Date: Mon, 08 Jul 2002 11:17:16 +0200
From: Robert Brown <>
Subject: Re: 86Saab 900S brakes

Hal Selvey wrote: > My son has an 86 model 900S which needs a front brake job (rear to come > soon.) It has disk brakes all around. > > I can't get the caliper pistons to retract enough to get new pads in. > As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I've gotten them to retract at all > except I can get the old pads out. > > Is there a trick to this? I can't get enough clearance to get a C-clamp > on the primary piston. Prying against the disk doesn't result in any > movement of either piston. Opening the bleeder valve doesn't help; it > just drains the master cylinder. Are the rusted in place maybe? Do I > need to dismount the calipers? I have a Haynes manual, and it isn't any > help at all. Hi, The quick answer to your question is that the piston screws in, clockwise. That's to compensate for pad wear. You'll find four holes drilled on the surface of the piston. Use lockring pliers, a purpose-built tool, or Saab's own, to rotate. No need to dismount the brakes for this. Then there's the procedure to pump the brakes once the new pads are in place, to get the pistons to rotate out to the right distance again. Find a Haynes or Bentley manual for this advice. There are some good Saab websites too, thay will probably tell all. And you've probably introduced air into the system after releasing the bleed valve. Do pressure bleeds from the resevoir. The method of pumping with the pedal doesn't work as well. The old Girling brakes are tricky in a number of ways. If you're not well-versed in all their idiosyncracies I'd suggest you get someone who knows them very well, to assist you. Much better than chancing brake failure or disk overheating. There's also a risk that they need to be overhauled (relubed, new seals etc) if that hasn't been done in the past 5 years or so. If all this fails, it is possible that the pistons have rusted into place. Reconditioned front brakes cost about SEK 800 here, which translates to about GBP 60 or USD 85. That's the cost after you get a partial refund for your old units. I used reconds on my old Saab a few years ago and they worked very well. Overseas they'll be more expensive of course. Tell us how it goes. Regards, Robert, Gothenburg Sweden (2001 A4, 1999 9-3, 1983 900 RIP, 1983 99 RIP)

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