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Discussion Starter #1
The last few times I drove the car, I noticed a faint whirring noise when depressing the clutch pedal, but everything still worked okay. I parked the car, not attempting to start it for a month. When I finally did try, the clutch pedal went straight to the floor and would not pop up--so, no way to start the car and it was stuck in reverse.

I figured the clutch fluid was low and that I likely had a leak somewhere. I checked the fluid level and it seemed normal. I've had the car towed to a Saab shop and they say there is no problem with the hydraulics, and so it must be the clutch itself, or perhaps a flywheel issue or some other mechanical failure.

I'm trying to understand how the car can be working okay (but for the whirring noise) when I last parked it and then, somehow, during the time the car has been parked, there has been a non-hydraulic mechanical failure of some sort which has caused the clutch pedal to go to the floor and the shifter to be stuck in reverse.

I don't know much about cars, but it seems a bit odd that a mechanical failure would happen during a period of time when the car was never running. And, out of the blue, the next time I try to start it, the clutch doesn't work and I can't start the car and have some major mechanical problem. Just seems like a major mechanical problem would show itself while the car is running and not suddenly appear during a period when the car has not been in use.

Can anybody explain this? Looks like I am about to spend $2k on a new clutch, etc. so I'm just trying to get some insight.
 

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$2k on a clutch is madness. That's a four or six hour job and a $300 part. $1k tops, and possibly quite a bit less.

Clutches can fail more or less exactly the way you describe. A failed pressure plate will cause exactly this symptom - that last time you pressed the clutch pedal the spring(s) broke, and voila, no more clutch. In my Fiero, that failure was accompanied by a pretty loud thunk, but in my Alfa it happened silently. The Fiero may have been audible only because the transmission is directly behind the driver, maybe 2' from his ears.

You should still be able to start the car - rock it gently forwards and backwards and nudge the shifter out of reverse. If you're talented, you can drive the car this way... put it in first, start the car (being ready for the leap) and then manage the throttle to keep it going. Rev-match to shift gears, turn it off at stops. Not fun, but will get you home.
 

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I don't know much about cars, but it seems a bit odd that a mechanical failure would happen during a period of time when the car was never running. And, out of the blue, the next time I try to start it, the clutch doesn't work and I can't start the car and have some major mechanical problem. Just seems like a major mechanical problem would show itself while the car is running and not suddenly appear during a period when the car has not been in use.

Can anybody explain this? Looks like I am about to spend $2k on a new clutch, etc. so I'm just trying to get some insight.

Some rust could develop over time or material fatigue along with the changing temperature could cause the material to finally fail. Like the straw that broke the camel's back
 

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I don't if $2000 is madness, its on the super high end. Six hours of labor is almost $1000 nowadays, while you can buy a clutch online for that much by the time a shop orders one in from their source mark it up etc its likely to be closer $500, add in another $500 for incidentals (Fluids, seals, mounts, clutch line, flywheel machining, etc) and there you have it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the perspective. The mechanic says he must change the slave cylinder inside the transmission, and so the transmission has to be taken out to get to it (lots of labor involved apparently). Also recommends change of master cylinder. Doesn't know if flywheel will have to be changed until he looks at it--he's not sure where he might get a flywheel, but he could have it resurfaced. If all this has to be done he says I'm looking at close to $3000.

Despite being a 2000 model, the Saab has only 70k miles. So it's not like lots of parts are worn out from overuse.

Again, any comments are welcome!
 

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That seems like a very 'safe' estimate, most clutch kits should include the slave cylinder already (and its no more work to change the slave cylinder since the transmission has to come out either way). Also the master cylinder shouldn't need to be touched, again the flywheel will likely only need resurfacing (but you wont know for sure). It's now starting to sound like he doesn't want the job and is just increasing the cost until you say no. $1500-2000 would be in the realm at a dealer/highly reputable indy for all the work he listed. I don't know how the quote went from $1600 (reasonable) to $3000 for just adding in the master cylinder (all the other work is standard clutch replacement work that I'd expect to be included when quoting $1600 for a clutch replacement).
 

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I bought a Sachs clutch kit on line for my 99 SE for $168 plus shipping; it did not come with the slave or adjusting tool. I got the slave elsewhere. The guy who put the last clutch in this car before I bought charged the previous owner about $970 including parts. Of course he does not seem to have resurfaced the flywheel which is part of the difficuty I have been having with mine.
 
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