Monday, October 15, 2007

SAAB 9-5 Turbo Rebuild Information

I just received my rebuild kit and I’m planning on scheduling some time off from work so I can do this project with as little distraction as possible. The real meat of this project will be posted after everything is finished and I know I have a working turbo.

I’m getting the occasional, but becoming more frequent, cloud of gray smoke when I start the car. Sometimes it is on the first start in the morning, sometimes after a quick jaunt to the corner store. At 83k miles the turbo is wearing out and oil is getting into places it doesn’t belong.

I don’t have it as bad as some people... yet. I’ve read stories online about thick clouds of smoke trailing the car as it scoots down the road. My clouds only last a few seconds, but it’s still embarrassing to back out of the smoke as I leave my parking space. It is such a beautiful car; I’m sure people think I can’t take care of it when they see the smoke.

With 83k miles on the turbo I wanted to make sure that it was wearing out because of use and not as the first symptom of an oil sludge problem. I took the 9-5 to the local dealership for a sludge check. They did it as part of an oil change.

I also had them install the PCV upgrade kit on the car. I could have installed it myself, but they were going to be digging around that area and they had the kit in stock anyway. Shame, it would have made for a good how-to post.

Anyway, they checked for sludge and luckily found none. That Sunday I ordered my turbo rebuild kit from Swedish Dynamics. It arrived the following Thursday. A very smooth transaction.

If sludge had been found I would have cleaned it out before working on the turbo or I would just be asking for trouble. The sludge blocks oil from flowing and a bad turbo can be one of the first signs of that blockage. Any symptom of sludge should be check out. The cost of a checkup and, if needed, cleaning will be a lot less than a new engine.

Some cars are even covered on an extended oil sludge warranty. I thought it only covered turbo/engine replacement until I was told by the local dealer that the cost of cleaning the sludge before a major breakdown might also be covered by the warranty in some cases. Check with your dealer, there are some hoops to jump through and I’m not an expert on this extended warranty. Even if the cleaning isn’t covered, it is still a lot better than engine replacement.

My plan was to do a how-to for this turbo rebuild project, but I have found a website that looks like a great photo explanation and I don’t see a need to reinvent the wheel. What I will do is follow the instructions from Swedish Dynamics and I will be ready to take photos of anything I find interesting as I do the work.

The rebuild kit costs about $125, a rebuild turbo is around $400 after the core exchange, I asked the local dealership and they gave me a ballpark price of $800 for a new turbo (uninstalled). So this project will be a good way to save some money. Plus you will be able to tell folks you rebuilt the turbo in your 9-5. That should impress people.


  1. Good luck on the rebuild project. Definitely, a rewarding experience ;]

    Here's another how-to you may find useful:

    For those inspired to do the same, a typical TD04 rebuild kit goes for $70-80 on ebay from a reputable seller like G-Pop Shop or Turbos'R'Us. This might save a few extra bucks over Swedish Dynamics.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement, dplatonoff.

  3. Infocog,

    and all.

    So, I'm one of those lucky Saab 9-5 owners to have a sludged engine...
    Lucky us we kept all our oil change receipts so Saab is replacing the engine under their extended warranty.
    Unfortunately, they are not covering the Turbo... which according to the Saab mechanic has excessive end play. Now, I never remember our Saab smoking before the engine decided to catastrophically eat itself...

    So, the dealer wants $1500 + labor to replace the turbo. Basically, we're looking at dumping this car anyhow. Do you think this rebuild kit is a good idea in lei of the new turbo? How about a used turbo? I know of a Saab and Volvo dismantler that will sell a low mileage turbo for $400 and for $150 there is a lifetime warranty put on the part. Hmmm.
    What do you think? What would you think my options are?
    Great site, btw - very informative!

  4. [...] post info By infocog Categories: Observation Tags: 9-5, rebuild, saab, turbo Previous Turbo Post  [...]

  5. Guys,

    I have a 1999 9-5 turbo wagon that is making a loud knocking noise. I only have about 1100 in this car and want to just rebuild the engine. Can you point me in the right direction on what I need to replace in the engine and where I can buy the parts?