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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - I’m Richard, just bought my first Saab (‘97 900S) a week or so ago. First week all good (apart from a few minor and easily-sorted niggles), until ...

Engaging and changing gear has got really horrible over the last day of two, particularly pulling away from standstill (forwards or reverse). Clutch pedal feels normal to press and release, but when I release the clutch in gear there’s an unpleasant grinding and the car moves off in a series of lurches rather than nice and smoothly, particularly if I release the clutch gently. Or it just stalls.

Once under way it drives fine, although this behaviour also appears more mildly when changing between low gears on the move.

Got me a bit foxed (and I’m not mechanically incompetent - a year ago I completed a engine rebuild on my Lotus Excel, and I design Mercedes F1 engines for a living). Generally a screwed clutch either doesn’t engage or doesn’t disengage - this one seems to do both of those fine, it’s the transition that’s a problem. But what sort of gearbox problem only appears when pulling away?

All suggestions gratefully received, but particularly ones that don’t involve major engine bay surgery or great expense - it would take very little money to exceed what I paid for the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Engine mounts seem good - engine doesn’t move around much. Engine is a bit grimey, so hard to be certain about leaks, but there’s no obvious leak near the flywheel.
Still, I’m feeling more confident it’s the clutch - after some more test drives the grinding noise and jerks could be consistent with the clutch grabbing and releasing as I let it up.
How much of a job is clutch replacement? Can it be done without removing the engine from the car?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
N.B. There’s a bit of free play at the top of the clutch pedal, dunno how normal that is for this car (all my other cars have had hydraulic clutches), but the clutch fully disengages when pressed so I’m not sure this is relevant.
 

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I had an old Trans Am with a totally mechanical clutch linkage, and takeup was miserable on that car. If I pressed the clutch pedal down slowly, it would bind and go down in stuttering fashion, and release was similar. There really wasn't anything to be done about it, except maybe replace all the linkage (which was obsolete as heck).

Your 1997 has a clutch cable I presume. First step might be to replace the cable with a known good one. I would try to hunt down a Saab OEM cable, though they seem to be scarce--eEuro has only aftermarket versions.

Replacing the cable is a pain at the pedal end (I found) but it's not that crazy. Replacing the clutch is an engine/transmisison out job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, cable operated clutch. I might give that a try then. What’s wrong with the aftermarket cables, if I can’t find an original?
 

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It could be that the cable is sticking inside the sheath.

Try disconnecting the cable from the throw out lever and operating it checking for stickiness.

Also, could be the centre of the friction plate torn out.
 

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Also, the less bends in the cable, the better. In bends, the inside cable wears heavily against the outside. You can check the routing, it should be a pretty direct shot from the firewall to the transmission.

Note that without a lot of stress, the cable may feel like it moves easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I’ve bottled doing it myself - it’s currently the only functional car in the household, I don’t have the time to do it as urgently as it’s needed, and even if I did, as an only car if for any reason I wasn’t able to finish the job in one go I’d be stranded.
Mr. Clutch quoted £401, then dropped to £375 when I told them it was cable-operated, and could do it next day.
Still grates to pay someone else to do something I should be able to do...
 
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