SAAB 9-5 Fuel Filter – Diagnosing Symptoms and a Step-by-Step Replacement Guide


When you think of cars that are easy to work on, SAAB isn’t necessarily the first brand that comes to mind. However, the SAAB fuel filter replacement process is quite simple. Fortunately for all of us, the Swedes found it reasonable to install the fuel filter in a place where you can easily reach it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change this essential component on your own.

How to Diagnose a Bad Fuel Filter on a SAAB 9-5?

Fuel filters are often overlooked when it comes to regular maintenance. This is partially due to the fact that most modern gasoline supply chains are fairly clean, thus extending the already long service life of a fuel filter. That being said, an average fuel filter should be changed every 60,000 miles. At least that’s the case with SAAB 9-5, 9000, 900, and many other models from this manufacturer.

What happens if you don’t change the fuel filter on time? Given enough miles, every filter will clog up. No matter how clean the gas is, there is always some amount of residue and debris in there that is too tiny for the fuel pump strainer to pick up.

This residue comes from gas tankers that haven’t been properly clean, gas storage units whose condition differs from gas station to gas station, and more. Your filter can deal with only so much before it too becomes clogged.

A clogged filter generally does two things — it reduces the fuel pressure as the volume of gas it can handle reduces, while it can also reduce the amount of gas that reaches the engine. Here are several symptoms of a clogged fuel filter:

  • Difficult start or a no-start condition
  • Rough idle with misfires
  • Lack of power on acceleration
  • Overall poor engine performance

That being said, here’s the problem with these symptoms — all kinds of issues can cause them. Any of these could be caused by a bad fuel pump, bad pump relay, an iffy ignition coil, spark plugs, and a variety of other things. It’s extremely easy to set off on a wild goose chase if you don’t know what to look for.

Fuel Filter Replacement

Fuel filter replacement should be a part of preventative maintenance. It’s best to follow the instructions from your manual that state when to change the filter and which filters to use. We generally recommend using OEM filters only.

The process of replacing a fuel filter on a 9-5 is pretty straight forward. Best of all, the process is the same for SAAB 9000, 900, 9-3 and a whole range of Volvo models starting with 240 series and ending with V90s.

Before we start, here’s a list of parts and tools you’ll need for this job:

  • Fuel filter kit (we went with a Genuine SAAB filter for this guide, but MANN or Bosch will do)
  • Penetrating oil
  • Socket and ratchet set with an extension
  • Open-ended spanner set
  • A drip pan
  • Paper towels
  • Wire brush
  • A fire extinguisher

Whenever you’re working on a repair where flammable liquids are involved, always have a fire extinguisher nearby. Also, don’t smoke or bring an open flame anywhere near your workspace.

Step 1 – Prep the Fuel System

The first thing we want to do is prep the fuel lines so that we don’t have to deal with drainage. To do this, start the car and remove the fuel pump fuse from the fuse box as the car is running. It’s the #15 20A fuse in our case. Consult the picture below for a precise location.

The idea here is to have the engine burn up the fuel from the fuel lines, leaving them depressurized. That will reduce the amount of leakage and cleanup you’ll have to deal with later on. Once the car stalls, turn the ignition off and put the fuse back in place.

SAAB 9-5 Fuse The first thing we want to do is prep the fuel lines so that we don't have to deal with drainage. To do this, start the car and remove the fuel pump fuse from the fuse box as the car is running. It's the #15 20A fuse in our case. Consult the picture below for a precise location.

Step 2 – Locate and Access the Fuel Filter

Next up, you’ll want to find the fuel filter and remove the stone guard that’s protecting it from debris. In our case, it’s located right in front of the rear right wheel well.

Step 2 - Locate and Access the Fuel Filter

Next up, you'll want to find the fuel filter and remove the stone guard that's protecting it from debris. In our case, it's located right in front of the rear right wheel well.

Step 3 – Work the Bolts

The fuel filter is held in place by a bracket. The bracket itself is bolted to the car using a 10 mm bolt. Then there are the two banjo bolts that connect the fuel lines to the filter.

It’s a good idea to soak both of these with penetrating oil for at least 24 hours before working on them. These two bolts tend to rust up and refuse cooperation when you try to remove them. Penetrating oil help with persuasion.

Soak With Rost Off The fuel filter is held in place by a bracket. The bracket itself is bolted to the car using a 10 mm bolt. Then there are the two banjo bolts that connect the fuel lines to the filter.

Step 4 – Remove the Bolts

Next, we’ll be removing the banjo bolts. A word of caution — always make sure to grip the body of the filter with a 25 mm wrench before you start undoing the banjo bolt. Otherwise, you’re running a risk of snapping the bracket if it’s rusty enough. While you’re doing this, place the drip pan under the filter as some fuel is bound to leak out from the lines.

SAAB fuel filter removal Step 4 - Remove the Bolts

SAAB fuel line Next, we'll be removing the banjo bolts. A word of caution — always make sure to grip the body of the filter with a 25 mm wrench before you start undoing the banjo bolt. Otherwise, you're running a risk of snapping the bracket if it's rusty enough. While you're doing this, place the drip pan under the filter as some fuel is bound to leak out from the lines.

Step 5 – Remove the Bracket and Drop the Filter

With the filter disconnected from the fuel system, go ahead and remove the 10 mm bolt that holds the bracket in place. Once that is removed, drop the filter.

saab fuel filter removed

With the filter disconnected from the fuel system, go ahead and remove the 10 mm bolt that holds the bracket in place. Once that is removed, drop the filter.

Step 6 – Clean up the Bolts and Prepare New Seals

With the fuel filter out, clean the banjo bolts from any rust using a wire brush. Then take your new seals and test them for fit.

SAAB Volvo New Fuel Filter With the fuel filter out, clean the banjo bolts from any rust using a wire brush. Then take your new seals and test them for fit.

Step 7 – Install the New Filter

If everything is up to snuff, take your new filter, mount it into the bracket, and connect the banjo bolts. Every filter has an arrow that tells you which way you should orient it. Make sure that the arrow is pointing to the front of the car

Once you install the banjo bolts, torque them down to 16 ft/lb per specifications. If you don’t have a torque wrench, tighten them until snug. From here, simply put back the splash guard, and you should be done.

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Always Use Quality Filters

A fuel filter isn’t something you’ll be swapping every year. Do yourself a favor and only install filters from proven brands such as MANN, Bosch, or others. To find quality filters for your European car, head over to our online store and select your vehicle in our navigation tool.

Once our system finishes crunching your input, you’ll get a complete list of fuel filters and other parts that match your car.

Posted in DIY How-To, Saab
3 thoughts on “SAAB 9-5 Fuel Filter – Diagnosing Symptoms and a Step-by-Step Replacement Guide
  1. Monica

    Great write up and pictures! Thanks for taking the time to do this as it helps people like me keep my car on the road. I will be knock this off my list of things to do this weekend. : )

  2. Ed

    Since I replaced my fuel filter in my 2001 SAAB 9-5 2.3t, my car does not start immediately. Therefore, I need to crank for few minutes the engine until it starts.
    Did I do something wrong or did I miss anything? is this caused because the filter was installed backwards?
    I will appreciate your comments…thanks

    • Adam Goral

      You most likely need to replace the two plastic valves that connect into the fuel pump, they keep the fuel from draining back into the tank thus keeping the fuel lines primed and ready to go. If you haven’t done it already it might be worth doing the fuel pump at the same time while you are in there, as they often cause no-starts as they fail. If your pump is weak, it might also be why it takes awhile to prime.

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