Solving Saab 9-5 Rear Suspension Issues

Suspension is one of those critical systems that work in the background. Once something goes bad with your suspension, it can completely change the way your car handles. SAAB 9-5 rear suspension is somewhat notorious for being iffy at times.

The reason for that is the model’s rear suspension design. It has more than twice the number of rubber bushings as the front, and they tend to wear out easily. When they do wear out, your wheel alignments won’t hold, which can greatly impact your driving experience. Today we’ll talk about solving some of these issues.
saab 9-5 rear suspension issuesArticle updated on 08/30/21. Original Publishing date 11/10/16

What Causes SAAB 9-5 Rear Suspension Component Wear?

SAAB 9-5 rear suspension suffers from all the same issue that any other suspension suffers from — wear. Being more complicated than your average car’s rear suspension, the 9-5 has more moving parts, and hence more things that can fail over time.

Usual causes for your SAAB 9-5’s rear suspension components’ early wear are:

  • Overloading the car
  • Going way too fast for the conditions
  • Driving carelessly on rough terrain
  • Aggressive steering input at speed
  • Going over bumps and potholes fast
  • Incorrect alignment and neglect

SAAB 9-5 Rear Suspension Components Overview

The Saab 9-5 rear suspension design incorporates more than twice the number of rubber bushings as the front. That’s double the places that can wear out and create excessive slop and movement in the suspension. When the bushings begin to wear out, wheel alignments no longer hold, and things go south.

On top of that, there are three control arms and a whole bunch of other components that make up the rear suspension on this car.

Saab 9-5 Suspension Bushings

The item marked number 7, number 15, and number 17 represent three different types of control arm bushings. 15 and 17 are the most problematic ones. If number 15 bushings fail, your wheels will show signs of excessive negative camber. If that happens, you should replace that bushing as soon as you can.

Similarly, if number 17 fails, it will over deflect and lose proper wheel alignment when it faces cornering forces. Failure of either of these bushings will cause increased tire wear, added stress on the chassis, and at higher speeds and higher loads snap-oversteer.

How to Make Your SAAB 9-5 Handle Better?

Making your SAAB 9-5 handle better is a job that requires a few suspension changes. When SAAB designed these cars, they were trying to find a perfect balance between performance and comfort. Whether they’ve found it is up for debate, just like with any other manufacturer.

That being said, by going aftermarket with your choice of suspension components, you can dial the car in to achieve better handling.

Aftermarket Springs

Installing an aftermarket set of sport springs is the best way to improve your SAAB 9-5’s handling. What sets these springs apart from the more conventional ones is the lower ground clearance and a stiffer spring rate.

Modern progressive springs are great at keeping the car relatively comfortable in terms of soaking up road imperfections. At the same time, these springs keep the body roll to a minimum when you decide to speed through some twisties on your way home.

Sport Shocks

Although important, performance springs are just one part of a much larger equation, especially on a 9-5. Performance shock absorbers, like a set of Bilsteins, can greatly improve the way your car handles corners.

Modern Bilstein shocks, or similar shocks from other brands, are built to stiffen up the car and give you more control when you need it the most. That being said, depending on the type of shock you go with, you could have a soft driving car, or one that that is pretty stiff.

Polyurethane Bushings

It’s no secret that SAAB 9-5 is packed full of all kinds of bushings in the rear. Just look at that diagram. They’re everywhere. One of the more underappreciated suspension upgrades that you can apply to any car are poly bushings.

Rubber bushings have some give to them. After all, that’s exactly what their purpose is — to soak up vibrations coming from various suspension components. That give also takes away from the handling experience ever so slightly.

These types of bushings are far more durable than their rubber counterparts. Check this video to see what bad rubber bushings sound like. A set of polyurethane ones would completely eliminate this type of issues.

By installing polyurethane bushings, you’re essentially eliminating any give, but also making the car incredibly stiff. Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Some argue that poly bushings only make sense if they’re mounted on a race car. Others think they’re more than functional on a street car. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

Powerflex Bushings

If you decide to give poly bushings a try, Powerflex is a brand worth checking out. They produce polyurethane bushings and a number of other products. The good thing about Powerflex is that they offer a lifetime warranty, which is why they come highly recommended by the community.
Saab 9-5 Powerflex Bushings
Powerflex makes really nice polyurethane bushings for number 17, and once installed will never need to be replaced again (all Powerflex bushings feature a lifetime warranty). Available in both Street (PFR66110X2 click here to view) and Black Series (PFR66110BX2 click here to view) polyurethane, they will make a significant improvement to the feel of your suspension.

The number 15 is available as a direct OEM replacement, and a set of new rubber bushings will bring your rear alignment back into spec (a full alignment is recommended with any suspension work performed). For the price of all 4 replacement number 15 bushings, it’s a no-brainer to get the suspension working like new again.

Finding the Right Suspension Components for SAAB 9-5?

When you decide to replace your SAAB 9-5 rear suspension components, your choices come down to Genuine, OEM, or performance aftermarket parts. Once you figure that out, you’re left with one last thing to cover — find the right parts that fit your car.

We know it’s not always easy to do that which is why we’ve put together a simple car selection tool over at our online store. Just choose your car’s make and model from the drop-down menu, and you will get a list of all the parts compatible with your car. Do not forget to get an alignment service right after you get any work done on your suspension system.

2 thoughts on “Solving Saab 9-5 Rear Suspension Issues
  1. Tony

    I have a question. Since the article did not mention the years covered by this issue, could you tell me if the redesign of the 9-5 in 2011 changed the rear suspension which might have corrected this wear issue?

    • Adam Goral

      Yes, this article only pertains to the first generation 9-5. The rear suspension is very much a different animal in 2011, but many makes and models (Saab and otherwise) suffer from these types of issues when key bushings wear out.

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