If you are sure that the problem is the starter, first thing you need to do is buy the starter. However a cheaper alternative that can work if you have access to another car, is to remove the current starter, bring it to a starter/alternator repair shop, and then reinstall the fixed starter. This usually costs ~$50-$100 versus $150-$250 for a new starter. Either way, here are the steps to replace the starter in your car. You selected a 1999 Saab 9-5 but then said it was a 9-3. Here are the steps for a 9-5, but it should be very similar for a 9-3 in case that is what you meant.
All the notes in () are bolt sizes
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- Disconnect both positive and negative terminals of the battery (10mm), unbolt the battery from the tray and place the battery somewhere that is not cold and not on top of concrete. Batteries will discharge at a high rate of speed when left completely flat on a cold hard contact surface.
- After removing the battery and storing it, remove the plastic battery tray underneath (10mm), cleaning the tray is a good thing to do while you're here. Also, dismount the fused link piece that is mounted to the driver side battery tray and tuck it down to the driver's side without breaking anything.
- Find and undo the three bolts (10mm) that hold the fusebox (in between the battery and ABS controller) and pull the fusebox to the side to give yourself more room.
- Now, jack up the front of the car, making sure to block the rear wheels and with the parking brake engaged. If you have access to one, you can hang a drop light to increase the lighting. You should now be able to see two bolts that hold on the starter to the back of the bell housing. It usually is easier to access the lower bolt (16mm) from the bottom.
- Now from the top, look from the driver's side fender to look down and across to the bolt holding the top of the starter to the bell housing. The top bolt (18mm) is pretty long (40mm), it may be a bit difficult to reach. I personally used a gear wrench and inserted it from the firewall side, with my hand under the ABS controller, and underneath the wiring that feeds the CPS unit. This was a slow process, little turn by little turn to ge this long bolt out. This is the longest part out of all of this.
- Once you have that bolt out, you can now remove the connections to the starter. The lower stud in the bell housing is resting and supporting the weight of the starter. You can reach the wires from the top passenger side or from the bottom, your choice. It's usually easier from the top side, but you will most likely have to take out the starter from the bottom. There is a bolt (13mm) holding the positive terminal of the starter from the battery, and a bolt (10mm) that holds the trigger wire of the starter. If there are any wire ties, you can cut those.
- After the wires are disconnected, you will now gently wiggle the unit away from the bell housing and free it from the car, you may need a gentle tap from a rubber mallet to losen it out.
- Now you can take your starter to a repair shop and place the repaired one back in or put in the new one, both by reversing these steps