I bought my first Saab 28 years ago, the year after I started working at The Swedish Solution in 1985, and have been driving one ever since. When everything is working right, I believe it’s one of the nicest cars on the road. I’m partial to the 2004 and up 9-3 sports sedan; it’s fast, fun and responsive.
Saabs can, however, be prone to a few suspension issues, especially in the harsher northern climates. The front strut bearings can start creaking, and then bind up, and we’ve seen more than a few front and rear coil springs break due to corrosion. So, let’s discuss what you can look for when one of these vehicles comes into your shop.
Most of the time the customer complaint will be “I hear a rattle in the front over bumps.” We’ve all heard those complaints and usually we’ll find loose sway bar links or worn ball joints or tie
On these Saabs, also take a close look at the springs, both front and back. Sometimes it’s not easy to see the broken spring because it’s just the bottom coil that has broken off. Other times, especially in the case of the 2004 9-3 we’re working on, it’s easy to see the broken spring. It’s on the lift with its wheels off, so let’s get started.
We can see the broken spring (see Fig. 1), as well as the three colored dots that help us identify which spring we’ll need for the job.
1. Remove the upper retaining bolt for the sway bar link (see Fig. 2). There is no need to remove the complete link, unless it’s worn and you’re replacing the link.
2. Remove the one bolt that holds the strut bracket to the strut, and then remove the brake hose from the strut (see Figs. 3 and 4). There are only two bolts that hold the strut to the steering knuckle (see Fig. 5).
Note: There is no camber adjustment in the front of this car, so we won’t necessarily need to recheck the alignment. However, any time suspension work is done on any car, it’s a good opportunity to recommend one.
3. Lower the car and remove the three bolts that hold the upper strut mount (see Figs. 6 and 7). Any decent spring compressor will work, so compress the spring and remove the upper bolt (see Figs. 8 and 9). The strut is ready to come out, so you can now swap the springs.