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Old 10-27-2013, 05:00 PM   #1
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Turbo -vs- Head Gasket symptoms? Help Please!!

Unfortunately my new Saab purchase, '02 9-5 Aero wagon, broke down the other day. I was traveling on the interstate but luckily made it off an exit and pulled into a gas station in the nick of time. Literally rolled into a parking spot.

I'd like to mention the symptoms up to and right before it broke down but first I'll try to give a little history about the car. I bought the wagon about two weeks ago. Has 175k on body and 145k on motor. The previous owner bought it from an older woman who was the original owner. When he bought the car, the engine immediately seized up from sludge. He replaced with good engine(129k) but for some reason the original turbo stayed with new engine. He replaced water pump and alternator while he owned the car. Definitely not someone who thoroughly kept up on car maintenance, aside from basic stuff; oil changes, brakes and tires.

When I first acquired info about the car, he thought the turbo wasn't functioning properly and had lost some power. He didn't know much about the car so I assumed it might be something minor but if it actually was a failing turbo, I had the an extra to replace. He also mentioned that the car had a leak near the crankshaft pulley. Figured it was probably the crankshaft oil seal. So I made the choice of going up and looking at it with a friend. For the price, it was definitely worth fixing if it had a couple problems, especially when you have extra parts. Just about every vacuum line was cracked or broken. Turbo inlet pipe from intake was very loose against the actual turbo, along with having a broken o-ring seal. Probably due for some new engine/trans mounts. I made my offer, he took it.

Got it home, fixed vacuum and inlet pipe issues. When I had the inlet pipe off, I felt the wheel inside the turbo and it definitely had some play. I really don't know much about the details and wear progress of a turbo. I went ahead and put it back on. Car idled and ran great! Night and day difference from when I first looked at it. Definitely noticed a stronger pull when accelerating but also started to see a puff of blue smoke appearing. Mainly after acceleration on the next push of the pedal. After a day or two the puff got a little bigger. By this time I thought it was definitely my turbo on its way out. Only relying on what other people I said about turbo failure symptoms. Probably a week into ownership I got two codes, P0116(Engine Coolant Temperature Circuit) and P0455P(Evaporative Emission System Leak). I figured P0116 was a bad sensor because my pressure gauge would sometimes drop but usually stay dead center. I've had P0455 code before for two different issues, gas cap and leak near charcoal canister.

I ordered the coolant sensor last week and should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. On Friday night I had to make an emergency drive 3 hours away and then take someone hour and a half further to an airport the next morning. On the way up the car ran fine but started noticing more whitish blue smoke and more of it. It had gotten cold so I assumed the temperature had something to do with a whiter smoke. Once I reached my night destination, I checked the oil the next morning to find that I had definitely consumed some oil on the way up. Added some oil and continued the next morning. I made it to the airport, 4 and half hours away from home, and then started my way back. About 2 hrs in to my trip back, while slightly accelerating, I noticed a loss of power. Engine still running but turbo not spooling. Pulled off the interstate for a second and then the power came back allowing me to slightly accelerate. I continued on for a couple miles but definitely noticed the car was not liking any type of acceleration. Luckily I pulled off on the next exit because I soon as I made it to the top of the ramp……….car shut off. I coast right down to the gas station. When I popped the hood nothing was making any crazy noises or overheating. Overflow coolant container wasn't boiling, no lose of coolant. Oil hadn't really changed since I last filled. Nothing seemed to be leaking from bottom. When I tried turn it over, it would idle/cough for a sec or two, then die. It did crank though. I tried a couple times but didn't want to over do it. I waited a little bit for things to cool down, replaced the DI with good one……still nothing. Coolant container didn't seem to have oil in it and the dip stick didn't reveal any water/coolant traces.

I ended up leaving the car at the gas station and plan on picking it up with dolly on Tuesday. I'll probably try a couple things before I load it on the dolly but I'd imagine me pulling it home.

Question is………..does this sounds like a turbo issue or head gasket issue? I won't really know some particular details until I get it in front of me but I wanted to get a thread started because I know I'll be asking some questions when I get back in the garage. I'll definitely be looking over the plugs, performing compression tests and looking for oil/coolant leaks.

What should I look for when I pull the turbo? Where should oil be, where shouldn't be? I'm a very capable mechanic and quick learner, I've just never worked in this particular area of the car besides basic turbo removal. I'm also unfamiliar with head gasket/coolant issues. From what I've read they can sometimes be similar symptoms.

Whatever it is I'm prepared to fix it. Need to learn at some point.

Any suggestions, tips or comments is much appreciated. Thanks guys!
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2002 9-5 Aero Wagon
2002 9-3 SE
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1990 9000 S (SOLD)


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Old 10-27-2013, 05:08 PM   #2
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Sound like the turbo went.

Compression test will tell for sure. But yes, looks like a classic turbo failure.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:37 AM   #3
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I would put money on the turbo.
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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the turbo is the 1st thing to see (or not see) oil. This is the same reason my 18t is out or a rebuild right now.
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Old 10-28-2013, 06:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dan-the-kid View Post
Sound like the turbo went.

Compression test will tell for sure. But yes, looks like a classic turbo failure.
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Originally Posted by rarelibra View Post
I would put money on the turbo.
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the turbo is the 1st thing to see (or not see) oil. This is the same reason my 18t is out or a rebuild right now.
Thanks guys! I've got a question or two about the turbo. Especially when I'm checking out the other two I have. I know one works for sure, still on car. Already have one off.

How much play should the wheel have?

What are some dead giveaways that point to a bad turbo? When its actually in your hands.
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2004 9-3 SS Linear (SOLD)
2003 9-3 SS Linear
2002 9-5 Aero Wagon
2002 9-3 SE
2002 9-3 SE Vert
1999 LB 9-3 Viggen
1996 9000 CSE (RIP)
1990 9000 S (SOLD)


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Old 10-28-2013, 06:42 PM   #6
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There really should be zero play in the compressor/exhaust wheel.

Any side to side, or up and down movement is more then there ideally should be.
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Yeah, T5.2 its -.3 better then the rest.
1989 900 SPG: Trionic 5(stg1), Aero seats, TD04-15G, 3" Turboback. SOLD
1993 9000 Aero: 3"Turboback, T5Suite Stg.3
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:39 PM   #7
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So I finally got the car back today and had just enough time to pull off a quick compression test. Believe cylinder 1 is bit lower than 2,3 & 4.

#1 - 150
#2 - 190
#3 - 190
#4 - 190

I plan on confirming this in the next couple days along with checking coolant and oil.
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2004 9-3 SS Linear (SOLD)
2003 9-3 SS Linear
2002 9-5 Aero Wagon
2002 9-3 SE
2002 9-3 SE Vert
1999 LB 9-3 Viggen
1996 9000 CSE (RIP)
1990 9000 S (SOLD)


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blue smoke, coolant, head gasket, no start, turbo

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