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  1. #1
    Saab Nut
    Join Date
    02 Aug 2010
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    Coolant drain, fill and flush - Saab 9-5

    Instructions from the Workshop Information System for the 4-cylinder engine

    Coolant capacity: 7.4 liter

    1. Open the cap on the expansion tank and release the pressure.

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    2. Raise the car.

    3. Remove the lower front cover.

    4. Open the drain cock on the radiator and drain off the coolant.

    5. Close the drain cock.

    6. Lower the car to the floor.

    7. Switch off the A/C or ACC. Fill with coolant to the MAX level. Do not forget to close the drain plug on the radiator first. Refer to Coolant for mixtures. Close the lid.

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    8. Start the engine and run unloaded until warm at varying engine speeds until the radiator fan starts.

    9. Turn off the engine and top up to the MAX level.

    10. Fit the lower front cover.

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  2. #2
    Saab Enthusiast nordwulf's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Jul 2010
    NW Michigan, USA
    previous: 2006 9-3, 2001-06 9-5, 2011 9-4X
    Thumbs Up:   60

    Coolant drain, fill and flush - Saab 9-5

    Tools needed

    • Torx T-25 screw driver (usually found in trunk near spare wheel)
    • Regular screw driver
    • Drain pan
    • Measuring container

    Supplies needed

    • Coolant (full-strength, non-diluted)
    • Distilled water (9 gallons / 35 liters

    Difficulty rating (scale 1 to 5)

    1 - very easy

    Time estimate

    30 minutes for first drain and fill, subsequent drain and fill about 15 minutes, final drain and fill 30 minutes


    These are instructions for the 2.3T 4-cylinder petrol engine. Other engines may be different and have different capacities for the cooling system. Always use distilled water, not tap water or other bottled/spring water.

    This is a very easy procedure and anyone can do this with some basic mechanical skills. Coolant is supposed to last the life of the car these days but don't believe everything a manufacturer says. It is a good idea to replace every 3 years and it is very inexpensive. One gallon (3.8 liter of coolant in the US is about $12 and 1 gallon of distilled water is less than $1. So a bit of time and $20 is all it takes to flush the system and have new coolant in your engine.

    1. Make sure the engine is cold or has been turned off for about an hour. The cooling system is pressurized and coolant can be very, very hot.

    2. Raise the front of the car with ramps or a jack with axle stands. Never work under a car that is only supported by a jack. I prefer ramps because it is so much faster and easier.

    3. Open the cap on the expansion tank to release the pressure

    3. Remove the lower front cover

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    4. Drain about 1 gallon / 3-4 liters of coolant. The green petcock is difficult to access and open. I ended up using a screwdriver to push on one side of the petcock and one finger to pull to get this green valve to turn and open. Other tutorials describe to access from the top of the engine bay but there was no way I could get my hand/arm in that narrow space.

    The petcock opens counter-clockwise. Turn 1/4 and pull out. Be careful not to break anything because it's mostly plastic. I cut the top of a milk/water gallon jug to catch the coolant when it drained. The coolant looked very clean so I decided to re-use.

    5. It may take 10 - 15 minutes to drain completely. Close the petcock when empty. The coolant system holds 7.4 liters and I was able to only get 5.3 liters out so it is not possible to drain all the coolant from the system.

    6. Fill engine with distilled water by pouring it in the expansion tank to the Cold marking on the tank. Let the engine warm up or go for drive so the fresh water can mix with the remaining coolant and flush the system. Turn the heater on High so it will also circulate the coolant in the heater cores. Add water if needed as it may settle and the level may drop.

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    I drove about 10 - 15 miles after each fill just to make sure everything mixed very good and any deposits would be flushed as well.

    7. Repeat step 4 through 6 at least 4 - 5 times. After the final flush, the liquid that came out was almost clear on mine. I say it was about 95% clear with just a slight color.

    8. For the final fill, we will have to mix the coolant with distilled water. For the 2.3T engine, the system holds 7.4 liters and only 5.3 liters can be drained. At least, that was the case with my 2004 9-5 2.3T. Other engines may be different so measure and do your own calculations. After a full drain, there is still 2.1 liters of distilled water left in the engine.

    The recommended mix of coolant/water is 50/50. 7.4 divided by 2 is 3.7 liters of coolant needed. Conveniently, this is almost one gallon. 3.7 liters of water needed minus the 2.1 liters still left in the engine is 1.6 liters of water that needs to be added in addition to the coolant.

    9. Fit the lower front cover.

    Important note:
    There are several ways to flush a cooling system in a vehicle. This is just one of them. You can find instructions using a garden hose to fill the system when you drain it at the same time. Major flaw with this is it uses regular tap (city or well) water which should be avoided. Other possibilities are to use expensive professional power flushing systems. I believe the method described in this tutorial is a good way to inexpensively service and maintain the Saab 9-5 cooling system. Saab does not provide any flushing instructions in the WIS.

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  3. #3
    Renato Piereck
    Spreading the Saab virus rpiereck's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jul 2011
    Ansbach, Germany
    '00 9-5 Aero SC, 87 900i 8v
    Thumbs Up:   2
    That's cheating if your radiator has such an easy drain cock!

    The one on my NG900 was old and brittle and broke when I tried to open it. Fortunately it broke on the closed position, which is not bad. The problem is now if I have to drain the cooling system I have to remove the lower radiator hose, and that makes a mess with coolant going all over the place.

    What do then is get a good length of aluminum foil, maybe two or three foot long, and fold it over a few times so it's a few layers thick. Then I shape in onto a trough and put it underneath the lower radiator hose. With some care an patience I am able to remove the hose without making too much of a mess, and the aluminum foil trough works great at funneling the coolant away from the subframe and into an empty bucket below the car.

    Changing and flushing the coolant system is one of those things that are easy to do and pay off in the long run!

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    Now: '00 Saab 9-5 Aero Combi - '89 Peugeot 205 CTI - '91 Peugeot 309 GTI
    Gone: '87 Saab 900i - '95 Saab 900 SE Turbo

  4. #4
    Saab Enthusiast nordwulf's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Jul 2010
    NW Michigan, USA
    previous: 2006 9-3, 2001-06 9-5, 2011 9-4X
    Thumbs Up:   60
    The green petcock on the 9-5 is a $11 part (5333471) so an inexpensive replacement. Still inconvenient when you break it and is left in the open position.

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  5. #5
    Saab Fan J Frank Parnell's Avatar
    Join Date
    18 Jan 2014
    Bothell, WA
    2008 9-5 Aero
    Thumbs Up:   2
    Great tutorial Frank. I had a bit of trouble getting to the petcock as well, so I cut a slot in the end of a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe to use as a tool. This allowed me to fully grip both sides of the petcock knob, from a position where I had more access to fit my hand.

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  6. #6

    Join Date
    04 Dec 2015
    AZ, USA
    2008 9-5 Sportcombi, 2007 9-3 CV, 1999 9-3
    Thumbs Up:   0
    I found some tools that make draining the radiator less miserable: Thexton THE485 Petcock Socket Set - about $15, and there are some others out there for a similar price, but metal instead of plastic.

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