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Assembling a toolkit for working on your SAAB

There's more to DIY than a big toolkitAlthough most SAABs come with a rudimentary toolkit, this should be regarded as suitable for emergency use only. Of course, those of us that have owned and driven SAAB cars for many years can argue that even owners who have no intention whatever of carrying out their own maintenance should supplement the basic minimal toolkit, if only to be better prepared in the event of nothing more serious than a puncture. Some owners will have varying amounts of experience of DIY and tools but others will be starting out from scratch. This article aims to cater for the widest possible audience from casual readers to serious spanner wielders. If you are new to DIY repairs, be advised that even a modest toolkit is likely to cost over £200 but other essentials like commonsense, patience and knowing your own limitations are free.

Our recommendation: acquire a box of latex gloves not so much to look like House MD but to protect yourself from the many sharp edges you will encounter when working under the bonnet. Sage words from the official SAAB Workshop Information System advises even professional technicians to watch out for sharp cable ties. A box of 100 sounds like overkill BUT it is only 50 pairs. Fifty pairs works out at sufficient gloves to tackle 4-5 jobs - you can bet your life someone will ring up your mobile when you are doing some dirty job like changing a CV joint boot and also be advised that gloves drop to bits when contaminated by oil. Buy some now!

The basics: what every SAAB driver should have in their boot

Punctures are bad news and those of us that don't like getting their hands dirty could do a lot worse than investing just a few of pounds in a couple of basic items for the boot that might just prove invaluable if a wheel has to be changed at the roadside. Models like the 9000 and classic 900 used to ship with a pair of cotton gloves and even a bag was provided to store the spare wheel in the boot to avoid dirtying the luggage boot. The first things to buy then should not be spanners, sockets or screwdrivers but pair of cotton work gloves and disposable paper overalls. These two items and a luminous waistcoat aren't going to break the bank.

Two other items on the 'must have' list are a torch, so you can actually see what you are doing if something goes wrong at night and a long wheel bolt wrench. Tyreshops and garage workshops tend to grossly overtighten wheel bolts when air tools are used but while staff do not have to worry about wheels falling off customers' cars, owners sometimes find it impossible to remove wheel bolts at the roadside if they have only the wheel brace that comes with the car. Get something much more substantial - the extending type is ideal because you can stand on the arm to apply serious weight, if need be.

Starter kit

This is the basic kit for working on most SAAB cars. If you plan on doing more than regular maintenance, you should check out the 'intermediate list' but if you intend to carry out major repairs, head straight for the advanced kit section. When buying tools, avoid cheap, poorly made products. As a rule, we only buy tools from well-known makers such as Britool, Draper, Elora, Saigen, or Sealey. This is because we have had years of reliable service from them.

Oil filter pliers beat chain wrenches/strap wrenches hollow

Ball pein hammer
Combination spanner set (8mm-19mm)
Oil drain pan
Oil filter pliers (we recommend Sealey ref. AK6411)
Parallel pin punch
Reversible 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" SQ. DR. ratchets (and extension bars)
Screwdrivers: flat blade type in at least stubby & medium sizes. A terminal driver can be a boon, too.
Self-grip adjustable wrench ('mole' grip type)
Sockets (Metric): 8,10,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19 & 22mm
Spark plug socket (with rubber centre)
Torx key set
Trolley jack
Wire brush

We recommend Sealey AK9127

Intermediate kit

This includes everything in the Starter kit plus the following to make a more rounded kit for tackling larger jobs:

Angular torque guage (for cylinder head bolts)
Axle stands (heavy duty)
Claw type retrieval tool (to recover that fastener dropped into the darkest recesses in the engine bay!
Combination socket set (we recommend kits like the Halfords Professional Socket set)
Crawling board (lying in pools of water under a car ain't my kind of idea of having fun!)
Impact wrench (with hex drive sockets)
Inspection lamp
Ratchet spanners
Sockets: 27mm (for timing chain tensioner) 32mm (for driveshaft nuts)
Overalls: paper disposables are OK for light work but cotton overalls are best
Stud extractors (indispensable when the worst happens and a stud or bolt snaps in another component)
Torque wrench
Trolley jack (2 or 3 tonne)

Advanced kit

Don't take risks with ropes: let the chain take the strain!

Planning on a major repair? Then be prepared to acquire some serious equipment. Engines and gearboxes are hefty pieces of kit, so lifting them or moving them involves tough equipment.

Of course, there is little point in buying an engine crane or engine stand for just one job, so think about hiring.

Don't mess about with pieces of rope or half remembered knots from your days in the scouts - buy a lifting chain! The best we have found is the Draper ref. 59077, which is superb for lifting the 9-5 power unit because the threaded end links unscrew to fasten direct to the lifting lugs on the engine, while the sliding link allows very precise adjustment of the lifting angle. This really is one piece of 'must have' kit. In this case, simple really is best - the SAAB tool board includes a far more complex device for adjusting and positioning!


2 ton folding engine crane
Brake caliper piston retractor tool
Heavy duty engine stand
Magnetic retrieval tool
Piston ring compressor
Piston ring groove cleaning tool
Tap and die set. Worth its weight in gold when dealing with ropey threads.
Valve spring compressor
Valve grinding tool


Where we bought our tools

Most technicians acquire the tools of their trade via specialist suppliers, who call at garage workshops regularly. The rest of us don't have access to these outlets or couldn't justify the high costs involved with professional quality tools that would only be used 'once in a blue moon'.

Not everything has to cost a fortune: save useful containers, so when you dismantle things, the fasteners don't end up lost.

Some of our kit (engine cranes, car mover dollies and engine stands) has been sourced from Machine Mart but rather more items like socket sets and spanners have been supplied by Halfords. Most of us either break or more likely lose things like sockets but individual items can be replaced. We would say that the Halfords socket cases are not so durable but please bear in mind that tools we use are subject to extreme use well outside the realms of normal DIY. Tools from the Draper and Sealey ranges (particularly specialist tools like valve spring compressors or piston ring groove cleaners and trolley jacks) invariably have been supplied by Classic Car World. We have found the web site easy to use and the service is consistently good.

Of course, not everything has to cost a fortune or is an obvious addition to your toolkit. We save old containers, especially things with lids because these can save time when stripping components, so things like screws, nuts and bolts don't end up lost. Plastic containers -unlike glass- don't break if they fall or get knocked over. A camera or even a mobile phone can prove useful when dismantling to provide a reference so you know how components fit when the time comes to replace them.



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