap slightly and listen for a "whoosh" of pressure being released, indicating that the cap is holding some pressure. Retighten the cap. Never loosen the cap when the engine is extremely hot, or boil-over and coolant eruptions may occur, possibly causing injury.

A Radiator Overhaul may be your best summer Insurance......

Your cooling system radiator dissipates 1/3 of your fuel's energy; as much as your engine uses to propel your car down the road! We all take radiators for granted, being non-mechanical in nature, but after 7-10 years of operation, especially when the coolant has not been changed every two years with Saab Coolant, the radiator can become electrolytically clogged with aluminum from the cylinder head. Even a 10% restriction in the flow of coolant through the radiator can bring about internal overheating in the engine, not always seen on the temp. gauge.

This overheating can bring about premature thermostat, cooling hose and water pump failures and consequent expensive breakdowns, such as cyl. head fractures, failed head gaskets and even a destroyed engine

It is especially important for Turbo models to have a cooling system operating at 100% efficiency. That means a clean radiator, the proper thermostat, European formula coolant no older than two years, and a pressure cap that when mated to the expansion tank holds 14 psi .

A radiator overhaul costs about $75 plus approx. $50 R&R time plus coolant, thermostat and hoses if needed. Sometimes it's a subtle difference, but fresh radiators cool easier and have less overall problems.

Checking Cooling System Hoses....Saab hoses are too expensive to regularly change them all. We look for swelling near the clamps, softness and external abrasion, but it is nearly impossible to predict with certainty the condition of a cooling hose over 4 years old. I have seen them still in good shape, ten years and older, and others, not half that age, with fatigue separations on the inside where you cannot see them. Pinching inward on hoses feeling for weak spots is often effective, along with pressure checking the cooling system. Changing hoses that commonly fail is also good insurance.

First Aid for Hoses...Carry along some duct tape and a gallon of extra coolant in case a cooling hose bursts. In an emergency, after cooling down, cover the tear in the hose with several wraps of the tape (best to split the tape to 3/4" width) and fill the coolant reservoir, leaving the Pressure Cap LOOSE on the reservoir tank so no pressure is trapped which will accelerate leakage. Drive slowly to safety. (less heat build up). Do not drive if you're leaking water rapidly, or the temp gauge gets into the red zone. If the Temperature Gauge drops to "Cold" while driving, Do Not Drive Further; the gauge is not working for lack of coolant!

How to tighten your Drive Belts....Tightening an alternator / water pump, power steering or AC belt is important, but very difficult to get it just right. In the case of an alternator/water pump belt, too loose and you'll not recharge your battery sufficiently or overheat your engine; too tight and you'll damage the belt and more importantly, the alternator or water pump bearings, sometimes bringing about a failure to these items within a few days !

Here's How. The belt should be tightened no more than what is necessary to prevent slippage. With the motor OFF, gently push on the alternator fan blades in an opposite direction of engine rotation. If the belt is too loose, you'll be able to 'slip"; if not, you'll be able to turn the engine over. (Make sure the ignition is OFF!)

If you need to adjust the belt, or any "V" belt, for that matter, without an expensive tension gauge, tighten the belt so that it feels like a bow and arrow string. You should be able to pull on the belt, (like a bow string), but it should be tight enough to pull the belt back to it's original tension without feeling more loose than before. If you pull and can 'take up slack', you're too loose. If you pull and the belt does not have a resilient, 'stretchy' feel to it, it is possibly too tight.




That's all for now. Thanks for Reading!

Have a Great 1997!

John, Dan and Mike Lippis

Send mail to john@saabspokane.com or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2000 Swedish Motorcar Service
Last modified: March 07, 2012