March 24, 2008

Saab vattenpump avhjälper

For about the last 5000 miles I've suspected the water pump on my 1993 Saab 900 was going to fail. The obvious thing to do would, of course, be replace it. But since I'm a poor college student and also generally pressed for time when it comes to doing more than topping off the perpetually dripping coolant, I didn't. This all came to a head on Easter Sunday when the original factory water pump with over 179,000 miles on it finally said "to hell with it" (in it's own metallic chirping sort of way) and released copious amounts of coolant all over a parking lot. In anticipation of the pump's immanent demise, I did get a replacement earlier in the week, which was conveniently sitting in a box behind the passenger's seat. And so, that day, I used my cheap Wal*Mart sourced emergency kit tools to replace the pump in the parking lot by my building. In my wisdom, I opted to leave my nice Craftsman toolbox with all the nice Craftsman tools in it at home - over 200 miles from my aging, high mileage car.
A long time ago I went through a spree of removing non-functional, heavy parts from my engine bay. Basically, my entire air conditioning system. This made the water pump job much easier since the AC compressor was not sitting right on top of everything I needed to get to. 

The process was more or less as follows:

-Gently push aside old, brittle, and very expensive rubber cooling hoses that are rubbing against alternator, and loosen rounded off alternator adjusting bolts. Also loosen power steering belt.

-Remove belts from pulleys, swear at car as you smack knuckles into firewall (Saab 900s have a backwards mounted engine remember)

-Remove water pump pulley, then remove water pump bolts.

-Whack water pump with tire iron so that it breaks free from housing and dumps gallons of coolant all over parking lot and your feet.

-Realize that you don't have a razor blade to scrape old gasket material off of the housing. Go up to your room (on the top floor of your building) and find that you have left your keys in the car and your door is locked. Then, go across hall and ask for a razor blade.

-Using the X-Acto blade, spend the next hour or so leaning into the fuse box and scrape all the old baked on and wet gasket material off the edge of housing. 

-If you're lucky you still have some gasket maker stuff from a previous project still sitting in your trunk. (and you never thought of getting any before committing to doing the pump job anyway) Use this to stick new paper gasket to new water pump, and install. 

-Since it's Easter Sunday and everywhere is closed, re-use one of the ancient 15 year old belts for the time being since the auto parts store only stocked two of the three required new belts at the time you purchased the pump a few days ago.

-Top off windshield washer fluid tank and use the now empty jug. Fill with water from a drinking fountain and pour it into the coolant tank. You don't have any new coolant since you never thought to get any on the way back to your building. Then, drive car very carefully, while keeping eye on temp gauge, to Wal*Mart (only place open on Easter) and buy coolant and top off tank. 

-Have a drink, then go finish some graphic design project due tomorrow morning.
EDIT: photo changed to more appropriate one of all-swedish products


Ronan said...

Hahaha, nice.

I've got you beat, bytheway.. I changed the original water pump on my 300D at 195,000 miles. Maybe I'll post something about it, I've got photos.

I. R. Rothwell said...

Oh yeah, i forgot about that. Although I will say the Saab's pump has probably been subjected to a little more abuse. Six hour trips in the summer while overheating thanks to clogged radiator, running on virtually no coolant occasionally thanks to leaking turbo cooling hose, not to mention my normal, somewhat abusive driving style.
Funny thing is, i've seen a few VWs at Wolfgang's with fewer miles that had pumps totally explode and cause the belts to rip apart.
Also note that the photo at the end has been changed to a more appropriate one with Swedish vodka.

Ronan said...

Were these newer VWs or older ones? Lately I've been lusting after an mkII Golf, they're everywhere here.

You're probably right on the water pump, I doubt mine was abused.

I. R. Rothwell said...

Newer ones, all MK-IV. The older Golf/Jetta/Rabbits were all pretty solidly built. Especially the German built ones which I'd immagine you find mostly over there. (ha, funny how most Rabbits here were made in Westmoreland, PA) I really like the MK-I and MK-II Golfs as well. There's a kid around here who drives a first gen. Jetta too that's very cool looking.
And be it a Merc or a Saab, it really says something about how newer cars just simply are not built with components as solid as they used to be right out of the factory. Knock on wood... I still have the original wheel bearings, alternator, balljoints (one failing though), power steering pump, clutch, and turbo. I'm starting to look to the 180,000 mile mark now too.

Ronan said...

Wish I would have had that sort of luck with my 1989 900t. I was quite happy to see that car go.