Change a Saab 900 Clutch

Changing the Saab 900 clutch yourself will save you $2000. For some suggestions on how to do this, please continue reading.


  1. Believe in yourself. This may take days, obtaining the parts will. Your only requirement is to be able to fit an open end wrench on a bolt without bleeding. This article was originally written after trying to find some one who was knowledgeable of the task with no results. So- with a bit of shade tree knowledge and knowing what parts you throw out- read "ya don't have to be so careful with those" This article has blossomed into a real useful instruction with the help of some very knowledgeable editors.
  2. The year and model was a 1984 Saab 900 turbo to answer some of the questions.
  3. Get rid of all the stuff in your way.- open the hood and disconnect the windshield washer hose near the right headlight. Cut the hose if it is stuck. If you can't find it have a person standing by with a cutter as you remove the hood. Put a blanket on the roof of the car and put the hood there(upside-down) It will serve as a nice big bucket to put the big stuff it.
  4. Never hesitate- you will get depressed and look for a tow rope- your screwdriver will remove the three big air supply tubes for the engine. Got a digital camera and a magic marker? Label them and put arrows on them so you do not try to put them out of order or pointing in the wrong direction. Put the big aluminum one and the rubber ones in the hood. Gently reach inside the turbo (that is the piece the aluminum tube came from near the exhaust)and see if the little fan inside is free to spin. If it is- you just saved $600. If not time to call an expert. If you got this far, you have proved to the world that you can run a screwdriver, and a 10 mm wrench.
  5. While you are now aware of where the turbo is- stuff a small rag in the hole with the fan and remove the plastic "air in" line. -some have a sensor which you can leave attached, but you will need to release either end of the little hose that attaches to it. If any rubber hoses give you trouble on a Saab- cut them-they are much cheaper than the part they are attached to. Once on the bench you can slit them with a razor and peel them off the offending part.
  6. Last of the tubes is the carb heat. This covers the clutch and can be removed from the air cleaner and pulled from the heat source, (the exhaust manifold) Toss everything in the hood and go save your pictures.
  7. Stand back and look at the progress you've made. See it's not so hard. Next pull the electric fans. They have three phillips head screws (The bottom one is usually missing) and a wire connector. All into the hood.
  8. Now find the Allen head screws that hold the plastic cover over the clutch. Without malice pull and fold the cover away from the car.
  9. This is important---The pressure plate will not go on just any way. Take some nail polish and carb spray. Clean any old spot of the flywheel and the clutch plate. Put alignment dots on them. Even if you are discarding the old clutch plate, you can align the bolt holes and dowel pin holes and transfer the location to the new clutch plate. This will keep you from spinning the new clutch plate looking for the correct place for it.
  10. Now we loosen the pressure plate. Take one bolt out and replace it with a longer bolt(I steal one from the plastic cover). Skip a bolt and replace the next one and then again- you now have three long bolts not holding any thing and three short ones. The clutch bolts are special- put them in a can. Remove the last three short bolts a little at a time (if you are using the pressure plate over- not recommended). Now the pressure plate is loose and hanging on the long bolts.
  11. The clutch slave cylinder is held in place with 3 allen bolts or 10mm headed bolts. It is run by brake fluid. Remove the pressure line and put the end in a plastic bag to keep brake fluid from leaking everywhere.
  12. Things are real loose now. With the bits out of the way -look for the stub shaft that transfers power from the clutch to the transmission. It is under a plastic cover held on with an odd looking spring bail wire. Pop off the spring and inside is a white plastic "X" threaded into the end of the shaft.-Remove it. If you just try to pry it out, it will poke a hole in the radiator (you noticed how close it is). There is a hole in the end which you can thread a clutch bolt through a piece of tube you might have laying around which is bigger than the shaft and with a washer as an anvil will pull the shaft out of the clutch plate and crankshaft without harming the radiator-or you can take the radiator out. When loose slide it as far forward as it will go without removing completely as it holds the drive top sprocket. If you are doing that seal (recommended) you will need a wedge to hold the drive chain on the bottom sprocket. I used a piece of wood with a plumbers tape screwed on it for retrieval.
  13. Review: 1) clutch is loose with pressure plate. 2)slave cylinder is away. 3)drive shaft is out of your way and the chain and sprocket scared you when it fell. NOW
  14. Thread a wire through a bolt hole on the clutch pressure plate. Using a screwdriver or two keep the components away from the dowels. Remove the last three long bolts from the pressure plate and force the clutch and pressure plat out of their snug little home.
  15. Gather everything up. Take the old parts to the store and remove the new pieces from their box while at the store. Our new slave cylinder had a big spring inside a rubber bellows which we discarded and used 3M cement to hold the bellows in place. Have the flywheel machined.
  16. If it all looks like the right stuff, get your grease and sealer and head for home.
  17. If you took all the right photographs and good notes, you can start the reverse process by loading your flywheel back on the engine. Clean the oil off it with soap and water. Do not reinstall all of the alignment dowels. They will be in the way of the clutch installation. Line up the marks and use the original hardened bolts with thread locker glue and torque them down to (?????). If new bolts are available- use them -but only from the factory.
  18. install your new throw out bearing assembly.
  19. To load the clutch and pressure plate will require some finesse. If you have none- borrow some from your helper. Take a short piece of all thread and nut one end. Find a washer that will not pass through the splines of the clutch disc. Put it in a vise, pointing up. Load the disc with the flywheel side down. Set the pressure plate on top of the disc. Find or fabricate a washer to go on top of the "fingers" of the pressure plate. Slowly tighten the big washer down on the pressure plate forming a compressed pressure plate sandwich. Cut the all thread off with enough length left to slowly release the pressure when you're done. This operation will allow the clutch pack to slide into position without scoring the disc. If it is a real tight fit, you may adjust the all thread deeper into the crank or further into the throw out bearing. You may remove an alignment dowel with a vice grips- if you chose not to have it resurfaced (bad idea).
  20. Now that you have wrestled the clutch sandwich into place you must undo the all thread and rescue the nut and washer from the flywheel. Extract the all thread through the front drive sprockets and the big washer from in front of the throw out bearing.
  21. You're almost done! Use the short output shaft with the splines on it to align the clutch disc. It feeds through the drive sprocket and throw out bearing.
  22. Now you can put your alignment dowels in place and start the pressure plate bolts. Put them all in loosely. This will tell you if your lined up right. Tighten them to collapse the pressure plate in a cross pattern. When all the clutch plate is against the flywheel, you may torque them down to (?????).
  23. Your photos notes and a trail of bread crumbs will guide you back to a running automobile.


  • If all goes wrong- you can open the front of the chain and sprockets cover to retrieve spilled milk.
  • 10mm headed bolt = a 6mm bolt at the hardware store.
  • all thread and nuts and washers.
  • Life can be easier if you remove the radiator.
  • If you have big hands and can't get to the tiny spaces, take loose the front motor mount and jack the engine up till it gets close to the firewall-HOWEVER-some one must watch the shift rod on the end of the trans so you don't bend it.
  • This procedure was first done on a Saab 1984 900 turbo


  • forget to disconnect the battery.
  • Do not--depend on a jack alone to support anything.
  • leave antifreeze around where living things can't get to it.

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