Mike900 is a Viggen owner living in Melbourne, Australia, and he’s been kind enough to let us sit in on a few of his recent DIY adventures. This fix actually happened around a month ago, but preparations for the Frankfurt show got in the way of me posting it straight away.
Previous installments included acquiring all his bits, and installing the steering rack clamp and brace.
My thanks to Mike for the photos and writeup. I’m going to have to get me one of these for the Monte pretty soon 🙂
And it should be noted that whilst Mike owns a Viggen, the mods that he’s doing are standard fare for all Saab 900/9-3 models, from 1994-2002.
It’s been about a week since I’ve installed (and been delighted with) the new steering rack clamp and brace. Having had enough time to get used to the new feel of the car, I figured it was about time to get cracking on the next step in the process…… the new 22mm Rear Anti-Roll Bar, or ARB for short. This part was bought from Taliaferro Saab in the USA – www.genuinesaab.com
A little about the product:
22mm refers to the diameter thickness of the bar, and is the default size aftermarket ARB sold by Taliaferro. It is also the most popular size for the NG900 and 9-3 models. Taliaferro are also able to produce other sizes ranging from 19mm up to 25mm to suit your specific needs where applicable. There is a very helpful and informative description on their product page here – as well as a great article written by Nick Taliaferro about the trial & testing phase when designing their ARB here.
This bar is thicker than the standard piece that comes with your Saab, and while the ARBs purpose is mainly to reduce the amount of body roll present while driving, it also improves other handling aspects too. The part comes in a silver powder coat (a form of painting), cost $90 USD, and would have also come with free shipping if I had lived in the USA. It comes with a very clear set of instructions which are easy to follow too….. it even had a few colour pictures.
You could easily do this installation using only the instructions supplied, so I’ll breeze through the installation and focus on a few of the easily solvable problems I had. As previously with the steering clamp & brace I’ve uploaded a bunch of extra pictures, in higher quality and each with descriptions on Flickr to save Swade some bandwidth – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike900/sets/72157622218582355/ (but you can click any of the images below to enlarge and see normal res versions – SW)
Here are the parts as delivered, the bar itself with four nuts and bolts:
My Installation experience:
This was FAR easier than installing the steering rack clamp and brace, and took 45 minutes from beginning to end including photos. If I had to compare the level of difficulty to something, I’d say this was no more involving than changing a wheel after a flat tyre. Really, really easy from beginning to end. In fact the only problem I had was nothing to do with the product at all…… it was the Viggen body kit that was the main obstacle. Let me explain.
For this installation you need to be able to get yourself underneath the rear of the car, in the space between the two rear wheels. The instructions call for the wheels to be sitting under the weight of the car in their natural position, which would normally mean reversing the car up onto some ramps…. readily available from most automotive outlets. Only problem is the Viggen body kit (and later the Aero body kit) sits quite low to the ground, and physically prevents the wheels from getting anywhere near the ramp when you reverse the car…… Don’t even try it. Check your Saabs ride height against ramps before buying!
If you’re handy with a welder you could do what fellow Viggen owner and commenter Aussielars did, and fabricate your own set of extra-low angle car ramps like these (Lars’ work is brilliant! – SW). I’d love to have borrowed those things if Lars didn’t live a few states away to the north, and unfortunately I don’t have a welder or the experience to use one either, so that was off the cards.
One solution I did find was both very simple, and even better it was dirt cheap! Buying a set of car ramps would have cost me upward of $150 AUD for an average set, but this alternative only cost me $22. At the local hardware/lumber store I saw some treated pine planks about the width of a car tyre, and they were 2.4 meters long and 50mm high. They were $11 each, so I bought two planks and had the hardware store cut them up for me on-site, which was no additional cost. I had the planks sliced into 40cm lengths, which effectively gave me a dozen conveniently sized and sturdy wooden building blocks to help me on my task.
Here they are unpacked in the garage:
The way I used them was to simply raise the car using the standard car jack, and then to slide the blocks under the rear wheels so the car was raised to a height I could comfortably work under. If you needed some additional height, you could always place a block underneath the jack before raising the car, giving the jack an extra 50mm lift, and place a 3rd of 4th block under the wheels. With the jack sitting on the ground you can already lift the rear high enough to slide two blocks directly under the rear wheels. It takes a little more effort than ramps, but it gets there in the end.
Two blocks were enough for me to gain comfortable access:
Then came removal of the old rear sway bar. Some comments around the web complained about the old bolts being VERY difficult to remove, or even snapping when you tried to remove them. I took the advice of another DIY commenter though, and sprayed a little WD40 (water repellent/lubricant) on each of the bolts a few days in advance. The removal was dead easy after that…. even one handed, and all of the bolts were removed without drama.
Here’s one end of the old ARB, and the bolts which hold it in place. There were two at each and, and no other attachment points to the body of the car. Remove all 4 bolts, being careful that the ARB doesn’t fall on you….. I stood my car jacks beneath the middle part of the bar to stop it from falling. It is very light, and really doesn’t take much supporting.
Here’s a photo of the old ARB sitting next to the new replacement part. The difference in size and quality is immediately quite obvious:
Just use the included the nuts & bolts included to attach the new ARB to the car. The 22mm ARB is much heavier than the original part, so sitting the bar on top of some stands while you first bolt the ARB in place is advised. Tighten the bolts using a torque wrench to the specified 25-30 foot pounds. I had never owned torque wrench previously, and bought mine prior to the installation for $60 AUD which is pretty cheap……. less than a tank of petrol.
Once you’ve attached and bolted the new ARB in place it will look like this:
Lower the car and take for a test drive.
IMPORTANT: The included instructions also advise you to check, and re-tighten the 4 bolts after 90km of driving (50miles).
Results and Conclusion:
Just a sensational difference…… an immediate, significant and amazing improvement and SOOOOOOOO much fun to drive!!!
The benefits are numerous, and the way the ARB has worked its magic on so many different aspects of the handling are excellent. Adding this ARB to your car is just the bargain of the century in terms of added street performance. The first obvious difference is the reduction in body roll, and it was noticeable the instant I sat in the car…. no little dip to the side as I planted my bum firmly in the seat. I slowly accelerated down my short street, and as I approach the T-Intersection and make a left hand turn I am momentarily stunned, and almost shake my head in disbelief……. but then I began to smile, the car feels awesome.
One big thing to note is the way the ARB has enhanced the improvements already made by the steering rack clamp and brace last week. Without having to cope with body roll, it feels as if the front suspension now has more time to focus on obeying your commands at the steering wheel. The car feels more solid, as if the preparations for your next move have already been planned in advance. It took me a while to figure out exactly why the car was feeling that way…. and this is the best explanation I could come up with.
The rear of the car doesn’t squat nearly as much under hard acceleration anymore, and likewise it also no longer rises as much under hard braking either. The ARB has also obviously significantly reduced the lateral body roll, as that is its primary function, so I guess that in a sense you could say that the body roll in ALL FOUR directions has been drastically reduced. Forward roll, backward roll, side-to-side roll are all minimised….. It feels like 50% less than before….. so when you do decide to make a move, be it to accelerate, brake or turn, the car is just ready for you.
As soon as you’ve finished your manoeuvre the car just settles quickly back to centre, ready for your next input. Driving through once challenging roundabouts or chicanes now require LESS effort at HIGHER speeds, a double improvement, and you’ll find yourself no longer needing to change down for that corner you thought you had previously mastered.
Here’s the next big thing….. front wheel traction is MASSIVELY stronger under all circumstances. That ARB just keeps the front tyres planted on the ground all the time, and you’ll REALLY notice the grip the first time you plant the accelerator out of a tight corner. That inside wheel that used to lose traction as you pulled away…. now it just grips into the tarmac and launches you down the road, straight away, no hesitation. Lift-off understeer is gone, mid corner stability is up, late braking isn’t a problem any more…… I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea by now. It’s just brilliant, and the ARB is the perfect complement for the steering rack clamp and brace. A genuine exponential improvement, like multiplying 2 x 2 and ending up with 5.
For the drivers who like a smoother ride however, you’ll find one downside to the ARB and that’s a slightly firmer ride in the rear of the car. Not too much, but enough to notice that little bump on a familiar road which you used to ignore. It isn’t a huge difference, call it 10%, but it’s there. Personally I love the new sportier feel of the car, and can’t imagine that I’ll ever switch back to the previous specification.
So now I’m going to enjoy this new ARB for a few more days before installing the new polyurethane control arm bushes….. surely this chain of improvement can’t continue at this rate, or can it?
I’m just loving this car. Even more than before, which was already more than ever previously, if that’s even possible.