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Antenna Mast Replacement

[Saab 93]

Special thanks to Fred Frigo for this information as listed below. He has contributed a bunch. There is also another contribution from Kannan Komandur mid-way down the page that you might want to read prior to beginning at step one.

A common problem with the Saab 900 and 93 is that the retractable antenna fails to go up or go down properly. In most cases this can be fixed by replacing the antenna mast. First, open the trunk and remove the screws holding the gray felt trunk lining in place, exposing the motor that moves the antenna up and down. Then, disconnect the 2 prong power cable to motor. After the 2 prong cable is disconnected, remove the coax cable that is connected to the antenna.

The motor and antenna should now be disconnected from any power source. At this time, the nut that holds the antenna in place on the exterior body can be loosened. Use a cloth to cover the nut so you don't scratch it when you remove it. Next, remove the two hex bolts that hold the antenna motor assembly to car frame. The antenna and motor assembly can now be moved out of place. Note: the plastic tube used for draining rain water from the antenna assembly should remain connected to the antenna motor assembly.

Thanks to Fred Heineman for contributing to this FAQ!

Quick note about the Antenna Mast Sleeve:

Fred Frigo's instructions worked beautifully for the antenna mast replacement on my 1998 Saab 900 with one exception. When it came to the step requiring the removal of the old antenna mast, I found that the thin metal sleeve that provides the mechanical as well as the electrical interface between the antenna mast and the aluminum tube had corroded in place.

I ended up breaking the base of the old antenna mast while trying to remove it. The sleeve just wouldn't budge! I used a 3/8" drill bit to extracate the sleeve. This is a perfect size for drilling out the sleeve without damaging the tube. Just go easy, and take care to keep the drill in line with the tube so as not to bend or scar it.

Now it is time to remove the aluminum shaft connecting the antenna mast to the antenna motor. A small screw (with a black wire) should be removed. The aluminum shaft then pulls out from the antenna motor assembly as shown below. Note the location of where the screw taps into the aluminum shaft, as this will help with re-assembly.

There are two types of antenna mast failures. In one case, the white plastic cord used to move the antenna up and down is in tact. It can be removed by simply pulling it out of the antenna motor. If the cord breaks, then the motor must be disassembled to remove the broken cord. To do this, simply remove the small hex nut at the center of the motor, exposing the housing that holds the retractable cord as shown below. Once the broken fragment of cord is removed, re-assemble the motor.

It is now time to feed the cord from the new antenna mast into the antenna motor assembly. This can be done by hand feeding the cord into the motor using a vise grip as shown below, one inch (2.5 cm) at a time. The teeth or grooves of the white cord should face toward the center of the motor. Push the cord in about 15 inches (45 cm).

Feed then antenna mast through the aluminum shaft as shown below

After partially feeding the white cord into the antenna motor assemble it is time to insert the antenna mast through the hole, exposing it to the outside. Care should be taken not to bend the new antenna mast. The antenna mast should be finger tightened to the exterior body. Then the aluminum shaft containing the antenna mast should be pushed into the antenna motor assembly. It is helpful to identify the previous marking from the set screw so you know how far to push the aluminum shaft into the motor assembly. Then, connect the two hex bolts that hold the antenna motor assembly to the frame.

Finally connect the electrical connections. First connect the 2 prong keyed electrical plug to the antenna motor assembly. Then, connect the coax to the antenna mast. Note: when you connect the coax to the antenna mast, the motor may be activated, attempting to retract the antenna.

Turn the car radio on and off a few times to insure proper operation of the antenna. Reinstall the gray felt trunk cover lining. As a last step, tighten the exterior nut holding the antenna mast in place using a cloth to protect the finish.

Thanks to Paul Dilley for contributing to this FAQ!

Please note I stripped my complete unit down before finding the above excellent instructions. I opened the complete unit encasing the winding gears, the U shaped box on the opposite side to the front nut and even
took the cover of the electric motor so I could fit a battery powered electric drill to the axle of the motor so I could wind the nylon cord in and out. Then I read the intructions above. Got it all back together and back in.
It worked,although when the radio was on the aerial was down and when the radio was off the aerial was up. Make sure when you put the cover back on the electric motor the same way round as went it came off.
If you make the same mistake as me you will have to rotate the cover 180 degrees.

Another View Point from a Frequent Contributor is below:

Thanks to Kannan for contributing to this FAQ!

When doing this on a '97 900SE convertible, I came across quite a few problems:

First, if your antenna for some reason is broken and the plastic cord is not stuck in the antenna, the solution is pretty simple. I would suggest that you follow this procedure even if you are not sure that the plastic cord is stuck in the motor or not!
1. Remove the outside hex nut and whatever remnants of the old antenna
2. Put the key in ON position and switch the radio on. Call someone to help you!
3. Stand beside the car on the antenna side facing forward and feed the plastic cord into the antenna's tube. Ensure the following. The ribbed portion of the cord (teeth) have to face the center of the antenna motor. You will not be able to feed more than a few inches of cord into the motor before you feel resistance. After you feel resistance you will find it difficult to pull the cord out, but it will come out with a tug. So, practice this a bit. After you are sure that you have engaged the cord into the antenna motor the correct way, just get ready to feed the whole cord into the motor.
3. Now you have the tip of the cord engaged into the motor from the outside of the car, the only thing you removed is the hex nut and whatever remains of the antenna you can see. ASK the friend to switch the radio
4. The motor will start winding the cord into the tube and the antenna will retract, try to get as much of the antenna in as possible. There is a good chance half of it will be stuck outside or the whole thing got in and
only the tip is visible.

5. Whatever, put the hex nut over the antenna and tighten it back on!
6. You are done. Switch the radio on and off a couple of times and watch the antenna do it's job.


If your antenna cord was broken in the motor, then the antenna will not completely retract, then you got to go to the procedure below. Since the plastic cord is bent and all that you will need to get about 1
foot of it straightened out at the tip, farthest from the antenna. What you are trying to do is, feed the antenna from the outside and find a small little hole that is just enough for that plastic cord to get into at the base of the antenna's tube where it meets the motor. That is where the tip will engage.

If the antenna cord is broken:

1. remove hex nut outside and try the above procedure. As it does not allow complete retraction of the antenna when radio is switched off, you need to get the new antenna that you fed into the hole out. Simply remove hex nut again and switch radio on. As antenna comes out wait and tug the base of it as it has almost all come out. It will just pop out!

2. Get felt lining off. In order to get the felt lining off sufficientlyto get to the antenna mast, you have to remove the CD changer. This is done by removing 2 screws 10mm that hold the changer enclosure to the mounting bracket. The 2 screws are toward the front of the car. Undo those and move the changer aside (no need to disconnect the changer)

3. If you are working with an upgraded sound sytem or whatever it is that is there in my 97 SE convertible, forget getting the antenna motor mounting bracket out. It is hard enough to unplug the two wire connector, all the best with that and do it without breaking it. Then remove the coax cable that connects to the antenna. Now simply locate and remove the small hex nut in the center of the antenna motor. Now you will have to wiggle the motor open. Here is what I did. I located where the plastic hose that drains the antenna goes. It goes into the left farthest back corner of the trunk. Remove it from that and free the outlet. Get a sharp knife and cut the hose as close to the antenna motor as possible taking care to not cut the plastic piece of the motor that it attaches to!. Take care of fingers!

4. As soon as you have the hose off the motor, the one side will be removeable. It has a large wheel inside and also a small washer. Make sure that you dont loose anything. After you got the plastic face off the motor, remove the wheel and any of the antenna cord still left in it. Refit in reverse with the hollow part of the wheel facing inward and the washer on top of it.

5. Place the hose portion of the motor's cover in first and the close the motor back and put the hex nut back on. Make sure that the motor is completely sealed like it was before you opened it.

6. Connect the coax cable and the two wire connector.

7. You need a source of heat for this: a cigarette lighter is the last choice. Make sure that you cut off the thick portion of the hose that was connected to the motor (about 1 inch of it). Then heat the remaining hose
at one tip and insert back into the motor. Dont ruin the hose by over heating. If you do Go to home depot! If you dont connect a hose to the motor it will leak water from the outside and ruin the trunk floor. Connect
the hose back to the outlet.

That's it, now feed the antenna as described in first step. If I had known what I know now, I could have finished a job that took me well over half a day in about 10 mins. I did not have any broken cord in my
motor but the hex nut was difficult to remove because the antenna had broken and crushed a bit in the nut. Just pull the nut out after it is loose and it came out with the crushed antenna piece. Used a plier to
remove it from the nut. The mounting bracket for the antenna is behind the amp and so impossible
to access, I had to remove the motor from the bracket. Dont even go there.

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