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Shifter Update Instructions (detailed)

[Saab 900]

A special thanks to Helga & Dmitry Platonoff for the contribution of this material and some other materials listed on the sites faqs pages. It is Saab enthusiast like Dmitry that make it easier for the DYI guys that frequent the internet. Excellent Job!!!!

A gearshift linkage upgrade on the 1996 Saab 900. The old linkage is replaced with a newer design, offering superior shifting feel and curing the difficulty of engaging certain gears. The updated linkage is found on 1997-1998 900 and 1999-2002 9-3, Saab part #4626321. Should you come across this part on eBay or a local scrap yard, don't pass the opportunity, it's a worthwhile upgrade. To remove the linkage, do not forget to lock the transmission in fourth gear.

Needed Tools:

16 mm wrench;
13 mm socket;
Torx T40 socket;
long socket extension;
ratchet handle;
torque wrench;
two L-shaped 3 mm Allen keys;
car ramps or jacks and stands.

Removal of old linkage

Removal of old linkage Seal screws. Lock the transmission in fourth gear and raise the front of the car. Since your car is likely a 94-96, the topmost screw on the differential seal retainer will probably be rusted or stuck. Take your time to soak it in rust solvent.

Remove the old linkage: Undo the 13 mm nut securing the linkage to the gear rod at the firewall and move the shifter into third gear to pull it out of the linkage. Undo the bolt on the transmission end of the linkage and remove the linkage assembly.

Pull off the rubber boot and the plastic bushing from the engine bracket, you won't need them anymore. Unscrew the top bolt on the differential seal retainer (Torx T40).

Bolt on a new linkage stud in place of the old retainer screw (16 mm wrench). The stud has a little ball joint on its end.

Inspect the bracket that connects the engine to the rear mount. There's a round lug on top of it, which used to be occupied by the plastic bushing of the old linkage. Cut the lug off.

Bracket Cut: This is a very tight location even for a hack saw. Be careful not to damage any hoses while cutting the bracket. Thankfully, it's made of aluminum, which is easy to cut.

Old Linkage Removal: This little saw is almost as old as I am. My grandfather gave it to me when I was learning to work with mechanic's tools as a kid. It belongs to my son now. Today, it proved to be a perfect tool for the job ;P

The ball stud is still pictured attached to the linkage to show the complete assembly. It's the same stud you bolted to the differential a few minutes ago

New Vs. Old: The new linkage has a much more sophisticated design. The tilting movement is performed by a separate set of levers, while the base remains centered on the transmission rod and attached to the engine on another end.

The result is a much greater movement accuracy and a more precise shifter feel.

Put the new linkage on both the transmission rod and the shifter connection rod at the firewall. Tighten the 13 mm bolt on the transmission side.

If you are installing a used linkage, check the condition of rubber bushings and clean inside the ball joint sockets on both ends of the connecting pin. Put some grease on the balls before installing it.

Removal of old linkage Shifter end

The pin connects the far end of the linkage to the ball stud on the differential body. It holds the linkage better than the old lug with a round plastic bush, while allowing sufficient freedom of movement.
Finally, align the shifter position and tighten the nut on the linkage. Lower the car on the ground and go for a test drive to check how the new linkage works.

New Shifter Alignment Saab 94-98 NG900 Shifter

Shifter linkage alignment on a 1996 Saab 900 (should work for all 1994-2002 NG900/9-3 models). This procedure
can cure the rubbery feel of the shifter, the difficulty to engage certain gears.
Tools:

13 mm socket;
two L-shaped 3 mm Allen keys;
long socket extension;
torque wrench;
ratchet handle.

New Shifter Alignment 4th gear: Car on the ground, engine off. Engage fourth gear.

New Shifter Alignment Plug: Locate the small plastic plug on top of the gearbox and pull the plug out. Be careful not to brake the plug: it's thin and long (about an inch long).

New Shifter Alignment Allen key: Insert a locking pin into the opening. A 3 mm L-shaped Allen key works well. With the key inserted, check that you cannot change gears anymore.

New Shifter Alignment Clamp: Locate the clamp that holds the gear rod to the gearbox linkage (close to the firewall). There is a 13 mm nut on top of it.

New Shifter Alignment Extension: Slacken the nut on the clamp. You will need a very long socket extension to reach it.

New Shifter Alignment Shifter: Pull the gear lever boot up. Move the lever to align the hole in the linkage rod with the hole in the shifter housing. Be careful as moving the shifter into the third gear position will completely disconnect the rod from the linkage.

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Linkage and Tools Needed

A rebuild of the gearshift linkage on the 1996 Saab 900. The procedure is performed on the old style linkage found on the 94-96 model years. The linkage on my car grew very loose and caused a lot of free play in the shifter. The ideal approach would have been to install a new linkage of the updated design, but with the cost of the new part being $200 USD, a free rebuild attempt seemed rather attractive. The rebuild proved successful, resulting in a much tighter and more precise shifter feel.
To remove the linkage, first lock the transmission in fourth gear and undo the clamp that connects the linkage to the gearshift rod as described in the shifter alignment procedure.

13 mm socket;
long socket extension;
ratchet handle;
torque wrench;
two L-shaped 3 mm Allen keys;
needle-nose pliers.

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Linkage Removal: With transmission locked in 4th gear and the clamp undone, move the shifter to the 3rd gear position to disconnect the rod from the linkage. Undo the bolt connecting the linkage to the transmission (13 mm).

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Linkage Bushing: Slide the linkage from the transmission rod towards the firewall. This will effectively remove the other side of the linkage from the bushing on the engine mount. The bushing is covered by a rubber boot that's attached to the linkage. Pull the boot off upwards and remove it together with the linkage.

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Link: The linkage on the table. With 267K on the car, it has a lot of play in it.

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Linkage Disassembly: Undo the locking pins with needle nose pliers and take the linkage apart. Clean the dirt and examine the condition of the parts.

Saab NG900 94-98 Old Style Shifter Linkage Washers: The plastic plugs appeared to be worn, so I added a thin nylon washer in between the plastic and metal parts on each side, and assembled the linkage with fresh grease.

Put the boot on and install the linkage back on the car. Tighten the bolt on the transmission rod to 15.5 ft-lbs. Re-insert the shifter rod into the linkage at the firewall and complete

Put the boot on and install the linkage back on the car. Tighten the bolt on the transmission rod to 15.5 ft-lbs. Re-insert the shifter rod into the linkage at the firewall and complete the alignment procedure.

Pricing for SHIFTER LINKAGE MECHANISM MANUAL TRANS (clutch & related)
Pricing for SHIFTER LINKAGE MECHANISM MANUAL TRANS (transmission manual & related)

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