Front brake upgrade on a 1995 Saab 900. The guide also applies to all NG900 (1994-1998), 9-3 (1999-2002) and 9-5 Linear and Arc models with 288 mm front rotors (1999+). See the regular brake service guide for general suggestions and bed-in procedures.

The upgrade is achieved by installing 308 mm rotors and matching calipers. The rotors are readily available from many retailers, and the calipers can be found on junk yards or purchased new from Saab. Suitable models to source the calipers from include 1999-2002 9-3 Viggen and 2000-2001 9-5 Aero. If you're upgrading a 2002+ 9-5 Linear, you need the calipers from a 2002+ Aero or Arc.

Early 900s (1994-1996) will also benefit from a larger pad size, as the original pads on these cars were smaller. Newer cars have the same calipers and pads as the Aero, but will require wider support brackets to accommodate larger rotors. Finding the brackets separately, however, might prove more difficult than complete calipers.

Another word of caution concerns the hub size on the early 900s (1994-1996 again). These cars came with slightly larger hubs, which do not fit into newer rotors. Measure your hubs and rotors before deciding on the upgrade. The old rotors had an inner diameter of 5½", while the newer ones are 5¼". If your hubs are too large, you can either cut 5 mm off the rim on a lathe or find a pair of hubs from a newer car. Oddly enough, my 1995 900 had small hubs that were a perfect fit for new style rotors.

Tools and supplies:

  • Torx E20 socket: caliper bolts (2002+ 9-5);
  • 18 mm socket: caliper bolts (1999-2001 9-5);
  • 17 mm socket: wheel bolts;
  • 11 mm socket: brake line banjo bolt;
  • 10 mm Allen socket: caliper bolts (NG900/9-3);
  • 7 mm Allen socket: caliper guide pins;
  • 5 mm Allen socket: rotor index screw;
  • Torx T25 socket: dust shield screws;
  • impact driver, drill and screw extractor (optional);
  • wire brush;
  • torque wrench;
  • anti-seize grease;
  • fresh brake fluid and bleeder;
  • car jack and stands.
Wheel off

Raise the car and secure it on jack stands. Take off the front wheel.
Index screw and spring

Remove the caliper retaining spring and undo the rotor index screw. If the screw is stuck, you might have to resort to more serious measures.
Guide pins

Take the plastic caps off the guide pins and unscrew the pins using a 7 mm Allen wrench.

Suspend the caliper to prevent the strain on the brake line. Use a C-clamp to slowly push the piston back into the caliper. It's easier to do while the old pad is still in.
Fluid level

While compressing the piston, watch the brake fluid level - it will go up and may overflow. You might need to extract some before you put the cap back on.

The rotor should be ready to come off, with only the bracket preventing its removal. If the rotor is rusted to the hub, hit it with a mallet from behind until it comes loose.
Caliper brackets

Undo two caliper bracket bolts - 18 mm wrench on 1999-2001 9-5, Torx E20 on 2002+ 9-5, 10 mm Allen on NG900 or 9-3.
Dust shield

The dust shields on older cars are too small for the bigger rotors. You can either buy new ones, or bend (cut) the rim outward, or simply remove them. The latter is cheaper and easier than anything else, and you get better brake cooling as a bonus.

New style pads are noticeably taller, which results in larger surface area. If your used calipers come with OEM pads that have a good portion of material left, you might as well use them while they last. A new set of pads will always be better though.

A new 308 mm Aero rotor next to an old 284 mm version. A whole extra inch of size offers more leverage for stopping power.

The calipers have a similar design, but the Aero version (on the right) appears to have a beefier bracket.

Ready for installation - the dust shield is removed, the hub is wirebrushed and coated with anti-seize.
New rotor

Install the new rotor. Put the index screw on anti-seize and don't tighten it too hard if you don't want to fight it the next time you're doing your brakes.
Caliper bolts

Install the caliper support bracket. Apply some Loctite on the bolts and tighten them to 86 ft-lbs. Lubricate the pad sliding grooves with anti-seize to ensure smooth operation.

Put the new pads in and slide the caliper on. Clean and lubricate the guide pins before inserting them. Tighten to 20 ft-lbs, fit the caps. Install the retaining spring.
Brake line

Undo the banjo on the old caliper and detach the brake line. Quickly move the line to the new caliper to minimize the fluid loss.
Banjo bolt

Tighten the banjo on the new caliper. Use new copper washers if possible. Make sure the line orientation is correct, there are no twists or sharp bends.
Pressure bleeder

Attach the bleeder to the brake reservoir and fill it with fresh fluid.

Open the nipple on the caliper and bleed it until all the air bubbles come out, and you see the fresh fluid flowing. Bleed the left side first, then the right side.

Tighten wheel bolts to 81 ft-lbs and lower the car to the ground. Keep in mind that you cannot fit the wheels smaller than 16" anymore.

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