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24 June 2003 @ 10:57 am
Swedish engineering  
So, recently, my car developed a rather worrisome stutter at high acceleration and/or heavy load. It felt like it was just missing on a cylinder now and then. So, last night, feren and I went to work replacing the plugs.

The mystery started when we could not only not find where the plugs went into the engine block, we couldn't find any other ignition system paraphenalia (no coil, no distributor, no plug wires). While I dug through the manual for any clues, Fer was drawn to the large red panel atop the engine block with 'Direct Ignition' written on it.

Eventually, we got up the gumption to pop the four torx screws, and remove the red panel. Sure enough, beneath that were four happy little sparkers! It seems that Saab, in its drive to get a better-performing 4-cylinder turbo engine (a goal I heartily endorse) has decided to do away with the traditional inductive ignition system. Instead, it's basically got a large transformer, a series of capacitors, and an intricate timing system mounted atop the engine block. Feren found a great article about the advantages of this design here.

So, anyways, new plugs gapped and installed, we decide to take 'er for a test toast. Fer, myself, and enveri all pile in, and putter around the area, getting onto the highway to really test the turbo boost (which always triggered stutter before). Seems to be running great! Then, a couple blocks from home, it starts up just as bad as before. I give up, and decide to take it to the garage.

This morning, on the way in, it's even worse, so as soon as I get in, I call the dealer a half mile away. They agree to take it in, and look at it. I jerk my way down there, and they run diagnostics. Turns out that the Direct Ignition module needs replaced. D'oh! $600 total repair...$500 part, $100 labor. Still and all, this is one of those cases where going to the dealer didn't get me screwed much...the part's a unique Saab part, so I couldn't get it for cheaper at an independent garage, and labor was fairly minimal ($100 for the full diagnostics test, and installation of the new module and plugs).

So, now the car's running happy as can be, definitely smoother than before I'd even noticed the problem. And it's even shining all prettily, they washed it for me!

Something good: Living a block from a hardware store

Something bad: Parts stores that will sell you parts that aren't correct for your car

Something disturbing: The new girl in the cube next to mine is napping. Not quietly either...she's sawing wood like nobody's business. And for a bit there, she had the phone knocked off its cradle, beeping away! Dunno if she's destined to be here long :P
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Glenn: trogdorglennj on June 24th, 2003 09:23 am (UTC)
RE: Something disturbing:... How is it people like that manage to get a job, meanwhile I have to fight tooth and nail to even find a place to send my resume? Bah, I say. Bah!
Brendan: Micahroho on June 24th, 2003 09:24 am (UTC)
I dunno...I guess some managers just like to hire people with no work ethic, since there's less chance of such people rising up and stealing their position? ;)
genetenveri on June 24th, 2003 09:31 am (UTC)
Not to mention there's a nice high turnover. They never stay at a job long enough for the employer to have to pay out benefits.
Urocyon abiectiusurocyon on June 24th, 2003 09:31 am (UTC)
If there're any other openings for that position I could probably make myself available. Should I bother writing a resume, or would a blank sheet of paper with coffee stains do?
Lumi (gordianaut)lumin_esc on June 24th, 2003 10:16 am (UTC)
Contractor, I assume. o.o
Brendan: Micahroho on June 24th, 2003 10:43 am (UTC)
You assume correctly ;)
Rattus scientificusskorzy on June 24th, 2003 11:47 am (UTC)
That's one hell of an expensive part!!! But it feels better buying the part rather than paying for labor.

Its ironic you have an evil parts store nearby.. while I have a godsend of one. (Napa of Shrewsbury)
Brendan: Micahroho on June 24th, 2003 05:25 pm (UTC)
It's the world of Saab Parts, where everything magically takes on huge pricetags just for having the word Saab stamped on it. If you remember a couple years back, on my trip out east when my alternator blew...they wanted $500 for a new one (roughly). It was a standard Bosch alternator (albeit an uncommon one), sells for $191, they just put their name on the box. I took the non-Saab-branded Bosch, it's worked just fine ;)

So, I end up buying aftermarket whenever I can. Unfortunately, this was just one case where no aftermarket part exists.
Lumi (gordianaut)lumin_esc on June 24th, 2003 04:39 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I've really tempted at times to buy a Saab. The design is interesting, they come in convertibles, and they look interesting. Why oh why do they all have to be FWD! ;.;

I may buy one anyway, though. All of my vehicles in the future will be convertibles, but I may sacrifice my rear-drive for a rear seat. o.o What model year do you own?
Brendan: Micahroho on June 24th, 2003 06:07 pm (UTC)
They're truly addictive cars. I've owned two now (first was totalled in an accident), and the commercials that say 'People who test drive a Saab usually buy one' aren't kidding. Both enveri and feren have expressed an interest in getting one, after driving mine. There's something about a 4-cylinder car that gets 30 mpg, yet zips around with quite a peppy engine. The style isn't for everyone, but if you like the way they look already, you'll probably approve of the rest of the car's style :)

Downsides would be the FWD, if you're looking for a RWD vehicle, and the cost of repairs. Parts are ungodly expensive if you go to a dealer, and some parts can't be obtained aftermarket from an independent shop.

Really, I'd just try test driving a few, and making sure you have a good shop nearby :) SaabNet has good information for the interested buyer!
Lumi (gordianaut): hell of a headachelumin_esc on June 25th, 2003 10:10 am (UTC)

Sorry. c.c;