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Born from jetsam: 1998 Saab 9-3 turbo

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    Born from jetsam: 1998 Saab 9-3 turbo

    I did not choose the Saab life. The Saab life chose me.

    Literally. This is not my car, and I’ll let others involved explain its provenance and purpose if they like; suffice to say there were discussions in the group chat about picking up something for cheap from the Canberra hail auctions, someone else hooked the lucky instigator up with this Saab not from the hail auctions, and for a sum just breaching three figures it was delivered from interstate.

    So why am I telling this story? Because this week the group chat pinged with a “cheap car challenge is over before it started”, and this sorry image;

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    Blown head gasket seemed likely, albeit with not much evidence of milkshake making; but cylinder #3 was about as healthy as Saab is these days.

    There was some reluctance to put too much time and effort into fixing it; but this is the sort of job I’d like to learn about, because as a mechanic I make a great bureaucrat. So I offered to help do it if someone was willing and patient enough to lead the way and answer silly questions. Which CA18Escort was - thanks mate!

    Before we go on, behold the car in its on-trend matte black glory. Or, if you prefer accuracy, missing much of its clear coat. In two parts, because trees were in the way.

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    If you set aside the upper half of the paint, and the fact that it doesn’t run, it’s actually pretty good. The body is straight, the interior is tidy, and the drivetrain includes a turbo and three pedals. Winning.

    Now - I like Saabs. I’ve considered buying two of them in the past year or so, but couldn’t think up a use for them. But if you really, really like Saabs, or you have really, really high standards for mechanical work, you should go read some other thread now. Really. I beg you.
    Last edited by Captain_Slow; 18-05-20, 07:39 PM.

    #2
    Why am I jealous?
    Is there something wrong with me?

    Budget euro wooosh ftw
    2005 audi a3 turbo manual quattro

    Comment


      #3
      So today we got stuck in. Unlikely apprentice that I am, I managed to break with stereotypes by turning up on time. (I also didn’t punch any cones at lunch or finance a VE on 22s at 19.75%, so I’m ahead of the game there too).

      Disassembly wasn’t too bad. I think in less than two hours we had access to the head gasket, we didn’t break anything, and I only saw one spider. The only bit that was a bit of a head scratcher was getting the timing chain out of the way, and even that was okay. Aren’t Saabs supposed to be needlessly complicated or something?

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      Injector wasn't too crash hot though:

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      We got a bit of a clue that something was up when everything came undone relatively easily, in exactly the way that 22 year old engines don’t. And once we lifted the head off, we found a non-factory head gasket that didn’t appear to have anything wrong with it.

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      So umm...what?

      Be that as it may, the situation inside #3 was...suboptimal. And the underside of the head wasn’t what you’d call mint. Other cylinders weren’t too bad though.

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      So, what to do?

      There’s a thing in economics called the sunk cost fallacy. That’s basically what happens when people invest a lot of time or money into something, they’re losing and it’s not worth continuing, but they keep going because of that investment even though they’ll never get their time or money back. In that situation, you should walk away and invest further time and money elsewhere.

      We have elected to provide a practical automotive demonstration of the sunk cost fallacy.

      We’re not fucking idiots, mind you. The approach we settled on was to tidy it up as best we could, put it back together with a new head gasket, and...see what happens. What could possibly go wrong?

      Could be great. Could be terrible. Couldn’t be worse than 25psi in cylinder #3, could it?
      Attached Files

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by dhs View Post
        Why am I jealous?
        Is there something wrong with me?

        Budget euro wooosh ftw
        TBH I like this thing, and budget doesn't even begin to describe it. Although I'm not sure that jealousy is the appropriate emotion here lol

        Comment


          #5
          (Sorry about the huge photos...been a long time since I uploaded photos not on the mobile version...)

          Using the state of the art facilities at our disposal, we cleaned up and honed the bores, taking them from an utter shit show to a milder sort of shit show, and gave the rest of it some care and attention. But let's not pretend it's anything but cactus...


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          Please enjoy this photo of me, at 6’4”, standing on the uphill side of the car, just about doubled over in the engine bay:

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          Without a new head gasket, that’s as far as we could get today. Even with that, I learned heaps today, and had a good time. Thanks heaps CA18Escort!

          Will it run?

          Will it drive 500m before going out permanently with a spectacular bang?

          Will it smoke out the neighbourhood and earn a letter from the EPA?

          Will we run 13s for $130? (No.)

          Comment


            #6
            Once again I instigate shenanigans I have no direct involvement in

            that head gasket is actually blown in a few places across cyl 3 and 4
            Turns out, far too much has been written about great men and not nearly enough about morons


            Originally posted by seedyrom
            my neighbours called the cops...... not because of the sound of me working in the garage was too loud, but because i taped a cardboard box to my back, covered my self in vaseline and pretended i was a snail on their lawn

            Comment


              #7
              yo, i still have my flash tuning stuff. if i can find an ecu for it ill flash it and send it. what engine code, model year etc is it? ecu is behind the glove box. it will have a gt17 unless its an aero or modified...

              first mods should be gut the cat and fit a big cone filter behind the foglight.
              I'M NOT A HOOKER BUT 20 BUCKS IS 20 BUCKS...

              I am junkie for swedish high quality shitboxes. my latest fix is this...

              robslothyoung - follow me on insta.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Sloth View Post
                yo, i still have my flash tuning stuff. if i can find an ecu for it ill flash it and send it. what engine code, model year etc is it? ecu is behind the glove box. it will have a gt17 unless its an aero or modified...

                first mods should be gut the cat and fit a big cone filter behind the foglight.
                Legend!
                Turns out, far too much has been written about great men and not nearly enough about morons


                Originally posted by seedyrom
                my neighbours called the cops...... not because of the sound of me working in the garage was too loud, but because i taped a cardboard box to my back, covered my self in vaseline and pretended i was a snail on their lawn

                Comment


                  #9
                  This is great! Subscribed!!
                  "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and you'll suck forever" Brian Wilson

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Everyone wants a turbo Saab. They are a cool thing. Shame they are gone. Glad to see they are euroaids to work on. How are they for parts availability?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Jim View Post
                      Once again I instigate shenanigans I have no direct involvement in

                      that head gasket is actually blown in a few places across cyl 3 and 4
                      Following. Much more fun watching others' pain and frustration

                      How/where do you see that? And if so, wouldn't #4 compression (not mentioned) be fucked too?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by mizone View Post
                        Everyone wants a turbo Saab. They are a cool thing. Shame they are gone. Glad to see they are euroaids to work on. How are they for parts availability?
                        I didn’t think we had too much trouble working on it TBH. No idea about other parts but eBay had head gaskets in plentiful supply when I bought one last night.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Shonky View Post

                          Following. Much more fun watching others' pain and frustration

                          How/where do you see that? And if so, wouldn't #4 compression (not mentioned) be fucked too?
                          IIRC #4 had 50psi. #2 wasn’t fantastic either but I don’t remember the figure. #1 had 115psi so that’s our benchmark.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            K. Story checks out. 115 is still kinda low isn't it?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I’m having trouble finding out what the correct figure should be, but people on Saab forums testing apparently healthy engines are getting higher figures.

                              Comment

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