Changing the serpentine belt on your Saab 9-3 (1998-2003)

Disclaimer: Changing your belt can be tricky and should only be attempted by those with mechanical experience and skill who have the proper tools.

The first time I tried to change a serpentine belt in a Saab, I spent around forty minutes or so, so take adequate time to get the job done. Mind you, much of that time was spent insulting Scandinavian engineers who decided that half an inch of clearance in the engine compartment for their hands was enough to replace the belt.

Things you will need:

  • A new belt
  • 1/2 inch long extension
  • a sturdy floor jack (not the one in your trunk!)
  • a set of jack stands, a set of sockets
  • a flat space to work

To get started, let’s get your Saab ready. Open the hood (to the left of the driver’s seat towards the petals). You will need to lift the front passenger end of your car and remove the wheel from the passenger side. Locate your lift point and lift the car until the wheel is in the air. Remember to be safe and fit the jack stand before removing the wheel. Always work safe.

You will notice that your serpentine belt is on the left side when you are standing in front of your car looking at your engine. You will need to remove the air filter box and the hose connected to it should be moved out of the way so you can better access the belt underneath. Detach the air filter and pull the case straight up, it will slide out smoothly and then set it aside. Next, take the side of the hose and bend it towards the transmission dipstick and secure it with a rope or bungee cord.

At this point, I highly recommend that you look at and diagram your belt path. It should somehow look like a “W”. Take your long half-inch extension and insert it into the hole at the top of your retirement belt. Pull it slightly towards you and you will notice the old belt loosen. At this point, you can slide the belt off the small plastic roller and free the pensioner. Now start removing your belt. Now that you know why we removed the wheel, those lower pulleys would be impossible otherwise.

Replacing the belt is the reverse of the procedure I just described. I would recommend that you start at the top and the side closest to the bumper, as they are the most difficult to get to. Once you have them, go to the wheel well and pull the A / C compressor belt and place the belt over the motor drive pulley. From there you need to put the belt over the large metal idler pulley and back up to get the alternator. At this point, you are ready to reinsert the extension and, while taking the tension off the belt, slide your new belt over the plastic pulley.

As long as you’re careful, pay close attention to detail, and find the exact belt for your Saab make and model, you’ll save a lot of money on mechanical labor fees and only provide about an hour of your own day. In these tough economic times, it’s best to know what we’re capable of and do the best we can in our vehicles. Vehicles normally come down on the priority list, but the serpentine belt is a crucial part of the engine assembly, an important component for your Saab to run smoothly and should be changed when thinning out or when you can see cracks on the sides (at least check) every 6-12 months)

** Remind! Always check your work !! Make sure the new belt is on ALL pulleys correctly and fully seated in the grooves before starting your car **

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