Changing the Serpentine Belt on Your Saab 9-3 (1998-2003)

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 a mechanical background and ability that have the proper tools.  

The first time I attempted changing a serpentine belt in a Saab, I spent around forty minutes give or take, so give yourself adequate time to do the job. Mind you, much of that time was spent swearing at the Scandinavian Engineers who decided that a half inch of clearance in the engine compartment for your hands was sufficient for belt replacement. 

Things you will need: 

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

To start lets get your Saab ready. Pop your hood (to the left of the driver seat towards the petals).  You will need to jack your car’s passenger front end up and remove your passenger side wheel. Locate your jacking point and raise the car until the wheel is in the air.  Remember to be safe and set your jack stand before removing your 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 have to remove your air cleaner box and the hose attached to it needs to be moved out of the way so that you can better access the belt below.  Separate the air cleaner and pull the box directly up, it will slide out without any hassle then set it aside.  Next, take the hose side and bend it towards your transmission dipstick and secure it with string or a bungee. 

At this point I strongly recommend that you look and diagram your belt routing.  It should somewhat look like a “W.” Take your long half-inch extension and insert it into the hole in the top of your belt pensioner.  Pull it slightly towards you and you will notice the old belt become slack. At this point you can slide the belt off the small plastic idler and release the pensioner. Now start removing the belt.  Now you know why we removed the wheel, those bottom pulleys would be impossible otherwise. 

Replacing the belt is the reverse of the procedure I just outlined. I would recommend that you start above and with the side closest to the bumper, as they are the hardest to get.  Once you have those, go to your wheel well and pull the belt from and A/C compressor and put the belt over the engine drive pulley. From there you need to loop 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 removing the belt tension slide your new belt over the plastic pulley.

As long as you are careful, pay close attention to details and find the exact belt for your make and model Saab, you will save a lot of money in mechanic labor fee’s and give only about an hour of your own day. In these hard economic times, its best to know what we are capable of and do whatever we can do ourselves on our vehicles. Vehicles are normally pushed down the list of priorities, but the serpentine belt is a crucial part of the engine assembly, an important component of your Saab’s running smoothly and should be changed when thinning or when you can see cracks in the sides (at least check every 6-12 months)

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