Category Archives: Mechanical

Various mechanical modifications and tutorials

Ghetto Idler Pulley Change

Okay, this is a quick tutorial on how to change the upper idler pulley – ghetto style.

Firstly, the reason this would need to be changed is due to the bearing inside the pulley getting worn and making noise. If it goes too far it can seize up and happily wreck your engine. I was alerted to the fact that it needed to be changed by the whining noise it made, which turned out to be the alternator bearing, but I’m pretty sure this one needed to be changed as well.

Anyway, the way I found out was to get a plastic flexible tube (that’s ghetto, right?) and stick one end to your ear, the other end to the idler pulley. You can then work out which bearing is the one giving you problems. Before I changed mine it was very noisy, afterwards it wasn’t. You can also use a rigid metal tube, but I think it’s just dangerous if you are the slightest bit clumsy.

On to the tutorial. Step one is to remove the air box. Not a big deal, there are three bolts holding it down, just take the nuts off and it should lift out with a little bit of effort. Once out, move it to one side (don’t need to disconnect it) and you’ll see the upper pulleys…

The next step is to loosen the belt and move it to the side so we can change the idler pulley (just visible in the above photo on the left hand side). To loosen the belt, there is a tension release thing just to the left (in my pic above) of the belt – behind the engine on the belt side. There is a square whole that you insert a socket extension bar into to lever it back and forth.

However, it wouldn’t be very ghetto if it was that easy, right? So I don’t have an extension bar (I went and bought one after this, by the way), so I had to improvise…

Yes, that a socket rachet handle thing with a big-ass spanner looped around it. Hey, it gave me the leverage to pull the tensioner toward me and loosen the belt. I know it’s literally putting a round peg in a square hole, but hey this IS supposed to be ghetto, right?

Anyway, when you’ve finished judging me (although notice where the spanner is made), pull that ghetto lever (or the extension bar if you’re sensible) towards you and the front of the car. This will loosen the belt and allow you to slip it off to the side.

Belt is on…

Belt is off…

(Notice the padding I put in so that the ghetto lever wouldn’t scratch the car too much? Pipe insulation.)

So, now that the belt is off, take the opportunity to move the other pulleys around a bit. If you hear a dry kind of grinding sound as you move them, you may need to replace those too.

Anyway, just grab a socket ratchet thing to undo the bolt….. oh. Small problem. We used that for the tensioner. Okay, now here is the bit of a drawback to my ghetto lever – when you take the belt off, the tensioner moves back a little. Fine with the extension bar, it fits in. However, the ghetto lever takes a fair bit to move it back into place again.

Moving on regardless, undo the bolt on the upper idler pulley…

Take it off…

Whack the new one on…

Tighten it up…

And put the belt back on.

Obviously, you’ll need to pull the tensioner back to refit the belt. I suggest that you put it on at the idler pulley. I found that the easiest. Check the belt is okay and properly in place. Give the belt a squirt with belt dressing if you have it and spray some wd-40 around as well – although you may not have this stuff or you wouldn’t be reading a “ghetto” thread, would you?

Replace the air box, write down when you replaced the pulley and pack up tools.



Saab Cabin Filter area cleaned Final Part

I just wanted to put a final update on this tutorial. I went ahead and ordered the new cabin filter and installed it as per these instructions. There was a noticeable difference in the amount of air coming into the car – and no more leaks.

Below are a couple of photos showing how the new air filter looks and how it probably should be most of the time – I recommend a regular check and replace. The first photo is a nice comparison between old and new…


Saab Cabin Filter area cleaned Part 3

Okay, now you should have given the whole area a nice big clean and it should look something like this:

Next we’ll need to replace the parts. Ensure the new cabin filter is in – or clean the old one up as much as possible to replace later (like I did). Next, give the secondary covery (the smaller one) a good wipe over and slip it back in – it’s pretty obvious where it goes and it really just sits there.

Next, the “Elephant’s Trunk” can go back in place. Find the holw that you took it out of…

And squeeze it back in place. Find the widest bit through so it hangs down, then pull it back towards you until it stops on the lip. Check around the holw to ensure it’s in place and push any part that came through and shouldn’t have back with your finger.

Next, slide the outer cover in place and affix with the metal clips. As you put it on, remember to feed the water tube through.

Then replace the rubber guard along the metal lip…

Now put the wiper assemblies back on (remembering the left and right side and putting them in the right spot).

Tighten up the nuts and we’re almost done.

The last thing you need to do (and don’t forget this one!) is to reconnect the hose for the window washer. Clip it back on in reverse of how you took it off, and then the connection pushes neatly into the outer cover.

Close the bonnet (hood), wash your hands and crack a beer. You deserve it.


Saab Cabin Filter area cleaned Part 2

The inner cover itself is quite easy to remove. It just pulls out and is not held by anything. Mine caught up a little on the windscreen, but came out with a little effort. Put it aside with the other stuff.

And once that’s out, it reveals the source of the water clog….

I believe that my problem is that the water is pooling in this area so clogged by leaves, and then flowing into the cabin filter (the cabin filter is that disgusting black thing in the middle) and down the tubes into the foot well.

The next step is to remove as much of the leaves and debris as much as possible so that none of it falls into the air conditioning tubes while we fix this.

Next we need to remove the cabin filter. There are two clips, one on the left and one on the right. Undo the clip (gently lift it up from the lip) on the right side…

And then unclip the one on the left…

Then slide the cabin filter out in the opposite direction of the wiper motor. It will easily slide out and it’s at this point you insert the new one. Give the seating a bit of a wipe first to ensure there’s no more dirt getting in.

This is what my cabin filter looked like when I pulled it out, and the container next to it is the leaves I pulled out. It’s a 1.8 litre (maybe half a gallon?) ice cream container that I filled with detritus!

Alright, next is the “elephant trunk” piece that everyone is talking about. I was worried about this, since I hadn’t seen anything like that, but I found it!! Mine was in the middle of the car, on the firewall…

It’s easy to remove, just pull on it (no jokes please) and it will easily come away (I said no jokes!).

Once out, you’ll see how full of mud and leaves it is…

Empty it, flush it out with water, give it a wipe on the inside and it should look like this:

Next, give the whole area areally good cleanup and we’re ready to put it all back together.


Saab Cabin Filter area cleaned Part 1

Okay, as promised, photo tutorial on how to clean out the crud around the cabin filter to stop water getting in and wetting the mats/floor in the cabin. Ideally you’d change the cabin filter as you do this, but I didn’t have one at the time. So, order your cabin filter and then read through this tutorial…Right. So, the car starts like this…

As you can see it’s been raining a bit, which is why I noticed the water. Best to do this BEFORE it pours rain to fix the cause.

Anyway, first step was to open the bonnet and remove the rubber rain guard into the engine bay.

The rubber bit just pulls off and it isn’t difficult at all. But you need to remove it to get to a couple of clips. Put it to the side and move on to the next step.

The next step is to remove the wiper blade assembly. This is slightly different on each model, but mine’s a 1999 9-3 S so this is how mine’s set up. I’m in Australia, so things may be slightly different since my car is RHD.

Undo both wiper blade assemblies with a 13 mm socket (1/2 inch works as well)…

…and put them aside. I have a couple of cardboard tags that help me remember which part goes where when I do both sides of the car, so I used them to remember which side the assembly goes on.

This will leave the cover that needs to come off. Once the wipers are removed, it should look like this…

Before we remove the cover, make sure you disconnect the hose going to the water jets. This is pretty easy, just pull on the tube and disconnect it. Remove it on the engine side, not the bonnet side as there is a washer type thing in between and you need to slide the cover over the tube.

Next, to remove the cover, you’ll need to lift the clips up. I only had two clips (left and right) and they popped up pretty easy. Lift them up so the clips are sitting on top of the metal ledge. Pry one side out a little first…

…then you can pull the whole thing to the side and remove it entirely. Put it aside somewhere safe so you don’t step on it.

This will reveal the inner cover (as above). I’ll continue on with this in the next post, but you can already see there’s a few leaves in there…

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