How to change 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 changing a serpentine belt on a Saab, it took about forty minutes or so, so give yourself adequate time to get the job done. Keep in mind that much of that time was spent with the Scandinavian engineers, who decided that half an inch of engine bay clearance for their hands was enough to replace the belt.

Things you will need:

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

To start with, let’s prepare your Saab. Raise the hood (to the left of the driver’s seat towards the petals). You will need to jack up the front passenger end of your car and remove the passenger side wheel. Locate your foothold and lift the car until the wheel is in the air. Remember to be sure and set 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 attached to it should be moved out of the way so you can better access the belt below. Detach the air filter and pull the box straight up, it will slide out smoothly, then set it aside. Then take the side of the hose and bend it towards the transmission dipstick and secure it with a string or bungee cord.

At this point, I highly recommend that you look at and diagram your belt path. It should look like a “W”. Take your half-inch long extension and insert it into the hole at the top of your pensioner’s belt. Pull slightly towards you and you will feel the old strap loosen. At this point you can slide the strap off the small plastic roller and release the boarder. Now start removing the belt. Now 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 you start at the top and with the side closest to the bumper as these are the hardest to get. Once you have them go to the wheel and pull the A/C compressor belt and place the belt over the engine drive pulley. From there you need to run the belt over the large metal idler pulley and back down 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 spend just an hour of your own day. In these tough economic times, it’s best to know what we’re capable of and do what we can in our vehicles. Vehicles usually rank lower on the priority list, but the serpentine belt is a crucial part of the engine assembly, an important component to keep your Saab running smoothly, and should be replaced when it gets thin or you can see cracks. on the sides (at least check every 6-12 months)

**Remember! 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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