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car leaking fluid=smoking

 
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I need help troubleshooting.

As told to me last night...
Smelled burning 2 miles from home. Nothing seemed unusual with brakes, steering, or shifting.
The neighbor thought it smelled like brakes. (He's a night shift worker, can't wake him now.) The fluid landed on a hot surface. produced smoke. Not a scary shit it's gonna explode amount, but it obscured enough to not see exactly where it was coming from.

These are the fluids I know to check... 1. oil 2. brakes 3. power steering 4. coolant 5. transmission Huh, must find windshield wiper fluid. But we all know that doesn't burn.

(The right model, but not my car. from here.)

Am I missing something?

The green brake lines seem fine, where I see them. They do not appear to pass over the location of the smoking.




The power steering line below looks gunky. Further down, it appears there may be a fresher oily substance.

This line appears to be the suction hose, #5 in this diagram.

Could it be damaged by cleaning it up with a damp soapy rag to see if it is split? It's metal.

Thoughts?
 
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Joylynn,

My thoughts are to get some paper towels or rags and clean as much as possible before using any soap or water.  Basically lift off the large parts of the grime.  You might get lucky and be able to check for cracks right there.  It would be better to find the cracks with a dry rag rather than possibly introduce soapy water into the hydraulic system.  Probably the tiny amount that would leak in would not be the end of the world, but I would still start with the dry rag.  If the dry rag does not clean things up then go ahead and use soapy water and clean gently around connections.

You could have some leaky brake fluid and it will make a mess.  And if you have leaky brake fluid please get that taken care of ASAP.  I once drove a vehicle that abruptly lost all its brake fluid and the brake pedal pushed completely to the floor with no resistance at all and there was absolutely no breaks whatsoever.  I was lucky to get back home in one piece.

I hope this helps,

Eric
 
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In your photo of the brake master cylinder it is hard to tell  the fluid level. Your neighbor said brake smell does that mean the smell of the fluid or the smell of brake pads? Two very different smells, both could create smoke.
Was the smoke coming  generally from either side or the middle of the engine compartment?
 
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Definitely not soapy water, I agree with Eric. Wipe it as well as you can, then turn on the car to see if it leaks where it's clean.

I also wonder where exactly in the engine it was smoking. That will tell us a lot. If you can't find anything that looks damaged, let it idle till it's good and hot and see if anything drips/smokes/changes. Safer to idle it than run it.

Trace all the hoses you can, see if any look grunked up.

And yes, that power steering line looks guilty. And if it was hot, it would smell a lot like hot brake fluid.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The smoke came from near the center of the engine bay. See the picture below. The blue line is the clutch cable. Underneath the clutch cable is a flattish area in sort of the shape noted in green. Where I tried to draw a pink circle, is where the smoke appeared to be coming from. That is, from the surface of the flattish area. There is no hose way down that low.

Looking at the above-linked diagram again, I think I need to look at hose #9 as well.
Smoking-0857_LI.jpg
[Thumbnail for Smoking-0857_LI.jpg]
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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How about a towel dampened with B-12 Chemtool?

 
Robert Ray
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That would be the low pressure hose for the power steering. The high pressure hose for 2.0 liter Saab can be problematic but at the crimp under the car.  It does appear that there is some leak in your picture at the return hose. The b-12 would be a good solvent to use to clean that area to  take a look. Having some one turn the wheel with the car running and looking in that area might reveal the leak too.
 
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Yes, chemtool would be ok.
That looks VERY guilty, looking at your pinks and greens.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Robert Ray wrote:That would be the low pressure hose for the power steering. The high pressure hose for 2.0 liter Saab can be problematic but at the crimp under the car.  It does appear that there is some leak in your picture at the return hose. The b-12 would be a good solvent to use to clean that area to  take a look. Having some one turn the wheel with the car running and looking in that area might reveal the leak too.



Here is the exploded parts view linked above. Please number the hoses you are referring to.

The link.
 
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Almost always on our old 'girls', the smoking comes from a fluid landing on the exhaust manifold pipes leading to the muffler.
Of course, these get real hot so most fluids landing on them instantly turn into smoke.

To find the manifold, just follow from the tailpipe(s) at the back of the vehicle towards the engine compartment where they split into more pipes and enter the sides of the engine block.


source
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Well, while rusty, my manifold is not burning oil on its surface. But take a look underneath there... What do you think is the name of that thing?

My decades-old and unused vocabulary came from chatting about mechanical issues, not looking at them. I don't know what many of the names look like.

Underneath the engine block would be the transmission?



manifold-and-fluid-on-thing-underneath.jpg
[Thumbnail for manifold-and-fluid-on-thing-underneath.jpg]
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The exploded view of the engine block
 tells me this spot is on the engine block... Ewww.
 
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Hose number 5 is the low pressure hose. It affixes to the reservoir with the hose clamp in your photo it travels to the top of the pump at the elbow and is held there by a hose clamp too. Is the power steering reservoir low? fluid leaks can be sneeky and travel along seams or hose far from the their escape point.
 We need a automotive fluid sommelier to take a wiff of the smoke to see if you can't get a better idea of the identifying the offending leakiness.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Further fluid  checks will come tomorrow.  I was interrupted earlier.  
 
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"Underneath the engine block would be the transmission?"  Nope, its the oil pan. The transmission is connected to the back side of the engine. The technical name for that leaky thing in your picture is called a hoo-dad.  :)
 
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Hi Joylynn,

A few brief thoughts:

RE: brakes - I'd assume it's not the brake calipers leaking fluid, this is usually evident by seeing fluid leaking down inside of tire from brake caliper. if it is a leaking brake line, you will notice low fluid level very soon and/or loose brake pressure. If the smoke smells like burning clutch (similar to burning hair), it could be a stuck brake caliper.

RE: Wheel bearings - Given the age of the car, you might have worn wheel bearings - CARFULLY check wheels to see if they are hot after driving for a while. You don't need to touch the wheel, just hover your hand very close to the wheel and you should feel the heat radiating from it.

RE: Power steering - could be low pressure side, should be evident by low fluid level. I have seen high-pressure side leaks before, it looked like a strand of spider-web as high pressure fluid squirts from pin-hole onto exhaust manifiold (produced white smoke). In my case, it was very evident.

RE: transmission - looks like you have front wheel drive, therefore tranny sits sideways under engine. Could be tranny pan leaking onto exhaust.  ALSO -  check for transmission/engine oil cooling lines going from the engine to the radiator - - that is where I found my leak and was fixed by simply tightening the hose clamp (was in very tight space and hard to see, but did hte trick),

RE: engine - could be from valve cover gaskets or "front" timing cover or oil pan, or main seal between transmission and engine. I have a small leak in one of my cars from the timing cover, but not enough to show up between oil changes.

If possible, place a large sheet of cardboard under the car overnight and see if you find any drips, that'll help you ID the type of fluid and what part needs to be inspected. Also check for smoke at night (or in dark garage) with a flashlight. This is easier with the engine off (after getting up to temp) so the radiaitor fan isn't dispersing the smoke.

Hope that helps,
-Pete
 
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I'm guessing this is a Saab 900. A Saab is nothing like an American car the transmission is under the engine and the main shaft runs parallel to the crankshaft. I'm really suspecting that leaky power steering reservoir, if not the cause of the smell it does appear to be leaking so deserves a looksee. I can't really tell what/where your other suspected leak is that you pointed out. Any quantity of smoke can be disconcerting, a thorough cleaning is helpful sometimes. My internet Kreskin isn't working hope it is a simple, successful, inexpensive fix.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Ooops. I meant to mention that.

1996 SAAB 900 SE designed by airplane engineers. Sadly the company went bankrupt after about 60 years. This makes parts hard to find. Sniff.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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me wrote: The right model, but not my car.


Ummm. No. My car is a manual transmission! Gotta wait till the car is warm to check the gearbox oil. Which is to the left.

Robert Ray wrote:In your photo of the brake master cylinder it is hard to tell  the fluid level.


The brake fluid level in the master cylinder is near the full line. It is far from the low mark. I had to take off the cap to even tell. I haven't received word back on the brake smell, fluid, or pads.

I've cleaned up a lot of the gunk. I tightened the hose clamps that were suspect.

The "oily" spot on the engine block was near the location of the #10 part in the engine block diagram above. Which could have traveled along a hose.

Is the power steering reservoir low?  


Yes!!! It registers, but is under the low mark on the dipstick.

Pete wrote:RE: Power steering - could be low pressure side, should be evident by low fluid level.  


Meaning what I think is the return hose, #9 in the diagram above?

I think I covered every thing... except I need to go back and hunt down the transmission hose clamps.
 
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The location of #10 is close to the rear main seal, if that were leaking it would be a motor oil smell. Hopefully it is not that. Many European cars use Pentosin for power steering fluid so it really wouldn't smell like motor oil if it were being burnt.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Nope. one more...

O'Reilly's Auto Parts store sold me Prestone AS 254 Power Steering Fluid. It is synthetic. I am having trouble verifying that this is okay to use in my SAAB. Thoughts? It specifies AMERICAN CARS including GMC, which SAAB spent some time under their ownership... I am suspicious.

The manual says: Saab Power Steering Fluid 1890. eSAABparts doesn't list my car's fluid.

Maybe the chassis has something to do with the type of steering fluid? Last 8 digits of vin=T2031041
 
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I don't know that as 254 that would hurt anything, but I think Pentosin or it's equivalent is the correct fluid and it is stupidly expensive compared to regular P.S. fluid. Tighten up those clamps and see if the problem goes away.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Just got off the phone with an awesome foreign car shop. Pentosin chf202 is the one for me. There is a Redline equivalent. He didn't have the number for me just then.... If I can't find it at a parts store they will sell me the equivalent tomorrow. But, a partial bottle. Okay for a top off of course!

The specs on Pentosin are below. How do I use that information to track down the Redline equivilant?
Pentosin-chf202.png
[Thumbnail for Pentosin-chf202.png]
 
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Redline has an awsome user friendly website for synthetic equivalents.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The Red Line site suggested this one.
redline-sterring-fluid-specs.png
[Thumbnail for redline-sterring-fluid-specs.png]
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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And further:

But I haven't been able to find the GM number for the fluid my car needs...

Edit: Yup. This is the one the SAAB Mechanic gave me. Yaya! Full/all synthetic #30404 Note to self, the bottle can say full or all. It's the same thing.
Screenshot-2021-09-17-161829.png
[Thumbnail for Screenshot-2021-09-17-161829.png]
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Of course, there is mail order... But that does not help me today.
 
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Oregon is too far away too.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Advanced auto parts website claims they carry the correct pentosin! Hurrah! I'll be in that area tomorrow anyway. Hope it is true.

Thank you so much, everybody. Congratulations Robert, you will be tagged in every other conversation about this car because you identified it by sight.

More drama to come, I'm sure.
 
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Is that power steering hose old and stiff? If so, if you're buying fluid anyway, it'd probably be a good idea to replace the hose (especially if it's just clamps on either side - which a return line could be - less exciting if it goes into a hardline before the other end connects).  If it's hose-only they usually aren't too pricey, assuming you can find it. And, if it's hose-only, even if you can't find a pre molded one you probably could get a length in the right size. Again, way harder if it goes into a hard line, and your hose diagram didn't load for me for some reason.

Tightening a hose clamp on a dry, brittle hose is not going to fix anything and could make it worse, though.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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We have the hose on order, and will be replacing it.  Thanks. I wouldn't call it brittle, but we figured it would be a good idea to change it. Old is right.

By theway,  Advance Auto Parts did have the correct fluid..
 
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Maybe this will help for an equivalent:

"Prestone European Power Steering Fluid is a premium, fully synthetic fluid developed for use in all European vehicles
For BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Saab, Volvo, Jaguar, Mini, and more
Use whenever CHF 202, CHF 11s, or CHF 7.1 fluids are recommended
Compatible with factory fill and OEM fluids
Designed for extreme temperatures
450 mL"



https://www.saabcentral.com/threads/compatible-to-chf-202-power-steering-fluid.577354/

Someone replied that CHF was available from Napa (auto parts chain).
 
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Glad you found the right stuff. When I worked at an O'Reilly store some years ago we carried Pentosin also, but this was at the main regional store, smaller ones might have to order it in.

Good luck!
 
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The part came in. And I discovered I also need #5. More of the fluid has leaked. Oh goody. Probably because I thightened the clamp on the too old hose.

Is there anything else I may be needing? Assuming this is the only thing else wrong. Is there something needed to presurize it? With the cap so easily opened i wouldn't think so....
 
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If anyone feels like taking a deep dive investigating to help me out...

The SAAB Workshop Information System for my car is located here.

Here is the portion that would seem to have instructions for the steering system... But the hoses are not covered. Which kinda makes sense. You know, because a mechanc would already know how to undo hose clamps and put together male/female connections on the metal hoses.

Do note, if there is an arrow to the left of the screen, clicking it will lead you to a diagram.
 
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The reservoir is not pressurized. Were you able to clean the entire reservoir to inspect and see if hose number 5 was the offending bleeder?
 
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Yes, cleaned. Yes to 5. I think.

The 5 hose is higher than the 9 hose. They do not quite touch. 5 hose had more on it than 9. I will be replacing them both. I suspect 5 was not the orignal problem.

I expect 5 to arrive sometime on Thursday.

On a side note... This issue should not affect any other systems, correct? Theoretically, it can be driven, just really really hard to steer?
 
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The resirvoir has less fluid in it now. I think I already purchased enough to refill the system.
 
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The pump running dry would be an issue over time. Since the reservoir has never drained completely so far it sounds like the level has reached an equilibrium ( hole in the side of the bucket not bottom). keep filling the reservoir as needed until you get the hoses replaced.
 
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Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Below I am pointing to the radiator hose. Actual question in the following post...
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I am not a spy. Definitely. Definitely not a spy. Not me. No way. But this tiny ad ...
The Wheaton Eco Scale
https://permies.com/t/scale
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