Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 22:41:51 +0000
From: Paul Halliday <>
Subject: Noisy Engine & Poor Turbo Performance (1988 900 Turbo 8V)

I have a Saab 900 Turbo 8V (1988) which is starting to give some poor performance. In that I have only owned it for about three weeks now, and it is my first Saab, I don't have much experience in these matters. Given that it is an older car and the temperature here in the north of Britain is quite cold at the moment (0-5 degrees C), I start my engine and give it about 1500-2000 RPM for 30-60 seconds before engaging the gears and driving off. Upon driving off, the turbo pressure on the APC gauge will not go into turbo-charged conditions until the engine has sufficiently warmed up - I understand this to be the normal condition for driving with a cold engine, so I am quite encouraged that the engine is protecting itself correcly and take it easy for the first mile or so. However, when the temperature needle reaches (exactly) the lower end of the green part of the temperature gauge, a loud whirring starts up in the engine very intermittently to start with which does cause some considerable performance drop and the car almost stalls following some pretty sharp jerks. The whirring I mention gradually increases to a constant pitch (about 2-3 ticks per second) and will remain doing that for the duration of the journey. Do note that this is not a high pitch whine which I would expect from an old/dying turbocharger but sounds more electrical, like some sort of starter motor continuing to fire up. The engine temperature rises to about half way up the green part of the gauge within a minute or two after the whirring has reached a constant rate. I have just had the car looked over by a mechanic who has performed pressure checks on the oil, cooling system and vacuum system and informs me that there are no problems. Can we rule the obvious out, or are there other quirks to check out here? What does concern me is I only seem to get one good "turbo burn" before the car feels a little seized up and and higher pressures on the APC gauge do not give anyway near the same performance. The car is fine over long distances and I have only once known the cooling fan to start up after the engine has been turned off. The oil has been changed (10W40 used) within the last week and the coolant is up to the correct level. Am I just experiencing a poor combination of cold weather and an old car, or am I facing something more serious in the near future. Any help will be greatly appreciated ... something I can point my otherwise fairly nonchalent mechanic towards. C'ya Paul

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