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Recommended Spark Plugs for NG900 and 9-3
Posted by REM in Seattle [Email] (# 4) [Profile/Gallery] (more from REM in Seattle) on Mon, 24 Aug 2009 12:29:31
In Reply to: Spark plug question, John [Profile/Gallery] , Sun, 19 Jul 2009 07:27:07

NGK Spark Plugs for NG900 and 9-3
By Rob Mustard (aka REM in Seattle)
Search word: rem_mod
Last updated – August 24, 2009


The Saab NG900 and 9-3 turbo engines (among others) use a very sophisticated DI (direct Ignition) cassette as part of the “Trionic” engine management system. Besides providing spark control for each cylinder, the DI cassette and ECU (Engine Control Unit) computer also use the spark plugs to sense knock via the ionization level in each cylinder. Therefore, the exact properties of the NGK spark plugs are important to keep the "Trionic" system operating correctly. The NGK cooper core and platinum spark plugs are the original brand and type used by SAAB from the factory.

So the answer on spark plugs is while you are able to switch between the NGK platinum and regular ‘copper core’ plugs in the “Trionic” system, using other brands of spark plugs is just asking for check engine lights, misfires, hard starting, and possible DI cassette damage.

For the record I decided to list the current spark plugs recommended by NGK for the NG900 and 9-3 2.0L and 2.3L turbocharged engines (not the 9-3SS). As you can see both heat ranges 6 and 7 are called out. For NGK spark plugs, the lower the number the hotter the spark plug. So a heat range 6 spark plug runs hotter (at a higher spark plug tip temperature) than a heat range 7 spark plug. Also note that regular copper core plugs, and platinum plugs are both specified depending on the model year.

I believe the conventional wisdom of the Saabnet (based on a lot of owner input and feedback) still stands.

- Use the inexpensive regular copper BCPR6ES-11 (or BCPR6ES) for primarily city driving where the BCPR7ES-11 (or BCPR7ES) shows a lot of black carbon deposits on the plug tip. The use of the ‘hotter’ heat range 6 spark plug will help reduce the black carbon deposits on the spark plug tip.

- Use the inexpensive regular copper BCPR7ES-11 (or BCPR7ES) for primarily freeway, sustained high speed, spirited driving, towing, or when using an upgraded ECU like Speedparts, BSR, etc.

- Replace the spark plugs every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your driving style. The BCPR6ES-11 and BCPR7ES-11 are factory gapped by NGK to 0.044". The BCPR6ES and BCPR7ES are factory gapped by NGK to 0.035". The Saab specification has changed over the model years but is generally 1.0mm +/- .1mm (0.040” +/- 0.004”). It is best to gap new spark plugs to the lower end of the tolerance, as the spark gap will wear and increase over the life of the spark plug. Therefore, all the NGK plugs need to be re-gapped to 0.036" before use in the Saab 2.0L and 2.3L turbo engine.

The NGK BCPR6ES-11 and BCPR7ES-11 copper core plugs were Saab original equipment from 1994 thru 1999. From 2000 thru 2002, the NGK PFR6H-10 platinum spark plugs were Saab original equipment, and the NGK PFR7H-10 was offered as an option from the Saab part department for “hard driving”. The additional cost of the platinum spark plugs may be justified if you are paying someone else to do the installation and want to run 30,000-miles between spark plug changes. Otherwise, the regular copper plugs perform just as well for less money but need to be replaced more often.

Here are the NGK recommended spark plugs and spark plug gaps for the NG900 and 9-3 2.0L turbo (S and SE models) and 2.3L turbo engine (Viggen) by model year (MY) per the NGK Spark Plugs USA (http://www.ngksparkplugs.com/) application charts as of July 19, 2009.

Prices for NGK spark plugs are from Sparkplugs.com (http://www.sparkplugs.com/) as of July 19, 2009.

MY1994; all turbo models
BCPR7ES-11 STK# 1095 Gap .040” standard copper plug price $2.89 ea.
BCPR7EIX-11 STK# 5691 Gap .040” Iridium IX plug price $7.83 ea. (See note below)

MY1995-1996; all turbo models
BCPR6ES-11 STK# 6779 Gap .040” standard copper plug price $2.89 ea.
BCPR6E-11 STK# 5632 Gap .040” V-Power copper plug price $2.89 ea.
BCPR6EGP STK# 7088 Gap .040” G-Power platinum plug price $3.15 ea.
BCPR6EIX-11 STK# 4919 Gap .040” Iridium IX plug price $7.83 ea. (See note below)

MY1997-1999; all turbo models
BCPR7ES-11 STK# 1095 Gap .040” standard copper plug price $2.89 ea.
BCPR7EIX-11 STK# 5691 Gap .040” Iridium IX plug price $7.83 ea. (See note below)

MY2000-2002; all turbo models
PFR6H-10 STK# 6290 Gap .039” Laser platinum plug price $12.06 ea.

Note: Saab has never offered NGK Iridium spark plugs as orginal or replacement parts. Some Saabnet members report unsatisfactory results when using NGK Iridium spark plugs.

Rob Mustard (aka REM in Seattle)
2005 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible; Steel Gray metallic; 5-speed; 25,000 miles
1998 Saab 900SET; Silver metallic; 5-door; Automatic; 110,000 miles
1984 Saab 900T; Cherry Red; 3-door; 5-speed; 242,000 miles (RIP)

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