- Tools needed: Your basic set of tools with wrenches/spanners, metric sockets and torx bits, ratchets and extensions, screw drivers, drill for some model years with manual transmission, large lever, hydraulic jack, car ramps or axle stands
- Parts and supplies needed:
* Anaerobic sealant Loctite 518 or Permatex 51817
* Oil pickup tube rubber o-ring - Saab part 91 38 009 (available from Saab dealer or eEuroparts and other online vendors
* Cleaning supplies for sump cleaning (brushes/rags/solvents)
- Difficulty rating: It is not a very difficult job but it requires patience. Without a car lift, your basically spending a lot of time laying on your back with your face close to the the engine.
- Time estimate: 4 - 8 hours for the average DIY-er with basic mechanical skills. Probably about 2 hours for an experienced Saab mechanic with car lift.
- Tip: Soak the exhaust bolts/nuts with WD40 or other penetrating lubricant the night before
Early models of the Saab 9-5 with 2.3L 4-cylinder engine suffer from the engine sludge issue. This write-up shows the steps involved in dropping the sump and check for possible problems with a clogged oil pickup strainer.
My car is (was) a 6-year old 2001 9-5 2.3t automatic with 88,000 miles. I don't have any service records between 40K and 82K miles. It is quite possible regular dino oil was used for oil changes before I purchased the car at 82K miles.
Depending on your mechanical skills, available tools and materials, you will probably need between 3 and 8 hours to complete this procedure. It requires maneuvering tools, hands and other body parts in tight spaces, laying on your back with your head inches away from the engine and getting dirty with oil and grease so please take your time. Patience and an eye for details are required because you don't want to rush this job.
Ready? Let's start.
Put the car on jack stands or car ramps. I prefer the car ramps because you'll have a bit more room and I never completely trust the jack stands.
Remove the two under-trays from the car.
Drain the oil, replace oil filter and refit the oil drain plug with a new washer.
Unplug the 2 oxygen sensor wiring connectors on the left-hand side of the cylinder head. Slide out the little red part with a screw driver and unplug. Loosen the wires so you'll have enough room to lower the exhaust a little bit later on.
Unbolt the exhaust system from the turbo charger (13mm). The nut will come of the bolt or the entire bolt will come out. Two can be accessed from the top and one from underneath the car. If they are really hard to loosen, spray a little bit of lubricant (WD40) and let it penetrate for a while. Mine came of easy. To get better access to the bolts, you can remove the silver pipe and turbo heat shield. This only takes a few minutes and makes it much easier.
Undo the bolts for the exhaust support bracket (13mm). Loosen the upper bolt so you can move the bracket out of the way. Make sure not to put too much stress on the flexible part of the exhaust as it can be damaged.
Undo the retaining bolts and remove the flywheel cover plate from the transmission (11mm).
Disconnect the crankcase breather hose from the back of the sump.
Unscrew all bolts securing the sump (13mm). Leave in one or two bolts to prevent the sump from falling. Break the seal by hitting the sump with the palm of your hand. Remove the remaining retaining bolts and rest the sump on the sub frame.
Now comes the most difficult part. The sump can be difficult to remove without moving the engine within the frame. Put a jack under the transmission and slowly jack it up a little bit. In addition, you can put a big wrench or other lever between the inner wing panel and crankshaft pulley to move the engine to the left. This can be done by one person but it helps to have an extra pair of hands.
Again, it can be hard to do but you will get it out eventually. I read somewhere it is also possible to remove part of the sub frame of the car but that seems even more difficult and time-consuming.
Put a piece of wood between the jack and transmission to prevent damage.
There is enough room to use a good size lever between the pulley and inner wing panel. Be careful not to damage anything.
After the sump is removed from the car, take out the cover plate inside (Torx 30) and remove the oil pump pickup/strainer. Clean the inside very well to remove all debris and other stuff. If yours is like mine, you'll be glad you did this sump check. I used paper towels, rags and kerosine to loosen up the gunk, a flat metal blade to scrape off the black stuff and a screw driver to get into the corners and such. Steel wool is also supposed to work great.
There was a lot of debris accumulated right under the oil pickup strainer. Note how close it is to the oil drain plug in the upper right-hand corner. It is surprising this debris was not removed from the engine with regular oil changes.
Solidified oil on the inside of the sump started to flake off which caused most of the debris.
The strainer was not completely clogged up yet. If this clogs up completely, there is no oil going to the engine and cause complete engine failure.
When it is all clean, you're ready to put it back on the engine. Look inside the engine to check if there are not any signs of severe sludge forming.
Remove all old sealant and lean and degrease the underside of the engine and oil sump so the sealant can do its job.
Use an anaerobic sealant like Loctite 518 or Permatex 51817 to put a small 1mm-wide bead on the oil sump edges. Make sure to go on the sump inside when you come to the bolt holes and all the way around the hole for the oil pickup line. One of these small tubes is just enough to do one sump.
The anaerobic sealant will harden in between the metal but remains fluid where it is in contact with air. This is important because any sealant leaking inside the sump will be flushed away with the oil. If you would use a different sealant, the extra sealant would harden and potentially clog up the filter, oil lines and strainer.
There is no major rush to get the sump back on (the sealant will remain fluid because it is in contact with the air). You will have to be very careful not to touch the sump edges on the engine or other parts as not to smear the sealant and break the bead. This will cause an oil leak after it has been put back together.
Tighten all sump bolts. You should use a torque wrench to tighten to 22 Nm/16 lbf ft but it is either difficult or impossible to get to some bolts with a big wrench. Make sure they are tight but not too much as you don't want to strip any threads inside the engine block.
Put all the other stuff back on the engine.
Fill engine with oil.
Start the car and let it warm up. Check for leaks around the oil sump. Some oil from the engine probably dripped on the exhaust so don't be alarmed when you see smoke coming from the engine when it starts to warm up. This will burn off in a few minutes.
Turn off engine and let it sit for a while. Check oil level and add if necessary.
Sit back, have a coffee or beer and enjoy the results of your wrenching skills and the peace of mind of having a clean sump.