06 Saab AWD front diff disable - long term **UPDATE**

Berns

Well-Known Member
Hello All,

I have been reading on here and on TBSS owners site about members going from AWD to RWD but it seems it takes some $ to make it happen.

My front diff is leaking from the oil pan (inner seal) and I am contemplating on just removing the encoder motor and the front axles and using the 2wd stub axle on the hubs and call it a day.

I live in SoCal and don't really see a benefit from the AWD since I am not the type that goes up to Big Bear in the snow.

I have read many articles but I have not seen that states the reliability long term.

Will it be ok to just do what I mentioned earlier and keep only as RWD.

I love my truck and would like to keep it for a long time but really unsure whether to just drop the $ to fix the leak or just keep it off all together.

Anyone ever have issues after going this route long term?

Forgot to mention that I plan to take it to the shop to do all balljoints and control arm bushings and figured it would be a good time to do it.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
That would work however you don't need to put in stubs in the hubs. The same hubs are used on 2WD except for the 2WD TBSS that does use stubs. Why? No clue. If it makes you feel any better, take the axles and cut off the joints to make your own stubs.

Edit: If leaving the transfer case in, you still need to maintain it with its regular fluid changes even if AWD is disabled.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
I did not think even all the SS had stubs...I thought it was only a couple years. I know the hubs are the same across the platform and never understood why unless you are riding wheelies with your SS you would even want the weight or rotating mass of the stubs.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
That would work however you don't need to put in stubs in the hubs. The same hubs are used on 2WD except for the 2WD TBSS that does use stubs. Why? No clue. If it makes you feel any better, take the axles and cut off the joints to make your own stubs.

Edit: If leaving the transfer case in, you still need to maintain it with its regular fluid changes even if AWD is disabled.
Mooseman,

Thanks. So in order to not maintain at all, just completely remove including the front shaft. If going that route, do I need to change to a rwd tranny or can I leave the factory shaft?
 

carshinebob

Well-Known Member
I've been driving my blue Bravada with the front axles, front drive shaft and fuse #8 under the hood removed for over three years now. No issues at all. ~BOB
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Replacing the tranny would also require replacing or shortening the rear driveshaft. I don't think it's worth the hassle or expense. But just have to replace the fluid in the TC every 50k miles.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
Replacing the tranny would also require replacing or shortening the rear driveshaft. I don't think it's worth the hassle or expense. But just have to replace the fluid in the TC every 50k miles.
Thanks Mooseman.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
I've been driving my blue Bravada with the front axles, front drive shaft and fuse #8 under the hood removed for over three years now. No issues at all. ~BOB
Thanks. Do you still drain and refill the TC every 50k miles?

Do you like it better with or without the AWD?
 

Mooseman

Moderator
You might get a little better MPG with less mass and stuff to spin.
 

carshinebob

Well-Known Member
Yes to a fluid change in the transfer from time to time. Also I remembered, plug the holes in your front diff. after the axles are removed just in case you ever want to change it back. My blue Bravada with (now) 2wd is my favorite. Steering feels a little better after the axles were removed. Maybe a slight improvement in gas mileage and the front tires seem to be wearing longer. ~BOB
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
Yes to a fluid change in the transfer from time to time. Also I remembered, plug the holes in your front diff. after the axles are removed just in case you ever want to change it back. My blue Bravada with (now) 2wd is my favorite. Steering feels a little better after the axles were removed. Maybe a slight improvement in gas mileage and the front tires seem to be wearing longer. ~BOB
Bob,

Since going to 2wd in your Bravada, has it affected the stabiltrak or ABS? I had an issue a week ago that prompted me to change the ABS sensors due to not reading correctly.

I just hate seeing lights on my dash.
 

carshinebob

Well-Known Member
I don't have stabilitrak on my bravadas. ABS operates with no problems. Since I've disabled AWD, there have been no problem dash lights at all. ~BOB
 

carshinebob

Well-Known Member
No light after disabling AWD by pulling fuse #8. I've done this on both my 02 and 03 Bravadas, although I've put the 03 back to working AWD for the winter. ~BOB
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
I did the same thing you did to my 9-7x but my all wheel drive service light is on now. I pulled fuse8 and fuse1 from under the back seat and still same result. Any ideas on getting this light off?
I have not done the mod yet but I was wondering, how long have you had it and does it affect your stabilitrak or ABS?

Did you pull the fuses from under the hood or back seat? Going by the fuses, the ATC# 8 is under the hood not the back seat.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Both systems are independent of each other. If AWD is disabled, ABS and Stabilitrac still work as they use different speed sensors.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
Hello all,
Have been debating to disable AWD but would hate to see the service light after removing fuse on my 97x.
Has anyone ever removed this completely from their PCM?
 

Sparky

Moderator
The PCM does not control the AWD.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
I merged this thread with your other existing thread.

The 9-7x is the oddball of all GMT360's. There was no version ever of it in 2WD so the BCM can't be flashed to a compatible 2WD version, even from a 2WD TB. Differences about the 9-7x that precludes using a TB BCM program:
- uses PassKey 3 (all others use PassLock), probably wouldn't start
- HID headlights
- turn signal DRL
- fog light switching and message in the DIC
- different DIC operation

The only solution I can think of is to take the gauge cluster apart and cover the LED with black tape.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
Thanks Mooseman.

That is what I was thinking of doing all along just wanted to see if there was a better way instead of taping the light.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
So I ended up taking my 97x to a big name shop they did up my front end with all Moog products and I asked if they could remove the axles and front diff since I wanted to disable the awd and they did it for free while it was apart.

I tested the car when I got to the shop and noticed that the the awd service light did not come on and even when I first inserted the key at start up, that is the only light that does not light up on the cluster. Wonder what they did for it to not light up anymore other than remove the fuse #8.

I will drive it more miles to see if the light ever comes up.

So far, happy with results.

Does anyone know what I can use to plug the driver and pass holes left from removing the axles?
 

Sparky

Moderator
Could use gatorade caps where the axles went into the diff and disconnect, but if you're never going to use that stuff I wouldn't even bother. Won't hurt anything to be open, really, aside from maybe collecting some crud in the differential or whatnot.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
Could use gatorade caps where the axles went into the diff and disconnect, but if you're never going to use that stuff I wouldn't even bother. Won't hurt anything to be open, really, aside from maybe collecting some crud in the differential or whatnot.
Thanks for the tip.

Just want to cover up in case I ever sell it and buyer wants to convert back.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
So they removed the front differential? That in itself is usually a bear of a job. Passenger side is the fake disconnect. Did they also remove that? If neither have been removed, then yes, Gatorade caps work well.
 
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Berns

Well-Known Member
So they removed the front differential? That in itself is usually a bear of a job. Passenger side is the fake disconnect. Did they also remove that? If neither have been removed, then yes, Gatorade caps work well.
Sorry,meant front shaft. Diff is still in. Good catch.

I will be putting in caps in today.
 

HizAndHerz

Well-Known Member
So, as a double check, all I need to do is pull the front drive shaft and front axles? Is that really it? How about the encoder?

The front diffy on my 9-7x ran dry, which is the strangest thing since I changed the fluid three years ago and the truck has been in the garage and out of service due to a myriad of issues. No sign of leaks. I got it back on the road a couple of weeks and as soon as it hit the ground there was a howling sound like a bad wheel hub. I put a couple hundred miles on it before checking and found that the outer differential seal is totally shot.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
I'd leave the encoder in but unplugged or pull the TCCM fuse. You'll get the light though.
 

HizAndHerz

Well-Known Member
Add me and my Saab to the RWD-only club. It took about 8 hours including a couple of trips to the auto parts store to pull the front axles, get the rotors turned and do a full brake job. That was in the driveway on jack stands for all the neighbors to see. They hate all of my cars and trucks, 8 total, but with 6 drivers in the house, that's just the way it is.

Total work done required:
1) Pull the front drive shaft (rear steering crossmember has to come out to make clearance)
2) Pull the both wheel axles (no stubs left in the hubs)
3) Unplug the TC encoder motor
4) Remove fuse #8 from the fuse box under the hood. We got the location from the owner's manual.

The seal on the driver's side axle had totally disintegrated and whatever bearing is on the other side of the seal didn't look so good either. I would have rather fixed the front differential but we needed to get this truck back on the road and disabling the front drive seemed the expedient thing to do.

Many thanks to Berns, Mooseman, Sparky and others for the information and encouragement.
 
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Maverick6587

Well-Known Member
I burned out another transfer case, I bought a used one with 300,000 miles on it. I was hoping it would last a month, so I had time to put a repair kit in the original TC. It started to whine again after 2 1/2 weeks.

I need to make another trip up to my parent's house (it's -15 F here and they have a hoist in their garage) to swap it out with another used one, lol. It's an 80 mile drive. Last time it took me 3 hours driving at around 20-30 mph. I would like to drive around 50 mph driving up there. There's a highway that I can take, but I'm not trying to be greedy here.

Can I pull my front drive shaft, unplug the TC Motor, and pull the fuse for AWD and be ok? Also, Do I need to worry about the front Diff or TC output leaking after pulling the front drive shaft? I plan on putting it back in and using AWD until spring. I just need to get up there to swap out the TC again for now.

Secondary question: Last time I swapped out the TC I pulled down the cross-member that the transmission is bolted to (I forgot I had the Service Manual). After reading the Service Manual, it just says to unbolt the transmission mount and pull the mount out. Is that all I have to unbolt other than the TC itself? I remember thinking that I removed the cross-member, because I needed more room to get the TC out, but that was weeks ago I'm not 100% sure now.
 

TollKeeper

Well-Known Member
The front drive shaft is just u-joints on the diff and transfer case connection, no need to worry out either leaking when it is pulled. I dont know on the other items.
 

Maverick6587

Well-Known Member
The front drive shaft is just u-joints on the diff and transfer case connection, no need to worry out either leaking when it is pulled. I dont know on the other items.
On the TC side of the drive shaft, it is a shaft, not a u-joint though. I was just worried that on the shaft hole would leak TC fluid or that the u-joint connection was only held in from pressure of the drive shaft. Not sure, I guess it could be press fit into the front diff, I just wanted to be 100% sure before I just left it to chance.
 

TollKeeper

Well-Known Member
Wow... I stand completely corrected.. I thought it was a U-Joint on both ends for all the GMT. It looks like its a slip yoke on the one end. My apologies for having the wrong info.
 

TollKeeper

Well-Known Member
Alright.. After a bit of research, it would appear that the transfer case front output shaft is sealed inbetween the shaft the the transfer case, with a enclosed bearing. However, I am not sure I would want to leave the output shaft, including bearing exposed to the elements like that. The suggestions I have gotten from some GM techs is to leave the flex boot still attached to the transfer case, than on the end of that boot, to seal it off somehow. Since it will be a rotating boot, whatever you put on the end of the boot will have centrifugal forces applied to it. I would think that folding the boot over on itself, and using duct tape should provide enough protection, since this is only temporary until you get in there to replace the TC.

So thats my opinion, maybe one of the guys that have done this, will have a better opinion.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
With the driveshaft removed, the output shaft from the transfer case shouldn't spin if you pull the fuse for the system. I would think just wrapping it up in duct tape would suffice to protect it from the elements and rusting. The bearing is not exposed and behind the seal in the TC fluid.
 

Maverick6587

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the suggestions guys. I ended up just pulling the fuse, which did allow me to drive about 30-35 mph without any whining noises. I did find that the 4WD fuse also gives power to the air compressor, I still have my air bags.

I swapped out the TC and just left the TC Motor unplugged, since the fuse controls power to the TC and the air compressor. All seems to be good now for the TC. Hopefully this one will last long enough for me to repair one of the other two TC's.

I also replaced the power steering pump, which seems to have taken care of the majority of the vibration I was feeling in the gas pedal (body of the vehicle). I wanted to share an amazing idea for locating a noisy idler pulley, from South Main Auto. I have a stethascope, but I was not putting my face that close to the fan, to reach down to the AC and Harmonic pulleys. Hope that helps someone.

 
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