Posted by: motorvationsaab | March 22, 2012

Saab 9-5 and 9-3 Tid. Water Pump and Cambelt/Timing Belt failure… Be Warned.

DTH Cambelt kit

We have now seen several cases of premature diesel water pump failure.  This results in very large bills !

The Saab 9-3 and 9-5 16v and 8v diesels ( Z19DTH and Z19DT) can suffer from water pump failure resulting in severe damage to the engine. The trend we are seeing is that this failure can happen around the 60k and above miles. The Saab  schedule interval for the cambelt change is,  72k miles or 8 years for cars up to 2007, and for 2007 models on is 90k or 5 years.  We are finding however that the water pumps, which we change at the scheduled cambelt service are failing prior to these intervals. Whilst the cambelts are good for these mileages, the same cannot be said for the water pumps.

Damaged Diesel Cambelt

Damaged Diesel Cambelt.(Click to enlarge)

We are seeing that the water pumps are seizing, this causes the cambelt to lose its teeth and shred. With the 16 valve engines, if the failure happens at low speeds, idle or startup the usual, ( but not guaranteed ) damage we find is that the cam followers break with no damage to the valves or pistons. However with the 8 valve engines the valves are damaged and in some cases the pistons as well. Obviously to establish the extent of the damage involves quite a lot of stripping down. In both cases this involves you, the owner in a good deal of expense.

Saab Cam Followers

Damaged Cam Followers.(Click to enlarge)

An early sign of premature failure is the need to top up your coolant, usually prompted by a ” check coolant ” warning on your display. If this starts, or is occurring. Get the problem investigated, it may be another cause such as a leaking hose, or radiator. Do not ignore it ! Based on our experience. We are now recommending to owners the the cambelt and water pump should be replaced at 60k miles or 4 years ,whichever comes the sooner. If you are buying, or have just bought a vehicle you should make sure that the cambelt and pump have been replaced. Many will say that the cambelt has been done, however we have seen several instances where the belt has been done, but not the water pump. In posting this article we are seeking to inform, not frighten owners. We believe that in doing so we are serving our customers properly. After all prevention is better than cure !
If you wish to talk through this with us please call us on 01892 825208, or contact us through our website at .


  1. […] Saab 9-5 and 9-3 Tid. Water Pump and Cambelt/Timing Belt failure… Be Warned. […]


  2. […] further info on cambelt nd water pump problems on the 1.9L Tid engines please see our Blog post here, or follow the link […]


  3. I’m a mobile mechanic & I just diagnosed this very problem today on a 56 plate Saab TID Vector Sport 150.

    The timing belt, although shredded, still has all its teeth & was still in situ albeit a touch low on tension!

    The water pump was siezed solid & the timing belt guide pulley was completely mullered.


    • how much iste labour for a water pump and timing belt on a 2208 1.9ttdi saab 9-3 ?


      • We would charge 3 hours to replace the cambelt and water pump, including the tensioner etc.
        The cost of this depends on the labour rate in your area.
        Should you wish a quote from us please call us on 01892 825208.


  4. Sperrin Engineering
    I am just repairing a Saab 9-3 Tid that has done the same amount of damage at just 53000 miles.
    Very poor service life
    If you own one of these cars, make sure water pump and timing belt are changed before you run into a large repair bill.


  5. Yes, in most of the cases, the engine failure of the Saab 9-5 has been observed only after driving for more than nearly 60,000 miles.


  6. happened to me, 1.9 TTiD at 112500 KM, it was supposed to go until 150k. Pulley or water pump failed


  7. Happened to me, saab 93 1.9 diesel, belt jumped 5 teeth, saab dealer have put a new pump and belt on but I think a rocker arm has been slightly bent but not broken, the car has a vibration it never had before, and a slight ticking.
    Is inspection of the rocker arms a simple job ? This is a shame because in my opinion this engine is in all other respects a very nice power plant.


    • Not a quick job to inspect the rockers. Air box out, engine mount off, Cam belt back off and cam cover/carrier. Not a DIY job and you need the special tools.


  8. I had the cambelt shred on the way home last night with only 60200 miles on the clock. I suspect a seized water pump but now await the mechanic report and cost to put it right. Pity as its been a reliable car until now. Dreading the repair estimate…….


  9. Mine has just failed at 60200miles and is going to be costly. Owners of saabs follow the advice above as I wish i had seen this four weeks ago as I have an expensive time ahead of me


    • what was your out come? rocker arms, valves, pistons, water pump or ALL 4 wheeler


  10. Fitted new water pump timing belt SKF PARTS except water pump was a Circolli pump from Euro all parts replaced brand new at 71,000 miles , water pump failed and took the timing belt with it this was at idle though it had just cut out tried cranking engine but no start lifted bonnet and noticed no water in coolant expansion tank ,vehicle ran fine day before heater working fine .Milage covered now is 123.000 miles should this pump of failed if 72,000 is the replacement time this pump as done approx 50,000miles ,speaking to Euro at this present time,is there a possibility of rocker arm damage o nthis engine and if so do the injectors have to be removed ??? thnaks


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