5 speed Saab transmissions do not use Syncro rings for the reverse gear. What generally happens is that the gear teeth on the reverse gear and the reverse gear idler do not line up when attempting to place the car in reverse from the neutral position. Several options are available. One is to go to first gear and then go to reverse (this lines up the reverse gear and reverse gear idler). The second option is to begin to go to reverse and let the clutch out (very slightly) at the same time. This will move the reverse gear slightly and will allow the gears to mesh as well.
Severely worn Reverse gears and Reverse gear idlers can be identified by noting that the transmission shifter jumps out when backing or that the transmission makes a loud clicking noise when backing. Either of these symptoms are an indication that one of the gears has a broken tooth and is in need of replacement.
Thanks to karim for contributing to this FAQ!
I often have trouble putting the car in reverse after I stop, to remove the ignition key.
There are 2 options that work with my car:
1. put the car in reverse *before* turning off the engine
2. with the engine off, gently switch all gears up (1-2-3-4-5) and then the reverse. No need to depress the clutch.
Thanks to Robert Gagne for contributing to this FAQ!
Hi , i had a similar issue with my 1992 900 , the reverse gear idler was worn because the shims in the back of the reverse gear were completly worn out , so the reverse gear was too far in , and did not mesh enoughly in with the reverse idler gear , so before the reassembly of the transmission , check the distance between the transmission case opening and the nut in the back of the reverse gear , the specs are 7.67 - 7.88 inch , if the distance is not within those specs you can add some shims between the nut and the reverse gear shim p/n 8703340 .3mm - 8703357 .4mm - 8703365 .5mm .
Thanks to Tom Adams for contributing to this FAQ!
I often have a similar problem with my '93 900 SE. The solution for me is either, as mentioned by Karim, to put in reverse with the engine running (If you have problems doing this sometimes, releasing and re-depressing the clutch helps in my case) or, with the engine off move the car slightly (release the handbrake slightly and momentarily if you're on a hill, if not then using your weight to jog the car forward/backward is usually enough to enable reverse to be selected.