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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Clutch bleed throwing me for a loop - Save my Saab from the junkyard!

Howdy, sorry about the long post, there are cliff notes at the end for impatient readers. I'm attempting to bleed the clutch on my Saab 9000 CD and it's sending a few curve balls my way, I've searched quite a bit but couldn't find anyone with a problem quite like mine.

I wanted to bleed the clutch because I was concerned about the condition of the clutch fluid and the feel of shifting had gown down a bit since I originally got the car. At one point I tried auto-crossing the car with two drivers and the clutch overheated and was slipping like crazy due to the overuse, so I figured that the clutch fluid could probably use a refresh after that abuse. The clutch was still working properly until I tried to bleed it.

First I tried vacuum bleeding it with one of those hand vacuum pumps, but whenever I open the bleeder, all that comes out is air and a very, very small amount of clutch fluid, even if I pump the clutch pedal, which is now dead and has no pressure at any point in its swing. Then I tried pressure bleeding it with a bike tire, but still hardly any fluid when I open the bleeder. The reservoir is plum full. I even ran a line to the intake manifold and tried to use manifold vacuum to bleed it, but even after letting the engine try to suck fluid out for 10 minutes, I had extracted minimal amounts of clutch fluid and lots and lots and lots of air.

When I use the vacuum bleeder, the vacuum immediately plummets when I open the bleed screw, so I know that the connection there works, because it's pulling air in from somewhere in the clutch system.

While I'm trying to bleed, the fluid level in the reservoir never drops, but sometimes, seemingly randomly, when I turn the key to "on" I hear a whirring pump sound and the fluid level goes down. This is the only time I can get my fluid level to drop, but it's happened a few times, since I've been trying to bleed this for over a week now. I assume this has to do with the accumulator setup for the brakes? But where is the fluid going? This is the first car I've encountered with this kooky combined reservoir system.

I'm curious if perhaps the position of the slave or master cylinder piston is somehow causing problems...? What else could it be? I haven't changed any parts in the clutch system since I got the car.

Cliffnotes:
1) Trying to pressure and/or vacuum bleed clutch, only lots of air comes out when bleed screw is openned, fluid level doesn't go down - where is the air coming from?
2) Every so often, when I turn the key to "on" the fluid level slowly drops for a few seconds. Where is the fluid going?

I'm utterly baffled and would quite like to have a running Saab again. The '89 Saab can be quite a fun street car after 750 lbs of weight reduction, and I'd like to have her on the road again. :) If I can't get this thing bled, that'll probably be the end of this car, I bought it for only $200 so it's not really worth replacing parts.
 

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You will also have the unusual big master cylinder reservoir that goes on the ATE ABS system SAAB used for the 88 and following 9000.


The combined master cylinder reservoir isn't unique to SAAB and is logical in that if the clutch inlet is exposed to air you lose the clutch pedal before the brake goes soft.

Pressure bleeding is the only feasible way to bleed these clutches. With an air pressure bleeder the reservoir needs to be full enough to cover the clutch inlet for as long as the bleed nipple is open.
I have not done this but I do know from mechanics that bleeding these clutches can be tricky. With a pressure bleeder you simply pressure up the reservoir and open the bleed nipple. Fluid should come out, mixed with air at first if air has been allowed to enter the lines. When 100% fluid is coming out, close the bleed nipple. Replensih the reservoir and you're done.

If this sin;t working then you have a leak somewhere in the line.
 

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yes pressure bleeder but ....

you have to raise the front of the car as much as you can.....
there is an airpocket in the system and this is the only way to do it (and you might have to do it a few times)

Its a real pita

good luck..
 

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Sadly,
I've had to do this several times.. as you now know it IS a pain..
Use a Pressure system and ...Persevere.. no other usefull advise applies...
it can take a Couple of Hours of Frustration.. or sometimes it all works in minites.
 

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You need to use a pressure system, ensure the resorvoir is filled right up to the lip, ensure the pressure bleeder bottle is full also. Get a car tyre which is pressurised to 35psi, connect up and then open bleed nipple, at the same time it sometimes helps if you get someone to pump the clutch pedal a few times.

This will do the trick, however, remember to drop the fluid level in the resorvoir down to max by syphoning the excess out before refitting ..HTH
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tried to pressure bleed it by chopping a bike tire, fitting it around the reservoir, and pressurize it w/ a compressor at ~30 psi. Still had the same problem. Openned the bleeder and nothing came out, the fluid level didn't drop at all (still filled to brim).

Can anything obstruct fluid flow like that in the system? One thing I've noticed is that the bleeder feels extremely loose once it's loosened, it can move around from side to side quite a ways, like a bolt feels when it's barely in the threads. Is that normal? I'll try jacking up the front of the car next, then I'm going to try to reverse bleed.
 

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When I replaced my master cylinder and bled the clutch, I used a MityVac - the little hand-pump vaccuum dealie. It took FOREVER (we're talking like 8 hours of pumping and waiting, pumping and waiting), but it got the job done.

I found that if you open the clutch bleed valve too much, it just pulls air in from around the valve. You just have to open it like BARELY half a turn. Just enough to let the fluid slowly come out.
 

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'Possibly' you have a Damaged Rubber Hyd. line to the Clutch slave. Often happens to brake lines of aging cars.. the runbber somehow deteriorates squeezing shut the inner tube. .. no fliud goes thru.. well not quite in a Brake system where this usually happens the hydraulic pressure (It's astonishingly high) forces the fluid thru.. but does not allow any to return (low to no pressure on the return) keeping the brakes applied usually. I know this seems like a ramble.. but a similar Hyd Hose issue could be prevenring fluid from coming thru.. 30 psi is more than enough pressure to have that clutch fluid spraying out of the slave's Bleeder under almost any other circumstance.
Suction bleeding while a Godsend on Brakes work is V V difficulkt to do on the Saab's pesky Clutch system.
Perhaps your Inner tube gizmo wasn't quite as effective as you might have believed. Suggest: a Big Rubber Bung (wine making supply shop) with a hole in it.. Insert suitable tubing attach such to you preffered but reliable Air pressure source.. (go easy onna Air pressure at least to start) Insert the Bung onto the Open Top of the fluid Resvoir.. IF you got the right size it should fit and seal perfectly.. Then.. try your bleeding once again.
 

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I hate to bring up an old thread here, but I have a problem bleeding my clutch. First, some background info.

My '90 9000 is my winter car. It's in pretty crappy shape, but it runs, so I don't complain. Well, right before this last winter started, I brought it out and started driving it. I quickly found that my clutch was much different. It was having a tough time coming back up after being depressed. I would have to pull it up with my foot. It wasn't horribly bad, but it wasn't right. As the winter progressed, I found that it was getting to be much worse. And at the end of the season, it started catching right at the floor, and it almost had 0 pressure at all. So, I pulled it into the garage today to try and bleed the clutch.

I went out and bought a vacuum bleeder today in hopes of getting it bled. However, I cannot get it at all. I have been trying for hours and I can't build any pressure into the system. What should I be doing exactly? If I have the bleeder valve closed, I can build up around 25 pounds of pressure. However, as soon as I open it, all the pressure is gone. So I know it's pulling air from in the system. I was able to get a small amount of fluid out, and it was dirty beyond all belief. It is a gross brown color. I have checked for leaks in the system, but I can't find any. Do you guys think my slave cylinder is going out? If that is the case, then I'll probably junk the car because it's just not worth it for me. I have tried everything that I could, any advice?
 

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Another common fault in the early 9000 is failure of the clutch master cylinder. The internal return spring breaks and then the clutch pedal may return but the piston inside the MC does not. Best cure is to fit a new clutch MC. This is the MC in the aquarium area driver's side bolted vertically on the floor of the bulkhead area just at the base of the windshield. Later cars switched to a MC inside the car above the clutch pedal and these seem to be indestructible. My 97 Aero is on its original clutch MC at 222,000 km.
 

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I hate to bring up an old thread here, but I have a problem bleeding my clutch. First, some background info.

My '90 9000 is my winter car. It's in pretty crappy shape, but it runs, so I don't complain. Well, right before this last winter started, I brought it out and started driving it. I quickly found that my clutch was much different. It was having a tough time coming back up after being depressed. I would have to pull it up with my foot. It wasn't horribly bad, but it wasn't right. As the winter progressed, I found that it was getting to be much worse. And at the end of the season, it started catching right at the floor, and it almost had 0 pressure at all. So, I pulled it into the garage today to try and bleed the clutch.

I went out and bought a vacuum bleeder today in hopes of getting it bled. However, I cannot get it at all. I have been trying for hours and I can't build any pressure into the system. What should I be doing exactly? If I have the bleeder valve closed, I can build up around 25 pounds of pressure. However, as soon as I open it, all the pressure is gone. So I know it's pulling air from in the system. I was able to get a small amount of fluid out, and it was dirty beyond all belief. It is a gross brown color. I have checked for leaks in the system, but I can't find any. Do you guys think my slave cylinder is going out? If that is the case, then I'll probably junk the car because it's just not worth it for me. I have tried everything that I could, any advice?

I just went thru the same thing the past 3 days w/ my 94 Aero. Turns out my fluid reservoir was empty and I didn't know it. On the 94, the brake and clutch share a reservoir. The opening for the clutch fluid is high up in the reservoir, and if the fluid is not topped off to the very top, the clutch can run dry while the fluid level appears to be almost full. I wasted a good 4-6 hours sucking/pushing air thru my clutch system trying to bleed it. After I figured it out, I was done in 30 minutes!
 

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dont the 89 MY and earlier LHD cars have a separate reservoir in the master cylinder under the plastic scuttle panel ?
 
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