I crossed paths with a gentleman in China of all places who spent some time as a stylist at Saab back in the day. We were comparing Saab stories when I brought up the amount of torque steer in my 2002 Viggen coupe. He pointed me to the write up about it below.
My question is, any one have an idea of where to find these parts here state side?
Mike900 – an Australian Viggen owner – is currently doingsome upgrades to this Saab 9-3 Viggen and he’s invited us to join him on theride.
Part 1 involved him getting all the bits together andfitting the new center armrest and billet aluminium oil cap.
Part 2 is a much more complex job – fitting a new steeringrack clamp and brace. This magic bit of kit will eliminate most of the average9-3 owner’s torque steer problems. If you’re curious, read on.
You can also see bigger and clearer photos at Mike’s Flickraccount
DIY Part 2 – Steering rack clamp & brace
You can find a tonne of comments about the steering rackclamp and brace on the web. I’m willing to bet you that every one of thosecomments is positive, and I’ll tell you now that all the praise is justified.It is just the prettiest, simplest, most rewarding, most effective, mostbrilliant and wonderful piece of automotive engineering I think I’ll everknow…..EVER!
I am thrilled with the difference it has made, and I doubtthe feeling will die down any time soon. I was a little worried going into thisinstallation that I was going to be disappointed with the end results……. Icouldn’t have been more wrong.
I’ll share some thoughts on the effect of this great partlater on, but for now, let’s get to the installation.
Let me start off by stating anybody is capable of doing thisinstallation, it was not without a few minor difficulties though. It willrequire some effort and patience, it can be fiddly and frustrating at times,but it is absolutely within the average non-mechanical persons’ capabilities. Iam not a trained mechanic, it’s entirely possible that a Saab technician willpoint out my mistakes, but everything I have done was either from the printedinstructions I received with the parts, or from the wonderful technical forumsat www.saabscene.com and www.saabcentral.com.
The entire job took 2.5 hours from beginning to end, fromthe time I walked into the garage to when I took it out for a victory testdrive. That time also included my stuffing up several times on a few steps,before working out how to make it work on the 3rd or 4th attempt. If you learnfrom my mistakes you could do this in half the time or less.
This is the location of the torque steer inducing monsterdeep within every Saab NG900 & 9-3 engine bay. Sadly, the loose grip ofthat little metal band with rubber lining allows the steering rack to slidehorizontally left and right, while the squashy rubber lining permits flexingbackward and forward, as well as upward and downward. This permits slightmovements in the wheel angle causing sloppiness and torque steer:
Here’s what I’m installing in its place, blue bit is theclamp, long silver bit is the brace. The clamp will hold the steering rackfirmly to there’s no sliding or flexing, while the brace adds further supportby connecting the unit to the nearby wheel arch:
The clamp and brace came with instructions included whichwere good, but fairly concise. If you follow them like I did you’ll eventuallyget there….. so rather than bore you to tears with a step-by-step tutorial I’lljust summarise and point out the frustrating stuff, and the eventual solutions.
The first problem comes when they tell you to jack up thefront of the car so both wheels are off the ground. This means you should use 2jack stands, one on each side of the car after raising it. Both the Saab manualthat came with the car, and the Haynes workshop manual I purchased, mentiononly one specific small location on each side of the car for ALL jacking &supporting……..but the thing is if you’ve just raised the car using that spot,the jack stand can’t go there at the same time because it is already occupied.Forums to the rescue, and after 20 mins searching I discover a spot which issafe for supporting the car’s weight. The spot is in between the jacking pointand the front wheel well, and is pictured below:
The second problem is actually removing the old clamp oncethe bolts are undone. You see, Saab have conveniently placed obstacles in theway so you can’t pull the metal band off in a straight outward direction. Thetrick that eventually works is unhooking the bottom part off the threaded bolt,and then using some pliers to lift and turn the nose of the metal band (themiddle bit with the hole) straight off the rubber and to the right. There ismore space there and you can easily rotate the band and lift it out. The rubberpart is very flexible and open at the back, so it was easily pulled straightoff with some gentle twisting.
See the original clamp and obsticles below:
A third problem is installing the long backing plate of thenew clamp, because once you squeeze it behind the long steering rack there isvery little room behind there to manoeuvre it, so you can’t get it over thethreaded bolt at the bottom. The successful way of doing it is to hook thebacking plate over the bottom bolt first with the plate held horizontally, andthen swing the loose end upward in an anti-clockwise direction into the finalvertical position pictured below:
The top part goes on easily….. no fuss…. just tighten up thenut & bolt. The fancy nut goes on the bottom, and the brace will befastened onto it in the next step:
Fourth and biggest problem….. Getting the brace intoposition.
The best way for me to describe this process is to compareit to those puzzle rings you can buy, the ones made of several pieces whichintertwine like braids. If you’ve ever unravelled one of these rings, thenyou’ll understand the painful process of repeatedly trying to twist, turn,thread, and back track until eventually the whole thing just aligns perfectlyand falls into place ,with you not entirely understanding exactly how you didit.
There is a simple trick to it though, which is revealedbelow. This picture shows the mass of obstacles you must overcome when placingthe perfectly shaped brace into position. One end of the brace is bolted to theclamp. The other is bolted directly into the side wall of the engine bay,through the base of the mount holding up the ABS brake unit:
The trick was to think laterally, and I mean that quiteliterally. You need to go in through an opening in the arch behind the frontwheel, and insert the brace from behind the mass of jumbled up tubing and bars.See picture below, plenty of room to easily reach in there and position it:
Then gently fasten all bolts, lower the car, and thentighten all bolts once the car is settled on the ground. Take the car for atest drive, and wonder how you ever lived without this upgrade. Many alsosuggest getting a wheel alignment done after installing the clamp and brace asyou may have slightly altered the geometry by switching the parts. I don’tnotice any major problems, but I’ll still be getting an alignment done ASAP asa precaution.
Oh, and for the grand finale, and I don’t believe there’sanything worse than this……
After the installation was done using the parts supplied Ihad two fastening nuts left over. Yes, I checked, re-checked, re-traced eachstep and I assure you, there is no point in the process where I could havepossibly used these remaining parts. There is no mention anywhere in theinstructions as to why these extra nuts are included, but I have to assume theyare included to cover all scenarios….. as the kit is for all NG900 & 9-3models over a wide range of years, body styles and updates.
About the driving experience, post-inatallation…..
I had read around the forums of how effective the clamp andbrace were at reducing torque steer under hard acceleration, and it really,truly does reduce torque steer by a massive amount. You can plant you foot tothe floor, and traction permitting, the steering wheel will stay close to deadstraight. I’d say the problem is 90% fixed, an I’m hoping that the next 10%will be remedied by the new polyurethane bushes I’ll be installing on the innerand outer control arm points shortly.
What I did NOT expect, however, was the long list ofadditional benefits the clamp and brace has brought. When driving overundulating road surfaces, my local highway for example, I hardly need to make thoselittle corrections to the steering wheel any more. When braking or acceleratingmid-corner I don’t have to constantly adjust the steering angle, it stays righton track. Just sitting in your driveway, turning the steering wheel from sideto side while the vehicle is stationary now feels like you’re operating aprecision tool. It’s direct and tight. It’s as if the steering wheel had beenroughly guessing or estimating where to place the driving wheels all this time,whereas now it has been granted the ability to accurately place the drivingwheels at the exact angle you are specifying all the time, under all drivingconditions. The rubbery turning feel and central dead-spot have gone…..and thelist goes on.
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I’m trying to sayhere. You simply must buy this for your Saab NG900 or 9-3 if you don’t have onealready. Yes, it’s that good. No, I’m not open to discussion about the matter.It’s brilliant… Go buy one, now!
I’m going to enjoy and evaluate my beautiful new handlingcar for another few days, and then the new Rear Anti-Roll Bar goes on.
I just love this car, even more than previously, if that’seven possible.