If you know SAAB as a brand, you know that they’ve always valued utility and functionality. Back in the day when the new generation SAAB 900s were being produced at full steam, the company had decided to switch to cable actuated clutches in an effort to cut production costs. Needless to say, that turned out to be a bad move. It wasn’t long before the company had to issue SAAB NG900 hydraulic clutch conversion kits to mitigate the growing issue drivers had with their NG900s. Today we’ll take you through the process.
Article updated on 06/10/21. Original publishing date 05/02/15
The Issue with the Clutch Cables
While the idea of switching to a clutch cable probably made sense in a business meeting somewhere in Sweden, it wasn’t so smooth in practice. SAAB’s clutch cables were nowhere near as durable as first thought.
Many owners of NG900 SAABs had to replace the clutch cable at least once, if not twice. The issue was made worse by the fact that not everyone used a self-adjusting cable. Those with regular cables sometimes found it difficult to engage certain gears after the car has seen some miles.
SAAB’s solution was the SAAB NG900 hydraulic clutch conversion kit that would ultimately get rid of the cable actuation, and replace the mechanical linkage with a far more durable and practical hydraulic setup.
The Official SAAB Dealers’ Manual
Swapping the entire clutch actuation system is no walk in the park. Once SAAB began shipping their kits to dealerships, they’ve also included a detailed manual on how to get this upgrade done. It’s a helpful piece of documentation that can come useful during other clutch-related jobs, including the replacement of the clutch cable if that’s what you want to do.
The kit produced by SAAB was relatively short-lived. For whatever reason, just as owners began mass converting their SAABs, the company stopped manufacturing the conversion kit.
eEuroparts.com SAAB NG900 Hydraulic Clutch Conversion Kit
Considering the amount of demand for SAAB’s discontinued hydraulic conversion kit, we’ve decided to put together our own version.
The kit includes all the wear parts that you need to finish the job right, including a new master cylinder, slave cylinder, both clutch lines, clutch fluid delivery hose (From reservoir to master cylinder), as well as bushings to make sure the pedal is in tip-top shape.
That being said, our kit is not a 1/1 replica of what SAAB shipped out. There are several differences which you should be aware of prior to ordering this set for your car.
Bring Your Own Pedal
The original SAAB kit came with the pedal assembly, but when they discontinued it (most likely due to lack of stock) the new style clutch pedal, bracket, return spring guides and related hardware skyrocketed in price.
If you were to buy all of these new, it would cost well over $500. Conversely, you can get a used unit from a junkyard for a fraction of this price, therefore our kit is BYOP (Bring Your Own Pedal).
Here is a diagram of the assembly, including the parts that aren’t transferable over from the cable-operated system. Most of the time, a simple phone call to a yard is enough to get an assembly in the mail.
Some Adjustments are Necessary!
You will need to drill a few holes in your firewall to accommodate the new hydraulic master cylinder. Don’t worry, SAAB has a precise template you can print out and stick onto the firewall making this process simple. Factor in the cost of a couple of hole-saw bits into your bottom line.
Also, It’s a good idea to completely bleed your new clutch system before refitting the transmission. It’s just easier that way.
Barbed Brake Reservoir
Your brake reservoir should have a barbed end coming off the bottom that’s blocked off. If your car doesn’t have this barb, you’ll also need to replace your master cylinder.
If it does have the barb (It should), snip the end, and you’ll be able to directly attach the hose down to the master cylinder.
How to Upgrade Your Clutch at Home?
Although we greatly believe in the DIY abilities of our readers, this particular article shouldn’t be used as a how-to guide. The information presented above should give you a relatively clear overview of what upgrading to a hydraulic setup entails, and whether you can accommodate this upgrade in your own garage.
If you’re looking for a DIY guide, the famous SAAB DIY master Dmitry Patanoff has an article that goes heavily into detail on this subject matter. You’ll find that It’s not a difficult job, but in general, using a hole saw on your firewall is a little scary, especially when you need the transmission off anyway to replace the slave cylinder.
Consider Replacing your Clutch!
It’s also a good idea to replace the clutch itself while you’re in there and resurface the flywheel. Because of this, after the conversion your clutch will feel a little weird but don’t worry, you didn’t mess up.
Your clutch will just take a short break-in period before it’s up to speed. Hope that helps you get your NG900 where it should have been when it left the factory, with a new hydraulic clutch.