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92 Saab 9000s 5th gear problems

I recently bought a manual 92 saab, and in the past few days I have been having trouble with the 5th gear. The fluids are all fine and I have not put any real strain on the trans since I’ve had the car. It worked fine when I bought it but now when I try to put it in 5th there is a loud grinding noise as I let the clutch out. . The shifter then pops back into neutral. I tried holding the shifter in 5th to see if that would work, and as I release the clutch the grinding noise gets louder and the gear does not engage at all. I am really hoping it is just a worn down part, and doesn’t need a complete transmission overhall. I was hoping to get some idea of what the problem might be before taking it into my trans guy. Any ideas?

It sounds like a classic bad 5th gear synchronizer issue. It has to be torn down if you really want it fixed. At ghis point, a '92 Saab is pretty much a 22 year old beater with no dealer support. The company no longer exists.

You have three choices.

  1. Pay big bucks to fix a car that is worth less than the cost of fixing it.

  2. Never put it in 5th.

  3. Dump it ASAP.

find a used gear box have it gone over then swap it out

Does the shifter feel normal as you try to shift into 5th? I’m guessing it does.Sorry to say that it sounds like your transmission needs major internal repair. My memory is a little hazy on what the 9000 series is like for the 92 model year, but if I’m correct the transmission also functions as the engine oil pan. Maybe someone else here has a better memory?

At any rate, the transmission likely needs to come out and apart. Which I’m almost positive will require removing the engine and trans as an assembly.

There’s a possibility that it’s just the shift coupler.

On this car, the gear shift uses a 2-part rod that goes into the transmission. The rod has a rubber/metal coupler in the middle joining the 2 halves together. The idea is that in a bad accident, this coupler shears in half as the transmission and engine exit under the car, rather than into your lap.

The trouble is, after 20 odd years, the coupler shears apart anyways, and you loose the ability to accurately select gears. Usually it’s 1 and 2, and sometimes 1,2, 5 and R, leaving just 3 and 4. You’ll feel that you just can’t quite get it to go into gear. You can zip-tie the coupler back together in a pinch, and see if that improves gear selection. If it does, order the part (yes, there are lots of places left where you can do this); it’s like $30, and takes 30 minutes or so to install.

If it’s not the gear select coupler, it may very well be a broken 5th gear and/or synchro. The good news is, this gear is easily accessible through the driver’s side wheel well. Again, yes, parts are available, if you’re willing to look. If it’s just the 5th gear or synchro (which isn’t too common on these cars), you’ll be able to do it with the transmission/engine in the car. Pull the wheel, wheel liner, and then there’s an end cover on the trans that comes off and you’re staring right at 5th gear. You’ll want to check both the input and output shafts that stick through the middle of the 5th gear set for lateral play. If the can be pushed into the trans or pulled out to any degree, then you’ll need a transmission rebuild.

In most cases, ff the whole transmission needs to come out, asemaster would be right. But these swedes were clever. The car is designed with a hinged sub-frame which allows the transmission to be removed out the bottom while leaving the engine in place. It makes labour costs a lot less, if you’re taking this to an indy Saab shop. However, if you are a DIY kind of guy, I’d recommend taking the engine and trans out the top as a unit. It’s a little easier to manage without a specific transmission jack, and there’s plenty of inexpensive hoses and seals that you’d want to replace while you’re in there as well.

There is exactly one place in the U.S. that specializes in rebuilding Saab manual transmissions : Eriksson Industries. It’ll set you back around $3500 for a rebuilt one.

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Of course a used unit is an option as well, though it’s a bit of a gamble. Compatible years for your car are only '91 and '92, though if you have to, you can take the internals from a '93 transmission and put them in your '92 case - but at that point, you’d probably be better off ordering the necessary new gears, sleeves, clips, and synchros and reassembling your original gear box.

I took my car into the trans shop today and went for a drive with the mechanic. He said that 5th gear was completely gone. He recommended just driving the car in as a 4 speed instead of putting in a used transmission. He also said that the parts weren’t available to rebuild the 5th gear assembly. I wasn’t sure which parts I might need to do this, because I don’t know which parts exactly are worn out. I found a synchronizer, synchro sleeve, synchro ring, and 5th gear on this site, all in total about 400-500$ What parts would I need to replace if the 5th gear assembly isn’t working? Would I need to take apart the trans to find out? would it be insane to try and check out my 5th gear assembly through the wheel well? I don’t have a hydraulic jack but I might be able to borrow one. Is there any way to tell if it is just the sychnro or the gear?
The mechanic said it would be fine to drive around on the highway in 4th gear, but I’m a bit wary. I tried it out earlier topping off at around 75mph running at around 4500 rpms, and then dropping back to 60mph. Would this be advisable for a long trip, say about 300 miles? I watched it for overheating driving on the highway for about 15 miles and it seemed fine.

The transmission went out on my 1991 Saab 9000 about 10 years ago. I looked at replacing the broken gears, but found the process required special tools and techniques - and the individual parts were expensive - as you already found. I ended up buying a rebuilt transmission (with a core exchange) from It came with a 1 year, unlimited mileage warranty; the entire job cost about $2000, including all the suspension and drivetrain parts I broke or replaced along the way - although prices might be higher now. I did the labor myself. The transmission still works well.