Saab (2002) 9-5 5spd won't shift into reverse

I have a 2002 Saab 9-5 sedan with a manual 5-speed transmission. It runs like a champ until recently. I’ve been having a lot of difficulty shifting into reverse. I’ve taken off the gaitor and looked down into the shifter to make sure everything is ok - looking for broken plastic, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary. Clutch fluid is full. It all of a sudden started doing this. The car shifts through all 5 forward gears with no issues. I can eventually get it into reverse if I’m patient enought and other times it goes right in with out issue. Any clues? A saab dealer says its the transmission, but I’m not so sure.

Unless there’s wear in the shift linkage then odds are there is a problem in the transmission. This would be very unusual for a SAAB.

You state there’s been a lot of difficulty shifting into reverse. How long has this been going on and just how difficult has it been? (In other words, much grinding, gnashing, and so on.)
Does the shifter not go into the reverse position at all or does it feel like it goes in normally but the car simply won’t move?

Thanks for responding ok

It just happened suddenly. By difficult, I mean you pull up on the collar to shift into reverse and the shifter just won’t go… It feels like something is jamming it. But if I work it a little by wiggling the shifter, it goes into reverse…no grinding or gnashing. Other times, infrequently that is, it goes into reverse with no issue…no grinding, etc.

I have also had limited success wiggling the key and the shifter to try and get it into reverse.

Reverse works fine once I get the shifter in that position.

There is a technical service bulletin for this problem (Google “blocked reverse SAAB”). First step is to have the transmission fluid changed; it looks like Dexron III ATF, but isn’t. Get the correct SAAB synthetic transmission fluid from Eeuroparts or Taliaferro ( in there and, if you’ve lived a clean life, it might be OK. Second step is a transmission rebuild, using the updated kit from SAAB that corrects this problem for good with a new reverse gear and upgraded synchos. Sorry I can’t give you better news; change the fluid and hope for the best (and start saving for the rebuild). Good luck.

My forte is with the 900 series and in those the actual shift linkage from the console to tranny can be altered as it was connected by a squeeze clamp at the very end of things…it can get out of whack in that vehicle…really not sure about the 9-5 methinks it shouldnt hold true on that car as it really wasnt a SAAB anymore…

If you really want the answer…go here…all Saabnuts need to have this website in their back pocket I know I lived there for a while… If you dont find the answer there…it doesnt exist…period