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Removing & replacing the SAAB 9-5 & 9000 fuel pump (also relevant to NG900 & 9-3 models)
By R.Whiteman & F.Armishaw

For many years, petrol injected SAAB models have used a system whereby fuel is supplied to the engine by a submersible pump fitted in the fuel tank. The system pressure is regulated by a regulator fitted to the fuel rail and the injectors are governed by impulses transmitted by the engine management control system. Excess fuel is returned to the tank by way of a return fuel line. On early 9000 models, the electric fuel pump and fuel level sender were separate but on CS models and with the NG900, 9-3 and 9-5 models, the sender unit was incorporated as part of a single assembly, which made it more difficult to remove.

As a rule, the units are reliable in service but can get louder towards the end of their lifecycle and it only takes a low fuel level or to actually run out of fuel for the unit to stop working completely.

Tools required
Screwdriver, bowl, removal tool, torx screwdriver (9000)

Precautions & pre-requisites
Warning! Working on the fuel system involves increased risk of fire Start by ensuring the car is parked on a level surface because if the tank is more than half full, petrol will tend to flow into the cabin during the procedure and as well as the increased risk of fire, the smell is difficult to get rid of. As well as taking obvious precautions such as not smoking or allowing anyone in the vicinity to smoke, do NOT work with leadlamps that use conventional bulbs. Also bear in mind the story told to the author by a professional workshop manager involving a Ford Mondeo taxi having a fuel tank removed - a stray spark from an air compressor nearby caused a major fire. Despite the fact that the garage had operational fire extinguishers, over £30,000 of damage was caused.

Finally, please be aware that this is NOT a job to do in a hurry - rushing will inevitably end up in brittle parts breaking. The author has removed enough of these pumps on NG900, 9000, 9-3 & 9-5 models to justify purchasing the SAAB special tool but taking your time is just as important to completing the job successfully.

Method: SAAB NG900 & 9-3 (<2002)
The procedure for removing the pump follows the same steps as for the 9000 and 9-5 but since there is no access through the boot floor or beneath the rear seats, the fuel tank must be removed first.

The fuel tank is held in place by two metal straps with threaded ends fitted with nuts and washers.  Although the threaded ends face upwards, it is likely that road grime and salt will have affected them and it is wise to use a wire brush to remove any loose rust.  Soaking the nuts and threads with penetrating oil is a sound move as heat cannot be used.  Bear in mind that the retaining straps deteriorate with age – the author has seen a number that have failed with age… usually when the tanks have been filled for a long journey. In short, any straps that are rusty should be replaced (relevant parts numbers are listed at the foot of this page).

The job of removing the tank is made considerably easier if the fuel level is low and whereas some pumps give audible warning of failure in that get they become noisy, others do not.  There is no drain plug in the tanks and unless the car is on a lift in a professional workshop, manoeuvring a heavy tank full of fuel can be tricky.  Some cars (North American market, 1998 on) are fitted with ORVR (onboard refuelling vapour recovery), so siphoning the fuel is not recommended, as the non return valves can be damaged.

Undo the breather and large diameter rubber supply hose, then undo and remove the fuel filter cover and clamp.  Use some means of supporting the tank before undoing the two retaining straps.  Slowly drop the tank, lowering the right hand side most to expose the fuel lines.  Note that these are pressed into snap fasteners – take care not to break these.  Next undo the fuel lines and wire connector, and toothed fuel pump retaining ring as shown in the 9000/9-5 procedure below. Note that it is necessary to replace the rubber filler pipes (the ones secured by worm drive clips, which should be renewed also) as tank removal can cause cracks that will result in a leak later. Note that not all cars have fuel necks with rubber joints - check the car before ordering and always quote the VIN (chassis number) to help parts staff supply you with the correct parts.

Method: SAAB 9000
Start by removing the carpeted boot floor behind the spare wheel well. It is secured by x2 Torx type bolts at either side. Also remove the carpet securing strip beneath the seats. With the carpeted floor removed, the metal cover above the fuel pump in the petrol tank may be seen. Undo the x2 fasteners with a 6mm allen key by turning half a turn and lift the cover away.

Rewad the textual explanation for removing the SAAB 9000 fuel pump

With the metal cover removed, the plastic dust shield through which the pump wiring runs needs tackling next. This can be a tight fit but note that it is not secured by any type of clip or fastener and needs to be prised out carefully. Note that the job WILL be much harder due to restricted access on the 4 door saloon CD/CDE/Griffin versions of the 9000.

Note the layout of the pump when the dust shield is removed

Method: SAAB 9-5
Access to the 9-5 fuel pump is easier than with the 9000 and is achieved by simply tipping forward (or lifting out the rear seats). Remove the circular plate in the floor beneath the seat (it is a push fit)

Method: SAAB 9000 & 9-5
Unplug the main wiring connector by prising up the sliding red part of the black plug and separating. Before undoing the fuel pipes, note that the pipes are colour coded: the White pipe is the delivery side and will be connected to the side marked Pressure. Black (obviously) is the return.

Patience is a virtue: take your time easing the pipes free as the connectors are brittle and break all too easily
Use a screwdriver to ease gently the hooks aside on the pipe coupling. The need for patience here cannot be over-emphasised! Do not hurry this part – the pipes can get brittle with age and break all too easily. Cold temperatures make this problem worse. Penetrating oil like WD40 may help with this operation. As a rule, the best way to go is to wiggle gently the pipe connectors from side to side with penetrating oil before attempting to lift them. New connectors are available but the valves are different and one can only be bought with the fuel pipe attached ergo NOT especially cheap. It is my experience that you would be looking at spending 3-4 minutes easing each pipe free. When the pipes are free, fasten them out of the way with gaffer tape or similar. (Like I didn’t do in the photos!)
You don't have to use the official SAAB fuel pump tool - if you have sufficient workshop skills, you can make your own

Undo the toothed lock-ring. There is a special tool for this (SAAB part number 8394462) but this may be replicated with a bit of improvisation, as the SAAB special tool is basically a 6” socket extension bar welded to a U shaped bar that fits between the teeth of the lock ring. For the record, the distance between the pins that engage in the teeth are 12cm apart with the total width being 13.6cm. Reader Frank Armishaw who has contributed advice and photos for this article made a suitable tool, as seen above. Otherwise, a very large pair of water pump pliers may be used to engage in the teeth. Avoid taking a hammer and chisel to this locking ring, as the teeth snap off or else the lock ring breaks and this still leaves the problem of getting the locking ring sufficiently tight when the pump is replaced. If the lock ring is not tight enough, fuel will make the rubber swell and the cabin will smell of petrol.

Lifting the pump is another slow operation, as the float makes it awkward to remove. Lift 2"/50mm and turn eighty degrees. Watch out for fuel spillages

When the lock ring is removed, lift up the pump by about 50mm, then turn almost quarter of a turn and lift out the pump carefully, noting that the float assembly is a tight fit. Proceed with care and don’t rush! Note that fuel will leak out , so try to have a container standing by and avoid having the pump at an angle for too long (it drips!).

The author cannot emphasise enough the fact that the pump is a very tight fit and at first you will think ‘this job is impossible!’ Half the problem relates to the fuel gauge sender that is part of the pump assembly. Patience and persistence is the order of the day here – it may take up to 5 minutes to lift the pump out when the locking ring is free. Recover the locking ring and rubber seal.

It is preferable to source a good, used pump rather than to try fitting a replacement pump (anything but straightforward, as you have to dismantle the old one). Should readers require information explaining how to do this, send the author an e-mail.

Re-assembly is fairly straightforward so long as:

  • The alignment marks when on the pump top and one on the tank are lined up
  • The locking ring is tightened properly
  • The pipes are refitted correctly to the correct sides of the pump
  • The wiring is replaced properly

Parts that may be required:

Additional information
Part SAAB part number Application
Toothed lock ring (cover) 4156550 900, 9000, NG900, 9-3 (-2002) & 9-5
Seal, fuel pump 4160511 900, 9000, NG900, 9-3 (-2002) & 9-5
Fuel pump 5328679 (9321878) 9000
Fuel pump 30587077 9-5 all markets inc CA & USA
Fuel pump 8822785 9-3 (9400) to model year 2002
Non return valve 4161766 9000 (for supply side, obviously!)
Tank retaining strap 4235040 (both) NG900 & 9-3 (<2002)
Tank filler neck hose (large) 4622015 (USA/CA: 4727269) NG900 & 9-3 (<2002)
Tank filler neck hose (smaller) 4440244 (USA/CA: 4394408) NG900 & 9-3 (<2002)

The author would like to thank reader Frank Armishaw for his invaluable contribution to compiling this article.

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