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Dropping and cleaning the sump and strainer: 9-5 petrol B205/235 engine

Please note that this article is most relevant to engines produced prior to 2004 that have a tendency to suffer from sludge formation and damage from subsequent oil starvation.

Kit required:
Axle stands
Hydraulic jack
Drain bowl (with a capacity of at least 10 litres)
Oil filter pliers
Socket set or at least 13mm & 10mm hex wall sockets and wrench
Torx keys (for removing the sump baffle and strainer)

Materials required:
5 litres Oil (MUST be fully synthetic)
Oil filter (SAAB filters really ARE best and can be had cheaper than retail - shop around!)
Sump washer
Strainer oil seal: SAAB oe part # 9138009
SAAB flange sealant: SAAB oe part # 90297790 (not cheap but best and a little goes a very long way)
Disposable gloves
Deagreaser (see text)

Oil absorbing granules or sawdust

magnetic sump plug
strainer or strainer mesh (use 20 mesh woven stainless steel wire)

Estimated time required:
3hrs (allowing time for oil to drain, cleaning the sump, strainer & clearing up time)

Procedure & rationale

Most readers have acknowledged the need to run 4 cylinder petrol engined 9-5s on nothing but fully synthetic oil, with SAAB filters changed like clockwork every 6000 miles/6 months. Many, no doubt, will also be aware of the risk of sludge forming within the engine that can cause expensive damage and the need to investigate the sumps, oil strainers and breathers on cars which may have been run on part synthetic oil or used for mainly short journeys in cold weather.

This article explains how to drop the sump and inspect the oil strainer (or pick-up pipe) before cleaning everything properly and refitting the sump. The job isn't especially hard but it DOES take a lot longer than you might think to clean everything correctly. There is no real black art involved in working on SAAB engines BUT it is essential that everything is surgically clean and that means time and patience.

Discussions at length with service managers and specialists up and down the land has led us to the view that dropping and cleaning the sump and strainer is the bare minimum - ideally, the oil cooler should be removed at the same time and drained because muck and crud will be in there, just waiting to be sucked into your newly cleaned strainer. If this sounds a bit OTT just bear in mind that at each oil change you leave something like 25% of the total oil in the cooler and its pipes. The belt and braces approach should also extend to a very thorough check of the breather system and this should be carried out (ideally) within a week or two of dropping the sump. In particular, the rubber hose that connects the oil trap to the cambox cover is a notorious source of grief - the pipe breaks down to the extent that it feels squidgy (like licorice)... into rubber particles that will block your sump strainer.

Removing the sump from the car

Remove the dipstick along with the engine top cover, heatsheild and (thin) bypass pipe

With the car on the ground, start by removing the engine cover and then lift out the dipstick, placing a clean rag or similar in the tube. Next, loosen the oxygen sensor wire(s) from their clip location on a bracket at the back of the engine (gearbox end).

After you have done this, remove the turbo bypass pipe and the exhaust manifold heat shield.

Note that the stud may need the wire brush and penetrating oil treatment -if the area is cool. Use a deep 13mm socket to remove the single nut on the stud. With the shield removed, undo the x2 nuts you see on the top of the exhaust-turbo charger flange joint. We always use a sealed container for bits like fasteners - that way, they cannot get knocked over and lost.

Raise the car into the air (doors unlocked so you don't trigger the tilt sensor!) using either ramps or a hydraulic jack and good quality jack stands. Remove the plastic under tray cover and then undo the remaining nut on the exhaust flange joint. Unless someone has been at work previously, the exhaust downpipe should be held up by a metal bracket on the front of the engine - this needs to be undone. Do not allow the exhaust to swing unsupported as it could be damaged, so tie it up with something suitable in such a way that it will not impede access to the sump but at the same time is not being overstretched at the flexible joint.

Before doing anything more, it is a good precaution to cover the working area beneath the car with old carpet, plastic sheet etc to protect what is beneath because oil will drip and things can get a bit messy. Then, using suitable pliers, remove the clips holding the turbo charger rubber return hose (front of the sump) and push off the drain tube from the crankcase breather (back of the engine).

Undo the sump plug using a 13mm wall drive (hex) socket and drain the engine oil into a bowl. Replace the plug before undoing any of the bolts that retain the sump and at this point, empty the oil into a suitable container for disposal. Remove the oil filter at this stage too.

Many of the sump bolts are quite easy to get at with a 13mm socket on a ratchet wrench but for some, a 13mm ring spanner will be required. Only two or three bolts are fiddly to get at. You should remove the closing plate between the engine and transmission. Anorak fact: these are the only two bolts on the entire car for which you will need an 11mm spanner!

Unless someone has been working on the sump previously, odds are that even with all bolts removed, the sump will remain in situ, so use a bit of gentle persuasion to jar it free with a block of wood and a rubber mallet. What you do NOT want to be doing is prising the sump away by forcing screwdrivers etc between the joint.

Provided all the bolts are free, the sump will come away fairly easily but will not fall off. We have found that in many cases, we have to raise the gearbox slightly with the jack. Avoid jacking the gearbox directly - use a piece of wood to spread the load.

Most sumps look fairly grimy but the best cars will have a chestnut brown tinge and -inevitably- some traces of the dreaded sludge. Remove the x3 screws securing the baffle to the sump, then lift the baffle away. This exposes the strainer and oil pick up pipe which is fastened to the base of the sump by a further two screws. At this stage many owners have been misled into thinking that they have wasted their time... until the screws are removed and the pipe is pulled away (expect some resistance, by the way, as the rubber seal on the pipe will have some grip). Very often, the full horror is only revealed when the strainer is turned over.

Half measures won't do when cleaning sumps: make sure yours looks like this

There is no silver bullet product that we are aware of that cleans the sump, strainer and baffle in a couple of minutes. As a rule, we clean the outside of the sump with degreaser and hose away the worst before tackling the inside of the sump. Many solvents have been tried -including commercial strength caustic soda- but traffic film remover or something like Cillit Bang (don't let the wife find out!) breaks down the gunge quite effectively. Just don't expect it to happen in five minutes. We break the worst down before spraying everything with... foaming Oven Cleaner. Just bear in mind that whatever you use, the residue MUST be neutralised but if you use water, be advised that the baffle and strainer WILL rust in no time, so dry them quickly and apply a thin coat of spray lubricant like WD40.

It is our practise to remove the oil cooler to drain it - or bin it, if the engine has suffered a major failure. We also re-mesh strainers and fit magnetic sump drain plugs whenever sumps are removed and this will topic will be covered in a future article. Most readers will probably not want to go this far and even filthy strainers can be cleaned - eventually. New strainers are available (of course) but whether you remesh the strainer, clean the old one or replace it with a new SAAB part (OE part # 9186156 - it is described BTW within the EPC as an 'oil pipe' and costs around £37 +VAT).

The sump components (left) and the sump built up (right)

Fit a new oil seal (o-ring) to the strainer pick up pipe, lubricate sparingly with non acidic petroleum jelly and push the pipe into the recess at the timing case end of the sump before securing the strainer to the base of the sump with x2 TRX type screws. Next, refit the baffle - in the photo above note that the screws are about to be fitted.

As you will be aware by this stage, the 205/235 engines do not use a gasket between the sump and the cylinder block. For this reason, it is essential to use the correct flange sealant for the job. Do NOT be tempted to use silicone type sealant or Hyl*mar because these have been found to form 'bobbles' that block the strainer after a few hundred miles of running! The correct sealant retails at £25 but suppliers Euro SAAB Parts Direct stock this and will happily supply you this at around £18 +VAT. This may sound expensive but specialists rightly swear by it and do bear in mind that if a gasket existed it would not be very much cheaper and that a little of this sealant goes a very long way: in fact, one tube is more than sufficient to carry out an entire engine rebuild and there would still be enough to treat at least one more sump.

Use the correct SAAB flange cement. Although it isn't cheap, nothing else will do!

Before applying the sealant, it makes sense to trial fit the sump because you don't want to waste that sealant. You may need to raise the gearbox a little to make this easier.

Take care when applying flange sealant! Way to go, is to apply a thin bead (say 2-3mm) and then smear it sparingly across the mating face of the sump mounting face only (do NOT apply this to the bottom of the cylinder block as well - it is meant to be applied to just ONE mating surface).

Before offering up the sump to the cylinder block, make sure your cleaned sump fasteners are to hand then relocate the sump on the cylinder block and enter a couple of the bolts by hand. Don't tighten any of the bolts fully until ALL are entered. Nip up the sump bolts when they are all in place and tighten to a torque of 22 Nm (16lbs ft). Don't forget to make sure the sump plug is in situ and tightened up. Fit a new oil filter - remember to apply a film of oil to the thread and to the rubber seal. Ensure that the filter is spun on securely.

Next refit the clip securing the drain hose to the sump from the turbocharger on the front of the engine before moving to the back to refasten the push fit crankcase hose (from the breather) to the stub on the sump. Put the gearbox cover plate back next.

Wire brush the three studs for the exhaust flange before refitting the downpipe and doing up the nuts sequentially so the joint is closed evenly. Now, plug the oxygen sensor cable(s) back in, replace the turbo bypass pipe and refit the exhaust manifold heat shield before refilling the engine with oil. Remove the rag from the dipstick tube, refit the dipstick and replace the top engine cover.

It is STRONGLY recommended that the DI cartridge is removed - keep it upright at all times to prevent damage to the coils by overheating- and that the spark plugs are removed because when the sump, oil filter (and oil cooler, if you removed it to drain it) are dry, it takes some time to build the oil pressure up and damage could occur to the shell bearings. Spin the engine over in bursts of maybe 30 seconds. When the oil light goes out, refit the plugs and DI unit and start the engine. Run the engine until warm and check for leaks before refitting the bottom pan cover.

This procedure described above covers the sump that will found on the majority of SAAB 9-5s, however, a small number of B235R engines mated to manual transmissions may be encountered which are fitted with an alternative sump. This requires a slightly different approach because 2 of the the sump bolts are hidden. Contact the author direct for this procedure, which will be e-mailed as a .pdf file.

Anorak fact: there are actually 6 different sumps for the B235 engine! The basic shapes of these are all the same but there are detail differences. ALL are entirely interchangeable. Having operated a considerable number of these cars over the last decade we can say that the sump with the hidden bolts has never been encountered here.

Finally, please dispose of your waste oil responsibly. Most local authorities have collection points (usually at municipal dumps) but to find your nearest waste oil bank, why not visit http://www.oilbankline.org.uk/



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