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Discussion Starter #1
[I've done the search and found the bit about adjusting the clutch cable already. Tried it last night and it didn't seem to change anything. So, I post.]

Symptoms: often, but not every single time, grinding into 3rd with the clutch pedal fully depressed against the floor. In addition, I am also having problems getting into reverse--sometimes with it not finding the "slot", not feeling like it's wants to go into the gear, and sometimes grinding as it goes into gear.

As mentioned, I tried removing the fuse box and pulling on the cable. It wasn't clear which part of the cable I should be pulling on, though--the part with the spring wound over the housing (right next to the firewall), the part with the housing below the bracket, or the exposed portion of the cable itself? In any case, I wasn't able to do much other than muck with the amount of play in the pedal itself, and find out that the bracket that holds the cable is not tightly screwed into the fender well (or whatever it mounts to).

While I was mucking around with the cable I noticed the selector linkage and that it seemed to have some play. I asked my wife to row through the gears while I watched and felt the linkage. Lots of play there. Is that normal? Then, as she left it in 3rd, I wiggled the linkage and she said that the shifter moved almost back to neutral position when I wiggled it. What are the odds that this is causing my problems?

Here are the things I can think of that could be contributing to this issue:
  1. clutch cable bad/maladjusted
  2. bad/worn clutch/clutch assembly
  3. worn/misaligned shift linkage
  4. miscellaneous internal transmission issues (worn synchros, worn gears, popped off snap rings, etc.)
Based on symptom descriptions, does anybody have any ideas what I should pursue?

Right now I'm leaning towards taking it to a local independent who specializes in Saabs and letting him take a look because I honestly don't have much time to screw with this. His initial reaction was "clutch cable", but the symptoms seem rather drastic for something so simple.

Somebody talk me off the ledge, please? :-\
 

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Three separate issues.

You can force the "automatic" adjustment on the cable. If you hear it click, then it is changing, if not, it did not budge. That has to do with length of cable and where the clutch engages relative to the pedal travel.

Linkage alignment and wear. You can realign it fairly easily, rebuild or replace it not so easily. Dip's web site has details: http://photo.platonoff.com/Auto/

Reverse gear can be a separate problem, that seems to be more-or-less a feature of the transmission.

On a related subject, my shifting improved significantly when I replaced (and thoroughly flushed) the supposedly "filled-for-life-of-the-transmission" fluid. What came out at 100k was some of the worst looking oil I have seen drain out of a car.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
PMI said:
Three separate issues.

You can force the "automatic" adjustment on the cable. If you hear it click, then it is changing, if not, it did not budge. That has to do with length of cable and where the clutch engages relative to the pedal travel.
I never heard it click when I was playing with it. I suspect that can mean that (a) it's already perfectly adjusted or (b) the adjuster is busted. Which is more likely?

Linkage alignment and wear. You can realign it fairly easily, rebuild or replace it not so easily. Dip's web site has details: http://photo.platonoff.com/Auto/
http://photo.platonoff.com/Auto/

I've seen that site and it doesn't look horrible. The question is whether or not this could be contributing to my grinding issue.

Reverse gear can be a separate problem, that seems to be more-or-less a feature of the transmission.
Is this one of those "features" that is only solved by replacing the transmission with another transmission which will, eventually, develop the same feature?

On a related subject, my shifting improved significantly when I replaced (and thoroughly flushed) the supposedly "filled-for-life-of-the-transmission" fluid. What came out at 100k was some of the worst looking oil I have seen drain out of a car.
This tranny has 40k on it, as the transmission was replaced at 40k under warranty for popping out of reverse (according to previous owner's repair records). It is in a '96 900SET.

What did you use when you replaced your oil? Saab factory stuff, or something else?

Thanks!
-cj
 

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cleeland said:
I never heard it click when I was playing with it. I suspect that can mean that (a) it's already perfectly adjusted or (b) the adjuster is busted. Which is more likely?
To be honest, neither. I had to re-read the instructions after I could not get it to click the first time I tried, so you better read someone else's how-to on this, not mine...;oops:

I've seen that site and it doesn't look horrible. The question is whether or not this could be contributing to my grinding issue.
I don't know enough to answer that. A guess, from tinkering with this on one car is that it might help with 2nd-5th, but not reverse. If yours is the same as mine, the shift lever will go about 2/3 into gear, then there is some resistance, and then it pops in. The "grinding" comes from releasing a worn clutch too soon, because you can't really feel this clutch like some other cars.

At 100k, some people recommend replacing a plastic bushing at the front gear rod, and sometimes a couple bushings at the shifter... I have not identified what they all are.

Is this one of those "features" that is only solved by replacing the transmission with another transmission which will, eventually, develop the same feature?
I have not tried a brand new, or factory rebuilt transmission, or seen any posts from someone who did. My reverse gear was sticking well before the clutch started to wear, or shifter started loosening up. Was the reverse sticking when you first got the car?

What did you use when you replaced your oil? Saab factory stuff, or something else?
Despite what people post we do not actually know what the factory fill was prior to '97. My car had the original '96 fill, with a note in the manual which said 10W30 or 10W40 can be used... "to top up". I used 10W30, and plan to use something like GM SynchroMesh or something similar in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Reverse was not sticking when I bought the car 2 months ago. I did once get a "grind" downshifting from 4th to 3rd, but attributed that to my unfamiliarity with the feel of this clutch (this is my first Saab).

After having talked to a local independent Saab specialist, and Nick at Taliaferro, and getting exactly the same advice, I'm having it towed to the local Saab specialist for review and possible repair. Perhaps I'll have him drain and change the tranny oil while it's there, too.

Does $225 sound like a reasonable price to pay for OE clutch cable installed?
 

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http://www.thesaabsite.com/900new/ng900clutch.htm

The above has a manually adjustable cable for $58 plus ?shipping ?...

Should a man not be able to install this in less than an hour ?? VW would have allowed 20 minutes back in the 60s - but these cars were generally easy to work on, as was Saab, back then..

In this case, I suspect the clutch itself - with , I believe ,over 80,000 miles on it.
But that loose bracket on the firewall must be fixed before anything - maybe this is the cause for all man's grief..

This I forgot : Check out the transmission section at the stick faqs, this is good..
 

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What are the "stick faqs"?
Cleve put together a frequently asked questions section which is "stuck" at the top of the forum.

I think $225.00 is maybe a little on the steep side. A mechanic who has done this before could do it in an hour. I did it in two, but I learned a lot on the way. I'd second earthworm's suggestion about considering the manually adjustable cable. I bought one and it did help quite a bit.

I'm not sure the bracket flopping is super important. I know that when the cable isn't in the bracket, the clutch feels weird and springy. However my bracket is also a little floppy, and my pedal feels fine. I think it's important that the cable can't flop everywhere, but a little movement might be OK.
 

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My 2p worth:

Clunk at standstill into first is clutch adjustment and/or worn down clutch.
Graunch at speed into gear is worn synchro.
Sticky, resistant, rubbery change is synchro/blocker about to turn into shrapnel.

I've found mine to change better with a firm and fast hand. Click-click-click...If you take it slow and feely, it's poor. Snag-wait-stick-Kchunk....
 

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"stick faqs" was supposed to be Sticky FAQs (frequently asked questions).Without spell check the typing would be even worse...

I do not care for the automatic adjusting clutch cable.
The manual adjust is so easy....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just a followup on this issue.

After discussing with both my local Saab-specialist indepedendent mech and Nick at genuinesaab.com, I had the car towed to my local indie. Both of them were convinced it was clutch cable issue--and I hoped they were right.

Local indie replaced the cable with one of the manual-adjust (he keeps at least one in stock all the time) and everything is good again. The clutch feels much better than when I bought the car in March.

For anybody interested, the independent Saab (and Volvo) specialist is Neil's Automotive in St. Louis, MO, phone number 314-849-0608.

Total cost was: $60 for cable part, $110 for labor, $70 for towing.
 
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