Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 10:21:54 +0000
From: Wheels of Error <insertyournospamesshere.com>
Subject: Saab 9-5 noisy engine - Timing and Balancer Shaft chains?


I have a '98 9-5 2.3 SE with LPT. I bought it in September and immediately had it serviced at Broadways in Ealing, London (a specialist non franchise Saab shop). They did a nice job and in their report they mentioned the engine being a bit noisy, but made no further recommendations. Some weeks later my throttle position sensor went, and I had to have the throttle body replaced under warranty at a franchised Saab dealer (West End Saab in Alperton, London). They too did a fine job, but made no reference to engine noise. Finally, last week I had my driving seat reupholstered at Two Strokes to Turbos in Hatfield. They're primarily a Saab breakers - they currently have 140 cars in various states of dismantling - but they have a large, well equipped workshop as well. When I got my car back from them they said they had some bad news for me. When they moved my car around, they noted that the engine was "very noisy". They didn't do a visual investigation, but from (presumably) listening carefully, deduced that the timing and balancer chains had stretched beyond the ability of the adjusters to take up the slack. They concluded that I had to have the chains etc replaced right away as the engine was in Imminent danger of Catastrophic Failure. You can imagine how I felt - I've only had the car two months, and although it has 120,000 miles on the clock, I thought it was going to be highly reliable, thanks to its full service history and Saab's reputation for ironclad build quality. Two Strokes said they could do the work for me right away, but it would take a couple of days. In the meantime I could carry on using the courtesy car they had lent me (a dreadful old 900). How much? Oh, about 1500 GBP, plus VAT! Fifteen hundred quid! I only paid 3500 for the whole car! How much was a new engine? 2300 he said. I decided not to take up their offer, as I figured Broadways would do it for me cheaper. Then as I drove away I started getting suspicious. Call me cynical, but but if you had a customer who was clearly a perfectionist, and seemed willing to spend money on relative trivia (e.g. 340 GBP on having the seat restored) wouldn't you try to sell him loads of extra stuff by exaggerating any existing problems? So I called Broadways and explained the situation to them. They said (bless their hearts) bring the car round immediately and we'll have a look. This I did (driving at 1500 rpm or less the whole way!) and the manager and top mechanic came out in the rain and had a thorough listen to the engine. They allowed for the fact that the engine was warm (it makes its worst noise when it's cold obviously) and concluded I need NOT worry. They said; 1. Early 9-5s are known to be a bit noisy 2. They had heard a lot worse than this 3. If I was going to keep the car, it would be a worthwhile investment - eventually. But there was certainly nothing "Imminent" about this "Catastrophic Failure". Their recommendation? Bring it round in the new year or the spring and they would check it again to see if it had got any worse. In the mean time, always give it a chance to warm up in the mornings before driving off, and keep a watch on the oil light as once stuff really starts to wear, metal filings end up blocking the filter/pump. However, they did say that in their experience, the early 9-5s do have problems, and the 2.3s more so than the 2.0s. They would not comment - at all - when I voiced my suspicions about Two Strokes' motives. Can't blame them, laws of libel and all that. And anyway, being a cynic, would I believe them if they DID say something nasty about Two Strokes? They're competitors after all! So - question to group, especially UK members. Who would you believe? Is there a history of timing/balancer chain failures on early 9-5s? Does 1500 quid sound excessive? Generally, what problems do early 9-5s have? The SID and the ACC I know about (and both have been done on mine), the throttle PS I (now) know about, anything else crop up regularly? TIA

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