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Old 06-06-2019, 04:43 AM   #1
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2002 9-3 SE Project That Fell In My Lap

Hello everyone.. I am helping a family friend out with this one and I am mostly unfamiliar with the OG 9-3 (I stick to older stuff), I'm starting this thread to document what I'm doing and to ask for advice (Likely on the regular).



The car is a dark blue 2002 9-3 SE Vert. It is overall in pretty good condition, but recently suffered from a bad engine due to a PCV/Cat/Sludge issue. They had a replacement engine installed at a less than reputable shop and there are quite a lot of issues. Now it's my problem to figure them out.


The quick list I came up with last night is as follows:

-Leaking/smoking oil from oil cap, I suspect that the PCV needs to be updated and new oil fill and dipstick seals.

-Also oil leak at rear of engine. May be related to above

-Various vacuum leaks. notably o-rings where the recirc valve pipe meets the intake tube.. I'm also not convinced that the vac hoses on the intake manifold are connected correctly.

-Boost issues. The gauge shows a good amount, but feels sluggish and very little mid-throttle response. Kind of all or nothing. Hoping it's related to above, but maybe boost controller issue?

-There are no CELs stored or pending.


On top of those issues, there is some sort of severe clunk in the front suspension, and the A/C doesn't work.

I have it for a few weeks and am basically going to go through it as if I just purchased it for the owner. Wish me luck.



P.S. Where is a good place to get parts diagrams/breakdowns and vacuum diagrams nowadays? Also to order parts? It Eeuro still the best bet? Last I knew they were sucking it up badly. I've been out of the Saab world too long..
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Old 06-06-2019, 05:16 AM   #2
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I forget where I got it, but if you look around the internet you should be able to find a download for Saab Workshop Information System/WIS that should have all the factory documentation as far as diagrams, etc.

For OEM parts I can't recommend esaabparts.com highly enough, Matt, the guy that runs it is extremely helpful, if you can't find the part/info you need just shoot him an email.

For the problems with the car, I'm not too familiar with 9-3s, but I solved some sluggish throttle issues with my 9-5 cleaning the TB and MAF, I might take the hoses off of those and take a look.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:26 AM   #3
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Thanks! I was not familiar with Esaabparts.com. I'll check them out!

Taking the TB apart tonight or tomorrow and also doing a compression test just to see where we stand with this engine.
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Old 06-06-2019, 07:27 PM   #4
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WIS is also available online now: https://saabwisonline.com/
+1000000 on esaabparts.com!

When you say oil leak from rear of engine, do you mean the side of the engine that faces the firewall, or the rear of the engine between the engine and trans?

Definitely check to see if it has the latest PCV revision.
Leak could be from there or the oil pressure sensor if its the side of the engine that faces the firewall.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:51 AM   #5
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Good link SRP! Thanks!

I haven't taken a real close look at the oil leak yet, but it is at the back of the engine by the firewall. It's not major, but just enough to cause a little smoke off the exhaust where it runs under the engine.
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Old 06-08-2019, 04:24 AM   #6
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Worked on this thing a little late last night and holy crap! I am not sure what shop put this replacement engine in, but I wouldn't take my bike there..

I did a compression test and thankfully that came back good. 170-180 across all. So the engine seems healthy.. Unfortunately the good ends there.. There were no less than 20 bolts and fasteners that I found to be lose (my a full turn or more), or missing all together.. Up to and including one on the transmission mount.. The worse one of all is the rear bolt for the Right LCA.. Looks like they tried to get it loose for some reason and broke the nut free inside the frame.. So instead of getting in it's guts and fixing it, they just left it.. It's at least 1/8" away from being tight and you can't loosen or tighten it. Just spins. That would explain why it feels like the front end is going to fall off when driving..

I talked to the owner and for some reason or another, they are not going to be dealing with the shop, but are willing to pay me to fix all of the issues. Fine with me. I'm just regretting telling them I didn't have time to do the engine swap initially.. I feel like we would both be ahead if I just did the engine swap from the beginning lol..

Side note, most of the oil I see on the back of the engine seem to be coming from the oil filler/dipstick tube assy.. Going to replace most of that when I do the PCV update so hoping that helps that issue.

Also may pull the turbo out and just reseal every seal going in/out. Most are leaking.
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Old 06-24-2019, 04:35 AM   #7
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I got the PCV update kit from esaabparts installed and rerouted a ton of vacuum lines. Now I have eliminated almost all of the running issues (still has a slight miss at idle, suspect plugs/DIC??). Also I don't see anymore smoke coming out when I pop the oil cap/dipstick. The hoses were routed all wrong and there was no suction pulling a vacuum on the crankcase. I'm glad they didn't drive it this way very long. They also has the vacuum lines to the turbo control valve looped to themselves. No wonder it ran so bad.


Also fixed the dreaded front right rear control arm mounting point. The shop has tried to loosen the bolt, but the nut inside the frame came loose. Instead of fixing it, they just let it go like that. I found a good thread here:

https://www.saabcentral.com/forums/s.../topics/173966

Ended up cutting a little bigger hole, and had to break the bolt, but finally got it apart. Replaced with a new bolt, sealed everything up and covered with some aluminum..







I have a few leaks and other things left to try to correct, but I think many of the major stuff is now fixed.
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Old 06-25-2019, 04:19 AM   #8
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Last night I found another suspension bolt (this time on the driver's side) that wasn't tight. Luckily I was able to get it tight without major surgery. Good grief.
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Old 06-25-2019, 05:19 AM   #9
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This has turned out well. Your friend is lucky you were around to save this car after the butcher shop went at it.
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Old 07-05-2019, 03:54 AM   #10
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Out new plugs in this car (correct NGK 6290) and while it did run a little better, the DIC was still being problematic causing erratic idle and hesitation under load.

Perks of keeping spare parts around, I borrowed a spare black DIC and tried it out and this car ran like a dream again.. Check another thing off the list.
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