What Are the Steps to Safely Increase Boost on a Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo?

The quest for more power is a common venture for car enthusiasts, and the Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo offers a plethora of options for those willing to dig under its hood. This Swedish import, known for its turbocharged engine, provides an excellent platform for modifications. One such modification is increasing the boost pressure. However, this process requires a careful approach to maintain the integrity of your vehicle, and more importantly, to ensure safety. This article will guide you through the protocol for safely increasing boost on your Saab Aero turbo.

Understanding The Functioning of a Turbo System

Before we delve into the specifics of increasing boost, it’s crucial to grasp the intricacies of the turbocharging system. A turbocharger is essentially an air compressor driven by exhaust gases. It works by increasing the air pressure or density supplied to an internal combustion engine. This increase in air allows more fuel to combust, thereby generating more power.

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The key component responsible for regulating the turbocharger’s boost pressure is the wastegate. This device diverts excess exhaust gases away from the turbocharger, controlling the rotation speed of the turbine and the level of boost pressure. A properly functioning wastegate is crucial to prevent a damaging level of boost.

Steps to Increase Boost Safely

Increasing the boost of your Saab turbo engine involves adjusting the wastegate and tuning the fuel and ignition systems to handle the extra pressure. Here’s how you can do it:

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1. Adjust the Wastegate

By adjusting the wastegate, you can control the amount of exhaust gases that bypass the turbo, thus changing the boost level. Some tuners recommend adjusting the actuator rod length to increase or decrease tension. This will alter the psi level, thereby increasing or decreasing boost. Always remember to make minor adjustments at a time and regularly check the boost pressure to avoid overboosting.

2. Upgrade the Fuel and Ignition Systems

The increase in air pressure resulting from higher boost necessitates a corresponding increase in fuel. An upgraded fuel system will handle the increased demand, providing adequate fuel for combustion. Additionally, the ignition system will need upgrading to handle the increased combustion pressure. Upgrade your spark plugs and ensure your ignition timing is accurate to avoid engine knock.

APR Software Tuning: A Comprehensive Solution

While manual adjustments may increase boost, they can be complex and time-consuming. An alternative solution is software tuning. APR, a leader in the automotive engineering industry, provides tuning software tailored for Saab turbo engines.

APR’s tuning software modifies the engine’s parameters such as fuel quantity, ignition timing, and boost pressure, optimizing them for maximum performance. This software furnishes the safest and most reliable way to increase your Saab turbo’s boost, as it considers all the aspects of your engine’s performance.

Insight from the Saab Forum: Tips from Real Users

While the guidance provided above is valuable, sometimes seasoned drivers offer the best insights. Saab forums are bursting with advice and experiences from Saab turbo owners who have successfully increased their boost.

These forums offer a wealth of information on what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, they give you an idea of what to expect during the process, including potential challenges. Such firsthand advice is indispensable in navigating the intricate process of boosting your Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo.

Long-Term Impact of Boost Increase

Boosting your Saab’s power is exhilarating, but it’s essential to consider the long-term impact. Your car’s engine is designed to operate within specific parameters. Significant changes to these parameters, such as a boost increase, can strain the engine over time.

While software tuning and careful manual adjustments can mitigate the risk, some degree of wear and tear is inevitable. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are necessary to prolong your engine’s life after a boost increase.

Increasing the boost on your Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo can indeed squeeze out more power and performance. However, it requires an informed, careful approach. By understanding your turbo system, making appropriate adjustments, and consulting with experienced users, you can safely enjoy the thrill of more power.

Boost Pressure Monitoring and Engine Management

To safely and effectively increase the boost on your Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo, regular monitoring of the boost pressure and engine management is crucial. Data logging equipment is invaluable in this situation. It enables you to track real-time engine parameters, including boost pressure, air intake, fuel pump performance, and ignition timing, among others.

On witnessing a pressure increase, it is crucial to check if the engine light activates or if there’s any sign of ignition knock. Ignition knock, or pinging, is a knocking noise that you’ll hear when the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders is detonating in more than once place at a time. This is generally unhealthy for your engine and a sure sign that the boost is too high. In this case, it’s paramount to decrease the boost psi immediately to prevent engine damage.

An essential part of engine management is utilizing an upgraded fuel pump. With an increase in boost, the demand for fuel also increases. An upgraded fuel pump ensures the fuel supply can meet the increased demand, contributing to optimal engine performance.

Custom Tuning Your Saab Turbo

While some Saab owners opt for manual adjustments and software tuning, others opt for professionals to custom tune their cars. This is a more personalized approach, in which your vehicle will be tuned based on its conditions and your specific requirements.

Custom tuning involves adjusting the boost psi, fuel, and ignition parameters to achieve the maximum boost without causing damage. This process involves a series of tests and adjustments to find the perfect balance for your specific vehicle, ensuring you get the best performance possible without compromising the longevity of your engine.

In many cases, custom tuning also involves the use of data logging equipment to ensure all changes are beneficial and safe. It’s an investment that can pay off significantly regarding performance and reliability.


The journey to increasing the boost on your Saab 9-3 Aero Turbo involves understanding the key principles of the turbo system, making careful adjustments, and maintaining regular checks on the engine’s performance. As much as this process may seem complex, the reward lies in attaining more power and an unrivaled driving experience.

From adjusting the wastegate, upgrading the fuel and ignition systems, data logging, to considering custom tuning or APR software tuning, each step is vital. Don’t forget the wealth of information available on Saab forums from forum members who have walked this path.

However, remember that increased boost comes with its potential impact. Regular maintenance, timely repairs, and consistent monitoring of engine performance are crucial to keep your Saab Turbo in top condition. While the thrill of more power is compelling, the safety and longevity of your Saab should always be paramount. Enjoy the ride!