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9000 Service schedule

The 9000 service schedule is based upon intervals of 6,000 miles. In the view of dealers and independent specialists, owners who followed SAAB's recommendations would be rewarded with high availability and reliability over big mileages. There were just three 'old chestnuts' that habitually caused trouble:
Direct Ignition cartridge failure
Fuel pump failure
Serpentine belt or idler pulley failure (and timing belts on the V6)

Ignition cartridges seldom give advance warning of failure, save occasionally giving rise to a slight misfire but when they do fail, they fail completely. The author believes they should be renewed at 48,000 mile intervals.

Fuel pumps usually start to run noisily before failure but most failures occur because of running out of petrol.

Serpentine belts need checking for cracks regularly and should be replaced with any pulleys that show wear or sound noisy when rotated with the belt off. NOT a roadside repair, so the prudent should change belts and the pulleys at intervals of 75,000 miles. On the subject of the V6 timing belt - DON'T MESS ABOUT! If it snaps, the cost of a repair will be roughly TEN times the cost of changing the belt in the first place. It's a no brainer.

Finally... the ZF HP18 automatic gearbox has something of a dubious reputation but most of those that have failed prematurely it seems, are vehicles that have never had the Dexron fluid changed. As these are a complex unit well outside the scope of DIY repairs, work on the safe is better than sorry principle and change the fluid annually. Do shop around for fluid - some factors will supply 1 litre containers while others will happily supply 5 litre drums, which invariably work out MUCH cheaper per litre.

Weekly checks
You don't need to be a SAAB Master Technician to maintain your 9000 but even those who don't fancy donning a set of overalls and wielding spanners should carry out the following basic checks.

With the car on level ground and with the engine COLD (or at least after the engine has been stopped for5 minutes), remove the dipstick, wipe clean with waste cloth or rag and replace. Withdraw the stick and check the level. The level should be between the MIN and Max marks. If the level appears to be beneath this, it should be topped up with fresh oil SLOWLY at the rate of half a litre at a time, then left to settle and checked again. DO NOT OVERFILL the engine!

Next check the brake fluid level visually through the translucent reservoir. It should be near the Max Cold graduation.

Check and top up the screen washer fluid reservoir, if necessary. Do NOT use washing up detergent, as this contains salt. Instead either use a small measure of methylated spirits or proprietary screen wash fluid.

Check the tyres visually for signs of damage to the sidewalls (such as splits or 'eggs'), then check the depth of tread on each before checking the tyre pressures. If that seems a chore, reflect on the knowledge that tyres cost from £40-120 per corner and that most motorists could not only achieve greater mileage from their tyres but also improved fuel consumption through running them at the correct pressure.

Finally, check all the lights, horn and washers work properly before checking that the battery electrolyte level has no dropped below the level of the plates - a favourite 9000 trait is for the cars to 'boil' their batteries dry, usually stranding their drivers with no warning. Top up only with distilled water.

Every 6,000 miles

Drain & refill the engine with fresh oil & change the oil filter. While the oil drains, carry out some of the other checks! Oil changes are best carried out with the engine warmed but take care that you don't get scalded by hot oil or burned by hot metal parts. Use a new sump sealing washer or if one is not available, use a couple of twists of PTFE tape. Nip the drain plug tight - DON'T over tighten it! Check the oil level several times.
Check the coolant level and if necessary, top up.
Check the power steering fluid level and if necessary, top up.
Check the function of all lights, wipers (renew if required) and the horn.
Check the battery is secure, then check the electrolyte level (non-sealed batteries only) topping up if necessary.
Check the battery terminals are clean and tight. Pour boiling water over the terminals if they appear to be covered with a white powder, then apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to protect them from further damage.
Lubricate all locks (sparingly) and then apply grease to the check straps on the doors. Oil the door hinges sparingly to avoid an unsightly mess!
With the car raised slightly on a trolley jack, check suspension joints for wear by attempting to rock the wheel from side to side and by grasping the wheel top and bottom and checking for wear, again by rocking. Check none of the rubber boots covering the CV joints are split, loose or leaking grease.

With all tasks complete, road test the car to make sure all is well.

Every 12,000 miles/annually

Carry out the operations for 6,000 miles but additionally:
Check the PCV system for leaks or collapsed hoses
Check the strength of antifreeze is at least 33% (but ideally 50%)
Check the serpentine drive belt condition, looking for cracking or splits
Check the condition and security of the exhaust system
Remove and replace the spark plugs. Cars with Direct Ignition MUST be fitted with Resistor plugs (NGK are best)
Jack the car up having first loosened the road wheel bolts, remove the wheels and check the condition of the brake discs and linings.

Every 24,000 miles/every 2 years

Carry out operations for the 6 and 12,000 miles services but additionally:
Change the air cleaner element filter. Make sure the closed end of the filter goes into the filter housing first - if you install it wrong way round - the engine will cut out!
Cars with automatic transmission should have the Dexron fluid drained, refilled and the gearbox filter changed.
Change the brake fluid. Use DOT 4 fluid. Do NOT mix different types of fluid!

Every 48,000 miles/every 3 years

Drain and refill the cooling system. Check all hoses thoroughly for leaks, splits and cracks.
SAAB say the fuel filter needs changing at 96,000 miles but as this often gets overlooked, we've seen a good few cars with leaking filters due to corrosion, so change earlier. Make sure your new filter comes with a set of new copper sealing washers - they're often unaccountably 'missing' when purchased from motor factors.

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