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Headliner FAQ

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Replacing Headliner in '85 900S 3-door hatchback (Adapt as necessary) 2/18/00 (by Dan Woydick)

Time: one serious weekend, plus a few evenings if repairing sunroof paint. Read in entirety before beginning.

1) Headliner and C-pillars
2) Sunroof (fabric application only =*******)
3) Rear deck
4) Material sources/costs

1) Headliner and C-pillars

Required Material:
Optional Material:

Remove all interior trim associated with headliner: rearview mirror, visors, handles, interior light, B-pillar, etc. Also white sunroof opening trim and the four metal toothed clips underneath it. Pull fabric from adhesive strip around sunroof opening. Place parts in a box and all fasteners in a zip lock bag where they are safe.

The weather stripping and friction are holding headliner up now. Note that the headliner is somewhat fragile cardboard - more so if cracked. With helper supporting front of headliner, free rear of headliner from weather stripping in trunk. Drop it down a few inches and gently pull out through trunk. Helper supports front and loosens door weather stripping as necessary.

Remove C-pillars.

Place on work surface and gently peel off old fabric. Avoid peeling off layers of cardboard with it. Judiciously scrape off the remaining foam backing and as much of the glue as practical with a scrub brush. Avoid damaging shell surface - major imperfections may show through. Repair shell on backside if cracked. Keep repair low profile in height to avoid interference with car roof structures.

Apply new fabric at 50F+ in well ventilated room - fumes get bad. Cut fabric to length plus 6 inches for fudge-factor. Loosely fold the fabric and place on center of headliner (lay it crossways) such that you can begin to adhere it at the center and work toward the rear, first. Apply glue to both surfaces generously (avoid blobs) per can instructions, about one foot at a time. Allow AT LEAST the recommended 5min set-time to prevent soak-through when you press the fabric down. Have helper hold fabric up off of shell as needed. Work slowly and thoroughly press/smooth fabric down with clean hands, working from the centerline outward. Use care and pay attention to how the fabric needs to stretch when doing the rear "head-recess" area. Press it down firmly here. Now turn around and finish the front half in the same manner. Take your time around the humps and divots found around interior light, rearview mirror, and visor mounts to avoid creases in fabric. DO NOT TRIM ANYTHING YET.

Turn shell upside down onto clean surface. Fold and glue fabric down to backside such that you can trim off all but 1 1/2" when done. Carefully make numerous "pie-cutouts" as needed to make the corner areas lay flat. DO NOT MAKE CUTOUTS FOR TRIM ITEMS OR SUNROOF UNTIL INSTALLED. However, it may aid reassembly to make a SMALL cut in the CENTER of each trim item hole to aid locating later.

Do the C-pillars in the same manner as headliner.

Optional: I applied 1" poly batting to backside at this point using some inexpensive spray contact cement. Keep it about an inch or two from the edges and make cutouts in it around any points where fasteners must pass. It winds itself around screws and aggravates re-assembly if you don't. Don't cover the sunroof opening region with batting. I didn't bother with batting on the C-pillars. I also squeezed some foam rubber into the holes found in the metal body structure at the upper rear corners of the roof (where C-pillar meets roof). These communicate with the trunk and channel noise (e.g. loud antennae motor) right to your head above the headliner. Lastly, I glued some foam from the backside of the sheet metal to seal off the large cutouts found lower in the C-pillar structure.

If sunroof assembly has been removed as described below, reinstall. Leave roof in open position. If side speaker panels were redone with rear deck, reinstall. Reinstall headliner, then C-pillars. If applied, the polyester batting will crush down as needed. Replace all trim, being careful to err on the side of making too-small cutouts - you can always make them bigger, but not smaller. Insure that everything fits properly before proceeding to the sunroof cutout. Note that the B-pillar trim presses up into the headliner, not tucked behind it. Also, the smaller B-pillar screws and rearview mirror screws are easily mixed up.

Leaving a healthy 2-3 inch excess around the hole, cut out sunroof fabric from the outside. Apply double stick tape to perimeter of sunroof frame opening. Add some tension and neatly fold fabric over lip and fasten with the four toothed clips. Fabric may not stick to tape well - that's ok, it will grip when the trim goes over it. Reapply white sunroof opening trim and cut off excess fabric from around outer edge of trim.

2) Sunroof

Required Material:

Optional Material:

My sunroof (manual) had an annoying rattle so I chose to investigate and remove the entire unit rather than just the sliding panel as in Bentley manual. Removal looks involved - is actually easy with a helper. I refer to the large black "frame" assembly and the two-part sliding panel: an outer painted "panel" and an inner fabric-covered "tray".

Remove entire unit via the bolts and loosen/remove the drain hoses. It's heavy so support with a helper or a sawhorse at the rear - it seems heavy enough to bend under its own weight if you don't.

Disassembly/assembly is more intuitive than it first appears - just label everything (incl. which side, orientation, etc.), tape fasteners to their respective parts, and put in a safe place (zip lock). Take it all apart except for the tracks (just remove their nuts). Remove the painted panel, loosen the guide brackets, remove tray· etc. Disassemble the tray locking mechanism as follows: Remove interior's release handle and the arm to which it attaches. Place loose parts in a zip lock. No need to disassemble tray further - leave guide brackets loosely attached.

Now is the time to check for hidden rust growing under the outer lip of the panel. Remove the white metal apparatus holding the weather stripping in place and repair any rust as needed - except perhaps for the outermost edge, it doesn't have to be pretty, just sealed. Also recondition weather stripping - new costs $64. When all dry, wax it good under the lip as well. Optional: I generously applied sound deadening spray to interior of panel before reassembling the weather stripping (mask off all but the large flat center region). Reassemble panel.

If you've the common "annoying rattle", check to see if the plastic bushings within the guides are broken from their bracket. Replace if needed BEFORE proceeding. Note that you may have to buy some different nuts/bolts because replacement guides come in one mounting style, but the tray uses two different styles. Not a big deal at all, just improvise - it's not complicated but hard to explain here. Make sure that if you deviate from the old setup that you can access the new nuts for adjustments upon re-assembly even after the new fabric is glued in place i.e. put nuts+lockwashers on the outer (non-fabric) side of the tray.

******* If the following is too much for you, you can still buy the OEM fabric with clips at the dealer, but it's $120 and a shade different in color. Remove old fabric from tray in one piece - it's stretched over the tray by the two long white plastic clips - and note how it was attached at the sides and handle opening. Save fabric for reference. Note a number of stampings in the metal tray. Unless you want them to show through the headliner, get rid of them as follows: mask off stamping with tape, fill with epoxy putty, scrape even with rest of tray, let cure). All but the overall "T-shape" in the centerline can be rid of by this method. When done the remaining T-shape is subtle and kind of sporty! If you don't want that, you can engineer some way around it, too.

Note regions of tray where old cloth was cut away to avoid entangling in side locking mechanism. Mask off this same area. Later you will glue right over it, then cut down through the fabric + tape to the tray and remove it all neatly.

Cut old plastic retaining clips from old fabric. It's ok if they're broken. Glue/epoxy them back onto the tray as they once were. You are putting them back to hide the sharp metal edge and also maintain the same fit of the panel later - you will apply the new fabric right over these clips. Mask exposed mechanism parts/front bumpers. Mask the exposed bracket fasteners. Glue, remove mask from over bracket fasteners only, and apply fabric as before. Do not press fabric down into the hollows containing the bracket fasteners. Cut down to tray around side locking mechanism as planned. Next, note how the fabric must be cut/manipulated around sides/handle opening to approximate the original positioning properly. Allow an inch of fold-over to the backside and treat as done with the headliner.

At the front of the tray, glue fabric over to the backside, stopping when back of entire lip is covered. Trim. Carefully and neatly cut fabric from masked bumpers. Later, seal interface of fabric/bumper with neat bead of silicone (mask off fabric). At the rear, again fold fabric over lip to backside and trim off excess. Later, generously coat this hidden fabric covered lip with silicone to seal it from water - it is actually exposed to water droplets running off the back of an open sunroof and could damage your handiwork (remember that stock did not have fabric here, only the bare plastic clip). Optional: Mask off all mechanisms on outer surface (non-fabric) side of tray and the fold-over fabric here (it will wick solvent onto to visible side) and spray with sound deadener.

Clean old lube from mechanism, reassemble handle and connecting arm, and re-lubricate with grease. Test.

Optional: Before reassembly of sunroof unit, I generously applied spray sound deadener to the outer surface of the frame. Mask off the drain tube outlets and a one-inch border around the sunroof opening - double stick tape goes here later.

Reassemble tray to the frame. Grease side locking mechanism teeth/white bushing insert and track. Adjust for straightness, proper gliding and locking. Reattach panel to tray at the spring retainers. Locate the four holes at the front of the panel to which the fabric clips were once screwed. Position the panel on the tray properly and poke holes through tray fabric at each corresponding panel hole. Attach front of panel to tray as on original by driving stainless screws with washers through holes you punched and into panel.

Reinstall sunroof unit and drain hoses. Check for proper alignment and function before replacing headliner.

3) Rear Deck

Required Material: My interior is tan. The "cashmere" speaker cabinet fabric matched very well and is more durable than the stock fabric. Other colors available.

To remove the side speaker shelves, first remove the two plastic fasteners on each side located near the little track that the deck slides on. Now remove the bolt fastening the seat belt to the floor under the rear seat, unhook the black trim that tidies up the slot where the seat belt passes through the shelf, then pass the trim and belt through the shelf slot to remove.

I found it too tedious to peel the fabric from the shelves (the cardboard shelves were too fragile), so I glued right over the old fabric. First, mask off the metal speaker grills. When done, cut down to the grill and remove fabric + tape (same as sunroof technique).

To do the deck, remove the deck bumpers and peel off old fabric. It's on there pretty tight, so be persistent. If some won't come off that's ok, just peel off as much of the fuzzy part of the fabric as possible. Perhaps use a coarse belt sander if necessary. Reapply new fabric as done with headliner. Mask backside of deck as needed and glue fabric over to backside as on original. Trim fabric on backside along the grooves provided in the board.

4) Material sources/costs (in USD)

Fabric: Active Foam, Milwaukee, WI, 414-462-9220
Color#: 1625 Off White
Item#5: 509212 Headliner, specify 1/4" foam backing
Bought through local upholstery shop @ $10.00/yd
I purchased six yards, but only used a little under four yards.
Very very nearly the same color and easy to work with.
Didn't encounter any "rub" with the sunroof fabric.

Scrub Brush: used both plastic-bristled floor scrub brush and a brass-bristled paint removal brush on the tough spots.

3M Super Trim Adhesive
$15 x 5 cans (18 oz) at NAPA
The consensus here on the BB is that this is the only stuff that holds up over time.

Utility knife: I used a $1 disposable snap-off blade utility knife because it gums up with glue quickly.

Polyester Batting:
Purchased at fabric store
3 yd @ $3/yd
Use polyester, not cotton, because cotton attracts/holds moisture.

Stainless screw/washers:
Sorry, forgot size. Take one out of front lip of your sunroof and take to the hardware store.

Epoxy putty:
Power Poxy brand, red cardboard packaging $3/pkg
Easy to use, doesn't run, and cures in about 15-20 min?

I used what I had - Finish Line brand Teflon non-lithium bearing grease (for bicycles). It's slick as heck, safe on all plastics/rubbers, and white, so if it gets on your fabric accidentally it's not an ordeal.

Replacement sunroof guides:
Bought new at dealer - called "Frt Clip A"
Part #6937429 at Concours Motors, Milwaukee, WI (414-290-1554)
I needed 4 @ $12.60ea.

Sound Deadener:
Used two cans. Did panel and tray with car audio grade spray (forgot name, bought at car audio shop). Cost $30/can (too expensive) and takes a whole day to dry. Then on frame used Martin Seymour Rubberized Sound Deadener (18 3/4 oz). $13/can @ NAPA and dries hard in an hour. Hard to say if there is any real difference between them.

Speaker cabinet fabric:
Crutchfield (car and home audio, mail-order)
800-955-3000 but the fabric's only in their printed catalogue.

Subwoofer Box Fabric, 54"x3yds
$19.95 plus $3.95 S&H (2 day UPS)
Avail in Black, Cashmere, Charcoal, Darkblu, Medgray

Keep your hands clean to avoid smudges. Good luck and take your time. How happy you will be with a like-new headliner! Also, for the extra few minutes and dollars it took, the extra sound dampening is noticeable and worth it. If in doubt, think about it: the tray above your head, the frame behind, and the roof vibrate like huge diaphragms. If anything here isn't clear, email me and I'll try to help. Happy Saabing!

Message Summary
Subject: Re: Headliner Repair
Message from Thor Carlson 
For a temporary repair, try upholstery tacks.  They're available at
upholstery stores and my local Sears hardware store.  Clear plastic heads,
and screw shaped tacks, just screw them into the headliner in a lovely

(They've been doing my '83 for many years now!)

Thor Carlson
'86 SPG 132k "Mjollnir"
Message from Larry West 
Don't bother trying to keep the old stuff up. Usually, if you get it 
before it's ripped, you can use upholstery 'screws' to hold it up.

There are several products out there. Trollhattan sells a kit for $90 
(, but you can get the components for less, and a 
cloth that better matches the original, too! Ask Ben Tyson 
(bentyson@phoenix.Princeton.EDU) where he got his material for $8/yard 
(you need 4 yards). Then get 3M upholstery adhesive. Scrape ALL of the 
old foam off (did I mention remove the headliner first?) and cloth, spray 
on the glue, and lay out the cloth. DO NOT cut any holes for lights, 
handles or sunroof until it's glued to the rest of the top.

Gary Stottler has found a source for better material. The Trollhattan 
material and what Ben gets are not realy the proper thing. Both have 
about 1/4" foam backing, roughly twice the thickness of stock. Ben can 
get something a LOT closer in color, though, to the proper creme color 
(it ain't grey).

You don't need to spend $300 on a new headliner.

Message from Brian Matthew Carney 
A staple gun?
Message from
I had one person suggest making a small hole in the headliner & using 3M
spray adhesive with the little plastic straw extension, spray the upper
part with glue to temporarily stick it up. I took my own headliner out a
few years ago and bought some material at an upholstery store (it was
about $30 for the material) and a couple of cans of 3M glue and did the
job myself. The headliner still looks good today. The problem with what
Saab used was the thin brown backing foam between the cardboard and the
headliner material that would disintegrate over time and the headliner
would sag. If you decide to do the job yourself, make sure you scrape
all the brown foam off the cardboard before gluing the new material. I'm
surprised that Saab did not take care of this problem in later models.

Message from
We just did the headliner in my son's 85 900S (was my car for 10 years)
ourselves.  The headliner material can be purchased at your local autoparts
store (we purchased at Pep Boys).  Buy some 3M Super Adhesive (lots of it -
about 4 cans)  If you have a sunroof you may need to buy 2 kits to replace
the sunroof headliner material.  The cost per kits was about $40 and the 3M
Super Adhesive is $15/can.  For about $100 you can to the job yourself.

Job is not very difficult but time consuming.  The entire headliner is
mounted on a shell that removes from the car after removing all of the
hardware such a rear view mirror, handles etc.  Once out of the car you
scrap all of the old headliner off the shell with a wire brush and then
start spraying 3M  Super Adhesive on the shell and the new headliner (1
foot sections at a time) seperately . Let both sides sit for about 5
minutes apart from each other and then press the shell and headliner
together making sure it is smooth and lays flat because the glue is
somewhat unforgiving.

If you do have a sunroof there is one catch.  The sunroof headliner is
attached to two plastic strips that are sewn onto the headliner material.
The plastic strips are screwed onto the sunroof.    What we did was unsew
the old headliner from the plastic strips and using the old headliner as a
pattern cut out a new one. Then I sat down and sewed the new headliner onto
the old plastic strips very carefully by hand using the old holes.  Once
sewn on just screwed the plastic strips back onto the sunroof.  The sunroof
may not slide back as easily as before for a while until the new material
compresses down. But it works just fine.

Now as far as product to hold up the current liner until you can get to
this project there is headliner adhesives on the market (can purchase a
local NAPA, PepBoys, Trak Auto) that spray on which we tryed but were not
very effective for very long.

Diana Quinn
1985 900S (215k)
1980 450SL Mercedes (97k)
The Saab Network

Headliner Problems
Also the falling headliner.  I had mine replaced last year.  Quite a shoddy
job. ( Not saab, some upholstery/headliner shop).. I think some of the
problems are related to too much heat in the compartment from the summer
sun.  Tinting the windows might help.

Shoaib Zaidi
Mine is starting to sag near the read view mirror and at
the sides of the indentation above the rear seats.  I agree
that it's due to heat since the sag started when I no
longer was able to keep my car in a garage.  I'd like to
hear how people have solved this problem, and where to
get the headliner replaced properly.

My fix to the tent syndrome is to slice open the roof liner,   and spray it
roof with HI-TACK or permanent spray adhesive.  And then press  the liner
back into place.  This procedure seems to last for about 6 months.

For a permanent solution: remove the liner.
I asked a friend to fill us in on what he did to repair the headliner on
his saab. Bob Alman

From Phil Froess:
     Bob, when I repaired my headliner I used a name brand aerosol adhesive
designed for automotive upholstery that I purchased in a N.A.P.A. store for
about $10.50 .  It was a large can, about 24 to 30 fluid oz.  It is made by
3M and called "General Trim Adhesive", Part Number 08080.  A full headliner
might require two cans.  I covered about 1/3 of my headliner with about 2/3
of a can.  The adhesive is like rubber cement, and separates after gluing
in a stringy-like fashion, as does Mozzarella cheese on a hot pizza.

     The headliner for my '80 5-door is removed from the trunk.  Remove the
plastic clips next to the back window, the hand-grab brackets over the
doors, the visor mounting brackets, and the rear view mirror (all Phillips
#2 screws).  Disconnect the rear view mirror lamp wires.  Remove the
plastic channel from the sun roof opening, and the 4 small metal upholstery
clips, taking care not to rip the headliner with their barbs.

     You may want to remove the heavy black plastic trim on the center
pillars.  The spring clips are rather hard to pop off without damage. The
seat belt loop bracket can be removed from the center pillar with a large
socket (19 mm?) after the bolt cover is removed by popping it off.

     Note that the headliner foam stiffener is fragile at the sunroof
opening, so be careful so it isn't subjected to a bending moment.  With an
assistant, lower the headliner assembly about 4 inches down at the back,
and then gently move it rearward while pulling the headliner assembly from
the front corner pillar heavy plastic trim.

     If the headliner is loose at the periphery, remove the light wire
staples from the area, then gently peel away the headliner material from
the stiffener shell only where it is loose or not adhering tightly.

     I had my headliner upside down, flat on a blanket.  The covering is a
felt-like fabric with a polyurethane foam backing, which was cemented to he
stiffener shell.  On mine, the adhesive from the foam to the headliner
shell failed, and the foam was still adhering to the fabric.

     Following the directions on the aerosol can, spray and cross-spray a
film of adhesive on both the fabric and the shell.  This adhesive is a
contact cement, so you don't get a second chance if you misposition it! A
patient assistant is highly recommended to position the glued fabric in
place.  The deep corners near the back window were difficult glue smoothly.
The adhesive has a working time of 1 to 15 minutes, which suggests not
trying to more than about 2 square feet at a time.

      I have heard that a new headliner assembly costs $300 - $400 from
Saab.  Upholstery shops charge about $185.  I'm convinced that hot sun
causes the factory glue to fail.  In my experience most Saabs parked in the
sun have headliner problems ('77s to '80s).  The model 99's don't have the
one-piece headliner assembly that the 900's do, so I would suggest the 99
headliners be slit and then glued while in the car.

                         Phil Froess
                         Sebastopol, CA
Bob Alman  1-707-577-4148
 Anyone who lives in upstate/central NY should know about Carl's Auto
Seat Cover, in Rochester. I've taken two 99 headliner shells* to them,
and they both turned out very nice. One had some damage to the pressed
fiberglass substrate, and they had to put an intermediate layer of tough
backing cloth to hold it all together, but didn't charge me any more than
the usual $85 for the whole job!  They charged me another $20 for the
rear quarter trim pieces.  Their shop is on Dewey Ave, just north of W.
Ridge road...
 After they began to keep some of the slate gray fabric in stock, they
turned the second headliner around in a day, too! I'm very happy with
their work, and their service! (And all for about the same cost as the
Trollhatten kit, but  w/o the hassle and risk) I think you should plan on
bringing them the headliner and handing it to them, since I got the
impression they preferred not to do the removal/installation on SAABs
(can't blame 'em, I guess) but for most SAAB- netters that's not a
problem. Any other DIY solution involves "some assembly..."

 Taking both seats out helps a lot. Plan on going out the passenger side
door. I agree with taking out both the A-Pillar and B-Pillar interior
trim on at least one side. I also suggest a second pair of hands for the
removal and  especially for the installation....
 I used a pair of 900 grab handles behind the B-pillars to help support
the back of the headliner and give me a clothes hanger, too. Just study
the inner metal beams before making the cutouts. Position the handles in
the middle of the flat, angled sections between the "roof" and the
"soffet." Basically, right in line with the driver's side interior light.
I left about 6" between the rear of the handles and the first rear corner
on the straight part of the shell. Cut the fiberglass by placing the
handles on the back, then just slit the fabric from the front. This makes
a nice snug fit with no ragged edges showing beyond the trim. Making the
cutouts in the fiberglass a little small is good, too.

 *btw, both my 99s (74, and 75) have cloth headliners. The 72 was vinyl,

 I wouldn't be a bit surprised if a 99 headliner fits a 900 (w/o
sunroof)... you might have to make cutouts for the rear grab handles,
that's all.

 -Jon Saulsgiver
Hi Paul:

Long time no talk to.  Sounds like you and the SAAB are having a time of
it. I don't have a tranny for sale, but I know of at least one reputable
dealer to get one.  They are located in Ligoner, PA, about 70 mi east of
the 'burg.  They do ship.  The guy is Dennis Sweeney and the number is
412-238-0900 or the FAX line at 412-238-0099.  I got my engine from there
and havent had any problem.  I suggest you get a few recent back issues
of the SAAB club news and review the ads from auto salvagers, do some
price checking. Dennis et al are also a little high on the initial quote
for parts and in my experience, can be bargained with for a better than
or at least the going rate.  Good luck.
Just though I would re-enforce (rather strongly) a few points about
removing the headliner for a 900, especially ones with a sun roof.

1) "it is suggested to have an assistant for helping with the removal...
and installation"   I believe it is almost a necessity to have help,
unless one likes to endup re-enforcing the fiberglass liner when it
bends/brakes around the sunroof sides (the age and heat make the liner
weaker, and the weight of the front or back will cause the liner to
bend/break around the runroof unless supported from both ends.)

2) Be EXTREMLY careful when getting the sunroof out of the 4door version.
It is a VERY tight squeeze, no matter how you do it.

John Hudak
staples.  It looks stupid, but it takes a few minutes and is virtually
free. It happens to EVERY Saab 99/900 eventually.

Use the fat staples like those for ceiling tile; the cloth rips through
standard paper staples.
I went to a fabric store and bought fabric that was very similar to the
original.  I then removed the headliner (be careful not to break it) and
the old fabric (which was dried up and would crumble if you tried to glue
it back in place).  I used a spray adhesive, spraying both the fabric and
the liner.  I then carefully put it back  in the car.  It cost me about
$10-15 and a nights worth of work.  If I had to do it again I would use a
better adhesive and sew it in the critical spots (with the liner out).
The spray stuff is okay, but is not strong enough to hold the fabric in
the very back (I had to open it in the back again, with the liner in
place, and reglue it).

You can also buy a kit that comes with the proper fabric and glue.  I
think Trollhattan sells them for about $80.

You can also buy the complete headliner from SAAB (for about $300).  I
tried to find a headliner at a wrecking yard, but almost all SAABs have
been rolled so it was impossible to find a good liner.

I'm not surprised that Goldwing, or any Saab salvage company, would turn 
down a request for a headliner.  Due to the construction, they will all 
fail evenutally.  The problem isn't limited to Saab, it's every vehicle 
that uses a foam-backed cloth glued to a fiberglass liner.  The only 
solution is to completely remove the old cloth AND all of the foam rubber, 
then glue new foam-backed cloth to the liner.  It is tedious, but it's 
cheaper than buying a new one.

Trollhattan Motors in Baltimore does advertise a kit with cloth and glue, 
including instructions, for under $100.  Their phone number is 

BTW, I had an upholstery shop do the headliner in my '79 99, and it failed 
about a year later.  They did the job again at no charge, but another year 
and it's starting to sag around the corners again.  The cost was about 
$150, but I figured they would have a better solution to the problem than 
my messing with it.  So maybe no one can really fix the problem?

Tim Winker
I don't know if the headliners of the 9000 are the same material as a
900's, but if they are I might have a solution for the "browning". When I
bought my 900, the headliner was quite badly browned and looked not very
nice with the tan interior. I used lukewarm water with ammonia to clean it
and it looks perfectl now. You will have to do the whole headliner at once
to avoid dark spots.
I had the same thing happen to me on my 83 saab 900.  The cloth attached
to the headliner fell down.  Actually the glue holding the cloth
dried up, and the cloth itself became rotted.  Anyway, I replaced the
cloth for less than $30.00.  Here's what I did:

I pulled the old headliner out.  To do this, you have to remove a bunch
of stuff.  Sun visors, rear view mirror, seat belts, passager side
handle, rear interior quarter panels, etc.  It sounds worse than it is,
but it really wasnt that hard--saabs are rather modular you know.  Just
make sure you save all the screws and other fastening devices.  The
headliner now slides out the rear hatch (my car is a three door with
the hatchback.)  The headliner is a modled fiber piece with fabric
glued to it.  I removed the old fabric, and bought some replacement
fabric.  Actually I used felt as the bottom layer and covered it with
a polyester/wool fabric.  I did this to get better sound absorbency.
I had my wife sew the two materials together in a sort of grid pattern
with a 6" square grid.  Actually it looks quite nice.  I then got some
spray on glue (3M makes it, cant remember the type-- I think it was
type 777 or something like that).  A can cost about $12.00.  This will
hold the fabric nicely to the fiber material that the headliner shell
is made from.  Once the fabric was glued on, I simply slid the 
headliner back in and reassembled everything.  This cost me about
$30.00.  Saab wanted $395 for a new headliner.  I saved a bit of money, and
the end result looks quite good.

I gather it is common. My mechanic recommended a local upholstery shop for
my 80 900 about two years ago. They did it in a day or two for about 250. I
was very surprised that it looked like factory new. Don't know how they did
it. But had to scrap the old liner and glue off and presumably glue on the
new cloth.  Has held up very well, no pun intended, not falling down
anywhere and the cloth is good. They also did the C pillars to match.

Greg Scarich                                               Hermosa Beach CA
The (unwritten) SAAB Guarantee: If you own your car long enough, the
headliner will droop :-).

Introducing the sun roof was a good idea. It should help hold the
headliner up and keep it out the the drivers eyes :-).

I think the thin layer of foam between the headliner cloth and shell
deteriorates, causing the cloth to drop. You can either remove the
headliner, take it out and get it re-upholstered, or replace it. I
remember getting a letter from my local SAAB dealer a couple of years
ago saying the SAAB had dropped the price on the headliner. It was still
a few hundred bucks, plus labor.

I had no problem pulling the headliner out of my old '73 99EMS. Newer
cars with the sun roof shouldn't be much harder, just remove the finish
trim around the sun roof opeining. Getting the headliner in and out of a
hatchback should be a little easier than on a sedan. The book says to
remove the rear window on a sedan, but I think I got the liner out
through the side door on the 2-door EMS. Remove the interior lights, sun
visors, rear view mirror, the windshield pillar padding, the side
padding behind the rear side windows, and anything else that looks like
it may hold up the headliner. It should then drop away from the roof. I
think I removed the front seats to get them out of the way. My '84 900T
hasn't started to droop yet, but I expect it will within the next few

-- bob

>> Bob Palmer                      |                      remlaP boB <<
Message from
Please be advised that 3M Hi-Strength 90 (& 70) Spray Adhesives are not =
designed for headliners and other unsupported material.  Especially = Vinyl
and other material with plastersizers in them.  You will need to = use 3M
Super Trim Adhesive 08090.  This will not "soak" through your = cloth
headliner and is not effected by plastersizers and heat.  However, = for it
to work you need to either remove the headline or support it for = about 24
hours until the glue has completely dried. =20

The foam lining can be purchased at any fabric store. =20

To remove the old glue, I would suggest Guardsman"s Goof Off.  It =
specifically states that it will not harm vinyl or most cloths.  And it =
did work great for me.  As always I would test in a small area first.

Just a note from experience.
Message from David Lochabay 
The never-ending subject of headliners is being discussed again 
on  I did mine last weekend and ran into some problems that 
were not discussed in the archives and the FAQ.

To begin, do not try to reattach your sagging headliner by 
spraying glue in there.  It won't work and will lead to later 
problems.  The 3M General Trim and Adhesive spray that is being 
used is not suitable for that purpose.  It says right on the can 
not to do that.  The glue is *only suitable* for attaching new 
foam-backed headliner cloth to the headliner shell.  The later 
problem that arises is that the glue, while it did not reattach 
your headliner, did stick to the headliner shell, and you cannot 
remove it without removing chunks of the headliner shell.  Those 
imperfections in the shell will show through when you get around 
to replacing the headliner.  How do I know this?

Now, for the problems I had.  The car is an "89 900 
hatchback with electric sunroof.   I purchased 3 yards of cloth 
from an auto upholstery shop and two cans of spray (about 
$75.00).  Had to partially use a third can of spray (another 
$10.00).  Removed headliner shell and the shell rails running 
beside the sunroof broke in 4 places.  I had been forewarned and 
was very careful but they broke anyway.  The rails were so 
fragile that I could not handle the shell after it was out.  I 
cut pieces of 1/8" fiberboard about 1" wide and 36" long and 
glued them (contact cement) to the back of the rails to give 
enough reinforcement to the rails so I could handle the shell, 
then turned it over and used fiberglass repair material on the 
actual breaks.  You need to sand the repair fairly smooth or it 
will show through. I used a detail sander with #100 paper.  To 
get in the grooves that run down the side of the rails, I used 
an electric drill with a 2" fine wire wheel attachment.  Works 
great if used carefully.  Use a stripping brush with plastic 
bristles to remove the old foam from the shell (of course, do 
this before the fiberglass repair).  Takes it off fine and does 
not harm the shell.

I laid the shell on the new material and cut a generous piece 
with at least 6" overlap.  The shop had advised me to place the 
material on the shell, then place a broom stick or something 
down the middle lengthwise, fold the fabric back over the stick, 
then apply glue to the folded over fabric and the shell, doing 
first one side, then the other.  This would work fine with a 
fairly flat shell, but I did not see how I could do it that way 
with the depression at the back of the shell and the sunroof 
rails.  So, I started at the back, working around and through 
the back curves and depression first.  As you work forward you 
must fold the fabric to be applied back over something round 
(piece of plastic pipe or something similar).  If you allow it 
to fall back on itself without this support where it is bending, 
it will crease and you cannot get the crease out.  I continued 
working forward about a foot at a time until I got it all down.  
As I was putting it down I first smoothed it with my hands, then 
used a small roller to make sure the cloth was firmly and 
uniformly attached to the shell.  I think the roller  was a 
mistake.  The glue is quite strong and if you just smooth the 
cloth over the shell with your hands or a flat plastic scraper, 
I think less shell imperfections will show through.  Finally, 
trim the fabric edge to about a 1" overhang and glue or staple 
it to the back of the shell.  I used a Sears hand stapler with 
1/4-5/16" wide-crown staples.  They are so small the gun fired 
two of them at a time and they held the cloth down fine.  The 
assistance of my wife was invaluable in holding the glue covered 
cloth up off the glue covered shell while I initially laid it 
down and smoothed it with my hands.  I don't see how you can do 
this by yourself.  Cut out all the openings in the shell for 
handles and other attachments.  Do not cut out the area for the 
sunroof.  There had been some clear plastic strips glued to 
the back of the shell all around the sunroof opening, which 
had then folded over and were glued to the edge of the sunroof 
frame, providing headliner support and maybe some waterproofing. 
 These were so torn up that I never quite figured out how they 
went.   I glued strips of 4" refrigeration tape all around the 
back of the shell sunroof opening, leaving about 2" overhang to 
fold over and glue to the sunroof frame still in the car.  Use 
the spray adhesive.  Don't trust the glue on the tape.

 Next was removing the sunroof.  The Bentley manual will tell 
you to remove the rear guide clips, and even have a picture of 
one being removed.  That is in error.  The picture shown is 
actually one of the mounts that the cables go into that move the 
sunroof  back and forth.  These will not come off and don't 
need to.  The rear guide clips are actually back under the 
springs that hold the rear of the sunroof top down.  The manual 
correctly tells you to loosen, but not remove, the screws or 
nuts behind the springs, and then move the units as far out as 
they will go.  This disengages the rear guide clips and enables 
you to slide the sunroof panel out the front.  The folks at 
Trollhattan told me that you must peel some of the foam off the 
new cloth to do the sunroof panel, or it will be too thick and 
the sunroof will not operate properly.  This is partial truth.  
My sunroof panel covering was so deteriorated that I could not 
tell what it was like originally.  It seems that a piece of 
ordinary cloth had been sewn to the foam backed cloth, but 
there was no foam backing around the edges.  The cloth had been 
sewn into  plastic strips at the front and back, and glued to 
the back of either side of the panel.  You will just have to do 
the best you can here.  I don't see how you could sew the new 
cloth into the old plastic strips.  Mine were all broken up 
anyway.  I just glued the new fabric to the front of the panel, 
then stretched it tightly and glued it to the back.  I then 
glued down the sides. I wish now I had stretched it more from 
the sides.  Although it is flat and looks good now, I have some 
rub and am afraid I may have some future sag here.   There are 
several cut-outs.  Just use your old one for a pattern.  Make 
sure there is no cloth which interferes with the rear guide 
clips or the front stops on either side of the front edge.  Then 
do your C pillar pieces.  By this time you have done enough to 
figure them out.  

Reinstall the headliner shell.  Have a helper hold the front up 
while you sit in the middle holding the shell up with your head 
while installing the back handles on either side, then install 
the sunvisor holders in the front (not the sunvisor itself, just 
the little plastic holders that the sunvisor clicks into on the 
headliner).   Now cut out the sunroof hole.   I folded over and 
glued the tape which I had put on the shell around the 
sunroof hole to the frame, and then glued the edges of the 
headliner material to the tape.  If you cut the material off 
at the edge of the sunroof frame (I didn't) and don't fold it 
over, your sunroof will work better.  This will all be covered 
by the trim piece, anyway.  Reinstall the sunroof panel.  You 
have to push up a little on the back of the panel to get the 
back sunroof guide clips back in but you can do this by reaching 
under with one hand while pressing the guide clip in with the 
other.  The front guide clips are the panel height adjustment.  
Just pull up on the panel and then tighten the clips to raise 
the panel.  Test the sunroof for correct operation.  Replace the 
trim strip around the sunroof.  The new material on my panel is 
rubbing against this strip, even with the panel height at its 
maximum adjustment, but I folded the side material over the 
frame when I installed the shell.  I am going to cut the folded 
over part off this weekend and see if that will cure it.  If 
not, I will find some kind of thinner trim strip.  Other than 
this rubbing, which is slight, my sunroof works fine.  Reinstall 
the sunroof top.  As you do not have the plastic strip across 
the front anymore, use some small flat washers on the screws for 
a better attachment and more professional appearance.  

So how does it look?  A "C" overall.  The area around the 
sunroof, which I was very worried about, looks professional.  
Imperfections in the surface of the shell show in the back.  
It's not an easy job with that sunroof and all the curves in 
that shell.  Took me 2 days, but I'm slow.  Shops around here 
wanted $450-$500.  Some would not work on Saabs. If you can get 
it done for $250 or so, as some Saabers have, probably ought to 
let them do it.  I understand the Trollhattan kit has 
instructions.  Might be a good idea to buy their kit with 
instructions, as savings are minimal just buying the material 
and glue, and I could have used some instructions.               
David Lochabay

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