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Two Possible Causes of your problemMy experience is with a Saab 900 convertible, not a 90...so I'm not sure how much this answer will help you, but maybe someone else can improve on it. There are two things I can think of that may be part of your trouble, one if your clutch linkage is a mechanical cable, the other if you have a hydraulic clutch setup. First off, the good news is I doubt you have a true clutch/pressure plate problem...as when a clutch wears out the engagement moves higher in the pedal travel, not lower. So you probably do not need a full 'clutch job'.

Now the bad news. The first situation described below doesn't EXACTLY fit your description but is what happened to me with my 95 SAAB Turbo Convertible:

It has a MECHANICAL clutch linkage. If yours is similar, if you have someone push the clutch pedal while you look at the top of the engine, you will see where a cable attaches to an arm that comes out the driver side of the transaxel and moves the arm it is attached to as the pedal is pushed and released.

These mechanical cables are not adjustable...and stretch over time, resulting in incomplete disengagement of the clutch even when the pedal is fully depressed. So the car will move when it is in gear even with the pedal depressed...and shifting gears will often cause a grinding noise or be physically hard to do. Other tech boards will talk about either buying a new cable and putting double washers on it, or buying an aftermarket cable that is adjustable. I fixed mine (about 10,000 miles ago) by taking a 'fender washer', cutting a notch through it, bending it into a half circle, and dropping it over the clutch cable between the 'arm' and the 'ball end' of the cable...essentially shortening the length of the overall cable and bringing shifting action back into normal range.

The second possibility, that sounds more like what you described, is if your SAAB has a hydraulic linkage. (I think some years SAAB used a hydraulic clutch linkage, I have had other vehicles with this setup, but I have not worked on a SAAB hydraulic linkage so my comments are 'generic'.) When you have a hydraulic setup there are two hydraulic piston/cylinders involved...one (the 'master' cylinder) controlled by the clutch pedal, then hydraulic lines to the transmission bell housing, where a 2nd (the 'slave' cylinder) is moved by the hydraulic fluid and moves the clutch disk in and out.

The workings are essentially the same that brake lines use. If you are low on hydraulic fluid the slave cylinder will not be moved enough to fully release the clutch, causing the condition you describe. There must be a reservoir of hydraulic fluid...if it is low put more fluid in it. (One of my old cars shared the same hydraulic fluid as the brakes...hopefully that isn't the case, as I'd really rather lose a clutch than my brakes!) If putting fluid in takes care of the trouble, GREAT! ... But why was it low? It will tend to go down a bit as the clutch itself wears*...but more likely is there is either a leak somewhere that would have to be fixed...or you have a 'leaky cylinder', which in turn would have to be rebuilt or replaced. If it is a 'leaky' master cylinder if you "pump" the clutch a few times it might work fine for a few minutes and then the fluid would leak past the seals and it would start to have your gears engage again.

I suspect the latter description, of a leaky clutch cylinder, most closely matches your description and is probably the trouble. Again, I have not worked on a SAAB setup like this...so all I can do from here is wish you the best of luck with it.

  • one last possibility...the car I had that shared one hydraulic reservoir for brakes and clutch, had the clutch line come from halfway up the reservoir while the brakes were fed from the bottom of the reservoir. So as my hydraulic fluid dropped in the resevior (due to normal wear of brake pads and rotors) my clutch had operational problems due to low fluid even though the cause was worn brakes! Actually this was a good setup as having a misbehaving clutch is a lot better than misbehaving brakes. Easy to fix by just adding fluid...there wasn't any leak at all in my system. It is NORMAL for hydraulic fluid to drop as brakes wear and in and of itself is not a big problem unless you let your brakes wear all the way down. So if those Swedish Engineers set the SAAB up the same way, just adding fluid might be all you need!
2011-09-13 03:54:01
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