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Discussion Starter #1
Any thoughts? I tried the serch function but I cannot find anyone with both problems.

It is a 2.3L S model with a ton of miles, over 170K.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Matt
 

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Matt H said:
Any thoughts? I tried the search function but I cannot find anyone with both problems.

It is a 2.3L S model with a ton of miles, over 170K.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Matt
Matt, welcome to Saab Central
This seems to be a common problem and as a guess, I'd say or yell "shift linkage" and proper adjustment of same.
VW does have a similar wear/tear problem, and maybe all do..The newer Saabs (9-3) do have an improved linkage, which, I believe, can be retro-fitted.
Assure that a good synthetic MTF is being used.
And also that the clutch free play is correct(true with all manual gearboxes)
 

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I've been dealing with this issue off and on since I got my car. Usually my fixes give me a few months of trouble free driving.

The first thing to do is shine a flashlight down on the linkage while a friend jiggles the shifter knob and see whether anything is obviously broken. There's a good picture of the linkage out of the car here. HERE I've also got a thread HERE showining where one of the bushings has fallen out and I've fixed it with grommets and glue. Not ideal, but the first fix worked for a few months. I'm eventually going to upgrade to the improved linkage shown HERE (thanks Asia) as a more permanent fix.

A couple caveats. I understand that there's a slight chance that the transmission could just be shot, in which case spending $ on linkages etc would be a waste of $. Also, as earthworms says, check that your clutch cable hasn't stretched too much. How does the pedal feel? If it has a lot of slack in it, then a clutch cable adjustment will help. A forum search on "clutch cable adjust" will turn up a lot of links. I would bet that this will help a lot, given the mileage you've got.

If that fails, the other thing to try after adjusting the cable is to readjust the linkage. What you do is to first put the car in 4th and set the brake. On top of the transmission near where the linkage enters the transmission you'll find a small black plastic plug. Pull this out, and insert a small torx screwdriver, a longish allen wrench or some other sturdy object. this "locks" the transmission in 4th. The trick is to find an object that is sturdy enough not to break and which is big enough on one end not to fall into the transmission.

The official procedure is then to next loosen the 13mm nut back by the firewall, then go inside thecar, peel back the boot around the shifter and find another locking hole in the aluminum thing that the shifter goes into. Put another allen wrench into this hole, thereby locking the shifter knob into 4th as well. Retighten the 13mm nut and you're golden. IN THEORY. What I discovered yesterday is that it's tricky to get the badly worn linkage to work using this official procedure. Instead what I would suggest is locking the transmission in 4th, but not locking the shifter knob. Instead, just loosen the 13mm nut and tap the knob gently to the left, maybe a cm. Then retighten the 13mm nut, remove the tool you used to lock the transmission, and see whether you can get in all gears or not. It's kind of fiddly, and you'll over or undershoot a few times but you'll probably get there. If you get too far off, you can always lock the transmssion and shifter in 4th to get you back to square 1.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks to both of you!!

I guess what I am reading is that there is a chance this is part failure and not gearbox related.

I read the threads about the linkage but I never saw anyone mention that both 5th and reverse could be effected.
 

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In fact it's very likely it isn't the transmission :). No guarentee, of course, but the clutch cable and shifter linkage are both a lot less sturdy.

I think it makes sense that R and 5 would both get lost due to a faulty/misadjusted linkage, as they're both on the right of the shifter.

Anyway, shine a flashlight down towards the linkage while a friend moves through the gears, you might see something obviously broken. If not, then check/adjust the clutch cable first, then think about adjusting the linkage.
 

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My 96 goes into reverse just fine but going into 5th takes a strong right pushing force. But if i pull up on the reverse lock and then try to put it in 5th it is no effort for it to go in. So my problem I most likely due to an issue with the reverse lock feature. I will have to figure out how to adjust that if there is a way.
 

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Oxkart - you might just lift up the boot around the shifter. The reverse lock is just a cheesy plastic arrangement. There's a plactic piece that projects up from the ring around the shifter ball, and a black plastic projection from the shaft that rises when you pull up the lockout. I bet that the black plastic piece is just misaligned.
 

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check your shift linkage. it tends to be a problem, if you have it checked make sure to have or check your engine mounts make sure they aren't old and not holding as well as they should. becuase mine were old it put too much stress on my linkage and broke it. good luck

Ben Y.
 

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My turn now...

I am having the exact opposite problem. She will only go into 5th and reverse. I am definately no mechanic. Did anyone get a quote on how much is would cost to replace the shift linkage? I would attempt this myself, but I am a visual learner and the picks are not that clear to me. There is no grinding she just won't shift into gears. Any suggestions?
 

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smojo said:
I am having the exact opposite problem. She will only go into 5th and reverse. I am definately no mechanic. Did anyone get a quote on how much is would cost to replace the shift linkage? I would attempt this myself, but I am a visual learner and the picks are not that clear to me. There is no grinding she just won't shift into gears. Any suggestions?
I doubt it'd be more than an hours worth of work.
 

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Welcome Smojo to the endless transmission saga.

Assuming your clutch cable isn't causing the trouble, you can buy the linkages from www.thesaabsite.com and www.eeuroparts.com for about $170.00. It probably won't take more than an hour of a mechanic's labor to put them in. We can probably find better pictures for you if you need one to try to put one in yourself. Again, assuming it's really the linkage that is messed up.

You might consider just adjusting it first though. That procedure is reasonably easy. Basically, you put the car in 4th. Then you lock the transmission. This is accomplished by placing a sturdy object like a Torx screwdriver into the hole on the top of the transmission. If you can find your transmission's ID plate you'll see the hole, filled with a black plastic plug. Once the transmission is locked, you loosen the 13mm nut on the firewall side of the linkage. Once it's loose, you can nudge the shift lever to try and fix your problem. If you can't get into 5th, then nudge it back and to the left. If you go too far, you can get back to where you were using an allen wrench to lock the shifter in place. You'll find two holes for this purpose underneath the shifter boot. One really important thing is to make sure that whatever you used to lock the transmission is sturdy and that it cannot possibly fall into the hole. A sturdy screwdriver or allen wrench are fine.

Now that it's written, it sounds harder than it really is.
 

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more pics?

I will give that a try and let you know how is goes. Gotta get the time. I'm driving my 1995 Volvo 850 GLT in the mean time. Now near as fun as my SAAB though.

Are there any better pics of the adjusting of the linkage?

Is the more expensive shift linkage worth the money? It looks really different from the original. Are these the only companies that carry the shift linkage?
 

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Are there any better pics of the adjusting of the linkage?
I found one that might be useful, but it's a little too large for me to upload :(. If you pm me your email I can send it. To adjust it you'd loosen the second screw from the left in the picture. Don't be put off by all the "exploded" stuff inside the car, you'll never take that part apart.

Is the more expensive shift linkage worth the money? It looks really different from the original. Are these the only companies that carry the shift linkage?
As far as I was able to find in the US, yes these seem to be the only suppliers except for the dealer. I'm undecided about whether the upgrade is worth it. It's definitely more work to put it in. I had to have my transmission replaced and the used one they put in came with the upgraded one attached. It is definitely nicer, but I'm not sure if it's nice enough to be worth the extra $ and work. You might also look into getting a better used linkage to put in if your bushings etc are shot since this is the cheapest option yet.
 
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