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Saab Frequently Asked Questions

Clutch Replacement Instructions for Saab 99 and Saab 900 Classic

How do I remove the Slave or Clutch?

In-Order to remove the clutch in a 900 or 99 car, the pressure plate spline must be compressed fully to achieve the correct clearance that will allow for pressure plate, slave & disc removal. The Factory Saab tool is a circular metal spring that is about 1/4 inch in height & is designed is to be installed in the edge of where the spline on the pressure plate and the pressure plate housing meet (when the pressure plate is compressed) With the slave working you can have someone press the clutch in and while the clutch is in you can install the circular metal spring around the rim of the pressure plate. Click here for a photo example! Once the person lets their foot off the clutch, the spline of the pressure plate will stay in when the tool has been installed. There are numerous schools of thought regarding alternative things to use when the tool is not available. A thick 5 gallon bucket handle, Sparkplug wire, a hood latch cable, basically anything with a 1/4 inch diameter that can be made into a circle can be used but you want to be careful that you use something that will compress the spline enough to get full clearance. If not, the clutch assembly will not come out as smoothly. When the hydraulic slave fails, you simply have no way of compressing the spline. There are numerous ways to compress the spline of a clutch pressure plate when the slave fails but none are easy. There is a long handled tool that Saab specifically designed to pry on the back of the throw out bearing to accommodate such an occurrence (but the average consumer does not have this). One way that I thought was very creative was: manually pushing each spline in with a screwdriver and installing pennies between that spline and the pressure plate housing until you work your way around the entire pressure plate. Another way is to remove 5 (and loosen the others but not all the way) of the pressure plate bolts and pry the right side of the pressure plate back against the slave and install the wire on the compressed side. Then, reinstall the compressed side 5 bolts and remove the opposite bolts and the repeat the procedure above until the spring is completely installed.

Remove the hood. 12 mm bolt at the hinge, one on each side. Put a blanket or pad on the roof and transfer the hood to the roof. TIP: Put the air tubes, covers and other parts in the hood on top of the Saab as you take it apart.
Remove the negative battery terminal
Remove the intake air tubes that cover the black plastic protective clutch cover
Remove the protective cover: It has a 12 mm bolt at each side down low and two 10 mm bolts in the face near the center and right side. The side of the car is called as you set in the drivers seat. You may need to remove the brackets that hold the battery cable and remove the positive cable from the starter to get the cable out of the way.
THE SPECIAL TOOL: Get a pair of channel lock pliers "The one in the tool kit in the trunk works well." Have a assistant push the clutch pedal all the way to the floor, bite down on the extended neck of the release bearing, release the clutch pedal and push down slowly as you insert the spacer ring "special tool " into the pressure plate. Now it is safe to remove the hydraulic supply line at the slave cylinder as well as the three 5 mm Allen screws that hold it on. TIP: If you don't have a assistant to help, get a pogo stick type tool, a 2*works...jam it between the seat back and the clutch pedal and adjust the seat back to tighten up the pedal to the floor. I used this method for 10 years.
Remove the spring clip at the end of the clutch shaft cover and extract the cover. Tool Technique: Use a 15/16 shallow socket and a long 8 mm* 1.25 bolt. Put the socket end over the gear the clutch shaft resides in and stick the 8 mm bolt with large washer through the center of the socket to use as a clutch shaft puller. Note: you must remove the plastic end bushing to screw the tool 8 mm bolt into the clutch shaft.
Remove the clutch pressure plate 13 mm mounting bolts. Pry the pressure plate free of the flywheel as it is also retained by 3 short dowels.

Removal Instructions

Now push the slave cylinder forward into the pressure plate and cram it all together. Pry the works out through the left side. Tight fit huh? It helps at times to turn the flywheel relevant to the dowel pins.
After you get the assembly out, remove the Special Tool. You need a press or make shift squeezer to collapse the pressure plate to get the tool out and insert the new tool into the new pressure plate.
Remove the 7 17 mm bolts that hold the flywheel on and pry it out. Note: The position of the flywheel dowel pin and position it at 11:00.
Remove the bearing in the center of the flywheel use a driver or a punch to knock the old pilot bearing out. Note: How the bearing is positioned relevant to the outside edge of the flywheel. Use the old part as a driver to hammer the new one into place. Don't install the new bearing till you get the flywheel back from the machine shop after it is resurfaced.
Remove the rear engine seal. Use a old screw driver or seal extractor to pry out old seal. Now a tricky part: Install special tool and push seal into place. Or you can hammer the seal into place and it is a job in such close quarters. If you mess up here the result is a bad oil leak and it will contaminate the clutch disc so be careful and make sure you work it in, little at a time, working around the outside edges. Use a razor blade to clean the end of the crankshaft off. Pry out the clutch shaft seal and pound in the new one supplied in the kit. That little seal Is in there tight and will take some doing to get out. Careful not to gouge the housing.

Installation Instructions

Clean the threads on the bolts that hold the flywheel to the crankshaft with a wire wheel or brush and apply some sealer to each. We recommend Permatex # 518 anaerobic sealer for any sealing purpose on engines and transmissions. Install the flywheel and the bolts that retain it. Get those bolts snugged down quick as the sealer starts setting up as soon as you screw them in and it could interfere with the torque values. Work quickly, use a torque wrench set to 45 ft lbs. Tighten in a cross pattern a little at a time.
Clean the surface of the flywheel and clutch parts with brake cleaner. Put the release bearing on the slave cylinder. Now put the clutch together "like a sandwich" Note: The bulk spring section of the clutch disc faces the pressure plate and the small spring hub faces the flywheel. TIP: Use a small tapered reamer and clean out the three small holes the locating dowel pins slide into to ease installation. Look at the old pressure plate to see locations of the holes. Insert the works. Lube the spline on the clutch shaft with a good quality grease "synthetic or moly" and insert it into the end of the transmission and through the clutch assembly. Use several small screw drivers to help lift and position the clutch disc to get the clutch shaft end into the pilot bearing. Once the shaft enters the pilot bearing force the shaft home with a good push or a tap from a brass hammer. Screw in the plastic end bushing into the clutch shaft and install its cover. A slight amount of silicone sealer on the rubber ring on the cover helps to ensure against oil seepage. Now install the bolts that hold the pressure plate and tighten to 18 - 20 ft lbs. It is a good idea to put a dab of blue Loctite to the threads of each bolt.
Install the three 5 mm Allen bolts that hold the slave cylinder on and use a slight amount of anaerobic sealer on these also. It will help to use a very small pair of channel locks to turn the Allens in most the way and finish off with a Allen wrench that is hard to position into the bolts. TIP: you can also cut a small allen in half on the end used to tighten the allen bolts. Doing this will enable you to get the allen in allen bolts better.
Screw the hydraulic hose into the slave cylinder "bottom hole" and put the bleeder nipple in the top hole. BLEED THE SYSTEM: Bleeding is best achieved by applying a positive pressure where you put the brake fluid in while slightly opening the bleeder nipple. Now push the clutch pedal all the way down by what ever means you used previously and EXTRACT THE SPECIAL TOOL. Test you clutch pedal for compression and height. Most clutch pedals by the time a Saab needs a clutch are worn at the pivot point of the pedal and clutch master fork causing a low pedal and not complete clutch disengagement. TIP: The Clovis pin that slides through the pedal and fork use a 5/16 pin. Drill out to 3/8 and use a new 1- 1/8 long * 3/8 Clovis pin. That pedal will come right up with no slop if done properly. In more severe cases it may be necessary to weld it up and redrill.
Install the covers, air tubes and hood back on and you are ready for the road.

Thanks to FRANK MILLER for contributing to this FAQ!

Procedure to get spacer ring into pressure plate when hydraulics have failed. I went to Lowe's and bought six M8x 1.25 bolts (and nuts)50mm long. Pry the plate away from the flywheel and stick a chubby bolt in there. Pass a longer bolt through the pressure plate and through a nut held by needle-nose pliers and into the flywheel (but not so far as to go all the way through). Then you back off the nuts. It is tedious because the bolts hit the tranny so it won't go 360 but back and forth this worked.

Thanks to Jim Victor for contributing to this FAQ!

When the slave cylinder shot, an easier way to remove the cylinder, bearing and pressure plate is to pry the bearing up to the pressure plate
fingers, pry the cylinder forward towards the front of the car and move the clutch shaft forward as described. With a reciporating saw, cut through
the cylinder next to the bearing. make a second cut at far forward as possible. After removing the 3 hex bolts, the slave cylinder can be
removed. This will simplify the removal of the pressure plate and clutch. Using this method saves a lot of time but requires the purchase of a new slave cylinder.

An other method is to remove all of the bolts and pins for the slave cylinder and pressure plate and pull the clutch shaft forward. Pry the
front of the slave cylinder away from the transmission while prying up on it at the same time. This will result in the lip of the slave cylinder
being out of its hole and resting against the transmission. Unbolt the starter and push it back. Then place a 2x4 over the slave cylinder resting
on two strong points. Wrap a chain under the slave and over the 2x4 and bolt the chain together. Using a crowwbar between the chain and wood, pry the chain and assebly upward. This will likely damage the lip of the slave cylinder and requiring its replacement. The steel ransmission housing won't be damaged since the slave cylinder housing is aluminum. transmission housing is steel

Another way to compress the splines - Remove the clutch cover bolts.
- Pry the cover away from the flywheel and insert a 10mm nut on each of the 3 rivets shown on the clutch plate above.
- Tighten the bolts closest to the rivets (3.) this will compress the diaphragm spring. insert the spacer wire and remove the 3 bolts.
- This is the least invasive way to remove the clutch when the slave is bad.

Thanks to Dan Dettmann for contributing to this FAQ!

There is also a tool that Saab made for the 99 that went around the throw out bearing and compressed (released) the pressure plate when tightened. I believe the part number was 839207, though you probably would have a hard time finding one today.

Pricing for 900 (1986-1994) Clutch Parts (Clutch Kits)
Pricing for 900 (1986-1994) Transmission (Misc Transmission Kits)

Contribute Info to this FAQ

Saab VIN Plate
Spring, front
Spring, rear
Anti-roll bar, front
Anti-roll bar, rear
Spring strut/insert, front
Shock absorber, rear
Brake disc, front.
Brake disc, rear
Brake Housing, Front
Brake Housing, Rear