Adjustable short shifter rod installation on the 1996 Saab 900. Part from MP Performance.

To remove the shifter housing, first lock the transmission in fourth gear and undo the clamp that connects the linkage to the gearshift rod as described in the shifter alignment procedure.

Update: the shifter has been removed a couple of months later due to inadequate performance: the shortening was barely noticeable, and the ball kept getting loose despite the locking screw, which introduced unwanted slop into the shifting feel. If you plan to install this shifter, I'd recommend removing the reverse lockup and putting the ball on Loctite or another adhesive for proper effect.

Update 2: the adjustable shifter rod used in this guide is no longer produced, an alternative (and improved) do-it-yourself modification is available here.

Tools:

  • 13 mm socket: linkage clamp;
  • 13 mm wrench: gearshift rod;
  • 10 mm socket: centre console and shifter housing;
  • long socket extension;
  • ratchet handle;
  • torque wrench;
  • flat screwdriver;
  • Torx T25 screwdriver;
  • two L-shaped 3 mm Allen keys: linkage lock;
  • 2 mm hex key: shifter adjustment;
  • strap wrench and C-clamp: knob removal;
  • needle-nose pliers.
04.04.2005
Driver side

Remove the lower panel on the driver side (two Torx T25 screws). Push the panel towards the front of the car to release the tabs for removal. The spring cleaning is due on this car ;).
04.04.2005
Passenger side

Remove the lower panel on the passenger side (two Torx T25 screws). Push the panel towards the front of the car to release the tabs for removal.
04.04.2005
Ashtray

Take out the ashtray on the back of the centre console (it just pops out). Undo the Torx T25 screw under the ash tray and remove the cover with ACC vents and storage compartment lid (pull it up to remove).
04.04.2005
Nuts

Undo two 10 mm nuts securing the centre console to the floor.
04.04.2005
Ignition cover

On the 900, just pry up the ignition lock cover with a small screwdriver. On the 9-3, the cover will be bigger and there's a PCB with key antenna under it. The antenna can be removed by twisting it sideways and pulling it up or by releasing the tabs using a small screwdriver. There's a connector at the bottom.
04.04.2005
Window switches

Press the tab on the window switch cluster and push it from below through the handbrake opening.
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Cover

Pry off the larger cover over the ignition lock.
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Screws

Remove two screws holding the front of the console to the shifter housing (Torx T25). Apparently, the previous owner was a huge fan of Cola.
04.04.2005
Light switch

Pull out the light switch (if equipped) and disconnect the wires.
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Heater switch

Pull out the rear seat heater switch (if equipped) and disconnect the wires.
04.04.2005
Knobs out

The ACC panel and the seat heater switches come out of the panel, allowing you to unplug the wires. The ACC fan has a cap that comes off, and then you need to push the fan inside the dash. There are also two connectors on the back of the lighter outlet.
04.04.2005
Tabs

Locate two tabs on the top where the ACC panel was, and remove them (push the knob in the middle further in to release the lock). Remove the rear half of the centre console (disconnect the tabs from the front part and pull it up). Pop the shifter boot from the console, pull it up onto the shifter knob and remove the front half of the console.
04.04.2005
Vent

Remove the air vent.
04.04.2005
Housing

Undo four bolts holding the shifter housing to the floor (10 mm socket). The clamp on the gearshift linkage should be loosened at this point (see the shifter alignment procedure).
04.04.2005
Wires

Unplug the clips attaching the wires on the passenger side.
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Harness

Turn the housing on the side and disconnect the ignition lock harness (use a flat screwdriver to release the tabs on each side).
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Removed

With the clamp on the linkage undone, pull the housing, and it should come right out. Take your time to clean up inside the console.
04.04.2005
Underside

Undo the bolt at the base of the shifter to detach the long gear selector shaft (13 mm wrench). The big black plate next to the base of the rod is the reverse lockout mechanism. You can remove it to further shorten the shifter action.
04.04.2005
Spring

Use needle-nose pliers to remove the spring, then turn the plastic retainer counter-clockwise.
04.04.2005
Stick

Here's the shifter just out of the housing. The plastic gaiter and the boot are attached to the knob.
04.04.2005
Knob

Use a strap wrench to twist the knob and break the bond. In my case, the knob cover came off first ;). Once the knob is off, remove the knob and everything that's attached to it, and put it on the new shifter rod. Note the position of the gear markings on the knob.
04.04.2005
New vs old

The new rod next to the old one. You can see that there is not much difference in the ball position. With the reverse lockout intact, there is actually very little room for adjustment. Both the rod and the ball are made of aluminium, and there are two ball bearings at the base (vs the plastic biushing on the OEM shifter).
04.04.2005
Assembled

Assemble the shifter with fresh grease and bolt on the selector shaft. Install the housing back on the car, tighten the bolts and perform the alignment procedure. You should feel the shofter throws and the more precise feel of the shifter.
04.04.2005
Adjustment

The shifter can be adjusted directly on the car, even after everything is put back together. All you need to do is pull the boot up, release the locking screw on the ball with a 2 mm hex screwdriver and wiggle it until the ball turns to the desired position. Make sure you can reach all gears without the rod rubbing against anything inside the housing. Tighten the locking screw afterwards.

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