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Saab B204/B234 cylinder head rebuild. This head is found in all four-cylinder Saab 900 and 9000 from 1994 to 1998, as well as 1999 9-3.

Tools and supplies:

  • 12 mm socket: camshaft cap bolts;
  • 11 mm socket and extention: valve seal tapping (a metal tube of a similar size will do as well);
  • valve spring compressor: it should be able to reach down into an inch-wide lifter socket;
  • thin needle nose pliers (curved nose preferred);
  • fresh engine oil.

A freshly cleaned and polished head, just from an engine rebuilder.
Valve seals

Fresh valve seals go in first. Dip them in oil before installing.
Tapping in

A seal just slides on the end of the valve guide. An 11 mm socket is a perfect tool for tapping them on.

Close-up of a seal installed.

There are four valves per cylinder. The intakes are slightly larger.
Springs and washers

The spring is sandwiched between two washers. The upper washer has a conical collar wrapping around two collets that hold the valve stem.
Getting ready

The valve is in the socket, the rest is ready to follow. A dab of grease on the inside of the collets will make them stick to the valve stem and ease the installation.
Valve spring compressor

Install the lower washer, the spring and the upper washer. Use a spring compressor to clamp the spring against the valve.

When the spring is compressed, there's just enough room to insert the collets using a pair of thin curved needle-nose pliers. Here's when the grease on the collets comes in handy.

The universal spring compressor I got from an auto parts store could not reach far enough, so I had to improvise by making this U-shaped bracket. The walls around the spring should be protected from scratches since they act as sealing surfaces for hydraulic tappets.

Measure the depth from the camshaft bearing surface to the valve stem. It should be between 19.5 and 20.5 mm.

Install the hydraulic tappets. Give them an oil bath before putting them in.

The camshaft bearing caps are numbered, but have rather bizarre markings. My rebuilder marked them in a different fashion that was easier to read. Put the head on wooden blocks so the valves won't be hitting the desk. Lubricate the camshaft and put it in.
Bearing caps

Lubricate the bearing caps before they go in. The inner side bolts on the four caps above the cylinders have oil passages in them.

Tighten the bolts to 11 ft-lbs, starting with the cap closest to the cams pressing down on the tappets (12 mm socket). Install the second camshaft.
Side cover

Attach the cover over the distributor cap hole (on turbo engines).

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