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  1. #1
    Saab Enthusiast raquettelaker2's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    2008 9-3 Turbo-X, 1994 900 CommEd
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    Saab 9-5 2.3T Serpentine Belt and Idler Pulleys

    Serpentine belt replacement is specified every 60k miles for the 9-5. It's also a good idea to replace all the idler pulleys. You can probably get 120k miles out of the tensioner, but mine seemed to be making a rattling sound when it was cold out so I replaced it.


    1). Find a level hard surface to park your car so you can use a jack and stands easily and safely. I had to get creative and maneuver under my deck to park on the concrete slab. Break the lug nuts loose on the front passenger wheel while it's still on the ground.

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    2). Jack up the car and place a jack stand under the front passenger jack point.

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    3). Remove the front passenger wheel.

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    4). Remove the belt's protective cover. There's one hex screw in the wheel well and four more on the underside. They're all 8mm hex heads.

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    This exposes the crankshaft pulley.

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    5). Place a jack under the oil pan with a block of wood between them to distribute the force. Jack it up, and watch the top of the engine. You'll see if lift as the weight comes off the engine mount.

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    6). Remove the Saab plastic engine cover around the oil dipstick. Remove the U-shaped engine mount bracket bolts. The four outer bolts are 16mm hex and the one big nut is an 18mm hex. You'll most likely need a breaker bar. I used a kayak paddle. There's a clip circled in green that supports a hose under the bracket. You don't have to remove the clip but make sure you take the hose out of the clip before you remove the bracket.

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    Here's what it looks like with the bracket removed:

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    7). See the big square hole in the top of the tensioner? It's there to stick a big old 1/2" drive socket extension in there. When you pull the extension toward the front of the car, you relieve the tension on the belt.

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    With the tension relieved, there's a hole in the side of the tensioner that you can stick a 3mm Allen-key into to lock it into a relieved position. You'll see it on your new one. It comes packaged with a little key like this one. Thankfully, my friend and I did this job just a few days ago on his 2000 9-5 and I stole the key that came in his new tensioner so I won't have to wrestle my Allen-key out of it.

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    Pull forward on the extension, and slip the key into the hole.

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    8). You can now take the belt out. There's really no set procedure to get it out. Just fish it off the pulleys and pull it out through the top or bottom down by the crankshaft pulley. Mine was pretty beat with 59k miles on it. All the stuff on the ground is belt shavings:

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    Chewed up:

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    9). That pulley on the left is the center idler pulley. That little bugger is the reason Saab switched to the short belt for a while, which bypasses that pulley altogether. I didn't want to risk any additional vibration so I opted to replace mine with the long belt again. After all the horror stories, this pulley was surprisingly easy to replace. Use a 13mm wrench to loosen it and then you can back out the bolt out with your fingers.You have to slide the pulley out with the bolt in it because the frame keeps the bolt from backing out enough. Pay attention to the configuration of the little metal plates that are on the front and back of the pulley. They're slightly different and you have to put the new ones on in the right order.

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    10). Here's the back plate sitting on the engine block.

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    11). Here's the tricksy part. Tape the bolt into the pulley. You don't want the bolt to be able to spin in the pulley's hole. This way, once you get the bolt in the hole in the engine, you can rotate the whole pulley and the bolt will start threading.

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    It took me 10 seconds to get it in there. No joke. Don't forget to take off the tape!

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    12). The upper idler pulley is a joke to get out. Use a 15mm wrench and it's out. Very easy to get to.

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  2. #2
    Saab Enthusiast raquettelaker2's Avatar
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    2008 9-3 Turbo-X, 1994 900 CommEd
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    Continued:

    13). The tensioner assembly is held in with one 8mm hex bolt.

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    I used my lug nut wrench as a mini breaker bar. It's awkward in there with the Allen-key. Once the bolt is out a little bit it's easy to back it out the rest of the way with your fingers.

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    New tensioner installed:

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    14). Install the new upper idler pulley. Just as easy as it was taking the old one out!

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    15). Now it's time to route the new belt. Again, not really a set procedure, but I found it easiest to start by feeding it down between the center idler and the water pump pulley (middle right in the pic). Save the A/C compressor (bottom right) for last. It's easy to roll the belt on from underneath last.

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    Sunset/beer break.

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    16). Now you can use your 1/2" socket extension again and pull the tensioner forward, and slide out the key. Let it back gently to apply tension to the belt.

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    17). Reassemble, and you're done!!

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    Last edited by raquettelaker2; 19 October 2010 at 17:33.

  3. #3
    Saab Enthusiast raquettelaker2's Avatar
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    2008 9-3 Turbo-X, 1994 900 CommEd
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    Some post-project analysis.

    My car no long death-rattles (tensioner) for the first three minutes when starting the engine cold, which I like. And it's also much quieter and smoother. Apparently the belt WAS rubbing (audibly) somewhere it wasn't supposed to be. It's very noticeable driving through the parking garage. Might explain why one side of the belt was so nasty looking. My car had 59k miles on it when I did this job.

    Here's what the bearings looked like in the pulleys:




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  4. #4
    Nathan! Not Nate.
    Captain Off Topic Nathan 9⁵'s Avatar
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    '03 9⁵ Arc 3.0t, '01 9⁵ Griffin V6, '04 9 Arc 2.0T
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    Nice job!

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  5. #5
    Saab Enthusiast photousa's Avatar
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    2003 Saab 9-5 Aero 2.3t Wagon HO Manual
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    Great post and photos, it's cool that your center pulley only took 10 seconds to install. I struggled with mine a lot longer.

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  6. #6
    Saab Enthusiast raquettelaker2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by photousa View Post
    Great post and photos, it's cool that your center pulley only took 10 seconds to install. I struggled with mine a lot longer.
    That sucks. Did you try the tape method? I just did this last week on my friend's Gary Fisher and we struggled with it too until we figured out the optimal tape application. On mine I literally taped it, stuck it in and it started threading on the first try. I was very happy!

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  7. #7
    Saab Enthusiast photousa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raquettelaker2 View Post
    That sucks. Did you try the tape method? I just did this last week on my friend's Gary Fisher and we struggled with it too until we figured out the optimal tape application. On mine I literally taped it, stuck it in and it started threading on the first try. I was very happy!
    I used a tape method very similar to yours. I used 1" black gaffers tape, very similar to electrical tape. Once I got the tape, bolt and pulley in place, I ended up having to pull the tape off and start the bolt using fingers on both hands, I'm not kidding, I struggled with this for 45 minutes at least. I'm happy to see that you got it in 10 seconds, now I know it can be done. Next time, I'm using electrical tape. I think the process must have something to do with the elasticity of electrical tape. Gaffers tape is not that elastic. Your photos are really great. Was I supposed to get a second 3mm Allen Key with my eEuroparts tensioner? I got gipped and didn't get one, I had to use one of my allen wrenches.....

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  8. #8
    Saab Enthusiast raquettelaker2's Avatar
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    My friend and I ordered tensioners from eEuro within a week from each other and both of them had lock keys in them. They're not Allen's though. Just round/smooth.

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  9. #9
    Saab Enthusiast
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    Awsome tutorial. I did figure out the tape trick in the end but had used 2" wide duct tape instead of electrical tape. Love the pic showing your beer break. very beautiful location. Thanks again for this detailed tutorial.

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  10. #10
    Saab Enthusiast
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    06' 9-5 Sportcombi, 06' Sport Sedan
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    Rat, great write up and awesome pics! Looks like a beautiful place to live next to the lake!

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