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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I bought my first Saab the other day. 1999 9-3SE. It has about 178k miles on it. When I drove it, a loud tapping became evident at around 3200 - 4000 rpms. In neutral, the range that the noise occurs is wider, maybe beginning at 2700 rpms. My buddy was with me, he's had saabs for years, he's a forum member but I don't know his username. He's pretty sure it's a collapsed lifter. A makeshift stethoscope pinned it down to the passenger side in the top of the engine / valve cover area.

Every other valve lifter issue I've read says the noise is at idle and goes away with RPM increase. With mine, the noise isn't evident untill you rev it. We're gonna start swapping lifters with ones from his spare 2.3 head, maybe we'll get lucky. Is there anything else this noise could be? Are we way off?

Also this car was driven by a guy who didn't care about going fast. He shifted at every shift-light. He probably never took it to the RPMs that would bring about the noise. Will this car be sluggish because he drove it that way and should I pull the battery cable to get the ecu to re-adapt to my driving style?
 

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Sounds to me like a stretched timing chain. I would pull the tensioner and see if it is fully extended.

Also, pull the valve cover off and see if you can see how much wear there is on the upper guides.

Re: ECU adaptation. Yep, once you get the noise figured out, I would pull the battery leads and let it sit for 15 minutes, then do a series of third gear pulls to re-adapt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The top guide doesn't have too much wear (barely a groove in it) How much play should the chain have at the top if i wiggle it? Quarter inch give or take? Does the timing cover have to be pulled to be able to measure the tensioner? Someone's definitely done something in there... there's RTV the cam sprocket bolts and on the valve cover gasket. The car cost me $1000 so I'm not too upset about this... plus I heard the noise before buying.
 

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You can't really measure chain stretch between the two cam sprockets, as that is a pretty small span. The best way is to measure the tensioner extension.

The tensioner can be removed with everything in place. It's located inside the serpentine belt tensioner assembly bracket, on the passenger side of the head, towards the firewall.

The chain tensioner should be removed in two parts. First, undo the 12mm bolt and be careful not to lose the small plastic plunger/spring being held in by the bolt.

Next, I think you use a 27mm socket (tight fit) and then you undo the outer cylinder of the timing chain tensioner. Once this is out, you will see the little ratcheting mechanism and you can measure the extension. Anything above 16-17mm means the chain is stretched.

By the top guide, you mean the one on the valve cover? I'd be more concerned about wear on the main guides, where the tensioner puts pressure on the chain. You have to remove the timing cover to replace the two main guides, but once the tensioner is off, you can at least see how worn the guide is by pulling the chain back.

There are some good pictures on what everything looks like here:
04.07.2006: Saab B204 B234 Engine Assembly - photo.platonoff.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OKAY so I think I can rule out the timing chain (I hope!). I removed the tensioner and measured it. If I'm supposed to measure the distance that the skinny part is protruding, it is about 13.56mm out. If I'm measuring the total length that it's out then it's past 16mm and I will be sad.





Which is it? And what's next. My friend still wants to check all the lifters, which we'll do in a few days hopefully. The only other thing I can think of is the balance chain.
 

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Hrmm, I can't remember if you measure to the inner or the outer surface of the tensioner ratchet and I don't have my WIS available here at work, maybe someone can look it up. It doesn't look super extended, but it's been awhile since I looked at one.

I highly doubt lifters are the problem here, it just doesn't sound the way a collapsed lifter behaves. One easy way to check lifters is to crank the engine with the valve cover off and see if you can observe a sticking lifter. Also, try 20W-50 oil (just use cheap stuff, since you are going to drain it right out).

Balance chain and guides are a possibility.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
He says check the sticker in the windshield and I won't be near the car all day.... so probably every 3-5k miles and probably conventional oil. He wasn't a saabhead or a go-fast guy at all, so I can't see him using anything Synthetic or Forum-proven.

also:
http://www.saabwiki.info/index.php?title=NG_900/9-3_Timing_Chain_Tensioner
he says " Maximum extension on a normal older engine is probably between 11-15 mm" so, I'm okay?
 

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Well, at 13.5mm I'd say the chain isn't stretched, but one of the main guides could be damaged causing the noise, so don't rule out the timing chain asby, yet. That chain seems remarkably not stretched for that amount of mileage, for example, my 9-5 had 16.3mm of extension @ 175K, the car always had 3-5K OCI with full synth and it wasn't driven hard.

I wonder if the chain was replaced (hence all the RTV under the valve cover and on the cam sprockets) and if the chain was replaced, did they do the guides? Did the do the balance chain at the same time? Service history on this would be ideal, but if it were me, I'd be pulling the engine and examining all of these components, ASAP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Wow today was busy. Dropped the Oilpan, found a bunch of crap in there, the pickup was like 90% clogged with RTV and whatever else thanks to whomever had the valve cover off last. Took some pictures, had some questions.


So that looks pretty gross. I used oven cleaner, got it all pretty nice looking, Pickup screen is clear now too.
But while I'm cleaning, I found this and stopped:


Looks like a crack! The thing is, they don't match with each other. Sure they're in the same vicinity, but they don't 'connect'. It also doesn't look like it goes to the gasket surface. My friend could weld it (he can do TIG, so he can pretty much weld any metal) is this advisable?

Does anyone in the DC area have a spare Oil Pan that I can buy?

Finally I saw this bluing I found on the crank near the bearing races. It is on all of them. Is it normal?


I will cut the balance chain before I put it all back together also. After I remove the end bearing cap to gain some room to make the cut and removal, what do I have to torque that back up to when putting it back together?
I appreciate all the continuing help.
 

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IIRc, you should plug the oil holes on the sides of the balance shafts. The bluing doesn't look too bad, but if you have the bottom end exposed, why not just change the rod bearings anyway?

I've seen those spidering cracks on the bottom but not on the side. ...that's odd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
IIRc, you should plug the oil holes on the sides of the balance shafts. The bluing doesn't look too bad, but if you have the bottom end exposed, why not just change the rod bearings anyway?

I've seen those spidering cracks on the bottom but not on the side. ...that's odd.
Since. I'm not removing the timing cover, I'm not able to plug any holes. My plan is only to cut and remove the chain, leaving shafts and tensioner intact.
 

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As someone who cut the chain without removing the timing cover, it is not remotely easy. Possible, but not easy.

Then again, pulling the engine is not easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As someone who cut the chain without removing the timing cover, it is not remotely easy. Possible, but not easy.

Then again, pulling the engine is not easy.
How did you go about doing it? My idea is grinding pins off in multiple places, removing it in multiple sections. It doesn't look like the whole chain can come out due to the angle involved in coming out the hole.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
DONE and done. The chain can bend the "wrong way" a lot further than i thought, so it came out in one piece. Using I'm gonna say fuck the oilpan for now, the cracks don't connect, I'm curious to see what happens. Tomorrow I put oil in it and fire it up. Fingers crossed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Ok so when Youtube or google converts my video, the sound disappears. But when driving, it occurs in the sweet spot between closed-throttle engine braking and acceleration. Like very slight pedal where the engine is just kindof keeping up with the speed. Now after trying to make a video and make the noise a lot, ive got an oil pressure light at idle!

So is it rod bearings, mains, or both?
 
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