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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings to all.

I am the owner of a 1999 Silver Saab 9-3 SE with 123K miles, located in and around south Los Angeles. I have owned and been driving this car since 2000, bought from the original owner after 11K miles.

I came here for some info on how to fix a starter problem, and in the process I realized what a gem this car is. And I see how relatively easy it is to customize and upgrade it with the well-supported Saab aftermarket and support from these forums.

I admit, after a few major repairs earlier this year, I got frustrated and tried replacing my 9-3 with a 2010 Scooby Forester. After driving the Scooby for a while - a solid, technical car - I realized how special the Saab is. I was going to sell it, but I reconsidered, especially since KBB values it at less that $3K. It's worth much more than that to me. Now I'm looking to breathe some new life into it and keep it in the family.

I am also a mechanical engineer working in the aftermarket industry designing camshafts, among other things. I have 3D CAD skills that I intend to put to use on some of these upgrades. Though I understand engine theory, and camshafts in particular, my skill level with repairs is novice do-it-yourselfer. I intend to bring those skills up to speed.

I'll post pictures with some of the vehicle's interesting repair history in a bit. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome aboard! I recently joined the 99 9-3se club also!
Congrats! That was one of the last good Saabs before General Monkeys screwed up the direction of the company. I would have done a trade-in if there were any solid hatchback 9-3s kept in the line-up. But as the GM sales monkeys kept telling me, "We eliminated the hatchbacks because they don't sell." True, nobody buys hatchbacks - except Saabies. That had to be one of the dumbest decisions...but I suspect GM intended to bankrupt them all along.

And I figure that Spyker buying Saab had something to do with my decision to keep the car. If it wasn't for that, I may have given up hope for the future of the company.
 

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Welcome!! I know you love that 9-3, besides performance, comfort, and style, Saab's are amazingly safe cars. My friend just crashed his '99 9-3 a couple weeks ago into a telephone pole at between 40-50 MPH, he and his brother, (in my class in high school) opened the front doors, and walked away from it in a ditch, it was totaled, but the airbags deployed and apart from the bruise from the seat belt, and a few minor burns from the airbag, they were fine, and both played in our soccer game that afternoon!! Great cars, sad to see one go but they promptly got a newer 9-5 and they're happy. So welcome, and I'm glad you're here!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
My response to that was, "Then why build the malibu maxx, especially since it is the same platform as the 9-3?"
Huh. I never knew that. Good one.

That's kind of the General Monkey way. A lot of great technology found in other GM vehicles came from Saab. And GM prevented Saab from using their own technology in their own cars! It's ironic too, because now a lot of that great technology is in China's hands.

Here's a question - and this is more rhetorical than anything. Why did the US government bail out GM, again, and again, and again, and finally buy them outright just so they could move more of GM's factories to Brazil, China, and Russia?

GM basically gutted Saab, end of story. Here's to hoping they make a full recovery with Spyker. The new 9-5 and the Anniversary Turbo X give me hope they will.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Plus, that 9-3 looks awesome man!! Beautiful condition!!
Thanks. :)

I did see a YouTube vid about Saab safety. As you say, apparently they are very safe as well. Agreed on all other points. The 9-3 is a classic, really beautiful car.

Ah - here's that video:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
My repair history with the 9-3:

Repaired the SID dead pixels with an outfit in Montreal, Canada - excellent, highly recommended, after replacing it once under dealer warranty. Has worked 100% ever since, and is promised to work the life of the car without losing any pixels.

New head gasket at 70K miles, and skimmed the head. $1150. Was leaking from the very beginning at cylinder no. 4, front corner.

Blown turbo at 110K miles, replaced with a junkyard reman. Also expensive.

New water pump at 112K miles.

New starter motor at 120K miles, replaced with a reman OE Bosch for $250 total.

New AC drier, power antenna, replaced both foglamps after being knocked-out by road debris (one right after the other, it was the damndest thing).

Still need a new seat-belt tensioner.
 

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Thanks. :)

I did see a YouTube vid about Saab safety. As you say, apparently they are very safe as well. Agreed on all other points. The 9-3 is a classic, really beautiful car.

Ah - here's that video:
Ya, saab's are so safe, I'm really glad you're on here, your gonna learn some great things on here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Some projects to keep me busy with my 9-3

Here are some of the upgrades I would like to do, time and money permitting, in the likely order I will do them. Most of this is a dream-list, but whatever. I'm interested mostly in modernizing the look of the car, and improving efficiency and performance.

-Roof-mounted whip antenna. Gonna try the VW Fuba one from eBay. Hope the rubber grommet will seal against my roof panel. Sick of the motorized antenna, which has already been replaced once. It just looks old and ugly. If I'm going to do the Viggen spoiler eventually, I'll need to replace it anyway. I'll need to plug the old hole for the antenna - buy the plug, or weld it shut.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/OE-V...temZ330432587618QQptZLHQ5fDefaultDomainQ5f100

-iPod/iPhone interface - plastic mount-holder against the OE cell phone mount, with charging and interface cable to a Saablin embedded Linux system that supplies ID3 tags to the SID through the CAN Bus.


-Viggen-style body kit: rear spoiler (maybe from Speedparts? don't see it at Genuine Saab anymore), front & rear bumper covers, side trim panels, side mirror covers.

Here's what it might look like if I can do the body-kit:

-Sport steering wheel.

-Breather project: better air intake box, bigger turbo, better BOV, better intercooler, bigger exhaust pipes, stage 2 cams.

-Engine project: JE forged pistons and rods.

-Carbon-fiber cover for the throttle unit. One of my mechanics tore it off and never replaced it. I only noticed recently.

What would I love to do but cannot imagine finding the time or resources to do (other than most of the projects above)? Carbon-fiber hood with hydraulic dampers. Replace the Tronic 5 ECU with an embedded Linux system to do some adaptive tuning. And put VTEC on the valve train. ;)

Now can somebody tell me how can I get a set of these Viggen 5-spoke rims?

 

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Now can somebody tell me how can I get a set of these Viggen 5-spoke rims? See photo attached.
I know you want to do the Viggen spoiler upgrade, and lights, and mirrors and wheels, but you need to know that the viggen wheels are like a slab of butter on a hot knife. You hit a curb once, and even dent them by accident in the least bit, you're looking at replacing them. They aren't very strong, quite soft actually. Oh and what about that Linux system for adaptive tuning? Are you talking like Ubuntu/Mint/FreeBSD UNIX/Open Source computer programs? Cause that's legit cool man, I love Linux based systems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
soft Viggen wheels, and Saab Linux

I know you want to do the Viggen spoiler upgrade, and lights, and mirrors and wheels, but you need to know that the viggen wheels are like a slab of butter on a hot knife. You hit a curb once, and even dent them by accident in the least bit, you're looking at replacing them. They aren't very strong, quite soft actually. Oh and what about that Linux system for adaptive tuning? Are you talking like Ubuntu/Mint/FreeBSD UNIX/Open Source computer programs? Cause that's legit cool man, I love Linux based systems.
Re Viggen soft wheels: hm, I did not know that. Los Angeles roads are full of potholes, so your warning is most welcome. But are you certain it's because the material is too soft? Aren't all of these alloy rims made from aluminum? Aluminum is inherently soft, unless it has been hard-tempered, but I doubt they would do that on such a big chunk of metal. I suspect it's more an issue of very-little rubber wheel protecting the rim versus the standard 16-inch rims, which are well-cushioned.

There are a bunch of remanufactured Viggen wheel rims out there for sale too. Maybe those are ones that have been dented. Can a dented, out-of-round wheel be rebalanced?

Linux is exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't already, check out the SaabLIN guy's site - saablin.net. He's already figured out a way to use Linux to interface with the CANBUS to hook your MP3 music to the vehicle. That's pretty exciting - finally somebody figured out a smart way to do it.
 

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Re Viggen soft wheels: hm, I did not know that. Los Angeles roads are full of potholes, so your warning is most welcome. But are you certain it's because the material is too soft? Aren't all of these alloy rims made from aluminum? Aluminum is inherently soft, unless it has been hard-tempered, but I doubt they would do that on such a big chunk of metal. I suspect it's more an issue of very-little rubber wheel protecting the rim versus the standard 16-inch rims, which are well-cushioned.

There are a bunch of remanufactured Viggen wheel rims out there for sale too. Maybe those are ones that have been dented. Can a dented, out-of-round wheel be rebalanced?

Linux is exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't already, check out the SaabLIN guy's site - saablin.net. He's already figured out a way to use Linux to interface with the CANBUS to hook your MP3 music to the vehicle. That's pretty exciting - finally somebody figured out a smart way to do it.
Well, most are aluminum or a magnesium/aluminum mix.
Here's a link to a post on Saabcentral.com

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94491

It's probably quite hard to rebalance them after you screw them up like that, but it's worth a shot. I would probably avoid though, or get some AFT Viggen look alikes that are stronger. That linux system would be totally legit!! I'll have to look into that, being a bit of a UNIX guy myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, most are aluminum or a magnesium/aluminum mix.
Here's a link to a post on Saabcentral.com

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94491

It's probably quite hard to rebalance them after you screw them up like that, but it's worth a shot. I would probably avoid though, or get some AFT Viggen look alikes that are stronger. That linux system would be totally legit!! I'll have to look into that, being a bit of a UNIX guy myself.
Understood. I suspect that Viggen with the 5-spoke rims pictured above is using BMW or Audi aftermarket rims with a Viggen badge. There must be some aftermarket Viggen-style rims out there, for Audi or BMW. Will keep researching it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I just read something more about performance wheel rims. Generally they will be aluminum, but there's a big difference between wheels that are cast and ones that are drop-forged. Drop-forging makes a lighter, stronger part, but it's vastly more expensive than cast parts. When you go to a Viggen-style super-thin 5 spoke on a large diameter, you should be using a forged rim or it will deform easily on your first major pothole. And the price difference is significant. I'm seeing some forged rims for Honda S2000s for $2800 for the set, versus maybe $1600 for the Viggen 5-spokers, and in the reman aftermarket, less than $1000.

Now what would be really cool is to make the face of the rim out of carbon fiber, and use an aluminum wheel ring and hub. Expensive per part, but you would save the cost of the drop-forging tool up front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
do keep in mind the 5 bolt pattern, and the space/size you have to work with between the lugs.
Good point. What are the variables on wheels? Let me take a stab at it, and please correct me if I make any mistakes.

1) Wheel rim diameter, typically 16, 17, or 18 inches. 16s for street, 17s for high-performance, and 18s for super-high performance.
2) Tire width?
3) Bolt hole pattern - 5 in most cases for us.
4) Bolt hole pattern diameter - diameter of the circle on which the holes are centered.
5) Mounting face offset from outside edge of rim.

Does anybody know what our beloved Saabs use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Good point. What are the variables on wheels? Let me take a stab at it, and please correct me if I make any mistakes.

1) Wheel rim diameter, typically 16, 17, or 18 inches. 16s for street, 17s for high-performance, and 18s for super-high performance.
2) Tire width?
3) Bolt hole pattern - 5 in most cases for us.
4) Bolt hole pattern diameter - diameter of the circle on which the holes are centered.
5) Mounting face offset from outside edge of rim.

Does anybody know what our beloved Saabs use?
To answer my own question, with info from a sister forum: http://www.93forum.com/viewtopic.php?t=181

Summary; A wheel with an offset of between 43mm and 37-35mm is a safe bet. Taking into account of size (16,17,18,19inches)

While a pattern of 5x110 is best, the Volvo 5x108 seems to work fine without the need for shuffle bolts. Some Audi 5x112 can work too.
Wheel width seems to be variable. I see 16 inch rims that are 6.5 inches wide, and 15 inch rims that are 5 inches wide.
 
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