How to Replace a Saab Clutch Cable
Oct 9, 2015
You're driving down the road, and suddenly your clutch pedal goes limp and you can't change gears! This means your clutch cable has probably snapped. It's a relatively easy thing to fix, so why not buy a new one and replace it yourself? In this guide, I'll be replacing the cable on my '96 Saab 900, though the process will be similar for most cars with a cable-controlled clutch.
Removing the old cable
Firstly, we're going to take out the old cable. We'll start with the clutch end. Pop the hood and find the clutch lever. This picture shows where is is on my 1996 Saab 900. This view is looking into the engine compartment from the driver's side.
Looking down there, you can see the cable (blue) hooked on to the clutch lever (red). Since the cable is broken and has no tension, you should have no trouble unhooking it.
If the cable snapped, you should now be holding one end of it. You will need to remove the housing, one end of which fits into a little hole near the lever, as shown below.
Now you should be able to pull the housing out. The other end of the housing fits into a hole in the dashboard wall. First unclip the fuse box and let it hang by it's wires.
The hole looks like this:
The next step is the longest. You will need to take apart part of the dashboard to get to the pedals. Remove the cover above the pedals (where the driver's knees are) using a torx wrench. Saab loves torx for whatever reason. Next, take out the interior fuse box (just inside the driver's side dor) by unscrewing two more torx screws. Let it hang.
Next, you will need to remove the plastic air vent manifold. Remove one screw on the left side and carefully pull it to the left, so it slides out.
Now you should have access to the pedals. The cable hooks on to the clutch pedal using a little clip. It's a little hard to get to, and tricky to photograph. You will need to pull back the spring-loaded clip and unhook the plastic eye. You can then pull the rest of the cable out. Here's a picture of the hook:
Installing the new cable
First of all, put plenty of lube in the cable, to be sure it slides freely inside the housing. This is important to ensure that it doesn't snap again!
Feed the pedal end of the cable (the one with the plastic eye) through the hole from under the hood.
You should see it come out near the pedal. In this image, it's the white plastic thingy on the left side. That big shaft is the steering column. Pull the new cable in and clip it onto the hook.
OK, now go back under the hood and feed the end of the cable through the hole shown a few steps ago. You might want to remove the dust protector, which is that little rubber piece right where the cable goes in. Dust is not a huge problem, and the rubber piece will impede the cable's motion, which might cause it to snap again.
Now comes the hard part. You will need to hook the end of the cable back onto the clutch lever. The best way to do this is by removing the battery (you will need a ratchet with an extender to take out the bolt). Then use a long screwdriver or crowbar to pry the lever far enough back to fit the end of the cable on.
The final step is to adjust the cable so there is no free play. The end of the cable should not feel loose in the clutch arm, but the cable itself should not be tight. You can adjust it using a wrench. The white part of the cable is shown below; simply turn the flat-sided part to tighten it up.
That should do it. Open the clutch by depressing the pedal a few times and then readjust the cable (it will loosen slightly). Put the battery and fuse box back in place and reassemble the dashboard. You will probably have to retighten the cable after a few days, but after that, you shouldn't need to worry about it.